The Gospel according to the Minor Prophets

Matt Harmon’s helpful concluding thoughts to his series on the Minor Prophets: Two Key Concepts The Covenantal Context. After discussing things like author, date and historical context we quickly moved to what we called the covenantal context. We did this because the respective covenants were the governing structure of how God interacts with his people throughout the Old Testament. So in looking at each Minor Prophet, we paid careful attention to how they drew upon the Abrahamic (Gen 12:1-3), Mosaic (Exod 19-24), and Davidic (2 Sam 7) covenants. Initial & Final Fulfillment. Although we tend to think of the relationship between promise and fulfillment as a simple one-to-one correspondence, we have seen that in the Minor Prophets that is often not the case. The various promises made in the Minor Prophets often have an initial fulfillment in an event in the near future of the prophet while at the same time having a final fulfillment in the distant future. Nowhere was this clearer

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Identifying the Colossian Heresy

. Nicholas T. Batzig writes: One of the more difficult aspects of biblical interpretation is identifying the precise historical background of the book or letter being read. In the NT epistles there are almost always enough internal clues for the interpreter to come to a settled understanding of what error, if any, is being confronted. Of all the polemical letters (which would include almost every book in the NT. For a brief survey see this!) most of us would agree that Galatians is the far and away the most polemical and–in some ways–the most difficult to interpret; the letter to the Colossians, however, is certainly not far behind. In fact, the nature of the Colossian heresy–which the apostle sought so vigorously to refute with the Gospel–is perhaps the most difficult to identify. On first glance the internal evidence seems to show three errors that had infiltrated the fledgling church: (1) Philosophical speculation (Col. 2:2-4; 8), (2) Angel worship (2:18), and (3)

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What Are the “Rewards” in Heaven and Should They Motivate Us?

Justin Taylor writes: The Gospel Coalition has posted my answer for a recent “TGC Asks” regarding the nature of heavenly rewards and whether the prospect of receiving them should motivate our actions now. In its most general sense, “reward” (Greek, misthos) is the appropriate consequence or consummation of a course of action. Sometimes it is rendered as “wages” (Matt. 20:8;Luke 10:7; John 4:36). Negatively, Judas’s blood money is called “the reward of his wickedness” (Acts 1:18). Positively, “reward” (which is always in the singular in the NT) refers to entering eternal life. And the greatest joy of heaven will be seeing God face to face (Rev. 22:4). Every believer longs for the day when “we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2), when we shall “enter into the joy of [our] master” (Matt. 25:21, 23). “They shall see God” (Matt. 5:8) and “your reward is great in heaven” (Matt. 5:12) are ultimately referring to the same thing.

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Relating the text to Christ

“The Bible is the word of God by virtue of its relationship to Christ and not by virtue of its spiritual application to our lives…any attempt to relate a text directly to us or our contemporary hearers without inquiring into its primary relationship to Christ is fraught with danger. The only thing that controls the matter of the relationship of the text to us is its prior relationship to Christ.” Graham Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, p. 113 (HT: John Fonville)

Romans 1:2

From David Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ exposition of Romans 1, The Gospel of God; specifically Romans 1:2. Why was the gospel hidden? To reveal the depth of our sin To show mankind cannot save himself To show God’s lordship and sovereignty Why does Paul appeal to the Old Testament? To show the gospel was not something strange and new To show the Bible as complete, authoritative, unified, essential To show the New never contradicts the Old To show the New fulfills the Old To show salvation is for the world. (HT: Jude St.John)

Out of Egypt I Called My Son

This is excellent from Kevin DeYoung: Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2:13-15) That last verse has caused lots of consternation.  The Holy Family goes to Egypt, and this somehow fulfills Hosea’s reference to Israel’s exodus? As I mentioned last week, at first glance it looks like Matthew is connecting the dots by the slimmest of connections. Here’s what we read in Hosea 11:1-4: When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out

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The Scriptures Testify To Him

While the temptation in preaching will be strong to proceed directly from, say, the godly Israelite to the contemporary believer, this method will inevitably produce distortions in the way we understand the text. There is no direct application apart from the mediation of Christ. That is the theological principle that I have wanted to emphasize in this study. While, no doubt, the direct approach will produce nice thoughts and, to a limited extent, even edifying ones, we simply cannot afford to ignore the words of Jesus that the Scriptures testify to him. I say again, if this be the case, then the Scriptures only testify to us insofar as we are in him. – Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture, p. 116 (HT: Vitamin Z)

Imperatives – Indicatives = Impossibilities

This post from Justin Taylor echoes my introduction to the book of Ephesians last Sunday: The dominant mode of evangelical preaching on sanctification, the main way to motivate for godly living, sounds something like this: You are not _____; You should be _________; Therefore, do or be ________! Fill in the blank with anything good and biblical (holy; salt and light; feed the poor; walk humbly; give generously; etc.). This is not how Paul and the other New Testament writers motivated the church in light of the resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit. They did give imperatives (=what you should do), but they do so only based on indicatives (=what God has done). The problem with the typical evangelical motivation toward radical or sacrificial living is that “imperatives divorced from indicatives become impossibilities” (to quote Tullian Tchividjian). Or another way that Tullian puts it: “gospel obligations must be based on gospel declarations.” This “become what you are” way of speaking is

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Three Precious Words

This piece from Todd Pruitt sums up the thrust of my teaching here in Rwanda. “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for fall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 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. 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.” – Romans 3:21-26 Martin Luther refered to Romans 3:21-26 as, ““the chief point, and the very

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Reflecting on the Love of Christ

From D.A. Carson’s Scandalous: Lazarus’s sisters refer to their brother as “the one you love” (John 11:3), an expression that hints of all kinds of human relationships that Jesus had of which we know rather little. I do think, though, that it is one of the common features of those who become intimate with Jesus that they think of themselves not as those who love him particularly well but those who are particularly well loved by him. Thus, John, the writer of this Gospel, refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (13:23; 21:7, 20; cf. 20:2). Or Paul, referring to Jesus in an atonement passage, adds the clause “who loved me and gave himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). Paul prays that the Ephesians “may have the power, together with the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:18-19a). Those who draw

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The Cross and Christian Ministry

I totally agree with Justin Childers: Carson’s The Cross and Christian Ministry is must reading for all Christian leaders. This book is basically an exposition of the first 4 chapters of 1 Corinthians. Carson shows how the Cross of Jesus Christ must be the content and method of our preaching and ministry. The Cross stands as the test and standard of all vital Christian ministry. In every generation, the gospel is in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy. Carson calls us back to the centrality of Christ and Him crucified. One of the many things I have found helpful about this book is in the way it presses home some of the foundational characteristics of a Cross-centered leader. Here are a few examples: A Cross-centered leader focuses on the content rather than the form of preaching. A Cross-centered leader ties every subject to the Cross. A Cross-centered leader follows the crucified Messiah in to suffering. A Cross-centered leader

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Carson on Spiritual Gifts

The Gospel Coalition has posted the sermon series that formed the basis of D.A. Carson’s book, Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12-14. The Unity of the Body and the Diversity of Gifts (1 Cor. 12) The Most Excellent Way: When Does Perfection Come? (1 Cor. 13) Prophecy and Tongues: Pursuing What Is Best (1 Cor. 14:1-15) Order and Authority: Restraining Spiritual Gifts (1 Cor. 14:26-40) Unleashed Power and the Constraints of Discipline: Toward a Theology of Spiritual Gifts (HT: Justin Taylor)

