Saturday, March 31, 2012

J. I. Packer on reading the Bible theologically

" ... the Bible's God-language is analogical. Today's fashion is to call it "metaphorical,' which is not wrong, but "analogical" is the term that makes the clearest point: the difference involved when everyday words-nouns, verbs, adjectives-are used of God. Language is God's gift for personal communication between humans and between God and humans. But when God speaks of himself-or when people speak to him or about him-the definitions, connotations, implications, valuations, and range of meaning in each case must be adjusted in light of the differences between him and his creation. God is infinite and flawless; people are both finite and flawed. So when everyday words are used of God, all thought of finiteness and imperfection must be removed, and the overall notion of unlimited, self-sustaining existence in perfect loving holiness must be added in."

(Grudem, Wayne A., C. John Collins, and Thomas R. Schreiner. Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible's Origin, Reliability, and Meaning. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Print. 33)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ongoing gratitutde fights presumption

It is perhaps a routine thing for those who know Christ to thank the Lord for their food each time they sit down to eat. Why go through such repetition? Why not just acknowledge that God made all things and gives us good gifts and be through with it? The answer to that, in part, is that our being sanctified in Christ includes the ongoing gratitude that we have for what for what God has done for and in us. Ingratitude is similar to pride. If we are ungrateful for what we have, then we presume to have gotten it merely by our own efforts. That is an affront to the gracious and good character of the God who supplies good things to and for us all.

(Oliphint, K. Scott. The Battle Belongs to the Lord: The Power of Scripture for Defending Our Faith. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2003. Print.133)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A summation of cross-centered

I have been working through several books on the atonement. Currently I am working through two classics on the topic: George Smeaton's  The Apostles' Doctrine of the Atonement and James Denney's The Atonement and the Modern Mind. The following excerpt is from Denney's book and it is an excellent encapsulation of what the term cross-centeredness means. When one speaks of the cross being central to all we are as Christians, I assume that they mean what this passage ably points to.

It will be admitted by most Christians that if the Atonement, quite apart from precise definitions of it, is anything to the mind, it is everything. It is the most profound of all truths, and the most recreative. It determines more than anything else our conceptions of God, of man, of history, and even of nature ; it determines them, for we must bring them all in some way into accord with it. It is the inspiration of all thought, the impulse and the law of all action, the key, in the last resort, to all suffering. Whether we call it a fact or a truth, a power or a doctrine, it is that in which the differentia of Christianity, its peculiar and exclusive character, is specifically shown ; it is the focus of revelation, the point at which we see deepest into the truth of God, and come most completely under its power. For those who recognise it at all it is Christianity in brief; it concentrates in itself, as in a germ of infinite potency, all that the wisdom, power and love of God mean in relation to sinful men.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Walking with God in unrestrained obedience

    Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6 ESV)

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, 20:4-6 is describing your future. Satan is gone from the scene. Christ is reigning on earth. You will be raised from the dead to sin no more.  No satanic deception. No satanic temptation. In the presence of Christ you will do justice and serve as a priest to God. This is what you were made to do. You were created to enjoy God  as King in God's land in free obedience to God's law. Uncontaminated. Undefiled. Unsullied. No devil prowling about like a roaring lion. Freedom. Joy. Righteousness.

Is this what you think of when you think of happiness? Oh, how we need to soak ourselves in the Bible so that the Bible will define pleasure for us. Pleasure is not sin. Pleasure is walking with God in unrestrained obedience to him. Pleasure is doing the right thing instinctively. Pleasure is responding with wisdom and justice clothed with a natural, unfeigned humility in the glad enjoyment of God's presence. Pleasure is trusting God and knowing him in all your ways. Can you believe God is going to let you in on this?

(Hamilton Jr., James M. Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. Print.375)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An indefensible position

Scott Oliphint, in his book The Battle Belongs to the Lord, emphasizes that God has revealed himself to mankind in such a way we will, on the Day of Judgment, be without an excuse or defense for our suppression of the knowledge of God. Oliphint than considers the implications of this for the apologist, that is, for every Christian:
This is good news for Christians as we continue to prepare ourselves to do apologetics. We are aware of the fact that people have designed elaborate philosophies and theories in order to avoid the clear knowledge of God that is both within them and evident around them. We know that opposition to God is not silenced. But, Paul tells us here, all of these philosophies, all of these theories, all of the objections lodged against the knowledge of God, amount to nothing in the end. All opposing positions are indefensible.

... No matter how intimidating, or how articulate, or how sophisticated they may be, the arguments raised up against Christianity are not capable of a reasoned defense ...

Of course, when we step back and think about it, we know this to be the case, if we are Christians. We know that Christianity, and Christianity alone, is true. We know this by the grace of God, not by our own wisdom. But we do know it. Any position, therefore, that stands opposed to Christianity is necessarily false. And a false position is false, in part, because it is unable to deal with the way things really and truly are. A false position or statement attempts to say something about the world that is simply not true or real. (128)
This should give the Christian a confidence-boosting shot in the arm and a gratitude-expanding surge in the heart. Christianity leaves its detractors without excuse and its believers without a philosophical rivals!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Learning from teachers of the past

One of the things I have come to appreciate over the past 4 or 5 years is the benefit of reading and studying material from Christians who lived hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Of the many benefits of tapping into this sanctified archive of wisdom, one that particularly stands out is mentioned by John Hannah in the quote below. A regular diet of teaching from bygone eras is one way to broaden one's perspective and remove some blind spots one has developed due to the period in history one lives in.


Is there any benefit in reading the Bible as it was understood by previous generation of Christians? Yes, certainly, because the Bible was written for them as well as us. God spoke to them through the Bible as he does to us today, and the spiritual gift of teaching was given to individuals then as it is now. Therefore when we read the biblical interpretations of previous generations, going all the way back to the earliest days of the church, we can often gain insight and perspectives that we might otherwise overlook because of the cultural biases of our own time. (Grudem, Wayne A., C. John Collins, and Thomas R. Schreiner. Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible's Origin, Reliability, and Meaning. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Print. 19)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Leon Morris on the wrath of God

"Modern men find difficulty with this aspect [wrath of God] of the Old Testament teaching, in part at least because they have so well learned that God is love. But it is important to notice that this was a truth known and valued by men of Old Testament times. They apparently did not find it insuperably difficult to combine the ideas that God loved them and and that He hated all evil and would punish it severely ...

But in view of the fact that we have both truths expressed, and expressed very strongly ... it seems better to say that divine love and the divine wrath are compatible aspects of the divine nature. There is a divine wrath, but if we may put it this way, it is always exercised with a certain tenderness. Even when he is angry with man's sin God loves man and is concerned with his well-being in the fullest sense. There is a divine love, but it is not a careless sentimentality indifferent to the moral integrity of the loved ones. Rather it is a love which is a purifying fire, blazing against everything that hinders the loved ones from being the very best that they can be." (Morris, Leon. The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965. Print. 175-176)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The purposes of God in suffering

36 Purposes of God in Our Suffering

Joni Eareckson Tada has given us many books on the subject of God’s tender care for His children in times of suffering. Joni strikes the chord of authenticity with us so well because suffering is the world she lives in 24/7, literally. My personal favorite is When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty, co-authored with Steve Estes, a pastor in Pennsylvania. The following list of God’s purposes in our suffering is from one of the appendices in that book.

Take some time to meditate on the wisdom of God as He works out His perfect will through our suffering. No wonder James, the brother of our Lord, commanded us to “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2)!
  1. Suffering is used to increase our awareness of the sustaining power of God to whom we owe our sustenance (Ps 68:19).
  2. God uses suffering to refine, perfect, strengthen, and keep us from falling (Ps 66:8-9; Heb 2:10).
  3. Suffering allows the life of Christ to be manifested in our mortal flesh (2 Cor 4:7-11).
  4. Suffering bankrupts us, making us dependent upon God (2 Cor 12:9).
  5. Suffering teaches us humility (2 Cor 12:7).
  6. Suffering imparts the mind of Christ (Phil 2:1-11).
  7. Suffering teaches us that God is more concerned about character than comfort (Rom 5:3-4; Heb 12:10-11).
  8. Suffering teaches us that the greatest good of the Christian life is not absence of pain, but Christlikeness (2 Cor 4:8-10; Rom 8:28-29).
  9. Suffering can be a chastisement from God for sin and rebellion (Ps 107:17).
  10. Obedience and self-control are from suffering (Heb 5:8; Ps 119:67; Rom 5:1-5; James 1:2-8; Phil 3:10).
  11. Voluntary suffering is one way to demonstrate the love of God (2 Cor 8:1-2, 9).
  12. Suffering is part of the struggle against sin (Heb 12:4-13).
  13. Suffering is part of the struggle against evil men (Ps 27:12; 37:14-15).
  14. Suffering is part of the struggle for the kingdom of God (2 Thess 1:5).
  15. Suffering is part of the struggle for the gospel (2 Tim 2:8-9).
  16. Suffering is part of the struggle against injustice (1 Pet 2:19).
  17. Suffering is part of the struggle for the name of Christ (Acts 5:41; 1 Pet 4:14).
  18. Suffering indicates how the righteous become sharers in Christ’s suffering (2 Cor 1:5; 1 Pet 4:12-13).
  19. Endurance of suffering is given as a cause for reward (2 Cor 4:17; 2 Tim 2:12).
  20. Suffering forces community and the administration of the gifts for the common good (Phil 4:12-15).
  21. Suffering binds Christians together into a common or joint purpose (Rev 1:9).
  22. Suffering produces discernment, knowledge, and teaches us God’s statutes (Ps 119:66-67, 71).
  23. Through suffering God is able to obtain our broken and contrite spirit which He desires (Ps 51:16-17).
  24. Suffering causes us to discipline our minds by making us focus our hope on the grace to be revealed at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:6, 13).
  25. God uses suffering to humble us so He can exalt us at the proper time (1 Pet 5:6-7).
  26. Suffering teaches us to number our days so we can present to God a heart of wisdom (Ps 90:7-12).
  27. Suffering is sometimes necessary to win the lost (2 Tim 2:8-10; 4:5-6).
  28. Suffering strengthens and allows us to comfort others who are weak (2 Cor 1:3-11).
  29. Suffering is small compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ (Phil 3:8).
  30. God desires truth in our innermost being and one way He does it is through suffering (Ps 51:6; 119:17).
  31. The equity for suffering will be found in the next life (Ps 58:10-11).
  32. Suffering is always coupled with a greater source of grace (2 Tim 1:7-8; 4:16-18).
  33. Suffering teaches us to give thanks in times of sorrow (1 Thess 5:17; 2 Cor 1:11).
  34. Suffering increases faith (Jer 29:11).
  35. Suffering allows God to manifest His care (Ps 56:8).
  36. Suffering stretches our hope (Job 13:14-15).
Out of His deep love for us God is more interested in making His children like Christ than He is in making us comfortable. The glory He receives from redeeming depraved sinners like us and remaking us into His image will be the song that fills the halls of heaven for all eternity (Rev 5:9-10). Since that will be the case in the future, let us pursue joy in the Lord here in the present.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Transformation begins with thinking, not with doing

After his exposition of the gospel in Romans 1-11, Paul begins to discuss the application of that gospel in chapter 12 by telling us to be transformed. But just how are we to be transformed? When we hear the word transformation, perhaps our first inclination is to think of the way we live, of doing the right things. We may tend to think of the Christian life as a series of observable do's and don'ts. Those things are indeed important, and Scripture has much to say about them. But the first thing on Paul's mind when he begins to think about the transformation of our Christian lives is the renewal of the mind. This means the that the way we think has much to do with the way we live. (Oliphint, K. Scott. The Battle Belongs to the Lord: The Power of Scripture for Defending Our Faith. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2003. Print. 92)

For many years I disregarded the life of the mind and its massive influence on how I lived as a Christian. As I look back, I find it somewhat disheartening that I could overlook so much Scriptural instruction that pointed to the importance of the mind for the Christian life.

