Truth, Love, Discernment: My Thoughts on Philippians 1:1-11

If you love people then you will want them to know the truth because it’s the truth that sets us free according to John 8:32.

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Image Credit: Georgie Dee

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God. – [Philippians 1:1-11 NRSV]

At my church, I am preparing to preach through the book of Philippians on Wednesday nights. Studying for this has been a daunting task filled with prayer, Scripture reading, and a good soak in dead commentators of days gone by.

As I contemplate on this epistle as a whole and particularly on these opening 11 verses, I can’t help but see Paul sitting in his home under house arrest and letting the thought of this congregation’s progress in their corporate walk with God fill him with joy.

What we see here is a pastor resting in the work that Christ has accomplished through His death, burial, and resurrection, is accomplishing through the Holy Spirit that’s dwelling in them, and will accomplish at the last day. I believe all of this is captured in Philippians 1:6, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”

In verses 9-11, we see this deep, heartfelt, pastoral prayer. And what is it that Paul is praying for? He’s praying, first of all, for them to have love and discernment. I would like to point out that I believe that real discernment comes from love – both a love for God and a love for people. First of all, if you love God then you will love the truth because you understand that He is the ultimate source of truth, and you understand that God desires “truth in the inward parts” (Psalm 51:6, KJV). If you love people then you will want them to know the truth because it’s the truth that sets us free according to John 8:32. I think Penn Jillette, a famous magician and confessed atheist, illustrates this well in the following statement:

“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?

“I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”

Basically, I think he’s saying that if you know there to be such a thing as absolute truth in this relativistic culture, and you’re refraining from speaking that truth to someone, then you cannot claim to love them. So, in the context of love and discernment, what this means is that if you love God and love you neighbor, then you will discern the truth and defend the truth from those that would try to distort to their own advantage.

In conclusion, I think we need to take this text to heart and understand that Jesus is working in by the Holy Spirit to cultivate our love for the Father, and out of that love for the Father, we have desire to display, discern, and defend the truth.

 

Weekend in the Word 2016

wnwc2016

Okay, so the big question on everyone’s mind that might be reading this is “Why? What’s the point?” We live in a culture and a society that has, for the most part, neglected the reading and careful study of God’s Word. What I hope and pray this conference does is spark an appreciation and love for the Bible. The speakers at this conference will preach the Word of God without compromise and help us understand how we can hear God in His Word. We want to see a generation pick up their Bibles once again and stand for God’s Word and desire to live by His standards. Below is a full list of events that will take place at the conference. At every service we will have corporate worship that will include music from God-glorifying worship leaders, and preaching from godly men who value the Word.

Pleasant Grove Community Church
Invites you to attend
WEEKEND IN THE WORD 2016
A Youth and Young Adult Conference
August 12-14

ORDER OF EVENTS:
Service 1 – Friday, Aug 12th – 7:00 PM
Music by Philip Willis
Speaker: Pastor Rob LaRue
Rob and his wife, Lydia, are ministers and musicians who currently serve as the youth pastors at Mulberry First Assembly of God and have over 25 years of combined ministry experience.

Expository Preaching Summit – Saturday, Aug 13th – 5:30 PM
Logan Dixon invites pastors, youth pastors, and those called to preaching ministry to attend this summit where you will we learn tips on how to preach and prepare for expository sermons that explain texts of Scripture. Please register for this event by contacting Logan Dixon via Facebook or text. Registration is free. We just need a basic headcount.

Service 2 – Saturday, Aug 13th – 7:00 PM
Music by Brian Goins and 16:15
Speaker: Payton Palmer
Payton and his wife, Sami, have served as the youth pastors at Fernwood Assembly for the past year and are currently pursuing credentials through the Assemblies of God.

Service 3 – Sunday, Aug 14th – 6:00 PM
Music by Brian Goins and 16:15
Speaker: Logan Dixon
Logan is a blogger, speaker, musician, and the Youth Minister at Pleasant Grove Community Church. He is also taking courses through Ligonier Connect and is ordained through Angel Wings Ministries.

