No Other Gospel: Reflections from The Gospel Coalition

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
— Galatians 6:14 —

For three days this week, ten of us from Occoquan Bible Church traveled to Indianapolis to join 8,500 other followers of Christ at The Gospel Coalition’s bi-annual gathering. This year we celebrated the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and its recovery of the gospel. The theme of this week’s conference was “No Other Gospel” and in less than 72 hours we heard six messages from Galatians and three messages on the historical figures of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other reformation heroes, including the women who contributed to the Reformation. We also sat in on countless breakout sessions related to church history and practical ministry. In all it was a much needed time of refreshment and recalibration.

In all, our trip to Indy was an encouraging time of worship, fellowship, and learning. I benefitted most from John Piper’s opening message on Galatians 1 and Tim Keller’s closing message on Galatians 6. In particular, Keller’s connection between boasting in the cross (Galatians 6:14) and spiritual transformation was powerful.

His point was this: It is not enough to know about Christ and his cross. If one wants to be changed—i.e., freed from sin and full on grace—he or she must boast in the cross. This means verbal praise but even more, it is a confidence in life that taunts all other competitors and presses deeper into Christ. There is nothing more glorious than Christ and his cross, the message of the gospel. As we cling to that truth and boast about that reality above all others, God will change us.

With that in mind, let me share a few more observations from the men who went to Indy. Hear them boast in Christ, his cross, and the chance to devote three days to worshiping. Let it spur you on and encourage you to listen to the sessions online or to join us next year. Continue reading

What is Calvinism?

Calvinism means different things to different people. Even to those who might call themselves “Calvinist,” what they mean by the term is not always the same. Typically, as a shorthand expression for what I believe about salvation, I am comfortable to call myself a Calvinist. And yet, because that label is so often misused, misunderstood, and misapplied, I am equally desirous to avoid it altogether.

Nevertheless, the question remains: What is Calvinism?

The answer to that question takes more than just two sentence, simple answer. Because it is a term that has historical, theological, and worldview meanings, it takes time to get a handle on it. Therefore, for those who have an interest and an ear to hear, let me give you a five-fold answer to that question: Calvinism is (1) a shorthand expression for the doctrines of grace, (2) a biblical-theological system, (3) an historical phenomenon, (4) a biblical worldview, and (5) an attitude of worship. As always, let me know what you think.  Continue reading

Matthew’s Gospel: A King and His Kingdom

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

How Should We Talk About God?

A few weeks back I read Psalm 78, and came across this strange verse.

Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, like a strong man shouting because of wine. And he put his adversaries to rout; he put them to everlasting shame (Ps 78:65-66).

What does that mean?  And what does that say about God?  I wrote a few reflections on what this verse means and how we should get our “God-talk” from the Bible.

Check it out: God Is No Drunkard; Or, What’s with Psalm 78?

Let me know what you think.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss