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)

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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A matter of hermeneutics

Ray Ortlund: For a church to preach gospel doctrine and embody gospel culture is ultimately a matter of hermeneutics. Not the pastor’s cheery personality, though that helps, but hermeneutics. What is this Bible we are reading? If it really is good news for bad people through the finished work of Christ on the cross — if “good news” is the hermeneutic with which every passage is interpreted and every sermon preached, then by God’s help that church will build a gospel culture where sinners can breathe again. But it is possible for a church, reading the Bible, even revering the Bible, never to become a gospel culture. Why? Hermeneutics, how they perceive their Bible. And if the only light we have is darkness, how great is our darkness. We tend toward a sinister reading of reality. We see God that way, we see each other that way, we see life that way. The Bible sets us free. Wise churches keep their

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Grudem on Scripture’s Clarity

From Todd Pruitt: The Bible is not locked away in esoteric mystery as theological liberals or postmoderns would have us believe. God gave us His Word (yes, I believe it is HIS Word) not to confuse or confound us but to reveal Himself to us. Belief in the clarity or perspicuity of Scripture is often miscast by the pomo/emergent/liberal crowd as arrogant. They assure us that their approach of not really knowing what the Bible means is a “humble apologetic.” But I wonder. Is it truly humble to say of God’s carefully crafted and fully inspired Word, “Who can truly know what it means?” It leaves me wondering if the opposition to the Bible’sperspicuity has more to do with discomfort over what Scripture has made clear than it is about Scripture being truly indecipherable. One of the great achievements of the Protestant Reformation was that the common man should have access to the Scriptures because much of what the Bible says is readily understood by the

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At Minimum, Biblical Exposition Involves…

Some helpful bench marks from Colin Adams. 1. Reading or quoting from the biblical passage to be expounded. 2. Giving the basic thrust of that passage’s message. 3. Positively demonstrating the meaning of the text by supplying relevant supporting evidence to your interpretation (historical background, literary context, grammatical support, word studies, wider Scriptural cross-reference, etc) 4. Negatively clarifying what the passage does not mean; ruling out possible faulty interpretations. 5. Drawing out the lessons of the passage for believer and non-believer. 6. Relating the passage to Christ and his gospel (setting the text within the wider framework of biblical theology). (Note: non essentials to exposition include catchy introductions or conclusions, illustrations, numbered points, alliteration. No doubt some of these can be helpful on ocassion, but you could do exposition without them).

Twelve Theses on the Mission of the Church in the 21st Century

An excellent post from Justin Taylor: Andreas Kostenberger: The church’s mission–in both belief and practice–should be grounded in the biblical theology of mission. Reflection on the church’s mission should be predicated upon the affirmation of the full and sole authority of Scripture. The church’s mission should be conceived primarily in terms of the church’s faithfulness and responsiveness to the missionary mandate given by the Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in Scripture. The church’s understanding of its mission should be hermeneutically sound. The church’s mission is to be conceived ultimately in theocentric rather than anthropocentric terms. The church’s mission, properly and biblically conceived, is to be trinitarian in its orientation, but not at the expense of neglecting the distinct roles of the three persons within the Godhead. The contemporary context of the church’s mission, while important, ought not to override the church’s commitment to the authority of Scripture, its need to be grounded in the biblical theology of mission, and the

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7 Interpretive Helps for Revelation

Justin Childers has a helpful post on interpreting the book of Revelation. . 1. Revelation focuses on Jesus Christ. The point of this book is to make known the power, might, glory, and victory of the Lamb. 2. Revelation is given to reveal (make known). The purpose of this book is not to confuse, but to reveal. Revelation is not trying to hide something. Its intent is to show something clearly. 3. Revelation must be interpreted in light of the rest of Scripture (particularly the OT). MacArthur says 278 of its 404 verses allude to the OT Scriptures. 4. Revelation must be interpreted with humility. Godly scholars vary in their interpretations on this book. Being dogmatic about something that is not clear is unwise. Humility demands that we use words like, “most likely,” “possibly,” “sometimes,” “could,” “may,” and “probably.” 5. Revelation has an original audience (like every other Biblical book). Revelation is a letter written to real churches. Real original

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Goldsworthy: “the history of the word…climaxes in the word becoming flesh”

“It is clear from the New Testament that the primary means by which the church grew was through the preaching of the gospel. The apostle Paul, who wrote to the Corinthians that he was determined to know nothing among them but Christ and him crucified, expressed it simply: “we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:23; 2:2). “The act of proclaiming, or preaching, was not the giving of opinions or of reinterpreting old religious traditions in new and creative ways. It was proclaiming the word of God. Whatever the form of the proclamation, the content was the gospel of Jesus, and it was by this means alone that people were added to the church. “Faith comes through what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). We note to begin with that the word of God now attaches to both Jesus and to the testimony about

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Carson on the Kingdom

This months issue of Evangelicals Now carries an excellent article by DA Carson on the dangers to avoid when seeking to understand the nature of the Kingdom of God. He lists 6 common errors, including a failure to appreciate the tension of the Already Not Yet of Kingdom come and coming. You can read the whole essay here. I reproduce this point for obvious reasons! Already, but not yet Indeed, that is the third arena where errors about the kingdom are not uncommon: tensions between the biblical descriptions of inaugurated eschatology (the kingdom has come) and futurist eschatology (the kingdom comes at the end). On the one hand, Jesus tells certain parables of the kingdom in order to get across that the expected ‘big bang’ is not yet. For instance (if I may use the formula much loved by the rabbis when they told their parables, and used by Jesus himself), it is the case with the kingdom as with

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Jesus Christ: The True Israel

Jesus Christ: The True Israel By Dr. Kim Riddlebarger If we stand within the field of prophetic vision typical of Israel’s prophets after the exile and captivity, and with them we look to the future, what do we see? Israel’s prophets clearly anticipate a time when Israel will be restored to its former greatness. But will that restoration of the nation of Israel to its former glory mirror the days of the monarchy? Or does the monarchy itself point us to the monarch? Such a prophetic vision includes not only the nation, but the land of Canaan, the city of Jerusalem, the throne of David, as well as the temple in Jerusalem. Since the nation had been divided and the people were hauled off into captivity in Babylon some five centuries before the coming of Jesus, the magnificent temple destroyed and the priesthood gone, such prophetic expectation related to Israel’s future quite naturally spoke of a reversal of fortune and

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Moralism verses Christ-Centered Exposition

From Todd Pruit: This article by Tim Keller explains much about why I preach the way I do. I fear that most evangelicals hear therapeutic moralism on Sundays rather than a faithful Christ-centered exposition of Scripture. The difference is radical. In typical contemporary evangelicalism the gospel is something added on at the end of a sermon rather than being presented as the sole rationale for faith and obedience. As a result most Christians hear sermons that do not need Jesus in order to make sense. In this way the Christian comes to see Jesus in strictly utilitarian terms. He is not the One who, by his death and resurrection delivers us from God’s wrath. Rather Jesus becomes a means to better one’s life. Keller writes, The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life.

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Goldsworthy: “The Reformation recovered the historical Christ-event as the basis of our salvation”

“Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) was a rallying-cry of the Reformation. The right of interpretation was restored to every believer, but this did not mean that the principles of interpretation found within the bible could be overlooked and every Christian follow his own whim. The allegorical method became far less popular, because the historical meaning of the Old Testament was found to be significant on its own, within the unity of the Bible. . “…The reformers maintained that salvation is a matter of grace alone, by Christ alone, through faith alone. ‘Grace alone’ meant that salvation is God’s work alone unconditioned by anything that man is or does. ‘Christ alone’ meant that the sinner is accepted by God on the basis of what Christ alone has done. ‘Faith alone’ meant that the only way for the sinner to receive salvation is by faith whereby the righteousness of Christ is imputed (credited) to the believer. . “What had this got to do

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The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses

Justin Taylor posts: Vern Poythress’s book, The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses, is now available online for free. Here is the table of contents: Part 1: Understanding the Different Aspects of the Law The Challenge of the Law of Moses The Tabernacle of Moses The Sacrifices, Prefiguring the Final Sacrifice of Christ The Priests and the People, General Principles for God’s Dwelling with Human Beings Prefiguring Union with Christ The Land of Palestine, the Promised Land The Law and Its Order The Purposes of the Tabernacle the Law, and the Promised Land: Pointing Forward to Christ The Punishments and Penalties of the Law Prefiguring the Destruction of Sin and Guilt through Christ Part 2: Understanding Specific Penalties of the Law The Principle of Penal Substitution Principles of Justice for the Modern State Just Penalties for Many Crimes Penalties for Sexual Crimes Deterrence and Rehabilitation A Critique of Prisons Our Responsibilities Toward Imperfect States Fulfillment of the Law

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Preaching centred upon God

I love this paragraph from a post by Dave Bish: “Man-centred preaching will either become self-esteemism that tells us what we want to hear, or it’ll be sin-focussed which will unwittingly end up convincing us that our sin isn’t quite so bad as it actually is. By contrast God-centred preaching that cries ‘Behold your God’ and feeds on the grace of Christ will be reviled by sin but delighted with the gospel of Jesus. It’ll drive changed living out of clear conviction about who God is and our new life in him.”

