Thursday, December 24, 2009

God's Greatest Gift (John 1:14)

Tonight I was supposed to preach at tonight's Christmas Eve Service at Christ's Covenant Church. Because the service has been cancelled due to bad weather, I am posting it here. Merry Christmas to you all.

God’s Greatest Gift
John 1:14
Matthew S. Harmon
Christ’s Covenant Church
Christmas Eve 2009


Growing up as a kid Christmas Eve was probably my favorite day of the year. That’s because our family would open our gifts on Christmas Eve after we went to church. Because of that I often found it difficult to focus during the service as my thoughts wandered to what gifts were awaiting me when I got home. Would this finally be the year I get that remote control airplane? (It never happened). Maybe that’s you right now. Perhaps you even have a specific gift in mind that you hope is waiting for you under the tree.

No matter what that gift may be, it pales in comparison to the many gifts that God has given to us. Tonight we are going to look at the greatest of those gifts, and we find that gift described in John 1:14.

In words that are probably familiar to us, John writes “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Tonight we are going to focus on the phrase “dwelt among us.”

Here in this simple phrase we have mysteries so great that the angels desperately long to understand. In a nutshell, the greatest gift that God gives us is himself. But in order for us to understand the magnitude of what John is saying here, we need to step back and look at the larger story of the Bible.


When God created Adam and Eve, he placed them in Garden of Eden. He set aside the garden as the place on earth where he would be with Adam and Eve in a special sense. Genesis 3 even implies that it was customary for God to walk in the Garden with Adam and Eve. Imagine that for a minute: God himself walking with Adam and Eve! Seeing God face to face in all his beauty and glory was a regular thing for them.

All of that changed when they rebelled against God by listening to the serpent. It didn’t take long for Adam and Eve to realize that they had made a disastrous mistake. Rather than feeling a sense of power and wisdom they experienced alienation—alienation from each other and even more importantly alienation from God. Instead of running TO God when the LORD came for his daily stroll through the Garden, they ran FROM him to hide from his presence.

When God finally confronts Adam and Eve about their sin, something very interesting happens. As the final aspect of his judgment on their sin, God banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden. Instead of being in the very presence of God they were exiled from God and sent away to live at a distance from God himself. God even placed cherubim, angelic beings, to prevent Adam and Eve from reentering the Garden. Because God is holy he could not allow sinful human beings into his presence.

From that point forward humanity remained at a distance from God. Occasionally God would appear to various individuals such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. But when God redeemed the nation of Israel from their slavery in Egypt, he made a covenant with them. As part of that covenant God instructed Moses to build a tabernacle. The tabernacle was a portable tent that the Israelites would set up to meet with God. When they set the tent up, the Israelites surrounded it with a makeshift fence that enclosed an area that was 150 feet long by 75 feet wide. The tabernacle itself was 45 feet long, 15 feet wide and 15 feet high. Inside the tent were two distinct sections. The first was called the Holy Place, where only the priests could enter and perform their priestly duties. But at the back of the tabernacle was a second section separated by a thick veil. This section was called the Holy of Holies or the Most Holy Place. Inside was the ark of the covenant, and it was here that God descended in the form of a cloud to meet with his people. But the catch was that only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and only on one day a year—the Day of Atonement. Even then he had to go through elaborate washing rituals and sacrifices to be able to enter into the presence of God.

So on the one hand it is great that God dwells among his people, but this is a far cry from the way it was when Adam and Eve were in the Garden. They were able to walk with God and see him face to face. Now only one person—the high priest—could be in the very presence of God, and that only once a year! In fact, the average Israelite could not even enter the Holy Place; the closest he could get to the presence of God was in the courtyard outside of the tabernacle itself. The most he could hope for would be to see the cloud of God’s presence descend into the tabernacle from a sizable distance. We are a long way from the Garden at this point.

Hundreds of years later King Solomon built a temple in Jerusalem as a more permanent place where God dwelt with his people. The structure was similar to the tabernacle only on a grander scale. It had the Holy Place that was covered in gold throughout, measuring 60 feet long by 30 feet wide by 45 feet high. Behind that was the Holy of Holies, which was a 30 foot cube where the ark of the covenant was placed between two golden cherubim. Just as with the tabernacle, only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. So again, although the temple was a magnificent building, God’s presence remained accessible only to the high priest and that only once a year.

Eventually Solomon’s temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. when the Jews are taken off into exile. Although they return 70 years later and rebuild a temple, it was a pale shadow of Solomon’s temple. Indeed, those who had seen Solomon’s temple and then were present when the foundation for the new temple was laid wept because it fell so far short of what they had remembered. However, by the time that Jesus was born some 500 years later, the temple had once again become an awe-inspiring structure, even surpassing the grandeur of Solomon’s day. But there was one all-important difference—God’s presence never filled the temple! For hundreds of years God’s presence had remained absent from the temple.


With all of that background in place we can now look again at John 1:14 with fresh eyes. When John says that the Word, whom he earlier indicated was God himself, dwelled among us, he uses a very specific word. A literal translation would be “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” Just as God dwelled among his people in the tabernacle and the temple in the Old Testament, now he has done something far greater. He has taken up residence among us by taking on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ to live among sinful humanity.

Think about it. In the Old Testament only one person once a year could come into the presence of God, and then only after elaborate washing rituals and sacrifices. But now God takes on flesh and people could walk right up to him and touch him, talk to him, interact with him face-to-face! And yet the vast majority of people who encountered Jesus during his earthly life had no idea they were encountering God with us.

At this point you may be thinking, “That’s great for them, but Jesus is no longer walking the earth. How is God with us now that Jesus is gone?” Would you believe that there is something even better than Jesus dwelling WITH his people?


Listen to how Jesus comforts his disciples about his departure from them in John 14:16-17—
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you
forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it
neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be
in you.

Not only will the Holy Spirit dwell WITH his people; he will dwell IN them! Think about it. In the Old Testament only one person once a year could come into the presence of God, and then only after elaborate washing rituals and sacrifices. Then the Word became flesh and dwelled AMONG us. But Jesus says that after he departs to be with the Father he will send the Holy Spirit to be IN us. We have come a long way from the Garden of Eden!

But how is it possible that a perfectly holy God can dwell IN people who are by nature rebellious sinners? That is where the cross comes in. The Word becoming flesh by itself was not enough to reconcile us to God; instead it was necessary for the Word who had become flesh to live the life of perfect obedience that God demands of us and die a shameful death on the cross as the penalty for our sinful rebellion. Just as it was necessary for the high priest to offer sacrifices for sins to enter the presence of God, Jesus became our great high priest. And instead of offering the blood of bulls and goats, which could never actually take away sin, Jesus offered his own blood as the spotless Lamb of God. Through his death God opened the way for us to enter into his presence and for his presence to enter into us.


We began tonight talking about gifts. God’s gift of himself to us is far better than anything waiting for you under that Christmas tree. But this gift is something that has to be received. God does not dwell in everyone. For those who remain lost in their sinful rebellion are still in exile, separated from God and under his judgment. So how do we know whether or not God dwells in us? Listen to what John says in his first letter:

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

When John speaks of confessing that Jesus is the Son of God, he does not mean simple intellectual agreement or saying certain words. Instead, he means trusting completely in who Jesus is and what he has done for our acceptance before a holy God. That kind of trust means turning away from our sin and treasuring Christ above all else in our lives.

Some of you here tonight have never trusted in Jesus Christ. Just like Adam and Eve you are cut off from God’s presence and lost in your sin. But there is no need to remain there. Tonight God offers you the greatest gift imaginable: himself. He offers it to you freely even though it cost the life of his very own Son to do so. He invites you right now to turn away from your sinful rebellion and surrender to him by faith in his Son Jesus Christ. There is no greater gift you could receive this Christmas than God forgiving you of the sin that separates you from him and coming to dwell inside of you by his Holy Spirit.

For those of us who have already received God’s greatest gift by trusting in the person and work of Jesus Christ, God is calling us to rediscover the wonder of that gift. That God would take up residence in our hearts is one of the great wonders imaginable. The God who spoke everything, including us, into existence has chosen to make us the place on earth where he dwells. This Christmas, let’s treasure God’s greatest gift—the gift of himself to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Let’s pray …

Monday, October 19, 2009

Free Trial of Sage Journals

Until October 31, Sage Journals is offering a free trial that allows you access to all of their journals, including free downloads of pdf copies of the articles since 1999. This is relevant to you because their journals include: Journal for the Study of the New Testament (JSNT), Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (JSOT), Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha, and Expository Times.

You can sign up for your free trial here.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Google Books - Use It

I am guessing that at least some of you are already familiar with this tool, but some may not be: Google books. This tools allows you to search for and view pages from an astonishing number of books. Ihave found this especially helpful as I work on revisions for my dissertation. I come across a book that is referenced and I want to look at it, but my school's library does not have a copy. I could use Interlibrary Loan and wait for several days for the book to arrive. Or, I can search for it in Google Books, find the relevant section, and get what I need in a matter of seconds.

The only downside is that for copyright reasons some pages/sections of some books are omitted. So sometimes the section I want is not available. But in most cases it is. An additional advantage is that if I know that a book is available on Google books I do not need to take the hard copy with me when I travel, thus lightening the load.

If you are familiar with other helpful tools available on the web, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Categorizing Four Different Reformed Approaches to Gospel and Culture

Continuing our discussion of the relationship between the gospel and culture, here is an interesting article that divides present day Reformed approaches to the question into four camps: (1) neo-calvinism, which focuses on the comprehensive claims of the gospel; (2) two kingdom approach, which stresses the distinctiveness of the church from the culture; (3) neo-puritans, who emphasize the sovereignty of God and the role of the individual in seeking the good of the city; (4) old-calvinism, which contends that cultural engagement inevitably leads to worldliness.

While not the final word on the subject, the article is definitely a helpful (albeit brief!) overview of how different folks in the Reformed family approach a challenging issue.

HT: Kevin DeYoung

Monday, September 21, 2009

The "Evangelical Drudge Report" Changes Address

Most readers of this blog may already know this, but the popular "Between Two Worlds" blog run by Justin Taylor has now moved under the umbrella of the Gospel Coalition. The new address is:

Also worth noting is a new blog run by the Gospel Coalition:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

N.T. Wright Headlines the Wheaton Theology Conference 2010

The topic for The 19th Annual Wheaton Theology Conference has been announced, and it is sure to be an interesting one--Jesus, Paul and the People of God: A Theological Dialogue with N.T. Wright. In addition to Wright, other noteworthy speakers include Markus Bockmuehl, Richard Hays, Kevin Vanhoozer and Nicholas Perrin. You can see the full lineup here.

The conference is not until April 16-17, but given the heavy hitters it may be wise to register early.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday Morning Resources

Here are two resources worth your attention:

1. Jim Hamilton, Associate Professor of Biblical Theology, Southern Seminary, recently lectured on “The Orthodoxy of the Text of the New Testament: Reasserting the Obvious.” Here is the abstract:

"The first chapter of Bart Ehrman’s book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture suggests that our understanding of early Christianity needs to be radically revised, but Ehrman himself acknowledges that the rest of the volume does not provide the kind of evidence that would warrant such a revision. This presentation argues against the revisionist view that the traditional story of early Christianity distorts what really happened because “the victors rewrote the history.” Instead, the geographically widespread, early, abundant, and orthodox manuscript evidence points to an original mainstream of orthodox Christianity from which the heretics deviated. The orthodoxy of the manuscripts can be seen in what can be deduced from the use of the codex form, in the nomina sacra abbreviations used to refer to both God and Christ, in the staurogram, and in the concern of the scribes themselves to make exact copies of their texts."

2. Yesterday At Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Al Mohler hosted a panel discussion on N.T. Wright's view on justification with Dr. Denny Burk, Dr. Tom Schreiner, Dr. Mark Seifrid, Dr. Brian Vickers. You can find the audio here and the video here.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

D.A. Carson on "The Good Samaritan"

This past Sunday D.A. Carson preached at Fox Valley Bible Church in South Elgin, Illinois. His text was the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Carson does a nice job of preaching this text in a Christ-centered way. You can listen to it online here or download the MP3 file here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gospel-Centered Resources

Timmy Brister has compiled a list of gospel-centered resources that are worth checking out here.

HT: Chad Knudson

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Should Evangelicals Use the Term Social Justice?