.::Location::.
Pleasant Grove Community Church
668 LaRue Ridge Road
Dover, Arkansas 72837

.::For More Info Call::.
Bill Hampton – 479.692.3103
Logan Dixon – 479.280.7050

Don’t Shoot!: Being Charismatic and Reformed 

*This post was originally posted at http://www.pastordylanjustus.wordpress.com on August 9th, 2015*

My generation of Christians are a unique breed. With the influence of pastors like Piper, Driscoll, Mahaney and Grudem (among others), we have taken two seemingly contradictory theological camps and mashed them together to make a new camp. In his book A Call To Resurgence Mark Driscoll calls this camp the New Reformed. In essence, the New Reformed crowd holds to the basic tenets of the Reformed faith, namely the Five Solas, monergistic soteriology (doctrine of salvation), we are Creedal in that we hold to the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds (among others), TULIP is not a flower to us but a systematic acrostic of what we believe about the Gospel, we hold to Covenantal Theology and we hold to the Regulative Principle. But we also hold to a Continuational understanding of the “charismatic gifts” (usually tongues, prophesy and healing).
As you can imagine, this raises a lot of eye brows and causes a lot of tension between some other camps. Typically the words “Reformed” and “Charismatic” aren’t used in the same sentence without a few choice words between the two. But the two aren’t nearly as opposed to each other as many believe them to be. I have just a few reasons why I believe that being Reformed and Charismatic are more compatible than people think.
Let me clarify what I am advocating and what I am not. I am advocating an expression of the Spirit that is in-line with Scripture, that honors God and that genuinely shows the power of God. I am NOT advocating a false spirit-led outworking of false gifts. One where its chaotic and full of confusion, but rather, orderly and Christ-centered worship.
Continuationism Fits Right In With Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria
Continuationism fits right in with Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria. This is usually where my Reformed friends faint that I would say such a thing, but hear me out. If you’re not familiar with some terms I have used, let me catch you up! Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria, they are Latin phrases used by the Protestant Reformers to say “Scripture Alone (is our authority)” and “To God alone be the glory”. Continuationsim is the belief and understanding that Spiritual Gifts spoken of in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, 28 and Ephesians 4:11 all continue to this very day. The opposite view of this is known as Cessationism and it holds to the belief and understanding that in 1 Corinthians 13:8-12, Paul is saying that the gifts of prophesy, tongues, and knowledge will all pass cease soon (usually at the close of the Cannon of Scripture).
Back to my original assumption that Continuationism is compatible with Sola Scriptura and Soli Deo Gloria. Assuming that these gifts do in fact continue today, they would, by Scriptural necessity, function under the authority of Scripture. Scripture gives a clear command to desire the gifts (1 Cor. 14:1). Would Paul tell us to desire something that is going to cease before many of us are able to understand the Gospel and then desire the gifts? Paul also tells us that the gifts are given for the building up of the church. So if the gifts are used and the church is edified wouldn’t God be glorified? After all, it is what Scripture tells us to do.
Most of the issues arises with the gift of prophesy. Often times prophesy is misrepresented as a new revelation from God. Something new from God that isn’t included in Scripture. This is by no means what is actually meant Scriptural New Testament prophesy. The definition that Wayne Grudem gives is prophesy is something that God “spontaneously brought to mind”. It’s a direct word from God, and neither is it authoritative. Prophesy can be used to glorify God. Perhaps in a church business meeting, the members are stuck at a crossroads about whether to add another service or find a new location or go multisite, the Holy Spirit presses upon someone’s heart to stand up and tell them to go multisite. They are obedient and do so, the church decides to do multisite and the church grows. God would be glorified. Nothing went against Scripture, everything was within the realms of Orthodoxy.
Hopefully with the first point I cast the reel and you bit the worm, now it’s time to reel you in! Typically when someone starts talking about the Gifts of the Spirit people get anxious. Their first thought is some crazy guy running around mumbling, somebody hits him in the head and he gets up and starts handling a snake. It may be slightly embellished, but it’s true. A lot of my Reformed friends see an issue with the gifts functioning in an orderly way in worship. Hopefully my next point will clarify that.
Continuationsim Functions Best Under The Regulative Principle
Among the Reformed crowd, there is known what is called the Regulative Principle. The Regulative Principle, in simplest terms states: worship is to be done according to Scripture, and only what is prescribed in Scripture is to be used. That’s a very watered down version that probably doesn’t do it justice for what some believe concerning worship.[1] It’s counterpart is the Normative Principle, which states: whatever is not prohibited in Scripture is permitted in worship, so long as it is agreeable to the peace and unity of the Church.”[2]
So, coming from a stance holding to the Regulative Principle how would the gifts function under something typically so orderly? Well Paul, I believe, would be in favor of the Regulative Principle insofar as it doesn’t become authoritative or legalistic, and he would permit the gifts to function in an orderly fashion. Look at 1 Corinthians 14:26-40, especially verse 40. Notice what the Apostle says about how the gifts are to function in a church service, decently and in order. These two words are significant to understanding this. Decently, in the original language means “honest”. So one shouldn’t function in their gift in a dishonest or deceitful way. Orderly means “in time, fixed succession”. There is a time during the worship service for the edification of the Saints by the use of the gifts. It’s not happy hour at the local pub and everybody gets to speak at once. It is orderly. Scripture teaches (Sola Scriptura) that the gifts function in an orderly manner (Regulative Principle). In order to ensure order is kept I would suggest that prophesy and the like be filtered through an elder first. Doing this, if it is something that doesn’t need to be said publically it can redirected to be told to the appropriate people privately. I simply believe this to be a wise use of the Godly men who shepherd the flock.

Conclusion
In conclusion, I believe that Scripture teaches that the gifts do in fact continue today, and that they should only function under the authority of Scripture which I believe also teaches an orderly worship service. Therefore, I believe that being both Reformed and a Continuationist is compatible and not a contradiction of beliefs.
[1] For a couple of good resources concerning the Regulative Principle, R.C. Sproul has a good article ( http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/regulative-principle-worship ), as well, Mark Dever has two chapters in his book The Deliberate Church (Crossway, 2005) dedicated to understanding and applying this principle. The Westminster Confession of Faith is also a go-to resource.
[2] Regulative Principle. n.d. http://theopedia.com/regulative-principle Accessed (August 9, 2015)

Old Priesthood, Same Covenant 

“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;” – Hebrews 8:1 KJV

One of the biggest disputed topics between Reformed Baptists and Reformed Presbyterians is that of the New Covenant. More specifically, what is new within the New Covenant.
What’s not new about the New Covenant.
Before I begin, I think it is important to discuss what is not new in the New Covenant. Our main passage is going to be Hebrews 8, and many of the things said here about the new covenant is not really new at all. The following things are often presented as new realities of the new covenant, however , as we will see, these were all precious realities within the old covenant.
No Differences

Those who argue against Paedobaptism often use the passage in Hebrews to prove that the new covenant is new in two aspects, both in its essential nature and in its membership. The passage often used in support of this is verse 11 in Hebrews 8. As we look further, we will see that neither are new in the new covenant.

