Teaching through Romans

Tonight I begin teaching through the book of Romans at our church.

I have recently started reading R.C. Sproul’s new exegetical commentary on Romans and can recommend it as a helpful verse by verse guide. It’s not technical or verbose so is a great introduction to the great book of the gospel. I particularly appreciate how Sproul integrates aspects of church history – especially the Reformation – into his exposition.

Here’s a nice video clip of RC introducing his book:


(HT: Justin Taylor)

Does the Centre Hold?

By Keith Mathison:

If I have heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “A Calvinist evangelist? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Calvinism undermines evangelism.” This accusation has been repeated so many times that few make the effort to argue it. Instead, it is simply assumed. Never mind that some of the church’s greatest evangelists have been Calvinists. One need only be reminded of men such as George Whitefield, David Brainerd, or “the father of modern missions,” William Carey. “Yes,” we are told, “these men were great evangelists and Calvinists, but that is because they were inconsistent.” But is this true?

The fact of the matter is that Calvinism is not inconsistent with evangelism; it is only inconsistent with certain evangelistic methods. It is inconsistent, for example, with the emotionally manipulative methods created by revivalists such as Charles Finney. But these manipulative methods are themselves inconsistent with Scripture, so it is no fault to reject them. In order for evangelism to be pleasing to God, it must be consistent with the whole system of biblical teaching. But what does such evangelism look like?

A classic answer to that question is found in R.B. Kuiper’s little book God-Centred Evangelism (Banner of Truth). This book surveys the entire biblical scope of teaching on the subject of evangelism. Kuiper defines evangelism quite simply as “the promulgation of the evangel.” It is, in other words, the proclamation of the gospel. Kuiper explains that his book “is a plea for God–centered, in contradistinction to man-centered, evangelism.” The book, then, presents a theology of evangelism.

The first chapters set forth some of the essential theological presuppositions for God-centered evangelism. Kuiper explains that God Himself is the author of evangelism, in that before the foundation of the world, He planned the salvation of sinners. This leads directly into chapter-length discussions of God’s love, His election of sinners, and His covenant. After setting forth these basic theological foundations, Kuiper then deals with various biblical aspects of evangelism, beginning with the sovereignty of God and the Great Commission.

In the Great Commission, Jesus commands His followers to make disciples of “all nations.” The scope of evangelism, then, is universal. The gospel is to be proclaimed to all. If we truly believe what Scripture tells us about the necessity of faith in Christ for salvation, then the urgency of evangelism will become evident. A number of heterodox theologies undermine the urgency of evangelism by teaching that unbelievers will get a “second chance” after death. There is, however, no biblical warrant for such teaching, and to assert it is pure presumption.

Our primary motivation for evangelism should be love of God and love of neighbor. Those who love God will joyfully obey His commission to evangelize and disciple. Those who love their neighbor will desire nothing greater for them than eternal life. Their aim will be to see God glorified through the salvation of sinners like themselves in order that the church would grow.

The God-ordained means of evangelism is His own Word. It is through the proclamation of God’s Word that the Holy Spirit effectually works faith in men’s hearts. The specific message of evangelism is the gospel. Paul summarizes this message in 1 Corinthians 15:3–5: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” When those who hear the gospel ask what they must do to be saved, Scripture tells us that the answer is: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

In the final chapters of his book, Kuiper surveys issues such as zeal for evangelism, the biblical method of evangelism, cooperation in evangelism, resistance to evangelism, and the triumph of evangelism. He reminds us that we can proclaim the gospel with great hope, looking forward to seeing the fruits of our evangelism, a time when “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” will stand before the throne of the Lamb, clothed in white and crying out, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9–10).

For too long, the church has attempted to achieve a worthy goal through worldly means. Let us heed Kuiper’s plea and leave man-centered Madison Avenue methods behind. May we fulfill the Great Commission in a God-glorifying manner.

My top fifteen reads of 2009

1. Finally Alive – John Piper

A definitive teaching on regeneration.

2. Bookends of the Christian Life – Bridges and Bevington

Justification and the grace of the Spirit combine to empower the Christian life.

3. Outrageous Mercy - William Farley

Cross-centred living.

4. Religious Affections – Jonathan Edwards

Edwards’ classic treatise on genuine Christian spirituality.

5. Counsel from the Cross - Fitzpatrick and Johnson

Application of the gospel to all areas of life.

6. The Prodigal God – Tim Keller

An expose of the older brother syndrome of relying on religious practice to please God.

7. A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards – George Marsden

A bite-sized (but not diminished) biography of the great man.

8. Signs of the Spirit – Sam Storms

Helped me get to grips with Religious Affections!

9. Unfashionable – Tullian Tchividjian

Counter-cultural, kingdom-living, for the sake of the culture.

10. A New Inner Relish – Dane Ortlund

The heart of regeneration is a new taste for God implanted in the heart by God.

11. What is Reformed Theology? – R.C. Sproul

Lucid and concise teaching on the Sovereignty of God and the Doctrines of Grace.

12. Far as the Curse is Found – Michael Williams

The covenant story of redemption.

13. From Age to Age – Kieth Mathison

The unfolding story of biblical eschatology.

14. The Returning King – Vern Poythress

A really helpful guide to the book of Revelation.

15. The Divine Substitute – Shaw and Edwards

The atonement in the bible and history. Very accessible.

“The Gospel-Driven Life”

Michael Horton’s follow-up to his excellent “Christless Christianity” is now available. “The Gospel-Driven Life” promises to be an important book.

gospel driven lifeFrom the Publisher:
In his well-received Christless Christianity Michael Horton offered a prophetic wake-up call for a self-centered American church. With The Gospel-Driven Life he turns from the crisis to the solutions, offering his recommendations for a new reformation in the faith, practice, and witness of contemporary Christianity. This insightful book will guide readers in reorienting their faith and the church’s purpose toward the good news of the gospel. The first six chapters explore that breaking news from heaven, while the rest of the book focuses on the kind of community that the gospel generates and the surprising ways in which God is at work in the world. Here is fresh news for Christians who are burned out on hype and are looking for hope.

“Mike Horton has once again hit the nail on the head. With engaging clarity he demonstrates that the gospel is not just for non-Christians; it’s for Christians too. In compelling ways he shows that the gospel doesn’t just ignite the Christian life; it’s the fuel that keeps Christians going every day. Horton’s book is a flavorsome reminder that in order for Christians to make a difference in this world, we must be driven by something otherworldly–namely, the gospel.”

- Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and author of Unfashionable

(HT: Todd Pruitt)

Counsel from the Cross

I can’t recommend this book highly enough – here’s a good review by Ron Reffett of Books that Matter:

Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson have written one of the most gospel centered books on counseling that I have ever seen. It’s not another 12 steps to your best life or self help disguised in a “christian” wrapper, Counsel From The Cross is a practical “how to” in applying the gospel not only in your life but also in other people’s life. I loved the quote from B.B. Warfield that starts the introduction, ” There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all….This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be. It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest.” Great way to begin a book on counseling, we are nothing and have nothing outside of Christ. We are utterly without any hope whatsoever without Jesus and His righteousness, our righteousness is but filthy rags.
This book is broken into nine different chapters, starting with how do we see ourselves and moving from that into how do we see our Savior and His love toward us in light of the tremendous bad news about our sin riddled state. Fitzpatrick and Johnson have done a wonderful job of breaking this book into manageable size chunks, with great questions to apply what you’ve read and also to dig a little further into counseling from the cross.
In the second appendix there is a wonderful resource taken from Jay Adam’s Christian Counselor’s New Testamant, it is an excellent way of applying the gospel to pretty much any difficulty that you or someone you know may be experiencing, the list is by no means exhaustive but would be helpful as a guide as to where to begin in applying Scripture and the gospel to a wide array of circumstances and situations that you may find yourself faced with.
There were many nuggets of goodness to take from this book and I’m sure upon multiple readings, many other things will come to the surface, here is one example of those nuggets;
“The good news also tells us that although we were rebels, he made us his own (Phil. 3:12) He loves us. We are not outcasts, house guests, foster children, slaves or strangers Like an attentive Father, he has yearned over us (Jer 31:20) and chosen us before the foundation of the world, and he has brought us into his family as his beloved adopted children (Eph 1:4) We’ve been born “not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13)
What a wonderful picture of the gospel! We have not slipped into the family of God by accident or as Fitzpatrick states “by the skin of our teeth” we were chosen before the foundation of the world at just the right time God sent forth His Son and there is not one thing within any of us to make God love us any more than He already does. The wonderful good news is that even though we are filthy undeserving sinners, we are invited actually called into an intimate relationship with God the Father through the finished work of the Son and sealed by the precious Holy Spirit! We are far better off than we deserve!
You really need to pick up a copy of Counsel From The Cross, it is a cross centered work that would benefit your soul greatly. The problem isn’t that we need more steps to arrive at a place of imperfection, we need to be faced with the horribly bad news of our sorry state and then be affected daily by the incredible good news of the gospel, and that is we are indeed far worse off than we realize but we are loved far more than we will ever know.

What the church is here to do

Todd Pruitt posts:

From J. Gresham Machen’s provocative 1933 essay “The Responsibility of the Church in Our New Age”:

machen book2“The responsibility of the church in the new age is the same as its responsibility in every age. It is to testify that this world is lost in sin; that the span of human life–no, all the length of human history–is an infinitesimal island in the awful depths of eternity; that there is a mysterious, holy, living God, Creator of all, Upholder of all, infinitely beyond all; that he has revealed himself to us in his Word and offered us communion with himself through Jesus Christ the Lord; that there is no other salvation, for individuals or for nations, save this, but that this salvation is full and free, and that whoever possesses it has for himself and for all others to whom he may be the instrument of bringing it a treasure compared with which all the kingdoms of the earth–no, all the wonders of the starry heavens–area as the dust of the street.

“An unpopular message it is–an impractical message, we are told. But it is the message of the Christian church. Neglect it, and you will have destruction; heed it, and you will have life” from Selected Shorter Writings, edited by D.G. Hart, 376).

Guy Waters on Tom Wright

Guy Waters thoughtfully reviews N. T. Wright’s Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision.

His conclusion:

Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision is the most comprehensive and current statement of N. T. Wright on justification to date. Justification is largely a restatement of Wright’s views, with some amplification and rhetorical refinement. It is not a detailed textual and theological interaction with his Reformational readers’ concerns and objections. To the degree thatJustification summarizes and synthesizes nearly three decades of Wright’s publications on justification, the book is useful to the student of Wright’s work. To the degree that Justification has failed to engage criticisms of Wright’s formulations on justification in such a way as to advance the discussion, the work is a missed opportunity. What is clear from Justification is that the fundamental concern of Wright’s Reformational readers remains unallayed and firmly in place: Wright’s views on justification have parted company with the teaching of the apostle Paul.

(HT: Andy Naselli)

Free D. A. Carson Books

Andy Naselli has posted a comprehensive bibliography of D. A. Carson’s wittings. He also links to seven free PDF books. Enjoy:

(HT: Tony Reinke)

Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility by D. A. Carson – some quotes

“The sovereignty-responsibility tension is not a problem to be solved; rather, it is a framework to be explored.” (2)

“Once again, then, the divine activity calls for a response, not fatalism; while human calling and seeking do not make the divine activity contingent.” (14)

“The point is so obvious that it scarcely requires making. From the first prohibition in Eden, through commands to individuals like Noah and Abraham -whether commands to build an ark or to walk blamelessly- to the prescriptions laid on the covenant people, human responsibility is presupposed.” (18)

“Men are not held to be responsible in some merely abstract fashion; they are responsible to someone.” (19)

“It is difficult to find an adequate word or phrase to express this ‘ultimacy’ in God. The crucial point is that his activity is so sovereign and detailed that nothing can take place in the world of men without at least his permission; and conversely, if he sets himself against some course, then that course cannot develop.” (28)

“…the Old Testament writers do not shy away from making Yahweh himself in some mysterious way (the mysteriousness of which safeguards him from being himself charged with evil) the ‘ultimate’ cause of many evils.” (28)

“To fail to acknowledge Yahweh’s ultimacy-to fail to praise-is not real independence from divine dominion, but overt rebellion, a misguided declaration of self-dependence. The absoluteness of divine sovereignty and the reality of human responsibility meet in the human obligation to acknowledge divine sovereignty with grateful humility.” (34-5)

“In short, although we may lack the categories needed for full exposition of the problem, nevertheless we must insist that divine ultimacy stands behind good and evil asymmetrically.” (36-7)

“In the case of both Caiaphas and Judas, therefore, divine ultimacy even behind evil actions is presupposed. But divine ultimacy operates in some mysterious way so that human responsibility is in no way mitigated, while the divine being is in no way tarnished. In particular, Judas is responsible even when Satan is using him; but over both stands the sovereignty of God.” (132)

“There is a sense in which God’s love is directed to the ‘world’ per se; but to absolutise the passage where this is enunciated is to fail to recognize the even more numerous passages in which the divine love is restricted to the elect, while unbelievers sit under wrath and judgment.” (197)

“Hence it [John’s gospel] feels no embarrassment at picturing God’s control and purposes over events themselves evil. God is neither tainted not thwarted by evil actions. Indeed, his purposes in salvation history are being fulfilled even by such actions. Men for their part do not find their responsibility lessened by God’s sovereign reign.” (202-3)

“It must be protested that although the various time/eternity models serve a useful purpose as bases for discussion, they are in no sense explanatory solutions of the sovereignty-responsibility tension. That would be to explain the obscure by the more obscure.” (210)

“The example of Job is particularly instructive. Job and his friends stress equally that God is all-powerful and perfectly good; but the message of a book as a whole is that their conception of God is not high enough. God’s ways are unfathomable; his knowledge, limitless; his power, effectual; who can tell him he is wrong? What man has arrogance to deny divine providence by ignorant words? No simple solution is possible, for men with their limited knowledge cannot judge God’s government. Man’s peace must come from knowing and trusting this God. It is significant that Job cries out in the end, not “I understand!” but “I repent.” ” (217)

(HT: Jude St.John)

Why We Love the Church

A couple of advance blurbs for Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck’s next book, Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion (due out at the end of the month):

Well, they’ve done it again. The two guys who should be emergent, but aren’t, have followed up their first best seller with what I hope and pray will be a second. In Why We Love the Church DeYoung and Kluck have given us a penetrating critique of church-less Christianity and a theologically rigorous, thoroughly biblical, occasionally hilarious, but equally serious defense of the centrality of the church in God’s redemptive purpose. In spite of her obvious flaws, DeYoung and Kluck really do love the church, because they love the Christ whose body it is. You don’t have to agree with everything they say to appreciate and profit from this superbly written and carefully constructed book. This is a great read and I recommend it with unbridled enthusiasm.
Sam Storms, senior pastor, Bridgway Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

If you’re looking for reality, authenticity, and honesty, you’ve found it in this book. Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, shrewd observers and faithful practitioners, have once again written a book that is like the best of foods—good tasting and good for you. Their style is easy, creative, and funny. They are theologically faithful, fresh, and insightful. They are sympathetic with many concerns and even objections to much in the church today, yet are finally defensive, in the best sense of the word. They are careful critics of the too-popular critics of the church. They are lovers of Christ and His church. I pray this book will help you love Christ’s church better, too.
Mark Dever, author of 9 Marks of a Healthy Church

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Biblical Preaching is Spiritual in Its Essence

bp0519.jpgThis is one of the most vital truths about biblical preaching. Let me explain what I mean: the task of true preaching is not essentially intellectual or psychological or rhetorical; it is essentially spiritual.

Left to ourselves, we may do many things with a congregation. We may move them emotionally. We may attract them to ourselves personally, producing great loyalty. We may persuade them intellectually. We may educate them in a broad spectrum of Christian truth. But the one thing we can never do, left to ourselves, is to regenerate them spiritually and change them into the image of Jesus Christ, to bear his moral glory in their character. While that is the great calling of the church of Christ, it is essentially God’s work and not ours.

So it is possible to be homiletically brilliant, verbally fluent, theologically profound, biblically accurate and orthodox, and spiritually useless. That frightens me. I hope it frightens you, too. I think it is of this that Paul is speaking when he says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (I Cor. 3:6-7). It is very possible for us to be deeply concerned about homiletical ability and fluency and theological profundity and biblical orthodoxy, but to know nothing of the life – giving power of God with the burning anointing of the Holy Spirit upon our ministry. Campbell Morgan (Lloyd-Jones’s predecessor at the Westminster Chapel) divulged that at one crucial stage in his ministry he was in precisely this position, and sensed that God was sayingto him, “Preach on, great preacher, without me.” Alan Redpath used to say that the most penetrating question you could ask about any church situation was, “What is happening in this place that cannot be explained in merely human terms?”

