Kingdom Come by Sam Storms

Coming soon (excuse the pun!) from Christian Focus, my good friend Sam Storms’ latest book; perhaps the benchmark text on eschatology and amillennialism: Featured Review “…the most helpful book on the various millennial views I have seen since W. J. Grier’s The Momentous Event. His work is marked by careful exegesis of pertinent texts, and ranges widely and deeply in all of the relevant Scriptural passages dealing with the end of the age.” Douglas F. Kelly ~ Richard Jordan Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina Description The second coming of Christ is a matter of sharp disagreement amongst Christians. Many hold to premillennialism: that Christ’s return will be followed by 1,000 years before the final judgement, a belief popularised in the popular Left Behind novels. However, premillennialism is not the only option for Christians. In this important new book, Sam Storms provides a biblical rationale for amillennialism; the belief that 1,000 years mentioned in the book of Revelation

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The goal of theology

Jonathan Parnell: The Bible is amazing. God has spoken to us in a book — a glorious story about his glory and grace centered on the God-man, Jesus Christ. But the life he saves us to — our life in Christ — plays out in this world beyond the pages of his word. What we learn about him is meant to serve how we live for him. And Paul Tripp says this is dangerous for pastors and Christian leaders. The temptation is, as Tripp aptly describes it, “to become more excited about the world of ideas [in the Bible] … than the loving worship of Almighty God and self-sacrificing love for the people of his church.” Are you all about studying, but not serving? All lesson and no love? Paul Tripp helps us:

The Truly Evangelical Type of Piety

Geerhardus Vos: To join the outcry against dogma and fact means to lower the ideal of what the Christian consciousness ought normally to be to the level of the spiritual depression of our own day and generation. How much better that we should all strive to raise our drooping faith and to re-enrich our depleted experience up to the standard of those blessed periods in the life of the Church when the belief in Bible history and the religion of the heart went hand in hand and kept equal pace, when people were ready to lay down their lives for facts and doctrines, because facts and doctrine formed the daily spiritual nourishment of the souls. May God by his Spirit maintain among us, and through our instrumentality revive around us, that truly evangelical type of piety which not merely tolerates facts and doctrines, but draws from them its strength and inspiration in life and service, its only comfort and hope

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Justification and Regeneration

Dane Ortlund: Seems to me there are roughly four camps when it comes to the question of how to put together the gospel with our ongoing growth. Maybe we can put all four in terms of their unification of the objective/legal/pardoning/external side of salvation (which for simplicity’s sake we’ll call justification [J]) with the subjective/mystical/empowering/internal side (which for simplicity we’ll call regeneration [R]). 1. Unbelievers (neither J nor R). No focus on either justification or regeneration. Full-blown functional Pelagianism and Socinianism without knowing it. 2. The Christian Buzz Lightyears (R, not J). A focus on regeneration to the neglect of justification. Overly optimistic. Anthropologically naive. Historically known as ‘Neonomian.’ Forgets that even the regenerate continue, in many ways, to be hard-wired to self-generate, even a little bit, God’s approval. Focuses on the ongoing need for the work of the Spirit to the neglect of the ongoing need for the work of the Son. I think the German Pietists Franke and

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Adoption in Context

This is not for the theologically faint-of-heart! Essentially, we are to see Jesus, in his eternal sonship, as the ultimate expression of relating to God, both as its perfect template (for creation) and practical example (in incarnation). Through union with him we share in that ideal filial relationship. Wonderful! Tony Reinke posts: J. I. Packer rather famously wrote, “were I asked to focus the New Testament message in three words, my proposal would be adoption through propitiation, and I do not expect ever to meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that” (Knowing God, 214). Adoption is precious, and that line from Packer is worth memorizing. But there’s a much broader historical-redemptive context for understanding our adoption as David B. Garner explains in his excellent chapter, “The First and Last Son: Christology and Sonship in Pauline Soteriology,” published in Resurrection and Eschatology (P&R, 2008). Here is Garner’s thick-and-rich-like-dark-chocolate conclusion. Best enjoyed in small bites: Behind the creation of the

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In Defense of Theology

“After all, if revelation consisted only in the communication of life and religion, only in emotional states, there would be no room for real theology. But revelation is systematic disclosure of the words and deeds of God; it encompasses a world of thoughts and has its centre in the incarnation of the Logos. And religion is not feeling and sensation alone but also belief, living for and serving of God with both heart and head. And that revelation of God can therefore be intellectually penetrated in order that it may all the better enter into the human consciousness. In that connection one cannot even take it ill of theology if it aims at clarity in thought, at making lucid distinctions and at precision in articulation. Such precision is pursued and valued in all the sciences; it is equally appropriate in theology. The danger of its degenerating into hair-splitting exists equally in other sciences, say, in jurisprudence and the study of literature. But

