Church Ex-Commnunicates 575 Members
“Okay, why? What did they do?…
Well, it’s not so much what they did but what they didn’t do. The members we removed were no longer actively involved with our church. Half of them had moved away, and the other half still lived in the area but never worshiped with us.
Inactive membership is contrary to what the New Testament teaches about the life of the church, so our action in removing members was motivated fundamentally by a desire to become a more biblically-functioning church.
What biblical passages are you thinking about? And why is such inactive membership ‘contrary to what the New Testament teaches about the life of the church?’
The language of membership in the New Testament is metaphorical. To be a ‘member’ is to be part of a body (1 Cor 12:27) and part of a family (Eph 2:19). Both of these images depict vital relational connections. If we saw a foot in a jar on a lab shelf or met a daughter who hasn’t spoken to her parents in twenty years, we would know in both cases that something had gone wrong.” Church Disciplines 575 Members by Jonathan Leeman
12 Questions to Unmask Your Idols
“Whatever we direct our affections, energies, and hopes towards is our object of worship. Our heart needs Jesus; our flesh craves idols. This is why growing in love for Christ requires daily execution of idols. But how do we know what our idols are?Yo
1. I am preoccupied with ________.
2. If only ________, then I would be happy.
3. I get my sense of significance from ________.
4. I would protect and preserve ________ at any cost.
5. I fear losing ________.
6. The thing that gives me greatest pleasure is ________.
7. When I lose ________, I get angry, resentful, frustrated, anxious, or depressed.
8. For me, life depends on ________.
9. The thing I value more than anything in the world is ________.
10. When I daydream, my mind goes to________.
11. The best thing I can think of is ________.
12. The thing that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning is ________.” 12 Steps to Identifying Your Functional Saviors by Jared Wilson
3 Interpretations of Hell: Mythical, Literal, or Metaphorical?
“People interpret the ghastly descriptions of darkness, fire, and suffering in at least three ways.
1. Mythically. Some argue that traditional Christian conceptions of hell are a product of Roman and pagan myths.
2. Literally. Some think that the descriptions are literal, meaning that the darkness, fire, and suffering are actual darkness, fire, and suffering.
3. Metaphorically. Others say that some or all of the descriptions are metaphorical in the sense that the darkness, fire, and suffering may not be actual darkness, fire, and suffering.
John Piper explains, ‘Consider some of the word pictures of God’s wrath in the New Testament. And as you consider them remember the folly of saying, ‘But aren’t those just symbols? Isn’t fire and brimstone just a symbol?’ I say beware of that, because it does not serve your purpose. Suppose fire is a symbol. Do people use symbols of horror because the reality is less horrible or more horrible than the symbols? I don’t know of anyone who uses symbolic language for horrible realities when literal language would make it sound more horrible.
People grasp for symbols of horror (or beauty) because the reality they are trying to describe is worse (or better) than they can put into words. If I say, ‘My wife is the diamond of my life,’ I don’t want you to say, ‘Oh, he used a symbol of something valuable; it’s only a symbol. So his wife must not be as valuable as a diamond.вЂќ No. I used the symbol of the most valuable jewel I could think of because my wife is far more precious than jewels. Honest symbols are not used because they go beyond reality, but because reality goes beyond words.
So when the Bible speaks of hell-fire, woe to us if we say, ‘It’s only a symbol.’ If it is a symbol at all, it means the reality is worse than fire, not better. The word ‘fire’ is used not to make the easy sound terrible, but to make the exceedingly terrible sound something like what it really is’
We may disagree about some finer nuances of our literal and metaphorical interpretations of hell’s darkness, fire, and suffering, but we should agree that, at the very least, the New Testament teaches that hell is eternally miserable, terrifying, and painful. It’s certainly no better than being cast into literal вЂњouter darknessвЂќ or being tormented with literal ‘fire and sulfur.’” Hellfire and Brimstone: Interpreting the New Testament’s Descriptions of Hell by Andy Naselli
Annotated Bibliography on Hell
See 7 recommended books on hell. An Annotated Bibliography on Hell by Gavin Ortlund
Hyper-Gospel Sanctification: Growth Without Obedience?
“One of the standard features of Christian ethics is that it has an indicative part (what God has done for us in in salvation) and an imperative part (how we are to live in consequence). In other words, because of what God has done for you, now you should live in a manner worthy of your salvation…Where am I going with this? Well my concern is that some are beginning to replace the imperative element in Christian sanctification (i.e., the need to diligently prosecute, pursue, and cultivate holiness and godliness) with the need for more knowledge of the indicative (i.e., believing more in the grace of God).” (GG: Remember the old hymn Trust AND Obey?) Christian Sanctification: Indicative But No Imperative? by Michael Bird
Anabaptists’ 6 Key Hermeneutics
Some Anabaptists had clear, New Testament insights on church and law. “For three quarters of its history, the European Church has operated within a Christendom framework. Only in the first three centuries, in persecuted movements between the fourth and nineteenth centuries, and in the last century has this mindset been challenged…Those who have examined the hermeneutics of the Anabaptists have identified six key components:
(1) The Bible as Self-interpreting: The widespread Anabaptist conviction that Scripture was clear enough for ordinary Christians to understand and apply without assistance of education, philosophical or theological expertise, clerical guidance or ecclesiastical tradition…(GG: Amen, how many times do Covenant Theologians reply, “You need to read this theology book [to understand God's Word]?)
(2) Christocentrism: The centrality of Jesus in Scripture was foundational for Anabaptist hermeneutics and theology. He was regarded as the one to whom all Scripture pointed and witnessed, and his words and deeds were authoritative and normative…
(3) The Two Testaments…Most were convinced that the new covenant he introduced made it impossible to put the Old Testament on the same level as the New…
(4) Spirit and Word…Accused of both literalism and spiritualism, most Anabaptists were committed both to the normative role of Scripture and to the active involvement of the Holy Spirit in the process of interpretation…
(5) Congregational Hermeneutics: This conviction that the congregation was where Scripture should be interpreted, rather than the university, the preacher’s study or the mind of the individual, was significant in some Anabaptist groups…And the Anabaptist emphasis on obedience as a prerequisite for understanding Scripture meant that only a community of would-be disciples could expect illumination. Unfaithfulness could make a congregation unable to function properly as a hermeneutic community. (GG: Amen!)
(6) Hermeneutics of Obedience: The importance attached to ethical considerations in interpreting Scripture, both in the legitimising of interpreters and the testing of their conclusions, is clear from Anabaptist writings…
The synthetic model that can be extracted from Anabaptist hermeneutical principles and practices is that of a Spirit-filled disciple, confidently interpreting Scripture within a community of such disciples, aware that Jesus Christ is the centre from which the rest of Scripture must be interpreted.” (HT: BW) Anabaptist Hermeneutics: A Summary by Stuart Murray Williams
Political Idolatry: Faith in Conservativism or Liberalism
“Both the left and the right subscribe to this Americolatry. If our government does X, Y, and Z, then we will be joyful, satisfied, safe, and complete. Then we will live in heaven. But if the other guys get their way, it’ll be hell. In that equation, God is no longer our joy, our comfort, our satisfaction, our all.” Americolatry by Justin Taylor