The Evangelical church has been in flux the past several decades—going from one extreme to the next—and in many respects losing its center. Thus it is really hard to define what an Evangelical is today except for the very ambiguous definition of a person who believes the Bible is the word of God (there are even varying degrees of this within Evangelicalism) and in salvation through the vicarious death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As a product of the Word of Faith movement in the early 1980’s I will forever be indebted to the books and teachings of Kenneth Hagin, Smith Wigglesworth, John G. Lake, T.L. Osborn and the like.
As a new Christian in the late 1970’s I was naïve and thought all Christians followed the teachings of the Bible and formulated doctrine and church polity objectively from the sacred Scriptures.
I have heard it said “balance is the key to life”. I agree with that statement, as I have found that any truth taken to the extreme (that ignores others aspects related to its subject) is unbalanced and can be harmful. This is also why Paul the Apostle said that he teaches “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), which involves a full-orbed presentation of truth.
One of the most important lessons I have learned, from years as a pastor and leader who works with other leaders, is to have a robust, full-orbed theological foundation that is practical enough to meet the challenges of ministry, cultural engagement and life.
By “theology” I am referring to the study of God, the scriptures and its application to every aspect of life.
There is much confusion as to whether the law of God as found in the Ten Commandments and civic laws are still in use in this New Testament era. On the one side there are hyper-grace teachers who say that the law is no longer necessary and is only useful as shadows and types that point us to Christ. On the other hand there are people who overstate the role of the law and actually put Christians in bondage, similar to the way the Judaizes did to the church (read Galatians, Hebrews and Acts 15).
It is my intention in this article to show the relationship between theological formation in the church, particular cultures, and contemporary movements. By culture I mean the language, arts, habits, values, currency, and aspirations of a people group, community, city or nation.
Ever since books like Robert Coleman’s The Master Plan of Evangelism, there has been an emphasis in the Evangelical church on individual discipleship. Other materials related to this subject like Dawson Trotman’s Born to Reproduce have greatly impacted my life and ministry, as I have made personal mentoring and discipleship the foundation of all I do.
However, books like Coleman’s use the gospels as the main reference point for discipleship instead of the epistles and the book of Acts. This can lead to a huge philosophical shift away from Jesus’ real discipleship method: the local church.
There have been numerous leaders who have referenced King David to justify their ability to continue ministering without a hitch despite unbiblically divorcing their spouses, remarrying, and even committing adultery.
Before we examine this subject, let us first establish some general rules as a foundation: 1) The moral standards of the law as found in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) remain the same in the New Covenant, 2) The ceremonial Levitical sacrificial system has been done away with in Christ (John 1:29; Hebrews 9-10) and, 3) The sanctions for disobeying the law as applied in Israel’s civic law have been modified in the New Covenant.
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