“Moralistic preaching assumes that we’re really not helpless sinners”

“We’ve all heard sermons, especially from the Old Testament, on the faithfulness of Abraham, David’s “heart for God”, Joshua’s leadership…and we were encouraged to “dare to be a Daniel”. But the Bible is nothing like Aesop’s fables… you know, a story to illustrate a moral point. Abraham was, in many ways, a moral failure. Even his willingness to sacrifice Isaac wasn’t an example for us, but was an occasion for God to foreshadow Christ as the ram caught in the thicket so that Isaac, and the rest of us, could go free. Moses was God’s man, but wavered under the burden and was barred from leading God’s people into Canaan. Joshua is not a source for leadership principles, unless we’re planning on leading a campaign of destruction against idolatrous nations in order to establish righteousness in God’s holy land. Yet read in the light of the history of redemption, Joshua and his ministry point forward to Jesus and his person

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What determines which doctrines are fundamental and which ones are necessary?

From the Q and A session at Desiring God Pastors Conference:  John Piper: My principial answer is that the fundamental doctrines are those that grow out from the center of the gospel: Christ died for our sins and rose again the third day. Who is Christ? What happened at the cross? What is the nature of faith? etc. The closer it is towards the center, the more necessary it is for being a Christian, the more fundamental it is. DA Carson: When Paul writes to the Corinthains he addresses the matters of first importance: the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor 15). The Bible itself insists that there is a core of doctrines that are most important. As soon as you start assuming the center and then just focusing on the marginal items, the next generation will be looser on the center. Be prophetic from the center to address the margins, but don’t leave it.

Excerpt from Schreiner’s NT Theology

Justin Taylor posts on Tom Schreiner’s new book: Baker Academic has posted the introduction and chapter 9 of Tom Schreiner’s forthcoming magnum opus, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (due out in May 2008) The introduction is well worth a read. Here’s some extracts to whet your appetite. As you can imagine, I love Schreiner’s emphasis on the importance of the ‘Already Not Yet’ –  “promise fulfilled but not consummated”. The thesis advanced in this book is that NT theology is God-focused, Christ-centered, and Spirit-saturated, but the work of the Father, Son, and Spirit must be understood along a salvation-historical timeline; that is, God’s promises are already fulfilled but not yet consummated in Christ Jesus. We will see that the ministry of Jesus Christ and the work of the Spirit are fundamental for the fulfilling of God’s promises. The coming of Jesus Christ and the work of the Spirit are the prime indications that God is beginning to fulfi

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Eschatology Q & A: What Are the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Different Millennial Views?

This is a very helpful article on the Millennial views by Kim Riddlebarger. Lëmi asks (October 31, 2007): “Could you explain briefly all the millennial positions pointing out their main strengths and weaknesses?” Thanks for the question Lëmi. Although I could write a book-length answer to your question (and hopefully will one of these days), I’ll do what I can to give you as concise an answer as possible. Lets start with premillennialism. As for its strengths, there seem to be two. One is the fact that Revelation 19 depicts the return of Christ, while Revelation 20:1-10 depicts the reign of Christ on the earth. If these chapters describe consecutive events (a point with which I would take issue) then this would place the millennial age after Christ’s return. A second apparent strength is that a number of church fathers state that this was the teaching passed on to them by the eyewitnesses to the ministry of the apostles, although

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The Spirit of Holiness

I found this article by Michael Haykin helpful for some current research I’m doing into the understanding of the link between the Spirit and ethical transformation in the Old Testament. One does not have to read far in Romans—the most systematic of all of Paul’s letters—to encounter a reference to the Spirit’s sanctifying work. In Romans 1:4 Paul describes the Spirit with a phrase that is unique in the New Testament—he is the “Spirit of holiness.”[1] What exactly does the Apostle mean by describing the Spirit thus? Why does he not use the more common term “Holy Spirit”? For some writers the terms “Holy Spirit” and “Spirit of holiness” are simply synonymous and they would understand the term “Spirit of holiness” to mean something like “the Spirit whose character is holiness.” There is another way, though, to understand this phrase and that is to see it as a description of the Spirit’s work: he is the giver of holiness, the

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