Lakeside Fellowship Blog

Session 6b: Calling & Regeneration

by Administrator 5. March 2016 16:24
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30Writing about Session 6b: Calling & Regeneration, Frances Sloan shares her thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #8: How was your thinking challenged the most by this lesson? Explain. This lesson helped to answer some confusing issues for me regarding salvation. All the different theories get confusing, but in the end the question we need to answer is found in Acts 16:30 “What must I do to be saved?” Scripture includes faith and repentance together in the conversion process. Acts 20:21 Paul states, “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” I have very recently trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior. So throughout this lesson I have been challenged to apply my experience to the various theories. Some 45 years ago, I answered an alter call and was baptized by immersion. This event in my life led me to believe that I was good to go. I considered myself a Christian and believed I would go to Heaven. However, there was no tangible change in my life or behavior. My true conversion happened only a few months ago. The change was incredible in my understanding and desire to learn, serve and witness. I think my experience helps me understand the Free Grace View of salvation compared to the Lordship View of salvation. The Free Grace View of salvation appears to be the view I held after answering the alter call. In this view, repentance and submitting to Christ’s Lordship is not essential. In this view, saving faith only requires an intellectual agreement with the facts of the Gospel. I felt bad about a few sins and understood Christ died on the cross for those sins, but for me, this was merely an intellectual understanding and did not involve faith or repentance on my part. Upon my true conversion, aspects of the Lordship View of salvation came into play. It teaches that both faith and repentance are essential to salvation. Through these two events, the sinner surrenders and makes Christ Lord of his or her life. Grudem, in the textbook Systematic Theology, defines repentance as a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ. In the Lordship View of salvation, it is not possible for one to accept Christ as savior (depending on him for salvation) but not as Lord (being obedient from that point on). My experience of repentance can only be explained as an act of God. I viewed myself as a good person. I honestly didn’t even realize I needed to repent. One moment I was blind, the next moment it was completely clear to me that repentance was something I had never whole heartedly done. I realized it wasn’t just a sin here and there I needed to repent of, I needed to repent of my life as a sinner. My experience is that God grants repentance. I was unable to reach the place of true repentance on my own. Grudem, in the textbook Systematic Theology, defines saving faith as “not just a belief in facts but a personal trust in Jesus... for forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God. Saving faith is different from an intellectual belief.” Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) This was made evident to me when looking deeper into John 3:16, “Whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. Please note the emphasis on the words “in him”. This is different from intellectual belief “of him” verses believing in Him as the son of God and his promises. In the Lordship View of salvation, this lesson teaches that faith is never separated from repentance. The lesson teaches that knowing, agreement and trust are elements of faith. I believe these elements are also granted by God. They have nothing to do with free will. For me, the confusion over salvation is based on a misunderstanding of man’s free will. This is a wrong premise in my opinion. If you ask the wrong question, it can lead down a road of suppositions that will validate your question or intellect... but it won’t glorify God. Whenever we want the glory for being (wise, good, etc.) it takes away from God’s glory. All glory and credit goes to God. Men and women often get too hung up on themselves and their intellect. To quote Augustine from his handbook of doctrine, Faith, Hope and Charity, “ ...the entire work is to be credited to God, who both readies the will to accept assistance, and assists the will once it has been made ready.” In the Mosaic of Christian Belief, Olsen states, “Denial of ...grace is tantamount to denying original sin and the gratuity of salvation.They (those against Augustine’s belief in original sin and predestination) broke apart the paradox of grace by placing priority on human initiative and free will over God’s assisting grace. Ephesians 2:8, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” All glory belongs to God... is the conclusion I come to in the salvation process. His love and mercy is far beyond my comprehension and I am eternally thankful.

