All posts by Steve

Steve Kilgore joined the staff of Calvary Church in Lancaster, PA in the fall of 2002 as the Pastor of Discipleship to facilitate the equipping ministries, which include Adult Bible Fellowship and other adult discipleship ministries, and work with the rest of the education ministries. He currently serves as the Executive Pastor of Ministries with a focus on providing ministries that facility individuals taking intentional Next Steps for growing and participating in the leadership and administrative aspect at Calvary. He has also taught part-time at Lancaster Bible College in the area of Spiritual Formation and New Testament. Prior to coming to Calvary he served in two churches as well as taught part-time at Philadelphia Biblical University. He was born in Dallas, Texas, but spent the first 13 years of his life in Guatemala where his parents were missionaries. It was there at the age of four and a half that Steve placed his faith in Christ as his Savior. Steve received a Bachelor’s degree in Bible from Philadelphia College of Bible and a Masters of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Steve and his wife, Mary Anne, have their two boys, Andrew and Nathan (both in college), and live in East Lampeter Township. Steve lives and ministers by the personal motto, Know what you believe and why, live it, be able to defend it. His hobbies, other than playing with his family, include tinkering with computers, reading, drinking coffee with his wife, playing and watching basketball. Steve and Mary Anne are looking forward to exploring new hobbies as they transition to life as empty-nesters.

Obedience of Faith

I’m working on adult curriculum on the book of Romans (you’ll hear more about this).

Paul fills most of his introductions very full and the introduction to Romans is no exception–it may be the longest and most significant theologically (along with Ephesians). In Romans 1:5 Paul begins to shed light on the subject matter of the book.

through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations (ESV)

Two key thoughts:

1. The gospel message does not distinguish between evangelism and discipleship. I don’t believe God envisioned a two stage process. Accept Jesus’ as savior and at some time also become a disciple. Or as some might believe, all can be saved, but discipleship is for the committed.

The call to faith is not based on works, it is a call to a new kind of life–a relationship with God that requires obedience. So Paul calls it “obedience of faith.”

I do agree with those who see intentional ambiguity in the phrase, “faith, if genuine, always has obedience as its outcome; obedience, if it is to please God, must always be accompanied by faith” Doug Moo, NIV Life Application CommentaryBut for those who are interested there are at least four options (the NET Bible provides a simple explanation)

The phrase ὑπακοὴν πίστεως has been variously understood as (1) an objective genitive (a reference to the Christian faith, “obedience to [the] faith”); (2) a subjective genitive (“the obedience faith produces [or requires]”); (3) an attributive genitive (“believing obedience”); or (4) as a genitive of apposition (“obedience, [namely] faith”) in which “faith” further defines “obedience.” (NET Bible)

2. The message of the gospel is not man-centered, it is God-centered, it is about God’s glory (referred to as “doxological”). The purpose of Paul’s calling as an apostle and our mission as believers is the “obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.” God desires His name to be praise, not just by me/us, but all nations.

Obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations–that is the mission. What an awesome privilege.

SDG

Soli Dio Gloria (Glory to God alone)

Raised to newness of life

As I was teaching today, I was try to teach on the present benefits of the resurrection, having asked myself, “Why don’t you think about the resurrection–every day?”

As the lesson unfolded (the handout is attached below), it turned into a discussion, and I would hope, a celebration the doctrine of salvation.

One very familiar passage jumped out at me.

Romans 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (ESV)

The power which brought Jesus back from the dead, is the power and purpose that drive our walk.

“Walk in newness of life.” The resurrection should compel me to walk in a an entirely new way (Newman and Nida, A Handbook on Paul’s Letter to the Romans, UBS handbook series; p. 114).

But this is not an issue of effort, though it is not without effort. The ability to walk in a new way, newness of life, is tied to the power of the resurrection. Union with Christ (the wonderful theme of Romans 6) and the purpose and power of the resurrection are what enable us to walk.

And since the clause is a purpose clause (“in order that”) we can state one key reason we are united with Christ in His resurrection is so that we walk in the new life He has provided (not just my assurance of life 1 Corinthians 15).

