Sunday, March 14, 2010

Thoughts from the Bible

For some time now I have been wanting to put my thoughts down in writing on my beliefs from the Bible. I finally had a chance to sketch out some of them and I thought I would share them with others through this blog. Hopefully, these issues will help you think through what you believe and search the Bible for yourself (whether you agree with me or not.) In the future I hope to expand on these topics and others. If this already sounds too boring then check out this link or this one. --Barry

I believe that the God of the Bible is a triune God. Although the word “trinity” is not contained in the Bible, it is an accurate description of how God reveals Himself in His Word. There is only one God (see Deut. 6:4) but there are three distinct, separate persons in the Godhead: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each of these persons are fully God but not each other. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God BUT the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father, the Spirit is not the Son, etc. In short there is one “What” and three “Whos,” that is, one God and three persons. This is unique to Christianity and difficult to grasp but it is what the Bible teaches and what Christians have always believed. If someone does not believe in the Trinity, whether they claim to be a Christian or not, then they have the nature of God wrong and therefore the wrong god. For this reason, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Oneness Pentecostals should not be considered Christians. Examples of the Trinity are throughout the Bible but one quick example is in the creation. The Father created everything (Gen. 1:1), yet through the Son everything was created (John 1:3, Col. 1:16), and the Spirit took an active role in creation as well (Gen. 1:2).

I believe that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary as scripture clearly indicates (see Lk 1:34-35, Matthew 1:18, 25 and the prophecy in Isa. 7:14.) The fact that Mary was a virgin attests to the supernatural power of God.

I do not believe in speaking in tongues, as it is popularly understood today. When the Bible talks about speaking in tongues it indicates a spiritual gift for speaking KNOWN languages (see Acts 2:7, 1Cor 14:10). Furthermore, if someone speaks in a “tongue” it must be interpreted for the edification of the church or else not used at all AND only 1 person at a time may speak in a tongue (1Cor 14:27-28).

For this reason, most of what is considered “speaking in tongues” today is unbiblical because it is unintelligible gibberish. Neither do many of those who practice them follow the biblical guidelines of having an interpretation when there are tongues or speaking 1 at a time. Furthermore, some denominations and movements try to use speaking in tongues as an evidence of a second blessing or baptism by the Holy Spirit. This is simply wrong. The Holy Spirit is received at the time of conversion by the believer. (Acts 10:47)

I affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and I can not summarize my thoughts on baptism any better than it states in Article VII:
“Christian baptism is the immersion of a believer in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is an act of obedience symbolizing the believer’s faith in a crucified, buried, and risen Savior, the believer’s death to sin, the burial of the old life, and the resurrection to walk in newness of life in Christ Jesus. It is a testimony to his faith in the final resurrection of the dead. Being a church ordinance, it is prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.”

Although I know many wonderful Christians who are Calvinists and I appreciate many of the emphases of Reformed theology, I am not a Calvinist. Based on 1Jn 2:2, I believe that Jesus died for all people and not just the elect. I believe that God is all loving and loves all people based on John 3:16. However, I do not believe that all people will be saved but only those who believe (receive, trust, have faith) in Jesus. John 3:18 says, “...but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Also, Acts 4:12 and John 14:6 make it clear that Jesus is the only way of salvation. God alone saves but we must receive this gift of salvation through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). For non-believers there is a real and eternal Hell at death (Lk 12:5, 16:19ff, Isa. 66:24, Mk 9:47-49). This sobering fact is one of the motivations for Christians to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with non-believers before it is too late for them.

I believe that evolution is completely incompatible with the Bible. Furthermore, based on Gen. 1-11 (specifically chapter 1) and Exodus 20:11, I believe that God created the earth thousands of years ago rather than millions or billions.

I believe the Bible clearly states that Jesus will return visibly and bodily one day soon and judge the living and the dead. He will establish His kingdom forever where righteousness will dwell. Beyond this, I am still studying out the details from scripture but would describe my current view as premillenial.

Men and women are both made in the image of God and therefore are equal in value (Gen 1:27). Furthermore, the Bible reaffirms all Christians equal status in Christ (Gal 3:28). Women have figured prominently in Jesus’ ministry from the beginning (Luke 8:2-3) and women still should serve in the church. However, the roles for men and women in the church and in the home are distinct. Specifically, women are not allowed to be pastors/overseers/elders. This is based on 1Tim 2:12 and the requirements for an overseer found in 1Tim 3 and other places. The reason for this is not because a lack of ability, status, or desire on the part of a woman but because of God’s order in creation (Gen 1-2). Likewise, husbands are to be the head of their house, a spiritual leader, who love their wives unconditionally as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (see Gal 5:23ff.) My view would be described as complementarian.