The New Creation is Here!

About a week ago, my wife made a confession.  It resounded with the birth pangs of an expectant soul.

“I’m just tired of sinning,” was her confession.

At the time of her confession, we were conversing about all the evils in the world–thinking out loud about the return of Christ–to put an end to it all.

But I was reminded of that tension between the ages–what biblical scholars and theologians call the already/not yet: with the first coming of Christ, the eschatological kingdom has already invaded the NOW.  Yes, with his death and glorious resurrection and the gifting of the Holy Spirit, whom the Apostle Paul refers to, time and time again, as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14)–the new creation is already here!

So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived! (2 Cor. 5:17 CEB)

How then shall we live?  1. We wait (Gal. 5:5).  2. We put to death the misdeeds of the body.  3.  We lead holy and godly lives (2 Pet. 1:11-12).  4. We live as the temples of the Spirit that we are, leading lives of purity (1 Cor. 6:18-20).  5.  And as pilgrims on the way, we engaged in Christian worship and service.

Ultimate, we live as those who have hope (1 Thess. 4:13), having been sealed with the Holy Spirit and tasted of that heavenly gift.

Posted in Eschatology, Holy Spirit, New Creation | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Dr. Myles Munroe on the Price of Leadership

Anyone who aspires to the position of leadership must not be misguided by the perceived glory, prominence and benefits of such an honorable position.  True leadership always demands a high price of the leader, and the more effective the leadership is, the higher the price to be paid.”  –Dr. Myles Munroe, Becoming A Leader

Posted in Leadership, Myles Munroe | Tagged , | 2 Comments

What New Testament Church are you trying to Restore?

From time to time you will here some say that they’re trying to restore THE New Testament church, with emphasis on THE.  For example, a whole movement, Stone-Campbell of the early-mid nineteenth century (non-instrumental Church of Christ, Christian Church, and Disciples of Christ), was all about restoring New Testament Christianity.

They wanted to have nothing to do with synods, creeds, or man-made traditions.  In fact, the founding leaders left the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, to form this new movement, often considering the denominations they left sinful.

1.  Did their experiment succeed?  Of course not!

Ironically, this new movement was all about man-made traditions, the very thing they condemned as sinful.  What they considered “the marks of the true church” were nothing more than the teachings and philosophies of their leaders.

2.  What New Testament Church?

The one in Acts?  Which one? At Jerusalem or Antioch?  How about Corinth or Ephesus?

Throughout church history, these kinds of movements sound awfully wonderful and the like.  But let’s not delude ourselves: there is NO RESTORING the New Testament Church.  Such talk is futile.

Not even the 16th century Reformers sought to restore THE New Testament Church.  The church has always been there.  They only sought to rediscover certain principles (for example, the solas of the Reformation).

Rather than seeking to restore THE New Testament Church and becoming sectarian in the process, it would be if we all seek to be more like Christ to one another, i.e., laying down our lives for one another because we are compelled by agape love.

Posted in Baptists, Presbyterian | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Three Things a Baptist learned from an Anglican Church

This is a bit of an interaction with a post I found on Mike Bird’s Facebook page, an ex-Baptist post-Presbyterian Anglican.  It’s the journey of one Sophia Sinclair, a Baptist pastor’s daughter.

Eight years ago I attended an Anglican church for the first time. As a Baptist pastor’s daughter I was suddenly transplanted into a church community where men sometimes wear dresses, people sprinkle water on babies’ heads, drink real wine at communion, and recite familiar phrases aloud together during their services.

Today, Sophia is part of a new church plant (non-Anglican).  However, over her eight-year Anglican experience–visiting different Anglican churches both professionally and personally–according to Sophia, God used this journey to nurture her as a believer.

Sophia goes on to list three takeaways as an “honorary Anglican”:

1.  The encouragement of being part of something bigger.  “A sense of belonging is important to Anglican Christians. For some this is a desire to remain traditional in practice – the songs they sing, the phrases they repeat and the way they conduct their services… The Anglican Church is structured in a way that allows for a greater awareness of the denomination’s global scale. I would argue that this sense of oneness and shared identity is something Christians in more autonomous congregations sometimes lack.”

2.  The importance of the Bible.  “The Thirty Nine Articles are historically defining statements affirming the various beliefs of the Church of England. Staying true to these is considered very important for many in the Anglican Church. One of these statements affirms ‘sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation’.

At every Anglican church I attended I saw at least two passages read aloud with clarity. Some churches even stood up out of reverence for the gospel reading. Practically I appreciated the way the Bible was acknowledged and built into structures and traditions.

I was encouraged to love and understand the Bible. God’s word guided me as I made important life decisions. Scripture comforted me when I was in despair. The Bible answered my doubts and illuminated the darkness of life…”

3.  The beauty of liturgy.  “In an Anglican context liturgy is the set structure of a church service and typically involves one person (usually a minister) reading out statements and the congregation responding – verbally, in silent prayer and by standing and/or kneeling at certain points.

I confess I was not an immediate fan of this rather repetitive and often monotonous-sounding practice!

But it grew on me…

The Anglican liturgy reminds me that repetition can help me to recall the good God has done. It reminds me that there can be beauty in disciplining myself to say aloud the truths of my faith.”

I do agree with Sophia.  As a Baptist, a member of the so-called free church movement, I too had to experience the same outside of the Baptist experiment.

But as a Baptist I’ve since learned that I DO NOT have to convert to Anglicanism or any such mainstream denomination–to experience the same (1. a sense of belonging part of something bigger; 2. the importance of the Bible; and 3. the beauty of liturgy).

In fact, Southern Baptist Timothy George, founding dean and professor of Divinity, History, and Doctrine at Beeson Divinity School, has taught me over the years that not only can I be both cconfessional and creedal as  a Baptist, but (1) I do belong to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church; (2) historically, Baptists have always held a high view of the Bible, even to the point of bibliolatry; and (3) yes, to enjoy the beauty of liturgy.  But I must confess that this is where Baptists are most lacking, though they have a form of liturgy.

Posted in Anglican, Baptist, Michael F. Bird, Southern Baptist, Timothy George | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Evangelical Theology by Michael F. Bird

EVMBHardcover: 912 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 30, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310494419
ISBN-13: 978-0310494416
Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.7 x 9.4 inches

A few years back, while residing in St. Louis, MO, when I heard that NT scholar and blogger Michael F. Bird was going to be lecturing at Covenant Theological Seminary, I had to make time to be there and meet him in person. I did.  I met the redhead Australian professor.  In our conversation, Mike revealed that his Evangelical Theology would be coming out later that Fall.  Sure enough it did.  I bought it, and after a few months with it, I read it in its entirety.  Below is my review.

Style and Overview

According to Mike Bird, the purpose of his work on Christian theology is “to produce a textbook for Christians that represents a biblically sound expression of the Christian faith from the vantage point of the evangelical tradition,” a tradition which he goes on to define.  Over the years I’ve read my share of Systematic Theologies, whether in college, seminary, pastorate, or personal enrichment.  While I’ve enjoyed their contents for the most part, they did not always flow well.  Some were simply dry and dull.  Not Mike Bird’s Evangelical Theology.  It flows.  It’s a lively.  Throughout are charts, diagrams, and other visuals.  Embedded in the text are further discussions pertinent to the subject matter.  At the end of each section is a summary in the form of What to take Home? and Study questions for individuals and groups.

The work is divided into eight parts around the evangel, the gospel.  It does not follow the usual order of other systematic theologies.  Mike provides a reason.  Of special note is the fact that Mike describes himself as an ex-Baptist post-Presbyterian Anglican.  He writes from a Reformed/Calvinist perspective.  However, according to Mike, “I am more than willing to part company with Calvin and the Reformers when I feel compelled to in the light of biblical evidence and Christian tradition.


For the most part, Mike’s work is a breath of fresh air, displaying a willingness to challenge and reframed traditionally held beliefs, even within his own Reformed tradition.   I find this especially true in Part 5, “The Gospel of Salvation,” where Mike convinced me of Christus Victor and so on.  Some readers would not be pleased with Mike’s generous and irenic spirit when it comes to such controversial subjects as biblical inerrancy and the historical Adam.  Parts 2, 4, 7, Trinity, Christology, and Pneumatology, respectively, are quite solid.  This is not to discount the other sections, but these I found to be more refreshing.

In Part 2, section 2.6, “God’s Purpose and Plan.”  While it appears promising, i.e., Mike’s willingness to depart from Reformed covenant theology’s “covenant of works” and covenant of grace,” it fell short.  It proved to be more about semantics, as one works through the larger work.  Neither was I convinced about his arguments for the historic premillennial position–simply a rehearsing of the same old unconvincing arguments.  I expected to be challenged here.  While there are bright spots in Part 8, “The Community of the Gospelized,” for the most part it was deja vu–I’ve been here before, especially when it came to church government and baptism.  However, his discussion on the Lord’s Supper stands out.


All in all, Evangelical Theology is a well-researched work.  Mike’s knowledge and interaction with the Church Fathers, the Reformers, and modern theologians throughout the work are quite impressive.  As a footnote, Mike Bird is not even 40 as yet.  So in the next 10 to 15 years, I would really like to see where he would be theologically in light of this work.  At any rate, I commend Evangelical Theology, a systematic theology from a New Testament scholar.

Posted in Calvinism, Michael F. Bird, Reformed | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments