Lakeside Fellowship Blog

Theology 1 Session 3: Categories of Theology

by Administrator 11. February 2017 09:17
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 Categories of Theology, Justin Sands shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #7: It was said during the lesson that when reading the Bible “it does not matter what it means to you. It matters what it meant.” How is this true? Discuss.  I chose to discuss this question because it applied directly to our family’s search for a church home and a daycare. During our search we heard everything from “it does not matter as long as you love Jesus” to “we really allow families to interpret the Bible as it pertains to them.” As a strong believer in God’s Word, I realize there is, without a doubt, an absolute truth so we ran from these places a fast as possible. However, I soon realized that didn’t know how to back up the idea of absolute truth from Scripture. During our class discussion about interpreting Scripture, we learned no personal interpretation can change the original author’s intent or meaning. The original author’s intent is what it is and cannot or ever will be changed. The original author influenced by their experiences wrote Scripture as God inspired them. The meaning of what they wrote does not change because our current society or desires are different. For me, the eye opening difference was learning about the Author’s intent. What did God intend for the human author to write and what does it mean for all people throughout all time periods. Obviously we are imperfect beings and as individuals we are often biased when trying to comprehend God’s intended meaning. God is perfect and the Bible is without error; this is a fact. It is our obligation to take the entirety of Scripture and figure out how these truths apply to us today. As discussed, the last step is taking the human author’s intent, discerning the more important Author’s (God’s) intent, finding the timeless principle, and then applying that to our world and our lives. All of these pieces are important and if we are honest with ourselves we will recognize even Christians can allow their biases to affect their interpretation of the Bible. Since the Bible is without error, it only matters what it means and not what we think it means. God inspired the original authors to write down His truth, so it doesn’t matter what it means to us, but what God means and how we are to apply His truth. Our lesson taught us we can rightly understand Scripture by considering the historical, grammatical, contextual, and literary interpretation of the text. Rightly understanding Scripture is our responsibility as believers and to know how those unchanging truths apply to us today. There is a real danger in not studying the entire Word of God and surrounding ourselves with other believers. If we allow various “truths” into our lives we run the risk of straying from God’s intent. When we do not have a foundational concept of God’s intended message it can become impossible to properly apply His Word to our lives. Any misapplication of God’s Word can spread to our families and others who are trusting in us.  

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Theology

Theology 1 Session 2: Defining Theology

by Administrator 28. January 2017 10:06
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 Defining Theology, Amanda Sparks shares her thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #7: How are the issues like getting sick, choosing schooling for our children, voting, or getting married influenced by our theology? In our notes, there are examples of areas of our lives that are affected by our theology. These areas can include times when we are sick, voting, getting married, schooling for our children, sharing the gospel, or how we interpret the Bible. Discussion question seven asks us: how are these areas influenced by our theology? I’d like to give my answer to that question in this blog post. Each person’s theology is their personal study of God; from that study a person will form their personal beliefs about God. Those beliefs influence and help determine how a person makes small and large decisions. Those beliefs will also determine a person’s point of view on the world, situations, and experiences. It also helps determine how a person will react when God puts them through a trial. First I’ve chosen to look at getting married. When making the decision to marry someone, theology plays a big role. Some people would believe that its choice, fate, or chance to find the right person. Others believe that God has a plan for their life and that includes who they will marry. The process of finding the right person is affected by our theology. When dating we compare our beliefs that have been based off our theology to help us determine if the person is the right one. Do they believe there is a God, do they believe God is good, do they believe that Christ is the Savior and that He did die on the cross? This list of questions could go on and on. Once someone knows another’s beliefs they have to then look at do our beliefs align and if they don’t align then a person has to determine how important is my belief and can I live with their beliefs? Once married the beliefs of the individuals will become the beliefs of the family and determine the children’s theology. Lastly, I want to share how my theology affected an experience in my life. This August will be 10 years since our son was born, lived for 60 hours, and died. I knew at 20 weeks of pregnancy that Noah would die after he was born and my beliefs guided so many decisions along the way and my perspective. My theology led me to believe in God’s purpose for each life, even one that would be so short. From my theology I was able to believe in God’s ability to take care of me and that determined I would carry Noah until God said it was time for him to be born. The study of God’s Word gave me strength and the promises in His Word helped me to find joy in what we had instead of jealousy or anger in what we didn’t or wouldn’t have. Had I not had God’s Word, the promises in them, and had I not studied them for myself, my life and Noah’s would have been different. I didn’t know it then but my theology played a very large role in how those nine months were lived and loved.

