Posts Tagged ‘godliness’

One of our members is a Baptist in transition. He is interested in understanding more about covenant theology and particularly how this informs and shapes how we treat children in the church. He asked about books to read in this subject. I couldn’t really think of any. We are great about defending infant baptism, but after that ….

Then I came across Our Covenant With Kids: Biblical Nurture in Home and Church by Tim Sisemore (it was previously released as Of Such is the Kingdom). I don’t like the title, finding it misleading. It isn’t our covenant, but God’s covenant with us that includes our children. But I suspected I ought to read it to gain a better theoretical understanding and therefore begin to move the congregation toward better nurture of our covenant kids in the church.

“The purpose of this book is to examine the entire teaching of the Bible that relates to children, to systematize it, and use this foundation to develop strategies that more adequately enable us to minister effectively to our children.”

This is, in many ways, a big picture book. He is thorough, and covers much ground. Numerous topics are covered, and covered well, but not exhaustively. For instance, in the chapter on the salvation of children, he talks about those dying in infancy. He covers the main views succinctly, and briefly argues for one over the others. I agree with him. But this discussion could have taken up many more pages. Sisemore displays great restraint and discipline as he approaches these topics. He gives information to help you sort through some things and make better decisions.

He begins with the nature of the task, parenting in a world hostile to our faith. The culture has affected the Church in general in a few significant ways: the loss of truth (we disregard doctrine), the loss of humanness due to evolutionary thought and the animal rights agenda (we’re okay with slaughtering children, but not seals, whales etc.), and the adultification of children (the world seduces them from an early age). As a result, he sets out to give us a theology of children, not merely instruction. So much of this is often assumed in parenting books. He wants to make it explicit so we can see if we are deviating from biblical norms in how we think of children. If we are deviating from biblical norms, our approach to instruction and nurture will be ineffective and possibly harmful.


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I just finished D.A. Carson’s A Model of Christian Maturity: An Exposition of 2 Corinthians 10-13.  It was formerly published as From Triumphalism to Maturity.

It covers on of the more difficult passages of Paul’s letters, one which seems particularly appropriate in these times.  As I read the book, I could not help but think of many instances to “triumphalism” or an over-realized eschatology.

Carson writes in an understandable fashion that addresses the various exegetical problems of the text.  It is a book that is helpful for those wanting to better understand this passage of Scripture, or wanting to have a better understanding of mature Christian leadership.

In this passage of Scripture, Paul is trying to distinguish himself from the “super-apostles” who have entered the Corinthian church, seeking to supplant him.  Their ‘credentials’ lead us to believe that they are Judaizers who measure ministry by worldly standards of success rather than biblical standards of faithfulness.  They continually discredit Paul as not meeting their superior standards, seeking to win the Corinthians’ hearts and wallets.

They measure success by power- both in word and deed.  Their rhetorical style is worldly wisdom rather than the wisdom and scandal of Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 1-2).  Like the Hellenistic teachers of the day, success is measured by the number of followers and the amount they are willing to pay to be taught by you.


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Last night at Bible Study we moved into 1 Peter 3.  It contains one of those passages that drives feminists and egalitarians mad.  That isn’t what I want to focus on right now though.  Peter brings up Sarah as an example of a godly woman of old whose hope in God resulted in the inner beauty of godly character.


For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear (NIV)

 This is not really what I think of when Sarah comes to mind.  I think of Sarah laughing when she hears God’s promise.  I think of Sarah decided to try and fulfill God’s promise by giving her Egyptian maid Hagar to Abraham as a concubine.  He, sadly, listens/obeys her.  In what is written about her, Sarah seems less than godly and not someone I want CavWife to emulate.

But Peter does.  Under the inspiration of the Spirit, his assessment is accurate and mine is off.  Though her failures are plain for all to see, her life was more than her failures.  It is the unspoken faithfulness, the trust in God’s promise to join her husband on what seems to be a fools’ errand.

I’m reading 1 & 2 Samuel right now.  And I just can’t help thinking that David is something less than a godly man.  His faults are there for all to see.  He violates the commands given to kings in Deuteronomy 17 by accumulating wives and concubines.  Worldly kings did this, but Israel’s kings were not supposed to.  He violates the commands concerning divorce in Deuteronomy 24 by wanting Michal back even though Saul had given her to another man as his wife.  David, as king, fears Joab and his brothers, refusing to bring them to justice for the murder of Abner.  Maybe there were not enough witnesses, but David seems to just throw his hands up in the air, “what can I do, God deal with them.”  He doesn’t bring Amnon to justice for raping Tamar, his own half-sister.  Nor does he bring Absalom to justice for murdering Amnon.

But these events do not define David’s life.  For some, they do.  Like Balaam or Ahab- what you read is a microcosim of their lives.  But for David, and Sarah, there was more.  David, despite his many failings, was a man after God’s own heart.  Sarah, despite her failings, was apparently a godly woman.

There is a great caution here: don’t measure anyone’s life, even your own, by an event (or 5).  We must see their lives from the long term, and even then our estimation may be faulty.  What really matters is God’s evaluation of a person’s life.  People we may find as less than faithful God may consider faithful.  God sees more than we do.  Even more important, God sees His grace as greater than their sin.  It really is about grace, not performance.  God knows to whom He has been gracious- knowing what sins they didn’t commit because of His gracious work in them.  If you are a Christian, God is not in denial about your failings.  But He gazes upon you in grace, seeing Christ’s obedience and substitutionary death.  You are a far worse sinner than you think you are, but He is a far greater Savior than we can ever imagine.  So, when He looks at His people He seems something we often can’t: godliness.

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