The Christian walk is certainly more than an intellectual exercise, but it is not less than a pursuit which relies on our mind and the renewal and redemption of that part of our being.

Not only is a transformed mind essential for transformation, but it is the first step in the process according to the Apostle to the Gentiles.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Never has there been a marriage like this one!

     Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
    For the Lord our God
        the Almighty reigns.
    Let us rejoice and exult
        and give him the glory,
    for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
        and his Bride has made herself ready;
    it was granted her to clothe herself
        with fine linen, bright and pure”—
    for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

(Revelation 19:6-8 ESV)

This reference to"the marriage of the Lamb" in 19:7 points to the consummation of the new covenant that was inaugurated when Jesus died, rose, and poured out the Spirit. We can scarcely imagine the glory of that wedding day. Never has there been a more worthy bridegroom. Never has a man sacrificed more for his beloved. Never has a man gone to greater lengths, humbled himself more, endured more, or accomplished more in the great task of winning his bride.

Never has a Father more wealthy planned a bigger feast. Never has a more noble Son honored his Father in everything. Never has a man treated his bride-to-be more appropriately. Never has a more powerful pledge, like an engagement ring, been given than the pledge of the Holy Spirit given to his bride. Never has a more glorious residence been prepared as a dwelling place once the bridegroom finally takes his bride.

Great will be the rejoicing. Great will be the exultation. There will be no limit to the glory given to the Father through the Son on that great day.

Never has a bridegroom done more to qualify his beloved to be his bride. Never has a bride needed her bridegroom more.

Never has there been a wedding more significant than this one. Never has a prince with more authority taken a bride with less standing. Never has a bride has her prince die for her, rise from the dead for her, and give to her his own standing before the Father.

Never has a bridegroom loved his bride more. Never has a bride waited as long for her bridegroom. Never has a bride sung more songs to her beloved. Never has there been a wedding with more guests than this one will have. Never has a wedding taken place on a more momentous occasion-the end of the overlapping ages and the ushering in of the kingdom. Never has there been a marriage like this one.

(Hamilton Jr., James M. Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. Print. 351)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Calvin explains virute in the unregenerate

One of the mistakes that is commonly made when questioning the doctrine of total depravity is thinking that this doctrine purports that every human being is as wicked and sinful as they possibly could be. This not the case, clearly. John Calvin addresses this issue in Book II, Chapter 3, Section 3 of Institutes of the Christian Religion. He recognizes that not only are people not as wicked as they could be, but some unregenerate people pursue a life of virtue. As we see below, Calvin attributes this to grace:

In every age there have been some who, under the guidance of nature, were all their lives devoted to virtue. It is of no consequence, that many blots may be detected in their conduct; by the mere study of virtue, they evinced that there was somewhat of purity in their nature. The value which virtues of this kind have in the sight of God will be considered more fully when we treat of the merit of works. Meanwhile however, it will be proper to consider it in this place also, in so far as necessary for the exposition of the subject in hand. Such examples, then, seem to warn us against supposing that the nature of man is utterly vicious, since, under its guidance, some have not only excelled in illustrious deeds, but conducted themselves most honourably through the whole course of their lives. But we ought to consider, that, notwithstanding of the corruption of our nature, there is some room for divine grace, such grace as, without purifying it, may lay it under internal restraint.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Daniel Doriani on knowing the context

We are often reminded we must consider the context when reading Scripture. When thinking of locating a verse, passage, or book in its context, I often only consider its historical context. That is, what impact does the "culture, economy, geography, climate, agriculture, architecture, family life, morals, and social structure of the Bible's actors, authors, and readers" (13) have on the section under consideration. But Daniel Doriani, in his essay contribution to Understanding Scripture (Grudem, Wayne A., C. John Collins, and Thomas R. Schreiner. Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible's Origin, Reliability, and Meaning. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011. Print.) , emphasizes on oft overlooked aspect of considering context.

It is a truism that one must read the Bible in context, but the truism hides a distinction. "Context" can refer to the historical or the literary context. The literary context includes the words, sentences, and paragraphs preceding and following a passage. The literary context locates a passage within the larger purposes of a book. Readers should ask why a particular passage is here and not elsewhere., how it builds upon prior passages, and how it prepares for the next. (13)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review – Charles Spurgeon by Christian George

As a high school English teacher, one of the ideas my school has been working on is promoting biographies as an entertaining and educational genre for students. Oftentimes, however, it is a hard sell. To be honest, getting kids to focus on something that doesn't have a remote control or video-game controller is hard enough. Make the book a non-fiction work, even about someone they admire, and you don't get a lot of buy in. Having read Charles Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers by Christian George, it occurred to me that perhaps biographical fiction might be a better way to go. This Christian Focus published book presents Spurgeon's life in a way that makes use of many elements of fiction while it teaches the reader about one of Christianity's heroes of the faith. Perhaps this would be a solid 'middle-way' to encourage youth to read biographies.

The Real Spurgeon
Having never read a Spurgeon biography-that is a confession and I hope that does not disqualify me from having anything of value to say in Christian circles-I can only assume that there is historic accuracy in the events promoted in this book. With that assumption in mind, I found the events, peoples, and issues that the author focused on were interesting and inspiring. George weaves his biography through the ups and downs of this saint's life. Spurgeon is not presented as a gold-gilded brightly-haloed saint but rather appears as a real human with faults and foibles like the rest of us. In fact, the struggles of Spurgeon that the author walks us through are definitely one of the strengths of this book. Seeing Spurgeon in his coma-like state after a tragedy at a preaching event or the fear he faced preparing for his first sermon and the rest of his trials make this a compelling story that I think young people will connect with. One can relate to this preacher of preachers despite the esteem he is held in by most of North American Christendom. His relationships with his wife, friends, and acquaintances are also an enjoyable facet of this read. I think that the friendships, romances, and encounters are well-chosen and well-conveyed.

Truth or Fiction
There is clearly some creative license apparent in this book. And I think that is what will make this appropriate for youth. As mentioned earlier, straight biographies can be tough to sell to young people, but this book reads very much like a work of fiction. There is convincing characterization, particularly in the case of the protagonist Charles Spurgeon. We see him develop and grow and he is a likeable and intriguing individual. His fears are portrayed honestly, and his insecurities and doubts, as well as his strengths and courage, are all traits that young people will connect with. There are many conflicts both internal and external, which give rise to a plot that build suspense and takes this book beyond regurgitating facts to have the force of a good story. There are many edifying themes throughout the book, and Spurgeon's trust in God despite his shortcomings, and God's faithfulness in spite of Surgeon, will be one theme that resonates with young people.

Recommended Reading
Perhaps the best commendation I can give this book is that I will encourage my own kids to read it. One of my children ambitiously read a short biography of William Wilberforce; she struggled through it and I was proud she didn't give up. However, I don't think she got a lot out of it. I think a book like Charles Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers would be far more appropriate for her and one in which she will be edified in the reading. That being said, as an adult, I enjoyed reading the book. At times it brought tears to my eyes and at times it brought a smile to my face. And it has encouraged me to remove the haven't-read-a-Spurgeon-biography stigma that has plagued me for so long. Get your hands on this book and give it to a young person you know, but give it a quick read yourself before you hand it over.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Leon Morris on the Lamb of God

'The Lamb of God' is a way of referring to Jesus which has made a powerful appeal to Christian devotion through the centuries. The petition, 'O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us', occurs in many liturgies, while those who prefer extempore prayer often find the words 'Lamb of God' come easily to their lips. Christian art has found the symbolism congenial, and many are the pictures  and the stained glass windows which show forth the Lamb. There is something about the expression which does not require explanation before it can appeal to the depths of the heart. In the words themselves lurks a numinous quality. (Morris, Leon. The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955. Print. 129)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Review – Understanding Scripture

I have some favourite theologians. I confess. I am not a pulpit-sniffer or a scholar fan-boy. But there are some teachers and preachers whose teaching and preaching resonates with me. And as an intentional practice I try and get my hands on anything and everything these leaders and educators write or speak. If I find a particular man's ministry is used strongly by the Holy Spirit in my edification and sanctification, then I want to avail myself of that resource. Thus, when it came to my attention that two of those pastor-teacher-type authors were joint editing a book, along with a third editor C. John Collins, I decided I must read it. Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible's Origin, Reliability, and Meaning is a book that has two editors whose ministries have had a significant impact on my life. Wayne Grudem and Thomas R. Schreiner are two men whose works I try and access whenever I can. And in this Crossway published survey of biblical issues I have been, yet again, strengthened and stretched in my faith.

Comprehensive but Not Extensive

By definition an overview is a general review or summary of a subject. It is not a thorough and meticulous investigation or a complete elucidation. It can be comprehensive, but it shouldn't be extensive. As an introduction to important matters pertaining to Scripture, this book does an admirable job. The broad scope of its inquiry is easily demonstrated with a listing of its parts:
  1. Interpreting the Bible
  2. Reading the Bible
  3. The Canon of Scripture
  4. The Reliability of the Bible Manuscripts
  5. Archaeology and the Bible
  6. The Original Languages of the Bible
  7. Old Testament and New
As is obvious, this book covers a lot of ground, all of which is salient to people of the Word. Chapters by numerous esteemed pastors and scholars constitute each part. In light of the topics and the purpose of this book, the chapters are brief but they are so without being scant. This book makes for a great introduction to these Biblical subjects.

A Springboard for Further Study

For those uninitiated with the many issues this book presents, Grudem and friends offer an excellent starting point for understanding the concepts and the seriousness of what is at stake. The writers are knowledgeable and passionate about their topics and they deal with the subject matter in a way that should encourage further study. With the smorgasbord of topics available, every reader should find a morsel or dainty that elicits further consumption; this book offers only the appetizers with a feast waiting those inclined to eat. But this book is not simply for the novice.

A Refreshing Review

I have looked into most of these issues at one time or another, pursuing the questions and doubts I had to my satisfaction. And though I'm no expert, I was delighted to find several chapters that piqued my interest and generated a desire to seek more information. As an English high school teacher, I found Leland Ryken's chapter titled Reading the Bible as Literature superb and will definitely be follow that trail and see what else Ryken has to offer on the subject. Other chapters of note were those by J. I. Packer, John Hannah, and Daniel B. Wallace. This booked worked well for me as a review but also provided some stimulus for further investigations.

One for the Shelf

My house is quite full; seven of us and all our stuff. Shelf space, or any other kind of space for that matter, is quite limited. My wife reminds me that I need to be selective when choosing books. Hence, I look for books that I believe will be a solid resource for the household. Books of interest are those which I foresee reading again, or at least consulting again, or books which I think my children will find helpful. Understanding Scripture is just such a book. It is a book that I'm certain I will use as a reference in the future. And it is a book I will direct my children to for initiation into some of the issues that are sure to crop up in their lives as they live them out as men and women who rely on the Bible for the 'daily bread'. This volume will find its way on to my bookshelf, and I recommend it for yours.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Oliphint’s advice on apologetics is helpful for students and parents alike

In his helpful primer on apologetics called The Battle Belongs to the Lord: The Power of Scripture for Defending our Faith, K. Scott Oliphint discusses 2 Corinthians 10:5 where Paul writes about destroying arguments. It reads, "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV). These arguments, states Oliphint, are appeals to authority that adversaries of Christianity use to attack Christianity. These adversaries claimed an authority, perhaps based on their intellectual abilities, and tried to subdue believers. Paul saw the annihilation of these arguments as incredibly important. Oliphint similarly emphasizes that the tearing down of these lofty opinions is crucial,
Paul is pointing out, as well, that these arguments are not just verbal debates. They are arguments that, if believed, will have eternal, and eternally damaging, consequences. Although they carry no authority, they can cleverly lead people to reject the gospel itself. They are dangerous because they are so subtly subversive of the gospel. They are, as a matter of fact, arguments that are raised up against the very knowledge of God itself.
The history of much of the Western intellectual tradition is full of such arguments. This may be one of the reasons why many Christians have chosen to stay well away from that tradition. It can be intimidating and can make us feel intellectually inferior as Christians.
We should recognize two things, however. First, we should understand the seriousness of the arguments themselves. If they are raised up against the knowledge of God, then they can be destructive to any and all who adopt them. Second, we should begin to understand that Christianity does have answers to these arguments. Even if we are unfamiliar with the precise terminology and technicality of the arguments themselves, once we grasp the question that they are designed to answer, our understanding of Scripture can begin to supply the answer. (84-5)
I want to stress how critical these concepts are for young men and women who are entering post-secondary education, particularly those attending or planning to attend secular universities. Their faith will be bombarded with every manner of anti-Christian opinion and argument. And this intellectual blitzkrieg will be systematic and unceasing. I experienced this firsthand. Though I did not lose my faith in university, I left the institution with a bruised and battered confidence in my beliefs. That need not be your experience, or the experience of your children.

Dr. Oliphint is right on both counts; the arguments need to be taken seriously and perhaps more importantly, Christianity has solid, powerful, logical, and truthful answers to these arguments. I was ignorant of the danger that I would face when I entered university. I was not prepared. And it wasn't until after I left university that I came to realize that not only did my worldview have answers to these attacks, it actually had powerfully satisfying answers that demolished the arguments that I had allowed to beat me up.

Don't make the mistakes I made. If you are of the age where you are entering or are enrolled in an institute of higher learning, then you should begin to understand the arguments you are faced with and familiarize yourself with the Bible's response to and arsenal against such ideas. And if you are a parent with children on the road to a university, college, or training institute, begin to train your child for the battle he or she will face.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Leon Morris on Redemption

I have recently finished Leon Morris' powerful book on atonement titled The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross. Morris studies and evaluates the many-faceted approach to atonement that the apostles demarcate in the Bible. Obviously, one of the concepts he must deal with is that of redemption. After a thorough treatment of this atonement metaphor, Morris concludes the subject with a consideration of three aspects of redemption that were particularly in view in the apostles' writings:
  1. The state of sin out of which man is to be redeemed – "It is a basic tenet of biblical theology that man is completely unable to grapple with the position created by the fact of his sin, and the redemption passages must be interpreted in light of this context." (61)
  2. The price which is paid – "When the New Testament speaks of our redemption … it means that Christ has paid the price of our redemption. To the extent that the price paid must be adequate for the purchase in question this indicates … a substitution." (61)
  3. The resultant state of the believer – "In the Scripture we see the price paid, the curse borne, in order that those who are redeemed should be brought into the liberty which may paradoxically be called slavery to God. The whole point of this redemption is that sin may no longer have dominion; the redeemed are saved to do the will of their Master." (62)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dr. Hamilton on losing hands and a loving God

The following excerpt from Dr. Jim Hamilton's book, Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches, helped me tremendously when I was preparing this post a few nights back. Usually I create a post for my blog in the morning and post it the same day. Occasionally I get the opportunity to pre-write a post and schedule it ahead of time. Such was the case for this post.

And it just so happens that immediately before opening Hamilton's book to extract something edifying to post on the blog, my wife and I were discussing something that this post directly addresses. I was sharing with my wife (whining if you will) about some of the difficulties I was going through with my career change-from playing professional football to teaching at a high school-and articulating some of the resulting frustrations. My perspective lacked faith and was permeated with ingratitude.

And then I read this excerpt which was very challenging, and edifying, and convicting, and faith-engendering:
Do you ever look around your life and feel like God has dealt you a losing hand? If you're a student of the Bible, when you see what looks like a losing hand, you know that God is about to triumph in a way that will give him all the credit for the victory. Isn't that the kind of victory you want? So when everything in your life looks unimpressive, sure to lose, insignificant, trust Christ and watch for the glory of God to be demonstrated.
When you feel like a loser, when you feel like a failure, when you feel like you're incompetent, praise God! You're exactly the kind of person God uses. God uses people like us to defeat the great dragon.
This is precisely what happens when the child is caught up to God and to his throne in 12:5. In verse 4 the dragon is poised to devour the child. God looks like he has the short end of the stick. Satan is a dragon, and God has left this poor pregnant woman and her newborn baby to face the dragon alone. Suddenly victory is snatched from the dragon's jaws as the child is caught up to God and his throne. (249)
Revelation 12:1-5 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Book Review – From the Resurrection to His Return

D. A. Carson is an author who has a history writing books that are small in page count yet large in impact. His Exegetical Fallacies is an oft-recommended book that does not include more than 150 pages. Similarily, The Cross and Christian Ministry is another Carson classic with fewer pages than the aforementioned book. In the newly released From the Resurrection to His Return: Living Faithfully in the Last Days published by Christian Focus, Carson has provided another compact volume that should not be disregarded. Carson, research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a founding member of The Gospel Coalition, is a scholar with solid reputation and his latest book is further proof of his ability to communicate Scriptural truths to the Body of Christ. From the Resurrection to His Return is a helpful book that exposits 2 Timothy 3 thoroughly and practically in a manner in which the author's voice is apparent.

Despite its small size, this book provides a detailed account of the second epistle from Paul to Timothy. Carson works his way through letter, sometimes focusing on the entire letter, sometimes large sections, sometimes on smaller passages, and sometimes on individual words. This ability to present Scripture in small detail, such as when he writes "The crucial word that shows the flow of thought is the initial 'however'" (22), as well as having a penchant for delivering large ideas, such as when he divides the book he has written into 5 main sections, are some of the skills that Carson demonstrates in this volume that I have come to appreciate. The 5 major sections, corresponding with the 5 chapters in this book, are as follows: Living in the Last Days, Hold the Right Mentors in High Regard, Hold Few Illusions about the World, Hold On to the Bible, and Hold Out the Bible to Others. The chapter titles accurately indicate that this book focuses on both what the epistle actually says as well as how we should respond to it.

From the Resurrection to His Return: Living Faithfully in the Last Days is a very practical book. Despite the occurrence of the term "last days" in the title, this book is not a treatise on one particular eschatalogical view. Carson does not deal with the much argued specifics about how and when Christ will come. Rather, in light of Christ's return which is sure and imminent, Carson discusses how we should live. If Christ's return inevitable, and it is, and Scripture bids us to face this return expectantly, and it does, then the way we act in light of this impending event is crucial. Carson puts the somewhat intangible idea of the last days into our context of life in the here and now. These practical insights can help us choose our mentors and reject the world. They can inform us on the necessity of grasping the Word and at the same time sowing it to others. I found that Carson's practical and applicable instruction from 2 Timothy 3:1-4:8 to be the most helpful aspect of this work.

I have heard D. A. Carson preach on this passage of Scripture both in person and through various recordings. I, for one, enjoy his style and find his delivery edifying. I appreciated the fact that Carson's voice can be heard in the reading of this book. Whether the book came first and was used for preaching or this book was birthed from sermons delivered, I'm not sure. But I found that I could almost hear Carson's voice as I read certain phrases on even paragraphs. And since I enjoying Carson's preaching, it makes sense that I would enjoy the tone and style of this writing as well.

In From the Resurrection to His Return, Carson delivers a book that is both practical and thorough in its dealing with 2 Timothy 3:1-4:8 in a style that reflects the manner in which he preaches. This is a book that steers clear of controversy surrounding the "last days" by focusing on the Biblical meaning of that term and emphasizing the practical insights that Paul offers to Timothy in light of Christ's glorious return. It is a book that should not be ignored due to its size, but should be encountered as the compact yet powerful work that it is.



Monday, March 12, 2012

Oliphint on God’s immutability, anger, and condescension

If you read this blog with any frequency you will know that I think very highly of the book God With Us: Divine Condescension and the Attributes of God by K. Scott Oliphint. You can read my review of it here as well as subsequent posts here, here, here, and here. One of the many profundities presented in the book is how the author and his approach to divine condescension deals with occurrences in Scripture where the essential nature of God seems to be compromised. 

For instance, when the Bible says God gets angry, does this not indicate a change in God? Or as in the case of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac, when Scripture records God saying "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." (Genesis 22:12 ESV) is it really suggesting that God isn't omniscient and only realized the outcome of Abraham's test when it was completed? Clearly, we cannot espouse positions that undermine essential characteristics of God such as his omniscience and his immutability.

Oliphint provides the reader with an explanation of how we might formulate our theology in terms of the difficulties and how we might articulate those formations intelligently. Consider this following excerpt:
… when Scripture says that the Lord's anger was kindled, it really was kindled. Because God is personal, we should expect that he will react in different ways to different things that please and displease him. These ascriptions of God in Scripture are not meant to simply tell us more about ourselves, but rather are meant to show us more of who God is, especially as he interacts with his human creatures. They are meant to show us who God is in light of his gracious condescension, generally, and of the gospel, more specifically, as given progressively throughout covenant history.
    Does this mean that God is mutable and that he has given up his immutability? No more so than when we affirm that when Christ was angry (see, e.g., Mark 3:5; 10:14), he gave up his deity, or that his anger could be "real" only if his immutability were denied. On the contrary, as we have seen, we can truthfully predicate both aspects and properties of Christ; the communicatio means that both aspects of Christ's character can (and must) be affirmed. So also with God. He is both immutable and in his condescension takes on covenantal properties in order really and truly to relate himself to us. (191)
I found the way in which Oliphint discussed and exposited this issue of great benefit. It is the best explanation of this problematic issue that I, in my limited exposure, have interacted with. This explanation takes both the orthodox view of God's essential nature and the witness of Scripture with utmost seriousness, not allowing either to fall by the wayside. Oliphint goes on to say,
The penchant to shift the focus of Scripture's ascription of God's affections from himself to us in order to guard his essential deity, while admirable and understandable, does not do justice to the reality of God's real and gracious condescension since the beginning of creation. It fails to recognize that what God has done in Christ through his condescension he has been doing from the dawn of time. The condescension of the Son of God in becoming Jesus Christ points us back to his condescension elsewhere in Scripture. To undermine or in any way minimize that condescension is, to that extent, to miss the glory of the goodness and grace of God as he sovereignly acts to accomplish all of his purposes. (191-2)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

What is needed

“What is needed is something that cannot be explained in human terms. What is needed is something that is so striking and so signal that it will arrest the attention of the whole world. That is revival.

Now we of ourselves can never do anything like that. We can do a great deal, and we should do all we can. We can preach the truth, we can defend it, we can indulge in our apologetics, we can organize our campaigns, we can try to present a great front to the world. But you know, it does not impress the world. It leaves the world where it was. The need is for something which will be so overwhelming, so divine, so unusual that it will arrest the attention of the world . . . .

‘Authenticate thy word. Lord God, let it be known, let it be known beyond a doubt, that we are thy people. Shake us!’ I do not ask him to shake the building, but I ask him to shake us. I ask him to do something that is so amazing, so astounding, so divine, that the whole world shall be compelled to look on and say, ‘What is this?’ as they said on the day of Pentecost.”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival (Westchester, 1987), pages 183-185.

HT: Ray Ortlund

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Eschatology review

There is a helpful post at The Gospel Coalition blog that briefly reviews the major eschatalogical views: dispensational premillenialism, historic premillenialism, amillenialism, and postmillenialism.

The post begins by recognizing the commonalities in the systems which are as follows:
1. Jesus Christ will physically return to earth one day.
2. There will be a bodily resurrection of all people who have ever lived.
3. Satan will be defeated and constrained forever.
4. There will be a final judgment in which believers join Christ for eternity while nonbelievers are separated from God's presence.

The post continues with the major tenets of each system of which I will share the one to which I ascribe:

Historical premillenialism is the belief that Christ will return "before the millennium" in order to resurrect the saints (the "first resurrection"), establish his rule from Jerusalem over the rebellious nations (the battle of Armageddon), and usher in a thousand year period of material peace and prosperity; at the end of this period the nations (still in unresurrected, natural bodies) will rebel and make war against Christ and the resurrected saints (the battle of Gog and Magog), who will be saved by fire from heaven, followed by the second resurrection---now of unbelievers---and the final judgment
The following are features of historic premillennialism:
  • The New Testament era Church is the initial phase in Christ's kingdom, as prophesied by the Old Testament prophets.
  • The New Testament Church may win occasional victories in history, but ultimately she will fail in her mission, lose influence, and become corrupted as worldwide evil increases toward the end of the Church Age.
  • The Church will pass through a future, worldwide, unprecedented time of travail. This era is known as the Great Tribulation, which will punctuate the end of contemporary history.
  • Christ will return at the end of the Tribulation to rapture the Church, resurrect deceased saints and conduct the judgment of the righteous in the "twinkling of an eye."
  • Christ will then descend to the earth with His glorified saints, fight the battle of Armageddon, bind Satan, and establish a worldwide, political kingdom, which will be personally administered by Him for 1,000 years from Jerusalem.
  • At the end of the millennial reign, Satan will be loosed and a massive rebellion against the kingdom and a fierce assault against Christ and His saints will occur.
  • God will intervene with fiery judgment to rescue Christ and the saints. The resurrection and the judgment of the wicked will occur and the eternal order will begin. (pgs 199-200)
Well-known proponents include the late theologian George Eldon Ladd, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and the early church fathers (e.g., Ireneaus, Polycarp, Justin Martyr).

The entire post is well worth reading!

Friday, March 9, 2012

John Calvin on human reason

We must now analyze what human reason can discern with regards to God's Kingdom and to spiritual insight ... Human reason, therefore, neither approaches, nor strives toward, nor even takes a straight aim at, this truth: to understand who the true God is or what sort of God he wishes to be towards us. (Institutes 2.2.18)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

George Smeaton: a deepest possible humiliation becomes our very boast

The apostles justly regarded the crucifixion as the deepest possible humiliation. It was the most ignominious of punishments, inflicted only on slaves and the lowest of the people; and if free men were at any time subjected to crucifixion for great crimes, such as robbery, high treason, or sedition, the sentence could not be executed till they were put into the category of slaves by degradation. Their liberty was taken from them by servile stripes and scourging, as was done to Christ. However that crisis in Christ's history perplexed and saddened the apostles for a time, they no sooner discerned the deep underlying truth of the symbol than they triumphed and gloried in the deep abasement to which the Lord of glory had descended for them, enduring the cross and despising the shame. Their symbol was the cross; their boast was the cross: they could not live without it; they could not die without it. They set forth, wherever they went, that the types of the law had received their fulfillment in the cross, and that the Messiah had died in such a way that every one must necessarily perceive that the curse of the law was fulfilled upon Him in our room and stead.

(Smeaton, George. The Apostles' Doctrine of the Atonement. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1991. Print. 15-6)

I think most of us can conceive how minor trials and largely insignificant difficulties could be redeemed. You only need to look to the "silver lining" in the clouds, "keep your chin up", with a "stiff upper lip", and  you'll see "the sun will come out tomorrow". These cliches are evidence of humanities ability to cope with bumps in the road of life.

But what if we're not talking about "bumps in the road", but rather craters engulfing not only the road but all surrounding level ground. Keeping you chin up is not the answer when life throws out it "deepest humiliation" at you. When the greatest hopes and dreams you entertain are crushed under the weight of tribulations, you need more than to look to a silver lining.

Consider the apostles, whose great hopes and aspirations were killed alongside their Messiah as he was crucified on a cross. Consider that their greatest grief would become their great rallying cry and their very reason for living. Cliches cannot produce that. Only God can. Only a sin-conquering, death-defeating Saviour can effect that change.

The cross became their boast, despite it originally being their bane.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jim Hamilton on sovereignty, sealing and suffering

    After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
    12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
    12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
    12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
    12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
    12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,
    12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
    12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
    12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
    12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
    12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,
    12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
    12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.
(Revelation 7:1-8 ESV)


Pastor and theologian Jim Hamilton discusses the above text in his recently published book Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches (Hamilton Jr., James M. Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. Print). For Hamilton, the sealing of the saints speaks to God's sovereign control throughout the universe, particularly in regards to the suffering of the saints. He writes,
There are important lessons for us here: God is sovereign over the harmful forces in the world. The divine passive is a way to state that God has ultimate control over something while at the same time distancing God from it. This teaches us that the harmful things that happen do not surprise God. Satan has not tricked God. The world is not spinning out of God's control. God is in absolute control of everything that happens. Some things happen because he has given ability to an agent he has appointed to accomplish his purpose. God's purpose will be accomplished, even if humans and demons act wickedly (see 17:17).
In addition to the fact that God is sovereign over everything, even harmful things, we see in this passage that God actively protects his people. God keeps his own. Not one of them will be lost. The sealing in view here probably does not guarantee that the servants of God who are sealed will have no pain, but 9:4 indicates that those who are sealed are spared the pains of judgment. The sealing in view ensures the preservation of the servants of God in the faith. God seals them in the sense that he keeps convincing them that he is trustworthy. He keeps compelling them to trust him. He makes sure they will always have compelling evidence to believe what he has said.
There is comfort here for us, isn't there? You can be confident that no matter how bad it gets, you will not suffer the smallest bit more than God allows you to suffer. God will not allow the suffering to go farther than you can bear. You can also be confident that if God is in control, the suffering is not meaningless. In addition, you can be confident that God will never let you go (189).

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Instead of our death there is His: Leon Morris on ransom

"There is no need to water down the language of the biblical writers, to reduce their colourful metaphors to a uniform drabness. They did not intend ransom to be taken as a full and sufficient statement of what the atonement was and did, but as far as it goes it gives a picture of one aspect of that great work. It is a metaphor which involves the payment of a price which is plainly stated in several places and understood in others to be the death of Christ. From the very nature of the imagery this involves a substitutionary idea; instead of our death there is His, instead of our slavery there is His blood. All of our verbal juggling cannot remove this from the New Testament." ((Morris, Leon. The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965. Print.53)

One of the issues many of the theologians of the atonement continually return to is the desire to incorporate and defend all of the figurative depictions of Christ's work. They decry the depreciation of any of the atonement metaphors and it seems that the concepts most under attack are those which place mankind in the worst light. We are those in need of ransom and reconciliation and representation. Why lessen the magnitude of Christ's great work by minimizing or ignoring certain aspects of the atonement? It seems to me that we should be trying to expound this multifaceted miraculous mediation! What can we expect but a more glorious apprehension of His grace if we pursue a full and robust perspective of atonement that entails all of the Bible's explanations of it?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Oliphint on offensive and defensive apologetics

Scott Oliphint, apologist and professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, discusses a passage from 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 which reads "For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ESV)." In the pursuant excerpt from his book entitled The Battle Belongs to the Lord, Oliphint delineates the dual nature of apologetics and differentiates offensive apologetics from a more defensive approach.

We demolish arguments. That is one of the things that characterizes the ministry of the apostle Paul ... it is one of the things that must characterize our own lives and ministries as well. We all know that there is, and always will be, hostility to the Christian faith. We also know that anything that opposes Christianity is, by that very fact, false. We know this, not because we are smarter than others, but because of what God's grace has done in our lives.
We should not in this passage the strong offensive language that Paul uses. It is one thing to defend the faith against attacks. If we use the analogy of a sporting contest, the team on defense is trying to stop the other teram from advancing. That is a significant and crucial part of apologetics. We pray and work as God uses us to stop the advance of the enemy, Satan himself. But we must also be offensive. We must also take up our weapons and march against the enemy. Of course, in being offensive we are also being defensive. But the offensive "team" is more active than the defensive team. The offensive team is determined to advance.
One example of this might help to illustrate it. Christians are often told that the problem of evil shows that their faith is not rational. It is often argued, in other words, that the existence of a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God is simply inconsistent with the abundance of evil we have in the world. We are told, then, that we should give up on our belief in such a God.
Answers to this challenge can either be more offensive or more defensive. A more defensive answer would try to show that the argument itself carries little weight. It would set the argument out in such a way that it would appear itself to have serious problems. In that way, it would stop the advance of the argument. A more offensive approach, however, would respond to the problem, not just the argument, to help the challenger begin to think about the problem in a different, Christian way. Offensive apologetics, then, offers the Christian way of thinking and doing as part of its approach.

(Oliphint, K. Scott. The Battle Belongs to the Lord: The Power of Scripture for Defending Our Faith. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2003. Print. 78-9)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Very proud father!

My eldest daughter participated in the Ringette Under 14 Ontario Provincial Championships this past week. Her team ended up losing in the gold medal game to a strong team from Ottawa. I was very proud of how she played this weekend and all season long. Way to go Ena!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

D. A. Carson and Leon Morris on the wrath of God

Leon Morris: Those who object to the conception of the wrath of God should realize what is meant is not some irrational passion bursting forth uncontrollably, but a burning zeal for the right coupled with a perfect hatred for everything that is evil. It may be that wrath is not a perfect word to describe such an attitude, but no better has been suggested, and we must refuse to accept alternatives which do not give expression to the truth in question. Perhaps there is a certain anthropomorphism involved in the use of the term wrath, but it must not be forgotten that 'A false anthropomorphism is to be laid to the charge not of those who maintain that there is, in the Biblical sense of the word,such a thing as the wrath of God. Rather it is to be laid to the charge of those who encourage the idea that God is like an easy, good-natured, benevolent man.' We sometime find among men an affection which is untempered by a sterner side, and this we call not love but sentimentality. It is not such that the Bible thinks of when it speaks of the love of God, but rather a love that is so jealous for the good of the loved one that it blazes out in fiery wrath against everything that is evil. (Morris, Leon. The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965. Print. 209)

D. A. Carson:

HT: Grace for Sinners

Friday, March 2, 2012

A Most Memorable Change

"It deserves notice that the views of the apostles, after the atonement had become an accomplished fact, underwent the most memorable change. Long had they repelled the thought of Christ's death, which they clearly enough perceived must be the death-blow of all their Jewish dreams and theories. But when it actually arrived, and they looked back on the completed fact, approved and accepted at His resurrection, they were ushered into a new world of thought and feeling. Theirs was a transition from a Jewish to a Christian experience; that is, to one where the atonement was a completed transaction with saving efficacy. They passed over from prophecy to fulfillment, from promise to fact, from anticipation to reality, from the Old Testament Church into that of the New Testament, from the knowledge of Christ after the flesh to a new mode of knowledge (2 Cor. v. 16)."

(Smeaton, George. The Apostles' Doctrine of the Atonement. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1991. Print. 2)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Redemption is inextricably linked to the cross

The older writers spoke of a coming redemption, but without any precise idea of how God's Messiah would bring it about. The New Testament writers had in view a redemption purchased at the price of the precious blood ... As we read, for example, the glowing words of St. Paul it is impossible not to be struck by the fact that he sees everything in the light of the cross which for him has made all things new ... In light of Paul's statements elsewhere about the cross, and about redemption, we must surely hold here, too, he sees redemption only in light of the cross ... To speak of a future redemption is no to imply that there awaits us a redemption which has no relationship to that accomplished at Calvary, being simply a deliverance from some outward enemy n the typical Jewish style. On the contrary, the future redemption is the consummation, the outworking of the redemption which was accomplished once for all by the death of the Redeemer.

(Morris, Leon. The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965. Print. 48)