Review of ‘Spiritual Persons, Gifts, and Churches’ by George M. Flattery

George M. Flattery, Spiritual Persons, Gifts, and Churches: A Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12–14 (Springfield, MO: Network211, 2015). First Corinthians 12–14 presents the apostle Paul’s most detailed description of and instructions about pneumatikōn, typically translated “spiritual gifts.” The contemporary Pentecostal movement has turned to this passage repeatedly both to defend the use of prophecy, tongues, and interpretation in its worship services against cessationist critics, as well as to order that use in those worship services against charismatic excesses. George M. Flattery’s commentary offers a clear survey of the relevant interpretive issues and is thus a welcome contribution to Pentecostal literature … Continue reading Review of ‘Spiritual Persons, Gifts, and Churches’ by George M. Flattery

Review of ‘The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas’ by Paul Copan and Kenneth D. Litwak

 Paul Copan and Kenneth D. Litwak, The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas: Paul’s Mars Hill Experience for Our Pluralistic World (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2014). Paperback / Kindle  Among American evangelicals, it is a truism to say that America is fast becoming a post-Christian nation. The nation’s increasing diversity combined with the rapid rise of religious “nones” have resulted in a very different religious landscape than the one depicted in Will Herberg’s mid-20th-century classic, Protestant—Catholic—Jew, where those three religious constituted Americans’ religious choices. This new landscape requires evangelical Christians to adopt new methods in their evangelistic mission to … Continue reading Review of ‘The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas’ by Paul Copan and Kenneth D. Litwak

Review of ‘Man and Woman, One in Christ’ by Philip B. Payne

 Philip B. Payne, Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009). Paperback In feminist criticism of Christianity, the apostle Paul often emerges as chief among sexists. He subordinated wives to husbands in the home and women to men in the church, enjoining females to be “submissive” to and “quiet” before males. Sometimes, it is conceded, Paul made noises in an egalitarian direction, e.g., Galatians 3:28. On the whole, however, he advocated patriarchy, or as contemporary advocates call it, complementarianism. In Man and Woman, One in Christ, Philip B. Payne … Continue reading Review of ‘Man and Woman, One in Christ’ by Philip B. Payne

A Marvelous Example of Prayer (Ephesians 1.15–23)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 1.15–23 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT How should we pray for others? In Ephesians 1.15–23, Paul describes his prayers for the Ephesians. His words offer us a marvelous example of prayer. First, we should be aware of what is going on in the lives of the people we are praying for. Paul writes, “I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints” (verse 15). Even though he was not physically present with the Ephesians, Paul kept himself informed of their way of life. Why? Because the Ephesians were dear to him; he … Continue reading A Marvelous Example of Prayer (Ephesians 1.15–23)

Every Spiritual Blessing (Ephesians 1.3–14)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 1.3–14 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT In Ephesians 1.3–14, Paul praises God because he has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” What are those spiritual blessings? Paul gives several examples. First, election: “[God] chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (verse 4). When we give our testimonies, we speak of what led us to choose to follow Christ. But in reality, long before we had made a choice for God, God made a choice for us. Our salvation is the result of … Continue reading Every Spiritual Blessing (Ephesians 1.3–14)

Of God, By God, For God (Ephesians 1.3–14)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 1.3–14 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT After I proposed to Tiffany, we called everyone we knew to share our good news. We couldn’t stop talking about our engagement. After we got married, we couldn’t stop talking about how enjoyable our wedding and reception were. To this day, any mention of our wedding will spark a long, excited conversation between us. And why not? Good experiences should be talked about. In Ephesians 1.3–14, Paul writes about salvation. But his words are not dry or academic. They are a Niagara Falls of praise, gushing forth excitedly and spilling over the boundaries of … Continue reading Of God, By God, For God (Ephesians 1.3–14)

The Christian Abundance Mentality (Ephesians 1.3)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 1.3 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT Do you have a scarcity mentality or an abundance mentality? A scarcity mentality operates on the assumption that whatever is good in the world is rare, hard to find, and difficult to keep. Consequently, once you find a good thing, you must keep it to yourself, or others will take it from you. Darwin’s theory of evolution is an example of the scarcity mentality at work. According to Darwin, animals fight over a limited supply of food and water. Whatever physical variations—the size of finch’s beak, for example, or the color of a moth’s … Continue reading The Christian Abundance Mentality (Ephesians 1.3)

The Essence of Christianity (Ephesians 1.1-2)

SCRIPTURE READING Ephesians 1.1-2 DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT What is the essence of Christianity? There are many good answers to this question, and not a few bad ones. “Jesus loves me” is an excellent example of the former; “tolerance” is an all too common example of the latter. In my opinion, Ephesians 1.2 offers one of the best answers: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” With these words, Paul summarizes the source, cause, means, effect, and recipients of the Christian message. First, God is the source of the Christian message. The essence of Christianity … Continue reading The Essence of Christianity (Ephesians 1.1-2)

Plans and People (1 Corinthians 16:5-24)

Paul concludes his contentious letter to the Corinthians by writing them about his plans and about the people whose friendship they hold in common. First of all, his plans. Paul intends to visit the Corinthians, although he can’t tell them exactly when he will arrive. He will come to them, he says, “after I go through Macedonia.” The important thing is not the timing of the visit, however, but its duration. “I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.” I have often … Continue reading Plans and People (1 Corinthians 16:5-24)