Saturday, September 20, 2008

Words that wound. The Word that heals.

As someone who knows all too well the destructive power of words, I was greatly encouraged by this short Paul Tripp video:

(HT: Abraham Piper)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I am going to be taking a break from blogging for an indefinite amount of time.

Thank you,


Grudem Piracy Confirmed

I can now confirm that Grudem's Systematic Theology has been put on line illegally. I apologize for the initial link as I should have confirmed its internet release with Grudem before posting it online. Below is an update from the publisher:

"Stolen Property"

It has recently come to the attention of Wayne Grudem and myself that an illegal copy of his "Systematic Theology" has been posted on the Internet and that word of this, along with links to the site where the illegal copy is posted, has found its way to many Christian blog sites. I am working with Dr. Grudem to contact all sites that have links to this illegal copy of his book to ask them to remove the links immediately.

Dr. Grudem and I jointly hold the copyright to all electronic versions of his "Systematic Theology." My company, Bits & Bytes, Inc., is the publisher of the Libronix, PC Study Bible, Pradis, and Olive Tree versions of this book. Posting a complete copy of "Systematic Theology" online is intellectual property theft -- a federal crime. Posting a link to the illegal copy or a link to a link is at the very least directing people to stolen goods.

On behalf of Dr. Grudem and myself, we respectfully request that all links to, and all links to links to, the illegal copy of "Systematic Theology" that is on the Internet be removed from all Christian blog sites.

Thank you for honoring this request.

John Hughes, President

(HT: Adrian Warnock)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday with Calvin

"All the things that make for the enriching of this present life are sacred gifts of God, but we spoil them by our misuse of them. If we want to know the reason why, it is because we are always entertaining the delusion that we will go on forever in this world. The result is that the very things which ought to be of assistance to us in our pilgrimage through life, become the chains which bind us." -John Calvin

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Disappointing Update on Grudem's Systematic Theology

It appears that the online version of Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology may have been posted without the permission of the publisher. If you want more details on the story click here. Until it can be verified whether or not it has been put online legally I have disabled the link in my previous post and would ask you to consider not visiting the site. Thank you and sorry for the confusion.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday with Augustine

"How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! ... You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure."

(HT: Monergism)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Misunderstanding Justification by Faith

There is an understanding of faith in our day that is so lifeless and devoid of any spiritual affection that it ceases to be real faith. It disheartens me that there are those who advocate a "gospel" that requires no level of delight in the person of Christ. A.W. Tozer saw this tragedy taking place in the church several decades ago and says it much better than I can:

"The doctrine of justification by faith--a Biblical truth, and a blessed relief from sterile legalism and unavailing self-effort--has in our time fallen into evil company and been interpreted by many in such manner as actually to bar men from the knowledge of God. The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be `received' without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is `saved,' but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact he is specifically taught to be satisfied and encouraged to be content with little."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Reflections on the Cross

“Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is here, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.”
- John Stott, The Message of Galatians (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1968), 179.

(HT: Of First Importance)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Early Church Father's Online for Free!

If you want to read some of the earliest post-biblical documents written by the early church leaders you can do so by clicking here.  Last summer I did an independent study where I translated through several of the writings of the early church fathers and it was extremely rewarding.  I walked away from the study thinking that many Christians would benefit a lot more from reading these documents than the latest Christian author.  In other words, these documents should not just be viewed as the scholar's treasure chest that cannot be unlocked and explored with profitability by normal believers.  Below are a couple of quotes from The Martyrdom of Polycarp (a document from the second century) to give you a bit of a flavor for some of the things you will find:

The first quote is taken from when Polycarp was about to be killed and all he had to do to save his life was to swear by Caeser and deny the Christ.  Rather than swearing by Caeser he is quoted as saying:
"Eighty and six yeas have I served him, and he has done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?"
The second quote is from when Polycarp refused to deny Christ they wanted to burn him alive by nailing him to a stake. However, rather than allowing himself to be nailed to the stake he told his captors:
"Let me be as I am.  He that granted me to endure the fire will grant me also to remain at the fire unmoved, without beings secured with nails."

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sinclair Ferguson on the Christian's Focus

"This first thing to remember, of course, is that we must never separate the benefits (regeneration, justification, sanctification) from the Benefactor (Jesus Christ). The Christians who are most focused on their own spirituality may give the impression of being the most spiritual ... but from the New Testament's point of view, those who have almost forgotten about their own spirtuality because their focus is so exclusively on their union with Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished are those who are growing and exhibiting fruitfulness. Historically speaking, whenever the piety of a particular group is focused on OUR spirituality that piety will eventually exhaust itself on its own resources. Only where our piety forgets about ourself and focuses on Jesus Christ will our piety nourished by the ongoing resources the Spirit brings to us from the source of all true piety, our Lord Jesus Christ."--Sinclair Ferguson
(HT: Monergism)

Tim Keller on the Centrality of the Gospel

Tim Keller has a great article called  Advancing the Gospel into the 21st Century.  The following paragraphs are particularly insightful:

The gospel produces a unique blend of humility and boldness/joy in the convert. If you preach just a demanding God, the listener will have "low self-esteem"; if you preach just an all-loving God, the listener will have higher self-esteem. But the gospel produces something beyond both of those. The gospel says: I am so lost Jesus had to die to save me. But I am so loved that Jesus was glad to die to save me. That changes the very basis of my identity- -it transforms me from the root.

I can't tell you how important this is in all mission and ministry. Unless you distinguish the gospel from both religion and irreligion–from both traditional moralism and liberal relativism–then newcomers in your services will automatically think you are simply calling them to be good and nice people. They will be bored. But when, as here in Acts 15, the gospel is communicated in its unique, counter-intuitive balance of truth and love, then listeners will be surprised. Most people today try to place the church somewhere along a spectrum from "liberal" to "conservative"–from the relativistic to the moralistic. But when they see a church filled with people who insist on the truth, but without a shred of superiority or self-righteousness–this simply explodes their categories. To them, people who have the truth are not gracious, people who are gracious and accepting say "who knows what is the truth?" Christians are enormously bold to tell the truth, but without a shred of superiority, because you are sinner saved by grace. This balance of boldness and utter humility, truth and love–is not somewhere in the middle between legalistic fundamentalism and relativistic liberalism. It is actually off the charts.

Paul knew that 'getting the gospel straight'–not falling off into either legalism on the one hand or license on the other–is absolutely critical to the mission of the church. The secret of ministry power is getting the gospel clear. To be even slightly off to one side or another, loses tons of spiritual power. And people don't get really converted. Legalistic churches reform people's behavior through social coercion, but the people stay radically insecure and hyper-critical. They don't achieve the new inner peace that the grace of God brings. The more relativistic churches give members some self-esteem and the veneer of peace but in the end that is superficial too. The result, Archibald Alexander said, is like trying to put a signet ring on the wax to seal a letter, but without any heat! Either the ring will affect the surface of the wax only or break it into pieces. You need heat to permanently change the wax into the likeness of the ring. So without the Holy Spirit working through the gospel, radically humbling and radically exalting us and changing them from the inside out, the religion either of the hard or soft variety will not avail.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

John Stott and Horatius Bonar on the Cross

For those readers who have commented and are waiting on my response to Elihu in the book of Job, I hope to address that question this weekend. Before I answer that question though I wanted to share the following quote that I came across. In John Stott's book The Cross of Christ he makes the following observation:

"Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance). Indeed, 'only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross...may claim his share in its grace.' Horatius Bonar (1808-89), who has been called the 'prince of Scottish hymn-writers', expressed it well:

'Twas I that shed the sacred blood;
I nailed him to the tree;
I crucified the Christ of God;
I joined the mockery.

Of all that shouting multitude
I feel that I am one;
And in that din of voices rude
I recognize my own.

Around the cross the throng I see,
Mocking the Sufferer's groan;
Yet still my voice it seems to be,
As if I mocked alone
John R. W. Stott The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 59-60.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Elihu in the Book of Job

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of teaching a seminary class on the book of Job. One of the more interesting interpretative decisions that the reader has to make is what to do with Elihu. Do you remember Elihu? He is the young guy who offers Job advice near the end of the book. I have my own opinion regarding what function Elihu's character serves in the overall narrative, but before I reveal my point of view on Elihu, I would like to hear from you. So the question on the table is:

What Role Does Elihu Play in the Book of Job? Is he just regurgitating the previous arguments or is he a wise counselor who speaks an appropriate rebuke?

Leave your opinion in the comments section.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Interesting New Website

Thinking about taking a seminary class, but find yourself intimidated by all the theological jargon? Or perhaps your looking for a way to build your understanding of theological terminology, so you can better understand what certain books are saying? Damian M. Ramano has an interesting new site that might be helpful in this regards. He is high-lighting a different theological word each day and providing a brief definition. Click Here to visit the site.

The Church Fathers on Justification

"In his (God's) mercy he took upon himself our sins; he himself gave up his own Son as a ransom for us, the holy one for the lawless, the guiltless for the guilty, 'the just for the unjust,' the incorruptible for the corruptible, the immortal for the mortal. For what else but his righteousness could have covered our sins? In whom was it possible for us, the lawless and ungodly, to be justified except in the Son of God alone? O the sweet exchange, O the incomprehensible work of God, O the unexpected blessings, that the sinfulness of many should be hidden in one righteous man, while the righteousness of one should justify many sinners!" The Epistle to Diognetus 9:2-5
Taken from a recent translation by Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek texts and English translations (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 1999), 547.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

J.I. Packer on Christians and Doctrine

"Pelagianism is the natural heresy of zealous Christians who are not interested in theology." --J.I. Packer

Monday, May 19, 2008

How About Some Calvin To Start the Work Week?

"Man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God's majesty." --John Calvin
(HT: Monergism)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Great Tool for Reviewing All the Greek You Learned in Seminary

Wondering how to keep your Greek sharp after seminary?  Check out this link for a helpful resource.

Eagerly Desiring Christ's Return

I found this encouraging quote by J.C. Ryle this morning and thought I would pass it along:

“The true Scriptural source of consolation, in the face of all that troubles us, is to keep steadily before our eyes the second coming of Christ.

We must grasp and realize the blessed fact that the rightful King of the world is returning soon, and shall have His own again; that He shall put down that old usurper, the devil, and take away the curse from off the earth.

Let us cultivate the habit of daily looking forward to the resurrection of the dead, the gathering together of the saints, the restitution of all things, the banishment of sorrow and sin, and the re-establishment of a new kingdom, of which the rule shall be righteousness.”
(HT: Of First Importance)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pastoral Encouragement to Keep Praying for Change

John Piper offers the following encouragement to keep praying for change and spiritual breakthrough. (Click Here to read the whole thing):

"If in the last 1% of our lives we can get a victory over some longstanding sinful habit or hurtful defect in our personality, it will be a beautiful testimony now to the power of grace; and it will be an added witness (not the only one) at the last judgment of our faith in Christ and our union with him."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

NBA Playoffs

Once again I find myself failing to live up to actually posting on sports without external prompting. Nevertheless, thank you Mr. commenter for your request for a sports post. Here are my thoughts, along with the sports gal's (rip-off of Bill Simmons) on the playoffs and who will win each series: 

New Orleans vs San Antonio

N.O. leads the series 3-2 after blowing the Spurs out again.  Yet, I can't find it in myself to pick against the Spurs.  They are one of my least favorite teams, but they always seem to find a way to win. My pick Spurs in 7.  Sports Gal--San Antonio will play game six really hard at home and win, but the Hornets should come back and win game seven in New Orleans.

Los Angeles vs  Utah Jazz
Lakers in 7.  Kobe will probably have a steller performance in L.A. and then have to sit out game six with back spasms.  In the end Bryant, Gasol, and Odom will just prove to be too much. Sports Gal--Los Angeles in 6.  If Kobe is hurt then the Lakers don't stand a chance.  Kobe Bryant deserved the MVP and I hope they will win the Western Conference.

Cleveland vs Boston
If I would have picked this game before the series started I would have picked the Celtics in 4, but now that the series is underway I have to go with the CAVS in 7.  I think LBJ has figured out how to play against the tenacious C's defense and the supporting cast will continue to step it up. Sports Gal--For all the hype that Boston has they are not performing very well in the playoffs.  No team that loses their first six playoff games on the road is really the best team in the NBA.  Yet, the Cavs don't seem like the best road team either.  In light of this, Celtics in 7.  

Spurs vs Pistons
Pistons in 5.  My oh my, how I hope this is not the NBA Finals match-up, but I think it probably will be.  If the Spurs can pull off two in a row vs N.O. look for them to beat the Lakers in 6 and then lose to the Pistons in 5.  The Pistons quitely cruised to being one of the premier teams this year and will finally get over the hump of winning a championship with out Larry Brown.  Look for Tashaun Prince to be the surprise MVP of the finals.  Sports Gal-Lakers vs Celtics--Celtics in 7.  The Celtics win the Finals with only one victory on the road during the playoffs (a victory over Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals).

Monday, May 12, 2008

An Encouragement to Seek God

One barometer for gauging our relationship with God is how grieved we feel over our sin. The following quote that I came across today offers some helpful encouragement for what to do when we don't sense the magnitude of our sin:

"If we don't feel grieved for our sin, and deeply unworthy of God's goodness, then we need to pray earnestly that God would show us himself -- that he would cease to be a mere doctrine that we hear with our ear, and instead would become an awesome, infinitely holy, dreadful and wonderful Sovereign that we taste and see with our hearts." --John Piper, Sermon on Job: Reversal in Suffering, August 4, 1985.

Friday, May 9, 2008

J.I. Packer on Preaching

"The preachers’ commission is to declare the whole counsel of God; but the cross is the centre of that counsel, and the Puritans knew that the traveller through the Bible landscape misses his way as soon as he loses sight of the hill called Calvary."--J.I. Packer,A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 1990), 286.
(HT: C.J. Mahaney)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the Goal of Preaching

One of the most helpful and encouraging books that I have read on preaching is Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Click Here for more information). While the following quote is a bit longer than the other preaching quotes I have recently posted, it is well worth the 90 seconds it will take to read.

What is Preaching? Logic on fire! Eloquent reason! Are these contradictions? Of course they are not. Reason concerning this Truth ought to be mightily eloquent, as you see it in the case of the Apostle Paul and others. It is theology on fire. And a theology which does not take fire, I maintain, is a defective theology; or at least the man's understanding of it is defective. Preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire. A true understanding and experience of the Truth must lead to this. . . A man who can speak about these things dispassionately has no right whatsoever to be in a pulpit; and should never be allowed to enter one.

What is the chief end of preaching
? . . . To give men and women a sense of God and His presence. . . . I can forgive a man for a bad sermon, I can forgive the preacher almost anything if he gives me a sense of God, if he gives me something for my soul, if he gives me the sense that, though he is inadequate himself, he is handling something which is very great and very glorious, if he gives me some dim glimpse of the majesty and the glory of God, the love of Christ my Saviour, and the magnificence of the Gospel. If he does that I am his debtor, and I am profoundly grateful to him. Preaching is the most amazing, and the most thrilling activity that one can ever be engaged in, because of all that it holds out for all of us in the present, and because of the glorious endless possibilities in an eternal future.

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1972) ,97-98.

(HT: Coty Pinckney)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

George Whitefield on Preaching

"Would ministers preach for eternity! They would then act the part of true Christian orators, and not only calmly and cooly inform the understanding, but, by persuasive, pathetic address, endeavour to move the affections and warm the heart."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Don't Waste Your Pulpit

Over the past several weeks, a good friend of mine and I have been discussing the state of the pulpit in the church in America. The following four minute clip addresses this issue head on:

(HT: Irish Calvinist via Between Two Worlds: Don't Waste Your Pulpit)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Make the Most of Every Opportunity

Click here to read an encouraging story about how Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow is seeking to use his platform for the sake of the gospel.

Why Expositional Preaching is Particularly Glorifying to God

If you ever have the opportunity to preach then let me encourage you to listen to this message.  It is rare that I would label something as a "must listen," but this is definitely a "must listen." Click here to download the audio for free.

Are Miracles of Physical Healing Still Taking Place?

Adrian Warnock recently posted on his blog testimonies of how three women recently were physically healed by God.  May God continue to glorify His Name through these in-breakings of the kingdom of God. Click Here to read the testimonies.

Great Book Deal!

The Story of Christianity by Justo L. Gonzalez is on sale for $12.99 (76% off retail price of $55) at the following website.  For those of you who are not familiar with this book it is a good historical overview of Christianity.  Gonzalez writes in a very easy to read and engaging style. If you are wanting to get a good grasp of Church history then this is a great place to start.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

J.I. Packer on Studying God...

Most anyone who reads this blog has some interest in theological issues and the study of the Bible. In addition to this general assumption, I am aware that several of my readers are currently seminary students, soon to be graduates, pastors, and other leaders among God's people. In light of this, I thought I would share a quote that has been a helpful reminder to me regarding the manner in which we should seek to study the Bible and theology:

"We need to ask ourselves:  what is my ultimate aim and object in occupying my mind with these things?  What do i intend to do with my knowledge about God, once I have got it?  For the fact that we have to face is this:  that if we pursue theological knowledge for its owen sake, it is bound to go bad on us.  It will make us proud and conceited.  The very greatness of the subject-matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it; and we shall look down on those whose theological ideas seem to us crude and inadequate, and dismiss them as very poor specimens. For, as Paul told the conceited Corinthians, 'knowledge puffs up...if any man thinks that he knows anything, he knows not yet as he ought to know (1 Corinthians 8:1-2).  To be preoccupied with getting theological knowledge as an end it itself, to approach Bible study with no higher motive than a desire to know all the answers, is the direct route to a state of self-satisfied self-deception.  We need to guard our hearts against such an attitude, and pray to be kept from it...There can be no spiritual health without doctrinal knowledge; but it is equally true that there can be no spiritual health with it, if it is sought for the wrong purpose and valued by the wrong standard.  In this way, doctrinal study really can become a danger to spiritual life, and we today, no less than the Corinthians of old, need to be on guard here."

J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 17.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Because He Himself Suffered When Tempted...

“None so tender-hearted and sympathising with sick souls as Jesus Christ; he is one that can have compassion, because he has had experience. If I must come unto the surgeon’s hands with broken bones, give me one whose own bones have been broken, who has felt the anguish in himself.

Christ knows what it is by experience, having felt the anguish of inward troubles, the weight of God’s wrath, and the terrors of a forsaking God, more than any or all the sons of men: this makes him tender over distressed souls.”

- John Flavel, The Method of Grace

(HT: Of First Importance)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

When you Preach, Redeem the Time

"There is a famine of seeing and savoring the glory of God in the pulpits of America. Almost all contemporary church growth strategies are taking us in the opposite direction of sensing the weight of the glory of God. It is so hard to turn a corner of doing slapstick for the first ten minutes then try to talk about the seriousness of the glory of God. Pastors are afraid of the serious. Why do we think the only healthy atmosphere is funny?"
John Piper, Together for the Gospel, 2006.

(HT: Adrian Warnock)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Preaching With Conviction and Passion

Too much of the communication that takes place around the pulpits in America is cool and detached from the awesome realities that are at stake. I was recently reminded and convicted by the following quotes related to the awesome responsibility of preaching:

"Preaching is not conversation or teaching; preaching is a heralding of a message. It can be any topic that is then taken into the blazing center of the glory of God. Many people say such belitting things about preaching because they have never heard it [they have] never heard real preaching."
"The mantle of preaching is soaked in the blood of Jesus and singed with the fires of Hell. Are you wearing that mantle?"
--John Piper, Taken from a sermon at the 2006 "Together for the Gospel Conference"

When You Preach, Preach Christ

"[W]hatever topic you preach on and whatever text you choose, there ought not to be in your whole repertoire a single sermon in which from beginning to end you do not convey to your hearers the impression that what you want to impart to them, you do not think it possible to impart to them in any other way than as a correlate and consequence of the eternal salvation of their souls through the blood of Christ, because in your own conviction that alone is the remedy which you can honestly offer to a sinful world."
--Geerhardus Vos, A Sermon on 1 Corinthians 5:7

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Preaching and the Aroma of God's Greatness

"People are starving for the greatness of God. But most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majesty of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Preaching that does not have the aroma of God's greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: 'Show me thy glory!'"

John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books,2004)13.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Free Seminary Classes Online Through Gordon-Conwell

Do you want to go to seminary but don't have the time or money?  Need a review of what you learned in seminary?  Just interested in learning more about the Bible, theology, church history, missions etc?  If so, the following will be of great interest to you!   Gordon-Conwell Seminary is currently offering the following courses online for free (As you scroll down the list the ten courses are highlighted in bold and the class description is in italics). Click Here for more information

Biblical Interpretation
with Dr. Douglas Stuart
When you read the Bible, you interpret the Bible. Thus it is vital to hold some foundational concepts of biblical interpretation to guide your study of the Scriptures. In this course, Dr. Douglas Stuart, Professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell and co-author of How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, lays a foundation for understanding that will help you get more out of the Bible.
Creation, Covenant, and Kings
An Old Testament Survey from Genesis to Song of Songs
with Dr. Douglas Stuart
Creation. Covenant. Kings. Behind those three words lie the beginning of time and the start of the unfolding of God’s eternal plan of redemption. Dr. Douglas Stuart, professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell, takes you through the foundational material of the Old Testament as he surveys Genesis through Song of Songs.
Prophets and Promise
An Old Testament Survey from Psalms to Malachi
with Dr. Douglas Stuart
The story of God’s wandering people, Israel, and the prophets who call out to them can seem complex and confusing. In the continuation of his survey of the Old Testament, Dr. Douglas Stuart will help you gain an understanding of the structure and meaning of the second half of the Old Testament, as he provides an overview from the Psalms through book of Malachi .
Christ and His Church

A New Testament Survey of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles
with Dr. T. David Gordon
The New Testament was not written in our age, but is for our age. How can we properly understand this ancient text that is relevant for today’s world? Join Dr. T. David Gordon, professor of Religion and Greek at Grove City College, as he lays a foundation for studying the New Testament and begins to unfold the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.
Letters to God's People

A New Testament Survey from Romans to Revelation
with Dr. T. David Gordon
The letters of the New Testament are a fascinating collection of writings from God to His Church. Beginning in Romans, Dr. T. David Gordon continues his survey of the New Testament through the book of Revelation – helping you to better understand this part of the New Testament and apply its teachings to your life.
God's People Through the Ages I
A Church History Survey from Pentecost to the Reformation
with Dr. Garth H. Rosell
The Church has a long and colorful history , beginning two milenia ago in Jerusalem. Join Dr. Garth Rosell, professor of Church History at Gordon-Conwell, as he highlights key events and people of the first 1500 years of Church history and see how the Churrch’s history is relevant to the Church today.
God's People Through the Ages II
A Church History Survey from the Reformation to the Present

with Dr. Garth H. Rosell
Much has happened in the Church over the last 500 years – for good and for ill. Beginning with one of the pivotal events of church history, the Reformation, Dr. Garth Rosell continues his historical survey up to the present day – concluding with a look at the challenges that face the church in this hour of history.
Theology Matters I
What Christians Believe and Why It Matters - Part One

with Dr. David Wells
Far from being a dry, academic discipline, theology applies to our daily lives in rich and fruitful ways. In this course with Dr. David Wells, professor of Theology at Gordon-Conwell, you will encounter the doctrines of the nature of God, Scripture, and sin. And along the way, you will be challenged to consider how theology affects your world.
Theology Matters II
What Christians Believe and Why It Matters - Part Two
with Dr. David Wells
Continuing on in his survey of foundational doctrines of the Christian faith, in this course Dr. David Wells examines the life, ministry, and character of Jesus Christ and His work of redemption. And he explores the Church – its current work as God’s agent and its glorious future as Christ’s bride.
Loving a Lost World
Evangelism and Missions

with Dr. Timothy Tennent
The message of Christianity is for every person – regardless of location, culture or language. Join Dr. Timothy Tennent, professor of World Missions at Gordon-Conwell, as he provides a biblical, historical, cultural, and strategic perspective on missions and challenges you to be a “world” Christian.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Stephen Charnock on God's Holiness

"The holiness of God in his hatred of sin appears in our justification, and the condition of all that would enjoy the benefit of redemption.  His wisdom has so tempered all the conditions of it, that the honor of his holiness is as much preserved, as the sweetness of his mercy is experimented by us; all the conditions are records of his exact purity, as well as of his condescending grace.  Our justification is not by imperfect works  of creatures, but by an exact and infinite righteousness, as great as that of the Deity which had been offended:  it being the righteousness of a Divine person, upon which account it is called the righteousness of God; not only in regard to God's appointing it, and God's accepting it, but as it is a righteousness of that person that was God, and is God.  Faith is the condition that God requires to justification; but not a dead, but an active faith, such a 'faith as purifies the heart' (James 2:20; Acts 15:9).  He calls for repentance, which is a moral retracting our offences, and an approbation of contemned righteousness and a violated law; an endeavor to gain what is lost, and to pluck out the heart of that sin we have committed.  He requires mortification, which is called crucifying; whereby a man would strike as full and deadly a blow at his lusts, as was struck at Christ upon the cross, and make them as certainly die, as the Redeemer did.  Our own righteousness must be condemned by us, as impure and imperfect:  we must disown everything that is our own, as to righteousness, in reverence to the holiness of God and the valuation of the righteousness of Christ.  He hath resolved not to bestow the inheritance of glory without the root of grace.  None are partakers of the Divine blessedness that are not partakers of the Divine nature:  there must be a renewing of his image before there be a vision of his face (Heb. 12:14).  He will not have men brought out into a relative state of happiness by justification, without a real state of grace by sanctification; and so resolved he is in it, that there is no admittance into heaven of a starting, but a persevering holiness (Rom. 2:7)"
Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God: On the Holiness of God, 138.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Role of the Preacher

In a recent conversation that I had with a friend he was lamenting to me about the lack of "weightier" issues being addressed from his church's pulpit. A few hours later I re-read the following quote by Piper, from The Supremacy of God in Preaching, and thought it was particularly helpful in addressing this disheartening reality:

"God himself is the necessary subject matter of our preaching, in his majesty and truth and holiness and righteousness and wisdom and faithfulness and sovereignty and grace. And by that I don't mean we shouldn't preach about nitty-gritty practical things like parenthood and divorce and AIDS and gluttony and television and sex. What I mean is that every one of those things should be swept right up into the holy presence of God and laid bare to the roots of its Godwardness or godlessness. It is not the job of the Christian preacher to give people moral or psychological pep talks about how to get along in the world. When that is needed, someone else can do it. But most of our people have no one, on one in the world, to tell them, week in and week out, about the supreme beauty and majesty of God. And so many of them are starved..."

John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching, (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 2004) 15.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Krister Stendahl, 1921-2008

Krister Stendahl died on Tuesday, April 15, 2008.  Most people are familiar with Stendahl due to his influential work The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West.  Below are a couple of links reflecting on his life and influence:

Tim Keller Interview

The following is a great five minute clip on Tim Keller and his recent book The Reason for God:  Belief in an Age of Skepticism

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Who Did the Notes for the Upcoming ESV Study Bible?

Crossway has recently revealed the contributors to the notes of the upcoming ESV Study Bible. They are listed below in alphabetical order. (Looks like a great list)

T. Desmond Alexander – Genesis

Ph.D., The Queen’s University of Belfast
Director for Christian Training, Union Theological College (Belfast, Northern Ireland)
Clinton Arnold – Colossians, Philemon
Ph.D., University of Aberdeen
Professor of New Testament Language and Literature; Chair of the New Testament Department, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
Brian Aucker – Joel, Micah, Haggai
Ph.D., University of Edinburgh
Assistant Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary
David Baker – Zephaniah
Ph.D., University of London
Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Ashland Theological Seminary
Paul Barker – Deuteronomy
Ph.D., University of Gloucestershire
Vicar, Holy Trinity Doncaster; Visiting Lecturer in Old Testament, Ridley College, Melbourne
S. M. Baugh – Ephesians
Ph.D., University of California, Irvine
Professor of New Testament, Westminster Seminary California
Hans Bayer – Mark
Ph.D., University of Aberdeen
Associate Professor of New Testament Studies, Covenant Theological Seminary
Ronald Bergey – Ruth
Ph.D., Dropsie University
Professeur d’Hébreu et d’Ancient Testament, Faculté Libre de Théologie Réformée (France)
David Chapman – Hebrews
Ph.D., University of Cambridge
Assistant Professor of New Testament and Biblical Archaeology, Covenant Theological Seminary
C. John Collins – Psalms, Song of Solomon
Ph.D., University of Liverpool
Professor and Chair of Old Testament Department, Covenant Theological Seminary
John Currid – Leviticus
Ph.D., University of Chicago
Carl W. McMurray Professor of Old Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte, NC)
Iain Duguid – Daniel, Zechariah
Ph.D., University of Cambridge
Professor of Religion, Grove City College
Mark Futato – Jonah
Ph.D., The Catholic University of America
Professor of Old Testament; Academic Dean, Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando, FL)
Simon Gathercole – Galatians
Ph.D., University of Durham
Lecturer in New Testament, University of Cambridge
Duane A. Garrett – Proverbs
Ph.D., Baylor University
John R. Sampey Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wayne Grudem – Luke
Ph.D., University of Cambridge
Research Professor of Bible and Theology, Phoenix Seminary
Scott Hafemann – 2 Corinthians
D.Theol., Eberhard-Karls-Universitat Tubingen
Mary F. Rockefeller Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Kenneth Laing Harris – Exodus, Proverbs
Ph.D., University of Liverpool
Visiting Instructor in Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary
Paul House – Jeremiah, Lamentations
Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Professor of Divinity; Associate Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
David M. Howard Jr. – Judges
Ph.D., University of Michigan
Professor of Old Testament; Dean, Center for Biblical and Theological Foundations, Bethel Seminary (St. Paul, MN)
Gordon Hugenberger – Malachi
Ph.D., C.N.A.A., College of Sts. Paul & Mary, The Oxford Centre for Post-Graduate Hebrew Study
Senior Minister, Park Street Church (Boston, MA); Ranked Adjunct Professor of Old Testament, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Dennis Johnson – Revelation
Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary
Professor of Practical Theology; Academic Dean, Westminster Seminary California
Brian Kelly – 1 and 2 Chronicles
Ph.D., University of Bristol
Nobuyoshi Kiuchi – Leviticus
Ph.D., The Council for National Academic Awards
Professor of Old Testament, Tokyo Christian University
August Konkel – Job
Ph.D., Westminster Theological Seminary
President; Professor of Old Testament, Providence College & Seminary (Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada)
Andreas J. Köstenberger – John
Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Professor of New Testament and Greek; Director of Ph.D. and Th.M. Studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
V. Philips Long – Joshua
Ph.D., University of Cambridge
Professor of Old Testament, Regent College (Vancouver, Canada)
Dennis Magary – Micah
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin at Madison
Associate Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages; Chair of the Old Testament and Semitic Languages Department, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Walter Maier III – Nahum
Ph.D., Harvard University
Associate Professor of Exegetical Theology, Concordia Theological Seminary (Ft. Wayne, IN)
J. Gordon McConville – Ezra, Nehemiah
Ph.D., University of Sheffield
Professor in Old Testament, University of Gloucestershire
Sean McDonough – Philippians
Ph.D., University of St. Andrews
Associate Professor of New Testament, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Colin Nicholl – 1 and 2 Thessalonians
Ph.D., University of Cambridge
Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. – Isaiah
Ph.D., University of Aberdeen
Senior Pastor, Immanuel Church (Nashville, TN)
Grant Osborne – James
Ph.D., University of Aberdeen
Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Doug Oss – 2 Peter, Jude
Ph.D., Westminster Theological Seminary
Professor of Bible Exposition; Director of the Cordas C. Burnett Center for Biblical Preaching, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary
John Oswalt – Amos
Ph.D., Brandeis University
Research Professor of Old Testament, Wesley Biblical Seminary
John Polhill – Acts
Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Senior Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Iain Provan – 1 and 2 Kings
Ph.D., Cambridge University
Marshall Sheppard Professor of Biblical Studies, Regent College (Vancouver, Canada)
Paul Raabe – Obadiah
Ph.D., University of Michigan
Professor of Exegetical Theology; Chairman of the Department of Exegetical Theology, Concordia Theological Seminary (Saint Louis, MO)
David J. Reimer – Ezekiel
D.Phil., University of Oxford
Senior Lecturer in Hebrew and Old Testament Studies, The University of Edinburgh School of Divinity, New College
Max F. Rogland – Ecclesiastes
Ph.D., Leiden University
Assistant Professor of Old Testament, Erskine Theological Seminary (Columbia, SC)
Thomas R. Schreiner – Luke, Romans, 1 and 2 Peter, Jude
Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary
James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Jay Sklar – Leviticus
Ph.D., The University of Gloucestershire
Associate Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary
Andrew Stewart – Song of Solomon
M.A., Covenant Theological Seminary
Frank Thielman – 1 Corinthians
Ph.D., Duke University
Professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
David Toshio Tsumura – 1 and 2 Samuel
Ph.D., Brandeis University
Professor of Old Testament, Japan Bible Seminary (Tokyo, Japan)
Ray Van Neste – 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus
Ph.D., University of Aberdeen
Associate Professor of Christian Studies; Director, R. C. Ryan Center for Biblical Studies, Union University
Robert I. Vasholz – Hosea
Th.D., University of Stellenbosch (South Africa)
Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary
Barry G. Webb – Esther
Ph.D., University of Sheffield
Research Fellow in Old Testament, Moore Theological College (Sydney, Australia)
Paul D. Wegner – Daniel, Habakkuk
Ph.D., University of London
Professor of Old Testament, Phoenix Seminary
Gordon Wenham – Numbers
Ph.D., King’s College, London Univeristy
Adjunct Professor, Trinity Theological College (Bristol)
Michael Wilkins – Matthew
Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary
Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University
Robert Yarbrough – 1, 2, and 3 John
Ph.D., University of Aberdeen
Associate Professor of New Testament; Chair of the New Testament Department, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

(HT: Crossway via Between Two Worlds)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Potency and Impotency of Preaching

One of the ways that God has sustained, nurtured, encouraged, convicted, and strengthened his people since the closing of the Canon is through the preaching of the word. It is the preaching of the word that Paul exhorts Timothy to remain steadfast in regardless of the apparent fruitfulness of the task (2 Tim 4), it is through the preached word that God brings the "other sheep" into the fold (Romans 10), it is through the preaching of the word that the content of the gospel message is made known and pressed upon people's consciences. Thus, it is clear that one of the most potent tools that God has provided to the church is the preaching of the word. Nevertheless, preaching alone is impotent to provide all that God has for the nurture of His people.

In many conservative Christian circles the preaching of the word is highlighted as the main way in which God is at work amongst His people. In light of this dogmatism, there are many churches who have moved away entirely from any kind of "preaching" of the word and focused on the more life-on-life type of Christianity that the New Testament commands (1 Cor 14:26, Heb. 3, etc..). For many conservative Christians this has become the definition of apostasy. However, could it not be that this expression of Christianity that removes a formal "preaching" of the word is just as harmful to the people of God as a type of Christianity that removes the real life-on-life Christianity. We must be both-and Christians who not only obey the command to have the word preached in our midst, but who also take seriously the more communal aspects of Christianity. In other words, a Christianity that so highlights the preaching of the word to the exclusion of the other massively important biblical commands for community life is in great danger of becoming a man-centered Christianity that offers a truncated view of what "ministry" is. It becomes man-centered because the only gift that is given expression is that of the "preacher" (i.e. the religious professional) and it is truncated in that it minimizes the importance of the other God honoring gifts that the Spirit supplies to God's people. All of which are for the edification of the body of Christ.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Goldsworthy on Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture

One of the most helpful books that I have ever read in regards to preaching from the Old Testament is Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture by Graeme Goldsworthy. I found the following quotes from the book particularly helpful:

"[T]here is much in the Bible that is strictly speaking not the gospel, there is nothing in the Bible that can be truly understood apart from the gospel." (95)
"...expository, biblical preaching is always an exposition of the gospel and its implications. While we don't always focus on the heart of the gospel, no text will yield its true significance unless it is understood in its organic relationship to the gospel." (96)
"Any sermon...that aims to apply the biblical text to the congregation and does so without making it crystal clear that it is in Christ alone and through Christ alone that the application is realized, is not a Christian sermon. It is at best an exercise in wishful and pietistic thinking. It is at worst demonic in its Christ denying legalism." (124)
"I maintain that no Christian preacher ever lets the Old Testament speak purely in and of itself. The Christian preacher who operates on this theory of direct application of Old Testament texts is presumably not imagining for one moment hat there is no distinction between his hearers and the original audience or hearers." (126)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Crossway to Release New ESV Study Bible

Crossway has just announced their plans to release a new ESV study Bible that will premiere this summer.  Many people have felt surprised by this announcement in light of the fact that the study Bible edited by Wayne Grudem is due out shortly.  When I heard the announcement I decided to call Lane Dennis, the president of Crossway, and see if I could get to the bottom of this.  Below is a "rough" transcript of our conversation*:

HS:  Lane, thank you for taking the time to meet with me over the phone regarding the new ESV study Bible.  Could you tell me a little bit about it?

LD:  Sure.  The new ESV study Bible is meant to meet an often overlooked nitche in the "Study Bible" realm.  All of the notes in this study Bible have been done by first year seminary students who just finished their first hermeneutics class and a couple semesters of Greek.

HS:  Wow! That is truly interesting.  I never would have thought there was a market for such a study Bible.  What was it that motivated you toward this vision?

LD:  Excellent question.  My primary motivation was that in so many of the study Bibles today the writers are so carefully nuanced in their comments that they actually don't say much at all.  In addition to this, too many people that read these study Bible begin to feel as though they can never understand the Bible as well as the scholars who have written the notes.  Because of these two things I wanted to produce a study Bible that would show people that they too could study their Bible.  For example, one of the contributing author's to the study Bible made the following comments on a phrase found in  2 Corinthians 1:1:  "To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia:"   Author's Comment: What you will notice here is that the word Achaia comes from the Greek word "Achaia."  You can hear the English word "ache" in this word.  Paul is recognizing that these saints are "aching" and that by greeting them he can relieve this pain.  In fact,  Paul's name is related to the Greek word for "little stone" and this points to the fact that he probably used a type of massage technique with heated stones to alleviate the back pain that the saints in "Achaia" were experiencing.

HS:  I don't get it.   That seems to be such a blatant misread of the text not to mention a butchering of the Greek language.

LD:  Exactly!  What we are hoping to provide to the person who purchases this study Bible is a sense of confidence in their own ability to interpret the text. When they read a ridiculous interpretation like the one above, it will actually encourage them by showing them that they understand the text better than the so called "scholar."

HS:  Interesting approach.  When and where will people be able to purchase this study Bible?

LD: We hope to have it hit the shelves by mid May to early June.

HS:  How much will it cost?

LD:  Each Bible will cost around $500. 

HS:  Why such a steep cost?

LD:  All of the proceeds will go into a general fund that will provide scholarships to all of the contributing authors for vocational training in another field besides ministry.

HS:  Interesting.  Why will the money provide scholarships for other areas instead of ministry?

LD:  That is the double beauty of this project.  Not only will it help people who buy the study Bible by increasing their confidence in understanding the text, but it will also keep these "Greek scholars" from infecting the pulpits across the land.

HS:  Mr. Dennis thank you very much for your time.  

LD:  My pleasure.


Monday, March 31, 2008

Did Jesus Descend Into Hell?

Read Wayne Grudem's plea for Christians to follow Scripture as opposed to the Apostles' Creed. (This information can also be found in his Systematic Theology). Click Here to read the article.

Friday, March 28, 2008

E.M. Bounds on Unction

“This divine unction is the one distinguishing feature that separates true gospel preaching from all other methods of presenting truth. It backs and interpenetrates the revealed truth with all the force of God. It illumines the Word and broadens and enrichens [sic] the intellect and empowers it to grasp and apprehend the Word. It qualifies the preacher’s heart, and brings it to that condition of tenderness, of purity, of force and light that are necessary to secure the highest results. This unction gives to the preacher liberty and enlargement of thought and soul—a freedom, fullness, and directness of utterance that can be secured by no other process.”
--E.M. Bounds

(HT: Adrian Warnock)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Biological Entitlement: A Quick Reflection

Most of us do not wake up each morning with the thought that this day might be our last. I am going to guess that most of us live with a sense of biological entitlement. In other words, rather than think that our life will end today we assume that we will go on living for another five, ten, twenty or more years. Rather, than be in awe of the fact that we have been given another day on earth we moan and complain about all of life's difficulties. Where does this sense of entitlement come from? At its root it comes from pride and an atheistic mindset. This seems to be what James was getting at when he wrote:
"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." (James 4:13-17)
May God deliver us from this kind of presumption in our speech and thoughts, and may we have hearts that recognize our creatureliness.

Observe, Observe, Observe

One of the most important rules to keep in mind when interpreting the Bible is often overlooked. In a desire to arrive at the original meaning of the text biblical scholars, preachers, seminary students, and those who "study" the Bible often bypass the most important aspect of any textual study, namely the text. What I mean is that rather than grappling with what a particular text says we are too quick to find out what others have said about the text. This leads to what one of my mentors has called being a second-hander. In other words, we don't go through the often excruciating, slow and rewarding process of observing, observing, and observing. Below is a wonderful story that helps illustrate this point:

The Student, the Fish, and Agassiz

by the Student

(Samuel H. Scudder)

It was more than fifteen years ago that I entered the laboratory of Professor Agassiz, and told him I had enrolled my name in the scientific school as a student of natural history. He asked me a few questions about my object in coming, my antecedents generally, the mode in which I afterwards proposed to use the knowledge I might acquire, and finally, whether I wished to study any special branch. To the latter I replied that while I wished to be well grounded in all departments of zoology, I purposed to devote myself specially to insects.

"When do you wish to begin?" he asked.

"Now," I replied.

This seemed to please him, and with an energetic "Very well," he reached from a shelf a huge jar of specimens in yellow alcohol.

"Take this fish," he said, "and look at it; we call it a Haemulon; by and by I will ask what you have seen."

With that he left me, but in a moment returned with explicit instructions as to the care of the object entrusted to me.

"No man is fit to be a naturalist," said he, "who does not know how to take care of specimens."

I was to keep the fish before me in a tin tray, and occasionally moisten the surface with alcohol from the jar, always taking care to replace the stopper tightly. Those were not the days of ground glass stoppers, and elegantly shaped exhibition jars; all the old students will recall the huge, neckless glass bottles with their leaky, wax-besmeared corks, half-eaten by insects and begrimed with cellar dust. Entomology was a cleaner science than ichthyology, but the example of the professor who had unhesitatingly plunged to the bottom of the jar to produce the fish was infectious; and though this alcohol had "a very ancient and fish-like smell," I really dared not show any aversion within these sacred precincts, and treated the alcohol as though it were pure water. Still I was conscious of a passing feeling of disappointment, for gazing at a fish did not commend itself to an ardent entomologist. My friends at home, too, were annoyed, when they discovered that no amount of eau de cologne would drown the perfume which haunted me like a shadow.

In ten minutes I had seen all that could be seen in that fish, and started in search of the professor, who had, however, left the museum; and when I returned, after lingering over some of the odd animals stored in the upper apartment, my specimen was dry all over. I dashed the fluid over the fish as if to resuscitate it from a fainting-fit, and looked with anxiety for a return of a normal, sloppy appearance. This little excitement over, nothing was to be done but return to a steadfast gaze at my mute companion. Half an hour passed, an hour, another hour; the fish began to look loathsome. I turned it over and around; looked it in the face -- ghastly; from behind, beneath, above, sideways, at a three-quarters view -- just as ghastly. I was in despair; at an early hour, I concluded that lunch was necessary; so with infinite relief, the fish was carefully replaced in the jar, and for an hour I was free.

On my return, I learned that Professor Agassiz had been at the museum, but had gone and would not return for several hours. My fellow students were too busy to be disturbed by continued conversation. Slowly I drew forth that hideous fish, and with a feeling of desperation again looked at it. I might not use a magnifying glass; instruments of all kinds were interdicted. My two hands, my two eyes, and the fish; it seemed a most limited field. I pushed my fingers down its throat to see how sharp its teeth were. I began to count the scales in the different rows until I was convinced that that was nonsense. At last a happy thought struck me -- I would draw the fish; and now with surprise I began to discover new features in the creature. Just then the professor returned.

"That is right," said he, "a pencil is one of the best eyes. I am glad to notice, too, that you keep your specimen wet and your bottle corked."

With these encouraging words he added --

"Well, what is it like?"

He listened attentively to my brief rehearsal of the structure of parts whose names were still unknown to me; the fringed gill-arches and movable operculum; the pores of the head, fleshly lips, and lidless eyes; the lateral line, the spinous fin, and forked tail; the compressed and arched body. When I had finished, he waited as if expecting more, and then, with an air of disappointment:

"You have not looked very carefully; why," he continued, more earnestly, "you haven't seen one of the most conspicuous features of the animal, which is as plainly before your eyes as the fish itself. Look again; look again!" And he left me to my misery.

I was piqued; I was mortified. Still more of that wretched fish? But now I set myself to the task with a will, and discovered one new thing after another, until I saw how just the professor's criticism had been. The afternoon passed quickly, and when, towards its close, the professor inquired,

"Do you see it yet?"

"No," I replied. "I am certain I do not, but I see how little I saw before."

"That is next best," said he earnestly, "but I won't hear you now; put away your fish and go home; perhaps you will be ready with a better answer in the morning. I will examine you before you look at the fish."

This was disconcerting; not only must I think of my fish all night, studying, without the object before me, what this unknown but most visible feature might be, but also, without reviewing my new discoveries, I must give an exact account of them the next day. I had a bad memory; so I walked home by Charles River in a distracted state, with my two perplexities.

The cordial greeting from the professor the next morning was reassuring; here was a man who seemed to be quite as anxious as I that I should see for myself what he saw.

"Do you perhaps mean," I asked, "that the fish has symmetrical sides with paired organs?"

His thoroughly pleased, "Of course, of course!" repaid the wakeful hours of the previous night. After he had discoursed most happily and enthusiastically -- as he always did -- upon the importance of this point, I ventured to ask what I should do next.

"Oh, look at your fish!" he said, and left me again to my own devices. In a little more than an hour he returned and heard my new catalogue.

"That is good, that is good!" he repeated, "but that is not all; go on." And so for three long days, he placed that fish before my eyes, forbidding me to look at anything else, or to use any artificial aid. "Look, look, look," was his repeated injunction.

This was the best entomological lesson I ever had -- a lesson whose influence was extended to the details of every subsequent study; a legacy the professor has left to me, as he left it to many others, of inestimable value, which we could not buy, with which we cannot part.

A year afterwards, some of us were amusing ourselves with chalking outlandish beasts upon the blackboard. We drew prancing star-fishes; frogs in mortal combat; hydro-headed worms; stately craw-fishes, standing on their tails, bearing aloft umbrellas; and grotesque fishes, with gaping mouths and staring eyes. The professor came in shortly after, and was as much amused as any at our experiments. He looked at the fishes.

"Haemulons, every one of them," he said; "Mr. ____________ drew them."

True; and to this day, if I attempt a fish, I can draw nothing but Haemulons.

The fourth day a second fish of the same group was placed beside the first, and I was bidden to point out the resemblances and differences between the two; another and another followed, until the entire family lay before me, and a whole legion of jars covered the table and surrounding shelves; the odor had become a pleasant perfume; and even now, the sight of an old six-inch worm-eaten cork brings fragrant memories!

