(Podcast 8.22.19) An Appeal to Heaven (w. Dr. John Diamond)

Source: (Podcast 8.22.19) An Appeal to Heaven (w. Dr. John Diamond)

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Checking the Fruit of Your Spiritual Walk with God

Source: Checking the Fruit of Your Spiritual Walk with God

By: Brian G. Chilton | August 20, 2019

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, Roy and Eva Chilton. They owned a small farm in rural, northwestern North Carolina. They had both retired from tobacco farming by the time I was born. Nevertheless, my grandpa usually sowed a fairly large garden each year. My grandmother had planted numerous fruit trees which would provide a sweet, delectable scent during the hot, North Carolina summers. It was often just a pleasure to walk out in their backyard and breathe. She had planted apple trees, a pear tree, a cherry tree, a strawberry patch, blackberries, and a grapevine that produced luscious grapes. I envision heaven being much like my grandparents’ backyard.

The biblical writers often connect fruitfulness with spiritual fulness. A person filled with the Holy Spirit and living a life directed by God is often called fruitful. Jesus compared people who follow the will of the Lord with good trees that produce good fruit (Matt. 12:33). However, individuals who live carnal lives which are undirected by God are called bad trees that produce little or no fruit (Matt. 12:35). Paul picks up this theme, as well. In Galatians 5, he contrasts the spiritually fruitful life in Christ to that of the flesh—that is, a life directed to its own pursuits.

Spiritual Fruitfulness

            The spiritually fruitful life is described by nine terms. This is interesting because symbolically the number 9 is a symbol of divine action or completeness (see https://bellatorchristi.com/2018/01/09/reference-guide-to-biblical-numerology/ for further details). Christ died at the ninth hour and Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement—occurs on the ninth day of the seventh month (Lev. 23:32). Thus, it is of no surprise that the fruit of the Spirit comes in nines.

Love (agapē). Love is the first fruit mentioned probably because it is of the utmost importance in a Christian’s life. Loving behavior comes by the loving presence of the Holy Spirit working in a person’s life. A person loves because one has been loved by God. C. S. Lewis notes, “God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that he may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseen—or should we say ‘seeing’? there are no tenses in God—the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake hitched up.… This is the diagram of love Himself, the inventor of all loves” (Lewis, The Four Loves, 176).

Joy (chara). Joy is related to hope. Joy is the exuberant confidence that God will work out all things. Paul encourages believers to rejoice in the Lord (Rom. 5:11; Phil. 3:1; 4:4). A believer should not be overly depressed if one truly expects God to fulfill his promises. One should be a continual optimist despite the pessimism of the world. In contrast to happiness, which is fleeting; joy is a state of being.

Peace (eirēnē). Peace does not come from the absence of conflict or unpleasant circumstances. Peace comes from a mental and spiritual state of well-being. The NT concept of peace is closely related to the Hebrew understanding of shalom which is a state where one is right with God and one’s fellow human beings. Peace stems out of living a life directed by the Two Great Commandments—loving God and loving each other.

Patience (makrothymia). Patience is defined by John Calvin as a state of mind which takes “everything in good part and not easily to be offended” (Calvin, CNTC 11.105). Having patience means that a person doesn’t live with the proverbial chip on one’s shoulder, but rather indicates the long-suffering one has even with irritating and difficult people. This stems out of the patient characteristics of God who put up with Israel and all God’s people despite ongoing blatant rebellion (Hos. 11:8).

Kindness (chrēstotēs). In contrast to the Galatians who were backbiting and devouring one another, Paul called for the believers to treat one another with kind words and deeds. Like all the fruit of the Spirit, kindness stems from God who grants the ability to be kind (Rom. 2:4).

Goodness (agathōsynē). Goodness indicates the benevolence and kindness that one has for another. Goodness is like kindness. However, Paul has in mind someone who goes the extra mile for a person. In like manner, God continuously extends his goodness to all creatures on earth.

Faithfulness (pistis). The term pistis often refers to a faith which is one’s trust and wholehearted dependence on God. Paul uses pistis, in this case, to refer to a person who is totally dependent, trustworthy, and reliable. Here again, this fruit comes by the abiding faithful nature of God (Rom. 3:3). Millard Erickson defines God’s faithful nature by the following, “If God’s genuineness is a matter of his being true and veracity is his telling of the truth, then his faithfulness means that he proves true” (Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed., 261).

Gentleness (pratēs). Gentleness indicates a submissive and teachable spirit. This submissive teachable nature lends itself to humility and consideration of others. Gentleness does not indicate one who is weak, but rather, as Timothy George states, “gentleness is strength under control, power harnessed in loving service and respectful actions” (George, Galatians, NAC,404). In the biblical sense, a gentle person is one who does not try to impose one’s will upon another, but respects others while still making decisive decisions and holding firm convictions.

Self-control (enkrateia). Self-control indicates a mastery over one’s desires. It can refer to one controlling one’s temper and can certainly be used to describe one who has control over one’s sexual desires. In 1 Cor. 9:24–27, Paul compared the spiritual life to a professional boxer who undergoes intense training for a pending fight. In like manner, the Spirit-filled Christian allows the Spirit of God to steer one’s life rather than one’s own cravings and desires.

 

Spiritual Deadness

In contrast to spiritual vitality, Paul denotes fifteen traits that describe a person who walks by the flesh in Gal. 5:19–21.

Sexual immorality (porneia). The first three indicators of spiritual deadness are related to immoral sexual relations. Immorality indicates any form of sexuality that takes place outside the marital role. This includes fornication (sexual relations before marriage), adultery (sexual relations with a person who is not one’s spouse), and incest. These acts are actually the antithesis of true love and commitment. Adultery is faithlessness to one’s spouse.

            Impurity (akatharsia). Impurity, or uncleanness, denotes the defilement that sin brings in one’s relationship with God and others. Thus, sexual immorality brings about impurity which affects one’s spiritual walk with Christ.

            Debauchery (aselgeia). Debauchery speaks of a loss of limitations placed upon oneself and the blatant disregard one has for God’s concern for one’s actions. Said another way, a debaucherous person no longer cares what God thinks about one’s actions. One only cares about one’s own desires.

            Idolatry (eidōlolatria). Idolatry is the worship of anything that is not God. This could be false gods such as the Canaanite fertility god Baal. Or, it could be gadgets and toys. A Corvette could be an idol if one is not careful. In addition, objects in church can become idolatrous if congregations are not careful.

            Sorcery/witchcraft (pharmakeia). While we get our modern word pharmacy from the word pharmakeia, the term does not speak of one’s use of prescription medications. Rather, the term speaks of witchcraft, black magic, and demonic control. The term can also refer to the abuse of drugs. Thus, witchcraft, black magic, demonic consultation, and drug abuse are all found within this one overarching term. All the aforementioned practices are to be avoided.

            Hatred (echthrai). Paul notes that quarrels and hostile behaviors are opposed to the loving nature of God and speaks more of the sinful mind of humanity. Unresolved hatred speaks of a mindset that opposes God (Rom. 8:7).

            Discord (eris). Discord refers to a person’s motives which are self-centered rather than God-focused. Some preached the gospel for envious and rivalrous motives (Phil. 1:15). This should be a warning for all ministers of God. It is sometimes possible to do God’s work with wrong motives which will lead to bad ends.

            Jealousy (zēlos). Jealousy is the opposite of patience. A jealous person always wants what someone else has. Such a person is never content with one’s own possessions. Gratitude is almost never found in a jealous person. Paul says that this is not a characteristic of fruitful life, but one of spiritual deadness.

            Outbursts of anger (thymoi). Outbursts of anger contrast greatly with the self-control found in the Spirit-filled life. Uncontrollable verbal and physical violence NEVER bodes well for any person, much less for a child of God.

            Selfish ambitions (eritheiai). Interestingly, the term eritheiai has its roots with political campaigning. Aristotle uses the term to refer to one seeking political office or “canvassing for office” (Aristotle, Politics 5.2.9.). Thus, a life lived by selfish ambition is one that only seeks to promote oneself. While politicking is bad enough in politics, it is even worse when politics enters the church. Christians are not called to promote their selves, but rather they are to promote Christ.

            Dissensions (dichostasiai). Only here in Gal. 5:20 and in Rom. 16:17 does Paul use the term dichostasiai. In both instances, the apostle refers to individuals who put stumbling blocks in front of another person. It speaks of a person trying to lead astray believers from the truths of Christ and from the unity and harmony that needs to be found in the local assembly. Paul warns to stay away from a person causing divisions.

            Factions (haireseis). The term haireseis was later devised into the English word heresy. In both instances, it refers to a person who deliberately chooses to advocate a doctrine that is at odds with the essential doctrines of Christianity. It also references the choice to create divisions within the church due to lesser matters.

            Envy (phthonoi). The envy described by Paul denotes an unacceptable rivalry that develops from contentious persons or groups. The root behind these rivalries is jealousy. Like the previously mentioned fleshly traits, envy brings division and discord among individuals, groups, and congregations. Such behavior is not acceptable in the Christian’s walk with God.

            Drunkenness (methai). This term is self-explanatory. In the Roman Empire, abuse of alcohol was prevalent in urban life. Paul notes that the child of God should be filled with the Spirit rather than being drunk with wine (Eph. 5:18). Excessive drinking leads to bad ends and depicts a life that no longer is able to cope with the uncertainties of life. It does not speak well of a child of God.

            Carousing/orgies (kōmoi). Drunkenness leads to bad ends. This is what kōmoi indicates. Drunkenness may lead to sexual infidelity, abuse in the home, and chaos with individuals one meets. This leads to the door of a depraved mind and should be avoided by the child of God.

Both lists compare and contrast the Spirit-filled life with the flesh-led life. Three things come to mind when considering a fruitful life. First, the criticism against Christianity against Christians behaving badly loses its power when considering the moral edicts provided by the Bible. It appears that God is even more upset by believers who live a lifestyle driven by fleshly desires and power-driven mentalities even more than we are. So, such criticism loses its impact when considering the Christian moral code of holiness. The problem is not with Christianity. Rather, it is with flesh-driven people who either have lost touch with their relationship with Christ or never had a genuine transformation in Christ.

Second, demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit is only possible by a personal relationship with a holy God. The fruit of the Spirit all stem from God’s attributes. God is all-loving, full of joy, peaceful, patient, kind, the absolute good, trustworthy (Titus 1:2), gentle, and provides one with self-control. None of these can be achieved by human effort alone. The fruits are manifestations of God’s working in a person’s life.

Third, each person should self-evaluate oneself to see if one is producing fruit. Obviously, fruit is not produced from within oneself. But rather, it comes from one’s submissiveness to God. If you are not seeing the fruit of the Spirit emanating from your life, either you need to accept Christ as your Savior, or you need to submit yourself to him.

 

About the Author

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com, the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast, and the author of the soon to be released book The Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has been in the ministry for nearly 20 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2019. BellatorChristi.com.

Forgiveness and the Christian

Source: Forgiveness and the Christian

By: Brian G. Chilton | August 13, 2019

The teachings of Jesus of Nazareth have always been challenging. Interestingly, his teachings are as challenging today as they were when he first uttered them. One of the more difficult of Jesus’s teachings is his message on forgiveness. In his famed Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches the crowd what it means to live a kingdom life. That is, he presents what the ideal life is like and how God’s children are expected to behave. Granted, the Sermon on the Mount presents ideals that no one could ever achieve outside of the Spirit of God. However, the child of God should strive to live according to the standards as much as it is possible.

While teaching on prayer, Jesus noted that a believer should pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12, CSB). After concluding the model prayer, Jesus teaches, “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses” (Matt. 6:14–15, CSB). This brings up multiple questions that must be answered. Does one’s salvation depend on one’s ability to forgive? Well, yes and no.

Theologically, Jesus indicates that salvation comes from his atoning sacrifice on the cross. Jesus says in John’s Gospel, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14–15, CSB). Jesus even promises that no one can snatch a person from the Father’s hand (John 10:29). The only sin that is unpardonable is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:22–32, Mark 3:22–30) which is a rejection of the Spirit’s work in Christ’s life unto death.

Despite Jesus’s teachings on salvation and security, he does emphasize the importance and the connection that occurs between one’s relationship with God and others, especially in regard to forgiveness. As it was previously noted, Jesus indicates that a person who does not forgive will not be forgiven by the Father. This teaching is emphasized in other areas. It is not a singular incident. In his Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:23–25, Jesus tells the story of a servant who was forgiven by the king an amount that would be equated to over one billion dollars (Matt. 18:23–27). However, when the servant came across a debtor who owed him an amount comparable to $15,000, the servant threw the debtor in jail and demanded that his money be paid to him immediately. When the king heard about this, he had the servant arrested and thrown into prison. In the parable, Jesus notes that a person who has been forgiven by God must forgive others in the same manner. The Two Great Commandments (Matt. 22:36–40) which are to love God and to love others indicate that one’s relationship with God impacts one’s relationship with other individuals. In like manner, a person cannot have a right relationship with God while mistreated and abusing other people. The two do not mix. Orthodoxy (right belief) impacts orthopraxy (right living).

So, how do we work through the salvation given through Christ and our responsibility to him? Do we have assurance of salvation? Is the lack of forgiveness an unpardonable sin? From a systematic approach to the concept of salvation and forgiveness, I think we find three important truths that must be considered.

Forgiveness is a command of Christ. Regardless of what you do with the theological connection between salvation and forgiveness, it must be noted that forgiveness is a command of Christ. Jesus notes that “If you love me … keep my commands” (John 14:15, CSB). Jesus also notes that one of his new commandments is to “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35, CSB). As a side note, if the modern church were to be evaluated only by Jesus’s commandment of love, would we pass? Would be viewed as belonging to Christ?

Loving one another consists of forgiveness. Even if one were to offend multiple times and return with a true heart of repentance, the believer should forgive (Matt. 18:21–22). This does not indicate that a person becomes a doormat (Luke 17:1–2). But rather that a person maintains a loving and forgiving heart. If for no other reason, a Christian should maintain a forgiving nature because of one’s commitment to Christ.

Forgiveness is a mark of Christianity. Just as the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23)—love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—are markers that a person is right with God, so forgiveness is the same. Jesus explicitly states that good trees produce good fruit, and bad trees produce bad fruit (Matt. 7:17–18). Good trees are individuals who are right with God and their good fruit are those things which are produced by the Spirit of God abiding in their lives. Bad trees are those without Christ whose natural nature will produce evil actions. John adds in his First Epistle that “Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because his seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God. This is how God’s children and the devil’s children become obvious. Whoever does not do what is right is not of God, especially the one who does not love his brother or sister” (1 John 3:9–10, CSB). Obviously, John is not stating that the children of God do not literally ever commit sin while on earth. Rather, a life that is surrendered to God will not pursue sinful behaviors (Gal. 5:15–26). One will not pursue a lifestyle of sin, but rather seek to live a life of holiness to the Lord. Thereby, a genuine child of God will not reject forgiveness to one who has repented because, to quote Shakespeare, forgiveness is divine. This desire does not come from within, but rather from above.

Forgiveness is an act of confidence. Jesus warns those who bring offense and do not repent. In fact, Jesus says that the one who causes needless offenses to his children would be better to have a millstone tied around one’s neck than to face the day of judgment (Luke 17:1–2). The Christian walk is one of trust and confidence that God will work out all things. Paul denotes the Christian walk as one that consists of putting away offensive speech (Eph. 4:29), bitterness (Eph. 4:31), wrath (Eph. 4:31), anger (Eph. 4:31), slander (Eph. 4:31), and malice (Eph. 4:31). By keeping these attributes in one’s life, a person quenches, or grieves, the Holy Spirit of God (Eph. 4:30), thereby harming one’s walk with Christ. When a person forgives and turns an offending brother or sister over to God, then the person expresses their trust and confidence in God’s ability to rectify the wrong that was done. Believe me when I say that I have seen God take care of unrepentant offending individuals far better than anything I could have ever done.

So, to conclude, I would say that while salvation is not based on a person’s willingness to forgive, salvation does produce individuals who willingly forgive because of the work that God has performed in their lives. A person does not forgive to be saved. A person forgives because one has been saved. If we as modern Christians could learn how to forgive as God forgives us, I dare say that 95 percent of all church problems would be easily resolved. As we have been forgiven, so we must forgive.

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com, the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast, and the author of the soon to be released book The Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has been in the ministry for nearly 20 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2019. BellatorChristi.com.

The Illusion of the Good Ol’ Days

Source: The Illusion of the Good Ol’ Days

By: Brian G. Chilton | August 6, 2019

My uncle from New Hampshire came down for a visit this past week. He’s a great guy! I have always been impressed with his humility and compassion. My uncle was in the United States Navy. Originally from North Carolina, he met a beautiful nurse who stole his heart while at port in Boston, Massachusetts. She, a nurse at Boston Medical, and he fell in love and the rest is history. They moved to a suburb of Nashua, New Hampshire, which itself is a suburb to Boston.

While my uncle was visiting with us, my mind went back to simpler days. I thought about the days before cellphones and tablets. A time where we enjoyed each other’s company while playing football in my grandparents’ front yard under the twinkling light from the sun dancing through the leaves of the aligned maple trees which offered its canopy above. I thought about the conversations we enjoyed, the jokes, and the games we played. My aunt, the nurse from Boston, had passed a few years back. I thought about her and the good times we had. I was always impressed by her love for books. She was the queen of bibliophiles. While she was not one who was always into the mushy stuff—she worked in the emergency room in Boston, she had to be tough as nails—I always knew she loved me. She was a woman of great faith. I often looked over to see her praying at times when she did not think anyone was looking.

As I started to think back to these times, I came to think of our time together by the classic adage, “The Good Ol’ Days.” A time where everything seemed perfect and the world seemed much better. However, during my time of devotions, I came to the realization that while we had enjoyed each other’s company, the world was not perfect even then. In the eighties (the time that had appeared to be the good ol’ days), terrorist organizations launched attacks in Italy during the Bologna massacre on August 2, 1980. The largest mass murder in Canada’s history took place on June 23, 1985 when Air India Flight 182 was destroyed by Sikh-Canadian militants. Iran and Iraq were at war from 1980 to 1988. Iraq was accused of using illegal chemical weapons during the conflict. Not to mention the fact that the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union was in full swing during this time. What about earlier times? Which one—the age of Vietnam War in the sixties and seventies or the age of the two Great Wars (WWI and WWII) of the early twentieth century? While people were more insulated from global tragic events of the time than they are now, with the exception of spending time with my family, the good ol’ days were not as good as they seemed on a global front.

David wrote the 34th psalm. The psalm was written during a time when David was running for his life as Saul consistently tried to kill him. King Achish’s servants recognized David. David knew that Achish would either try to kill him or capture him to send to Saul. So, David feigned insanity which allowed for his departure. David could have reminisced about better days. However, during his time of difficulty, David wrote, “Who is someone who desires life, loving a long life to enjoy what is good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech. Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry for help” (Ps. 34:12–15, CSB). No matter what age a person finds oneself in, it is important to seek peace and to live according to the standards of God. For while on earth, there will always be times of trouble.

Augustine of Hippo provides stellar insight concerning the illusion of the good ol’ days. In his commentary on the Psalms, he notes,

Do you not grumble every day, “How long do we have to put up with this? Things get worse and worse by the day. Our parents had happier days, things were better in their time.” Oh, come on! If you questioned those parents of yours, they would moan to you about their days in just the same way … So you are looking for good days. Let us all look for them together, but not here … There are always evil days in this world, but always good days in God. Abraham enjoyed good days, but one within his own heart; he had bad days when a famine forced him to migrate to search for food. But everyone else had to search, too. What about Paul: did he have good days, he who had “often gone without food, and endured cold and exposure” (2 Cor. 11:27)? But the servants have no right to be discontented; even the Lord did not have good days in this world. He endured insults, injuries, the cross and many a hardship (Augustine of Hippo, Expositions of the Psalms 34:17, in Ancient Faith Study Bible, 646).

 

Augustine is spot on! The idea of the good ol’ days is nothing more than a ruse. It’s an illusion! While on this earth, there will always be someone seeking out to hurt another. Thieves will steal. The greedy lusts after riches. The heartless remains cruel. The envious will blame others for their troubles. And nations will war against other nations.

In reality, the good ol’ days haven’t come yet. But for the child of God, they will. The good times we enjoy on earth are nothing but a foretaste, an appetizer, of greater, grander days that lie ahead. Paul, quoting from Isaiah 52:15 and 64:4, reminds us that “What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived—God has prepared these things for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9, CSB).

So, for now, realize that the good ol’ days haven’t come yet. But they will! For the meantime, find your peace and contentment in God (Luke 1:78–79) while realizing that while we have experienced some good days, they are only appetizers for the great feast of peace and joy that lie ahead. The good ol’ days are coming. The good ol’ days are found in God’s kingdom; in that heavenly home he has prepared for us.

 

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com, the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast, and the author of the soon to be released book The Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has been in the ministry for nearly 20 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2019. BellatorChristi.com.

(Podcast 7.25.19) Keeping Your Faith in Christ Even When You’ve Been Hurt by the Church (w. Melissa Pellew)

Source: (Podcast 7.25.19) Keeping Your Faith in Christ Even When You’ve Been Hurt by the Church (w. Melissa Pellew)

Let God Fight Your Battles

Source: Let God Fight Your Battles

By: Brian G. Chilton | July 24, 2019

During my time of devotions, I came across two passages of Scripture that may seem unrelated but complement one another quite well. I normally use the daily readings from the 1979 edition of the Book of Common Prayer (BCE) for my devotions and quiet time. Each day, the BCE leads the reader through a psalm, a selection from the Old Testament, a selection from the New Testament, and a selection in one of the Gospels. Within two years, the reader will have read through the entire Bible.

Today’s lesson began with the story of Abigail and David in 1 Samuel 25. The story begins with the death of the prophet Samuel. David and his men, along with all of Israel, mourned the loss of this great prophet. David and his men had to take care because King Saul was losing his reign. God had spoken through Samuel to Saul that David would replace him as king. Because of that, Saul attempted to kill David.

David and his men came across a business in Carmel owned by a man named Nabal. Nabal was a harsh and evil businessman (1 Sam. 25:3). David had his men ask Nabal if they could have some supplies for their journey especially since they had been good to Nabal’s men. Nabal, in true fashion to his character, arrogantly brushed David and his men aside even though he had extra to share with the group. The men returned to David where they armed themselves for their journey.

Abigail, Nabal’s wife, was an intelligent and beautiful woman. She was told about Nabal’s arrogant actions. So, she took supplies to David and his men. Abigail knew that plans of God even though her husband didn’t. Fast forward to verse 39, David had graciously received the gifts from Abigail. When Nabal sobered up from a night of drinking and carousing, Abigail told him about what she had done. Nabal was struck immediately with something like a seizure and later died.

David heard about what had happened and said, “Blessed be the LORD who championed my cause against Nabal’s insults and restrained his servant from doing evil. The LORD brought Nabal’s evil deeds back on his own head” (1 Sam. 25:39, CSB). David praised the Lord for his intervention and for protecting him from doing something bad.

There’s a great lesson to be learned in this story. It is easy for us to become angry over things that others do to us. Every passing year seems to find people becoming increasingly hostile and impatient towards one another. However, the child of God should realize just as David did that God will fight our battles. It may not be that our adversaries will meet as quick a judgment as Nabal did. But he will bring back the evil deeds upon the heads of those who do evil.

Some may say, “Yeah, but I have had a lot of bad things to happen to me. God hasn’t handled the situations yet.” The beauty in the BCE’s form of devotions is that it is coupled with a passage from the Gospels. It is by no mistake that 1 Samuel 25 is linked with Mark 4:35-41. Mark 4 tells the story of the disciples who are caught in a severe storm on the Sea of Galilee. The waves flooded the boat while Jesus was asleep in the stern. The disciples cried out, “Don’t you care that we’re going to die” (Mark 4:38, CSB)? Then, Jesus calmly stands, rebukes the wind, and the storm ceases (Mark 4:39–40). After questioning them about their level of faith, the disciples were left in awestruck wonder, asking themselves “Who then is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him” (Mark 4:41, CSB)!

God has the power to fight your battles. It is easy for us to think that we have to fight alone. But the true power is not found in our intellect, muscles, or weapons. Rather, the true power is found in a Sovereign God who can do far more to our adversaries than we ever could. In the end, it is God’s will that everyone would repent and turn to him (Ezek. 18:23, 31–32; 2 Pet. 3:9). However, not everyone will. Therefore, God will rectify the wrongs of life. Trust in his ability to do what’s right. If you fight your battles in your own power, you can only do what limited things you have the capability to do. But if you place your circumstances and adversaries in the hands of God, you will see the powerful things that God can do. So, whose power do you trust more to fight your battles—God’s power or your own?

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com, the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast, and the author of the soon to be released book The Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has been in the ministry for nearly 20 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2019. BellatorChristi.com.

First Book “The Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics” to be Published Soon

Source: First Book “The Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics” to be Published Soon

Hey, everyone!

I have exciting news to share! I have signed my first book contract with Wipf & Stock’s Resource Publications. I have written a book titled The Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics which will tentatively be published in late 2019. The book will be a valuable resource to anyone who is interested in apologetics but hasn’t had the opportunity to attend seminary. Using illustrative stories, the book will take the essentials of apologetics and make them readily accessible to anyone who wants to know more about how to defend their faith. The Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics will explain the nature of truth, how we can know that God exists, and the historical evidence backing the reality of Jesus’s resurrection and of the reliability of the New Testament. Stay tuned for more information. I will announce the publication date as soon as it becomes available.

This has been a fun journey! I hope you receive as much of a blessing from reading the book as I have had in writing it. Be on the lookout for The Layman’s Manual on Christian Apologetics.

 

Blessings,

 

Brian G. Chilton

The Challenges Geisler Leaves Behind

Source: The Challenges Geisler Leaves Behind

By: Brian G. Chilton | July 15, 2019

 

The world lost a tremendous voice in Christian apologetics on July 1, 2019. Norman Geisler, a prolific writer, teacher, and seminary founder, died at the age of 86. Norman Geisler has been an influential apologist for decades. Geisler earned his PhD in Philosophy from Loyola University; his MA in Theology from Wheaton College; his BA in Philosophy also from Wheaton; and a ThB from William Tyndale College. He has written numerous books over his lifetime including Chosen but Free, Systematic Theology, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (w. Frank Turek), Making Sense of Bible Difficulties, and his last book When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences. Geisler was a staunch defender of biblical inerrancy. He helped formulate the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. Geisler’s passing leaves behind substantial challenges for future generations of the church.

  1. Who will write in his place? Due to the volume of books that Geisler either wrote or co-wrote, his passing leaves a hole that needs to be filled. Who will step up to continue to write on the apologetic issues that matter? Who will make the time to study these issues and pour over them? Who will spend the countless hours needed to write books that will equip the church? Our generation must ensure that Christian apologetics continues to get the exposure it needs and deserves.
  2. Who will defend biblical integrity? While the debate between Geisler and other Christian apologists became heated at times, we do need individuals who will toe the line concerning biblical integrity. I am an advocate of biblical inerrancy. However, I realize that the term inerrancy is debated among apologetic and theological circles. For that reason, I use the word integrity indicating that the Bible is trustworthy and honest in all that it purports. Nevertheless, we need bold Christians who are willing to defend the truthfulness of the Old and New Testaments. Will someone step up to take the reins?
  3. Who will advocate for a balanced view of divine sovereignty and human freedom? While Geisler was not a Molinist, he did hold to a balanced Thomistic view of divine sovereignty and human freedom. In his book Chosen but Free, Geisler warns of the dangers that come by a hyper-Calvinist and hyper-Arminian viewpoints. He contends for a balanced view between the two seeing that the Bible holds that God is both sovereign and humans are free to make choices, even in their choice to respond or reject the grace of God given to them. Geisler’s view is comparable to the light version of Calvinism known as Amyraldism, or moderate Calvinism. While I personally think that Thomistic strategies in handling this issue are superior to Calvinism, and Molinism better still; Geisler’s advocacy of a harmonious viewpoint between the two extremes is appealing and something worth considering when trudging through the theological waters.
  4. Who will defend truth? We are losing many theological and apologetic giants either to retirement or to death. Who will step up to take their place? Will our generation be one that stands for truth or one that wavers under political pressure? This is a question we must all ask ourselves. How committed are we to the truth of Jesus Christ?

While there will never be another Norman Geisler, there will be individuals that God uses to take his place. Those individuals will not be exactly like Geisler. But those folks are not expected to be. If our generation holds fast to the truths of Christ, we may see numerous individuals who fill the hole that Geisler has left behind. The better question concerns our willingness. Are we willing to let God use us for his glory?

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2019. BellatorChristi.com.

Are You Worshiping God or Yourself?

Source: Are You Worshiping God or Yourself?

By: Brian G. Chilton | July 8, 2019

 

The other day, I was in the office and had a time of tremendous worship. Worship is not always corporate. Worship can and should happen in our personal time with God in addition to our time together. God continuously led me to videos and material on worship. I viewed many of the messages of Francis Chan. Francis Chan is a popular preacher and teacher and is the former teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, which he and his wife started in 1994.

Chan stated the following in one of his messages, a statement that had a profound impact on the way I view worship. Chan said, “We pray, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,’ but I fear that things are much different in the church than the way God wills it to be in heaven.’” Chan adds, “When we have people entering our worship services, evaluating them, and saying, ‘Hey, how was church today?’ They say, “Uh, I really didn’t like the worship. Did you like the worship?’ These are stupid things to say…How did we get here, to the point where someone says, ‘I didn’t like the worship.’ Did it ever occur to you that worship has nothing to do with you? Worship is not about you. It’s all about God!” (Chan, “Are You Ready for the End,” YouTube, 2018). Chan is absolutely right in his assessment.

Chan asked the question, “how did we get here?” It’s quite simple. Socrates and Protagoras asked where meaning is derived. According to Protagoras (481-411 BC), man is the measure of all things. But according to Socrates (470-391 BC), God is the measure of all things. For the most part, Christians have accepted Plato’s view concerning the nature of truth and the measure of all things being found in the transcendent truth of God. Over time, Christians have adopted a more Protagorean mindset rather than a Platonic or Socratic mindset.

Since the Age of the Enlightenment (c. 1715-1789 AD), the emphasis has been placed on the individual rather than God. The self is king. Human beings are the end unto themselves. Thinkers like David Hume, Voltaire, and Spinoza greatly influenced the Western world. Hume, Voltaire, and Spinoza advocated a God who was not involved with creation. Thus, people should live their lives as they please without concerning themselves with the involvement of God. This ideology influenced the liberal theologians of the 1800s like Rudolf Bultmann who claimed that Christians needed to demythologize the Bible. Bultmann held that in a scientific age, no one would believe in such things.

The thinkers of the 1800s influenced those of the 1900s. The Sexual Revolution of the 1960s pushed individualism even further by holding that a person could have relations with whomever they pleased regardless of religious convictions to the otherwise. Certain episodes of popular television shows in the 70s and 80s continued to emphasize individuality while devaluing the family unit. Eventually, children were viewed as an inconvenience and marriage was held to be something that was unnatural. Commercials bred entitlement thinking, leading to the belief that people can have what they want when they want it.

Technology pushed the envelope even further with the advent of the World Wide Web. In 2004, the reign of individuality reached its highest pinnacle to date when a group of Harvard students created a new social app. Headed by one Mark Zuckerberg, the students built a temple to the god of individualism, where the self is worshiped at the altar of liked posts. This temple was called Facebook. Social media platforms like Facebook have made everyone a deity unto themselves. If someone does not like something that is said by the self-made god, they are barred or reported. Facebook heaven occurs when a post goes viral. Facebook hell is being placed in Facebook Jail where the person can no longer spew forth his or her thoughts and opinions. So, why go through this historical journey? It is simply to say that all of us, like it or not, have been influenced by the individualistic ideas of Western culture. The problem is, that’s not what the Bible teaches. The people of God are brought into loving communion with God.

Let’s examine first what worship is not. Worship is not about you! Worship is not about the preacher and how much you like or hate him (trust me, I have had both). Worship is not about the music and whether you like the style or not. Worship has nothing to do with your preconceived notions, whatsoever. Worship is not about your politics. Worship is not about your opinions. Worship is not about your traditions. Worship is not about rules, a manmade constitution, and bylaws. Worship is not even about celebrating our nation, as blessed as a people we are. So, what is worship?

Worship praises God. It desires to enter into the transcendent presence of Almighty God. Worship seeks to hear a message from God. It desires to know what God desires, not what we desire. Worship thanks and praises God for the blessings of life. Worship forgives and seeks forgiveness. Worship loves and receives love. Worship lays one’s burdens into the powerful hands of God. Worship proclaims along with the angels in heaven, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come” (Rev. 4:8, CSB).

So, are you truly worshiping God? If your worship is based on your own whims and fancies, then your worship will not be received by God (Mal. 1; Jms. 4:3). Why? Because, if this is your mindset, the one you are actually worshiping is your own self, not God. Let us all consider this as we seek to truly worship the Creator of heaven and earth. For our worship to be received, it must be made about God and not about ourselves.

To catch Chan’s message in its entirety, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMv4gx7-lnU&feature=share.

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2019. BellatorChristi.com.

(Podcast 6.20.19) Is Christianity a Mere Comic Book Tale? What the NT Creeds Tell Us about the Early Message of the Church

Source: (Podcast 6.20.19) Is Christianity a Mere Comic Book Tale? What the NT Creeds Tell Us about the Early Message of the Church

Can We Know Anything about the Historical Jesus? Yes, and It’s Much More than You Think!

Source: Can We Know Anything about the Historical Jesus? Yes, and It’s Much More than You Think!

By: Brian G. Chilton | June 18, 2019

In 2000, I made the difficult decision to step away from my faith. I entered into what I call theistic-leaning agnosticism, one step removed from pantheism. I believed that some kind of God could possibly exist. However, I didn’t know that a person could know if that God really did exist and most certainly could not know anything about the historical Jesus of Nazareth. These doubts were brought on the claims of the Jesus Seminar who held that less than 14% of the sayings attributed to Jesus were actually his own. The Seminar claimed that the rest of the sayings were inventions from the apostles. Couple the Seminar with PBS’s show From Jesus to Christ which claimed that the Christ of faith evolved over time from the Jesus of history, then one could see why I needed some serious answers. When I asked Christian leaders about how I could know if Jesus was accurately portrayed in the Gospels, I was met with scorn and hostility. Add to that the nepotistic hypocrisy I often saw, then stepping away from the faith was pretty easy.

However, everything changed in 2005. I was introduced to the writings of Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, William Lane Craig, and Gary Habermas. This past week, my journey came full circle. I had the honor to have one of my apologetic heroes, Gary Habermas, once again as a professor. The class investigated the New Testament creeds which is the material in the New Testament that predates the New Testament writings. It is thought even by skeptical scholars that many of these creeds date to no later than 35 AD when Paul met Peter and James in Jerusalem (Gal. 1:18-20). The NT creeds tell us much about the historical Jesus because this information is located at ground zero. The creeds tell us about the message of the earliest church which in turn came from the historical Jesus of Nazareth. So, what can we know about the historical Jesus of Nazareth from these creeds?

 

Creeds Tell Us about the Nature of the Historical Jesus. As fascinating as it is, the creeds provide us with high Christology. In fact, the earliest church had the highest Christology. This decimates the claims that the church evolved the nature of Jesus from a prophet to a divine God-man over time. For instance, consider the Philippians hymn. The Philippians hymn notes that Christ Jesus “existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity” (Php. 2:6-7a, CSB). The sermon summaries of Acts, all thought to be extremely early, denote the deity of Jesus as one who “has been exalted to the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33, CSB). Don’t forget about the Colossians creed where Christ is said to be the “invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Col. 1:15, CSB and see following Col. 1:16-20). One may say, “Okay, but this shows the church’s theology, not the historical Jesus of Nazareth.” In response, one must note that there is no historical presence of evolutionary development, not even legendary development. The earliest church held an extremely high view of Jesus. Therefore, Jesus of Nazareth must have taught something about his divine nature, backing them up with miraculous works.

 

Creeds Tell Us about the Life of the Historical Jesus. While the majority of the creeds focus on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the creeds do provide details pertaining to the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. The creeds note that Jesus was born a descendent of David (Acts 13:23; Rom. 1:3). Jesus was noted to have been a Nazarene (Acts 2:22; 4:10; 5:38). Jesus of Nazareth performed numerous miracles (Acts 2:22; 10:38) and fulfilled several Messianic prophecies (Acts 2:25-31; 3:21-25; 4:11; 10:43). From the creeds, the researcher begins to see a similar pattern of Jesus of Nazareth’s life that is portrayed in the biblical narratives concerning him.

 

Creeds Tell Us about the Death and Resurrection of the Historical Jesus. The majority of the creeds are based around the earliest kerygma of the church—that is, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Most notably, 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 denotes the resurrection appearances of Jesus, even stating that 500 people witnessed the risen Jesus at one time (1 Cor. 15:6). The sermon summaries of Acts also provide the same formula in that Jesus lived, died, and rose again. The Acts 13 sermon summary even gives a nod to the empty tomb. For Paul’s early message stated that “When they had carried out all that had been written about him, they took him down from the tree and put him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and he appeared for many days to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people” (Acts 13:29-31, CSB). The creeds denote the numerous witnesses who saw the risen Jesus. They sometimes provide details that other sources do not, such as Simon Peter’s private interaction with the risen Jesus (Lk. 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5) and James’ private meeting with the risen Jesus (1 Cor. 15:7).

 

The early creeds are impressive in what they tell us about the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Some will skeptically hold that since the creeds speak of the miraculous and the divine that they must be thrown out. However, such attitudes show more of an anti-supernatural bias than they do a quest for historical truth. At the very least, these early creeds tell us what the earliest church believed about Jesus. At the most, the early creeds give a fascinating description of whom Jesus was, is, and forever will be. Even if we did not have the New Testament, the creeds would tell us everything we needed to know about the historical Jesus of Nazareth who is the Christ of faith! The creeds tell the life-changing truth that Jesus is risen. Will you allow this truth to transform you?

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University and is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Brian has been in the ministry for close to 20 years and serves as the Senior Pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2019. BellatorChristi.com.