Archive for the ‘Biblical Theology’ Category

The Cross rightly understood

Posted: October 4, 2010 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Theology, Christian Theology, Christianity

“By Jesus’ sacrifice, God reveals and defends His justice in two ways. First, Jesus’ suffering for the sins of His people means that any sins unpunished beforehand are now fully punished in Christ. God leaves no sin unpunished. Mercy and grace do not come at the expense of justice. Second, because the sins of the faithful are fully punished in Jesus, God may justly declare righteous those who have faith in Jesus. That’s what it means to be justified in God’s sight — to be declared righteous by faith in Jesus. The cross, rightly understood, is God’s own answer to any objection that He is unfair to substitute Jesus for the unrighteous.”

– Thabiti Anyabwile, The Gospel for Muslims (Chicago, Ill.; Moody Publishers, 2010), 75-76

“One of the sweetest statements from the lips of Jesus . . . is this: ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ (Matt. 25:34b). There is a plan of God designed for your salvation. It is not an afterthought or an attempt to correct a mistake. Rather, from all eternity, God determined that He would redeem for Himself a people, and that which He determined to do was, in fact, accomplished in the work of Jesus Christ, His atonement on the cross. Your salvation has been accomplished by a Savior, One who did for you what the Father determined He should do. He is your Surety, your Mediator, your Substitute, your Redeemer. He atoned for your sins on the cross.”

– R. C. Sproul, The Truth of the Cross (Orlando, FL; Reformation Trust Pub., 2007), 152-153.

God’s grace

Posted: July 2, 2010 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Theology, Christianity, Reformed Theology

“The apostle Paul, who beyond all others is the exponent of grace and redemption, never dissociates God’s grace from God’s crucified Son. Always in his teachings the two are found together, organically one and inseparable.”

– A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1992), 146.

My dad was a pretty well travelled businessman.  He was frequently out of town, working hard all (literally)  over the world.  One of the things he would do when he went out of town was get me some small present that he picked up on his travels.  Though I don’t go out of town nearly as much as my dad, I have picked up the habit of grabing my son David a little gift when ever I do have to go out of town.  My wife and I spent this past weekend in Charleston, attending the New Wine conference at St. Andrew’s Mount Pleasant (fantastic!) as well as getting some much needed one on one husband and wife time.  We left David in Myrtle with his godparents. On the way home we stopped at Barnes and Noble and were pleased to see that they carried the Jesus Story Book Bible.  Having received many good recommendations about this children’s Bible, I sat down and read a few of the stories and quickly determined to purchase it for David.  Let me just say before we get too far along, I’m very excited about this book, not only for David but also for myself and Stephanie.  As Dr. Tim Keller has said, “I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian.”  This may sound like a bit of an exageration, but having read through it I must agree.  This is a great book for kids, but I’m ready to go ahead and go out on a limb, adults should purchase this book.  Seminarians should purchase this book.  Pastors should purchase this book.  And yes, it’s just a children’s Bible.  So what makes it so good?

The full title of the book is The Jesus Story Book Bible: every story whispers his name.  Many Christians have a difficult time connecting the Old Testament with the New Testament.  Like many children’s bibles, the The Jesus Story Book Bible covers the major episodes of the Old Testament.  However, unlike many children’s bibles, The Jesus Storybook Bible links every story in the Old Testament to Jesus, and applies the Gospel to every story in both the Old and New Testaments as part of the lesson.  For example, below is a caption from the creation story in Genesis.

 

God looked at everything he had made, "Perfect!" he said. And it was. But all the stars and the mountains and oceans and galaxies and everything were nothing compared to how much God loved his children. He would move heaven and earth to be near them. Always. Whatever happened. Whatever it cost him, he would always love them. And so it was that the wonderful love story began...

 

This is the Jesus Story Book Bible’s version of the creation.  Note how this Bible is preparing us for the fall as well as for our redemption.  “God loved his children,” the story reads, “Whatever happened.  Whatever it cost him, he would always love them.” Just as the cover advertises, ever story whispers his name, and this Bible is very good at whispering the name of Jesus in ever story, as well as his highlighting his marvelous and merciful work on the cross.  This will not only help children connect the dots between the O.T. and the N.T., but I think it would be a great help to adults.

