Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

How to Escape Spiritual Bondage

We recently studied the prophecy of Isaiah, quoted by our Lord in the synagogue of Nazareth, that the Redeemer would “proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the eyes to those who are bound” (Isa 61:1; Luke 4:18). Both the details of Isaiah’s language and the New Testament history suggest that these expressions are metaphorical. Our Lord never released anyone from physical prison—not even John the Baptist from Herod’s dungeon. But he did speak of spiritual bondage (John 8:31-36), and many believers today wrestle with besetting sins that frustrate their Christian walk. Our Savior has unlocked the chains, but we sometimes have a struggle in getting untangled from them.

After our study, we discussed practical ways that we can experience the delivery from bondage that our Lord promised. Here are four suggestions, from four different brothers in the meeting. Together, they are a powerful set of tools for enjoying Christian liberty. If you’d like a mnemonic, you can think of them as the four ‘R’s: Retreat, Relate, Remember, and Replace.

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Law and the Christian Life

For years, I’ve grappled with the question of the relation between the law and life under the new covenant. About six months ago, things began to come into focus. The paradox has been viewed as a theological one, with reformers lined up on one side and non-conformists on the other, each trying to set up a theological framework to disqualify the proof texts offered by the other side. Perhaps the paradox isn’t theological at all, but pastoral, growing out of some of the issues I’ve discussed in previous posts about Scripture as Food and Spiritual Growth. Here’s a paper that tries to pull it all together. If you read it, please share your comments.

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Paul’s Disputes with the Jews

Paul’s instruction to Timothy (2 Tim 2:24) not to “strive” in conducting his teaching seems to run against his own example in Acts. Let’s consider two sets of passages, marked by two different Greek words.

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Should Believers Debate?

A prominent feature of the current evangelical landscape is the popularity of debate as a mode of teaching. Some popular teachers, including Dave Hunt and James White, often engage in debates, sometimes with unbelievers, and at other times with those they would acknowledge to be Christians. The debate format is increasingly common as a means of interchange between believers and Muslims.

A lively debate seems a natural way of engaging people’s attention. The entire sports industry is based on the natural attraction of a good fight between skilled adversaries. Isn’t it wonderful that we can take advantage of this inborn interest to draw attention to the truth of God’s word?

Or is it? Just because something seems natural doesn’t make it right. Our natural state is dead in trespasses and sins, and many of our instincts require revision by the Spirit as we grow in Christ. Some exhortations in Scripture suggest that believers ought to be more cautious about engaging in, or promoting, staged controversies on spiritual subjects.

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How Shepherds Feed the Flock

In a previous post, I introduced the metaphor of food that Scripture uses for itself. One manifestation of this metaphor is the use of language appropriate to shepherds in describing teachers in the church.
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Have you eaten your Bible today?

The Bible uses many word pictures to describe itself. It is (among other things) God’s law, which tells us what he expects of us; his precepts, which guide us to prosperity; and his counsels, which teach us wisdom. A particularly common metaphor describes the word of God as food. This imagery sheds some important light on how we engage with it.

This topic is too large for a single post. In this one, we’ll look at summarize passages where the Bible calls itself food. Later posts will discuss  the “shepherd” vocabulary that describes teachers in assemblies of the saints, how this metaphor explains the meaning of the phrase  “sound doctrine,” and  the “spiritual physiology” by which spiritual food leads to spiritual growth.

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Do You Know Jesus?

It is commonplace among evangelicals to use the phrase “knowing Jesus” as a synonym for “being saved.” Recently, I’ve been challenged by some NT passages to think more carefully about what it really means to know the Lord Jesus. It’s a wonderful thing to pass from death into life, but there’s evidence that knowing our Savior means much, much more.

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