The Sunday Reader

This week's insightful and interesting links.

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Is Hospitality Your Mentality?

"Rather than opening and sharing our homes, the current American Dream is that each family member has his or her own room, their own screen, and their own bathroom. The typical American home built in the 1950s was 1,700 square feet, while in 2017 it was 2,600 square feet. Our homes are larger and nicer—but there is less life within." Highly recommended. 

Does 2 Cor 3:17 Teach the Deity of the Spirit

Rev. Spotts interacts with accusations raised against this text.

Homeschool Will Not Save Them

An important if perhaps heavy article. "An idea had taken root, sprouted, and grown over the years, and it was this: By giving my child a distinctively Christian education, I was ensuring she would turn out Christian. It had been like a private insurance policy I had taken out with God. I thought he had agreed to my terms




The Sunday Reader

This week's insightful and interesting links.

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Yes, Doctrine Divides

Rev. Spotts reflects on how sometimes sharp distinctions must be made for the sake of the Body.

The Peculiarity of Early Christian Worship

Michael Kruger observes how early “Christian worship managed to irritate just about everyone,” and what we can learn from it.

I Have Forgotten How to Read

“For a long time, I convinced myself that a childhood spent immersed in old-fashioned books would insulate me somehow from our new media climate—that I could keep on reading and writing in the old way because my mind was formed in pre-internet days. But the mind is plastic—and I have changed. I'm not the reader I was.” Highly recommended.




Yes, Doctrine Divides

Now and then, I hear people say something to the effect of “doctrine divides, and therefore should not be emphasized.” To such, I wish gently to draw attention to the great division God himself made in Genesis. In the beginning, the Lord set an expanse between day and night, light and dark, sea and sky. Division is something God makes in order to distinguish that which is good, true, and beautiful, from that which is evil, false, and unformed. 

There is a difference between godly division and sinful divisiveness. A divisive spirit is lead by proud and selfish motives to rend the fellowship of saints. It is a disease within the Body of Christ. Sharp division of truth from error, however, is needed at times to preserve spiritual life, just as scalpels are sometimes required to separate what is infected and gangrenous from that which is alive. However unpleasant, failure to make such necessary divisions amounts to ministerial malpractice. It is a physician withholding the means of healing. 

Fix your gaze on the unbridgeable chasm between heaven and hell, and remember what separates those on either side. When the Lord Jesus returns, he is “revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess 1:8, ESV). True and saving faith entails an embrace of revelation, especially concerning the gospel. For that reason, knowledge marks the difference between life and death. Whereas destruction falls on “everyone who loves a lie,” those whom “the truth has set free” are guaranteed escape (Rev 22:15Jn 8:32).

On the last day, doctrine, whether true or false, will distinguish between final destinations and divide souls forever. To the one who says doctrine divides, I reply, “yes, and it is precisely because doctrine divides that it must be emphasized.”

Further Reading (Offsite):

Why do Some Pastors Deliberately Avoid Teaching Doctrine?


Does 2 Cor 3:17 teach the Deity of the Spirit?

This week, a member wrote to ask whether 2 Cor 3:17 clearly teaches the deity of the Holy Spirit, or if the original Greek text can be translated other ways. The passage reads, "Now the Lord is the Spirit" (ESV). Her question arose from conversations with Mormons and Jehovah's witnesses who accuse Christians of mistranslating the verse.

It might be more than she bargained for, but here is the text of 2 Cor 3:17:

ὁ δὲ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν·

Roughly pronounced: "ha deh KOO-ri-os tah NOO-ma ES-teen"

Now, I'm going to break this down word by word:

  • δὲ ("deh") = conjunction, "now, however, but"
  •  ("ha") = masculine demonstrative article. "the, this, that"
  • κύριος ("KOO-ri-os") =  "Lord" 
  • πνεῦμά ("NOO-ma") = "Spirit" (grammatically neuter)
  • ἐστιν ("ES-teen") = Present-tense verb of being or equivalence. Basically like our English word "is" 
  • τὸ ("tah") = neuter demonstrative article "the, this, that"

The first thing to note is that because the neuter article (τὸ) occurs as second in a series of demonstrative pronouns with “the" (ὁ) Lord,” it functions much like our English phrase, “that thing is this.” Moreover, the “Lord” and “Spirit” are joined by the simple verb of being (ἐστιν, “is”). This arrangement, again like English, serves to signify the equivalence of two things.

For these reasons, it seems perfectly clear that the author intended to identify the Lord God as one and the same with his Spirit. “Now, the Lord is that/the Spirit.” In other words, the Holy Spirit is one in being and essence with the Lord. The Belgic Confession, Art. 11, puts it this way:

We believe and confess also that the Holy Spirit from eternity proceeds from the Father and the Son. He is neither made, created, nor begotten, but He can only be said to proceed from both.   [1]   In order He is the third Person of the Holy Trinity, of one and the same essence, majesty, and glory with the Father and the Son, true and eternal God, as the Holy Scriptures teach us.  [2] 

1. John 14:15-26; John 15:26; Rom 8:9. 

2. Gen 1:2; Mat 28:19; Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor 2:10; 1 Cor 3:16; 1 Cor 6:11; 1 John 5:7.

There is an underlying problem which the questioner might run into, however.  Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses typically base their disputes not on how Christians interpret the Bible, but on whether the biblical texts themselves have been preserved accurately. Their real beef is with God's providential preservation of his Word.

When Mormons come to my door, I try to ask something like, “given that you believe God allowed the Word to be fatally corrupted and lost until the time of Joseph Smith, how do you know he won't do that again?” It is not something they have usually given thought to. This provides an opportunity to express our hope in God's kindness. For although the Bible is sometimes misunderstood, we believe God preserved the Scriptures throughout time just as he promised. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

Thanks for asking!

PS: Here's an article from Ligonier on the deity of the Spirit.

The Sunday Reader

This week's insightful and interesting links.

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My Protestant Oscar Predictions

Classic Carl Trueman commenting and critiquing aspects of North American culture. “We should not allow what is morally vile to monopolize the language of beauty. In a world where taste is truth, the church’s task is to cultivate taste.”

A Generation Emerging from the Wreckage

This New York Times article provides a thoughtful perspective on millions of young Americans reared to feel ashamed, isolated, and angry over their nationality. If you attended the recent WHI event, you'll notice connections. Certainly, the Church has an opportunity to speak truth and love into this moment.

Two Services on Sunday? Really!

Since only half our members attend both services regularly, I'm not totally preaching to the choir. Seriously, challenge yourself by reading this uplifting and compelling description of why churches (and most Christians) should celebrate two services on Sunday.

This video gives you a feel for the mission work being done in Scotland by a network of church planters. May God stir us up to do similarly in Arizona!




The Sunday Reader

This week's insightful and interesting links.

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The Ministry of Spiritual Grandparenting

A good and heartwarming exhortation to be intentional in passing the faith on to the next generation.

What Should We Make of the Massive Repetition of Tabernacle Details in Exodus?

This will help you appreciate what's going on in sections of Scripture that can feel more tedious.

How to Honor Your Parents as a Young Adult

On the opposite end of the age spectrum, this article may prove useful for tweens and teens.

18 Questions about Faith and Mental Illness

While not providing all the answers we want, this article helps expand our thinking about spirituality in a fallen world.




The Sunday Reader

This week's insightful and interesting links.

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Pray Shorter Prayers (Article)

Of course we could all pray more frequently, but that doesn't always mean we need to pray longer.

Too Busy to Love My Neighbor (Article)

This article poses some hard questions about the way God prioritizes versus the way we sometimes prioritize our obligations.

Three Images of Unity

A helpful and encouraging article on ways Scripture presents the solidarity of believers. Especially valuable in our highly dense area of the country.



The Sunday Reader

This week's insightful and interesting links.

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What's the Deal with Hosea? (Article)

Pastor Spotts addresses the question of why God instructed a prophet to marry prostitute. The answer gets at the heart of the Gospel.

Whole-Church Care of the Elderly & Homebound

An important and insightful reminder of our duty toward these precious members of Christ's flock.

William Carey's Greatest Obstacle

William Carey was a pioneer of the great missionary movement beginning in the late 18th century. This article presents the idea that his greatest obstacle was, ironically, the indolence of the local church.

Galaxies Vol. II (Video)

Astro-photographer Adrien Mauduit traveled to different countries and used some of the latest equipment to capture unbelievable views of various galaxies. The soundtrack makes the sights even more epic.