As a follow up to my two posts on the Kingdom of God and social justice, I want to briefly raise the question of whether we as evangelicals should use the phrase "social justice." Please note that the issue is not whether evangelicals should be involved in social action; my two previous posts should make it clear enough where I stand on that.

But what about the expression "social justice"? While I am not ready to say evangelicals should completely abandon the phrase (though it might be warranted), I want to raise several concerns that we must think through when using the expression.

1. What do we mean by "justice"? Justice is one of those terms that seems self-evident, until we begin to press a bit harder. Whose idea of justice do we mean? What does the implementation of justice look like? Does it mean the redistribution of resources to ensure each has the exact same? What does Scripture say about justice? How much can we expect our efforts at justice in this life to match God's standards for justice.

2. The flexibility of the term. The term is used by so many people from so many different perspectives with so many different agendas that it can be used in almost any cause: ending the global sex trade, poverty relief, debt relief, providing clean water, education reform, healthcare reform, gay rights, abortion, job training, welfare, environmentalism, etc. If you are really curious, check out this link, where there are multiple definitions of "social justice" by various folks. When a term is so broad as to include so much, I wonder just how useful it is.

3. What about mercy? In the midst of an emphasis on "justice" we must never lose sight of mercy. Strict justice in some situations would preclude the opportunity for people to experience mercy. Many of the people who need the kind of ministries that fall under the umbrella of social justice desperately need mercy. They need someone to help them even though they deserve no help because they are in a situation of their own making.

Isn't the beauty of the gospel that justice and mercy meet in the cross (reflect on Rom 3:21-26)? So as believers we should be those who seek to show the mercy of Christ who suffered the justice that was due to us.

So should we abandon the expression "social justice"? Perhaps. In some cases it has the great potential to muddy the waters. I understand the desire to use common expressions as an attempt to build bridges. But at what cost? And can we not continue to work to show mercy and work for justice without using the expression "social justice" with its potential to mislead? At the end of the day what matters is that our actions adorn the gospel of Jesus Christ and are an outworking of the justice and mercy that we have received at the cross

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Kingdom of God & Social Justice – Part 2

Last week I posted the first five of my theses regarding the relationship of the kingdom of God and social justice. Here now are the second five:

6. We must realize that our actions are not self-interpreting. There is absolutely a place for being salt and light in a community through good deeds. But unless those deeds are given an interpretation, people will simply not know why we are doing them. There are plenty of groups who do good deeds in the community. Our actions will not truly adorn the gospel unless people are made aware that the actions flow out of our commitment to Jesus Christ. Again, faith comes by hearing, not simply doing good things before people and hoping they make the connection to Christ.

7. We must recognize the trend towards increasing social action and decreasing evangelism within the church. In many (if not most) evangelical churches today it is easier to recruit people to go do a neighborhood service project than it is to do evangelism. My concern is that a growing number of evangelicals assuage their guilt (if it even exists!) for not sharing the gospel by doing good deeds in the community. While I am not arguing a strict causation, it seems more than coincidental that at a time when evangelical participation in social action is rising rapidly active participation in evangelism falling rapidly.

8. We must think through and articulate the connection between specific social action and the gospel. One of the reasons that social and action and evangelism are hard to marry is that we have often failed to think through the relationship between specific physical needs and the gospel. When ministering to the hungry we can point them to the bread that truly satisfies. When ministering to those who are poor we can help them to see that their physical poverty is a window into the spiritual condition before God, and their need for spiritual riches that cannot be destroyed. When we think through these kinds of connections the relationship between social action and the verbal communication of the gospel seems much more natural.

9. We must not allow people's physical needs to blind us or them to their even greater spiritual needs. This is related but distinct from the previous point. There is a danger in meeting physical needs that we become so engrossed in them that we lose sight of their spiritual needs. By all means we should do what we are able in meeting their physical needs. But if we stop there we are not loving our neighbor in the fullest sense of the term. Regardless of their current situation, they must stand before a holy God on the Last Day, where they will either be welcomed into heaven or banished to hell. Sometimes those who are suffering physically are so consumed by their situation they cannot see the greater spiritual realities; at other times their very neediness in the physical terms opens their eyes to their spiritual condition. Either way, we must remember there is a heaven to be gained and a hell to be avoided for everyone.

10. We must recognize the challenges that come with working with others of different beliefs. Who should believers partner with in these endeavors? Should we accept government money (which almost always comes with strings)? What about other churches? How much do they have to agree with you doctrinally? What private social agencies with no spiritual affiliation? Where does one draw lines? These are all difficult questions that do not have simple answers. But they must be considered when engaging in social action.

I still feel as though I have much to learn and think through on these issues, but these ten theses are where I stand today. As always, I welcome your thoughts on these specific theses or the larger issues.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Manuscript of Apologetics Talk Now Posted

This past weekend I spoke at the No Doubt Apologetics Conference in Indianpolis. They have now posted my detailed notes from the session, and should be posting audio and video in the near future. You can download the notes here.

Although I do deal very briefly with textual criticism, the majority of the presentation was on how we got our New Testament canon. You will plenty of resources for further study in the footnotes of the document as well. You are welcome to leave any feedback in the comments here.

CORRECTION: The updated version can now be found at this link.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Kingdom of God and Social Justice

During the last week of July, I taught a two-day course for the Equip Conference, put on by the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. As the title suggests, the main burden of the not-for-credit course was to explore what the relationship is and should be between the kingdom of God and social justice. I approached the issue by: (1) providing a brief and necessarily selective historical survey of how the church has engaged these issues; (2) exploring the nature of the kingdom of God as revealed in both the Old and New Testaments; (3) revisiting Niebuhr's fivefold typology from Christ and Culture and critiques of it; and (4) noting the vague and nebulous definitions of social justice. I also hosted a panel discussion with three individuals involved in ministries that broadly fit underneath this umbrella to hear their perspective on these challenging issues. It was a very enjoyable experience.

I concluded the class by stating Ten Theses for Further Discussion. I do not intend these as the last word, but rather a statement of key components to this discussion that need to be remembered if we are to be faithful to Christ in these areas. I am posting the first five below; the second five will follow in a later post.

