A book on Luke 15, the parable of the two sons (commonly called the parable of the Prodigal sons). Those who have not read or heard of a good exposition on this passage would be in for a treat with Keller’s book. As I was reading this book I can’t help it but to compare it to John MacArthur’s “Tale of Two Sons.” Personally I enjoyed MacArthur’s work better since it went over more exegetical materials and insights into the passage. Keller’s work spent more time on the Older Brother than MacArthur’s. I appreciate Keller’s attention to the search for one’s motive in doing things, that is we are doing things to earn merit to control God, then we are like the older brother in the parable…and we are doing it wrong. I disagree with Keller that the Father represents God, since I see the referent to be Jesus to be consistent with the reason why Jesus told this parable was due to the Pharisees seeing Jesus reaching out to “sinners.” One good exegetical insight Keller brought out from the parable of the two sons that I never noticed before is the fact in the previous parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep, there was a “search and rescue” being done but this story lacks that and he brings out that it should have been the responsibility of the older brother to find the younger son which he failed to do. Self-righteous religious people don’t search out for the lost to see them back to the father–ouch, for those who don’t have a heart for the lost. Over all good book.
Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category
Knock, Knock, Knock. This post by Clint Archer speaks about Jehovah’s Witness who knock on your door. Good information in how to respond to them.
Knock, knock again. (Part 2). Here is part two from Clint Archer. He goes into some verses from the Bible in how to deal with this cult and explains why Jehovah Witness have a hopeless and dismal faith. He provides a clear and simple approach to apply when confronted by these cults.
Letter to a Jehovah’s Witness. This post by Fred Butler deals with a handwritten response letter written to a Jehovah’s Witness’ handwritten letter.
Jehovah’s Witnesses. This PowerPoint by Prof. Dennis M. Swanson is an examination of the Jehovah’s Witness history and beliefs It can also be found at An Examination of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society.
The Problem of the One and the Many: Watch Tower Unitarianism. Here in this article, Mike Robinson addresses in depth concerning the Jehovah’s Witness in these areas: “The Unitarian god of the Jehovah’s Witnesses,” “Unified Eternal Truths In Diversity,” “James Anderson’s Summary and Application of Van Til’s One and Many Apologetic,” “The Trinity: The Foundation for the One and the Many,” “The Puzzle of the One and the Many,” “Monism, Oneness, and Illusion,” “Equal Ultimate Actuality of the One and the Many,” “The Rational Underpinning: God in Trinity,” “The Trinity: The True God.”
Today I want to focus on his claim that the Bible does not teach that Jesus is God, as he sets forth his case in chapter 7 of his book.
Ehrman on Philippians 2
From pages 233-238 Ehrman discusses Philippians 2. The relevant portion, Philippians 2:5-10 states
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
He labor the point that many people have spent a long time studying the passage from all spectrum of scholarship. But merely saying that there’s many views on a passage in of itself is not a refutation of the view that Philippians 2 teaches the deity of Christ. Ehrman also fail to engage or interact with scholarship arguing for the view that Philippians 2 teaches the deity of Christ.
The other disappointment I had with Ehrman is the fact that he failed to deal with the text itself. For instance, the Greek word for “form” in “form of God” in verse 6 is μορφη. Lexically, the word μορφη refers to the inward essence of a “thing” or “person” while rarely referring to the outer appearance. Ehrman also failed to deal with the adjective ισα, which in the English NASB is translated as “equality.” Lexically it has the idea of equal and later became the root for isosceles, isometric, etc. There is no acknowledgement or denial of these two Greek words in the book, which is unacceptable since they are the key reasons some see Philippians 2 as teaching the deity of Christ.
Ehrman on the Gospel of Mark
Ehrman then stated the following:
In Mark Jesus is certainly not God. In fact, in one passage he clearly indicates that he is not to be thought of as God (Mark 10:17-18; a man calls Jesus ‘good,’ and Jesus objects because ‘no one is good but God alone’).” (Page 238-239)
Challenging the assertion that “Jesus is certainly not God” in Mark requires examining the entire book of Mark carefully and is beyond the scope of this blog post but I recommend watching what James White has to say about this assertion:
Note also that Ehrman looks to Mark 10:17-18 as support for his claim that Mark teaches us how Jesus “is not to be thought of as God.” But careful reading of Mark 10:17-18 reveal Jesus did not say “Don’t call me good because I’ m not God.” Rather Jesus asked a rhethorical question, one that the rest of context indicates the reason why Jesus asked it is to question the young man’s conception of what is good rather than ultimately being an issue about Jesus let alone being an indicative statement about Himself.
Ehrman on the Oldest Christian traditions
So frequently was Jesus called Christ in the oldest Christian traditions that already by the time of Paul, “Christ” had become Jesus’s name (Jesus Christ, not Jesus God). Jesus is called Christ in Paul, Mark, M, L, John, Josephus, Pliny, Tacitus, and so on.” (239-240)
First off, Ehrman here commits an either/or fallacy. Ehrman has not demonstrated how just because Jesus is called Jesus Christ that necessitate a denial of His deity according to the Christian faith.
Secondly, contrary to his assertation some of the the sources he mentioned does indicate the deity of Christ. Concerning Mark see the above video by James White. Then there’s Pliny the Younger who wrote:
They were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of a meal—but ordinary and innocent food.
Note that Pliny as an outside observer gives a window into the early Christian church and how they worshiped Jesus. In light of Jewish Old Testament background undergirding Christian theology, one must not worship anything except God alone.
Much of what has been said also applies to this last quote from Ehrman:
Jesus is not called God in Q, M, L, or any of the oral accounts that we can trace from the synoptic Gospels. But we can go yet earlier than this. As I pointed out, we have very primitive views of Jesus expressed in such pre-Pauline traditions as the one he cites in Romans 1:3-4 where Jesus is said to have become the son of God (not God) at his resurrection.” (Page 232)
Again, Ehrman commits a fallacious reasoning from Romans 1:3-4 that just because it teaches that Jesus is the Son of God does not mean He is not divine in origin. Ehrman fail to interact critically with the orthodox formulation of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and how it balances the Diety and humanity of Christs that account for His titles such as Christ and Son of God.
A work that’s part-Messianic prophecy, part-devotional, and thoroughly solid in it’s Biblical exposition. Dr. Harris is a professor of Bible exposition at The Master’s Seminary and his book does not disappoint. You will be spiritually fed, worship Jesus more, and be better equipped in your ability to witness to Jews with Messianic Prophecies. This work explores the little known Stone or “Eben” prophecies in the Old Testament of the coming Messiah. I wished I read this work prior to my thesis. Dr. Harris makes great observations and noted verses that I was not aware of previously or thought through as carefully as he did. This work is a good example of applying good Biblical theology and how the Word of God marches forth and builds upon previous revelation and advances it more deeply. The chapter on the significance of the timing during the moment of Jesus on the Cross when the sun went dark is not to be missed–along with the chapter on Jesus’ temptation. Dr Harris’ treatment of Jesus temptation for forty days is one of the best I’ve read and a good example of how to skillfully bring the Old Testament to inform a New Testament passage. I highly recommend this work.
Do you sense that your preaching has no depth, light, heat, fire, or glow that is being emitted from the pulpit? Are you boring your audience to death? You may present a well-intended and accurate exposition, which is the light, but is passion, which is the heat, missing? If so, it maybe wise to take heed to Professor John Murray’s statement, “To me, preaching without passion is not preaching at all.” J.W. Alexander statement is of help too. Here is what he says, “The whole mass of truth, by the sudden passion of the speaker, is made red-hot and burns its way. Passion is eloquence.” If these statements are germane to your current situation in the area of preaching, I recommend that you read this book. And if you are not experiencing a lack of light and heat, I still recommend this book because it is wonderfully refreshing to the soul of a preacher.
The author’s main theme in this book is in regards to “The Immediate Agency and Operations of the Holy Spirit in and on the Preacher in the Act of Preaching.” It seems to be a long title and theme that Pastor Martin refers to often in this book. For example, he stated: “I will seek to demonstrate that His agency (His active power) and His operations (the effects of that power) are direct and immediate in and on the preacher in the act of preaching, in contrast to those operations that come through intervening agencies.” What he has just described is what he calls the bull’s eye topic that he seeks to unravel for the readers.
Before he gets into the details of explaining the theme or the bull’s-eye topic, Pastor Martin provides some helpful presuppositions to consider in regards to the Holy Spirit. First the Holy Spirit is a person. Whether it be His gifts or functions, we must always remember that they are operations of a person, not a force. Second, the Holy Spirit is a divine person. As the pastor so clearly states, “All that constitutes the essence of the Father’s deity and the Son’s deity can and must be equally attributed to the person of the Holy Spirit. Hence, all the reverence, all the submission, and all the love that flows out of Spirit-renewed hearts to the Father and to the Son must also constantly flow out to this glorious divine person called the Holy Spirit.” Third, the Holy Spirit is not only a divine person, but He is sovereign. He possesses supreme and ultimate authority when it comes to regeneration and the dispensing of spiritual gifts.
In light of the presuppositions concerning the Holy Spirit, the writer devotes much of his material under three main headings: “1) its indispensable necessity, 2) its specific manifestations, and 3) its restrained or diminished measure.”
I will not go into details concerning the book’s details regarding this topic, but what I can tell you is that in his first main heading: “its indispensable necessity,” the writer argues that Spirit’s role is an indispensable necessity in preaching because just as how He was involved in Christ’s ministry (Luke 2:52; Isa. 61:1; Luke 3:21-22; Luke 4:1-2; Luke 4:14; Heb. 9:14), the apostles’ ministry (Acts 1:3; Luke 24:45-48; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; Acts 1:7-8; 1 Thess. 1:5), and the New Covenant ministry (2 Corinthians 2:14-4:18; 3:1-8; 3:5-6; Romans 8:26), He too is involved in our preaching.
Much more can be said about this book, but I will quote an excerpt from Charles Spurgeon’s book, Lectures to My Students, and a few exhortations from Pastor Martin in terms of what they have to say concerning the indispensability of the Spirit’s agency and operations that is in connection to the preaching ministry invested to the preacher by God. Here are the wise sayings from a godly experienced pastor:
To us, as ministers, the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. Without him our office is a mere name. We claim no priesthood over and above that which belongs to every child of God; but we are the successors of those who, in olden times, were moved of God to declare his word, to testify against transgression, and to plead his cause. Unless we have the spirit of the prophets resting upon us, the mantle which we wear is nothing but a rough garment to deceive. We ought to be driven forth with abhorrence from the society of honest men for daring to speak in the name of the Lord if the Spirit of God rests not upon us. We believe ourselves to be spokesmen for Jesus Christ, appointed to continue his witness upon earth; but upon him and his testimony of the Spirit of God always rested, and if it does not rest upon us, we are evidently not sent forth into the world as he was. At Pentecost the commencement of the great work of converting the world was with flaming tongues and a rushing mighty wind, symbols of the presence of the Spirit; if, therefore, we think to succeed without the Spirit, we are not after the Pentecostal order. If we have not the Spirit which Jesus promised, we cannot perform the commission which Jesus gave.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2008), 255.
Now a word of discernment must be made. In light of this quote, I believe what Spurgeon said about the flaming tongues should be perceived as an element that is giving the presentation of what took place and how the Spirit operated, not a model to follow because flaming tongues have ceased for today. But that is beyond the scope for this post and that is a topic for another day. But what we can extract from Spurgeon’s statement is that the indispensable necessity of the Holy Spirit’s operation back then in the lives of believers also operate in preaching for the sake of God’s glory and one’s edification. Without Him, preaching will have no life.
As for Pastor Martin soul-stirring exhortations concerning the immediate agency and operation of the Holy Spirit in our preaching that gives a heightened sense of the spiritual realities, please take note of them below. I pray that they will be helpful to you:
- “But in the act of preaching it is as though you are given the ability to smell the brimstone and to hear the hopeless cry of the damned, and your soul feels the horrors of the pit that awaits the impenitent. You preach the truth of hell as one who senses and feels the reality of what you are preaching. What are these experiences? They are nothing other and nothing less than the blessed reality of the immediate agency and operation of the Holy Spirit in our preaching, giving us a heightened sense of the spiritual realities in which we are trafficking as we preach” (20).
- “One of the results of this blessed experience is that at times it will give an involuntary glow to the very countenance of the preacher. No actor can produce it. There is nothing in your notes that says ‘glow here.’ You cannot anticipate it; you cannot force or imitate it. It may evoke an unplanned and unforced tear in the eye. At other times it will inject an element of pathos and pleading power into the vocal cords and in many ways take a preacher totally out of himself. My dear reader, if you are a preacher and do not find these things resonating with you in terms of things you have experienced, both you and your hearers are to be pitted. This is why George Whitefield said, ‘I would not for one thousand worlds preach an unfelt Christ.’ This is what Whitefield was talking about” (21).
This is an interesting book on the relationship and influence of religion upon the founding fathers in the political sphere. It is written by a capable author on American history. The author’s thesis is contrary to the opinions of twentieth first century secular humanists and atheists, since he argues that historically there has been a place for religion in the public square. He also balances this view by challenging the views adopted by some Conservative Christians that the United States’ founding fathers were thoroughly Christian or sectarian as it is expressed in the political realm. His view is approximately that of my current stance: No doubt Christianity has been influential in the lives of individuals who were involved with the American independence and the new United States government but there were other ideological influences as well such as the Enlightenment, rational theism, etc. I was eager to read this book to learn more about the non-Christians among our Founding Fathers and to see where they stood theologically. Since my undergraduate studies I have concluded that Benjamin Franklin was not quite the ideal Deists as some propagandists makes him out to be especially concerning the issue of God’s providence. The book reinforces my view when it quoted Franklin saying, “I have lived sir a long time, the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: That God governs in the affair of men.” Though he was not a Christian, Franklin was far from being the modern militant secularist today since he wrote, “He that spit against the wind, spit in his own face” against someone who was going to publish a tract against Christianity. Concerning Thomas Jefferson I thought it was ironic that as he was approaching his death Jefferson would comfort himself with the portion of the Gospel of Luke that he edited out of his own Bible version from the Song of Simeon. I also found it intriguing that the No Establishment Clause in the Constitution, seemed to be interpreted contrary to the current interpretation today when we read of instances such as the case of a Jew name Jacob Henry whose attempt to enter into state political office was challenged, indicating that the First Amendment was not invoked or understood historically as implying that there must be a ban against religious test for office at the state level. I also enjoyed reading in the book John Jay boldly stating he believed in Jesus Christ at a party in France before philosophers mocking the faith. Over all a good, informative and captivating read. The title was a bit misleading since it went beyond the founding fathers to talk about the role of public religion in the lives of later presidents such as Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Kennedy, Nixon and Ronald Regan. I was surprised to read that Eisenhower would pray in every cabinet meeting. One criticism I did have was the author’s wrongful assumption that the Bible teaches Earth was the center of the universe. While one gets the sense that the author leans more left especially with his treatment of Christian conservatives, nevertheless I think discerning readers who are Christian conservative can learn from this book that yes, there is an influence of Christian heritage among America’s founding fathers. There’s plenty of ammo here against the New Atheists types and Brights concerning the nature of America’s public religion. However, the book rightly points out that the public religion in America’s political landscape is not thoroughly Christian and is quite ecumenical. I believe Christians ought to be careful of ecumenicalism lest it changes and compromises the Christian faith and the Gospel message with this Americanized public religion.
For the first post of this Doctrine of Salvation series, please see the first post: Summary of the Doctrine of Salvation
A good definition can be as follows: God’s sovereign selection of certain sinners for salvation before the foundation of the world that is not based on any human merit.
Before we get into the details concerning the doctrine of election, it is important for us to define some important terms that come up in many discussions concerning this topic. The first word is foreknowledge (prognosis). Foreknowledge is in regards to a predetermined relationship of certain people before the foundation of the world; and is distinct from mere knowledge and facts. In Romans 8:29 the use of foreknowledge is linked to predestination and in 1 Peter 1:2, foreknowledge is linked to election. What is important to note that only twice does the term of foreknowledge in the New Testament is referring to knowledge and facts beforehand (Acts 26:5; 2 Peter 3:17). The other references to the word foreknowledge signify foreordination and predetermination (Acts 2:23; Rom. 8:29; 11:2; 1 Peter 1:2, 20).
Another important term is “predestine” (proorizo). This term means to determine things beforehand (Acts 4:27-28; Rom. 8:29, 30; Eph. 1:5, 11). According to Reformed theology, the term “predestination” a term that is related to election is not only a term included for believers, but also unbelievers (reprobation).
The next term is election. The Hebrew term for election is bahar (“elect” or “choose”) and its derivatives occur 198 times in the Old Testament. With this term, God chooses a people for Himself (Psalm 135:4), certain tribes (Psalm 78:68), specific individuals (1 Kings 8:16; 1 Chron. 28:5). In the New Testament, the Greek verb “to elect” is eklegomai and the Greek noun for election is eklektos, which is found around 22 times. The primary meanings of those two words refer to salvation, not service. Let us now move into the categories of election.
The first category is election to service. Concerning election to service, God chose Moses for leadership (Num. 16:5-7), Eli’s father for priestly functions (1 Sam. 2:28), David’s appointment to be Israel’s king (1 Sam. 10:24), Solomon appointed to be king and to build the temple (1 Chron. 28:4-6; 29:1), Jeremiah appointed for prophetic ministry (Jer. 1:10), Zerubbabel for leadership (Haggai 2:23), the Levitical priesthood for ministry (Deut. 18:5; 21:5); and He chose kings to govern (Deut. 17:15). Moreover, Jesus chose his apostles and followers to preach the gospel of the kingdom (Mark 3:13-15; John 15:16). Next category is corporate election.
For corporate election, we can refer to Israel as a primary example. Deut. 7:6 says, “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” What is interesting is that Israel was chosen and given the privilege to serve God (1 Kings 3:8; Psalm 132:13); and were chosen not based on their merits, but solely on God’s sovereignty and love (Exod. 32:9; Deut. 4:37; 9:6; 10:15; Psalm 47:4). On another note, God’s election of the Israel is also irrevocable (Rom. 11:28-29). Corporate election is not only seen with Israel (not all Israel is saved), but with the church too. The church is the community that is sovereignly chosen by God to serve Him. They are called out from the power of sin and called to worship Him. In 1 Peter 2:9-10, the church is mentioned and the church is described with language language that was used in the Old Testament. For example, Peter uses, “chosen generation,” “a royal priesthood,” “an holy nation,” “a peculiar people,” and “a people of God” in juxtaposition to the church. When the church is used in the New Testament regarding election of the church, it is referring to salvation, but when election is used to refer to Israel in the Old Testament, it emphasizes the difference concerning the nation Israel as “chosen, blessed, and commissioned” from the pagan nations that surround Israel.
Besides the corporate election of Israel and the church, there is also personal election that is mentioned in the Bible. In the Old Testament, God is seen as seeking Adam and Eve after their sin. He did not destroy them, but he covered them with animal skins (Gen. 3:21). God also sought Noah because “Noah found favors in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8). God’s personal election is clearly seen with Abraham. God chose Abraham to be the father of Israel so that he would bring blessings to all the nations of the earth (Gen. 12:1-3). In Gen. 18:19, Moses the write notes that Abraham is chosen also so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD; and they are to do that by doing righteousness and justice. What is fascinating about the word “chosen” (ידע; yada) means “to know.” So in this context, it paints the picture that God sovereignly chose Abraham for salvation. Yada is also used in Exodus 33:17 to refer to God knowing Moses. Yada is used in Isaac Gen. 17:19-21 to refer to God choosing Isaac rather than Ishmael. It is also used in Psalm 65:4 concerning God to bring people near to Him and is used in Jeremiah 1:5 to refer God’s election of Jeremiah before He was formed. The idea of personal election is clear in Jeremiah. God chose Him and knew Him personally and lovingly.
For verses in the New Testament concerning election, please see Matthew 11:25-27; John 5:21; John 6:44; John 13:18; John 15:16a; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:28-30; Romans 9:11-13; Romans 11:7; Ephesians 1:4-6; Ephesians 1:4-6; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Peter 1:1-2a; and Revelation 13:8.
Another category that needs to be pursued is the concept called “foreknowledge.” Understanding this term will help one see clearly the doctrine of election. When it comes to this view, some believe that the word “foreknowledge” means foresight. Hence, God looks through the corridors of heaven and down into the tunnel of time to see who will believe in His Son. As a result, it perceives God’s election being conditioned upon whether a person believes or not. Others see the concept as referring to a predetermined love relationship that has nothing to do whether man believes or not. Thus, I believe foreknowing means foreloving in this context.
In conclusion, although there are passages where there are occurrences of the word foreknowledge referring to foresight and not forelove, but each verse must be examine the context of each verse and passage to determine what it means. For example, the use of the word “foreknew” in Romans 11:2 means a predetermined love relationship. God has not rejected the people whom He chose. It would be odd if the word foreknew means foresight. In Acts 2:23 and 1 Peter 1:2, the word “foresight” is best understood in the sense of “forelove.” Another example would be Romans 8:29, which states an important phrase: “those whom He foreknew.
The word “foreknew” is not a reference simply to foreknowledge. Hence, it cannot simply be tied directly to God’s omniscience in the sense that from eternity past, He chose some because He knew who would place their faith in Him. According to Granville Sharp Rule, the word “forelove” equates with predeterminism. Hence, God, set His love on His people and established an intimate relationship with His elect.
Another thing to take into consideration are the perspectives on the doctrine of election. Besides the notion that Christ chose His people before the foundation of the world without being condition upon man’s choice, it is important to remember that election in Christ (Eph. 1:3-7), is presented as a comfort (Rom. 8:28-30), is a reason to praise God (Eph. 1:5-6, 12), is an encouragement for evangelism (2 Tim. 2:10); and election is a reason for us to not take it too hard on ourselves when people consistently refuse the Gospel.
Posted in biblical counseling, biblical worldview, Christianity, crazy psychology, Nouthetic Counseling, Reformed, Theology, tagged biblical counseling, Nouthetic Counseling on April 23, 2013 | 7 Comments »
We have completed our week long Marathon series on Biblical counseling and concern for Psychology. Here is the compilation of our posts related to this topic from this week and also from the past. Book mark this as a resource–and also to visit in the future as we will add more links and resources to equip God’s people to think Biblically and apply a Christian worldview in the areas of helping people with their problems.
- Choose Biblical Counseling Not Psychology
- The Goal of Biblical Counseling
- Ten Ways Apologetics Help in Biblical Counseling
- The Role of the Mind in Sanctification
- Christian Neutrality and Psychology
- Pre-courtship Counseling: Seven Relationship Questions
- Free Courses:
- Book Reviews:
- Review: Freud by R.J. Rushdoony
- Review: One Nation Under Therapy by Christina Hoff Sommers, Sally L. Satel
- Recommendation: Godliness Through Discipline By Jay Adams
- Book Review of “Out of the Blues: Dealing with the Blues of Depression & Loneliness” by Wayne Mack
- Review: If You Bite & Devour One Another by Alexander Strauch
- Review: Eternal Security by Arthur W. Pink
Posted in Christianity, Presuppositional Apologetics, Van Til, presuppositionalism, Apologetics, biblical counseling, tagged biblical counseling, Van Tillian apologetics on April 22, 2013 | 3 Comments »
The following are lists of ways apologetics in general and Presuppositional apologetics in particular has helped me in becoming a better Biblical counselor (not that I’ve arrived, but I push forward…).
1.) Apologetics in general has made me think more clearly and logically. This has helped me become more clear and nuance in how I counsel others.
2.) Apologetics in general has made me listen to others more carefully and ask questions to clarify what they mean and why they think what they think and do what they do.
3.) Apologetics in general has led me to see an additional tool in my counseling: sometimes in addressing troubling statements a counselee make, I write several of the important ones down and then assigned them to think it through what might be problematic and unbiblical with their statements. Then when we meet we see what they come up with on their own, praising God what they themselves identify while also gently pointing out things they might have missed or need further elaboration on. This exercise is often logically rigorous and I find the application of apologetics to be a helpful training for this.
4.) Presuppositional apologetics in particular has made me more conscious that people often do things because of their worldview. Hence, in counseling I’m now more conscious of identifying unbiblical presuppositions that people embrace that might be driving their problems.
5.) Presuppositional apologetics in particular has made me more conscious about the issue of authority and Van Tillian’s emphasis on Scripture reinforces the importance of using Scripture to skillfully apply it to my life and the life of others concerning our problems. It makes me resolve to study the Scripture and see it’s implication in addressing practical issues.
6.) Per point 5, Presuppositional apologetics in particular has also been helpful for me to realize that often sins and destructive behaviors that is irrational according to Christian thought would seem “rational” if its the outworking that follows from their own worldview. Hence, it’s important to see that the issue of their idolatry (the root of the problem) be addressed (be it the desire for pleasure at any cost, pride, etc), since it is driving everything.
7.) Presuppositional apologetics in particular reminds of the Nouetic effect of sin and that appealing to what is rational and reasonable is not enough if one’s will is already set. This leads me to see the importance of prayer, using the Law of God to appeal to the conscience and drawing out the Gospel so as to affect an individual’s affection.
8.) Presuppositional apologetics in particular with their emphasis on the effect of sin upon our all faculty has also humbled me greatly and guard me against self-righteousness when I counsel others. I realize I am a sinner in need of Grace: that as the counselor, I can make mistake and therefore I need to ask a lot of questions so that I know what’s really is going on rather than assume; it has also made me realize my own sin and need to apply the same medicine I’m giving; it has also made me realize that if I am wrong with how I counsel, I must also confess it to my counselee.
9.) Presuppositional apologetics made me realize that at the root of all our problems we need Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
10.) Presuppositional apologetics makes me realize that at the core of many problems, such as sexual sins, drugs, etc, it is an issue of worship. The truth of God makes me want to worship God even more for His greatness. Presuppositional apologetics and John Frame’s Perspectivalism makes me worship God to see the beauty of God’s truth as a coherent whole, complementing and having implications for other spheres. The inter-relationship of apologetics and Biblical counseling is beautiful. We need to have doxological apologetics.
Posted in Arthur Pink, assurance of salvation, biblical counseling, Book Review, Christianity, eternal security, Reformed, Theology, tagged Arthur Pink, perseverance of the saints on April 21, 2013 | 1 Comment »
Note: I am reviewing this book as part of our biblical counseling and concern for psychology series on our blog. EvangelZ previously wrote a good summary of Christian counseling is to glorify God as opposed to other man based system of “fixing” man which ranges from happiness to feeling better, etc. The goal for Christians in counseling is to glorify God and ultimately we need to understand man’s problem in theological and biblical categories. I find it quite fruitful in dealing with problems in the Christian life to discuss about the assurance of salvation and this book would be a great resource for you for that.
A book that has a doctrinal devotional flavor. Arthur Pink in this book talks about the doctrine of a believer’s security in their salvation. He gives particular care in his treatment so as to avoid the antinominan version of “once saved always saved” in which sanctification and holiness doesn’t even matter, while also avoiding the pitfalls of Arminianism that assumes we can lose our salvation. Antinomianism would lead one to become a libertine while Arminianism has the tendency of assuming legalism. The Biblical balance teaches that God not only ordained the eternal life of the elect but He has also ordained the means of a believer’s eternal security by persevering in the faith. Though the book is not as exegeticaly based as I would like, nevertheless Pink does give a good amount of verses for readers to look up and study further on. I appreciated that the doctrine of eternal security was not only discussed here in terms of it’s nature and importance, but also its’ benefits and marvel. Pink demonstrates in this book how this doctrine would motivate believers to holiness. A Practical book and was a great spiritual refreshment to read.
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If you have questions about whether there are negative implications of uniting psychology with the Bible, you will want to read this journal article by Dr. Robert L. Thomas. He is a very prolific Bible scholar in his own right.
In this article, Dr. Thomas will address general revelation and its implications on hermeneutics. Consequently in this context, one’s understanding of general revelation will affect one’s hermeneutic and one’s hermeneutic will affect one in pastoral counseling positively or negatively.
