European Leadership Forum’s Master Class: Is Roman Catholicism Preaching the Gospel? Why Not and Why It Does Matter

I attended most of these sessions live. I believe the speaker is one of the most knowledgeable about this topic around, and really has a heart for these people and matters. Please hear this out!

Is Roman Catholicism Preaching the Gospel?

  1. Same Words, Same Gospel? (35 min)
  2. Why “Roman” and Why “Catholicism?” (32 min)
  3. The Catholic Church & Pope Francis (30 min)
  4. Can Evangelicals Be United with Rome? (34 min)
  5. Communicating the Gospel to Roman Catholics (39 min)

Find more information at Master Class: Is Roman Catholicism Preaching the Gospel? Why Not and Why It Does Matter.

“How I approach ‘contradictions’ in the Bible” (from Tyndale House, Cambridge, June 22, 2021)

Though I’ve heard others address supposed contradictions in the Bible, and have heard people talk about the discrepancy between Matthew and Luke’s accounts of Judas’s suicide (compare Matt. 27:1-10 with Acts 1:18), I thought this was head-and-shoulders above any other treatment on the subject. I came away feeling even more confident that the Bible is God’s inerrant word, and only God could have written and put it together the way it is!

I hope you enjoy it as well!

How I approach ‘contradictions’ in the Bible (21 min)

Genesis Reflections

These are notes collected from studying Genesis with Matt Lantz and Matt Roefer. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

Cursed Earth, Holy Covering

In Genesis (especially the earlier chapters), I’ve been really struck by a pattern of:

  • the cursed earth, in contrast to
  • the covering (especially of the sacrifice/life of another)

Consider:

  • Adam was made from the earth.
  • But when sin entered, all was cursed (including the earth).
  • Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with fig leaves from the earth (which I think is like doing our own “righteous works” to be saved),
  • but God needed to cover them in the life of another (in this case an animal, probably through the shedding of blood).

Then:

  • Cain brought an offering from the earth and it was not accepted.
  • But Abel brought a sacrificed animal that was accepted.

Further:

  • Noah was to give the earth rest.
  • It had to be covered by the flood of God’s judgment (and Noah and his family had to be covered by the ark).
  • After the flood, Noah gets drunk off of the earth. While the noble sons covered up his nakedness.

I think in all of this it shows the contrast of our fleshly works (the life of Adam/ the dust) amounting to “filthy rags” before God no matter how hard we try. Instead, we must be covered by the life of Christ, the ultimate sacrifice and the one who has “become our righteousness” (1 Cor. 1:30).

2,000 Years of History

Gen. 1-11 covers 2,000 years of history. This is the same amount of time covered by the entire rest of the Bible!

Abraham’s Virtue

I loved the very end of chapter 14 leading into 15 where he says he will follow the promise the Lord to the king of sodom in not taking anything not rightfully his even though he could have taken many many goods after a military defeat. This is followed by God coming to him in a vision saying, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward is very great.”
Of course in his humanness he is still not very humble and says “yes, but God I still want a kid and I don’t have one!” But still what an amazing response by the Lord for His faithfulness!

Was Noah Righteous?

A few thoughts on Noah’s drunken ordeal after the flood:

