The topic of family relations is vital in life (including Christian ministry). Our calling in the Spirit is to think and act out of the truth of the gospel, which is that all humanity is united to God (and one another) in the person of the incarnate, crucified, risen and ascended God-man Jesus.
To inform our thinking along these lines, I recommend the following biblically-based resources:
Gary Deddo on trinitarian family relations (click here)
Gary Deddo on why we're gendered beings (click here)
In a previous post titled, Will all be saved?, I noted a question raised by Rob Bell in his controversial book, Love Wins. That question is this: Can people get out of hell? To answer this question, we must consider two others: Is a person's fate determined permanently at death?If not, on what basis might those in hell get out?
Many Christians answer "yes" to question number one. In support of their position they frequently cite Hebrews 9:27, understanding this scripture to assert that upon death, a person is judged and the decision rendered is irreversible.
However, using this passage to make this point is, in my view, questionable. Note that the context is the universal scope of Jesus' substitutionary, atoning work, which he did "once for all" (Hebrews 9:26). He does not accomplish this work at some future time (such as some point prior to or including the moment of our death). Also, note that Hebrews 9:27-28 points forward to a future time when Jesus wil…
A key understanding of incarnational Trinitarian theology is that God has included everyone in his love and life through the incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus and through what Jesus did at Pentecost in pouring out the Holy Spirit on all humanity. Are we then saying that all people have the Holy Spirit? There are several issues at work here, which I'll briefly address in this post.
First, there is the nature and the timing of God’s call. Paul writes in Romans 8:30 that, "...those he [God] predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." Here Paul addresses believers, locating their call in the broad sweep of salvation history, which sees all humanity as included in Christ---in what he accomplished for all humanity through his life, death and resurrection. This is the objective or universal reality of salvation history. And it is stunning good news!
Are theology and biblical studies the same thing? If not, how do they relate? How are they different? Are they in conflict? This article by Michael Morrison of Grace Communion Seminary addresses these and related questions. For another post on this topic, click here.
In most seminaries and Bible schools, theology and biblical studies are in separate categories. Yet most lay Christians assume they are the same. In this article we will explain why there is a difference, problems that can arise because of the difference, and how biblical studies and theology can both be better if they work together. A brief history of biblical studies
The early church taught the gospel, and educated pagans said, “Oh really? How does that work?” Some of the pagans wanted to ridicule people who believed the gospel about a crucified hero; others were genuinely interested.
So the early church leaders began to answer some of the philosophical and logical questions about salvation through Christ – often using …
As the book's title suggests, it summarizes the incarnational Trinitarian theology of Thomas F. (TF) and James B. (JB) Torrance, particularly in the areas of soteriology (salvation) and sanctification (holiness and Christian living). It also offers suggestions for how Torrance theology might be clarified and expanded, particularly related to the outworking, through the ministry of the Spirit…
This post continues a review of Alexandra Radcliff's book, The Claim of Humanity in Christ, Salvation and Sanctification in the Theology of T. F. and J. B. Torrance. For previous posts in this series, click a number: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. Last time we saw what Torrance theology says concerning how the vicarious (substitutionary, representative) humanity of Jesus Christ is central to a biblical understanding of salvation and the atonement. We saw how the Torrance brothers emphasize that Jesus' resurrection not only confirms that by his death we have been forgiven, it also points to the new birth of a righteous humanity in Christ. The Torrances then note that in Jesus' ascension this new humanity "is raised up in Christ to share by the Spirit in his perfect relationship with the Father" (p. 61). JB Torrance puts it this way:
The Son of God takes our humanity, sanctifies it by his vicarious life in the Spirit (John 17:17-18), carries it to the grave to be crucified…
In about A.D. 180, Irenaeus (pictured at right) wrote the statement below concerning the triune nature of God. Here we find the basic elements of the doctrine of the Trinity. Note, in particular, the distinct role of each member of the Godhead and its relationship to all of humanity.
This is the rule of our faith, the foundation of the building, and what gives support to our behavior. God the Fatheruncreated,who is uncontained, invisible, one God, creator of the universe; this is the first article of our faith.
And the second is: The Word of God, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who appeared to the prophets according to their way of prophesying and according to the dispensation of the Father. Through him all things were created. Furthermore, in the fullness of time, in order to gather all things to himself, he became a human being amongst human beings, capable of being seen and touched, to destroy death, bring life, and restore fellowship between God and humanity.
And the thir…
Note: this is a re-post of a Surprising God post that appeared first in April, 2011. Because I have received questions about this issue, I'm repeating that post here, with a few updates. For much greater detail on what this post summarizes, I commend to you the essay by Gary Deddo, titled "Clarifying our Theological Vision." Also see the "GCI Weekly Update" article titled "Living the Redeemed Life."
A blog reader asked if the understanding that all humanity is included in God's love and life, means that all people are already spiritually alive (i.e. "born again"). My answer is this: to be included in God's life and to be born again are related, but not the same. Let me explain.
Time and again, Scripture proclaims that what God has done (through the incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension of his Son, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost) transforms all humanity. Here are some of the verses of Scripture speak…
This post continues a series re-capping insights from Alexandra Radcliff's book, The Claim of Humanity in Christ, Salvation and Sanctification in the Theology of T. F. and J. B. Torrance. For previous posts in the series, click a number: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9. Last time, we saw that T.F. and J.B. Torrance view sanctification not merely as our imitation of Jesus (seeing him as a distant model to emulate), but as our active participation, by the Holy Spirit, in Jesus' ongoing love and life as our Mediator and High Priest. From this incarnational, Trinitarian perspective, the key question when it comes to sanctification is not What would Jesus do? (then trying to follow his example in seeking to transform ourselves), but What is Jesus doing? (then, by the Spirit, participating with him). "Participation" is thus a key word for the Torrances, and in this post we'll see how and why, noting their understanding of the essential work of the Holy Spirit in our sanctificat…
This post continues a series re-capping insights from Alexandra Radcliff's book, The Claim of Humanity in Christ, Salvation and Sanctification in the Theology of T. F. and J. B. Torrance. For previous posts in the series, click a number: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9. Last time, we noted what Torrance theology says concerning the Holy Spirit's role in our sanctification. The Torrance brothers (Thomas F. [TF] and James B. [JB]) both teach that the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ, who in his vicarious humanity sanctifies us. A criticism of the Torrances on this point is that their view seems to negate the role of a person in their own sanctification. But as we noted last time, that criticism is unwarranted. The Torrances teach that in our spiritual union with Christ by the Spirit, we participate in Christ's response to God made on our behalf. As Radcliff notes, "This participatory scheme, rather than diminishing our human response, truly establishes it" (p. 99). As we als…
I was sent the following question: Doesn't John 3:36 (and also John 3:18) indicate that non-believers will not see life, and that God's wrath is still on them?
Here is my reply:
John 3:36 says this: "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them." How are we to understand this statement?
From a perspective of a theology of separation, this verse would be interpreted as saying that God stands separate from and in wrath toward all people *until* the moment they believe in his Son, at which point in time, God enters their lives (for the first time), stops being wrathful toward them, and grants them eternal life.
But is this interpretation justified? We would say no. Why? Because it is not consistent with what Scripture tells us about who God is - as revealed to us in the person of Jesus. According to that revelation, rather than separate from sinners, God is "a friend of sinners&qu…