Just to wet your appetite, here is Dr. Robert L. Thomas’ summary on general revelation:
General revelation’s noticeable impact on biblical interpretation has resulted from applying a broader definition of general revelation than is justifiable. Reasons why general revelation should not include such matters as science, mathematics, literature, and music are the following. First, “general” cannot refer to the content of the revelation. Second, biblical references to general revelation limit it to information about God. Third, sin distorts human discoveries of the non-Christian world in secular fields. Fourth, general revelation is readily accessible to all, not just to specialists in certain fields. Hermeneutics deals with the principles of biblical interpretation. Unwarranted definitions of general revelation have led to widespread attempts to integrate general with special revelation. This step is unwarranted because truth exists in varying degrees of certitude, all truth does not possess the same authority, all truth does not fall on receptive ears, and general revelation does not include the fields of secular study. The emergence of integrative efforts has coincided with a growing tentativeness in biblical hermeneutics because of the influence of secular disciplines on biblical hermeneutics. Psychology’s promotion of self-love provides a good example of the adverse effects of general revelation and integration on biblical hermeneutics.
Robert L. Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2002), 113.
Goal of Counseling
The goal or end (τέλος) of counseling is to glorify God (Col. 3:23). Whatever we do in this life given to us from our Creator must be done for the glory of God, not man. As a result, we must filter out sin and mortify sin in our words and deeds so that we may glorify God. Sin done by humans do not glorify God. Since we are dealing with counseling, it is imperative for counselors to understand that counseling a counselee is a serious task. In order to glorify God in counseling, we need to have a desire to restore the brother or sister from sin in a spirit of meekness (James 5:19-20; Gal. 6:1).
To desire one to be restored, it would be wise that the counselor’s thoughts, models after Paul’s heart. Paul glorified God. His goal or end (τέλος) in terms of glorifying God when writing to young Timothy was for the Christian’s instruction to be in “love from a pure heart,” “good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). Paul is clear when he uses the word goal (τέλος). Paul underscores the notion that there is only one appropriate goal for a teaching ministry. True doctrine and genuine ministry find their satisfaction on love, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Love is important to Paul, which is why he uses the word ten times in the pastoral epistles; and nine of the ten times, love is used with faith (πίστις) (1 Tim. 1:5, 14; 2:15; 4:12; 6:11; 2 Tim. 1:13; 2:22; 3:10; Titus 2:2).
Out of love springs forth some powerful components that are essential to counseling. The components are: pure heart, good conscience, and a sincere faith. Heart is the wellspring of the human life. It is the seat of the human knowledge (2 Cor. 4:6), emotions (Eph. 6:22), and volition (2 Cor. 9:7). It’s important for the counselor to examine his knowledge of God, emotions, and volition.
The word conscience (1 Tim. 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:3) is a compound word that is combined with the word “with” and “knowledge.” This speaks of a joint-knowledge one shares with oneself. In other words, it speaks of self-awareness. The conscience is a gift from God that can be defiled by sin (Titus 1:15) and seared to the point of desensitization if rebellion is habitual (1 Tim. 4:2). If the counselor does not have a good conscience, he can’t share biblical truths with conviction and genuine passion.
Since faith speaks of a faith that is not filled with hypocrisy, the counselor needs to examine himself before judging others (Matthew 7:5).
On another note, I believe that if the counselor implements 1 Timothy 1:5, then God has been glorified, which is the ultimate goal of counseling. Last but not least, in order to maximize the goal of biblical counseling, we need to believe in the sufficiency of Scripture, especially when it pertains to spiritual matters. What the disciples and believers used in ancient times to counsel individuals is the same for us today: the Word of God (Psalm 19:7-14).
I will leave you with this last note: the aim of biblical counseling is to glorify God. The manner we must do it in is to “love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).
 John Kitchen, “The Pastoral Epistles for Pastors”: (Woodland Hills, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2009), 47.
 Ibid., 47.
 Ibid., 47.
 Ibid., 47.
 Ibid., 47.
 Ibid., 47.
 Ibid., 47.
 Ibid., 48.
 Ibid., 48.