  1. We must learn from church history. There is a rich and varied history of the church engaging these issues, and we are fools to ignore this history. By looking at the past we can benefit from the thinking and practice of those who have gone before us, while hopefully avoiding their mistakes.
  2. We must allow biblical and theological convictions to shape our engagement in social action. There are simply too many individuals and churches that jump into these issues out of compassion devoid of biblical and theological foundations. The responsibility for this rests primarily with the church to provide solid teaching on this area, but also for individual believers to ground themselves in Scripture. Compassion that is not rooted in the gospel will ultimately and inevitably lead to assuming and eventually even denying the gospel in the name of caring for people in this life.
  3. We must not collapse the already/not-yet tension. However one puts this together, we need to be sure to recognize both. Emphasizing the already to the neglect of the not-yet results in people thinking that our efforts usher in the kingdom, or worse yet that the ultimate goal of God is to improve conditions in the life. Emphasizing the not-yet to the neglect of the already results in people thinking that any engagement in social issues is a waste of time because it is all going to burn. Holding the two together holds the promise of engagement in social action while prioritizing eternal issues of heaven and hell.
  4. We must recognize that evangelical engagement with these issues will take different forms within different political, cultural and social contexts. While it is increasingly popular to champion individuals like Abraham Kuyper and the goal of transforming culture, large numbers of believers simply do not have that option available. Believers in the Middle East and parts of Asia (just to name a few) have little or no access to the various institutions of a culture to effect transformation. Believers in the United States, by contrast, often do. Thus a one size fits all approach to this issue simply cannot and does not work.
  5. We must prioritize proclamation of the gospel without neglecting social action. This is the point where our theology really surfaces. If we are convinced that heaven and hell are ultimate realities that each human being must face, then we will prioritize the communication of the gospel message. This does not mean that every kind deed must be accompanied by a gospel tract, but it does mean an intentional effort to share the gospel in the context of meeting physical needs or addressing social structures. Actions are not self-interpreting; there are plenty of nice moral people who do good things for the community and have no interest in Jesus Christ. If we are to distinguish our efforts from them (and at some level we MUST if we are to be faithful to Christ) there must be communication of the gospel. Faith comes by hearing (Rom 10:17), not by simple observation of good works.

I'd welcome your thoughts on these first five theses.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Interview Posted

This week I was interviewed for a blog run by Nijay Gupta, who recently finished his Ph.D. at the University of Durham. The subject was my experience in getting my dissertation published with Walter deGruyter in the BZNW series. You can find the description of my forthcoming book here, and the text of the interview here.

Monday, August 03, 2009

No Doubt: True Answers to Eternal Questions

On Saturday, August 15 I will have the privilege of speaking at a one-day apologetics conference in Indianpolis entitled No Doubt: True Answers to Eternal Questions. Other speakers include Paul Maier, Greg Koukl and Tommy Mitchell. If you are in the area, I encourage you to stop in. You can register for the conference here.

I will be addressing two interrelated questions: how did we get our Bible (the issue of the canon, with emphasis on the New Testament) and is what we have what the authors wrote (the issue of textual criticism).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy 500th Birthday John Calvin!

On this day, July 10, 1509, John Calvin was born in Noyon, France. It is difficult to overstate his significance in shaping a significant stream of the Protestant Reformation. Despite his well-known weaknesses, God used him in countless ways to clearly teach the Word of God and hold out a vision of the sovereignty and beauty of God in Jesus Christ that still compels people today. Between his Institutes of the Christian Religion and his numerous commentaries, Calvin still speaks though he has been long dead.

Take a moment today to thank God for the gift of John Calvin to the church.

Monday, July 06, 2009

CT Compares Piper and Wright on Justification

Over at Christianity Today, Trevin Wax has compiled a succinct comparison between John Piper and N.T. Wright on justification. Whether you are familiar or not with the debate, it is worth the quick read.

HT: Justin Taylor

Monday, June 22, 2009

John Owen on Stirring the Mind to Contemplate the Glory of Christ

In his treatise "Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ," John Owen offers six "directions" for stirring up the minds of believers to contemplate the glory of Christ (chapter 4):

  1. Let us get it fixed on our souls and minds, that this glory of Christ in the divine constitution of his person is the best, the most noble, useful, beneficial object that we can be conversant about in our thoughts, or cleave unto in our affections.
  2. Our second direction unto the same end is, that we diligently study the Scripture, and the revelations that are made of this glory of Christ therein.
  3. Another direction to this same end is, that having attained the light of the knowledge of the glory of Christ from the Scripture, or by the dispensation of the truth in the preaching of the gospel, we would esteem it our duty frequently to meditate thereon.
  4. Let your occasional thoughts of Christ be many, and multiplied every day.
  5. The next direction is, that all our thoughts concerning Christ should be accompanied with admiration, adoration, and thanksgiving.

There is a beautiful progression in these five directions. Owen begins by holding out the beauty of Christ as the highest end we could possibly pursue (1), and then directs us where to find that vision of Christ—the Scriptures (2). But he is not content to allow such a vision of Christ to remain in our times in the Word (whether through personal reading or hearing the Word preached and taught); he exhorts us to frequently reflect/meditate on the beauty of Christ that we have seen in the Word (3). Such meditation and reflection should not be limited to devoted time in the Word and prayer, but should spill over into our "occasional thoughts" throughout the day (4). He then concludes with the reminder that such reflections should not be merely an intellectual exercise, but should be joined with our affections (5).

Monday, June 08, 2009

CT Article on Tim Keller

Christianity Today recently posted a lengthy profile of Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City. It helpfully sketches the origins of this influential church in NYC and provides a window into how Keller approaches ministry in the largest city in the United States.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Luther on the Dangers of a “Perfect Record”

In re-reading Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton, I was amused by Luther's comments on the dangers of an impeccable religious record. As counsel to his overly scrupulous friend Melancthon, Bainton says that Luther suggested "that one sin is needed as medicine to cure another. An unblemished record engenders the worst of all sins, pride. Hence a failure now and then is conducive to humility. But the only sins which Luther actually recommended as record spoilers were overeating, overdrinking, and oversleeping. Such controlled excesses might be utilized as the antidote to arrogance" (p. 175). I think Luther said this somewhat tongue in cheek, but his warning about the dangers of pride that can result from our perceived impeccable obedience is wise to heed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Dangers of Prosperity

In the final section of his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes:

"I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need." (4:12)

We often think of the unique challenges and opportunities that facing lack/need presents. In those situations we are faced with the choice of trusting God for provision, or grumbling as the Israelites in the wilderness did (cf. Exod 16–17). But less frequently recognized are the dangers that abundance/prosperity brings. There are at least four that come to mind:

  1. Our hearts become more enamored with what God has given us than God himself. The more that we have, the easier it becomes for us to find our greatest joy in those things rather than God. It is this very danger that Jesus warned of when he said "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt 6:19-21).
  2. We let our guard down against the enemy. We tend to think that Satan is most dangerous when we are facing lack/need, but he is just as dangerous (if not more) when we face abundance/prosperity. Suffering tends to sharpen our spiritual senses, driving us to realize our need for God. But when things are going well it becomes easy to put our lives on cruise control and start to doze off at the wheel. But our abundance/prosperity does not change the fact that "Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Pet 5:8)
  3. We conclude that our prosperity/abundance is the result of our godliness. There is a sense in which the OT points in this direction. After all, under the Mosaic Covenant God makes it clear to Israel that obedience/faith will lead to blessing, while disobedience/unbelief will lead to cursing (cf. Deut 28). But several qualifications need to be made to encompass the totality of the OT's teaching. First, the Mosaic Covenant functioned on the national level, indicating that the nation as a whole would be blessed or cursed based on their obedience or disobedience to the covenant. Applying this at an individual level is far more complicated. Second, one cannot conclude from a person's suffering or prosperity the extent of their obedience or disobedience. That is one of the major points of the book of Job; his friends were insistent that his suffering was proof of disobedience. God's answer makes it clear that Job's suffering was not the result of sin. Similarly, Psalm 73 describes how the wicked prosper in this life. Third, while there are passages that correlate personal obedience and God's blessing of abundance (e.g., Ps 112:1-6), we must not think of this as a quid pro quo in which man earns what he receives or that God is somehow obligated to bless in response to obedience. God does tend to bring blessing to those who are obedient, but even in those cases it is a gift of his grace since the very obedience in view is a product of God's own work in that person's life (Phil 2:12-13).
  4. Our trust/confidence is placed in what we possess rather than who possesses us. Paul identifies this as a great danger when he writes to Timothy "As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy" (1 Tim 6:17). Those who have abundance are less inclined to place their trust in God, because there is the appearance of security in their prosperity.

In Philippians 4:12 Paul claims he has learned the secret of contentment in either lack or abundance. That secret is knowing that our security rests not in our current financial situation but in the one who loved us and gave himself for us (Gal 2:20). No matter what your economic situation is today, whether rosy or bleak, God wants us to find our security in him. Beware the dangers of both lack/need and abundance/prosperity.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Tribute to my Wife Kate on Mother's Day

On this day that we here in the United States set aside to honor moms, I wanted to offer this public tribute to my wife Kate.

The highest compliment that I can pay to you on this day is that you are the clearest reflection of the servant-heart of Jesus Christ that I have ever seen. The way that you empty yourself to care for our family as well as others is such a tangible demonstration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant (Phil 2:7). The way that you die to your personal comfort to show love to us and others is evidence that Christ is powerfully at work in you (Gal 2:20). The way that you point our children to Christ through his Word is establishing a foundation from which by God's grace they will never depart (Prov 22:6).

Aside from his Son Jesus Christ, you are the greatest gift that God has given to me, Jonathan and Jacob. If there were city gates where we live, we would be running to them today to declare your works (Prov 31:31).

Monday, May 04, 2009

Get to Know D.A. Carson

In this month's edition of the Next monthly wezine, Justin Taylor has written two very helpful and short articles on D.A. Carson. The first is a brief biographical sketch that includes his background and prodigious writing ministry. The second is focused on specific books that Carson has written organized around specific issues. Highly recommended!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Reflections from the Gospel Coalition

Earlier this morning I returned from the Gospel Coalition Conference. It was truly an amazing three days. So here I will simply list in bullet form a series of thoughts, reflections, highlights, etc. from the conference.

  • While the conference is amazing on its own terms, it is so much better when you can enjoy it with others. I had the privilege of taking 12 students from Grace College and Seminary, and it was a blast. It was so fun to introduce many of them to some of the great speakers/teachers for the first time.
  • I love getting to see friends both old and new. These conferences provide opportunities to catch up with individuals that I don't get to see very often and hear what God is doing in their lives. These conversations often lead to meeting new friends, and this conference was no different. In my estimation, this one of the primary benefits of conferences like these.
  • The content of the teaching was fabulous. I especially appreciated the messages by Keller, Piper and Lig Duncan. But for me the absolute highlight was the post-conference event "The Pastor as Scholar, the Scholar as Pastor" with Carson and Piper. Carson's message on "The Scholar as Pastor" was the most helpful set of reflections of what it means to be a scholar who serves the church. Perhaps it will serve as grist for later post.
  • On a different note, a friend passed along tickets to the Cubs game yesterday for me and five other guys. The seats were absolutely AMAZING. We were 11 rows from the field, behind the plate off to the 3rd base side. When the batter was in the box he was closer to us that he was to first base. Talk about a completely different experience! The only downside was that the Cubs lost.

If you were unable to attend the conference, you should go to the Gospel Coalition website and download the messages. You will not be disappointed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Gospel Coalition Conference

Tomorrow the Gospel Coalition Conference begins, and I have the privilege of taking a group of 12 students from Grace along with me. But for those who cannot attend and still want to be a part of the festivities, you have two options:

Live webcast

Audio & Video Downloads available within one day

Feel free to say hello. It is always nice to see friends old and new.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mark Dever Interviews D.A. Carson on Books

This past weekend I listened to an interview with D.A. Carson conducted by Mark Dever. Dever asks Carson about many of the books he has written, as well as what he has in the works. Also enjoyable was the fact that because of his close friendship with Carson, Dever is able to "needle" him a bit, with the result that you get a sense of who Carson is as a person. Highly recommended. Here is the link:

On Books with D.A. Carson

Monday, April 13, 2009

History of Redemption Sermon 2

In this sermon JE introduces the three main divisions of his overview of the Work of Redemption (WoR). The first is from the Fall to Christ's incarnation, during which God was preparing for Christ's arrival. The second is from Christ's incarnation to his resurrection, during which Christ purchases redemption. The third is from Christ's resurrection to the end of the world, during which God brings about the effects of Christ's redemption.

