I’ve had many people ask why I left the church that I did for a PCA church. Usually the question comes out of confusion as to why someone would leave such a great place. I grew up there and grew in my faith in incredible ways, served as a student leader, on the worship team, and men’s ministry, and what made it the most difficult to leave were the people. And I mean it has everything we needed: a church program for every stage, great, well-produced music (of which I was a part 😉 ), dynamic speakers, small groups, large groups, it’s like a picture of the larger church in the world! And most of all, the Bible is upheld as the sole, infallible, highest source for truth and life practice, and they preach the gospel from it. So why leave?
Category: Theology Page 2 of 65
Calvinism is natively experiential. Before it is a theological system, Calvinism is deeply affectional, God-centered, cross-magnifying religion. A man may loudly trumpet his adherence to the distinctive tenets of Calvinism, but if his life is not marked by delight in God and His gospel, his professed Calvinism is a sham. In other words, there is no such thing as “dead Calvinism.” Such is a theological oxymoron for one simple reason: Calvinism claims to be biblical religion, and biblical religion is not only profoundly theological, it is deeply experiential and engagingly affectional! Wherever men and women claim to be Calvinists, their lives and their ministries will pulse with life—the life of living, Spirit-inspired, Christ-glorifying, God-centered truth. – Ian Hamilton
In studying Hosea this past spring at Trinity, it was hard for many of us. The constant language of judgment seems to take on a life of its own, and as gospel people, on this side of the cross and resurrection, we think, “What’s the point?”
I came across this passage in the scripture readings for Lent (found here): “My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments.” Psalm 119:120.
The difficulty of the language around judgment in Hosea and other prophets lies for many not in the fact that it’s there, but in the continual, repetitive nature of it. “Okay, I get it,” we say. But that seems to be the point. The repetition is meant to drive into us a remembrance (because we so easily forget!), as it was Israel at the time, the nature of God’s holiness and the healthy level of fear this should invoke.
Lord God, from all eternity You have existed as one God in three persons. You worked together for our salvation, bringing us near to You forever. As our Father, You set Your loving affection upon us, Your people, even before the creation of the world, to make us Your very children who You would redeem through Your Son and Spirit, bringing glory to Your name. As our Saviour, You Lord Jesus took upon Yourself human flesh to live a life in perfect righteousness from our side, suffering the judgment we deserve for our sins, in our place, and rising to life by the very divine power at work within You. As the One who would apply that redemption and bring us to You, in time Your Holy Spirit drew us out of our sin, helping us to see our broken, fallen estate and the greatness of the majesty of Christ. You gave us the gift of faith, eyes to see and ears to hear Your call, and graciously drew us when we were wayward and turned away. Lord we praise You that You have revealed who You are to us through Your Word, illuminated by Your Spirit, that You are One God in three persons, the Holy Trinity. We ask that You would impress this wonderful mystery of the Trinity and Your work of salvation into our hearts that we might revel in Your glory and so be changed into Your likeness.
Father in all of your ways You are righteous and holy and good. In Your sovereignty, you reign as the One who works all things after the counsel of Your own will and providence, for the good of Your people. In Your justice and righteousness you right all wrongs and yet Christ chose in mercy to bear the very punishment we deserve in our place. Lord we see in Scripture the unfolding beauty and glory of Your redemption plan as You work it out through time, seeing Your faithfulness throughout generations and generations. Lord in our own lives though, we are so tempted to doubt Your goodness and faithfulness to us. In trial and suffering Lord help us to set our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ by seeing Your faithfulness in Your Word and also how You have proved Yourself time and again in our own lives. May we not be tempted to doubt Your goodwill toward us when difficulty enters our life. And in our prosperity and material blessing Lord, may we not forget You and Your love toward us and have our faith crowded out by the things of this world. In both trial and blessing, may we not miss the hope and glory of the mercy we have received and would You impress Yourself upon our hearts by Your Spirit, giving us peace and joy.
Father God, it is out of our own weakness and frailty that You show Yourself strong and mighty, to those who wait for and call upon Your name; it is out of our own lack of internal resources or the ability to lift our hands to do anything to help ourselves where you show up and provide an abundance of greatness with all of Your benefits, lifting us up from the mire and breathing life into our souls; it is out of our poverty and wanting that You produce a wealth beyond what this world could never offer or provide, because You Jesus are our treasure; it is in suffering and experiencing the corrosion and decay and loss within this world that You show Yourself to be the only one who could ever console, heal, satisfy, and comfort us at the deepest level of our being, in our heart of hearts, creating a joy in us that transcends understanding. It is You who loved us even when we were turned away from you in disobedience, while we were yet sinners. It is You who set a plan in motion together with Your Son to bring us back to Yourself, and it is You who is with us even as we await the fullness of our salvation when Your Kingdom comes in power and glory at Your return.
Father, we’re in need of your light to shine in our darkness. Just as the people were turned away and seemingly without hope before the time of Your Son’s arrival and His revelation as Your beloved Son, so also Lord our world is in darkness and without hope apart from the gospel of Your Kingdom. We thank You that You made Him known to us in power in Your Word and by Your Spirit, such as when Simeon proclaimed that he had seen the salvation of God in the temple while holding Jesus in his arms, and at His baptism when You Father proclaimed that this is Your well beloved Son in whom You are well pleased. And not only this but He demonstrated His power in miracles, at the cross and ultimately in the resurrection, to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is the Christ and that He is good and merciful and just and that He is the One who rescues us from our sins, making us citizens of His Kingdom. Lord grant us to love Him with all of our affections, our hearts and minds, our wills, with our actions and the way we live, as those who have been delivered from sin, and that in this way we would honor Him as the One who reigns and the One who delivered us from evil.
“While some of our habits are acquired by choosing to engage in certain practices (e.g., signing up for drivers’ ed. or registering for piano lessons), many are acquired without our knowing it. And this might happen especially when we are unaware of it. If we are inattentive to the formative role of practices, or if we treat some practices as thin when they are thick, then we will be inattentive to all the ways that such practices unwittingly and unintentionally become automated. We will fail to recognize that they are forming in us habits and desires, oriented to particular ends that function to draw us toward those ends at an affective, unconscious level such that we become certain kinds of people without even being aware of it.
Lord, You are the glorious King who is reigning right now and has conquered all by the blood of Your cross. Even though you are a King, You made Yourself nothing and suffered the penalty of our judgment in Yourself, and by Your perfect life’s work have made us not merely subjects who are forced to serve You, but rather You have made us Your own children who delight in You, who love to lift You up and make you known. Lord we praise You and rejoice in these truths, even though now at present we carry in us pain and suffering because of the outworking of sin in our own lives and in our world: the way our own sin causes havoc within ourselves and our families and relationships, the way oppression and violence seem to have no end like the Mosque bombing in Egypt this week that senselessly killed so many, natural disasters that destroy lives and upend communities, and health issues affecting us and those closest to us. We long for and look forward to the day of Your return, when you will demonstrate Your power, execute justice and usher in your eternal visible reign within a re-created, glorious heaven and Earth, where all things will be made new and we will live in Your presence forever. You are reigning and extending Your kingdom even now Lord and we pray that because of our union with You, that You would work in us to extend the grace and message of Your gospel and also the work of Your church to those who are suffering themselves within our congregation and those in our communities.
I recently had a good discussion with a friend about some of the reasons I left a Dispensational church for a Presbyterian church (PCA). I previously documented a number of reasons here in my journey, but I also wanted to look up resources that speak to the issue and found a few articles and sites that are worth perusing. It’s interesting to note that the major founders of Dispensationalism left Presbyterianism in particular.