For Your Edification (7.27.12)

For Your Edification is a weekly set of resources on the subjects of Bible, Theology, Ministry, and Family Life.  Let me know what you think or if you have other resources that growing Christians should be aware.

BIBLE & THEOLOGY

Kingdom Through Covenant.  Justin Taylor, Vice President of Editorial at Crossway and blogger extraordinaire, has posted the first two chapters of the new book,  Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants.  This book is a landmark work on the covenants of the Bible (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the New Covenant).  Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum are the authors of this book, and they have wed their systematic and exegetical expertise to provide a comprehensive reading of the whole Bible.

I encourage you to take the time to pick up this big book and test their proposal.  I think they are right on as they put the Bible together, and that this book has the potential to provide a more exegetical, biblical-theological reading of Scripture than either Dispensationalism or Covenant Theology.

Physical Theology: The Bible in its Land, Time and Culture.  Dr. John Monson, who grew up in Israel, is Associate Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS).  Earlier this year, he gave a compelling lecture on the space and time found in the Bible.  His academic and personal experience in Israel, give him a strong understanding of the land in Israel and how it relates to our understanding of God’s plan of redemption.  By the way, to add credibility to his qualifications, he also dated a girl from Bethlehem named Mary.

For more on a theological understanding of the land in the Bible, see O. Palmer Robertson, Understanding the Land of the Bible.

FAMILY, CHURCH, & MINISTRY

Gay Is Not The New Black.  Voddie Baucham writes persuasively why making homosexuality normative in American life and politics is not the next step in the Civil Rights movement.  Categorically, definitionally, historically, and legally, Baucham shows why arguments for gay ‘rights’ do not parallel the rights once restricted to blacks.  He concludes,

It is very important for those of us who oppose the idea of same-sex “marriage” to do so not because we wish to preserve our version of the American Dream, but because we view marriage as a living, breathing picture of the relationship between Christ and his church (Eph. 5:22ff), and because we know that God has designed the family in a particular way. While the design of the family promotes human thriving (Gen 1:27-28), the testimony points people to their only hope in this life and the next. As a result, silence on this issue is not an option.

Unfortunately (and quite ironically), many Christians have been bullied into silence by the mere threat of censure from the homosexual lobby. “Oppose us and you’re no better than Gov. Wallace, Hitler, and those homophobes who killed Matthew Shepard!” is their not-so-subtle refrain. Consequently, we spend so much time trying to prove we’re not hate-filled murderers that we fail to recognize that the Emperor has no clothes. There is no legal, logical, moral, biblical, or historical reason to support same-sex “marriage.” In fact, there are myriad reasons not to support it. I’ve only provided a few.

Baucham’s article is an important and well-informed read.  One that you need to read to equip yourself against the ascending onslaught for ‘gay marriage’ and against biblical Christianity.

Culture Wars.  While you are at it, you should also read Owen Strachan’s article on why the ‘gay marriage’ issue is so radically different than the abortion issue and why Christians cannot ‘opt out’ of taking a biblical stand.

How to Comfort Bereaved Parents.  Jill Sullivan, a 40-something mother in Arkansas, who lost her daughter in 2009, has written a helpful and compassionate article on how to minister to families in the church who have lost children.  I have a feeling that her words while particularly applicable to the grief that accompanies the untimely death of a child, but her wise words of comfort are also applicable at any time that someone is experiencing the loss of a loved one.  Take time to read it, and to pray for those who you know who have lost parents, siblings, or children in this year.

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told.  On the same blog that published Jill Sullivan’s piece, Trevin Wax also posted one of my blogs, “The Greatest Love Story Ever Told.”  Taken from a sermon I preached last year on Revelation 19, I explore the beauty of heaven and how every love story on earth is but a lesser version of the greatest love story of Jesus Christ dying for his bride and defeating his enemies.  Check it out.

For Your Edification, dss

For Your Edification (6.1.12)

For Your Edification is a (bi)weekly set of resources on the subjects of Bible, Theology, Ministry, and Family Life.  Let me know what you think or if you have other resources that growing Christians should be aware.

BIBLE & THEOLOGY

Dating the Crucifixion.  Joe Carter points to a news report coming from the “International Geology Review” that claims “based on earthquake activity at the Dead Sea near Jerusalem, Jesus was most likely crucified on Friday, April 3, in the year 33.”  Carter’s news clipping reminds us that God’s revelation in Scripture and nature are both infallible, and that this new piece of data gives us plausible evidence confirming what the Bible already declares: “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split” (Matthew 27:51).

Biblical Allusions. Jeffery Leonard has written an SBL article identifying inner-biblical allusions.  In fact, using Psalm 78 as a test-case, he lists eight ways that “shared language” works in the Bible. He also goes one step further to discuss ways to determine how to discern the direction of the influence.  If typology, allusions, and echoes are your thing, I encourage you to check out the article: Identifying Inner-Biblical Allusions: Psalm 78 as a Test Case.

Here are the eight evaluations for considering biblical allusions:

  1. Shared language is the single most importantfactor in establishing a textual connection.
  2. Shared language is more important than nonshared language.
  3. Shared language that is rare or distinctive suggests a stronger connection than does language that is widely used.
  4. Shared phrases suggest a stronger connection than do individual shared terms.
  5. The accumulation of shared language suggests a stronger connection than does a single shared term or phrase.
  6. Shared language in similar contexts suggests a stronger connection than does shared language alone.
  7. Shared language need not be accompanied by shared ideology to establish a connection.
  8. Shared language need not be accompanied by shared form to establish a con­nection.

FAMILY, LIFE, & MINISTRY

Defending Marriage in a Pluralistic Society. Paul Brewster, a pastor in our local association and author of Andrew Fuller: Model Pastor-Theologian, has written a helpful piece on the difficulty and necessity of defending marriage in our contemporary society.  Brewster’s editorial is noteworthy on two accounts: (1) He lives in middle America–Madison, Indiana to be exact–which is not the left coast or a progressive college town.  Rather, it is a small town in the heartland of America, and yet it like every other community in our nation has been affected by increasing demand for marriage anyway you like it. (2) He is a faithful, small church pastor.  It is easy to point to and depend on the Albert Mohler’s, Tim Keller’s, and John Piper’s to speak up publically; however, in truth, it takes all pastors proclaiming the gospel and the Christian worldview for the effect of Christ’s witness to win the lost to Christ and to preserve the culture from moral decay.

May we who pastor smaller churches follow Paul’s lead and contend for a biblical and traditional definition of marriage, and may we hear his admonition to defend God’s design for marriage so that marriage does not become Silly Putty in the hands of fools.

Charles Spurgeon’s Biography.  Here is an hour-long docu-drama retelling the life and labors of Charles Spurgeon.  If you are unfamiliar with this powerful minister’s pulpit ministry, this is a good place to begin.  If you want to know more about Charles Spurgeon, I would encourage you to check out John Piper’s audio biography, Arnold Dallimore’s biography Spurgeon: A New Biographyor his own two-volume autobiography–The Early Years and The Full Harvest.

For Your Edification (5.17.12)

For Your Edification is a bi-weekly set of resources on the subjects of Bible, Theology, Ministry, and Family Life.  Let me know what you think or if you have other resources that growing Christians should be aware.  

BIBLE

Is the Bible Really Living and Active?  Imagine a conversation at the end of Sunday service:

Pastor:  Fred, did you spend time in the word this week?

Fred: Oh, yes.  I spent hours in the word this week.  It was refreshing.  God says that he gives rest to those who ask, and when I was in the word this week, I felt the comfort of resting in the word.

Wilma, Fred’s wife (driving home later): Honey, I didn’t know that you spent so much time in the Word this week.  With your busy schedule, how did you do that?

Husband: Well, what I failed to mention was the fact that I named my Lazy Boy “the word,” so that whether I am watching TV, reading the paper, or reading my Bible, I can “be in the word.”

Wilma: Huh . . . that’s a good idea.  Maybe, I’ll try that.

Of course, no one would really say that.  Right?  But the point is made: The time we spend in the word is as effective as the way we spend it.  Jen Wilkin, mother of four, writes about why so many Christians get so little out of the word.  She nails down the fact that those who read the Bible, need to use effective means of Bible study, or they will just reinforce unbiblical ideas, and remain unchanged.  This is how she begins,

Why, with so many study options available, do many professing Christians remain unschooled and unchanged? Scripture teaches clearly that the living and active Word matures ustransforms usaccomplishes what it intends, increases our wisdom, and bears the fruit of right actions. There is no deficit in the ministry of the Word. If our exposure to it fails to result in transformation, particularly over the course of years, there are surely only two possible reasons why: either our Bible studies lack true converts, or our converts lack true Bible study.

Jen goes on to explain a number of common ways Christians “lack true Bible study.” Read the rest of her helpful article: Why Bible Study Doesn’t Transform Us?

Summer Bible Reading Plan.  Here is a 100 day Bible reading plan that would be great to use this summer if you do not currently have a reading schedule, or you have fallen off the wagon since January.  It is called E100, which stands for Essential 100 Scripture passages, and it designed to help Bible readers get through the whole of the Bible in a manageable amount of time.  It is published by Scripture Union and is designed to help young Bible readers or discouraged Bible readers make their way through the most important parts of the Bible.  The E100 website has more details; here is an easy access print-out.

THEOLOGY

Lessons in Ecclesiology.  Jonathan Leeman answers a couple important questions about the doctrine of the church.  First, he defines what the characteristics of a local church are.  Most importantly, in his article, What Is the Local Church?, he defines the difference between a ‘group of Christians’ and a ‘church’ (Hint: They are not the same thing!)  Then, he follows up by considering church membership.  In his article, What Is Church Membership?, he points out that a church is more than just a ‘voluntary organization.’ For those who want their church reflect the priorities of Christ, these are important questions, and Leeman gives biblical answers.

Additionally, Leeman is finishing his doctoral research on ecclesiology (i. e. the doctrine of the church) and has written a number of helpful resources on the subject, most recently: Church Membership and Church Discipline.  His larger work, The Church and the Surprising Offense of the Love of God: Reintroducing Church Membership and Discipline, goes even deeper into the biblical case for reclaiming a knowledge and practice of church health.

Carl Trueman on John Owen. John Owen has been described as the “Redwood of the Puritans” by J. I. Packer, and indeed his exegetical theology stands tall centuries after he has passed into glory.  Trueman, a church historian and gifted writer, introduces Owen in this ten minute biographical sketch that is worth watching to know better this great pastor-theologian.  For more on Owen, see John Piper’s biographical sermon: The Chief Design of My Life: Mortification and Universal Holiness.

FAMILY, LIFE, & MINISTRY

What Should We Say About Gay Marriage?  A few weeks before President Obama made his public declaration to endorse Gay Marriage, Southern Baptist Pastor, Mark Dever, sat down with seminary president, Albert Mohler, to discuss the subject of marriage according to the Bible and in our culture.  This discussion recorded at Together For the Gospel, will give you a good handle on a number of the key points in the gay marriage debate, and how Christians can defend God’s design in marriage–one man, one woman, united by law, until death.

Don’t Be a Passive Reader.  N. D. Wilson, author of Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl and a handful of other well-regarded fiction books, gives his critical review of The Hunger Games.  His review is spot-on and shows that Christians who enjoy the book/movie are in need of reading the book with much greater sensitivity to the world in which we live.  His review reminds us that when we read, watch, or listen to any sort of entertainment, we are imbibing a worldview (that is probably not inspired by the Holy Spirit) and thus we need to read pro-actively.  Beware of being a passive reader.  It may be more dangerous than the hunger games themselves.


May God use these resources to grow you in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

For Your Edification (5.11.12)

BIBLE

Reading the Bible Through the Jesus Lens.  Here is how Michael Williams explains  the main emphasis of his new book, How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens.   This is one of the books that I am commending for our church to read this summer in our “Summer Biblical Triathlon.”  It looks to be a great resource and help for seeing how all the pieces in the puzzle reveal the face of Jesus Christ.  Take a listen.

THEOLOGY

Ian and Larissa.  Will your view of God sustain you in the face of cancer, heart attack, or brain damage?  The story of Ian and Larissa testifies to the power of a vision of God that sees him as good and glorious in all circumstances.  The book that they reference is called This Momentary Marriageand it is grounded on the singular premise that “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him” (John Piper), a truth that is wonderfully put on display in John Piper’s book Desiring God.  Ian and Larissa’s story is unique because of what God has given to them–yes, given to them (Phil 1:29)–but it is not unique in the sense that every child of God will be given opportunities to suffer and bring glory to God in the process (cf 2 Cor 1).  The video is worth watching a couple times and will need a box of tissues.

FAMILY, LIFE, & MINISTRY

May 9, 2012: A Dark Day for Marriage. Albert Mohler provides a very helpful podcast analysis of President Obama’s renewed commitment to supporting “gay marriage” in law and in our land.  Mohler is one of many voices who have reacted to our president’s recent announcement.  Below I have included Mohler’s written response, as well as, a number of other faithful responses.

Evolution’s End? President Obama Calls for Same-Sex Marriage by Albert Mohler

Five Reasons Christians Should Continue to Oppose Gay Marriage by Kevin DeYoung

How to Win the Public on Homosexuality by Collin Hanson

Marriage and the Presidency  by Ryan T. Anderson, Robert P. George, and Sherif Girgis

The Blasphemy of Barack Obama by Joe Carter

President Obama, Same-Sex Marriage, and the Future of Evangelical Response by Ed Stetzer


May these resources serve to edify you this weekend and spur you on towards love and good deeds in Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss