Sunday, January 28, 2018

In His Blood Through Faith

This Week in my Theology II class we were asked to defend our position on the extent of the atonement. Did Jesus die for everyone or only for those who are elect? Before this discussion started I had no idea that there were so many people in my class who claim reform theology yet believe that the atonement is unlimited.

This makes no since to me, because a belief that Christ’s atonement was sufficient for all, yet only efficient for the elect is called Amyraldism. In 1619 the Synod of Dort refuted Arminius’s teachings by rejecting the five articles of Remonstrance put forward by his pupils. The synod affirmed total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints as reformed soteriology. Amyraut in a short Treatise on predestination in 1634 took issue with the doctrine of limited atonement while affirming the other four.[1] Thinking in terms of the atonement as being limited or unlimited is outside of the biblical picture. I believe that thinking in terms of particular redemption is in line with the Biblical authors.

My view of the Trinity is much like that of the patristic Irenaeus; The Lord God is a Shepard who guides His sheep with His two hands, His Word and His Spirit. Therefore, my view of justification is the same. The redemption which is in Christ Jesus is a single act by the Lord God in two parts; the blood of the Word and the faith given to us by the Spirit of Truth. One God who brings about the redemption of His sheep with His two hands. Therefore, I cannot separate Christ death on the Cross from the work of the Spirit. The atonement and faith are like two sides of a single coin; the two sides are Christ blood and the believer’s faith.

I will refer you to both Romans 3:21-26 and the law of atonement in Leviticus 16. On the day of the atonement there were two goats; one goat a sin offering and the other a scapegoat. The goat for the sin offering was slaughtered, the high priest brought the blood inside the veil and sprinkled it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. Then the high priest laid his hands on the live goat and confessed over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and sent it away into the wilderness.[2] Just like the day of atonement was a single act by the high priest in two parts; so, the redemption which is in Christ Jesus is a single act by our High Priest, “in His blood through faith.”[3] It is God who provides both the blood and the faith that saves.

The Lord God said to Moses, “I will be gracious to whom He will be gracious and I will show compassion on whom He will show compassion.”[4] Jesus said, “all that the Father gives Me will come to Me…No one can come to me unless that Father who sent Me draws him…no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father…I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep… My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”[5]



[1] John D. Woodbridge and Frank A. James III, Church History From Pre-Reformation to Present Day, Volume Two, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013), 258.
[2] Cf. Lev.16:1-23.
[3] Rom.3:25.
[4] Exo.33:19, cf. Rom.9:15.
[5] Jn.6:37,44,65,10:11,27-29.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Coming of Christ in the Old Testament

The storyline of the Bible begins in the Garden of Eden where man (male and female) created in the image of God had free access to the tree of life.[1] The storyline of the Bible concludes with man once again having access to the tree of life in the Paradise of God (new heaven and new earth).[2] Man was expelled from the Garden of Eden after eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; and therefore, barred from the tree of life,[3] that is until man could be reconciled to God.

The mediator between God and man is the Lord Jesus Christ.[4] Jesus said, I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.”[5] His coming can be seen progressively in the Old Testament covenants.

Adam and Eve had broken the covenant of God, they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but God spoke of a seed who would come from the woman, and He would crush the head of the serpent.[6] The Lord God sacrificed animals to cloth Adam and Eve before expelling them from access to the tree of life.[7] This is a sign of a coming redeemer who would come forth from God, born of woman, who would sacrifice Himself, that man may be reconciled to God.

Man had become corrupt in all the earth, “but Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”[8] Therefore, God saved Noah and his family from the flood, along with two of every kind of animal of the earth. Noah belt an alter and offered burnt offering to God. God then promised to never destroy the earth with a flood again, an arched bowed rainbow being the covenantal sign.[9] The savior for Noah, his descendants, and every living creature is God.

God made a covenant with Abraham promising him a son, a people, a nation, and a land; and that, all the people of the earth would be blessed in his seed. Abraham sacrificed animals, but God walked through them. Abraham was told to sacrifice his son Isaac, but God provided a lamb.[10] The one who would ultimately be sacrificed to reconcile man to God would be both God and man.

Israel whose figure heads are Moses and Aaron; law and grace would typify this covenant. God gave a covenant to Israel from Mount Sinai, but Israel played the harlot with an idol. The Lord God forgave the Israelites and reestablished the covenant. Moses asked the Lord to show him His glory. The Lord said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”[11] We now know that the Lord God became man in the person of Jesus Christ and dwelt among us and He has declared Him.[12] Moses said, “The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.”[13]

God promised king David an everlasting kingdom for his son. God also said that He would be a Father to Him and He would be a Son to God.[14] It seems that this is going to be fulfilled in Solomon, but that idea quickly falls apart. The eternal kingdom of God would be ruled by one who is of the seed of David and is the Son of God. Isaiah prophesied about this in 11:1-10 and in Isaiah 53 he prophesied the He would sacrifice Himself for the many, and therefore, exalted by God. This One who would hold the eternal kingdom of God is referred to by Daniel as being One like a Son of Man who approached the Ancient of Days.[15]

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[1] Gen.2:9.
[2] Rev.22:2.
[3] Gen.3:24.
[4] Jn.16:28.
[5] 1 Tim.2:5.
[6] Gen.3:15.
[7] Gen.3:21.
[8] Gen.6:8.
[9] Cf. Gen.6-9.
[10] Cf. Gen.12,15,17,22.
[11] Exo.33:19-20.
[12] Cf. Jn.1:1-18.
[13] Deut.18:15.
[14] 2Sam.7:12-16.
[15] Cf. Dan.7:13-14.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Formal•Structured•Discipleship

Meme Credit: Tim Challies
"The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." (2Tim.4:2, NASB95)
After a five week hiatus I am returning today to formal•structured•discipleship at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Therefore, I wanted to write a quick note to you this morning about what to expect from the nurse theologian during the coming year.

On March 13, 2016, I wrote an article called "Depth & Breadth," announcing that I was beginning classes at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary working towards a Master of Theological Studies. It is my goal, Lord willing, to complete this degree at the end of this year, December, 2018.

But in order for that to happen I will need to attend classes continuously, without a break, for the next 48 weeks. To balance this, every week should look like this: I plan to take off Sundays from seminary classes and my job as a Registered Nurse, and spend them with the brethren at Sylvania church, my wife Darlene, our family and friends. I plan to do the reading and writing for my classes Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I plan to work as a Registered Nurse in the CVICU Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It will be a challenge, but I think very worth the effort.

When I wrote, "Depth & Breadth" I invited everyone to join me, through my blog post, during what I have come to understand as formal•structured•discipleship.  Therefore, I invite you again to join me, through my blog post during my last year of studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Every week, for the next 48 weeks I will post an article with regard to something that I have studied and learned during the previous week.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Nursing and the Law of Christ


The Lord’s teaching recorded in John 13-21 is amazing. It is what the apostle Paul calls "the Law of Christ." (Cf. 1 Cor. 9:21 & Gal.6:2) “The Law of Christ" is sacrificial love for the sake of the other. Jesus commandment is that we love one another just as He loved us. (Jn.13:34, 15:12,17) Jesus’ command to His disciples, to love one another, is bracketed by two amazing examples: First, He their teacher and Lord washed their feet. (Jn.13:13) Second, Jesus laid down His life for His disciples. (Jn.15:13) Talk about making your point! When Jesus had been raised from the dead He commissioned them to go into the world just as the Father had sent Him. (Jn.20:21)

In a video interview, Dr. Jason G. Duesing, the provost at Midwestern Baptist Seminary referred to seminary as "formal•structured•discipleship."1 In the early church, all Christians were expected to attend "formal•structured•discipleship." In an article written by Dr. Duesing, a review of Gonzalez’s book on the history of theological education, Duesing said, "In the early church, Gonzalez shows how there were Christian schools, like Justin Martyr’s in Rome and the Alexandrian catechetical school, but these were not formal environs for the training of pastors but rather the simple study to the Christian faith."2 This makes since given that Jesus spent 2-3 years instructing His disciples before sending them out to make disciples and instruct the new converts. (cf. Mat. 28:16-20)

"The writing physician Rachel Naomi Remen speaks to the work of nursing as a service to others…She says that serving is different from helping in that helping is based on inequality; it is not a relationship between equals. Serving is a relationship between equals"3 "So when He (Jesus) had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet." (Jn. 13:12-13)

Nursing and theology are bond together, but in our secular university systems they have been separated. These schools do a good job of teaching the student nurse how to do nursing, but unless the student nurse understands why they are doing it, they will soon fall away from the bedside.

In a 2010 pilot study of baccalaureate nurses and hospital nursing; "Forty percent had left hospital nursing after an average of 6.4 years, with a median of 5 years. Just over 56% were still practicing hospital nursing, and of these, 81.8% were staff RNs, 26.9% of whom intended to leave hospital nursing in the next 3-5 years."4 That means that only 1/3 of all graduates with a baccalaureate of science in nursing will be at the bedside 10 years later. In my experience, it takes 2-3 years before a graduate nurse is competent and 10 plus years before he/she is an expert nurse. I venture a hypothesis that the statistics would be worse if studied today. Why are so many nurses leaving the bedside?

Suffering

Suffering is the reason that nurses do not stay at the bedside. They themselves may not even know suffering is the reason for their departure. All hospital nurses see suffering, inflect suffering and are suffering within as a result. "Nurses working in an ICU, a NICU, on an Oncology unit, or in and ED come to work each day, aware that they will certainly witness suffering and that they are very likely to also see death."5

I have worked as Critical Care (ICU) Nurse for the majority of my career and have seen a great deal of suffering and death.
Suffering in critical care settings is often associated with a state of crisis. Many patients in emergency departments (ED), ICU, and cardiac care units (CCU) are amidst an abrupt transition from health to illness…Approximately 20% of deaths in the United States occur in ICU or following an ICU admission…Progress in treatments such as pharmaceuticals, renal dialysis, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and anesthetic/surgical techniques have made it possible to extend the lives of many people. These advances often lead to a public expectation that virtually all lives can be saved and thus magnify the shock and denial of the possibility of death…Nurses in ICU settings witness--and even directly experience--acute grief as they admit new patients to their care almost daily…Nurses working in critical care are called on to be technologically proficient, expert in detecting and resolving physical crisis, and highly skilled in guiding patients and families through the psychological and spiritual crisis of life-threatening acute illness and injury…Nurses in critical-care settings require spiritual reflection and replenishment to sustain their expert care.6
Every day that I work in an ICU is difficult. I both see unimaginable suffering within patients and their families because of this I experience suffering. Without the continued guiding hands of the Great Shephard, His Word and Spirit, I would not be at the bedside today. Every shift that I work, I depart from the hospital grieving.

Why Nursing?

Why Nursing? Because Jesus Christ is Lord, and we are your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. (2Cor.4:5) Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (Jn.13:34-35)

I began this post explaining how Jesus taught His disciples true love by example: First, He washed the disciple’s feet. Second, He laid down His life for the disciples. In-between these two great examples He commanded them to "love one another, just as I have loved you." (Jn.15:12) Afterword He sent them into the world as the Father sent Him. (Jn.20:21)

Why Nursing? Love is the reason. True love is sacrificial for the sake of the other. I believe that 2 Corinthians 4:5 should be the nursing motto. Plaquered on the walls of every nursing class room. "For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake." Jesus Christ is Lord and nurses are bond-servants to the sick and injured for Jesus’ sake. In 2 Corinthians chapter 4 Paul was speaking about his apostolic ministry of the word, yet everything that he says in that chapter is applicable to the service of nursing. Nursing is love demonstrated to the other for Jesus’ sake. Nurses who understand this will be nurses indeed for a lifetime.

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1 Jason G. Duesing, A Conversation with Dr. Jason G. Dueling, Video, accessed January 21, 2017, http://www.mbts.edu/video/conversation-dr-jason-g-duesing/.
2 Jason G. Duesing, The History of Theological Education: A Review, accessed January 3, 2018, http://jgduesing.com/2017/05/11/the-history-of-theological-education-a-review/.
3 Betty R. Ferrell and Nessa Coyle, The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Nursing, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 109.
4 Mary Jane K. DiMattio, Paula Roe-Prior, Dona Rinaldi Carpenter, Intent to Stay: A Pilot Study of Baccalaureate Nurses and Hospital Nursing, accessed January 4, 2017, http://www.professionalnursing.org/article/S8755-7223(10)00064-5/fulltext.
5 Betty R. Ferrell and Nessa Coyle, The Nature of Suffering and the Goals of Nursing, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 88.
6 Ibid, 62-67.

Nursing and the Law of Christ

The Lord’s teaching recorded in John 13-21 is amazing. It is what the apostle Paul calls "the Law of Christ." (Cf. 1 Cor. 9:2...