Lakeside Fellowship Blog

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

Session 9: Does God Still Speak Today?

by Administrator 28. November 2015 16:40
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 9: Does God Still Speak Today?, Bob Sweeny shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #8: How was your thinking most challenged by the lesson? Well I did a little research online to help me get some discernment on this issue but I’m not sure if it helped or not. I did not realize this to be such a big issue until our class and reading about it online. Honestly, I don’t have this nailed down yet and I am getting tossed around a bit.  As soon as I read a verse, or someone else’s blog, it sways my conclusion.  One major view point is that because of a lack of faith or seeking God on our part, that the special revelations have diminished or ceased, but God still wants to give them. In part they use 1 Corinthians 14:1-7 to support this. Basically they say that because we don’t pray and believe we can do the gifts through Christ, we can’t. But in 1 Corinthians 12:28-31, it talks about that we all have different gifts and that we should desire the gifts that are the most helpful. So it’s possible that the gifts that are least helpful have passed away because they are no longer profitable for today.  A gift like teaching, preaching, or helping may be more profitable to spread the true Gospel than tongues, miracles, and healing in today’s culture.  If the ceasing of signs and wonders were due to a lack of faith, I think there would still be someone who had a great faith and did these signs with a pure heart and motive, like Paul. All of the “miracle workers” that I know of today can very easily be proven to be false by their motives or false message. I think I have come to the conclusion that the special revelations have ceased for now. Though at any time God could use them again if He should so choose. Whatever your spiritual gift is, using your gift with the right motive and purpose is probably far more important than what your gift is and the WOW factor of it. We who have believed in Christ for the forgiveness of sins have different gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit and as a part of the body of Christ we should use them for His glory and with thankfulness.

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Theology

Session 7: Traditions in Christian Theology

by Administrator 28. November 2015 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: 7 Traditions in Christian Theology, Jesse Vonbehren shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #5: Do you think the Gospel is preserved in the Protestant Church today? Why or why not? When looking at whether I think the Gospel is preserved in the Protestant Church today I think it is important to define “preserved”. According to Google to preserve something means to: maintain (something) in its original or existing state. retain (a condition or state of affairs). maintain or keep alive. When thinking about this question I looked back at my church upbringing at a Lutheran church. I feel fortunate to be raised in a home that had Christian principles and traditions. Every Sunday when attending church we would go through the Lord’s Prayer, Nicene, Apostle’s, and/or Athanasian Creed, an old testament reading, a new testament reading and a gospel message (which is what the sermon was mostly about). I believe all churches think they are preserving the gospel however, in my opinion I think the majority of them skew it for their own benefit.   I was given a great Christian  foundation, but as I continue to learn more and more from God’s word,  I realize how each church affiliation “tweaks” the Word through their separate interpretation. Several years ago during my Christian journey I was yearning for more so I started looking for something other than a feel good sermon from a pastor that attempted to relate the gospel message to modern day life.  I wanted to know what God’s word truly said, not what someone thought it said and how they thought it related to today. As we have learned in theology class, tradition is important but should not be the at the forefront of a church’s stage of truth. The traditions we kept at the Lutheran church were comfortable because we knew what to expect, but it seemed to be done as a mindless routine not spoken from the heart. Thankfully I was introduced to Lakeside. It is here that my journey with the Lord continues and I am challenged daily because of the weekly message that comes directly from the Word. Ironically, I think the combination of the mind numbing traditions and sermons that may sugar coat the truth are hurting the attendance at some protestant churches.  Overall, I think many churches are fooling themselves by thinking they are using the Gospel for its intended purpose.  I can only go from my personal experience, but the sermons from my previous church seemed to be very watered down and only give the feel good part of the story and not always the real truth.  It seemed to me that pastors were getting more and more afraid of offending people rather than sharing the Word in its most basic form. Churches are more concerned about the number of people in church than what the message is. Pastor Dave uses the phrase, “highly religious but totally lost.” When having a discussion about this with friends and family they tend to be very defensive. Which I get, and am not trying to attack their denomination or Christian affiliation; I just want to challenge them to research and look at the Word to see if what they are practicing does truly come from scripture.

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Theology

Session 5: Christian Epistemology

by Administrator 27. October 2015 07:29
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, Steve Sloan shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #8: To be perspicuous means “plain to the understanding especially because of clarity and precision of presentation” (Webster’s). Name some teachings of Scripture that are plain to the understanding. Before we get to the teachings let’s see if we can’t come to a wee bit better understanding of perspicuous and epistemology. So here we go. One of the biggest challenges in the Introduction to Theology class is to learn and understand the meaning of some new (to some of us students at least), heavy words that most of us usually do not hear in church or anywhere else for that matter. As the meaning of these new words becomes clearer to us through our studies, understanding of some of our long held beliefs and ideas can become clearer or better understood. This is in part the meaning of the word perspicuous, one of those heavy new words mentioned and defined above. Epistemology is another one of those heavy words and is a fairly recent word as far as the age of words goes; only formed in English (from the Greek) around 1856, and means – study or theory of knowledge. So, Christian Epistemology would be the study or theory of Christian knowledge, and combining that with perspicuous would mean a plain, clear presentation of Christian knowledge. Now that sounds nice and easy on the surface, but who determines what Christian knowledge is and what does clear mean. Something might be clear to you but not so clear to me. Sort of like my neighbor’s son who thinks his pink Mohawk haircut looks really good but to me that goodness is not so clear. Proverbs 12:17 seems to me to be about as plain as can be. It says, “A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies”. That seems to be a pretty clear bit of Christian knowledge. Truthful equals honest, false denotes lying. John 14:6 is another teaching from scripture that seems pretty plain and understandable. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus told Thomas, in no uncertain or unclear terms, that there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ himself. Paul says in his letter to the Romans in Chapter 6 verse 23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So plainly, if we sin, we die. Pretty simple, except that God forgives us through Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to say in his letter to Titus 1:1-2, “the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time”. Quite clearly and simply God does not lie, and it would be hard to state things any clearer than that. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Pretty plain, pretty simple. The teachings from the above scriptures that seem to be very clear and plain are that God does not lie and we should not either. We are all sinners and that the price of our sin is our death, but the good news is that we can get back to God and live in his grace forever through Jesus Christ. We have now just experienced an example of perspicuous Christian epistemology.

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Theology

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