Doctrine by Mark Driscoll
If you were interested in what Stephen talked about in today’s message regarding Jesus being fully God and fully man, this is a very practical read that explains this concept further in one of its chapters. It’s worth purchasing.
Doctrine is the word Christians use to define the truth-claims revealed in Holy Scripture. Of course there is a multitude of churches, church networks, and denominations, each with their own doctrinal statement with many points of disagreement. But while Christians disagree on a number of doctrines, there are key elements that cannot be denied by anyone claiming to be a follower of Jesus.
In Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, Driscoll and Breshears teach thirteen of these key elements. This meaty yet readable overview of basic doctrine will help Christians clarify and articulate their beliefs in accordance with the Bible.
On Sunday we lit our first Advent candle which represented Hope. Here is a little video from the Bible Project that explains that word in more detail.
In the Bible people who have hope are very different from optimists! In this video, we’ll explore how biblical hope looks to God’s character alone as a basis for trusting that the future will be better than the present.
More information on The Bible Project here
Good morning church. I get the privilege to preach from the English Standard Version every single Sunday I stand before you to herald the Word of God. This is a beautifully made video about its history. If you are interested in knowing where it came from, take the ten minutes to watch. I’m praying that it stirs a reverence in your heart regarding God’s Word.
I Love you church,
Most Valuable Thing That This World Affords
Over twenty years ago, the idea was born for a new translation of the Bible. After many conversations and much prayer, fourteen members of the ESV Translation Oversight Committee began work on the English Standard Version—an essentially literal translation standing in the classic mainstream of English Bible translations over the past half-millennium. In the preface to the ESV, the Translation Oversight Committee writes:
In that [classic] stream, faithfulness to the text and vigorous pursuit of precision were combined with simplicity, beauty, and dignity of expression. Our goal has been to carry forward this legacy for this generation and generations to come.
In this short documentary, members of the ESV Translation Oversight Committee and Crossway’s leadership team reflect on the history of the English Standard Version—with deep reverence, gratitude, and ongoing wonder at what God has done and continues to do through the ESV.
Soli Deo Gloria!—To God alone be the glory!
For months the movie Noah has come under immense amounts of scrutiny from local churches around America, due to it’s lack of Biblical accuracy. Pastors and church critics have even gone to the extreme of announcing to their congregations from the pulpit that this isn’t a movie that they should be watching, or letting their children watch.
The only question that has been running through my mind during this time is; What in the world are you doing? Don’t you realize that we have been waiting for this opportunity?
Evangelism is hard
The harsh truth is that the majority of Christians in North America are very ineffective at reaching people with the message of Jesus.
Non-Chrisitians aren’t interested in the Bible, they don’t want to know what it says. Every time I bring something up in conversation, they switch off or change the subject. It’s too hard for me to push past that barrier, I don’t want them to get mad at me.
These are just some of the excuses that Christians are using today, and if I am honest, they are extremely valid. The truth is that non-Christians aren’t typically interested in the Bible. Therefore, trying to break through that barrier is extremely difficult. It can be exhausting at times, so I can definitely relate!
However, I want you to think for a second… what would be the perfect evangelism scenario for a Christian? What would make your job as a Christian a lot easier? Think about it… It would be if the non-believer approached you, right? It would be if they brought up the stories in the Bible, it would be if they gave you an opportunity to talk about it with them.
Christians, don’t you see that we have been given a unique window, a very rare opportunity? We have a secular world making movies about the Book that we claim to love and follow. We have non-believers breaking down their own walls and giving us free opportunities to bring up the Bible and venture into conversation about faith, Jesus and Christianity with them.
But all we can do is theologically pick it apart, call it heretical, and miss every opportunity to give them Jesus. Opportunities that they are freely giving us.
I struggle to understand how any Christian can validate waisting time to theologically pick apart this movie. Why are we placing a level of expectation concerning Biblical accuracy on Hollywood? Let me say this plainly, they are not out to be Biblically accurate, they are out to make money, and they did, over $44m on opening night.
Why are you placing Christian expectations and standards on non-Christians?
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it is wise to protect and shepherd the Christians in our lives so that they know what is true and what has been embellished, concerning movies like this. But do we really need to be taking it to the extend that we are?
Wouldn’t it’ make more sense to stop waisting time pointing out everything that is wrong with this movie, ultimately rejecting it, and instead use that time to recognize what elements in this movie can be redeemed? This movie clearly communicates the doctrine of sin and it’s offenses to a holy God, human depravity & the Wrath of God. Even these three elements alone, offer bridges over water we would normally have to try and swim across.
Don’t miss it
Don’t you see that we have been given an incredibly unique opportunity, one that past generations were not. But instead of taking advantage of it, the non-Christian world gets to sit back and watch us emotionally vomit our hateful, judgmental opinions on them. They get to watch us completely reject the free pass that they are giving us.