It might surprise you to hear me say again that I think adults should purchase this book for themselves.  Let me give two examples.  A good friend of mine, and fabulous preacher, Hamilton Smith, has already confessed to using some of the points made in The Jesus Story Book Bible in his sermon prep.  And before you pick on Hamilton for using a children’s bible for sermon prep, consider that the famous preacher and author, Timothy Keller, uses the story of Abraham and Isaac from The Jesus Story Book Bible almost word for word in a conference message about the church engaging postmoderns.  That’s how good this children’s bible is.

It’s not just the content that impresses me.  I consider the artwork to be outstanding and highly engaging.  David loves it, but so do I.  Below are some of my favorite pics from this little book. (problems loading, will post later)

 

from the JSB's creation storyThe JSB's story about incarnation of the Son of GodThe JSB's story about the Lord's Supper

 

 

The JSB's story about incarnation of the Son of GodThe JSB's story about the Lord's Supper

 

For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” – Rom 1:17

“I greatly longed to understand Paul’s epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression “the righteousness of God,” because I took it to mean that righteousness whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust.

My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage Him. Therefore I did not love a just angry God, but rather hated and murmured against Him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.

Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the righteousness of God and the statement that “the just shall live by faith.” Then I grasped that the righteousness of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before “the righteousness of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven…” – Martin Luther

THE CHRISTIAN IS BORN AGAIN

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

JOHN 3:3

Regeneration is a New Testament concept that grew, it seems, out of a parabolic picture-phrase that Jesus used to show Nicodemus the inwardness and depth of the change that even religious Jews must undergo if they were ever to see and enter the kingdom of God, and so have eternal life (John 3:3-15). Jesus pictured the change as being “born again.”

The concept is of God renovating the heart, the core of a person’s being, by implanting a new principle of desire, purpose, and action, a dispositional dynamic that finds expression in positive response to the gospel and its Christ. Jesus’ phrase “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5) harks back to Ezekiel 36:25-27, where God is pictured as symbolically cleansing persons from sin’s pollution (by water) and bestowing a “new heart” by putting his Spirit within them. Because this is so explicit, Jesus chides Nicodemus, “Israel’s teacher,” for not understanding how new birth happens (John 3:9-10). Jesus’ point throughout is that there is no exercise of faith in himself as the supernatural Savior, no repentance, and no true discipleship apart from this new birth.

Elsewhere John teaches that belief in the Incarnation and Atonement, with faith and love, holiness and righteousness, is the fruit and proof that one is born of God (1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4). It thus appears that as there is no conversion without new birth, so there is no new birth without conversion.

Though infant regeneration can be a reality when God so purposes (Luke 1:15, 41-44), the ordinary context of new birth is one of effectual calling—that is, confrontation with the gospel and illumination as to its truth and significance as a message from God to oneself. Regeneration is always the decisive element in effectual calling.

Regeneration is monergistic: that is, entirely the work of God the Holy Spirit. It raises the elect among the spiritually dead to new life in Christ (Eph. 2:1-10). Regeneration is a transition from spiritual death to spiritual life, and conscious, intentional, active faith in Christ is its immediate fruit, not its immediate cause. Regeneration is the work of what Augustine called “prevenient” grace, the grace that precedes our outgoings of heart toward God.

from J I Packer’s  ” Concise Theology”

Christ Our Substitute

Posted: April 30, 2010 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Theology, Christian Theology

L. Morris on The atonement in the Gospel of John

John does not outline a theory of the way atonement is brought
about, but he has a number of expressions that show that Christ died
in our stead. We have already had occasion to notice the words of
Caiaphas in which he laid it down “that it is expedient that one man
should die for the people” (11:50; cf. 18:14). His “for” is  which
often means no more than “on behalf of” in a general way. (more…)