For the last two days I have been in Iceland teaching a biblical theology of the Old Testament. Drawing on The Drama of Scripture by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen, I have sought to explain how the Old Testament is organized around the twin concepts of Kingdom and Covenant.
The following videos are put up by Loftstofan Baptistakirkja (Upper Room Baptist Church) and their pastor Gunnar Ingi Gunnarsson. They review the teaching I did last year in Iceland and dive into the Kingdom of David and the New Covenant. Tonight, we will finish with a look at the Psalms.
Please take time to pray for this church, for their pastor, and the spread of the gospel in Iceland. And if you are interested, you can watch some of the teaching videos here (please excuse the opening few minutes of each where I bumble around until I start teaching). Or better, go watch Christian By Default (see above). It will tell you more about the spiritual climate of Iceland.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds Continue reading
This little light of mine, I’m goin’ let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
If you have been around church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard this children’s song. It takes it wording from this week’s passage, Matthew 5:13–16, where Jesus tells his disciples that they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
In truth, this is an important passage for understanding who we are. But if we take our cues from this children’s song alone, we might think that Jesus calls us as individuals to be salt packets or lone candlesticks. Yet, the language is clearly addressed to the community of disciples who are following Christ together. And therefore the application is not for individuals, but for the whole community of Christ.
In this week’s sermon I looked at what it means for the church to be Salt and Light. And what we discovered is how Jesus intends his community of faith to be permanent citizens of his kingdom who display covenant faithfulness to his Father in heaven. Such an identity stands in continuity with the Old Testament and against the world around us.
You can listen to the sermon online, Discussion questions are below, as are a list of additional resources. Continue reading
Is the kingdom present or future? Is it now or not yet? Could it in any way be both? If so, how?
In evangelical circles this question has been answered for the last half-century with a view called “inaugurated eschatology.” This view affirms Christ’s present royal position as seated at God’s right hand, even as he rules the church by way of his Spirit (Matthew 28:20; John 16:7; Ephesians 1:21–23). At the same time, his kingdom has not been yet consummated, and the people who have believed the good news of the kingdom await the day when he will return to establish his rule on the earth.
Among the many names who have advocated this position, few are more important than George Eldon Ladd, the late New Testament professor from Fuller Seminary. During the middle decades of the twentieth century, his books on the kingdom of God engaged Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology alike. And in each, he provided a rich biblical exposition on the subject.
Ladd maintained that the kingdom of God is found in Christ’s reign more than the location of his rule (i.e., his realm). He understood the kingdom as a future reality, but one that had broken into the present. Against a view of the kingdom of God as spiritualized in the individual—a view based on a poor translation of Luke 17:21 (“the kingdom of God is within you,” KJV; rather than “the kingdom of God is in the midst of you,” ESV)—Ladd centered the presence of Christ’s kingdom in the church, without confusing the church with the kingdom. In this way, Ladd opposed both replacement theology and classical Dispensationalism.
Today, his works remain invaluable for students of eschatology. Indeed, those who are unfamiliar with him or inaugurated eschatology are missing the best exegetical research on the kingdom of God for the last two generations. While certainly fallible—as his biography shows—his studies have been a major catalyst in evangelical theology.
In what follows is a summary of five points from a chapter entitled “The Kingdom and the Church” in his A Theology of the New Testament. Continue reading
There has been much recent debate on the nature of the gospel. Did Paul get it right? Or should we look to Jesus to know the gospel? See the panel discussion at the recent TGC Conference: Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?
Taking a biblical-theological approach, the gospel is best understood when we look at all that the Bible has to say about the subject. This includes the proto-gospel preached to Adam (Gen 3:15), the gospel preached beforehand to Abraham (Gal 3:8), the good news which David celebrated in the Psalms (esp. 40:9; 68:11; 96:2), and the good news announced by Isaiah (40:9; 41:27; 52:7; 60:6; 61:1) and the other prophets (Nahum 1:15; Joel 2:32). Likewise, to rightly discern the meaning of the gospel to the early church we must look at its multiple uses in the gospels, letters, and John’s singular use in Revelation 14:6.
In this fabric of gospel theology, it is important to remember that God has given us four inspired accounts of the gospel. These don’t stand out as different gospels; nor do they reclaim the true gospel—as some infer. They are rather four accounts of the one true gospel that all the apostles preached. In conversation with the OT gospel promises and the epistolary explanations of the gospel, the four gospels give us a message of the person and work of Jesus Christ, the one who stands at the center of the gospel.
Starting yesterday, I began to consider the gospel in the gospels, or better the gospel according to the ‘gospelists’–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Continue reading
UPDATE: On the basis of a few comments and further reflection, here is an updated outline of the chiasmus in Matthew 3-4. What do you think?
In preparation for Sunday’s message, I came across some themes in Matthew 3:1-4:17 that seemed to present themselves as a conceptual chiasmus in Matthew’s gospel. The issue revolves around the identity of Jesus, which the whole point of Matthew’s writing and the point he is trying to make early on in his gospel.
What I noticed is that in chapters 3-4 is that Matthew seems to pit John’s testimony about Jesus against Satan’s questions to Jesus. The former affirms the sonship of Christ and prepares the way (3:3) for the Father to declare his unconditional approval of the son (3:17). By contrast, Satan takes the word of God and twists it back against Jesus so that, he questions Jesus identity with it (4:1-11).
In the end, John’s testimony proves true as Jesus abides in God’s word (4:4, 7, 10) and resists the temptation of the devil. In the end, John’s proclamation of the kingdom’s nearness (3:2) is confirmed by Jesus’ devotion to the Father. Therefore, Matthew records Jesus’ announcement of the kingdom, which nicely concludes this section of his gospel (4:17).
Here is my conceptual outline below. Would love to hear your thoughts. Continue reading
For I am not ashamed of the gospel
for it is the power of God for salvation
to everyone who believes,
to the Jew first and also to the Greek
It is a word made impotent by its vague familiarity. Like ‘love’—which sells hamburgers, promotes athletics, and expresses marital bliss—‘gospel’ has become a filler word. It is often used, but little understood. Don’t believe me? Just ask a Christian what the word is, and wait for the stammering to begin—uh . . . well . . . hmmm . . . you know . . . it’s the gospel.
The gospel is often assumed. Rarely defined. Abstract, not concrete. It is a good word to use in church, but it is a word more quickly said than studied.
Such gospel assumption—or it is amnesia?—impairs our witness and our worship. Therefore, we need to ask some questions about the gospel: Who needs the gospel? Christians or non-Christians? What do we do with the gospel? Is it a message to be believed and preached? Or is it a way of life to be lived? Are there variations of the gospel? Or is the message singular? How do you define the gospel? Continue reading
When was the last time you preached Ezekiel? Not from Ezekiel, but Ezekiel. Not Ezekiel 16 and God’s graphic castigation of Israel’s spiritual whoredom; not Ezekiel 36 and the promise of a renewed heart and a clean spirit; not Ezekiel 37 and the valley of dry bones; I mean Ezekiel, the whole thing?
If you did decide to preach Ezekiel, where would you try it out? Would it be a trial run in a Sunday School class? Would it be at youth lock-in–you’ve got to be there all night anyways? Would it be to a group of eager seminarians? Or would it be at one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention?
This weekend, a good friend of mine, Grant Gaines, had the opportunity to preach to Bellevue Baptist Church (Memphis, TN), and he delivered an outstanding message. Challenging BBC to see the kingdom of God, he preached the whole book of entitled: “Looking for the Kingdom: The Message of Ezekiel.”
His three points were: There is Sin to be Punished, chapters 1-24; There is an Enemy to be Defeated, chapters 25-32; and There is a Kingdom to be Established, chapters 33-48. His faithful message exemplifies canonical preaching, biblical theology, and a Christocentric hermeneutic. I encourage you to listen to it yourself, to consider his example, and to look for the kingdom–and if you have the chance: Preach Ezekiel!
For more examples of preaching the Bible book-by-book, see Mark Dever’s The Message of the Old Teastament: Promises Made and The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept .
May we all be unashamed to preach Christ from every verse, chapter, and book of God’s inspired Word.
Sola Deo Gloria, dss