Lakeside Fellowship Blog

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

Session 4: Postmodern Epistemology

by Administrator 27. October 2015 07:19
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, John Feldman shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #8: In what ways would having a subjective or relative worldview cause you despair? Simply stated, a relative worldview is one in which truth is defined by some group; in a subjective worldview, the individual defines his or her own truth. My Christian worldview is that there is one God and Creator who is all-knowing, ever-present, all-powerful, holy, righteous, just, and unchanging. I am a child of the one God and my future is settled and secured by Jesus’ finished work on the cross. He loved me so much that He sent his only Son so that through believing in Him, I am saved. The result of my worldview is the opposite of despair – it gives me peace, joy, love, comfort, satisfaction, and confidence. I have to admit, it is difficult to imagine living in a world (view) where truth is defined by some group of flawed humans. Groups of humans are usually pretty dysfunctional. United Nations, Congress, legislatures, city councils, church boards, committees, families, and groups of friends or neighbors all have one thing in common - they are made up of humans. These are flawed individuals with their own agendas, transient opinions, and less than perfect communications. Trying to stay current with and adapt to the ever-changing truth defined by some group of flawed individuals would be a tiring and ultimately impossible challenge. Yesterday’s “truth” is now passé and might actually be offensive to the group today. But I should have known that, right? My group’s truth is different than your group’s truth. See any trouble there? Maybe it would be easier living in a world (view) defined by my own version of truth. There may be a few problems to overcome. Sometimes, I have a hard time making decisions (defining truth). I am usually a fair person – except early mornings when I’m pretty self-centered. I am pretty wise; I have fewer lapses in judgment than I did 30 years ago. I’m fairly holy except in some areas I don’t often talk about. Would I want to rely on the truth determined by me or by the Designer and Creator of the universe? I will stick with letting Him define truth – He will anyway, regardless of what I think.

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Theology

Session 3: Categories of Theology

by Administrator 11. October 2015 10:09
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: 3 Categories of Theology, Craig Sparks shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #2: Some Christian apologists (often called Classical apologists) believe that using the Bible to convince an unbeliever of a Christian worldview is impossible because the unbeliever does not believe the Bible. Do you believe that this is true? No, not all unbelievers reject or oppose the bible. Some unbelievers have just not been exposed to the truth in the Bible. They have not had someone in their life or a believing church cross their path to encourage them to read and understand the truth that the Bible holds. Additionally, many religions and churches do not encourage individuals to open a Bible and read what it has to say and understand it, let alone apply it directly to their lives. Many churches hold fast to traditions and fail to adequately teach and encourage each member/attendee to see what the Word of God has to provide for their life. I am an example of this. Where I grew up there were predominantly Catholic and Lutheran churches. These religions and churches were, and still are, all about tradition. I did not understand what the traditions meant; I just knew how to follow them. I definitely did not understand the Biblical truth that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. All I needed was for God to show me the path he had for me and to put someone like Tony and Theresa O’Tool in my life to lead me to a church like Lakeside that was different. A church that believes and teaches solely what God’s Word has to say. This is a great reminder for me and should be to all of us to be comfortable and relaxed about approaching others and sharing our testimony about how God provided a way through Jesus Christ for our sins to be washed away and forgiven completely. Many people are just waiting to see that there is a different option in church than what their “normal” has taught them. God maybe have put me or you in someone’s path recently. Don’t ignore the Holy Spirit guiding you to talk to someone. Romans 3:23-24 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

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Theology

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