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Theology

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 6a: Calling & Regeneration

by Administrator 5. March 2016 16:09
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 6a: Calling & Regeneration, Gina Beecher shares her thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #1: Read Ps. 19:1-6 and Rom 1:18-20. Give examples of how creation is the “voice of God” that goes out to all people. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. This is the first sentence in the Bible, God’s revelation to mankind. In the Bible, God reveals his plan for salvation through his Son who is the image of the invisible God. But He also reveals Himself in His creation, through beauty, complexity, and the human conscience. The beauty of creation is one example of the voice of God. Although we do not consider the words of nature audible, Psalm 19 says that day after day they pour out speech to all the world, so much so, that the glory of God is declared. Whether it be a beautiful sunset on a dusty Iowa road, a quiet first snowfall of the season, a view from the top of the Smoky Mountains, or the thunderous noise of Niagara Falls, when one views these things you either see the hand of God or suppress it. The complexity of creation is another example of the voice of God. It doesn’t take a degree in biology or astronomy to know that this world is amazingly complicated. I have been working as a physical therapist with individuals affected by brain injury for the last several years. The human brain is by far the most complex organ in our body, and daily I can see the act of God in the recovery from injury to this organ. The human body has an amazing ability to make new pathways and compensate for areas lost after a brain injury. Every brain is different and so no person presents with symptoms the same as another, even after an injury that occurs in the same location of the brain. Recovery is unknown and difficult for health professionals to predict. Patients and family members hear “We don’t know” a lot! Lastly our place in creation is an example of the voice of God. I remember the first time I realized that there had to be something greater than me. I noticed my conscience for the first time, and was amazed that I had internal thoughts. It was then that I realized that people are unique, more than animals, created in the image of God. We serve an all powerful, all knowing, amazing God who has made Himself clearly known to all people through His creation. Our response should lead to praise and worship and a desire to bring glory to Him as His created beings. Psalm 96:3-6 Declare his glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise: He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in His sanctuary.

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Theology

Session 5: Atonement - Substitutionary Theory

by Administrator 20. February 2016 08:30
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 5: Atonement - Substitutionary Theory, Bob Sweeny shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #5: One objection to the Substitution Theory of the Atonement is that if Christ took our exact penalty, why isn’t He in Hell for all eternity? One objection to the Substitution Theory of the Atonement is that if Christ took our exact penalty, why isn’t He in Hell for all eternity? I have had this question cross my mind a few times and never had a definite answer. Not that I will completely answer this question in a short blog post, but maybe give some more insight on this question. As I have learned in Theology Class, some things are a mystery to us and not meant to be known for now. In my mind it seems that if I deserve Hell and someone had to pay my penalty then it must be like-for-like. I deserve to endure Hell forever then Christ must endure Hell forever for me right? But that is not what happened. Why? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. ~1 Corinthians 15:13-14 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. ~ John 10:17-18 Just a couple of verses on Christ’s death and resurrection, but very powerful. In 1 Corinthians it says that if Christ did not rise again from death our faith is in vain. First off all we need a mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) and if Christ was in Hell our mediator would still be in Hell and that would do us little good, for He is the only mediator between us and God. Also I think that Christ did not only have to take our penalty and suffer God’s wrath on the cross but had to be victorious over death. Which He has the power to do and was commanded by the Father (John 10:17-18). If He had no power over death He would not be God nor have power over His and our death. Ultimately I know that I need a Savior who has the power over sin, death and hell, Savior who is in Heaven before God for me, not in Hell. Jesus lived a perfect life I could never live, died for my sins that He did not commit and has victory over death. This should be enough for us because it is enough for God.

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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

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