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Theology

Session 4b: Atonement - Historical Survey

by Administrator 13. February 2016 08:21
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30Writing about Session 4: Atonement - Historical Survey, Beth Warrick shares her thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #3: “Martin Luther once said that ‘Satan is God’s Satan’. How do we often live our lives as Dualists, acting as if Satan has more power than he actually does? This theology course on the subject of Soteriology (Salvation) has brought to my attention many things in my belief of Salvation and other spiritual subjects that are either incorrect or just unclear to me. One of these subjects is regarding Satan and Hell and Satan’s power. Even before this course, God has been growing me in the ability to trust in His sovereignty and control in all things, even when sin is rampant on this earth and it seems that Satan is in control and “winning.” This course has helped strengthen that trust even more, for which I am thankful! Question 3 on page 71 of our course material states that “Martin Luther once said that ‘Satan is God’s Satan’. How do we often live our lives as Dualists, acting as if Satan has more power than he actually does?” The previous question on this same page states that “Dualism is the worldview that believes that there is a war between the good power (God) and an evil power (Satan). Both are equally powerful and both want to win. …” (this explains Dualism). I live like a Dualist when I have fear and when I get really down about the evil in this world. When I feel these things, I’m not holding on to the promises that God is in control, God is good, and that He will have the victory. I forget that nothing is outside of His plan, even the sinful things that happen, and I doubt His plan when it’s not going well. It is easy for me to see what is right in front of me and to forget what the Bible says about the hope of the future when Satan is banished. It’s hard for me to focus on my eternal life with God because Christ is my Savior when I’m free of sin instead of my short life here on earth that is full of sin. I think we can also live as Dualists when we accept our sinful tendencies as “that’s just how I am—I can’t help it” instead of believing that we can have victory over that sin through Christ’s finished work on the cross and the help of the Holy Spirit indwelling in us who are saved. Yes, we are still sinners and will still sin, but we shouldn’t accept our sin or give in to our temptations because we believe we can’t stop it—that’s giving sin and Satan more power than God. The Ransom to Satan theory is a belief that also gives Satan too much power. This theory basically gives Satan the power—God had to ransom us from him because we are sinners. God is not the offended party in this theory when actually He is, because He is righteous and holy and just. This theory also reduces the important part of God’s forgiveness in our salvation. Without realizing it, I think that I somewhat held beliefs related to this, but when this theory was explained in this course, I realized that this was very wrong. My growing understanding of the actual process of salvation has made me even more thankful for my salvation and God’s sovereignty in it. Praise God!

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Theology

Session 4a: Atonement - Historical Survey

by Administrator 13. February 2016 08:07
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30Writing about Session 4: Atonement - Historical Survey, Bryan Carlton shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #9: How was your thinking challenged the most by the lesson? As believers, atonement is something that is very important to us. It is the work of Christ in dealing with the problem posed by the sin of man, and in bringing sinners into a right relation with God. Many of the early church fathers tried to come up with ways to explain why Christ died on the cross and what exactly it was that His death accomplished. The first of these was the Recapitulation Theory. It was formulated by Irenaeus – a Greek father of the early church. This theory says that Christ lived the perfect life that Adam could not live – He “recapitulated” (or re-did) all the stages of human life and obeyed the law perfectly. And because of this perfect life, we can have salvation. Several scriptures speak to this very point – Romans 5:12,14,17, and 19 all speak to the fact that sin entered through one man’s disobedience (Adam) and how through one man’s obedience (Jesus Christ) many will be made righteous. What Irenaeus said was not false – just incomplete. If we think of the atonement merely as Christ coming to re-do a life that Adam could not do, the Cross becomes unneeded - Christ could’ve died a natural death and still atoned for our sins. This theory did not last long in the early church. The second theory was the Ransom to Satan theory. This one was surprising to me, as it was hard for me to think that someone thought that we were “owned” by Satan. This theory was followed by the early church fathers Origen and Gregory of Nyssa. The theory states that because of Adam’s sin, all of humanity was sold into bondage to Satan who had “legal” rights to them. With Christ’s death, he made payment to Satan, buying everyone back and thus making salvation possible. There are Bible verses that speak of Christ being a ransom (Mark 10:45) or Christ “buying” believers (1 Cor 6:20) or people being children of the devil (Matt 13:38, John 8:44, 1 John 3:8-10). Right away this theory should set off some alarm bells with a believer. The ransom never had to go to Satan, as it was not Satan who was offended by our sin – but the one true Holy God. It is His wrath that needed to be satisfied. It also shows that God isn’t all powerful as all He can do is pay this ransom to Satan – nothing else could be done to bring salvation to His chosen people. Lastly, it minimizes sin, and minimizes the wonderful grace and mercy that God shows us – He apparently doesn’t need to forgive us, just rescue us. This theory held on a little longer than the previous one, but by 1100 it was not a theory that was widely held on to. The third theory of the atonement is the Satisfaction Theory. This one is still held today by the Roman Catholic church. It says that man’s sinfulness wounded God’s honor and that God – out of necessity – sent Christ to restore His honor. Christ was both God and man, and restored God’s honor with His death on the cross. With that death, Christ got a reward He didn’t need since He had everything. This reward of salvation is offered to man in the form of merit and grace. While this theory rightly places the focus upon God – realizing that it is He who needs to be satisfied – there are still several points that make it incorrect. The theory states that God “needed” to do this. That would mean that God lacked something – which would instantly make Him not God. Thankfully our great God lacks nothing, and didn’t need to save us – he did so out of His own mercy and grace. It also places the focus on God’s damaged honor – not God’s breached righteousness. As you can see, this theory still doesn’t hold up – sadly, the Roman Catholic church still believes it today. Theory number 4 is a liberal theory that is followed still by many mainstream denominations today. It is the Moral Example Theory. This theory says that Christ came just to be our example – that His death on the cross was not required and has not atoning value. It is only an example for us to follow so that we would know how to live and turn to Christ in love. While it is true that we should all desire and strive to be like our savior Jesus Christ, this theory neglects the seriousness of sin. It shows God as a loving God – which is true – but fails to mention that He is a just God that requires a payment for sin. The Bible teaches that without the shedding of blood, there can be no atoning for sin (Hebrews 9:22). The mainline denominations that follow this theory are sadly growing because of this false view of God and atonement. The final historical theory of the atonement is the Governmental Theory. It was developed by a man named Hugo Grotius. He believed that Christ did not bear our punishment but suffered as an example – thus the law was honored and sinners were pardoned. Grotius envisioned God as a ruler who made a law that whoever sins should die. Since God didn’t want sinners to die He relaxed this rule and accepted the death of Christ instead. Christ’s death was a “nominal” (small/not the full cost) substitute. This theory makes the atonement optional – God could’ve done it another way. In the Bible we see Christ pray 3 times for the cup of wrath to pass from Him (Matt 26:39) if there was another way. Christ knew there wasn’t – God included this prayer in the Bible so that we would know there was no other way for our sins to be atoned for. All of these theories were interesting to me as several of them I had not heard of. The Ransom to Satan theory was the most surprising to me – and the Moral Example theory was followed by the church I grew up in. Reading through and learning about these theories shows me how important it is to study God’s word thoroughly - reading the verses in context and comparing them to other verses to mine their true meaning. Only then can we truly understand the doctrines of the Bible as they are supposed to be.