  • first, the Bible (unlike all other historical texts) has no problem showing the shortcomings of EVERYONE. Seriously! Can you think of a major figure who doesn’t have flaws shown? For a time I thought Daniel’s flaws weren’t shown, but then I realized that even he is seen confessing his own sins in Dan. 9. So there is only 1 who shines as TRULY RIGHTEOUS…the God-Man Jesus!…and I’m quite sure that’s the point. It shows the divine design of the Bible. No one but God would show so many flaws of people. All other histories try to gloss those over and make people look better than they really are. But God wrote this, not man, so it’s different in that (and many other ways).
  • next, drunkenness is actually not spelled out as a sin by God until later. Saying that, I still think it was self-evident that it was against God’s design. And the exposing his nakedness part later I think also shows some shame in the act. So I do still think it shows his shortcomings.
  • consider that Noah just saw every person he knew (outside the 8 in his family) die. He was in charge of tending to animals and people in a treacherous boat experience for a year’s time. And then he is tasked with (re-)beginning life as they knew it on earth. Thankfully, God was with him in some incredible ways undoubtedly!! But it might paint some humanness on him to consider all this. In the backdrop of all that, I imagine it would be difficult NOT to want to become intoxicated. This by no means excuses the sin. Just paints some extra nuancing of the WHY he sinned, while not excusing it.
  • to me, the biggest significance of this story is the curse that followed. Notice who is cursed? Ham’s son (Canaan). Just as Noah’s son (Ham) became shameful to him, so Ham’s son (Canaan) would become shameful to Ham. We are told that Canaan would be the slave of Shem. This is HUGELY significant. Remember that this was written by Moses shortly before Israel was about to take over the land of Canaan. Israel came from Shem (think of the term “Semite” for Jew). And God told them that they would conquer Canaan. This seems to all go back to this episode in Gen. 9. Just as Canaan was given over to Shem, so the land of Canaan (where Canaan’s people later inhabit) would be given over to Israel (who came from Shem).

Race

Regarding Race: See Answer in Genesis’s “The Origin of Races”
…I actually think even evolutionists might agree that from 1-2 came the many variations today. But note that Darwin, I believe, did teach/believe that Blacks were genetically inferior to Whites. That white people evolved from black people. A lot of racist policies and practices derived from this (including some of Hitler’s ideas in seeing the aryan race as the superior race). They’ve since tried to “pretty” this up in evolutionary biology, but it’s still pretty clearly there at the start. If only people would start with the Bible!

Genesis and Jesus

I’ve been totally blessed by Gen. 22; 24; and 27 — and just how much they point to Christ!! I don’t have time to tease out all the things I saw there, so I’ll just say a couple things on each (and hopefully leave others hungry for more themselves):

GEN. 22

  • Abraham takes his only son whom he loves = God took his only son whom he loved
  • On the third day he arose = Jesus resurrected 3 days later
  • Servants were alongside him = Jesus died with 2 men at his side
  • Ram with head in thicket (think of crown of thorns) becomes ultimate replacement = Jesus was the lamb with crown of thorns

GEN 24

  • The father sends his servant to find a bride for his son = God sends his Spirit to get a bride for Christ, His Son
  • The servant adorns her with gifts = The Spirit “beautifies” us
  • The servant brings her to the Son, and the Son meets her partway there = We will meet the Lord in the sky (1 Thes. 4)
  • She had to be related on his father’s side = Only those who are children of God the Father can also be called the Bride of Christ

GEN 27

  • Jacob receives the blessing of the father because he is covered by the “skin” of the favored son = when we receive the gospel, we are said to be covered in Christ…Christ as the “well pleasing Son” of the father covers us so that now God gives us his blessing of His presence (see Eph. 1)
  • Jacob was sinful, but covered by another, thus receiving the blessing = we are still sinful, but covered in Christ we are totally justified

I also think these chapters show the theme of the relationship with the land:

  • Gen. 22 – had to be a ram in the thicket that takes on the curse (think of the curse of Adam bringing thorns to the land)…think also of Jesus taking on the curse of sweat and thorns on his very head at the Cross! IT IS FINISHED!
  • Gen. 24 – there is mention, as I recall, about having a woman of “the land” (that is, the promised land)…he was not to choose someone of the “cursed land”, if you will
  • Gen. 27 – there is the theme of covering we talked about earlier. Adam and Eve could not be covered by the land, but had to be covered by the life of another (animal, in their case). Here, Jacob is covered by “Esau” in a sense

GEN 30-40

Oh man, reading I found Gen. 30 hilarious (at least for me looking in, definitely not for them living it) and strangely comforting. What a dysfunctional family!!! Soap opera drama on mega steroids. But the comforting part was that here we have the beginnings of the 12 tribes of Israel. God did so much through these tribes. These were his chosen people. And boy oh boy did they have major problems and couldn’t get along. It gives me hope when I look at the state of the church today (in a strange way maybe)!

Reminds me of all the issues seen in the 12 apostles. Again, all by design. God wants to use people who clearly have issues so that He gets the glory (instead of the people). Praise the Lord!

It’s crazy how much sex happens and how almost flippantly it’s mentioned with one person “going into another.” Especially as you get into chapters 30-40….
it’s a reminder of what culturally relevant book the Bible is today and how many of the same problems from 2,000 yrs ago are the same systematic issues dealt with today i.e. sibling rivalry, greed, murder, lying and deceit, infertility, power struggles, and of course so much more!

I remember years ago thinking about how I can’t fathom a society that thought polygamy was OK. But then recently I’ve seen articles about 3-somes adopting children, polyamorous 3-somes wanting to go to church (and a Christian writer who was not as dismissive of it as I thought he’d be). Or Eddie Murphy saying how he is considered a family man for helping to raise 10 kids (though it’s from multiple partners). Anyway…kind of eye-opening (sadly) to see that it really is not much more of a step from here into polygamy. Even though the Bible speaks against it (and it’s never a good situation when we read about it!)

GEN 45-50

In ch. 45 Joseph speaking about the sovereignty of God and His greater purposes. 45:5 “for God sent me here to preserve life.” 45:8 “so it was not you who sent me here but God.” Joseph continues this theme in chapter 50 when his brothers still fear he will hurt them after Jacob’s death and says essentially rest easy brothers, 5:20 “as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today.”

May we remember when people may be against or seem against us ultimately His plans and purposes will always prevail!! Gives a whole new perspective on difficulties/bad things happening to me. What a difference it makes to be steeped in God’s thoughts!!

Along the lines of Gen. 50:20, I LOVED reading Exodus 1:12 this morning:
The more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad.
I almost see it as a holy challenge and defiance to the schemes of Satan/Sin/Etc. that oppose us. I know this is one of the favorite passages of the persecuted church in China. May it be for us here in the U.S., too, Lord!

Joseph

  • check this chart out: Joseph = Type for Jesus
  • There’s not a lot of really clear-cut sins seen in Joseph. Possible pride for the dreams. But I’d also say there was deceptive things said/done with his brothers (before revealing himself to them).

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

This is a direct excerpt from Asia Harvest’s, “The Little-known Origins of a Famous Gospel Song from India”. I highly recommend you subscribe to their free newsletter and read / watch other testimonies from them:

The Little-known Origins of a Famous Gospel Song from India

Often, Christians are unaware of the origins of many of the songs we love to sing. In this brief email we would like to share the background of one famous: “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus.” 

In the hills of northeast India live the Garo tribe, who number more than one million people. For centuries they were feared as a primitive head-hunting tribe, but in the most recent Indian census, over 95 percent of the Garo declared themselves to be Christians. Here is one reason why…

In the late 1800s, many missionaries came to the state of Assam in northeast India to spread the Gospel. They succeeded in converting a man named Nokseng, his wife, and his two children. Nokseng’s faith proved contagious, and many villagers began to accept Jesus. 

The village chief, angry at the prospect of losing control, summoned all the villagers. He demanded Nokseng’s family to publicly renounce their faith or face execution.

Moved by the Holy Spirit, Nokseng said: “I have decided to follow Jesus.”

Enraged at his refusal to deny Christ, the chief ordered his archers to shoot the two children. As both boys lay twitching on the ground, the chief asked, “Will you deny your faith? You have lost both your children. You will lose your wife also.”

But Nokseng replied: “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.”

The chief was beside himself with fury and ordered Nokseng’s wife to be shot with arrows. In a moment she joined her children in death. Now the chief said for the last time: “I will give you one more opportunity to deny your faith and live.” In the face of death, Nokseng did not waver, and made his final memorable statement:

“The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back.”

He was killed like the rest of his family, but a miracle took place. The chief was moved by Nokseng’s faith and he wondered, “Why would Nokseng and his family die for a Man who lived in a far-away land some 2,000 years ago? This God must have remarkable power, and I too want to taste that faith.”

In a spontaneous confession, the chief declared, “I too belong to Jesus Christ!” When the crowd heard this from the mouth of their chief, the whole village accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. Later, Nokseng’s words became a beloved song of the Garo Christians, and was later translated into English and sung around the world.

Forum of Christian Leaders’ Master Class: The Sexual Revolution

I’ve listened to parts 2, 4, & 5 of this series, and thought they were all excellent and very timely in engaging our current culture!

The Sexual Revolution

-Brian

End Times Primer, Part 2

Daniel 9:24-27 (“70 Weeks”)

  • 526-457 B.C.* Babylonian Captivity
  • 459 B.C. Daniel 9 ~
  • 9:1-3 (Jer. 25:11-12): 70 years captivity/desolation ending
  • 9:4-19: Prayer for desolate city, sanctuary
  • 9:20-23: “sin…Gabriel…sacrifice” (cf. Luke 1:19, 26)
  • 9:24-27: 70 “sevens” (490 yrs) end sacrifice, atone sin, anoint temple:
    • 457 B.C.: BEGINS: Cyrus (“messiah”) commands Jerusalem/temple restoration (2 Chron. 36:17-23; Ezra 1:1-4; Isaiah 44:24-45:13)
    • 408 B.C.: 7 “SEVENS” (49 YEARS) LATER: Ezra/Nehemiah/Haggai/Zechariah – Jerusalem/temple rebuilt
    • A.D. 26: 69 “SEVENS” (483 YEARS) LATER**: Jesus anointed as Prince/King, ministers 3.5 years
    • A.D. 30: MIDDLE OF 70TH SEVEN: Jesus, “will be put to death…confirm a covenant with many…put an end to sacrifice and offering,” (Dan. 9:26-27; cf. Matt. 15:24; Luke 1:72; 22:20; Heb. 8:13; 10:14-18)
    • A.D. 34: END OF 70TH WEEK: For short time (3.5 years?), gospel shared only with Jews (changes in Acts 10-11)
  • 9:26-27: “the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary…there shall be war. Desolations are decreed…on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate…” (Matt. 24:15 = Mark 13:14 = Luke 21:20; cf. Matt. 22:7)
    • A.D. 70: Jerusalem temple destroyed by Romans, 40 years after Jesus died.

Matthew 24-25 (Temple Destruction & Christ’s Return)

Matt. 21-23

  • Jesus comes to Mt. of Olives, “Hosanna…Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (21:1-11)
  • Jesus purges temple; some shout “Hosanna”, some enraged (21:12-17)
  • Jesus condemns Jews for rejecting Him (21:18-23:39)
    • “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit” (21:43)
    • “He [Jesus/God] sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” (22:7)
    • “Upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth…this will come on this generation…Look, your house is left to you desolate…you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Jesus left the temple’” (23:35-24:1)

Matt. 24-25

  • 24:3 – Three questions: (1) when will temple be destroyed? (2) sign of Jesus’ coming? (3) sign of end of age?
  • 24:4-25:46 – Jesus answers:
    • 24:4-14: Things will happen before Jesus returns
    • 24:15-26: A.D. 70 Temple destroyed as Daniel (9:27) warned, before Jesus returns
    • 24:27-31: Jesus’ return will be evident when it happens (but after all these things)
    • 24:32-35: Temple destruction will be evident before it happens: in “this generation” (24:34)
    • 24:36-25:46: Jesus’ return will not be evident before it happens: “that day and hour no one knows” (24:36)–always be faithful!

* Dates (in red font) match Philip Mauro’s, Wonders of Bible Chronology (outlined at Free Bible Study Lessons, BibleChroAdvance, retrieved June 8, 2021) and, The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation.

** The ESV is in the minority of translations that re-words Dan. 9:25 as Messiah coming after 7 “sevens” (but before the 62 “sevens”). However, (A) other translations overwhelmingly outnumber ESV in seeing it as 69 (7 + 62) “sevens”, (B) even the ESV acknowledges the 69 (7 + 62) numbering as an alternate translation in their footnote, (C) having Messiah appear between the 7 and 62 sevens seems virtually indefensible biblically and historically, (D) the reasons chosen for ESV’s translation involves some speculation regarding Hebrew “accents” (symbols), what they mean, and what bearing they had on the original text of Dan. 9:25.

End Times Primer, Part 1

Why Study End Times?

  • To see Jesus (Rev. 1:1; 1-3; 19:10)
  • To discern His Church (Rev. 1:20)
  • To purify and strengthen God’s people (1 John 3:2-3; Rev. 1:3)
  • God says a lot about it (Dan; Zech; Matt. 24-25; Rev [“final exam”])

4 End Times Viewpoints

  1. Futurism – fulfilled in Israel, immediately preceding Christ’s return
  2. Preterism – fulfilled in AD 70 temple destruction
  3. Historicism – fulfilled in entirety of church age; “amillennial” 
  4. Idealism/Spiritualism – gives general principles; not time-space

Daniel — Matthew 24 — Revelation

  • Dan. 9:27 (11:31; 12:11) & Matt. 24:15 – “abomination of desolation”
  • Daniel = Part 1; Revelation = Part 2
    • Face (Dan. 10:6; Rev. 1:14) // Fire eyes (Dan. 10:6; Rev. 1:14) // Bronze feet (Dan. 10:6; Rev. 1:15) // Voice (Dan. 10:6; Rev. 1:15; 17:15) // Falls (Dan. 10:8-9; Rev. 1:17) // Touches (Dan. 10:10; Rev. 1:17) // Don’t Fear (Dan. 10:12; Rev. 1:17) // Son of Man (Dan. 10:16; Rev. 1:13) // Scroll (Dan. 12:4, 9; Rev. 5:4-5)

Daniel Overview

  • Dan. 1; 3; 5-6 = historical (during 70 years of Babylonian captivity)
  • Dan. 2 & 7 = (1) Babylon, (2) Medo-Persia, (3) Greece, (4) Rome, (5) God (versus Antichrist)
    • Dan. 4 = Babylon
    • Dan. 8; 10-11 = Medo-Persia
    • Dan. 8; 10-11 = Greece
    • Dan. 9 (and 12) = Kingdom of God (versus Antichrist)

The Book of Judges & Us (Teaching by Peter J. Williams)

I found this a convicting, insightful, and perfectly timed teaching series. I hope others are blessed and challenged as well as we learn God’s word to us from Judges.

Judges 1-5: Our Usual Sins and God’s Unusual Methods (start at 26:32)

29 minutes


Judges 6-12: Words Matter (start at 25:47)

29 minutes


Judges 13 – 16: Integrity Matters (start at 24:05)

29 minutes


Judges 17-21: A Broken World That Needs the Good King (start at 25:52)

29 minutes

Deacons

Relevant Scriptures: Acts 6:1-6; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8-12

Deacons and Elders are the only appointed positions for the church today according to Scripture (see Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:1-12; and Offices vs Ministries).

Deacon Role

  • “wait on tables” (Acts 6:2)
  • “turn this responsibility [of caring for the widows’ food distribution] over to them” (Acts 6:3)
  • serving well (1 Tim. 3:12)
  • διάκονος (diakonos) ‘servant’ (Strong’s Greek Lexicon, G1249): “servant, minister, a person who renders service and help to others, in some contexts with an implication of lower status; also transliterated as “deacon,” a trusted officer of helps and service in the local church” (see stepbible.org).
    • most occurrences of diakonos refers to “servant”/”servants” generically, the only times it unambiguously points to the office of “deacon” is Philippians 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8-12
    • Acts 6:1-6 does not use the actual title of “deacon”, but does speak of appointed officers who were to “serve” or “wait on” tables. The Greek word used for “serve” is diakoneō, which is the verb form of “deacon”/”servant”. Thus, this seems to speak to the same role as the deacon office, which would more formally come later (see 1 Tim. 3:8-12).
    • I’ve heard that this is the same word used of Eve–that she would be made as a, “helper,” for Adam (see Gen. 2:18). And perhaps this gives a picture of the overall function of the elders (think “husbands”) and deacons (think “wives”) overseeing the affairs of the saints (think “children”), see Philippians 1:1.
  • we also may tentatively think of the deacon role similar to the treasurer role that Jesus assigned (albeit to Judas Iscariot, for reasons outside the scope of this study). In this sense, the apostles have overlap with elders (even as they make binding decisions together in Acts), and, perhaps, the treasurer has an overlap with the function of a deacon.

Truthfully, this seems to be the gist of everything we find in Scripture that speaks to the roles of deacons. Thus, there is quite a range of possibilities and freedom in considering what their role should be.

But generically, deacons:

  • help oversee physical needs, services, and “helps” of different sorts
  • work alongside and within elder oversight
  • come later in a church’s development (likely after elders are established)

Deacon Qualifications (Acts 6:3; 1 Tim. 3:8-12)

  • “known to be full of the Spirit” – they have a track record of walking by the Spirit (Acts 6:3 cf. Gal. 5:22-25)
  • “known to be full of…wisdom” – they have a track record of making wise decisions, presumably this would especially relate to the realm of physical stewardship (Acts 6:3)
  • respected by the church (1 Tim. 3:8)
  • trustworthy (1 Tim. 3:8)
  • self-controlled (1 Tim. 3:8)
  • substantially hold to biblical truths on foundational matters (cf. Statement of Faith) (1 Tim. 3:9)
  • wives (or deaconnesses, see discussion below): respected; guarded in their tongue; trustworthy in all things (1 Tim. 3:11)
  • faithful leader in his house (1 Tim. 3:12)
  • “tested” – to see if they meet this criteria; likely by the elders and/or apostles, in conjunction with the whole church (see Acts 6:1-6) (1 Tim. 3:10)

Female Deacons?

A last qualification to consider, that seemed best to insert in its own category is:

  • “men”; husbands, leaders of the home (Acts 6:3; 1 Tim. 3:12) – certainly in Acts 6, the seven “appointed servants” (likely deacons) were all men. While:
    • In Romans 16:1, Phoebe is commended as a “sister,” and “servant”/”deaconness” (i.e. diakonos) associated with the “church in Cenchrea.” This could mean she was an appointed deacon of the church, or it could be a way of saying she is a servant of this church (as it means in describing Epaphras and Timothy in similar ways, see Col. 1:7 and 1 Tim. 4:6). We don’t know for sure.
    • In 1 Tim. 3:11 we read about deacon qualifications for “the women.” That is, “the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything,” (1 Tim. 3:11). As in Romans 16:1, we don’t have enough clues from the text to categorically know whether this addresses “female deacons” (deaconnesses) or the wives of male deacons. The Greek does not make this clear, as either of those translations would work. On the one hand, the elder qualifications give no details regarding how “elder’s wives” should behave, which makes it seem that maybe this is describing female deacons (otherwise, why is there an extra qualification for deacons not present in elders?). On the other hand, the next verse says, “a deacon must be faithful to his wife,” (1 Tim. 3:12), which implies male deacons. Further, the qualifications of “the women” in 1 Tim. 3:11 echo many of the qualifications already listed for deacons (compare 1 Tim. 3:8), thus it would seem strange to need to repeat them. And, some of the qualifications for elders do include the conduct of other elder family members (e.g. 1 Tim. 3:4; Titus 1:6), which could make a comment on the conduct of deacons’ wives not completely out of place (this would potentially hold even more weight if a role of the deacons was to hold onto money for the church, for instance, thus the trustworthiness of the wife could be of a special significance for deacons that is different than elders).
    • With all these considerations, I lean toward male deacons as more of the norm urged in Scripture, but would allow for exceptions (cf. Deborah serving as judge in Judges 4-5), and am very open to being corrected. Regardless, in all things both sides of the “female deacon” debate should hold this somewhat tentatively, since Scripture does allow some possible gray area here (see above).

See also Elder Qualifications & Functions.