I am suggesting that before we cast judgement so quickly, we prayerfully discern the opportunities we have been given in the middle of a fallen and sinful world.
Are you rejecting something that could actually be redeemed for the glory of God?
If you’ve ever experienced disunity in a church, you know how upsetting it can be. Not many of us enjoy conflict in general, so the thought of conflict within the body of believers is particularly uncomfortable. But conflict happens, just as it does in any committed relationship. Christians are exhorted to be known by their unity even in their diversity, but does that mean we never raise a concern? How can we know if an issue is worth fighting for? Is there ever a time to break unity for the sake of integrity?
Every member of the body of believers possesses a set of beliefs that can be divided into three categories: essentials, convictions and preferences. Understanding how these relate to unity can help us know whether to speak up or to remain silent, whether to break fellowship or to stay put.
Essentials, Convictions and Preferences
An essential is any truth which, if denied or misrepresented, nullifies the gospel. Examples of essentials would be belief in the deity of Christ, the Trinity, the virgin birth or the inspiration and authority of the Bible. Essentials do not require a seminary degree to understand. They are plainly revealed in Scripture and accessible to believers of all maturity levels. Essentials are what you find in the historic creeds of the church. They define orthodox belief.
A conviction is any deeply held belief which, if believed in error will not nullify the gospel, but can harm spiritual growth. Examples of convictions would be views on baptism, the role of women in the church, eschatology, or the functioning of the charismatic gifts. Some convictions are more deeply held than others, depending on the church, and unlike essentials, not all convictions must carry the same weight. Some convictions, if held in error, have greater potential to harm than others. Disagreements surrounding convictions usually have to do with how we interpret Scripture.
A preference is something I care about, but that is a matter of personal choice. I can readily acknowledge that there is more than one possible right answer while still feeling strongly that my answer is the best one. Examples of preferences would be whether I prefer contemporary worship or traditional worship, casual dress or dressy clothes, smoke machines or stained glass. Disagreements surrounding preferences usually have to do with how we apply Scripture.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
So, how can we judge whether an issue merits division? Think in these terms:
- Essentials are worth dying for.
- Convictions are worth debating.
- Preferences are worth discussing.
Unity must be broken if an essential is compromised or denied. If your church suddenly decides that Jesus is merely a man and not also God, you need to pack your bags.
Unity may be broken if a conviction is violated but must not necessarily be. It could be possible, for example, to remain a faithful member of a congregation that affirms believer’s baptism while still holding to belief in infant baptism.
Unity should not be broken if a preference is not shared. To leave your church because you dislike the worship style (assuming the worship style is not anything sacrilegious) or disagree with its ministry model is to hold in light esteem the beauty of having shared essentials and convictions. This doesn’t mean that preferences are unimportant. They are. And we should be able to dialogue about them with charity. They just aren’t deal-breakers.
Stay If at All Possible
Unfortunately, we often sacrifice unity on the slipshod altar of our preferences. Many a church split has happened over whether God loves the organ more than the electric guitar.
The book of Acts celebrates unity, and it stands as an exhortation to the Church throughout the ages to work hard to prize it. Never has such a diverse assembly of believers been reconciled to one another as in the days of the early church. Acts records the uniting of Jew and Gentile under one God, and the debates and discussions necessary to join these two groups as members of one body. It details the differences in ministry philosophy between Peter and Paul, two men united in the goal of spreading the gospel but divided as to how it should be done. Acts shows us that the tension of the interplay of essentials, convictions and preferences is a natural part of church life, and that unity is worth fighting for. But unity does not mean unanimity.
To be a member of a body of believers who affirm every essential and many of my convictions is a rare gift. I need not require that every conviction be held in unity, and I need not require that any preference be held in unity. A marriage is more likely to be easy and enjoyable when a couple shares the same convictions and preferences. So is church membership. It isn’t wrong to long for that kind of harmony, but it is wrong to break or withhold relationship over the lack of it. As with all relationships, our list of preferences should receive due consideration before we commit but far less consideration after.
The way we express our concerns matters, too. Just as no spouse benefits from being nagged or attacked about a conviction or preference by the other spouse, no church benefits from a nagging or attacking member. Far better for the member to hold a respectful debate or dialogue with someone in leadership than to complain publicly or privately to other members of the body. One approach demonstrates a love of unity. The other does not.
As we each soberly evaluate our essentials, convictions and preferences, we are well served to remember the watchword of the Lutheran theologian Meledenius: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” May we meditate on the beauty of a church seeking unity in diversity, whose crowning virtue is love.
Essentials and Non-Essentials in a Nutshell – C. Michael Patton
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