Lakeside Fellowship Blog

Theology 1 Session 5: Categories of Theology

by Administrator 21. February 2017 07:24
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: 5 Christian Epistemology, Adam McClain shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #2: Reread the postmodernist objections to Christianity. Which objections have you heard the most? Which objections do you find the most difficult? Why? I like this question because it makes me think about the tools I need to develop and keep in order to be a good ambassador for Christ. These questions are not comfortable to think about, but they are good practice for the real world discussions that will indeed happen as we spread the Gospel. There was also a question about modernist objections to Christianity, but the postmodernist view is more prevalent in today’s society so I thought it more relevant. Through our studies, we have learned that postmodernist society focuses on fairness, relationships, and emotion. It stresses “feeling” and can often be identified by the “I feel like…” statement to try to validate that everyone’s truth is subjective to them. Our lesson had a list of 10 postmodernist objections to Christianity. Of those ten, I have heard these the most: “If God exists, why is there evil?” I have also heard this worded as “If God is all good and all powerful, why would he let there be evil?” My best response to this is that God is also all-knowing and ever-present. Only He can know how everything will work out, and it is impossible for us to understand. I am especially interested to hear others’ comments on this one. “Christianity is a way to God, but not the only way.”This one is a really good example of the postmodernist view that truth is relative. The belief is that what may be true for you may not be true for me. While this may the case with some things, like the ideal temperature of a room, those are not really absolute truths. It would be comforting to think that everyone could get to God in their own way as long as they are good people. But it is a dangerous way to believe because there is only one true way to God. The Word of God in Scripture is truth. In John 14:6 Jesus tells us “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”Ok, I have to admit that this is one I have really struggled with. Who hasn’t asked “why me?” at one point or another in their lives? The important thing to remember is that God has a plan for everyone, and we cannot always understand how it will play out. Personally, I went through a lot of struggles in the last 5-10 years and asked “why me?” or a version of that many, many times. At the time, it seemed impossible that there could be some master plan in motion. But now, looking back, I realize that God was challenging me and giving me the experience necessary to help others in my life who now face similar challenges. Without His guidance and pushing me in the right direction, I would not be where I am today in my relationship with Jesus and would not be saved. Of the list of 10 postmodernist objections, this is the one I find the most difficult: “What about those who have never heard?”This one really tugs at my heartstrings and I it challenges my sense of fairness and justice. I mean, how could it be right that an otherwise innocent person, through no fault or action of their own, would be condemned to an eternity in Hell? Do they deserve the same eternal fate as someone who was consciously evil, like Adolph Hitler and the perpetrators of the Holocaust? In my eyes, of course, they don’t deserve it (and I am aware that is my “postmodernist” view). However, I have to remember that the Bible is the Word of God and the ultimate truth, and according to that truth the only way to be saved is through Jesus Christ. There are some things we as humans cannot understand, and this is one that I am sure I will continue to struggle with. But I do believe in the Word, so I know it to be true.

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Theology

Theology 1 Session 4: Categories of Theology

by Administrator 21. February 2017 07:11
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 Postmodern Epistemology, Dan Jones shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #9: Explain how was your thinking most challenged by the lesson. I will focus this blog on postmodernism as it pertains to the United States. I believe this will provide a current example of the degradation of the Church, as postmodern thinking has had a very visible effect on Christianity in the West. The best and most relevant definition of postmodern thinking is this: feelings, fairness, and subjectivity replace fact, logic, and objectivity. In other words, postmodern thinking suggests that truth can be anything you wish it to be; therefore, there are no absolute, objective truths. Recent examples of this line of thinking have made rounds on the news cycle multiple times. A male, wishing himself to be female, declares to the world that he now “identifies” as a female, and demands to be treated as such. A large number of people reason that a “fetus” is not a life, but a bundle of cells that can be disposed of at leisure at any time in the pregnancy. Postmodern fairness couples with relative truth to attempt to force these examples to be acceptable to our society. It would not be uncommon to be branded with an undesirable moniker if one spoke contrary to these positions. These are just two examples of societal moral decay brought about by postmodern ideology. What is the Church supposed to do in a society that currently demonizes any opinion that is contrary to postmodern ideals of fairness and feelings? Now enters the decay of the Church brought about by moral decay of society. In recent years there have been some denominations and congregations that wholeheartedly embrace a “change with the times” type of message. Some embrace and permit homosexual relationships, transgenderism, abortion, and preach a social justice “gospel”, with no attempt to declare the sinful and unbiblical nature of these activities. Instead, they are presented with a false gospel that falls far short of salvation. These types of congregations provide for a “feel-good” church experience. For the postmodern, there can be no judgment, no objectively right or wrong action (sin), and no prospect of punishment. These things are all relative to the individual. This leaves sin open to interpretation. They are presented with all of the good things of Christianity, but none of the “bad things”. The wrath of God is overlooked, as that implies that there are objective truths about sin and morality. The postmodern idea that man is generally good (not fully depraved) provides an element of universalism to the issue of salvation. There are many that follow this goodness-based system, which doesn’t necessarily stress faith in God, but rather, faith in self. This problem is perpetuated by congregations that wish everyone to feel welcome and included, but err by promoting falsehoods and overlooking the truth of Scripture. In essence, they are enabling the situation that 2 Timothy 4:3-4 warns us about: For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. Again, how does the Church react to such societal changes? By enduring the change and upholding the truths of Scripture without compromise. Congregations should welcome all who come through the doors but must, without exception, vigorously preach biblical truths that are only found in God’s word. The ideology of the postmodern age is not the first stumbling block the Church has had to deal with, and certainly won’t be the last. Christ’s true Church will always endure any persecution or societal paradigm shift.

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Theology

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

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