Tim Chester, On the Place of Theology in the Church

See the source image“Bible study and theology that do not lead to love for God and a desire to do his will – to worship, tears, laughter, excitement, or sorrow – have gone terribly wrong. True theology leads to love, mission, and doxology (I Timothy 1:5, 7, 17). We should not expect an adrenaline rush every time we study God’s word. We all express our emotions in different ways. But when we study God’s word we should pray that the Spirit of God will not only inform our heads but also inspire our hearts.” (Tim Chester, Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community)


Q/A Friday: Does the Bible Teach or Allow for Reincarnation?

Reincarnation is the belief that the soul – after death – is reborn in a new body. I have heard of alternative views that believe the soul would be reborn in an animal or even objects. But, by and large, reincarnation teaches that when you die, you get to come back in some form or fashion to this world as something or someone else. Reincarnation does not allow space for the view that we go to heaven or hell upon death.

Answering this question of whether or not reincarnation is a reality is quite simple if you are willing to accept that the Bible is authoritative. Consider what Hebrews 9:27 teaches – “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”

In short, when we die, we die once. There is no dying again. Contrary to being born and then spiritually reborn, there is no spiritually dying again or physically dying again. After death, we are judged by God and then placed into the eternal destiny that we deserve (Matthew 7:21-23; 25:46).

The Bible does not support the belief in reincarnation.

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John G. Paton, Illustrating His Trust in a Sovereign God

Image result for John Paton Missionary Angels“I realized that I was immortal till my Master’s work with me was done. The assurance came to me, as if a voice out of heaven had spoken, that not a musket would be fired to wound us, not a club prevail to strike us, not a spear leave the hand in which it was held vibrating to be thrown, not an arrow leave the bow, or a killing stone the fingers, without the permission of Jesus Christ, whose is all power in heaven and on earth. He rules all nature and restrains even the savage of the South Seas.” (John G. Paton when his house was surrounded by cannibals)


Q/A Friday: What Does the Term “Reformed” Mean?

Reformed can refer to a Calvinistic system of theology. And by Calvinism, I am not suggesting everything Calvin taught. Mostly, the term Reformed refers to the five tenets that have comprised the acronym T.U.L.I.P. This acronym, which Calvin did not devise, was put together in 1618 by the Synod of Dort as a reaction to a growing theological view referred to as Arminianism. T.U.L.I.P. stands for “total depravity”, “unconditional election”, “limited atonement”, “irresistible grace”, and “perseverance of the saints.” Churches that say they are Reformed usually mean they ascribe to T.U.L.I.P.

Reformed can also refer to a series of statements that summarize the doctrinal battles of the Reformation. Not limiting itself to John Calvin or Martin Luther, Reformed doctrine can be a way of summarizing a simplistic statement of faith called “the Five Solas.” They are Sola Scriptura (meaning “Scripture alone”), Sola Fide (meaning “faith alone”), Sola Gratia (meaning “grace alone”), Solus Christus (meaning “Christ alone”) and Sola Deo Gloria (meaning “to God’s glory alone”). Someone who says they are Reformed may intend to communicate that they believe these five Sola-statements that were the rallying cry for the Reformation.

Reformed can also refer to personal reformation or growth. Often, when we hear about reforming law or doctrine, we are talking about change or correction. Someone who says they are being reformed can mean they are changing or maturing for the better. Richard Baxter wrote a book entitled The Reformed Pastor, which is not a book about Calvinistic doctrine or the Reformation at all, but the importance of ministers growing and maturing beyond their current spiritual state.

Is one use of the term “Reformed” better than the others? Not necessarily. But it is vital when someone uses the term that you know exactly what they mean by it. For example, when I use the term Reformed I use it to refer to the second definition listed above – the Five Solas. I rarely use it to refer to Calvinistic theology, because there is too much baggage and a need for even more definition.

My usual answer to the question to the question, “Charles, are you Reformed,” is “It depends on what you mean by Reformed.” I am not a particular fan of theological labels and more often prefer to simply say, “I strive to be biblical.” So, whatever label that gives me, call me that.

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