May we walk in an entirely new way. May we walk in newness of life–radically different, but relationally compelling.

 

The Practical Benefits of the Resurrection

(Let me also encourage you to check the comments on the April 7 post–hopefully soon this will lead to a fuller discussion of theodicy.)

Yesterday was Good Friday tomorrow is Resurrection Sunday

As a sit with my coffee this morning, I can’t help but reflect. (Now that I have finished it turned into something much longer than expect.)

Biblical Christianity (as opposed to biological/cultural or religious/institutional) is unique from other religions at several points. (Yes there are also points of connection, but that is for another discussion.)

The reward
Some religions are hopeless, that is they have no assurance that if the “faithful” do what they are told, that they will assuredly receive their intended reward.

Other religions are purposeless; the goal is so intangible that it may hardly be called a reward.

Other see the reward as an obligation on God’s part–He must bestow it on them, they were better than others.

For most religions the rewards is in some way proportional to the acts of goodness that an individual does.

In biblical Christianity the reward is freely given. I don’t think there are too many instances when a gift given by a human being is actually totally free. We love to give gifts, but we may ask (even if never verbalized), “What will I get in return?” We give proportionally–that is the value of the gift indicates the depth of relationship. I don’t give the paper boy gold and diamonds and I better not give my wife gift certificates to a fast food restaurant.

God promises to give us the most costly gift, the most unbelievable reward not based on our proportional value, but based on His unrestrained generosity.

Who ever believes, whoever calls on the name of Lord, will be saved Romans 10:9, 13
Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved Acts 16:31
See also John 10:9; Acts 15:11

The reward is more than a place without end (heaven, as is often conceived) but relationship without end (more another time).

But God’s unrestrained generosity can never be at the expense of His nature and priority. That leads to another uniqueness.

The priority
This may be a bit of a caricature, but most religions and most forms of Christianity have man as the center of attention. True or biblical Christianity maintain the focus on God. Not simply by stating that the goal is the worship of God, but by allowing the worship of God to dominate, control and motivate everything else.

God’s priority is not the reward of individuals, but His own glory. More specifically, God’s priority is that people from every tribe, nation, ethnic group, language group, people group would proclaim His glory (1 Chronicles 16:8-26 serves as a wonderful summary) not by coercion but conversion.

God’s priority then leads to the reward, but is based on another uniqueness.

The sacrifice
For God to accomplish His priority and provide His unrestrained reward required a sacrifice of unimaginable worth.

While God desires to be blessed and desires to bless man, there is a barrier. God’s holiness and man’s sin can not coexist. God can not simply overlook sin–it must be dealt with. The only way to deal with sin is justice and justice requires payment. The payment for sin–death. Romans 3:23 and 6:23 are very clear that all mankind are under the just penalty of death because of their sin.

But God has provided a way through the unthinkable–the sacrifice of His own Son. The only one who could meet the standard of God’s holiness, the only one who did not deserve the penalty, the only one who was as righteous as God–became the sacrifice for mankind (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Romans 3:21-26 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (ESV)

For the priority of God, His glory, to provide for the reward of mankind based on the sacrifice of Jesus, required Jesus to become a man.

The incarnation
The mystery of the incarnation boggles my mind. (This is why we have to invent big words: hypostatic union, theanthropic person)

While countless pages have been written about the incarnation, how God could become man is still a mystery.

God is infinite Man is finite God is Spirit Man is corporal God is omnipresent (present everywhere simultaneously) Man is just present in one place at one time

Man is natural God is supernatural

Man is a sinner God is sinless God never lies God is holy (unique, distinct and sinless)

In the incarnation, God had to bring the person of Jesus (or the Second Person of the Trinity) whose eternal nature was divine together with a human nature.

In contemporary theology we try to use mathematical statements–Jesus is 100% man and 100% God. But there are aspects of God and aspects of man that can not coexist. So how is the God-man actually the God-man?

While we must allow for some degree of mystery, we know that for the sacrifice to have been legitimate Jesus must have been man. For the sacrifice to be acceptable to God Jesus must have been God. Neither nature could be so radically changed as to change the fundamental being. But the fundamental being could not be in conflict.

As a matter of fact, it took a number of Church Councils to deal with this issue
Council of Nicaea 325 Christ is fully divine
Council of Constantinople 381 Christ is fully human
Council of Ephesus 431 Christ is a unified person
Council of Chalcedon 451 Christ is human and divine in one person

And the debate has continued (8th c. adoptionist controversy, 16th c divine spark theory, 17th and 18th c the kenoticism–Jesus emptied himself of all divine attribute, currently–it’s just a myth).

Philippians 2:7-8 makes it clear that Jesus took or added the human nature to His divine nature in such way that it did not diminish His deity or damage His humanity.

The point
Biblical Christianity is unique not because I am a Christian, but because God has made it so.

He has done the impossible through the incarnation, to provide the improbable–a reward based on the death of His own Son, for His ultimate glory.

Stand in awe
Bow in humility
Share with boldness

Thoughts on the Attributes of God

God is . . .

All-powerful but not capricious
Eternal and transcendent yet compassionate and concerned
Unchanging and infinite yet reveals Himself in simplicity
Incomprehensible yet knowable though undefinable

Holy, unique and distinct but not distant, but only unapproachable on His terms
Independent, self-existent with the desire to bless man by seeking and allowing worship

The greatest gift He can give us is the ability/right to worship Him in interment relationship

Purposeful not manipulated by outside motives, what He does is always eternally just, right and good
Omnipresent therefore available
Omniscient therefore never surprised
Righteous yet merciful
Just yet graceful
Good not corrupt or corruptible and incapable of erring
Loving and therefore giving what is best and needed, but wise not always giving us what we want

All-sufficient, needs nothing but desires our all
All-glorious, most perfect, most awesome yet stoops down to related to man and share His likeness and image
All-knowing and wants to be known

Fluency

I had the privilege of growing up in a bi-lingual environment. I spent the first 13 years of my life in Guatemala where my parents served as missionaries. I learned Spanish and English at the same time. My parents spoke to me in English and everyone else spoke to me in Spanish. Great way to learn a language–the natural way.

The advantage of learning a second language this way is that you learn not only language (the words) but culture and mannerisms, which enable you to truly communicate not just speak.

While I at one time would consider myself bilingual, completely fluent in two languages, it has been many years since I was immerse in a Spanish culture. I went to college and seminary in English having some contact with Spanish, but not being immerse in it. So now–am I fluent? I would say no. When someone speaks to me in Spanish, I can understand everything they say. If watch Spanish TV or listen to a sermon in Spanish–I understand. But when I try to engage in conversation it doesn’t flow as easily as it once did. I have to think about the words–and there are words I know in English that I never learned in Spanish as a kid.

Fluency in a language is wonderful. And while I desire to be more fluent in Spanish again, what I really want to be is fluent with God’s Word. I want the Word of God to flow out of me as easily as English (not Spanish) flows out. For my mind to be saturated with God’s Word so that I can speak God’s Word in life situations. As Paul stated in Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (ESV),

Fluency with God Word is the result of time in God’s Word–getting to know the Bible, with the purpose of knowing God for the sake of others.

So this blog is for that purpose. To help me and others (particularly in the church I serve) be fluent in God’s Word. That will mean thinking deeply about God, His reveal truth and how it impacts every area of life.

Start up

I’m starting a blog–yes this is the latest fad, but I think there are some significant things that can be communicated. My target audience is going to be “thinking Christians”–primarily people like ABF teachers, small group leaders, Bible students. I am planning on posting some random musings, links to article on key passages that I will be studying, article answering “hot topics” or at least current issues and anything that makes me think.

The biggest difficulty in getting started was coming up with a name. What do you call your blog?

My wife and sons helped me think it through–everything from: Amazed by grace, Inside out, current musings, to Nathan’s very creative Stevie Wonders.

But I settled on Fluency. I’ll explain it in the next entry.