So there is a world of difference between true biblical preaching and an academic lecture or a rhetorical performance. We are utterly dependent on the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. Thank God, he uses the weak things of this world to confound the mighty, and the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that are (1 Cor. 1 :2,8). This is why it is absolutely essential to marry prayer to the ministry of the Word. In our ministries prayer is not supplemental; it is fundamental. Of course we subscribe to the principal that “this work is God’s work, not ours.” We subscribe to that because we are biblical Evangelicals, but the logical corollary of that statement is that prayer is a fundamental issue in the ministry of the Word, as in every part of our labor, and not, as we tend to make it, a supplemental matter.

E. M. Bounds, who wrote the remarkable little booklet Power through Prayer, says, “The church is on a stretch if not on a strain, looking for better methods. But men are God’s methods and while the church is looking for better methods, God is looking for better men.”

That, of course, does not mean that we should not be interested in methodology. Nor does it mean that we have to be stupid enough to ignore new ideas and new insights, or to be careless in our administration and exploration of methods that are valuable and effective. But we do need to ask God to write on our hearts that this task he has given us is spiritual in essence.

[Excerpt From “What is Biblical Preaching” by Eric J. Alexander, P&R, 2008]

(HT: Reformation Theology)

Collision Movie Trailer

A preacher and an atheist walk into a bar…

Preview of the first 13 minutes of the forthcoming documentary “Collision”.
The film follows renowned author and anti-theist Christopher Hitchens and
Pastor Douglas Wilson as they debate the topic: “Is Christianity Good For
The World?”. A Darren Doane film. level4.tv collisionmovie.com

Al Mohler’s New Book

Al Mohler’s latest book, “The Disappearance
of God”, can be ordered HERE
From the Publisher:

For centuries the church has taught and guarded the core Christian beliefs that make up the essential foundations of the faith. But in our postmodern age, sloppy teaching and outright lies create rampant confusion, and many Christians are free-falling for ‘feel-good’ theology. We need to know the truth to save ourselves from errors that will derail our faith.

As biblical scholar, author, and president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler, writes, “The entire structure of Christian truth is now under attack.” With wit and wisdom he tackles the most important aspects of these modern issues:

Is God changing His mind about sin?
Why is hell off limits for many pastors?
What’s good or bad about the emergent movement?
Have Christians stopped seeing God as God?
Is the social justice movement misguided?
Could the role of beauty be critical to our theology?
Is liberal faith any less destructive than atheism?
Are churches pandering to their members to survive?

In the age-old battle to preserve the foundations of faith, it’s up to a new generation to confront and disarm the contemporary shams and fight for the truth. Dr. Mohler provides the scriptural answers to show you how.

(HT: Todd Pruitt)

Job – book trailer

With moving illustrations by Christopher Koelle, John Piper unfolds the story of Job in beautiful, compassionate poetry and revels in God’s sovereign and surprisingly joyful purposes in allowing exquisite suffering in the lives of his saints. An uplifting book, especially for those experiencing great suffering and loss.



Book review by Kevin DeYoung:

unfashionableThey say you can’t tell a book by its cover, but with this book you can. Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World By Being Different, besides having a catchy cover, is exactly what you think it is, a book about the Christian’s call to be unlike the world in order to change the world.

Tullian Tchividjian is the grandson of Billy Graham, the founding pastor of New City Church outside Ft. Lauderdale, an author, a conference speaker, and as of a few weeks ago, the pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (which merged with New City so Tullian could pastor both congregations). In addition to these claims to fame, Tullian is a friend of mine.

Unfashionable is divided into four sections: The Call (be different), The Commission (be agents of renewal), The Community (different looks like this), and The Charge (go big or go home). My favorite section is the first. Tullian makes a compelling case for the attraction of transcendence, irrelevance, and truth. The story of how the Lord brought Tullian back to the fold is the perfect example of the book’s main point. “I was a seeker being reached, not by a man-centered, trendy show, but by a God-centered, transcendent atmosphere. I was experiencing what Ed Clowney, the late president of Westminster Theological Seminary, used to call ‘doxological evangelism.’ It was, quite literally, out of this world. Here, finally, was the radical difference I’d been longing for.” Elsewhere Tullian adds, “Younger generations don’t want trendy engagement from the church; in fact, they’re suspicious of it. Instead they want truthful engagement with historical and theological solidity that enables meaningful interaction with transcendent reality. They want desperately to invest their lives in something worth dying for, not some here-today-gone-tomorrow fad.” Amen and Amen. This certainly rings true in my heart and in the hearts of the twenty- and thirtysomethings I run into.

Unfashionable is well organized, attractively laid out, and clearly written. Tullian sprinkles in a number of good quotations from other authors and livens the book with personal anecdotes. If there is anything I disagree with it’s that I may have a little more “two kingdom theology” and a little less “Christ the transformer of culture theology” in me than Tullian. I completely agree with his main point that we should be engaged in culture and seeking to make a difference in the world, but transforming our communities for Christ seems to be more of an implied New Testament teaching than something that gets top billing. I don’t think Tullian and I would disagree with much in practice, but we may want to put our emphasis on a different syllable.

Having said that, Tullian is very careful to strike the right balance, explaining that re-creation is individual and cosmic, that the kingdom has come and is coming, that we are rescued from a problem and for a purpose, that we change the world by persuasion not coercion, that we must have both purity and proximity when it comes to culture. All in all, I welcome Tullian’s reminder to create what is Christ-honoring in the finance, academic, fashion, entertainment, and political centers of the world. I’ve known enough Christians who care little for the world’s problems and attempt little to make the world more God glorifying, that I appreciate Tullian’s challenge to get out there and just do something (to coin a phrase).

Unfashionable would be ideal for use in small groups. The study guide at the back is thorough and the book’s subject matter lends itself well to group discussion.

The vision Tullian casts for us is biblical and bold. The church and the world will be better if we listen to his advice and start making a difference in the world by being different.

The Narnia Code

reviewssept08planetnarniaThe BBC has produced an excellent documentary about Michael Ward’s discovery of a ‘secret code’ hidden beneath the narrative of the Narnia Chronicles by CS Lewis. Ward’s book is called, Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis. The documentary is a fascinating story about Lewis’ love and expertise of  medieval cosmology and Ward’s tying this to the ultimate reason behind the Chronicles. The result is a God-glorifying testimony to the order and grandeur of creation. Lewis’ aim! There are some great interviews at the end with Christian scientists, and a wonderful conclusion centred on the resurrection of Jesus as the beginning of the new creation.

You can watch the BBC program here on BBCi, available for one week.

Monergism’s Reader’s Guide


A Monergism Books READER’S GUIDE for the Christian Life:

Christianity is not about knowing a lot of things. It is
about deeply knowing the one true God in order that
your whole person may be conformed into His image:
·  Basic Christianity | John Stott
·  Bible Overview | Steve Levy
·  Christian Beliefs | Wayne Grudem
·  Christian Life | Sinclair Ferguson
·  Concise Theology | J. I. Packer
·  God’s Big Picture | Vaughan Roberts
·  Truth for All Time | John Calvin

Grow deeper in the knowledge of God by studying
how the Gospel trains us in every area of life:
·  Attributes of God | Arthur Pink
·  Church History in Plain Language | Bruce Shelley
·  Finally Alive | John Piper
·  Holiness of God | R. C. Sproul
·  In Christ Alone | Sinclair Ferguson
·  Just Do Something | Kevin DeYoung
·  Knowing God | J. I. Packer
·  Knowing Scripture | R. C. Sproul
·  Living the Cross Centered Life | C. J. Mahaney
·  Prayer and the Knowledge of God | Goldsworthy
·  Putting Amazing Back Into Grace | Michael Horton
·  Seeing with New Eyes | David Powlison
·  Today’s Gospel | Walter Chantry
·  Whatever Happened to The Gospel of Grace? | James M. Boice
·  When Grace Comes Home | Terry L. Johnson

Some things God has revealed about himself are difficult
to understand. Careful study of these works will
be greatly rewarding:
·  Chosen for Life | Sam Storms
·  Christless Christianity | Michael Horton
·  Courage to Be Protestant | David Wells
·  Desiring God | John Piper
·  Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God | D. A. Carson
·  Doctrine of the Knowledge of God | John Frame
·  Systematic Theology | Wayne Grudem

