THIS SUNDAY, 1/31 – THANK YOU, DL & ALICE
I can’t believe the day has come to say thank you & good bye to DL & Alice Lowrie. The Lord has poured a wealth of grace and wisdom into my life through them. I love them so very much.
This Sunday, 1/31, BHBC will host a reception in our Commons after each morning’s service. All are encouraged to bring thank you notes and/or gift cards.
Also this Sunday:
Quarterly Business Meeting; 5pm; Worship Center
SHEPHERDING THE SHEPHERDS: Systematic Theology
Part of my role is to make certain all of you are set up for success by means of being encouraged, challenged, equipped and resourced.
Per my email to you last Friday, we will soon be embarking on a journey of intense learning. One of those times of learning will involve acquiring a basic understanding of systematic theology.
Simply put, systematic theology is the discipline of interpreting scripture in light of scripture. It’s understanding there’s no better commentary for God’s Word than God’s Word. This is precisely one of Paul’s points when he told the elders at Ephesus, “for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” “Whole counsel” meaning all of it. Not just bits and pieces but, during Paul’s ministry, the entire Old Testament; and in our time, all 66 books of the canon.
Systematic Theology helps us learn how one part of the Bible is complemented and affirmed by the Bible. It helps us to confidently answer hard questions such as: What, at times, do I find a verse that appears to contradict another verse? What OT laws and imagery relate to Jesus being called the Lamb of God? Does Hebrews 6:4-6 teach that we can lose our salvation? And what about the seeming contradictions of Proverbs 26:4-5, and James 2:24 when compared to Galatians 2:16? What is the OT Law’s relationship to the New Covenant in the NT? Is the Law nullified or fulfilled? And what’s the difference? And so much more.
When the gospel authors, Paul and Peter quote the OT repeatedly to support and prove right the New Covenant through Christ we are witnessing a masters class in people using systematic theology.
There is a theological term, Biblical Theology, that serves as a close sibling of Systematic Theology. And, by the way, before you counter, “Wait – I’m not a theologian!”, I’ve got news for you: all Christians are theologians. The word, theology, simply means “the study of God.” Sure, many have dedicated their lives and careers to vocational theology. But, all Christians are theologians on some level. Nay, we are commanded to be theologians. It was Paul who instructed Timothy,
This command goes for all of us. The instruction to Timothy (and us) provides an implied warning: to be instructed to rightly handle the word of truth suggests that there was much wrongly handling the word of truth. The potential of teaching in error (via hurried preparation, little to no prayer, etc.) should send terror into everyone who has been given the assignment to stand before people and exposit scripture. This is why James, the half-brother of Jesus, warned:
Not many [of you] should become teachers [serving in an official teaching capacity], my brothers and sisters, for you know that we [who are teachers] will be judged by a higher standard [because we have assumed greater accountability and more condemnation if we teach incorrectly]. (Amplified)
Dr. Wayne Grudem’s text on Systematic Theology is the “go to” text for many pastors and teachers (my copy is well worn). Grudem was recently interviewed on why systematic theology matters to Bible study. Below is an excerpt from the article:
Grudem defines his approach sytematic theology as “any study that answers the question, ‘What does the whole Bible teach us today?” The conviction that theological teaching should be clear (to our listeners) is borne out of conviction that Scripture is clear.
Though God’s revelation is clear, to understand it rightly you must study it responsibly, putting in effort to improve the skills necessary for effective reading and teaching.
Soon, we will take a look at ways to improve those skills. Until then, pray fervently, study intensely, and rightly handle the word of truth. nw
A Nugget of Truth from this week’s time of Learning: John 10 – “The Good Shepherd”
Jesus is publicly exposing the teachers and religious leaders as “false shepherds” by contrasting his shepherding with theirs:
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
Why does Jesus refer to himself as the Good Shepherd? Because Israel (and modern day churches) are filled with bad shepherds who were lazy and self-centered, being interested in nothing other than position, prestige and power. (I shared with my class a couple of stories of things I’ve heard pastors say and do that were unbelievably unbiblical, self-righteous, and self-serving.)
Through the prophet Ezekiel, God thundered,
‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 …but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals…
After calling out the bad shepherds, God then delivers their consequences:
7 “‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, because my flock lacks a shepherd…I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock… – Ezek. 34:2-8
You can view the lesson in its entirety here.
Shepherd your sheep humbly and tenderly.
TEENS, COVID & SUICIDE
Professional counselors will tell you that, during the past year, a new term emerged among mental health workers: ‘COVID Depression.”
A FOX News article caught my eye with the headline:Las Vegas schools pushing to get students back quickly following rise in suicides, report says. (You can read the article here.)
An article was posted this past week by local news, KCBD, citing the spike in ER visits at UMC related to the mental health of children. 2020 has been a devastating year. Read the KCBD article here.
Keep your eyes open. Be “present.” Look for any signs or signals a teen could be in danger of hurting themselves.
QUOTE(s) of the WEEK
“The claim ‘only science can discover truth’ is self-refuting, as the statement itself cannot be verified using science.” – Dr. Andy Bannister (Ph.D. in Islamic Studies)
“In Science we have been reading only the notes to a poem; in Christianity we find the poem itself.” – C.S. Lewis
LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE
I’ve actually said No. 4 to young men before.
And, a bonus for my fellow Red Raider/Chiefs fans…
SOUL FOOD: Lord, teach me to pray. (here you go…)
Read the blog here.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick