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.

The Atonement-Part 2

2 Corinthians 5:11-21 is an amazing, profound passage.

Profoundly deep, profoundly encouraging, and profoundly convicting.

Profoundly Deep

The message of this passage is the gospel, the simplicity with which Paul states it and the implications are staggering.

First, 5:14-15

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (ESV)

“one has died for all” While there are other passages that teach substitution, this is considered the clearest text (from a grammatical and lexical basis) to teach the substitutional nature of the atonement. The preposition “for” (huper, ὑπέρ) in this verse may be one of the most significant words in the New Testament. Even the standard lexicon state that it has a substitutional force.

While the believe in substitutionary atonement is not based on the preposition, the use of this preposition, “for” (huper), is significant and supports the case for substitution. It can have the simple meaning of “for the benefit of” it also has the force of “in the place of.”

Paul states that “Christ” (Messiah, the one who fulfilled all the Old Testament promises) died in our place. The God-Man died in my place. Because the wages of sin is death, I deserved to died. But He died in my place. How basic a truth–how profound a reality. The one who did not deserve to died, died for all who deserved to die. He did for me what I could not do for myself.

Paul returns to this concept in verse 19.

19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (ESV)

Not only did Christ died in my place, that substitution allowed God to “not count their trespasses against them” because Christ’s death dealt with God’s holy wrath and provided peace (reconciliation).

Now, those truths are the basis of the Gospel and the next verse is what blows my mind. Not only did Christ take on humanity to become a substitute, the process of providing a relationship with God (salvation) gave us more than just forgiveness.

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)

When I place my trust in Christ as my only means of salvation, not only am I forgiven, I am given Christ’s righteousness. Jesus became sin for me–I can’t even image how distasteful that must have been. I’m so accustomed to sin, He was sinless, holy, unstained. And in becoming my substitute, not only was my sin imputed to Him, His righteousness was imputed to me. Simple forgiveness would be wonderful, especially since it is without merit. I didn’t deserve to be forgiven. But to go beyond forgiveness, to justification–being declared righteous is amazing. I definitely don’t deserve that.

But beyond forgiveness and positional righteousness, this concept of “we might become the righteousness of God” is the enablement for living the way God intends for us to live.

Profoundly Encouraging

In light of the substitutionary death of Christ (5:14-15, 21) we become new creatures.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (ESV)

That is profoundly encouraging because it states it as a result. If we are in Christ we are new creatures, not, we some day will become new creatures. While we are not yet what we should be . .

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)

We are new creatures.

Profoundly Convicting

Being a new creatures is not only encouraging but convicting. Because I am a new creature, I must ask myself, am I “being transformed into His image?” “Am I living for Him or for me?”

15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

What does living for Him look like?

11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

When I am living for Him, I live for others.

I am a new creature transformed to live for Christ because He died for me.

I am a new creature transformed to live for Christ by living for others.

The Atonement–Part 1

Part 1

In response to a question by Brian (comment 1) and my response (comment 4), I wanted to review some basic beliefs and then look into an area I have not dealt with significantly.

In that earlier post I stated, “that God can not co-exist with sin” and a good friend challenged me on the precision of my statement and wondered how that statement could interact with theodicy.

For those not familiar with the concept a very basic definition: A theodicy is an attempt to understand how one can justify a belief in a good God in light of the existence of evil. (This may rightly be them most difficult question a Christian will face in dealing with a thinking seeker or thinking skeptic.)

First to finish the previous conversation, I asked a friend who has done much more thinking and writing on theodicy, and who teaches philosophy to help me out. Part of his reply is below.

In the most straightforward sense, the claim that God and evil cannot co-exist is clearly not true. God exists. Evil exists.

It is not even true that evil cannot exist “in God’s presence.” Consider: God and Satan in the book of Job, for example.

What is true, is that creatures who are unforgiven and unrepentant cannot live in communion with God (at all, let alone for eternity). That is the death of separation that sin imposes on us. Of course, that then raises the all-important question: why can’t unforgiven and unrepentant creatures live in communion with God? And the answer to that question will depend on your theory of atonement.

This insight raises questions in two areas of theology, theodicy and the atonement. I was going to start with some thoughts on theodicy and then pick up on the atonement issues. But having just taught 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, I’ll start with the atonement. (I know this will be too long for one post, so I’ve already labeled this part 1).

The subject of the atonement
The Doctrine of Atonement asks the Question:
How can a Holy God accept sinful man?
How can sinful man be acceptable to a Holy God?

The two questions focus on two directions of salvation:
God-ward aspect of salvation.
Since God is holy want can He do to accept sinful men?
What must God do?
What must be done for God?
The man-ward aspect of salvation.
Since man is sinful what can he do to be acceptable to a holy God?
What is required of man? (works, faith, etc.)

Definition
A definition of the atonement would be simple if we were using bumper stickers–“At one with God” makes a simple statement, but don’t answer may of the questions.

Throughout history there have been many theories of the atonement (which I’ll mention in a minutes) because at the point of defining the atonement we must understand:
Theology Proper–the study of God (His Character, standards and self-established rule of operation)
Christology and soteriology–the study of Christ (His nature, His work on the cross and His purpose)
Anthropology/hamartiology–the study of man and sin (his condition and resultant ability)
and in some ways ecclesiology and eschatology (at least personal eschatology).
And in each of these areas there is considerable difference of opinion.

So (contrary to what post modernism might want us to believe) our theology must be integrated (whole) and consistent. But not only should our theology of the atonement be consistent more importantly, it must be a reflection of Scripture.

At this point I feel the need to list a couple presuppositions:
God exists and has revealed himself in Scripture. He has revealed Himself to be orderly and devoid of self-contradiction. (What I am not able to explain is that the absence of self-contraction may not be the same as logical. That is, there are things that seem logical or logical deductions that may not be true because of other revealed truths.)

As theologians have sought to define the atonement some have put more weight on logic other on biblical texts, some depended on one particular metaphor others on clear propositional statements, etc.

So here are some of the categories into which theses theories fall:
View that have Satan as the object of atonement (Ransom to Satan and Recapitulation)
Views with man as the object of the atonement (Example and Moral Influence)
No object (Accidental theory)
Views with God as the object of atonement (satisfaction, Governmental, penal substitution)

There are additional new views to be discussed later.

I’m going to tip my hand by posting my definition of the atonement and then in the next post try to defend it.

1. The atonement is the cross-work of Christ in which
2. He died once (for all) (Sacrifice)
3. in our place (Substitution)
4. paying the price for our sin (Redemption)
5. that satisfied God’s holy wrath (Propitiation/Satisfaction)
6. allowing us by faith
7. to be made new creature (Regenerated, imparting eternal life)
8. by being declared righteous (free from all sin past, present, and future) in Christ (Justification)
9. which enables us to have a relationship with God (Reconciliation)
10. leading to a transformed life (Sanctification) empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Next time we’ll look at a several awesome passages, let me whet your appetite.

2 Corinthian 5:14-15 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (ESV)

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)

From the Inside Out

God created us to be whole being. And we need to engage God as whole being, not just cognitively through study, but responding to our study with worship.

Here’s my brief definition of worship: Encounter and Expression

Encountering God for what He is and Expressing back to Him what I have seen. Not so much ascribing, but describing Him.

Worship music (psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs) helps me do this.

Ephesians 5:18-21 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (ESV)

So, here is another worship video from Hillsong. (Don’t hold me responsible for all their theology, and yes we should make sure that our worship songs are theologically correct.)

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From The Inside Out
By: Hillsong United
Album: United We Stand (2006)

A thousand times I’ve failed
Still Your mercy remains And should I stumble again
I’m caught in Your grace
Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame

Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
In bringing You praise
Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame

In my heart and my soul
Lord I give You control
Consume me from the inside out
Lord let justice and praise
Become my embrace
To love you from the inside out

Everlasting
Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending
Your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart
Is to bring You praise
From the inside out
Lord my soul cries out

Sola

In a post a few days ago, I concluded with SDG, so for the sake of completion, here are all five Solas of the Reformation.

