Posted in theology, word of the week

Word of the Week: Propitiation

By Elizabeth Prata

We’re losing the meaning of our uniquely Christian words. Biblical illiteracy is high. People don’t understand the meaning of foundational words like justification, sanctification, glorification, etc., partly because the Bible isn’t read, and partly because pastors don’t use them in sermons or explain them. The thread of Christianity depends on a unity from one generation to the next of mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week. Continue reading “Word of the Week: Propitiation”

Posted in Uncategorized, word of the week

Sunday Word of the Week: Immanence

Last week the word was Transcendence. God is apart from His creation, different from it. This week the word is Immanent or Immanence,

God’s immanence refers to His presence within His creation. (It is not to be confused with imminence, which refers to the timing of Jesus’ return to earth.) A belief in God’s immanence holds that God is present in all of creation, while remaining distinct from it. In other words, there is no place where God is not. His sovereign control extends everywhere simultaneously. Source GotQuestions

Immanence: God’s presence and activity within the creation and human history. Source: Biblical Doctrine, MacArthur/Mayhue, p 931

God is so majestic! Mysterious! How can He be both apart from His creation, and present within it?! At the same time? It shows who our God is. It’s why I chose these two words one after the other to demonstrate His essential otherness.

One other notion that is important to emphasize.

Pantheism and deism twist many people’s view of how God relates to His creation. Pantheists believe that everything is God or is a part of God, making Him equal with His creation and unable to act upon it. Deists hold that God is distinct from His creation but deny that He plays an active role in it. Contrary to these and other false views of God, the Bible says that God is both different from His creation and actively upholding it.

We must not stress His immanence at the expense of His transcendence, and vice versa.

That they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, (Acts 17:27).

Note: Modern pantheism is seen in William P. Young’s The Shack, Oprah Winfrey’s promotion of Eckart Tolle, and in Ann Voskamps’s book One Thousand Gifts as an offshoot of pantheism, panentheism. It is easy to twist both immanence and transcendence, either by direct twisting or omitting one in favor of the other. It is why it is important to learn these terms so we retain a balanced view of God.

 

Posted in Uncategorized, word of the week

Word of the Week: Transcendence

transcendence

A theological term referring to the relation of God to creation. God is “other,” “different” from His creation. He is independent and different from His creatures (Isaiah 55:8-9). He transcends His creation. He is beyond it and not limited by it or to it.

Source unknown, found at Bible.org

Transcendence: God’s separateness or otherness from the creation and the human race.

Source Biblical Doctrine, MacArthur & Mayhue Eds

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36).

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? (Job 11:7).

 

word of the week word cloud

Posted in theology, word of the week

Word of the week: Regeneration

By Elizabeth Prata

The thread of Christianity from generation to generation depends on a mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week.

Past Words of the Week have included Justification, Transcendence, Immanence, Propitiation, Sanctification, Glorification, Orthodoxy, Heresy, Omniscience, Aseity, and Immutability.

I then went to a series examining each of the 9 characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and on December 29, 2018, wrapped up the Fruit series with Self-Control.

Now it’s back to individual words of the week. I’ve chosen Angel, and last time, Exegesis.

Today … Regeneration

heart of stone verse

Regeneration, JI Packer

Regeneration is the spiritual change wrought in the heart of man by the Holy Spirit in which his/her inherently sinful nature is changed so that he/she can respond to God in Faith, and live in accordance with His Will (Matt. 19:28; John 3:3,5,7; Titus 3:5). It extends to the whole nature of man, altering his governing disposition, illuminating his mind, freeing his will, and renewing his nature

Regeneration, Matt Slick

Regeneration is a change in our moral and spiritual nature where justification is a change in our relationship with God. Also, sanctification is the work of God in us to make us more like Jesus. Regeneration is the beginning of that change. It means to be born again.

To understand why we need regeneration I recommend two sources. Martin Luther’s Bondage of the Will, and Jonathan Edwards’ Freedom of the Will. The two men aren’t actually contradicting each other, they say the same thing: man is born with a sin nature that he cannot escape, change, or modify.

In 1524 Luther argued that humans’ sinful nature rendered them slaves to wickedness, free only to sin unless by the intervention of God’s sovereign grace. Read Bondage of the Will for free here, or buy at any book sellers’ outlet.

In this text published in 1754, Edwards investigates the contrasting Calvinist and Arminian views about free will, God’s foreknowledge, determinism, and moral agency. Read Freedom of the Will for free here, or buy at any book sellers’ outlet.

Further resources:

Short devotional from Ligonier:
The Grace Of Regeneration

GotQuestions

What is regeneration according to the Bible?

Verses, just a few on the topic:

He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5).

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26).

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Posted in theology, word of the week

Word of the Week: Perspicuity of Scripture

By Elizabeth Prata

Knowing and understanding our historical theological words helps the next generation continue the thread of common understanding of our great faith. Hence the Word of the Week.

I’ve been asked for the list of all the essays I’ve written of the Word of the Week. The list is below the picture at bottom. You can also search category “Word of the Week”.

This week’s Word is Perspicuity of Scripture. Do we need “Bible codes”? Is scripture unclear enough so that only a few, more intelligent or higher-up, can understand it? It is too much to expect that the layman study it?

No. No. And no.

The perspicuity of scripture means that the Bible can be understood by anyone. The Holy Spirit illuminates it to us. For the most part, scripture is clear, if one studies it properly (and is saved, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing” 2 Corinthians 4:3, also 2 Corinthians 3:14).

Yes, Peter said that Paul wrote some things that are hard to understand, (2 Peter 3:16), but scripture itself can be understood clearly, without codes, mystics, or pretzel logic.

The Lord gave the word to Nicodemus, The Teacher of Israel and to the brilliant Paul, and He also gave it to fishermen and shepherds.

THE PERSPICUITY OF SCRIPTURE
Larry D. Pettegrew
Professor of Theology

The basic doctrine means that the Bible can be understood by people through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and that people need to search the Scripture and judge for themselves what it means. Scripture itself attests its own perspicuity, but not to the point that it cannot be misunderstood or is in every point equally simple and clear. The doctrine does not rule out the need for interpretation, explanation, and exposition of the Bible by qualified leaders.

The doctrine does mean that Scripture is clear enough for the simplest person, deep enough for highly qualified readers, clear in its essential matters, obscure in some places to people because of their sinfulness, understandable through ordinary means, understandable by an unsaved person on an external level, understandable in its significance by a saved person through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, and available to every believer whose faith must rest on the Scriptures.

Further reading

Grace to You: The Clarity of Scripture part 1

Ligonier: The Clarity of Scripture

bible with glasses

Previous and future entries in the Word of the Week Series:

Light

Justification 

Immutability 

Aseity

Regeneration 

Perspicuity of scripture 

Transcendence

Immanence

Propitiation 

Sanctification

Sovereign

Glorification

Orthodoxy

Heresy 

Omniscience 

Fruit of the Spirit, Love

Fruit of the Spirit, Gentleness

Fruit of the Spirit, Faithfulness

Fruit of the Spirit

Fruit of the Spirit, Kindness 

Fruit of the Spirit, Patience 

Fruit of the Spirit, Joy

Fruit of the Spirit, Self-control 

Fruit of the Spirit, Peace 

Posted in theology, word of the week

Word of the Week: Exegesis

By Elizabeth Prata

The thread of Christianity from generation to generation rests on a mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week.

Past Words of the Week have included Justification, Transcendence, Immanence, Propitiation, Sanctification, Glorification, Orthodoxy, Heresy, Omniscience, Aseity, and Immutability. I then went to a series examining each of the 9 characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and on December 29, 2018, wrapped up the Fruit series with Self-Control. Now it’s back to individual words of the week. Last week I chose Angel.

This week the word is EXEGESIS

Exegesis – the study of a particular text of Scripture in order to properly interpret it; the process of understanding a text and making plain its meaning (see 2 Timothy 2:15)

Exegesis is when a person interprets a text based solely on what it says. That is, he extracts out of the text what is there as opposed to reading into it what is not there (Compare with Eisegesis). There are rules to proper exegesis: read the immediate context, related themes, word definitions, etc., that all play a part in properly understanding what something says and does not say.

Ex- means out of. As in excuse, Latin for ‘out of’ and cause, literally, free from a charge.

Expel, ex- meaning out and pellere, to drive.

Excentric (eccentric) out of, and center.

Exegesisexēgéomai, (Greek) I explain, interpret and ex, out

The author of the exegesis definition immediately above puts to practice the rules for interpretation he’d outlined in the Exegesis essay. He shows how to interpret Matthew 24:40, the famous statement by Jesus about two people in the field and one taken and one left. Most people who do not apply the rules for exegesis interpret that by looking at the surface and thinking it means the rapture. But does it? See for yourself.

At Ligonier, Anthony Carter’s essay outlines the Consequences of Poor Exegesis

John MacArthur asks and answers in this sermon, How Should We Interpret the Bible?

Tim Challies’ essay on two examples of exegetical fallacies (misinterpretations)

exegesis 5

Posted in theology, word of the week

Sunday Word of the Week: Light

By Elizabeth Prata

The thread of Christianity depends on a unity from one generation to the next of mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week.

This is a repost from September 2018

8341e-word2bcloud

Normally I write about a little-used word but one that we as believers need to know (and use in our vocabulary). I’ve written about aseity, omnipotence, and justification, for example. But this week’s word will be Light.

It seems like it is an easy word, and it is, but as with all things in the Bible, there are layers of meaning.

The word Light is used in the Bible in several different ways. There is created light, as when God said “Let there be light”…and He separated the light from the dark. This is literal. There is miraculous light, as in the glory light of Jesus when He transfigured. And there is figurative/symbolic Light, as in the Word is a light or when we are ‘in the light’ as opposed to those sinners who are ‘in darkness’, or ‘don’t hide your light under a bushel’.

Once you see the different ways the word light is used you can’t unsee it, nor would you want to, lol.

In the ATS Bible Dictionary, we read,

One of the most wonderful, cheering, and useful of all the works of God; called into being on the first of the six days of creation, by his voice: “Let there be light;” and there was light. No object better illustrates whatever is pure, glorious, spiritual, joyful, and beneficent. Hence the beauty and force of the expressions, “God is light,” 1 John 1:5, and “the Father of lights,” James 1:17; Christ is the “Sun of righteousness,” and “the light of the world,” John 1:9 8:12. So also the word of God is “a light,” Psalm 119:105; truth and Christians are lights, John 3:19 12:36; prosperity is “light,” Esther 8:16; and heaven is full of light, Revelation 21:23-25. The opposite of all these is “darkness.”

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia explains

The word “light” is Divinely rich in its comprehensiveness and meaning. Its material splendor is used throughout the Scriptures as the symbol and synonym of all that is luminous and radiant in the mental, moral and spiritual life of men and angels; while the eternal God, because of His holiness and moral perfection, is pictured as “dwelling in light unapproachable” (1 Timothy 6:16). Every phase of the word, from the original light in the natural world to the spiritual glory of the celestial, is found in Holy Writ.

The ISBE even goes on to further separate the different concepts of Light into Natural Light, Artificial Light, Miraculous Light, Mental, Moral, Spiritual Light; and explores its symbolism, expressive terms, and more. Check it out!

We first read the word light in Genesis 1:3 and the Bible closes with it in Revelation 22:5. Light. It’s such a simple word, but such a complex theme.

light 1 sunday

Further Resources:

Q&A: What Does it Mean that God is Light?

Devotional: Walk in the Light

Study: Light and Darkness

Blog post: Light of the World

Posted in theology, word of the week

Word of the Week: Love

By Elizabeth Prata

On Sundays I had posted a theological word with its definition, then an explanation, and used it in a verse. I also use a picture to represent the concept. This is my effort to maintain a theological literacy among the brethren and between generations, something I believe is critical. We have to know what we believe, why, and know the words to express it. Words like Justification, Immanence, and Perspicuity have all been a Sunday Word of the Week. I am reposting this series on Sundays. This post first appeared on The End Time in October 2018.

wordcloud

Similarly, when we discuss other words such as love, peace, and joy, we think we know what they mean, but often times these culturally embedded words have a totally different flavor when used from a biblical context. It is true of the words pertaining to the Fruit of the Spirit. Even these ‘simpler’ biblical words are misunderstood.

Therefore, over the next 9 weeks the Word of the Week will be one of the 9 Fruit of the Spirit.

You notice the fruit is singular. The Holy Spirit develops fruit, not fruits. Believers can and do manifest all its elements simultaneously. The nine representative qualities refer to the whole work of the Spirit’s sanctifying labor in the believer. One doesn’t work on patience today and then love tomorrow and then joy, etc. The fruit is one fruit with various characteristics.

Paul began with identifying love as the first fruit of the Spirit. Jesus said that love is the greatest commandment.

Love in the biblical context doesn’t mean what it means in the songs. The culture says we are always falling in and out of love (Pure Prairie League, Amie), as if love was a tide we had no control over and washes in and out. Whitesnake wanted to know Is This Love? They weren’t sure. Foreigner famously pleaded with the universe, that I Want to Know What Love Is.

Love addles people. Romance is mistaken for love. So is lust. The world thinks it knows love as an external thing that comes upon people who must grab it and plead for it not to go away. As if it can dissipate like steam. But that is not what love is according to the Bible.

I found the section from the MacArthur/Mayhue systematic theology book Biblical Doctrine helpful and illuminating here. The section on the Fruit of the Spirit of love reads as follows:

Christ’s substitutionary death provided the ultimate example of love. (Greek: agape). He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). Paul called for this supreme love to be characteristic of a husband’s love for his wife: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25). First Corinthians 13:8 promises that “love never fails.” (NASB).

Thus, love is a communicable, divine attribute that is central to the Father’s character, (1 John 4:8), put on display by Christ at the cross, enabled in believers by the Holy Spirit. Love can be defined broadly as the conscious, sacrificial, and volitional commitment to the welfare of another person, in obedience to God’s Word (2 John 6), regardless of the person’s response or what one does or does not receive from him or her, or what love costs one to give. The love of Christians toward other Christians (Colossians 1:8), as might be expected, is the most commended “one another” response in the New Testament.

That’s what love is.

Posted in theology, word of the week

Word of the Week: Immutability

By Elizabeth Prata

The thread of Christianity depends on a unity from one generation to the next of mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week.

8341e-word2bcloud

Immutability: Is the unchanging nature of someone. To be immutable is to be unchanging. God is unchanging in his character, will, and covenant promises. He does not change His mind, His will, or His nature.

Consider what thou owest to his immutability. Though thou hast changed a thousand times, he has not changed once; though thou hast shifted thy intentions, and thy will, yet he has not once swerved from his eternal purpose, but still has held thee fast. – Charles Spurgeon, The Christian—A Debtor, Sermon #96.

For someone to change, there must have been a point in time where the person was something else, or thought something different, or had alternate plans. Then as time passed, the person changed. Since God is outside of time, He is always the same, from point A to point B.

Also, His attributes are unchanging. He doesn’t add to His character nor subtract from it. He isn’t more loving today than when He was in Genesis 1:1 when our time began. He isn’t more wrathful against sin than when He was 15 years ago or 100 years ago. He isn’t more merciful or less compassionate than when Jesus walked in His incarnation.

What does immutability mean for us, His people?

As we read in Hebrews 6:17-18,

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.

It means we should be encouraged that His promises are sure. The joy that is waiting for us in heaven, the reunion with the glorified family as adopted sons and daughters, the glory, the sinlessness, all that, is unchanging because God does not change. He promised this. It will happen.

It means doom for those who will not repent. God will not forsake His holiness and allow rebels into heaven. It means the judgment and subsequent hellish torment awaiting many millions is sure. It will happen.

The gulf between the two eternities is never more stark than when considering His immutability. He has forged those two paths and they will not change. Keep both in mind when pondering His immutability.

1 immutabilty sunday