The whole group of Haemulons was thus brought into review; and whether engaged upon the dissection of the internal organs, preparation and examination of the bony framework, or the description of the various parts, Agassiz's training in the method of observing facts in their orderly arrangement, was ever accompanied by the urgent exhortation not to be content with them.

"Facts are stupid things," he would say, "until brought into connection with some general law."

At the end of eight months, it was almost with reluctance that I left these friends and turned to insects; but what I gained by this outside experience has been of greater value than years of later investigation in my favorite groups.

-- from American Poems (3rd ed.; Boston: Houghton, Osgood & Co., 1879): pp. 450-54.

(HT: David Howard via Roy Ciampa)

An Interview with Craig Blomberg

Justin Taylor has posted an interesting interview that he recently conducted with Craig Blomberg. For those who don't know Blomberg is one of the most well known conservative scholars. Some of his best known work has been done on the historical reliability of the Gospels. Click here for an interesting and thought provoking interview.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hurtful Words and the Healing Balm of the Gospel

Carl Trueman has a "must read" post (according to Justin Taylor and I agree) on Martin Luther's remedy for dealing with hurtful words. (Click Here to read the entire article) Below is his conclusion:

" ...[O]thers might tell me I am a failure, an idiot, a clown, evil, incompetent, vicious, dangerous, pathetic etc., and these words are not just descriptive: they have a certain power to make me these things, in the eyes of others and even in my own eyes, as self-doubt creeps in and the Devil whispers in my ear. But the greatness of Luther’s Protestantism lies in this: God’s speaks louder, and his word is more powerful. You may call me a liar, and you speak truth, for I have lied; but if God declares me righteous, then my lies and your insult are not the final word, nor the most powerful word. I have peace in my soul because God’s word is real reality. That’s why I need to read the Bible each day, to hear the word preached each week, to come to God in prayer, and to hear words of grace from other brothers and sisters as I seek to speak the same to them. Only as God speaks his word to me, and as I hear that word in faith, is my reality transformed and do the insults of others, of my own sinful nature, and of the evil one himself, cease to constitute my reality. The words of my enemies, external and internal, might be powerful for a moment, like a firework exploding against the night sky; but the Word of the Lord is stronger, brighter, and lasts forever."

(HT: Reformation 21 via Between Two Worlds)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Song

The following is one of my favorite songs reflecting on the resurrection by one of my favorite musicians:

"Easter Song" by Keith Green

Hear the bells ringing
They're singing that you can be born again
Hear the bells ringing
They're singing Christ is risen from the dead

The angel up on the tombstone
Said He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead

Joy to the word, He has risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah

Hear the bells ringing
They're singing that you can be healed right now
Hear the bells ringing, they're singing
Christ, He will reveal it now

The angels, they all surround us
And they are ministering Jesus' power
Quickly now, reach out and receive it
For this could be your glorious hour

Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah, hallelujah

The angel up on the tombstone
Said He has risen, just as He said
Quickly now, go tell his disciples
That Jesus Christ is no longer dead

Joy to the world, He has risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah
He's risen, hallelujah

He Has Risen!

Matthew 28:1-10
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oxen, Muzzles, Grains, and Suffering?

What in the world do oxen, muzzles, and grains have to do with suffering? Recently, I was reading in Deuteronomy and noticed something that I had not seen before.  Deuteronomy 25:4 ("You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain") is quoted by Paul on two different occasions in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 9:9 & 1 Timothy 5:18) in reference to financial provision for those who labor in gospel ministry. I have often wondered what it was that caused Paul to cite this particularly verse as as argument to financially support those who labor in gospel ministry. One would think that if Paul were going to draw on an example from the Old Testament, he would have mainly use the parallel with the provision that the other Israelite tribes were to make for the Levites, instead of a verse having to do with muzzles, oxen, and grain. Why was this verse even on the forefront of Paul's mind? Perhaps, it has to do with Paul's own experience and the overall context of Deuteronomy 25:4. In specific notice Deuteronomy 25:1-3.

"If there is a dispute between men and they come into court and the judges decide between them, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty, 2 then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense. 3 Forty stripes may be given him, but not more, lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight."

In verses 2 & 3 Moses gives the description for what should take place when someone is guilty and is deserving of being beaten. They were to be given upwards of 40 stripes for their crime. What is interesting about this punishment is that Paul himself received it at least five times during the course of his ministry (2 Corinthians 11:24) Perhaps, before the Apostle Paul would receive the beating the Deuteronomy text was read to provide the judicial grounds for punishing him. Or maybe Paul found himself in a bit of despair after being beaten each time and wanted to be reminded of the overall context for the punishment to see if he was doing anything deserving of punishment. Or perhaps as a good Pharisee he had this passage of Scripture committed to memory and with each successive beating it was impressed all the more on him mind. All of these are speculations, but what seems to be clear is that Paul used his own suffering and where it took him in the Scriptures for meditation/reflection as a means of offering encouragement to others. Paul did not allow his own suffering and sorrow to limit his effectiveness for advancing the kingdom. Instead, not only does he use his being beaten as a proof of his apostleship in 2 Corinthians 11, but it also appears that he uses his suffering as a means of strengthening the Churches by encouraging them to support those who labor in their midst on behalf of the gospel. Oh, that God would give us grace to have eyes to see that the circumstances that He has us in now (no matter how bleak) are often His primary means of equipping us for future effective ministry.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Communion With God

This weekend I spent some time reading  Communion With God by John Owen.  I was particularly helped by his following statement on Communion with Jesus:

"The accepting of Christ by the will, as its only husband, Lord, and Savior.  This is called 'receiving' of Christ (John 1:12); and is not intended only for that solemn act whereby at first entrance we close with Him, but also for the constant frame of the soul in abiding with Him and owning of Him as such.  Wen the soul consents to take Christ on His own terms, to save him in His own way, and says, 'Lord, I would have had thee and salvation in my way, that it might have been partly of my endeavours, and as it were by the works of the law; I am now willing to receive thee and to be saved in thy way,--merely by grace:  and though I would have walked according to my own mind, yet now I wholly give up myself to be ruled by the Spirit; for in thee I have righteousness and strength, in thee am I justified and do glory;"--then doth it carry on communion with Christ as to the grace of his person.  This it is to receive the Lord Jesus in his comeliness and eminency.  

Let believers exercise their hearts abundantly unto this thing.  This is choice communion with the Son Jesus Christ.  Let us receive him in all his excellencies, as he bestows himself upon us;--be frequent in thoughts of faith, comparing him with other beloveds, sin, world, legal righteousness; and preferring him before them, counting them all loss and dung in comparison of him.  And let our souls be persuaded of his sincerity and willingness in giving himself, in all that he is, as mediator unto us, to be ours; and let our hearts give up themselves unto him, and not for another:  let him know it from us; he delights to hear it, yea, he says, "Sweet is our voice, and our countenance is comely;"--and we shall not fail in the issue of sweet refreshment with him."
John Owen, Communion With God, 59.