Internal Religion

“I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” – Hebrews 8:10 KJV

Many people believe the newness of the new covenant is that it is an internal religion. The assertion is that believers in the old covenant did not have this internal reality that we do. However, scripture seems to indicate otherwise...”And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” – Deuteronomy 6:6 KJV (Emphasis mine)

We know that regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit, and since there were regenerate people prior to Christ’s incarnation (Hebrews 11.), we must assert that they were made alive by the inward working of the Spirit of God.
“I delight to do thy will, O my God: Yea, thy law is within my heart” – Psalm 40:8 KJV (Emphasis mine)

Knowledge of the Lord 

This is one of the characteristics of the new covenant, but itself is not what is new of the new Covenant. Credobaptists argue that those of the new covenant will know the Lord savingly, or that the entire new covenant is made up only of the elect. However, we know that not everyone in the new covenant is saved. Covenant membership does not equate with election. This is the fatal error many Federal Visionists make. We have many warnings and exhortations throughout Scripture to prove ourselves as covenantally faithful, not covenant rebels. Even our Lord said that the church would be mixed of believers and unbelievers. We must understand that this verse, within context, is about how some form of teaching is going to cease that was present within the old covenant administration.
Divine Mercy

Some believe that the full pardoning of sin was not present within the old covenant administration, however this simply cannot be. Does God change? Of course not! Those of faith within the old covenant administration were saved just as we are today: By faith alone in Christ alone.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” – Psalm 103:12 KJV

“But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him and His righteousness unto children’s children.” – Psalm 103:17 KJV




So what is new about the new covenant? We’ve established that within the old covenant there was total forgiveness of sins, that there is still apostasy within the new covenant, and that there was an internal reality to the worship and faith of the old covenant saints. As I’ve noted earlier, we see that knowledge of the Lord characterizes the new covenant, but not in the way credobaptists believe. Some form of teaching is going to cease.
A Priest Not of This World

Lets look at Hebrews 7, 8, and 9 for the context of how Paul introduces the New Covenant.
“For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrafices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if He were on earth, He should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law;” – Hebrews 8:3-4 KJV



“Then verily the first covenant had also irdinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.” – Hebrews 9:1 KJV



The context given here is of worship, namely through the offerings of the priesthood by the ceremonial law.
Looking at Hebrews 8:11, we come across the phrase “all shall know me, from the least of them to the gratest of them.” As I’ve noted before, this is not saying that this knowledge is knowing the Lord savingly. I feel that this verse, in context, is speaking about the abrogation of the Priesthood, whose role was one of instruction and teaching of the laymen of Israel. (Deuteronomy 33:8,10; Malachi 2:6-7)

The Priesthood held the honor of being “known” by the Lord because they were the ones who served the Lord in his tabernacle, and made offerings “before the Lord.”
What has ceased under the new administration of the covenant of Grace is the need of an earthly priesthood to offer ceremonial sacrifices. Looking at the other aspects of the old administration, we see they too existed. (Divine initiative, Inward/Spiritual realities, total forgiveness of sins, etc..) The only difference is that now we no longer need a priesthood to perform these ceremonial sacrifices and feasts that would tell us of what the Christ would do. Rather, We now have a new administration with sacraments that point back to what the Christ has done, no longer teaching us, but causing us to reflect upon the reality rather than learn about the type.
Another way of showing this is that the phrase, “from the least of them to the greatest of them,” is about ranks, or classes, of people. We see it used this way numerous times throughout both testaments. (Genesis 19:11, Deuteronomy 1:17, Acts 26:22, and even Jeremiah uses this phrase 7 times, each speaking of ranks or classes of people.)
The newness of the new covenant is that we no longer need an earthly preist to teach us of what Christ will do, because we now have Christ as our high priest who has in Himself fulfilled the ceremonial law that taught of what He would do.

“Hebrews 8:11 explains that part of the newness of the new covenant is found in the removal of the Levitical preisthood-an office that was especially engaged in teaching and representing the knowledge of the Lord to the people. This function is something that Jeremiah explained would one day no longer occur; it would cease. And this teaching that would cease would have a pervasive effect on all the covenant people. Now that God removed this way of teaching the knowledge of the Lord and is bringing in the Gentiles in significant measure, it is accurate to say that “all will know Me, from the least to the greatest of them.” – Jeffrey D. Niell, The Newness of the New Covenant.