Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lessons in Grammar

From Murray's Redemption: Accomplished and Applied

"In the atonement something was accomplished once for all, without any participation or contribution on our part. A work was perfected which antedates any and every recognition and response on the part of those who are its beneficiaries. Any curtailing of this fact in the interest of what is supposed to be a more ethical interpretation or in the interest of interpreting the atonement in terms of the ethical effects it is calculated to produce in us is to eviscerate the truth of the atonement. The atonement is objective to us, performed independently of us , and the subjective effects that accrue from it presuppose its accomplishment. The subjective effects exerted in our understanding and will can follow only as we recognize by faith the meaning of the objective fact." (emphasis mine)

Our friends at can help us with a key definition from above:

e·vis·cer·ate [v. ih-vis-uh-reyt; adj. ih-vis-er-it, -uh-reyt]
verb (used with object), e·vis·cer·at·ed, e·vis·cer·at·ing.
1. to remove the entrails from; disembowel: to eviscerate a chicken.
2. to deprive of vital or essential parts: The censors eviscerated the book to make it inoffensive to the leaders of the party.
3. Surgery . to remove the contents of (a body organ).

I chose to show the definition in its entirety because I think it's important to recognize what other context's this word could be used in. Needless to say it is a strong word choice. 
Anytime we make begin to make Christ's atonement subjective, anytime we give ourselves credit for making the choice for Christ, anytime we do anything to rob Christ of the glory he deserves in redeeming us, we disembowel his atoning work. How's that for a mental picture.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What you think of Christ is everything

From Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon: The Fellowship of the Gospel and The Supremacy of Christ (Preaching the Word) by R. Kent Hughes:

What you think of Christ, your conception of him, is everything.

If you believe in Jesus Christ, that he is eternal, without beginning and without end, that he always was continuing; if you believe that he is Creator of everything, every cosmic speck across trillions of light-years of trackless space, the Creator of the textures and shapes and colors that daily dazzle your eyes;

if you believe that he is the sustainer of all creation, the force that is presently holding the atoms of your body, your town, this universe together, and that without him all would dissolve;

if you believe that he is the mystery, the incarnate reconciler who will one day reconcile the universe and redeem humanity to himself;

if you believe that he is the lover of your soul, who loves you with a love bounded only by his infinitude;

then, despite the fact that life will be full of trouble, nothing much will go wrong.

Your vision of Christ will quicken and shape your life. What you believe about Christ makes all the difference in the world now and in eternity. (line breaks mine)

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Court Room

Romans 3:23-26:

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

From Murray's Redemption: Accomplished and Applied:

Here not only are redemption and propitiation collocated but there is a combination of concepts bearing upon the intent and effect of Christ's work, and this shows how closely interrelated these various concepts are. This passage exemplifies and confirms what other considerations establish, namely, that redemption from the guilt of sin must be construed in juridicial terms analogous to those which must be applied to expiation, propitiation, and reconciliation. 

The atonement is one of those topics that make people uncomfortable when we get down to the nitty gritty. Some parts are more palatable then others; we like them better than the others. But Murray argues above that the different parts are so closely interwoven that we cannot separate them. They must be looked at altogether  to see the glory of Christ's work on the cross. Great teaching so far, really enjoying the book!

Thursday, February 20, 2014


How's this for counter cultural?

The more we emphasize the inflexible demands of justice and holiness the more marvellous become the love of God and its provisions.
John Murray

This quote was in the context of the necessity for the atonement. As a person still in their 20's this quote strikes me as one that would offend a lot Christian young people today. God's love is paramount, for above any other attribute they'd say. Talk about holiness and justice and you would risk being labelled a legalist! God's love is clung to while all other attributes, like holiness and justice (righteousness) are left behind. But what Murray points to here is that God's love is truly appreciated when viewed alongside His holiness and justice. These attributes show just how undeserving His love is to sinners like us. Abandon these other attributes and His love begins to lose it meaning.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Review - What's Your Worldview?

James N. Anderson has written a helpful and informative book on worldviews called What's Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life's Big Questions. This book would likely be found in the apologetics section of a bookstore or library, but it would be significantly different than most, if not all, books found there. Though what makes it different is definitely part of the appeal of this book, it also provides the reader with a valuable resource for studying worldviews, for sharing one's faith, and for scrutinizing one's own beliefs.

Since much of the blog and Twitter chatter involves the uniqueness of this book, we'll start with what it is that makes What's Your Worldview? special in the genre of apologetic books. Anderson immediately draws the reader's attention to this book's unusual feature: "Have you ever read one of the Choose Your Own Adventure(CYOA) books?" This is the first line of the book. And with this sentence the reader is introduced to the unique characteristic that is receiving so much attention. I'll not go into details about CYOA books as many are familiar with them. If you're not, a search on Wikipedia will give you the gist of how they work. The fact that this book on apologetics works like a CYOA book is what makes it unlike anything else out there. This format helps the reader find out their own worldview by presenting a series of questions. The answer to each question determines the destination (worldview) the reader arrives at. This was surprisingly fun and intriguing to experiment with. It added some suspense to the reading experience. This unique structure definitely adds to the attractiveness of the book. Particularly, I think unbelievers would find this a very comfortable feature.

That is one reason why I suggest this book would also be a valuable tool in sharing your faith. I could easily see myself handing this to an unbelieving friend and asking them to see where they land when it comes to their own beliefs. And I think that process would encourage valuable discussions. What's Your Worldview? is a non-threatening way to engage those who don't share your beliefs and give them an opportunity to hear about Christianity's perspective on life. Anderson's work is not only a resource for sharing your faith, but it is also a resource for studying worldviews in general.

The final destination for all readers will be one of 21 different worldviews which will be determined by how the reader answers a series of questions. The destination worldviews are 1-2 page summaries which are in and of themselves a very informative and helpful part of this book. This book will be a good reference to revisit when there are questions about different religions, philosophies, and outlooks on life. The worldview summaries that are represented in the book are as follows: Atheistic Dualism, Atheistic Idealism, Christianity, Deism, Finite Godism, Islam, Judaism, Materialism, Monism, Mysticism, Nihilism, Non-Mainstream Monotheism, Panentheism, Pantheism, Pelagianism, Platonism, and Pluralism. It must be obvious that  a book that includes concise, readable summaries on all these belief systems would be of significant value. And one of the many worldviews that the reader will come to understand is their own.

For the Christian reader, this book will help confirm whether or not what they believe actually lines up with historic Christianity. Or, it will clarify where one departs from the Christian perspective into another system of beliefs. Thus, it is a diagnostic for those who profess themselves as Christ-followers. Again, it seems to me that the value of this function of the book is evident.

What's Your Worldview? is a fun and edifying book to read. It's Choose Your Own Adventure structure, unique in the realm of apologetical books, is the main reason why it is so fun to read. It provides more than entertainment as a tool for evangelism, a resource for study of worldviews, and a diagnostic of one's own beliefs. This is a book worth owning, reading, and re-reading

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Aiming to be a Christian

O wretched idol, myself! When shall I see thee wholly decourted, and Christ wholly put in thy room? O, if Christ, Christ, had the full place and room of myself, that all my aims, purposes, thoughts, and desires, would coast and land upon Christ, and not upon myself! And yet, howbeit we cannot attain this denial of me and mine that we can say I am not myself, myself is not myself, mine own is no longer mine own; yet our aiming at this in all we do shall be accepted; for, alas, I think I shall die but minting and aiming to be a Christian.

Samuel Rutherford - The Loveliness of Christ

Monday, February 10, 2014

Indicatives and Imperatives in Colossians

In the letter to the Colossians, Paul delivers perhaps the clearest separation of indicatives and imperatives. Though these lists are not exhaustive, I compiled 28 indicative statements from chapter 1 to match the 28 imperative statements in the rest of the letter that Douglas Moo lists in his Pillar New Testament Commentary.

1. God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (1:3)
2. Jesus is Lord and Christ (1:3)
3. We have hope laid up for in heaven (1:5)
4. The gospel is the grace of God in truth (1:5-7)
5. God is gloriously mighty (1:11)
6. The Father has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light (1:12)
7. The Father has delivered us from the domain of darkness (1:13)
8. The Father has transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son (1:13)
9. We have redemption in the Son(1:14)
10. We have forgiveness of sins (1:14)
11. The Son is the image of the invisible God (1:15)
12. The Son is the firstborn of all creation (1:15)
13. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth (1:16)
14. All things were created through the Son (1:16)
15. All things were created for the Son (1:16)
16. The Son is before all things (1:17)
17. In the Son all things hold together (1:17)
18. The Son is the head of the body, the church (1:18)
19. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead (1:18)
20. The Son will be preeminent in all things (1:18)
21. In the Son all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (1:19)
22. All things will be reconciled to the Son through his blood (1:20)
23. You were once alienated and hostile towards God (1:21)
24. The Son has now reconciled you in his body of flesh by his death (1:22)
25. The Son reconciled you to present you holy and blameless and above (1:22)
26. The Son reconciled you to present you  before the Father (1:22)
27. The Son is the mystery hidden for ages but is now revealed to his saints (1:26-27)
28. God chose to make known to you how great are the riches of the glory of Christ (1:27)

1. See to it (2:8)
2. Do not let anyone judge you (2:16)
3. Do not let anyone . . . disqualify you (2:18)
4. Set your hearts on things above (3:1)
5. Set your minds on things above” (3:2)
6. Put to death (3:5)
7. You must . . . rid yourselves (3:8)
8. Do not lie to each other (319)
9. Clothe yourselves (3:12)
10. Bear with each other (3:13)
11. Forgive one another (3:13)
12. Forgive (3:13)
13. Put on love (3:14)
14. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts (3:15)
15. Be thankful (3:15)
16. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly (3:16)
17. Do it all (3:17)
18. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husband (3:18)
19. Husbands, love your wives (3:19)
20. Children, obey your parents (3:20)
21. Fathers, do not embitter your children (3:21)
22. Slaves, obey your earthly masters (3:22)
23. Work at it with all your heart (3:23)
24. Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair (4:1)
25. Devote yourselves to prayer (4:2)
26. Pray for us, too (4:3)
27. Be wise (4:5)
28. Let your conversation be always full of grace (4:6)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Contending and Contextualizing

I have just finished reading Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church by Matt Chandler, Eric Geiger, and Josh Patterson. I found this to be a very helpful and engaging book discussing the ministry and mission of the church. It was a refresher in gospel-focus and cross-emphasis. It was well worth the time and effort spent reading it.

One of the topics it covered which I found particularly informative and edifying pertained o the tension between contending for the message and contextualizing the mission. The authors do an excellent job of presenting this tension noting that "churches don’t minister to people in general. Instead, they reach particular people with particular values, idols, aspirations, dreams, gifts, strongholds, and sins." Conversely, focusing too much on the context is fraught with problems: "Sadly, the medium becomes louder than the message. And while the medium might impress, only the message can transform."

Creature of the Word reminds us that there are two sides to this dilemma, that is, "[w]e can contend for the purity of the gospel of Jesus but lose the very opportunity to clearly present this message if we fail to speak and contend for it in a way that is meaningful to the culture at hand" and "there is need to both contend for the message and contextualize the mission."

Their means to achieving balance is not new, but it is often ignored: "The balance of contending and contextualizing is the tension a faithful leader must consistently consider. Fear will lead toward under-contextualizing and over-contending. Foolishness will lead to over-contextualizing and under-contending. The fear of the Lord produces godly wisdom that will lead to a healthy balance of contending and contextualization."

To find balance they return their center, the central focus of their book and the prescribed focus for every church: the Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the main things I have appreciated about Matt Chandler's ministry and the work of The Village Church is their willingness to live in this tension between message and ministry. It must be hard work. As they faithfully hold on to both of these ideas it must, at time, feel like they will be torn asunder. But that is what churches and ministers are called to do.