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Paul and Union with Christ

Publisher’s description: Paul and Union with Christ fills the gap for biblical scholars, theologians, and pastors pondering and debating the meaning of union with Christ. Following a selective survey of the scholarly work on union with Christ through the twentieth century to the present day, Greek scholar Constantine Campbell carefully examines every occurrence of the phrases ‘in Christ’, ‘with Christ’, ‘through Christ’, ‘into Christ,’ and other related expressions, exegeting each passage in context and taking into account the unique lexical contribution of each Greek preposition. Campbell then builds a holistic portrayal of Paul’s thinking and engages contemporary theological discussions about union with Christ by employing his evidence-based understanding of the theme. This volume combines high-level scholarship and a concern for practical application of a topic currently debated in the academy and the church. More than a monograph, this book is a helpful reference tool for students, scholars, and pastors to consult its treatment of any particular instance of any phrase

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Why Do We Draw the Line?

By Carl Trueman: In recent years, talk of uniting around the center has been very popular in conservative evangelical quarters. One obvious reason for this is that many regard such a center as reflecting the fact that there is a solid core of key doctrines on which evangelicals agree, even though there are areas of disagreement. Thus, many consider Trinitarianism, penal substitution, and justification by grace alone through faith alone to be central points of agreement. At the same time, these same people would regard the subjects and mode of baptism or the details of church polity to be areas of disagreement. Yet, by seeing the former as more important, they regard diversity on the latter as not of truly fundamental significance. A second reason for emphasizing talk about the center is, perhaps, more problematic. Frequently, those who talk of the center as all-important contrast themselves favorably with those they see as emphasizing boundaries. Boundaries are much more problematic in our

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Defending the Faith Requires Definitions

From Kevin DeYoung: J. Gresham Machen: Indeed nothing makes a man more unpopular in the controversies of the present day than an insistence upon definitions of terms. Men discourse eloquently today upon such subjects as God, religion, Christianity, atonement, redemption, and faith, but they are greatly incensed when they are asked to tell in simple language what they mean by these terms. You speak of Christ? What Christ? You speak of atonement? What atonement? What is the nature of the atonement? Faith? What kind of faith? What is the nature of the faith you speak of? It can feel tedious at times, and perhaps some of our rigorous “definers” lack charity, but where would the church be without careful attention to precise language? How weak and impoverished would the faith be if we never bothered to define the Trinity, or justification, or inerrancy? And how much healthier will we leave the church if we carefully define terms like missional, social

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Let’s Get Our Theological Priorities Straight

Luke Stamps: Get your priorities straight. This is true in the realm of Christian doctrine, just as it is anywhere else in life. Doctrinal prioritization has a strong pedigree. Jesus himself placed priority on the two great commandments: love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). The apostle Paul placed priority on the gospel proclamation of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection—the message he considered to be “of first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3). And so all theologians must prioritize. Certain doctrines have greater significance than others for the whole of Christian theology. The deity of Christ is more consequential for the Christian faith than the timing of the millennium. The latter is still important, but it is not “of first importance,” to borrow the apostle’s phrase. But how do we get our doctrinal priorities straight? How do we know when to place special priority on a particular doctrine and when to avoid overstating the significance of another? Several years ago Albert

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Is Prophecy for Today?

The Proclamation Trust reposted a video from their 2010 Evangelical Ministry Assembly (EMA). This is a discussion/debate between Ian Hamilton (Cambridge Presbyterian Church; Cambridge, England) and Wayne Grudem (Phoenix Seminary, Arizona) on the topic of prophecy in the local church. A helpful resource on this topic is Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views (HT: James Grant)

Nuance Is Necessary

Brilliant from Kevin DeYoung: Christians must be careful thinkers, especially those who teach other Christians how to think. Very few heresies were the result of self-understood snakes sneaking into the church. Most doctrinal mistakes, of which “heresy” is only the most serious category, come from well meaning people intent on safeguarding an important element of the faith. Arianism and Docetism were two of the church’s first and deadliest heresies. And yet, both were attempts to preserve the truth. Arianism wanted to defend the majesty of God. So Arius stopped short of affirming the full deity of Christ. Surely the glory of God would be compromised if we make the human Son equal with the divine Father. Docetists saw the problem moving in the opposite direction. They too wanted to defend the perfection of God. So they refused to affirm the full humanity of Christ. Surely the Son must only appear to be human. How else can we protect the full

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The Character of a Good Theologian