In the interest of greater clarity JE then further divides the first period (fall to incarnation) into six periods: (1) Fall to the flood; (2) Flood to the call of Abraham; (3) Abraham to Moses; (4) Moses to David; (5) David to the Babylonian captivity; (6) Babylonian captivity to the incarnation.

The remainder of this sermon lays out the first four observations from the period from the Fall to the Flood. JE begins by noting that the mediatorial work of Christ began the moment man fell into sin. This claim stems from JE's assertion that "there is no mercy towards man but what is obtained through Christ's intercession" (130). From that point forward God would deal with man only through the agency of the mediator Jesus Christ.

Second, God gives the first announcement of the gospel in the so-called protoevangelium of Gen 3:15. JE admits that this is "an obscure revelation of the gospel" like the "first glimmerings of the light of the sun in the east" (133). In this promise God makes clear his intention to subdue all his enemies under the feet of his Son. The revelation of this promise was the first act of Christ in his prophetic office.

Third, God instituted the custom of sacrificing as a type of Christ's sacrifice that was to come. Although Scripture does not indicate this, JE claims that this custom had to be God-given, since only worship offered in faith can please him. Since faith has no foundation without divine appointment, God must have revealed this custom to Adam and Eve. God did this by offering the very first sacrifice to provide skins to cover Adam and Eve. These skins are a type of the righteousness of Christ that clothes believers. The entire sacrificial system that pervades the rest of the OT is the chief type of Christ, as it establishes the need for a propitiatory sacrifice for God's people.

Fourth, God very soon after the Fall begins saving souls through Christ's redemption. Adam and Eve were likely the first recipients, as they embraced the promise of the seed that would crush the serpent.

I admire the way JE explains the entire work of redemption as an outworking of the protoevangelium. In doing so JE manages to hold together two crucial aspects of the atonement that are too often separated: (1) Christ's defeat of Satan and his forces of wickedness and (2) Christ's substitutionary death for our sins. Both of these aspects flow out of the promise of Gen 3:15. And how beautiful is the imagery of the animal skins that covered Adam and Eve as a type of the righteousness of Christ that clothes believers!

Monday, April 06, 2009

John Owen on Beholding the Glory of Christ

"The revelation made of Christ in the blessed Gospel is far more excellent, more glorious, and more filled with rays of divine wisdom and goodness, than the whole creation and the just comprehension of it, if attainable, can contain or afford. Without the knowledge hereof, the mind of man, however priding itself in other inventions and discoveries, is wrapped up in darkness and confusion.

"This, therefore, deserves the severest of our thoughts, the best of our meditations, and our utmost diligence in them. For if our future blessedness shall consist in being where he is, and beholding his glory, what better preparation can there be for it than in a constant previous contemplation of that glory in the revelation that is made in the Gospel, unto this very end, that by a view of it we may be gradually transformed into the same glory?"

-From the "Preface to the Reader" in John Owen, "Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ, in His Person, Office and Grace" in Works 1:275.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Conversation with D.A. Carson, John Piper and Tim Keller

This past week I came across a series of video conversations between Carson, Piper and Keller on the Gospel Coalition website (I'm not sure when they originally were posted). There are ten "chapters" in all:

Chapter 1: Gospel Centered Mercy Ministry vs. The Social Gospel

Chapter 2: What do you look for in a pastoral candidate?

Chapter 3: The importance of continuing mentorship of the pastoral staff?

Chapter 4: What is Gospel-centered and why do you preach against legalism to evangelize libertines?

Chapter 5: How does the gospel and gospel centeredness work to sanctify believers?

Chapter 6: How does the gospel-centered approach work to help a guy conquer the sin of pornography?

Chapter 7: How does Gospel-Centered relate to God-Centered and Cross-Centered especially in conquering sin?

Chapter 8: Why does God appear so stuck on himself? Does this reflect moral weakness in God?

Chapter 9: John Piper and Tim Keller confess they have learned that God-centered and Gospel-centered need each other to be more biblical

Chapter 10: John Piper's Closing Prayer

Of these ten, I found chapters 1, 5, 7, and 9 to be most helpful. But if you can only watch one, I would recommend chapter 9, where Piper and Keller interact on how "God-centered" and "gospel-centered" connect. In the course of this interaction, Piper admits that his language of being "God-centered" at times has not been "Christ-centered" enough. But Keller also admits that in his emphasis on being "gospel-centered" that his language could be misunderstood to be strictly cognitive rather than penetrating to the affections. To whet your appetite, here is a snippet of Piper that captures it well:

"The apex of the glory of God is seen in Christ, and the apex of His glory is seen in the cross, and therefore to be God-centered leads to Christ-centered leads to cross-centered."

Monday, March 23, 2009

History of Redemption Sermon 1

Because this sermon begins the entire series, JE begins with the foundational text (Isaiah 51:8). From that verse ("For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.") JE draws a contrast between the happiness of the church of God and the fate of her enemies. The happiness of the church consists of God's righteousness and salvation. The former (righteousness) JE identifies as God's faithfulness to his covenant promises to the church (N.B. this is similar to some scholars today, though instead of it being faithfulness to the covenant of grace they would argue it is his faithfulness to his covenant with Israel). The latter (salvation) is the outworking of God's righteousness. Based on the mention of "forever" and "from generation to generation" JE asserts that the work of salvation began with the generation of man and will continue until the generations end at the end of the world. All that is left to do in the introduction is to state the doctrine that governs the entire series: "The Work of Redemption is a work that God carries on from the fall of man to the end of world."

Because this opening section sets the stage for the entire series I have given a sizeable summary, but from this point forward in this and the remaining sermons I will be much more selective.

From here JE moves to define terms (he's a Puritan, what else would you expect?). On the one hand the Work of Redemption is used narrowly in Scripture to refer to the purchase of salvation accomplished through the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ (what I might refer to as the micro-gospel). On the other hand, the Work of Redemption more broadly refers to all that God does towards the purchase of salvation, including both what God does to prepare for the purchase and the application of that purchase to his people (what I might refer to as the macro-gospel).

Although JE focuses on the Fall as the beginning point of the Work of Redemption, he takes pains to indicate that there were many things done for the Work of Redemption even before the creation of the world. Indeed, JE argues that God's creation of the world and his ongoing providence over it are for the greater purpose of the Work of Redemption.

The remainder of the sermon identifies five things God purposes to do in the Work of Redemption: (1) place all his enemies under his feet; (2) restore the ruins of the Fall with respect to both the elect and the creation itself; (3) bring into union all of the elect in Christ; (4) complete and perfect the glory of all the elect by Christ; (5) accomplish the glory of the Trinity to an exceeding degree.

Two things in particular strike me from this sermon. First, I appreciate how JE holds together both the micro and macro gospel. In our own day some focus on one to the neglect of the other. Some focus almost exclusively on the death and resurrection of Jesus and its benefits for the salvation of the individual sinner; consequently, they lose sight of the fact that the cross is the inauguration of the new creation that will eventually result in a new heavens and new earth. Others focus almost exclusively on God's plan to make all things new things; as a result, they lose sight of the need for personal repentance and faith to participate in the new creation that God is bringing about through Jesus Christ.

Second, the five distinct purposes of God in the Work of Redemption capture the different strands of the biblical testimony quite well. I know that in my own upbringing within the evangelical tradition that the focus was almost exclusively on God saving the lost. That of course is true, but it was not until I was introduced to the writing of John Piper that I became aware of God's greater end of glorifying himself. And it wasn't until sometime later that the purpose of God defeating his enemies came onto my theological horizons.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The History of the Work of Redemption by Jonathan Edwards

This past week I acquired a work of Jonathan Edwards that I have had on my radar for some time: The History of the Work of Redemption. It originated as a series of 30 sermons that he preached between May-August 1739. His goal in preaching the series was to trace God's work of redemption from the Fall all the way through to the consummation. In other words, it was similar to a biblical theology organized around tracing the storyline of Scripture. He chose as his keynote text Isaiah 51:8

"For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations."

Launching from this text JE laid out his "doctrine" for the entire series: "The Work of Redemption is a work that God carries on from the fall of man to the end of the world." He restated this doctrine at the beginning of each of the 30 sermons in the series, partly to retain the standard Puritan preaching template and partly to remind his hearers of the central thesis that shaped each sermon no matter where in the biblical storyline JE was.

Towards the end of his life JE expressed his intention to transform this sermon series into a treatise. In a letter to the trustees at Princeton expressing his reluctance to accept their invitation to become the president of the university, JE mentioned this project as one of his top priorities:

"But besides these, I have had on my mind and heart (which I long ago began, not with any view to publication) a great work, which I call A History of the Work of Redemption, a body of divinity in an entire new method, being thrown into the form of an history, considering the affair of Christian theology, as the whole of it, in each part, stands in reference to the great work of redemption by Jesus Christ; which I suppose is to be the grand design of all God's designs, and the summum and ultimum of all the divine operations and degrees; particularly considering all parts of the grand scheme in their historical order. The order of their existence, or their being brought forth to view, in the course of divine dispensations, or the wonderful series of successive acts and events; beginning from eternity and descending from thence to the great work and successive dispensations of the infinitely wise God in time, considering the chief events coming to pass in the church of God, and revolutions in the world of mankind, affecting the state of the church and the affair of redemption, which we have an account of in history or prophecy; till at last we come to the general resurrection, last judgment, and consummation of all things; when it shall be said "It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End" [Revelation 22:13]. Concluding my work, with the consideration of that perfect state of things, which shall be finally settled, to last for eternity. This history will be carried on with regard to all three worlds, heaven, earth, and hell: considering the connected, successive events and alterations, in each so far as the Scriptures give any light; introducing all parts of divinity in that order which is most scriptural and most natural: which is a method which appears to me the most beautiful and entertaining, wherein every divine doctrine, will appear to greatest advantage in the brightest light, in the most striking manner, showing the admirable contexture and harmony of the whole."

Despite his reluctance, JE eventually decided to accept the position as president of Princeton. Unfortunately, he died within a few months of arriving at Princeton from a smallpox inoculation that produced a fever which eventually killed him. Although he had begun collecting additional materials in his notebooks to be incorporated into the revision, he was never able to begin the revisions in earnest. At the urging of the Scottish clergyman John Erskine, JE's son Jonathan Edwards Jr. transcribed the sermon series and sent it off to be published in Scotland in 1774.

Had JE been able to make the intended revisions, I suspect that the finished product would have ranked among JE's most important theological contributions, right alongside works such as Freedom of the Will and Original Sin. As I continue to work my way through this work, I anticipate finding several things to post on in the weeks to come.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Two Very Interesting Articles from this Week

I'm not a big fan of Time Magazine, but as has been noted elsewhere in the blogosphere, they recently released an article entitled Ten Ideas Changing the World Right Now. Third on that list is "The New Calvinism." Referring to individuals like John Piper, Mark Driscoll and Al Mohler, the article highlights how this resurgence of Calvinism is where much of the lifeblood of the broader evangelical movement is found.

Yet just earlier this week a quite different article was published entitled The Coming Evangelical Collapse. Michael Spencer argues the following:
We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I'm convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.

Without implying that these two are the only options, do you find yourself encouraged by the growth of the new Calvinism and see it as a sign of good times to come for the evangelical movement? Or are you more inclined to see the end of evangelicalism as we know it? Or do you foresee some combination of the two?

Monday, March 02, 2009

ESV Study Bible Online - Free Access to ALL

Although I am generally not a fan of study Bibles, I have found the ESV Study Bible to be a fantastic resource. I even bought one for my lovely wife, who has clung to her NIV Study Bible for many years.

One of the features that I have most enjoyed is that the entire contents of the ESV STudy Bible are available online to those who have purchased a print copy. In addition to all of the articles, notes, maps, diagrams, etc. you have the ability to store personalized notes and other neat features.

For a limited time (through March 31), Crossway is allowing even those who have not purchased a print copy access to the online site. You can find the details here. If you are at all curious about the ESV Study Bible, this is your chance to check it out for yourself. I do not think you will be disappointed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

God’s Good Gift of Sleep

Psalm 127 is a well-known passage of Scripture. The first half (1-2) emphasizes the necessity of God superintending our work if it is not to be in vain, while the second half (3-6) extols the blessing that children are, picturing them as arrows in a man's quiver. But tucked away at the end of verse two is a little appreciated line:

It is in vain that you rise up early

and go late to rest,

eating the bread of anxious toil;

for he gives to his beloved sleep.


What Solomon indicates here is that apart from the LORD's blessing of our labor, it is vain (cp. Eccl 1:1-18). But this last line also recognizes the good gift that sleep is to his people. When we rest our heads on the pillow at night, we are in effect implicitly trusting both the sovereignty and goodness of God. We are trusting his sovereignty because sleep is the cessation of our labor. It is us recognizing that whatever remains undone, God alone is sovereign over it. We are trusting his goodness in surrendering to the rest that our bodies need to enable us to function. It is us recognizing that we are not God.

If you're anything like me, it is easy for my mind to run wild at the end of the day as I lay in bed waiting to fall asleep. Often my mind turns to the things that did not get done, or what must get done for the next day. This can easily turn into sinful anxiety (cf. Matt 6:25-34). At the root of our anxiety is often the idol of control. Deep down we believe that we either have or must have control. And if we push that even further, it is at the root rebellion against the One who truly is Sovereign.

So tonight as you lie in bed, waiting for sleep to overtake you, and your mind turns to the things you did not get done, rest in the goodness and sovereignty of God. And then embrace sleep as God's good gift.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Idolatry in Christian Ministry

In my continuing study of Philippians, I have been working my way through Markus Bockmuehl's, The Epistle to the Philippians in the Black's New Testament Commentary. In speaking about some of his Christian brothers in Rome who were preaching Christ more boldly because of Paul's imprisonment, Paul writes In Philippians 1:17

"the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment." (NASB)

Sometimes one finds a one-liner that captures the essence of what the biblical text says. I found that statement in Bockmuehl's commentary when he writes:

"The robe of 'Christian ministry' cloaks many a shameless idolatry" (p. 80).

In this concise one-liner Bockmuehl identifies one of the most acceptable forms of idolatry in evangelicalism: ministry. In the name of serving the Lord far too many pastors, missionaries, professors and lay people are in fact furthering their own agendas for personal fulfillment and success. In a word, that is idolatry. It is placing ministry ahead of God himself, and it is so dangerous because on the outside it looks good.

Here in the context of Philippians 1:12-26 Paul provides the necessary corrective: to have as our highest aim the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So the question for each of us involved in ministry is this: do you care who gets the credit? Are you fine with others being recognized for their faithful gospel ministry while your own proclaiming of Christ remains under appreciated or recognized? What happens in your heart when someone else receives credit for something YOU did? Can you be content with rejoicing in the progress of the gospel rather than nursing resentment that you did not receive the recognition.

May we take seriously the admonition with which John closes his first letter:

Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)




Monday, January 19, 2009

The Gospel Coalition Conference

The folks at The Gospel Coalition have extended their early-bird registration discount ($200 instead of $250) until January 31. They also have a special rate for students ($100).

You can find out more about the conference here and register here. Here is a description of the Plenary Sessions:

The Plenary Sessions -- led by John Piper, Phil Ryken, Mark Driscoll, K. Edward Copeland, Bryan Chapell, and Ligon Duncan -- will expound the book of Second Timothy. It is through these expositions that we hope to model the sort of preaching through Scripture of which the church is in need, while teaching the glories of this gospel of the blessed God that has been entrusted to the care of the church. Tim Keller and Don Carson will each give addresses that seek to situate gospel-faithful ministry in the currents of the twenty-first century, and Ajith Fernando will discuss the global challenges and priorities of gospel-faithful mission for the next Christendom.

In addition to the main sessions there are two sessions of seminars that offer a wide variety of interesting topics from solid folks.

Also worth noting is a special event on the Thursday night immediately after the conference entitled "The Pastor as Scholar, and the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry with John Piper and D.A. Carson." See the link for more details.

Like the Together for the Gospel Conference, this gathering is a great opportunity for pastors, students, and scholars to gather in unity around the richness of the gospel and its application to life and ministry.

Friday, January 16, 2009


The Review of Biblical Literature (RBL) is a publication of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), the largest "professional" guild for Biblical Studies. RBL publishes numerous book reviews that are an excellent source for getting a quick sense of a book and its contribution. They have recently begun a blog that announces the publication of these reviews that you can subscribe to through an RSS feed. It is now even easier to see what book reviews are available.


HT: Denny Burk

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Top 100 Theology Blogs has released their list of the Top 100 Theology Blogs. They have broken down the list into the following categories: General Theology, Criticism, Politics, History, Academic, Clergy, Society and Culture, Writings. Admittedly some of the blogs mentioned span several of these categories. No doubt some will quibble with certain ones being included (such as this one!) while others were omitted, but overall the list looks very helpful.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Recent Paternoster Releases

My friend James Spinti at Eisenbrauns alerted me to three new releases from Paternoster of interest to me.

Congregational Evangelism in Philippians

Congregational Evangelism in Philippians
The Centrality of an Appeal for Gospel Proclamation to the Fabric of Philippian
Paternoster Biblical Monographs-PBM
by Mark J. Keown
Paternoster Press, 2008
xxi + 360 pages, English
Paper, 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781842275108
List Price: $44.99
Your Price: $39.59

Imputation and Impartation

Imputation and Impartation
Union with Christ in American reformed Theology
Studies in Christian History and Thought - SCHT
by William B Evans
Paternoster Press, 2008
xiv + 296 pages, English
Paper, 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781842274361
List Price: $39.99
Your Price: $35.19

Enabling Fidelity to God:

Enabling Fidelity to God:
Perseverence in Hebrews in Light of Reciprocity Systems in the Ancient Mediterranean World
Paternoster Biblical Monographs-PBM
by Jason A. Whitlark
Paternoster Press, 2008
xvii + 225 pages, English
Paper, 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781842275733
List Price: $33.99
Your Price: $29.91

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tyndale Bulletin Available Online

Tyndale Bulletin is one of the premier evangelical scholarly journals. They have now made all of their issues available online through 2005; check out the listing of issues here.

HT: Justin Taylor