I have been serving as a teacher in one role or another for more than 30 years. It is my career, as a professor of chemistry and physics, and it is my vocation as well, as a teacher for churches. I have taught the hard sciences as several universities and colleges, as well as teaching for more than 150 churches in more than 70 countries.
One of my passions is to help to raise up teachers who can take on the unending task of helping both the saved and the lost to come to understand the Christian gospel. In my travels and in my efforts to mentor teachers around the world, I have made a number of observations, both positive and negative, of what makes for an academically and spiritually well-qualified teacher which I would like to share. I will make these comments, more or less in order as to relative importance as I see it.
I watched a video by a Muslim apologist. He claims that the Comforter mentioned in John 14 is Muhammad, and that he is also mentioned in Song of Solomon 5. How should I respond? -- David
The short answer: the Comforter to come in John is the Spirit, not the prophet Muhammad. This is clear when we read the passage in its entirety -- to understand it in context. Anyone can pluck out a few words that seem to relate to one subject, while in fact they have nothing to do with it. So let's zero in on the passage in question. At the end of his ministry, several years of working with his disciples, Jesus said:
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate [or Counselor: Greek paráklētos], the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:25-26).
This blog leads into a class I'm teaching on church history with the New York School Of Mission on. These will be short readings that will prepare us for the class. If you aren't participating in the class, I believe you will still benefit from this series of blogs.
Let's begin with the question that lies behind our motivation--WHY? Why study church history? Here are a few reasons that any disciple (especially those who want to serve in the full-time ministry) should be a student of church history.
"Patsach" is a powerful Bible word, describing in a very animated way, how our expression of worship to God ought to be! Dave Eastman brings it to life for us by looking at a natural phenomena in the South Pacific.
Several people have asked me about the promises that Jesus makes about prayer in Mark 11:12-25. People have used those verses to justify a "pray it and claim it" approach to Christianity. There are many important questions it raises that need to be answered. Here are some I've been asked recently:
- Are these promises for everyone, or at least all disciples?
- Why don't I get these results? Is my faith weak?
- Why doesn't God answer my prayers? What's wrong?
Those are really big questions. This is my partial answer. I don't really address the last question now, but I have some ideas on that one as well.
"Hallelujah!" is a glorious Hebrew loan word that we have absorbed into our praise cultures around the world. As I have journeyed to know the word of God better, refining my strengths and committing weaknesses to grace, I have become fascinated with the Hebrew language. As a believer and worship leader, this has helped me to serve the Lord and his church. God has given me something to share with others as he keeps helping me grow!
The Making of a Disciple class is an in-depth exploration on how to study the Bible with people and bring them to Christ. This class goes well beyond the basics of First Principles to establish a rigorous expectation for world evangelism, a keen, biblical understanding of conversion, solid exegesis of Scripture, and effective guided discovery to lead seekers to become disciples of Jesus.
The Purpose of ImmersionReferences to baptism in the patristic literature abound. It is clear that for the first few centuries everyone was in agreement that baptism was for the forgiveness of sins, and was the gateway to salvation. Of course Jesus is the gate (John 10:7), but the water is where we meet Him. We will limit our survey to the earliest patristic writers.
Hermas, c. 140-150 AD:
... when we went down into the water and received remission of our former sins...(Shepherd IV.iii.1) Note: Remission is simply another word for forgiveness.
When God's people gathered together for the great festivals of Israel, they prepared their hearts by meditating and celebrating the Psalms of ascent (Psalm 120-134) on their pilgrimage. Think of it as a roadtrip playlist as they approached Jerusalem. And when we gather together in St. Louis this summer for Reach2016, we will collectively study the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts.