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Christian Theology/Renewal

1. Christian Theology

(Discussion Board Post) (600 words) (APA citation) (in-text citations are a must)

Describe one of the following elements of soteriology: election/predestination, effectual calling, regeneration, conversion, justification, adoption, sanctification, or glorification. Do not address more than one of these categories. As always, support your work.

2. Christian Theology

(Discussion Board Reply) (300 words per reply) (APA citation) (in-text citations are a must)

Hello, fellow group members. As we delve into another week of our theological journey, I am eager to explore the topic of soteriology. I am particularly interested in the aspects of election/ predestination, which I will explore further in this post. I look forward to hearing your unique perspectives on this topic and your conversations on the other elements of soteriology.

Soteriology

Before discussing the elements of soteriology, one must first define it in terms of the Doctrine of Salvation. Soteriology stems from the Greek word Soteria, which means to save or to rescue. In this case, we are looking at the order of salvation, or the Latin phrase Ordo Salutis, which looks to identify all the distinct elements of our redemption and place them in a logical order. Romans 8:29-30 speaks of this specific logical order of the Doctrine of salvation.[1] The first of these is Election/ Predestination.

Predestination

Predestination is God’s sovereign determination of everything that comes to pass, including His purpose of people’s eternal destinations.[2] Biblical support for predestination can be found in Ephesians 1:4-11, Proverbs 19:21, Acts 13:48, and 2 Timothy 1:9.[3] There are two understandings of predestination. The first is that God saw through time who would respond positively to the gospel, and the second is based on His own good will, nothing more.[4] Romans 9:15-18 states that God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. Despite which method of understanding predestination one accepts, the term can be further defined by two distinct elements: election and reprobation.

Election and Reprobation

As this week’s reading states, the election is God’s purpose regarding the redemption of people, while reprobation is God’s purpose, not to save certain people.[5] Election is dependent on God’s sovereignty and grace.[6] Those who are elected, demonstrated by one’s faith in the gospel and their abiding in Christ, are foreknown by God.[7] However, one’s unbelief and evil deeds do not correlate with a divine decision for reprobation but rather with one’s willingness to continue sinning despite God’s grace and forgiveness. [8] This is an important distinction as one’s own faith is not the key to salvation, while it might be conditional to it, just like how the servant had to bend down still and pick up the ax head within 2 Kings 6:1-7. Grace through Christ is the only thing that can undo the bondage of sin and allow healing to take place, making it the key to election.[9]

Grace

Grace is the key aspect of this element of election and reprobation. Specifications on how grace accomplishes this, though, are debated. The Arminian viewpoint states that people are saved and continue in salvation through their conditional cooperation with prevenient grace.[10] On the other hand, a reformed perspective of divine grace is what allows one to embrace salvation.[11] The first holds a conditional view that one can lose their election if they stop interacting with grace. While the second views election by grace as unconditional based on who God grants grace to. Election, no matter what cannot be accomplished through one’s works, but only by grace, Romans 11:5-6. Despite God’s desire that all people be saved and know Him (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9), not all are elected. Humanity might question why some are elected, and others are not, but the fact that God chooses to save anyone is in itself an act of divine grace, as He does not owe fallen humanity anything.[12]

Footnotes

[1] Dr. Jeffery Anderson, “Soteriology-The Doctrine of Salvation,” Regent University, Video, 1-5 minutes.

3. Christian Theology

(Discussion Board Reply) (300 words per reply) (APA citation) (in-text citations are a must)

Hello, my fellow students. I thank God for granting us all the strength and understanding as we dive into this week’s studies. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.

Meaning and significance of an Ordo Salutis

The concept of ordo salutis, or “order of salvation,” refers to the sequence of steps in the process of salvation as understood within Christian theology. This sequence delineates the various stages through which an individual is brought into a saving relationship with God. While different Christian traditions may emphasize different aspects or steps, common elements often include election (God’s choice of individuals for salvation, Ephesians 1:4-5). Regeneration (being born again, John 3:3-7), Conversion (faith and repentance, Acts 2:38), “Repent,” Peter said to them, and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins. You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Justification (being declared righteous by faith, Romans 5:1): We have been declared righteous by faith and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Sanctification (the process of being made holy, 1 Thessalonians 4:3), and glorification (the final step of eternal life with God, Romans 8:30). These stages illustrate how God’s grace initiates salvation, carried out through the work of the Holy Spirit, and completed in the believer’s life. Understanding the ordo salutis is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it provides a theological framework that helps Christians comprehend the comprehensive nature of salvation, affirming that it is not merely a single event but a dynamic process involving God’s continuous work. This perspective encourages believers to recognize the depth and breadth of their faith journey, promoting spiritual growth and perseverance. Secondly, grounding the ordo salutis in scripture ensures that theological teachings align with biblical revelation, fostering a coherent and orthodox faith practice. For instance, scriptures like Ephesians 2:8-9 emphasize salvation by grace through faith, underscoring the necessity of God’s initiative and human response in the salvation process. By understanding and adhering to an ordered sequence supported by scripture, Christians can better understand God’s redemptive plan and their role within it, thus enhancing their spiritual life and theological integrity.

Two primary ways of Foreknowledge Theologically

Foreknowledge has been understood in two significant ways: the classical Arminian view and the Reformed (Calvinist) perspective. The classical Arminian view interprets Foreknowledge as God’s prescient knowledge of who will freely choose to believe in Christ. According to this perspective, God’s Foreknowledge is based on His omniscience, which includes knowing all future events and human decisions. Key scriptures supporting this view include Romans 8:29, which states, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.” In this context, Foreknowledge is seen as God’s awareness of future believers who freely respond to His grace. This understanding emphasizes human free will and the capacity to respond to God’s offer of salvation, aligning with passages like 1 Timothy 2:4, which expresses God’s desire for all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. The Reformed (Calvinist) perspective, on the other hand, interprets Foreknowledge as God’s sovereign choice or determination of specific individuals for salvation. In this view, Foreknowledge is not merely God’s passive awareness of future events but His active decree that brings about those events. This perspective is supported by scriptures like Ephesians 1:4-5, which says, “For he chose us in him before the world’s creation to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, by his pleasure and will.” Foreknowledge is God’s intimate, loving knowledge and selection of individuals for salvation, aligning with His sovereign will and purpose.

Regeneration, Justification, and Conversion

Regeneration, Justification, and Conversion are distinct but interconnected stages in salvation. Regeneration refers to the spiritual rebirth or the impartation of new life to a believer by the Holy Spirit, symbolizing a new creation in Christ (John 3:3-7); justification is an act of God declaring a sinner righteous based on their faith in Jesus Christ, signifying a legal change in a status where the believer is acquitted of all sin and considered righteous before God (Romans 5:1), Conversion involves the human response to God’s call, encompassing both repentance (turning away from sin) and faith (trusting in Christ for salvation), marking a decisive change in the individual’s relationship with God (Acts 2:38; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). They report about us what kind of reception we had from you: how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. Together, these stages represent the transformative journey from spiritual death to new life and right standing with God.

The doctrine of Predestination is unavoidable.

The doctrine of Predestination is considered unavoidable due to its scriptural solid foundation and its central role in understanding God’s sovereignty and grace in salvation. Vital biblical passages such as Ephesians 1:4-5, which states that God “chose us in him before the creation of the world,” and Romans 8:29-30, which outlines a sequence where those God foreknew He also predestined, clearly articulate the concept of God determining beforehand those who would be saved. This doctrine underscores the belief that salvation is ultimately rooted in God’s initiative and grace rather than human effort, reflecting the biblical theme of God’s sovereign will and purpose. By addressing Predestination, theologians, and believers grapple with profound questions about divine justice, mercy, and the nature of human free will, making it an essential component of systematic theology and a crucial topic for those seeking a comprehensive understanding of the Christian faith.

The relationship between the various elements of redemption

The various elements of redemption election, calling, Regeneration, Conversion, Justification, Sanctification, and glorification—are interrelated steps in the comprehensive process of salvation. The election is God’s sovereign choice of individuals for salvation before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Calling is the invitation to accept the gospel, extended through the preaching of the Word (Romans 10:14). Regeneration is the Holy Spirit’s work of giving new life to the believer (Titus 3:5). Conversion encompasses the individual’s response of repentance and faith (Acts 2:38). Justification is God’s declaration of righteousness upon the believer, based on faith in Christ (Romans 5:1). Sanctification is the ongoing process of being made holy and conformed to the image of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Finally, glorification is the ultimate fulfillment of salvation, where believers are perfected and enjoy eternal life with God (Romans 8:30). These elements form an organized and chronological work, emphasizing the transformative journey from spiritual death to eternal life prepared by God’s grace and power.

Bibliography

Holman. Holy Bible, Red-Letter Edition: Holman Christian Standard Bible. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2005.

4. Renewing & Transforming Churches

(Discussion Board Post) (400 words) (APA citations) (in-text citations are a must)

Many times dying congregations attempt to force attendance by creating events. However, within Western culture (especially America), there are specific natural attendance “waves” that already exist. Birch discusses these “waves” as big days and big opportunities (Flywheel, 54-55).

List several ways in which your ministry might leverage the big days as big opportunities.

How might your ministry utilize social media as a mission field?

Pastoral burnout is a reality. With the increased pressure of growth, discipleship, visitations, funerals, weddings, small groups, and family life, it is essential to learn to navigate the rhythms of life. In Health Before Goals, there are basic four principles that describe a balanced life.

Identify the four principles, which one that you need to work on and why.

The Discussion Board experience for this class has been designed to foster the kinds of meaningful relationships that are essential to quality education. These relationships are built over the term of a class as individuals share time in learning with each other. As in a physical classroom, the quality of the relationships that is built and the depth of the learning experience depend on what effort you put into it.

Discussions are expected to contain substantial reflection on the weekly material that integrates lectures, reading, and supplemental sources into your creative writing. It also is expected that you will incorporate rich multimedia elements into your answers and comments such as photos, pictures, word photos, videos, web-links, digital files, and music. Be creative and be led by the Holy Spirit.

Initial Post: Create an Initial Post of at least 400 words based on the material covered in the module(s) that week. Here are some possible avenues that you can use:

Summarize: Be sure to teach us what you have learned about the subject you have chosen to address from that week’s lecture, reading, or interaction. Spend time teaching through your answers in a concise and clear manner

Opine: What do you agree with or disagree with in this week’s lecture or reading as it relates to your chosen topic? What can you add to what has been presented from your wealth of experience and knowledge on this topic? How would you approach the topic differently?

Apply: Your studies are all about the application of knowledge to real-world contexts to solve problems in the context of ministry. How does the topic you have chosen to relate to the real world? How does it relate to your life or ministry? How might it be applied to problems in your context of ministry?

Innovate: What new ideas can you see that emerge from your consideration of the topic and the way it might be applied to you, your ministry, or other ministries?

5. Renewing & Transforming Churches

(Discussion Board Reply) (200 word per reply) (APA citations) (in-text citations are a must)

As Birch says, “There are days during the year when people are more likely to attend your church, and the local church leadership needs to pay attention to those days, including Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, and “New Year” Sundays.” (Birch 55-56) I believe any church can and should use these days for their benefit. From hosting a Christmas program with the children performing to a Christmas Eve candlelight service. Anytime when someone’s child or grandchild, it is straightforward to get them into the church. Who would want to see little Johnny or Susie sign? I have personally seen families come to support their moms on Mother’s Day. I have also seen family members who will not attend church other than these Big Days. We can not waste these types of days if we want to see the church revitalized. Birch says, “On Big Days, your people are more likely to invite their friends, and their friends are more likely to attend. Would you want to go out of your way and make sure that you maximize those opportunities?” (Birch 57-58)

I am in total agreement with Dr. Fretwell’s statement for this discussion board that “Pastoral burnout is a reality.” (Fretwell) I have experienced burnout many times recently with planting the church in Dr. Fretwell’s book. Mulitipling Jesus, Revitalizing Churches, He gives us four principles. They are Spiritual Disciplines, Emotional, Physical Activity and Relationships. (Fretwell 43) I would have to say that I need to work on my Spiritual Health more. I agree with what Dr. Fretwell says, “Sometimes our lives are so busy in the natural that we forget about the spiritual.” (Fretwell 44) I am extremely busy with my job, this class, trying to plant a church and this spring, my wife had breast cancer surgery. I have a lot on my plate. Sadly, when I get overwhelmed with my responsibilities, I first neglect my spiritual health. It is not as bad as in the past, but I still need to make it my first and top priority.

6. Renewing & Transforming Churches

(Discussion Board Reply) (200 word per reply) (APA citations) (in-text citations are a must)

Discussion Question Week 6 Big Days and Big Opportunities. Four Basic Principles that describe a balanced life.

Good Morning Everyone!

I enjoyed reading Rich Birch’s chapter on Big Days and Big Opportunities in “Church Growth Flywheel, 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church”. When Birch mentioned how people attend church on Christmas. Mother’s Day and Easter. It reminded me of a Pastor I saw at church conferences I attended while growing up, and then he became one of my Pastors and mentors as I became serious about my calling to ministry. He used to call people who only attend church on Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Easter CMEs. Not the denomination, but the acronym for those holidays.

This pastor was saying what Birch conveyed in the book: “There are days during the year when people are more likely to attend your church and the local church leadership needs to pay more attention to those days.”[1] Birch gave great advice on preparing for those big days. In my church, we also have planned big days such as Men’s Day, Women’s Day, Church Anniversary, and other special days. We currently share flyers on social media. The areas I believe my church can focus, leverage, and grow in on Big Days, are communicating more with family and friends and the follow up after the big day. We discussed these things in our “Vision Lens” Assessment last week. We can use social media in the mission field by promoting it on our social media pages and sharing and getting others to share as well. Creating videos to promote missions and speaking “live” on social media platforms. My church is on Facebook live on Sundays during my morning worship.

This topic of “ Pastoral Burnout” has been a theme in several of my classes this year as well as in my reading personal and not just for school. In Dr. Fretwell’s book Multiplying Jesus Revitalizing Churches the four principles I need to work on and why are three of them Spiritual, physical, and emotional. I find that I have to discipline myself in these areas while having to juggle so much in my life right now. School, Church, work ( I am a bi-vocational Pastor), and family. I have tried to build a regimen of my time with God for devotion, reading, and praying first thing in the morning, followed by my physical exercise and I also have a therapist that I see. I also have tried to maintain self-care by having full body massages at least once a month and getting my hair and nails done professionally. Although, most of the time I execute these plans I find I begin to cut some things out or short when I get busy. For example, I cut down my devotion time and my exercise time if I am running behind. I have rescheduled my massages and hair and nail appointments. I seem to put other things before my agenda. I agree when Dr. Fretwell says, “ If we want to achieve our goals healthily, none of the four health goals can be left out. [2]

Blessings!

Janis Barnes

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