Work Hard Because God is Working Hard

For this purpose I labor, striving according to his power, which mightily works within me. (Col. 1:29) The presence of God’s power does not preclude Paul’s personal struggle or energetic striving or laboring. Rather, it makes it possible. God’s power is not designed to eliminate our responsibility to work hard but to enable us to fulfill it. Paul is able to work hard because God is working hard. The latter doesn’t destroy or undermine the former. J.I. Packer perhaps put it best when he said, “The Holy Spirit’s ordinary way of working in us is through the working of our own minds and wills. He moves us to act by causing us to see reasons for moving ourselves to act. Thus our conscious, rational selfhood, so far from being annihilated, is strengthened, and in reverent, resolute obedience we work out our salvation, knowing that God is at work in us…” Thus we see that God has chosen to operate not

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Audio and Video for Eschatology Conversation

This is an excellent example of mature debate on a fascinating and difficult subject. I particularly appreciate the effort of the participants to affirm each other and keep the gospel as the central priority. My amillennial views remain intact! Excellent viewing. From Desiring God: You can now listen to or watch “An Evening of Eschatology,” a conversation about the end times with John Piper, Doug Wilson, Sam Storms, and Jim Hamilton. You can also read John Piper’s thoughts on this event for some introduction to the issues being discussed.

An Observation about Israel in Ephesians 2:11-21 & 3:5, 6

Having recently expounded the book of Ephesians in Burma I found this article by John Hendryx really encouraging. The following passage really makes up the heart of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. Here he reveals a great mystery which was hidden in previous ages: “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ … So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the

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The Practical Value of Revelation

“…the churches are to read and reread the book in their assembly so that they may continually be reminded of God’s real, new world, which stands in opposition to the old, fallen system in which they presently live. Such a continual reminder will cause them to realize that their home is not in this old world but in the new world portrayed parabolically in the heavenly visions. Continued reading of the book will encourage genuine saints to realize that what they believe is not strange and odd, but truly normal from God’s perspective. They will not be discouraged by outside worldliness, including what has crept into the churches, which is always making godly standards appear odd and sinful values seem normal. John refers to true unbelievers in the book as ‘earth-dwellers’ because their ultimate home is on this transient earth. They cannot trust in anything except what their eyes see and their physical senses perceive; they are permanently earthbound, trusting

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10 Reminders re: Gospel Faithfulness

From Tony Reinke. Ten notes about gospel faithfulness, a collection derived from Galatians 1:6-10: 1. Gospel faithfulness is required of the entire church, not merely its pastoral leaders. 2. No matter how religious we claim to be, no matter how close to the truth we reside, no matter how recent our conversion, sinners are all prone to an unintentional replacement of the gospel with a counterfeit. 3. According to Paul, we can relax our grip on the biblical gospel suddenly and dreadfully easily (ταχέως). 4. To add anything to the gospel is to desert the gospel. 5. To add anything to the gospel is to have a “no-gospel.” 6. To modify the gospel is an act of defection from God. 7. The content of the gospel is unchanging and “embodies a core of fixed tradition which is normative so that no preaching deviating can be called ‘gospel’” (Fung). 8. No authority—not even an angel from heaven—has the right to modify

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The Pleasures of God Seminar

Another great resource from John Piper at Desiring God is the audio and video from the seminar, “The Pleasures of God.” The Pleasures of God, Part 1 The Pleasures of God, Part 2 The Pleasures of God, Part 3 The Pleasures of God, Part 4 The Pleasures of God, Part 5

The point is Jesus

This is excellent from Jared Wilson: I don’t believe in this day and age the Church can stress enough that the “point” of Christianity is Jesus himself. The point of Scripture, the point of prayer, the point of faith — all Jesus. American evangelicalism has not done a great job at making Jesus the point of the enterprise of faith. We take the Gospel notion of “faith alone,” a belief many Reformers died contending for, and make it about us. We turn perseverance into personal empowerment and sanctification into self-improvement. We’ve made religion a bad word by turning Law into legalism and grace into license. We made Jesus our buddy, our co-pilot, our sidekick. We don’t have sin — we have “issues.” We say we have bad habits rather than admit we have sinful hearts. We look to Scripture in general as a toolbox of pick-me-up quotable quotes and to the Gospels specifically as a chronicle of warm-fuzzy behavioral aspirations.

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