Following Christ’s example, believers have always
labored to bless the generations which would come
after them. These are some of the finest fruits of
that labor:
·  Bondage of the Will | Martin Luther
·  Bruised Reed | Richard Sibbes
·  Christian in Complete Armor | William Gurnall
·  Confessions | St. Augustine
·  Crook in the Lot | Thomas Boston
·  Freedom of the Will | Jonathan Edwards
·  Institutes of the Christian Religion | John Calvin
·  Mortification of Sin | John Owen
·  Religious Affections | Jonathan Edwards

Strengthen the young minds under your care early
with gospel-centered resources:
·  Big Truths for Little Kids | Susan & Richie Hunt
·  Jesus Storybook Bible | Sally Lloyd-Jones
·  Training Hearts, Teaching Minds | Starr Meade

Not a secondary matter, sharing the good news is
a necessary part of believing the good news:
·  Always Ready | Greg Bahnsen
·  Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God | J.I. Packer
·  Gospel and Personal Evangelism | Mark Dever
·  Let the Nations Be Glad | John Piper
·  Reason for God | Tim Keller
·  Tell the Truth | Will Metzger

Like having a scholar read the Bible with you,
study Bibles provide insightful notes and clarifying
articles along the way:
·  ESV Study Bible | Crossway
·  NIV Spirit of the Reformation | Zondervan
·  Reformation Study Bible (ESV) | P & R

Easy to find answers to all your Bible-related
questions. These reference tools put historical
and literal-grammatical details at your fingertips
and make topical studies a breeze:
·  Commentary on the N.T. use of the O.T. | G. K. Beale & D. A. Carson
·  Introduction to the Old Testament | Tremper Longman & Raymond Dillard
·  Introduction to the New Testament | D. A. Carson & Douglas Moo
·  New Dictionary of Biblical Theology | T. Desmond Alexander & Brian Rosner

T. David Gordon on Moralistic vs. Christological Preaching

I’m grateful to David Wayne, AKA the Jolly Blogger, for this piece. I think T. David Gordon’s book is going to be a classic. More than that, it’s going to help preachers apply the gospel by preaching Christ.

davidwayneI have committed myself to Christological preaching, but one of the pushbacks on Christological preaching, at least as I practice it, is that it is not practical enough.  The standard preaching advice for many has been that each sermon should include or conclude with practical applications of the text.

I agree with this in a sense, but “practical” often takes the form of a “to-do” list, a series of actions we must take to “apply” the text.  The problem with this is that it seems to me to render the gospel null and void.  Our response to the gospel is always that of repentance and faith, not action.  We do not “do” something to apply the gospel, the gospel “does” something to us. Thus I have been very cautious in offering “to-do” lists from texts.

On the other hand I am aware that the Bible is full of commands that demand obedience.  Yet, while acknowledging that, I am still left with the Colossians 2:20-23 conundrum.

20 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules:  21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”?  22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings.  23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

In other words, telling people what to do and not do has little or no value in getting them to do or not do what they should or shouldn’t do.  This doesn’t mean there aren’t things we should and shouldn’t do, but do’s and don’ts won’t get it done.

So how do we resolve this conundrum?  T. David Gordon in his book Why Johnny Can’t Preach offers some “practical” thoughts:


I know that there are those who are terribly afraid that such Christ-centered preaching will lead to licentiousness; but I categoricaly deny it. I’ve witnessed with my own eyes the difference between believers who suffer through moralistic preaching and those who experience Christological preaching.  The former are never as strong or vibrant in their Christian discipleship as the latter.  In theory, we all say we believe, for instance, that good works are the “inevitable” fruit of saving faith.  I not only say this; I believe it.

I believe that as people’s confidence in Christ goes they do, ordinarily and inevitably, bear fruit that accords with faith.  Thus, there is no need for some trade-off here, or some alleged dichotomy suggesting that we need to preach morality if we are to have morality.  No; preach Christ and you will have morality.  Fill the sails of your hearers’ souls with the wind of confidence in the Redeemer, and tey will trust him as their Sanctifier, and long to see his fruit in their lives.  Fill their minds and imaginations with a vision of the loveliness and perfection of Christ in his person, and the flock will long to be like him.  Impress upon their weak and wavering hearts the utter competence of the mediation of the One who ever lives to make intercession for them, and they will long to serve and comfort others, even as Christ has served and comforted them.