“The New Birth” offered by Purpose Institute

Beginning this Saturday, August 13, 2022, I will teach the Purpose Institute course The New Birth. The course will be offered both on the campus of New Life Church in Cabot, Arkansas, and by Zoom, beginning at 10:40 a.m. and concluding at 1:10 p.m on the following dates:

  • August 13, 2022
  • September 10, 2022
  • October 15, 2022
  • November 5, 2022

I will be teaching on Zoom, and Larry Gimnich, Associate Pastor of New Life Church will host the on-campus presence of Purpose Institute. He can be reached by email at lgimnich@newlifecabot.com.

I have been teaching courses for Purpose Institute for quite a few years, including The New Birth course, and I look forward to this, which will include some new material I have not presented previously.

Daniel L. Segraves, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

Urshan Graduate School of Theology

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The Addiction of Sin: Lesson 13

In Lesson 12 of our series of lessons on The Addiction of Sin, we began to consider Keith Miller’s proposed adaption of the Twelve-step Program. Here is Step One:

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our Sin — that our lives had become unmanageable. (Compare with Romans 7:15-25.)

To see why we recommended Romans 7:15-25 to provide insight on Step One, I recommend going back and reading Lesson 12 again.

Now, let’s look at Step Two:

Step Two: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (Consider Lamentations 5:21.)

I selected Lamentations 5:21 here because the “Power” greater than ourselves is not merely an impersonal “power” that is greater than us. Lamentations identifies the One greater than ourselves who can restore us as the LORD (Yahweh) (Lamentations 1:5). The next to last verse of the book reads: “Turn us back to You, O LORD, and we will be restored; Renew our days as of old” (Lamentations 5:21).

We cannot turn ourselves; only our Lord can turn us. Only He can restore us and return us to what we once were. This is not merely a return to sanity. It is a restoration to spiritual wholeness. It is a release from addiction

In Lesson 14, we will look at Keith Miller’s third proposed step in his adaption of the Twelve-Step Program.

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In Lesson 12 of our series of lessons on The Addiction of Sin, we began to consider Keith Miller’s proposed adaption of the Twelve-step Program. Here is Step One:

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our Sin — that our lives had become unmanageable. (Compare with Romans 7:15-25.)

To see why we recommended Romans 7:15-25 to provide insight on Step One, I recommend going back and reading Lesson 12 again.

Now, let’s look at Step Two:

Step Two: We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (Consider Lamentations 5:21.)

I selected Lamentations 5:21 here because the “Power” greater than ourselves is not merely an impersonal “power” that is greater than us. Lamentations identifies the One greater than ourselves who can restore us as the LORD (Yahweh) (Lamentations 1:5). The next to last verse of the book reads: “Turn us back to You, O LORD, and we will be restored; Renew our days as of old” (Lamentations 5:21).

We cannot turn ourselves; only our Lord can turn us. Only He can restore us and return us to what we once were. This is not merely a return to sanity. It is a restoration to spiritual wholeness. It is a release from addiction

In Lesson 14, we will look at Keith Miller’s third proposed step in his adaption of the Twelve-Step Program.

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My Journey from Theory to Thesis

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While serving as a pastor, I developed a theory on the identity of “that which is perfect.” Paul wrote, “But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away” (I Corinthians 13:10, NKJV). I knew some interpreters think this refers to the completion of the New Testament canon, which leads them to believe spiritual gifts would cease when the writing of the New Testament was finished.

Others think the perfect thing is some aspect of the last days, placing it in the realm of eschatology. Another notion is that Paul was referring to the maturity into which the church would grow, the maturity into which individual believers grow, to the death of a believer, or the general principle that completeness supersedes incompleteness.

I had a different idea.

I’m a big believer in the interpretive influence of context, and it was obvious to me that the context of I Corinthians 13, from beginning to the end, is about love.

But how could this work with I Corinthians 13:10? I knew there was no way I could prove this point to my satisfaction or write convincingly about it unless I had a sufficient command of the first-century Greek language. And I didn’t have it.

By the way, in later life, I have often told my students to stay away from the original languages of Scripture unless they have received formal training from academically qualified teachers. Otherwise, one is almost certain to misinterpret the text. There is far more to accurate use of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek than the ability to look at numbers in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance or other tools keyed to that number system.

So I waited.

Finally, the day came when I faced the necessity of completing advanced academic requirements. I’ve written about that elsewhere, so I won’t take the time to say more about this now.

In short, I enrolled in the Master of Arts in Exegetical Theology degree program offered by Western Seminary (Portland, Oregon). Over the period of three and one-half years, I completed all requirements for this degree, graduating with highest honors. This included fulfilling all the language requirements (i.e., Hebrew and Greek) that would eventually enable me to enroll in the Ph.D. program Regent University School of Divinity offered. Since the Ph.D. requirements included Theological German, I finished that as well.

Now back to I Corinthians 13:10.

As I neared completion of the M.A.E.T., it was necessary to choose the topic for my thesis. Some students refer to this as the “big paper,” but it is more than that.

Now I had the necessary skill in Koine Greek to tackle the project. Could my theory face the test of the Greek language? It did, and the thesis, titled “That Which is Perfect (I Corinthians 13:10): A Non-Eschatological Approach,” was accepted and passed with an A.

As I sat in the final class session leading to graduation, the professor lectured on I Corinthians, specifically I Corinthians 13. As I listened, I realized he was teaching in a way that harmonized with my understanding of this text.

He looked at me and said, “I am almost completely convinced.”

This post is because I recently decided to share the thesis on this blog in short sections. They will be coming soon, and I hope you enjoy them.

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The Addiction of Sin: Lesson 12

I just wanna speak the name of Jesus
‘Til every dark addiction starts to break
Declaring there is hope and there is freedom
I speak Jesus

These powerful lyrics are from the song “I Speak Jesus.” They were written by a team consisting of Raina Pratt, Kriston Dutton, Charity Gayle, Jesse Reeves, Dustin Smith, Carlene Prince, and Abby Benton. The entire song is found on the album “Endless Praise,” recorded by Charity Gayle and released on September 10, 2021.

I have included this brief excerpt from “I Speak Jesus” in this post for more than one reason. First, I recall the strong spiritual impact of singing the song for the first time during the worship set at our home church, The Sanctuary UPC in Hazelwood, Missouri, where Mitchell Bland is pastor. Second, these lyrics name addiction for what it is: It is a dark, binding force that must be broken. Third, those who suffer from addiction are not left without hope. There is hope and there is freedom! Fourth, the source of this hope and freedom is the name of Jesus.

In Lesson 11 of this series on the addiction of sin, I mentioned that in Lesson 12 we would think about Keith Miller’s proposed adaptation of the Twelve Step program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. We will do that now, but if you have not been following this series, you may want to go back and review the previous eleven posts first.

We will list Miller’s twelve steps individually, which means we will complete our examination of his work in a series of posts. With each point, we will compare Miller’s insight to relevant biblical truth.

  1. We admitted we were powerless over our Sin — that our lives had become unmanageable.

This admission immediately calls to mind Paul’s confession recorded in Romans 7:15-25. We have already thought about Paul’s frank acknowledgment of his struggles in this series of posts, and it would be helpful to read his words again.

Some who read Paul’s words find it almost impossible to believe the great apostle could honestly say, “For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15, NKJV). Could he really mean it when he wrote, “I do what I will not to do” (Romans 7:16, NKJV)? But Paul did not back away from this transparent stream of thought. He continued:

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice (Romans 7:18-19, NKJV).

This sounds a lot like Miller’s admission of personal powerlessness over sin. It calls for help from another source. And of course, that is where Paul’s struggles took him. As he came to the conclusion of his confession, Paul wrote, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25, NKJV).

Some who read Paul’s words are so surprised, even shocked them, that they insist Paul could only be describing something in his past. Surely Paul could not be referring to anything in the days after his conversion!

But Paul wrote in the present tense. There is no hint that all of this is behind him.

I graduated from Western Apostolic Bible College (now known as Christian Life College) in 1967. When I returned to teach in the school in 1982, one of my delights was to discover that Olive Haney, the widow of the school’s founder, Clyde J. Haney, was still a member of the faculty. Her husband had been one of my teachers, and he had a profound influence on me.

One day Sister Haney brought to me her husband’s handwritten notes on the Book of Romans. I was happy to see that Brother Haney acknowledged the significance of the fact that Paul’s words in Romans 7 were written in the present tense. They do not describe some bygone struggle in Paul’s life. They describe the kind of struggle any person of faith may face. They call for admission of personal powerlessnenss apart from Jesus Christ our Lord. Apart from Him, our lives are unmanageable.


In future posts, we will continue to examine Keith Miller’s proposals from a biblical point of view.

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Standing on Holy Ground …

A group of days close together on the calendar have special significance for Susan and me. They began last Friday, June 11, Susan’s birthday. They continued yesterday, June 13, the anniversary of the day nine years ago that I sent Susan the text message inviting her to enjoy the Ambassadors of Harmony concert with me two days later. She accepted, and on June 15 our first date led to speculation among our friends that we would marry before the general conference of the United Pentecostal Church that Fall. Their speculations became true prophecies. On June 24, 2013, as we were returning from lunch at Josephine’s Tea Room in Godfrey, Illinois, I asked Susan, “Will you marry me?” She said. “I will!” We married on September 28, 2013. We have enjoyed a blessed and happy marriage.

Susan and I had both lost our spouses. She had been married to Robert Fuller for forty one years, and Judy and I had been married for forty six. These marriages were also blessed. We like to add those years together with the nine years we have been married and to tell people we have been married ninety six years!

After breakfast this morning, I went to the piano to play a brief version of “Standing on Holy Ground.” Part way through, I looked up and there Susan stood with her iPhone, peeking around the corner to video the event. Life with her is always a joyful experience. We are truly standing on holy ground.

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The joy of meeting old friends by surprise!

Yesterday as Susan and I sat at a booth in the Old Spaghetti Factory in Chesterfield, Missouri, I looked up and, behold! There stood Dennis Breland, a friend from long ago! He was joined by his wife, Rene. Memories came flooding back, spilling from our mouths.

Dennis was one of a group of young men discipled by my father, Glen Segraves, when Dad pastored the United Pentecostal Church in Dexter, Missouri during the 1970s. Dad considered these the most fruitful years of his ministry. Most all of these young men are in ministries of their own today.

Dennis pastors the United Pentecostal Church in Perryville, Missouri. The church has a website and Facebook presence if you would like to know more.

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The Addiction of Sin: Lesson 11

In our previous ten lessons, we have considered the possibility that sin can be characterized as an addiction. Some may at first reject this idea, thinking that somehow if we use this language it could soften our view of sin and make it more acceptable. In the final analysis, however, what matters is how sin is described in Scripture. If there is a biblical warrant for thinking of sin in a certain way, regardless of the vocabulary we use, that inspired insight should help us deal with habitual sin.

I recall seeing a billboard in Modesto, California that read as follows: “O Lord, please give me hatred for the sin I love.” I don’t know who was responsible for that message, nor do I know the specific sin that person loved. But I do know all sin is destructive and serves to separate us from fellowship with God. Whatever we can do to find freedom from sin, we must. As John wrote, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin” (I John 2:1a, NKJV). But that is not the end of the verse. He continued to write, “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1b, NKJV).

Later in the same chapter, John tells us not to love the world or the things in the world. The reason for this is that if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us (I John 2:15). But what does it mean to love the world or the things in it? This is summed up in the next verse in three brief terms:

For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world (I John 2:16, NKJV).

The word translated “lust” refers to strong desires. Although we can’t work out all the details of this in a brief blog, it would be accurate to say the three statements of concern to John describe pride, greed, and moral impurity. These sins may be manifested in many ways, but when reduced to their essence, they are “all that is in the world.” The world has nothing lasting to offer, but there is something that does:

And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever (I John 2:17, NKJV).

In future lessons, we will look at Keith Miller’s proposed adaptation of the Twelve Step program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. This will not be a substitute for biblical insight. As we consider each step, we will compare it to what Scripture says in relation to that idea to see if rings true. If so, it may open our eyes to practical ways we can apply powerful truths to struggles that have long frustrated us spiritually.

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The Addiction of Sin: Lesson 10

This is the tenth lesson in a series examining the possibility that sin can be viewed as an addiction. If this is a biblically sound idea, it can be useful in gaining freedom from addictive behavior.

At this point, we are looking at the following resources: Lawrence J. Crabb, Inside out, Rev. & updated, 10th anniversary ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1998); Gerald G. May, M.D., Addiction and Grace (New York: HarperCollins, 1988); and Patrick T. McCormick, Sin as Addiction (New York: Paulist Press, 1989). Although Crabb does not embrace the addiction model of sin, his perspectives are similar to those who do.

In this brief lesson, we will discuss the requirement of abandoning pretense. Real change cannot occur apart from this.

… deep change comes about less because of what we try to do and how hard we try to do it, and more because of our willingness to face the realities of our own internal life. Personal integrity, a commitment to never pretend about anything, is prerequisite for change from the inside out (Crabb,187–188).

In the final analysis, what is necessary for change cannot be reduced to a formula:

Change from the inside out will always be … a work of God, and must therefore remain a mystery (Crabb, 190).

It is a process, not an event. And it is a process never completed on this earth.

In order to experience the change possible during this lifetime, we must abandon the vain insistence that “the real change heaven will bring (an end to all pain) be ours today” (Crabb, 205). It is a false gospel that declares that we can ever reach a place in this life where pain and suffering are banished. The genuineness of hope is rooted in the promise of a better world and a better life to come. Paul wrote, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (I Corinthians 15:19, NKJV).

The common core in every effort to change must be “a shift in direction away from dependence on one’s own resources for life to dependence on God” (Crabb, 211).

In our next lesson, we will consider Keith Miller’s proposed adaptation of the Twelve Step program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. Is it possible this could be helpful as we seek to cooperate with the grace of God?

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Charity Gayle

Last night, for the first time, Susan and I joined with about 650 other people to worship our Lord Jesus Christ with Charity Gayle at The Sanctuary UPC in Hazelwood, Missouri, where Mitchell Bland is pastor. It was a truly awesome experience.

From the first song until the last, the presence of the Holy Spirit filled the room.

Each song was biblically sound, reflecting deep truths about God’s identity and the human condition. As we sang, I thought of the ways we were sharing together in fulfilling Paul’s twice-stated admonition:

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16).

We were singing psalms, many drawn from the inspired psalter itself. Since many of the words we sang originated in Scripture, they were spiritual. During some of His last words before His ascension, Jesus said all things must be fulfilled which were written concerning Him in the law, the prophets, and the psalms. Thus, we were singing words about Christ. As we sang them, these words taught and admonished us.

I was refreshed and strengthened spiritually, emotionally, and even physically by the experience. I would do it again.

I am now in the process of writing the second volume of my commentary on Psalms. Specifically, I am working on Psalm 80. As I worked on this project this week, I remembered an interesting difference between the way English translations typically render a phrase in the superscriptions: to the chief musician. This occurs fifty-five times.

But the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures that is most commonly used by those who wrote the New Testament, translates the phrase: For the end. The same fifty-five psalms that read “to the chief musician” in the KJV and other English translations from Hebrew read “for the end” when translated from Greek to English by the Septuagint.

As Ray Lubeck, one of my professors when I was a seminary student pointed out, for the Septuagint, all the songs in Psalms are “end time songs.” They have an eschatological focus. They look forward to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ! We cannot sing these inspired songs without our spirit being stirred in anticipation of this glorious event.

Charity was powerfully accompanied by her husband, Ryan Kennedy. The band of musicians and singers traveling with them consisted largely of Spirit-filled people from the Pentecostals of Alexandria (POA) who participate in leading worship there.

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