Because of the Great Love with which He Loved Us

August 6, 2020 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments

The Touchpoint articles for this week and next week are drawn from some of our devotions at SummerLink this past year. I encourage you to consider reading and discussing these with someone else ... Keep Reading

The Big Picture of John's Gospel

July 30, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Ever hear the saying “Missing the forest for the trees”? It speaks about getting caught up in details, minutiae, and losing sight of the bigger picture. This is a very real danger in many situations, even in our study of Scripture. That’s why I was taught in seminary to study a passage in light of its immediate context, the context of the book, and the context of all Scripture. The Bible is a unity; while it has many human authors, Scripture has one divine author. As we work our way through the Gospel of John, it is easy to get caught up in the details of individual miracles and teaching sections and miss the bigger picture of the Gospel itself. And every week, I’m wrestling with the clock: what do I include and what do I pass over in my sermon. I want to use this opportunity to highlight some of the wonders of the bigger picture of John’s Gospel. ... Keep Reading

What is the Miracle?

July 23, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This Sunday at Oak Hills we are coming to a familiar Bible story, the feeding of the 5,000. It is one of two miracles from Jesus’ earthly ministry that is recorded in all four gospels (walking on water is the other one). It is a favorite story for children’s Bibles and Sunday School lessons. Most of the details and circumstances surrounding this miracle are well-known and undisputed. Jesus, with his disciples, retreat to a desolate place for a restful break from the crowds. Because of his fame, the people still sought Jesus. The gospels are clear that 5,000 men are present. With women and children, most agree that upwards of 20,000 people have gathered to Jesus. Since the place is desolate, a crisis of food arises. Jesus prods his disciples, who are weary and looking for a break from people, to meet the needs of the large crowd. They are skeptical and find only a boy with five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus proceeds to feed the crowd with this small provision. The disciples collect the leftovers in twelve baskets. While so much of the story is agreed upon, there is one detail that is debated among Bible scholars… what is the miracle? ... Keep Reading

Living by the Spirit, Part 4

July 16, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

“Walk by the Spirit.” So far, we have analyzed this command by asking why, what, and how. Why should we obey? Because this command is essential for holy and fruitful living for God. What is the work of the Spirit? All of the work of the Spirit revolves around the truth of Christ. How do we walk by the Spirit? By being in the Word of God, the truth-realm of the Spirit, on a regular basis (i.e. be filled with the Word of Christ). I have one more question related to this command from Galatians 5:16. What is the fruit of obedience to this command? You might be thinking that should be a no-brainer. If you are familiar with Galatians 5, you know that Paul continues the discussion about the flesh and the Spirit by highlighting the “works of the flesh” and the “fruit of the Spirit.” The fruit of obeying the command “walk by the Spirit” is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (5:22-23). ... Keep Reading

Living by the Spirit, Part 3

July 9, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

“Walk by the Spirit.” So commands Paul in Galatians 5:16. Two weeks ago we saw that obedience to this command is essential for holy and fruitful living for God. Last week, we sought to understand how the Spirit works. All of the work of the Spirit revolves around the truth of Christ. The Spirit seeks to glorify the Son so that our hearts and minds may apprehend the beauty and goodness of our Savior in faith. Now, let’s talk about the actual command, “Walk.” This word is one of Paul’s favorites to describe “living.” In response to the riches of God’s grace in salvation, he calls the Ephesians to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (4:1; cf. Rom. 6:4, 8:4, 13:13, 2 Cor. 5:7; Eph. 5:8; Col. 2:6). It can be translated “live,” but the literal meaning of the word is “walk.” Why “walk”? ... Keep Reading

Living by the Spirit, Part 2

July 2, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

“Walk by the Spirit.” So commands Paul in Galatians 5:16. Last week, we saw from Paul’s teaching that obedience to this command is the gateway to holy and fruitful living for God. In Paul’s theology, our lives (our hearts, minds, wills) are under the influence of either the flesh or the Spirit. There is no third or neutral influence. Therefore, obedience to the command, “walk by the Spirit,” is essential to live as a Christian, to be a Christian. Before we talk about what this looks like, the practical “how-to” for walking by the Spirit, we need to understand how the Spirit works. Then, next week, we can understand how we get in line with his working. Jesus gives clear teaching about the work of the Spirit in his Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17). In particular, in John 15 Jesus tells his disciples it is to their advantage that he goes away and sends “the Helper” (v. 7). He then describes what the Spirit will do:... Keep Reading

Living by the Spirit, Part 1

June 25, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

“Walk by the Spirit.” So commands Paul in Galatians 5:16. Are you consciously seeking to obey this command? What does it look like for you to “walk by the Spirit”? Do you believe obedience to this command is the gateway to holy and fruitful living for God? In the context of Galatians 5, Paul explains how this command is the gateway to fruitfulness and faithfulness. He says that the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit “are opposed to each other” (v. 17). He calls this opposition a war being waged “in my members” (Rom. 7:23). In this metaphor, the flesh and the Spirit are two generals warring against each other to gain influence over our thoughts, affections, and actions. The fruit and outcomes of each general’s influence are plainly described (Gal. 5:19-23; Rom. 8:5-10). Here’s the problem, though. We often operate like there is a third general, one more neutral, influencing and directing our thoughts, affections, and actions. This general can direct either towards evil or good, depending on any number of circumstances. This third general is our will. We’re in charge. We make choices. The flesh? The Spirit? Advisors at best. They give input and recommendations, but we are able to take it or leave. We can even choose good on our own.... Keep Reading

Thou Shalt Not Kill

June 18, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

For the bulletin each week in 2019, I wrote about one or more questions from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, unpacking the teaching of all 107 questions in one year. Those articles are still available on our website. This is an adaptation of the Catechism’s teaching on the Sixth Commandment. Here I incorporate the Larger Catechism’s teaching, which goes further than the Shorter (as you would expect). The Catechism’s teaching on the Ten Commandments is fruitful for understanding biblical ethics and God’s will for our lives. WLC 134: Which is the sixth commandment? Answer. The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill. WLC 135: What are the duties required in the Sixth Commandment? Answer: The duties required in the Sixth Commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defense thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physical, sleep, labor, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behavior; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succoring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent. ... Keep Reading

The God of the Adversative

June 11, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

If you have heard my preaching for any length of time at Oak Hills, you have heard me “gush” over the adversative conjunction “but” at some point. You probably think me a little weird for my grammatical excitement (you may even be right), but permit me to gush some more. Let me explain why I find the adversative conjunction so exciting. This little, three-lettered word pits two opposite realities against each other. They are like two alternatives to experience, or two paths to travel. In Scripture, when these two paths are laid out with the adversative conjunction in between, the first path is utterly bleak. In fact, if that path was the only option, we would have no hope; we would be lost. Let’s look at some examples.... Keep Reading

The Power of Words

June 4, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Words are powerful. The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” simply is not true. In our polarized culture, words become weapons. We may even be unaware of how certain words and phrases can be full of connotations, sometimes totally unintended by the speaker. And when words are used in monologues, instead of dialogues, it is far easier to be offensive (or be offended) prematurely or carelessly. ... Keep Reading

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