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Theology

Session 3: Conditional Election

by Administrator 13. February 2016 07:59
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30Writing about Session 3: Conditional Election, Dan Jones shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #1: The doctrine of conditional election teaches that God’s election/predestination of people is based on His foreknowledge rather than His sovereign “secret” will. How is this understanding more palatable than the doctrine of unconditional election? Conditional election states that God elected and predestined certain individuals for salvation based upon His foreknowledge. The typical argument is this “foreknowledge” is of “who will place their faith in Him”. The problem with this argument is that it places entirely too much stock in the “free will” of man and his genuine desire to seek God. Scripture states that no man will seek God on their own, nor is anyone righteous (Rom. 3:10). If no one can come to God on their own, there would be no faith for God to “foresee”. This is further reiterated by Christ, who declares: “no one can come to Me unless the Father draws him...” (John 6:44); “Everyone whom the Father gives Me will come to Me...” (John 6:37); “no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father”. These scriptures clearly state that election cannot be “conditioned” upon God’s foreknowledge of who will place their faith in Him, based upon the fact that no one seeks God, and man cannot come to faith and belief without God drawing him. Therefore, election can only be “unconditional.” Granted, conditional election is an easier pill to swallow. It places some semblance of control in our hands. I believe our human condition is to want to control every possible thing we can, which in turn makes us feel in control of our own destiny. People get fairly uneasy when there is a situation in their lives that they cannot control. With conditional election, that feeling of control is preserved with regards to salvation. There is a feel-good attitude that comes along with this. I can understand this line of thought. However, this is unbiblical. Ultimately, this takes away from God’s glory and sovereignty. It has taken me much time, thought, and prayer for me to come to terms with the doctrine of election/predestination/reprobation, and my human mind still doesn’t understand the reasoning behind all of it, beyond God’s desire to increase His own glory. However, I can come to terms with the fact that perhaps our human brains aren’t supposed to fully understand.

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Theology

Session 2: Unconditional Election

by Administrator 13. February 2016 07:40
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30Writing about Session 2: Unconditional Election, Brady Warrick shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #2: Further discuss how the doctrine of unconditional election causes distress to a person who has a family member or loved one who has not trusted in Christ. What is unconditional election? I started asking myself that after the topic was assigned to me for a blog post. According to our theology coursework, unconditional election is the belief that God predestined people for salvation before the beginning of time. God’s election is not conditioned by anything in man, good or evil, foreseen or present, but upon God’s sovereign choice. In other words, God is solely responsible for our salvation, it has nothing to do with us. We are not capable of choosing God unless he first chooses us. Romans 3:10 says “There is no one righteous, not even one, there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away...” John 6:44 states “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.” The Bible openly states that election is not a condition of man. What does this mean for those of us with “unsaved” family members? I have several family members who I am not sure if they are saved; however, God only knows if they are actually saved or will become saved. One of my close family members and I have had several discussions regarding salvation. I am almost sure that they are not saved. They have heard the Gospel, learned about Jesus, and still they reject Jesus as Savior. Does that mean I should stop bringing the Gospel to them? According to the definition of unconditional election, only God chooses those who are saved, is there anything I can do? While it is true that only God chooses us for salvation and we are not capable of choosing him first, that doesn’t mean that we should stop sharing the Gospel with the unsaved. God uses us as a conduit to communicate his good news with those who are not saved. It brings me comfort to know about the doctrine of unconditional election. My job is to spread the good news with others and work to create a platform for the good news to be shared, but my efforts will be limited by the power of God. I am thankful for that. God is sovereign, he is in control of everything, including who is saved or unsaved. I am thankful that the Lord is in control of all things, we must first look to him for wisdom and guidance. Only God saves!

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Theology

God’s Ten Step Program

by Administrator 16. August 2013 08:19
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  ~James 4:6What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. ~James 4:1,2 This letter written by James has been a call to examine your life for evidence of true salvation. The title of the sermon series Pastor chose couldn't have been more appropriate: Living Proof – How Faith Works. We have been challenged with the idea that if we have experienced saving faith, then there must be a change in our lives. There should be a change evidenced by good works, repentance, and a struggle against sin. This chapter in particular is directed at those who call themselves Christian, but give evidence of something else. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. ~James 4:3,4 James uses the subject of strife and contention in the church born out of hearts filled with evil desire and lust. He does this to point out how some people who call themselves Christian really aren't. This past Sunday Candice Smock shared with us her testimony of being saved out of that very thing. The solution for her self deception and false Christianity was the saving grace of God in Christ. That is the very thing James turns to after bringing up the subject, he offers God’s grace as the solution. But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” ~James 4:6 Pastor pointed out James issues ten commands as a call to salvation and as a right response to the truth of God’s grace is for the humble not the prideful; Pastor called it “God’s Ten Step Program.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. ~James 4:7-10 With what Pastor said in mind, take note there are ten verbs issued as a command in these verses, they are: Submit to God  Resist the devil  Draw near to God  Cleanse your hands  Purify your hearts  Be wretched  Mourn & weep  Be turned from joy to gloom  Humble yourself  All of these things are a correct and right response to an awareness of one’s own sin and the working of God’s Spirit in your heart. This is how those who are Born Again react at the moment of their new birth when, for the first time, they see their sin as God sees it. What we should take away from this message is that if this has not been our response to sin in our own lives then maybe we are like Candice was… maybe we have been calling ourselves Christian when in reality we aren't. If this is you, take heart! There is good news! Jesus Christ came and died to save sinners, so repent and believe the Good News! Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” ~Mark 1:14

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Redemption

by Administrator 24. July 2013 08:26
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O grave, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”  ~1 Corinthians 15:55for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, ~Romans 2:23,24 When once our hearts are awakened to the truth of our own sin against God and our need for salvation, understanding we can be made right and reconciled to God as a free gift certainly comes as “Good News.” Salvation and forgiveness of sin is indeed a precious gift and, according to this passage in the book of Romans, can be only found in Christ Jesus. Pastor explained to us this past Sunday that means salvation is found in what Jesus alone did for sinners. What He accomplished for us is called redemption. knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. ~1 Peter 1:18,19 Continuing with our “Big Words – Deep Truths” series on communion Sundays, Pastor unfolded for us what redemption is all about through a series of questions: What is redemption? Who is the redeemer? Who are the redeemed? What is the ransom price? How is it received? Redemption is the whole process by which Jesus came into this world and paid our debt for sinning against God and then setting us free to be adopted into God’s family, never to return to our slavery to sin. Redemption is the heart and soul of salvation and there can be no doubt that it came at a great price. The Apostle Peter tells us here in these two verses the price was beyond the value of silver and gold. Our purchase from sin to freedom and reconciliation with God was so costly that it required God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ to pay it all. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, ~Ephesians 1:7 I hope you have been meditating on this wonderful word “redemption” this week and the deep, God glorifying truth behind it. Redemption is meant by God to unite a people freed from sin, for Himself, together in one body and under one head; redemption is meant to bring glory, praise and honor to Jesus. making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. ~Ephesians 1:9-12 Praise God for our redeemer, Jesus Christ! Although the grave awaits us, there is now hope for what lies beyond it. Life and immortality await those who have been redeemed, those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ! In one beautiful redemptive act, Jesus offered His life for ours. Let us rejoice today regardless of whatever affliction troubles us, because someday the eternal life Jesus purchased with His own sinless blood will be ours. It will be without pain and sickness, it will be without crying or trouble, and it will no longer be affected by the ravages of time or destined to the grave. Redemption is a beautiful word and worthy of your meditation! But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. ~Galatians 4:4-7

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