  • Sola Scriptura   Scripture alone—the Bible is to serve as the only source of authority
  • Solus Christus   Christ alone—salvation is found only in Christ
  • Sola Gratia   Grace alone—justification is grace alone, not based on effort/works
  • Sola Fide   Faith alone—this justification which is by grace alone, is through faith alone
  • Soli Deo Gloria   Glory to God alone—the whole of creation and all elements of the redemption process are for God’s glory

Some thoughts (definitely not exhaustive) and observations, starting with Sola Scriptura.
Sola Scriptura Scripture alone
(You can click on the images to enlarge)

This had to be the focus of the Reformation because so much tradition had not just been added to Scripture but replaced it.

But is it true that we only use Scripture?

What about reason? Theology is a process of reasoning about what God has revealed. God, in His wisdom, did not give us a systematic theology text, but a revelation of Himself. Sometimes this revelation is through nature (general revelation, Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-21), sometimes through conscience (Romans 2:14-15), clearly through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16, 17; 2 Peter 1:21) and His Son (John 1:18; Hebrews 1:1-2).

The revelation through the Word is sometimes through narratives which reveals how a personal God interacts with man. These narratives are sometimes descriptive, not prescriptive. Sometimes His Word is in poetry, the language of emotion. At times through didactic, logical progressive thoughts. All these forms of revelation require us to reason. As we encounter God and His Word, we must process what we read.

A danger occurs when our logic and reason seek to determine what the text should say rather than working to understand the text. There are theological systems that are logical, but which are not biblical. That is, in order to be logical they make conclusions that can’t always be supported by Scripture, and I believe, at other times create contradictions. But those problems do not negate the need for reason.

But not only do we use reason, along with Scripture, we also involve tradition and experience. We never approach a biblical text without preunderstanding. We are not neutral. Everyone has presuppositions which form the basis of their thinking. While our preunderstanding can color our view of the world and the Word, the goal is not to become pre-suppositionless but pre-suppositionally self-critical. No matter how hard we try, we can’t see a text from a totally neutral perspective. But we must allow the text to mold, develop, change and correct our preunderstanding. Preunderstanding that may be caused by gender, ethnicity, culture, experience (and many more areas).

So, Scripture is the final authority, but we use reason and we have traditions and experience of which we must be aware.

Developing our TheologyThese next two graphics picture how I think we develop our theological understanding. It should be founded on the Word and making a practical difference in

 

my life. (I guess there could be

things we believe, but don’t think about regularly or for which we may not have immediate applications–I’ll need to think more about that.) As I develop my theology I also evaluate my theology. My theological system should be consistent and therefore it helps me as I do exegesis. Since Scripture interprets Scripture my theology (the synthesis of my overall understanding of Scripture) helps me connect passages. But my theology should not force a passage to say something it does not say, nor ignore a challenging or difficult issue. When my exegesis and my theology are not consistent, I must evaluate both my theology and my exegesis. Sometimes admitting that there are things I can’t fully understand (the finite trying to understand the infinite). Those times I should celebrate the greatness of God and continue seeking answers.

Ideally we should always be in the process of “doing theology.” By “doing theology” I mean that theologyDeveloping our Understanding should not be stagnant but dynamic. Not that we are looking for ways of discarding our theology, but of refining it. As we continue to study God’s Word and as the world changes around us, we must be able to communicate God’s truth into our world, responding to new or repackaged ideas.

God has been so gracious to give us His Word, to allow us to know Him–but it’s not just for us, or for a mental exercise, but ultimately for His glory.

May God be our passion, His Word our priority and His glory our purpose.

There are four other Solas, we’ll get back to them in later posts.

For the sake of His Name

Additional thoughts on Romans 1:5

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

Reflecting on the phrase, “for the sake of his name,” reminded me of two individuals.

One of my seminary professors (who also attend the same church I did) always ended his prayer by saying,

“for you sake, and for your reputation.”

That truly is the attitude we should posses in prayer. All my requests, all my intercession should be submitted to God–so that His name and His reputation are the most important.

The other individual is Daniel the prophet. Read Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9, after confessing the sin of the people he continues:

16 “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. 17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” (ESV)

God’s reputation–the priority

God’s purpose–the focus

God’s glory–the goal

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)