  Matt Perman: I dusted off again recently Herman Witsius’s excellent essay “On the Character of a True Theologian.” As you can tell from the title, his emphasis is that a theologian is first a person of character, who loves God and believes what he teaches. Here’s one of the best paragraphs: By a theologian, I mean one who, imbued with a substantial knowledge of divine things derived form the teaching of God himself, declares and extols, not in words only, but by the whole course of his life, the wonderful excelencies of God and thus lives entirely for his glory. Such were in former days the holy patriarchs, such the divinely inspired prophets, such the apostolic teachers of the whole world, such some of those whom we denominate fathers, the widely resplendent luminaries of the primitive church. The knowledge of these men did not lie in the wiredrawn subtleties of curious questions, but in the devout contemplation of God

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Why We Must Be Unapologetically Theological

  Kevin DeYoung writes: If I’m not mistaken, our church has a reputation for being quite theological.  I know this is why many people have come to our church.  And I imagine it’s why some people have left, or never checked us out in the first place.  But no church should apologize for talking about and loving theology.  Now–and this is an important caveat–if we are arrogant with our theology, or if our doctrinal passion is just about intellectual gamesmanship, or we are all out of proportioned in our affections for less important doctrines, then may the Lord rebuke us. We should not be surprised theology gets a bad name in such circumstances. But when it comes to thinking on, rejoicing in, and building a church upon sound biblical truth, we should all long for a richly theological church. I could cite many reasons for preaching theologically and many reasons for wanting to pastor a congregation that loves theology. Let

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New Free Online Magazine: Credo

The first issue of Credo is now available online: The October issue of Credo seeks to affirm the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture as doctrines that are faithful to the testimony of Scripture itself. Contributors include: Gregg Allison, John Frame, Timothy George, Fred Zaspel, Michael A.G. Haykin, Tim Challies, Matthew Barrett, Thomas Schreiner, Tony Merida, Owen Strachan, J. V. Fesko, Robert Saucy, and many others. (HT: Justin Taylor)

How do you “do theology”?

James Grant writes: As Christians, we are called to know our God, and one way we learn of God is through Scripture. As we read Scripture, we often read it devotionally, without making the broader connections to various doctrines and themes. Drawing the various themes of Scripture together and seeking to understand its meaning is the task of theology, and theology has several disciplines to help with this task. Exegetical Theology: This comes from the Greek term that means “to lead out.” With this discipline, we are trying to lead meaning out of a particular passage instead of reading our meaning into the passage. As we interpret and explain the passage, we ask what it conveyed to the original audience.Normally exegesis is focused on original intent. Biblical Theology: This discipline traces the development of the Bible along the lines of redemptive history. We could trace the development of a theme (Kingdom of God), examine the theology of a particular book

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Round-table discussion with Sproul and Ferguson, et al

Watch as R.C. Sproul and Ligonier Teaching Fellows Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, and R.C. Sproul Jr. engage in this round-table discussion (May 19, 2011) covering topics such as dispensationalism, regeneration, election, evangelism, and Harold Camping. Very highly recommended. (HT: Reformation Theology)

God: Abounding in Love, Punishing the Guilty

From Jonathan Parnell at Desiring God: A special session convened in light of Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. The panel, moderated by Kevin DeYoung, included D. A. Carson, Tim Keller, Crawford Loritts, and Stephen Um. Listen to the audio of “God: Abounding in Love, Punishing the Guilty.” Carson framed the discussion giving a brief and clarifying overview on universalism: Be clear about definition of universalism, don’t muddle what it is. Universalism is built out of several different assertions: a) everyone is savingly loved by God and is reconciled to God already; b) because of the wideness of God’s mercy, people of other religions will somehow find their way to heaven; c) initially, the only lost people are those who reject God’s love; d) despite their rejection of his love, these people are still loved by God.This set of beliefs invariably teaches other things that are often not articulated. It affects your view of atonement, impoverishes the love of God by disconnecting

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Packer on Justification

As understood by the Reformers and their followers, and by Paul as I read him, [justification] is theological, declaring a work of amazing grace; anthropological, demonstrating that we cannot save ourselves; Christological, resting on incarnation and atonement; pneumatological, rooted in Spirit-wrought faith-union with Jesus; ecclesiological, determining both the definition and the health of the church; eschatological, proclaiming God’s truly final verdict on believers here and now; evangelistic, inviting troubled souls into everlasting peace; pastoral, making our identity as forgiven sinners basic to our fellowship; and liturgical, being decisive for interpreting the sacraments and shaping sacramental services. No other biblical doctrine holds together so much that is precious and enlivening. –J. I. Packer et al, Here We Stand: Justification by Faith Today (Hodder and Stoughton 1986), 5; quoted in Anthony Hoekema, Saved by Grace (Eerdmans 1994), 153 (HT: Dane Ortlund)