TRUST: Reliability of Apostolic Witness

“The whole of the Christian faith is based on certain historical realities, occurrences and statements that happened sometime in the past.  These events have to do, fundamentally, with the identity of one man, Jesus of Nazareth.  Can we trust the information we have about Him?”

Read entire article:  Matthew and John on the Witness Stand

Scripture: God Speaks

David Gibson has explained:

“God himself speaks in the words of the Bible and the aim of the sermon is an encounter with him. For this reason, a repentant believer, a comforted congregation, or a worshipping convert are all legitimate goals of a sermon, and none could be realized without the conviction that what the text says, God says. This conviction also ensures a clear distinction between the authoritative Scripture and an authoritarian preacher. The former is theologically warranted by Scripture’s ontology and gives preaching its cutting edge; the latter denies the very definition of expository preaching by substituting the messenger for the message.”

Upon this Slippery Rock

Chris Arnzen, host of Iron Sharpens Iron, interviewed  Eric Svendsen, author of: Upon this Slipper Rock

 

In the course of their discussion a number of helpful points were made, that address Roman Catholic attempts to “denigrate the Scriptures in their zeal to promote the authority of Rome.”

                                                             

 

 

 

 

 

 

Redemption and Hermeneutics

Paul Tripp has written:

“Only as we see our story enfolded in the larger story of redemption will we begin to live God-honoring lives. Lasting change begins when our identity, purpose, and sense of direction are defined by God’s story. When we bring this perspective to our relationships, we will have a dramatically different agenda. It will take the principles and commands of Scripture and use them as God intended. We will see how each principle, promise, and command finds its meaning and fulfillment in Christ. Separate them from Christ and they lose their God-intended meaning and get hijacked by other agendas.”

Scripture = Word Capturing Glory

Leon Morris wrote: “The chief impression that a study of the atonement leaves with us is that of the many-sidedness of Christ’s work for men. When he died for us on the cross, he did something so infinitely wonderful that it is impossible to comprehend it in its fulness. However man’s need be understood, that need is fully and abundantly met in Christ. The New Testament writers are like men who ransack their vocabulary to find words which will bring out some small fraction of the mighty thing that God has done for us. And yet, though it is so complex and so difficult, it may be put very simply: ‘the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Gal. 2:20).”

Christ our Colossus

Been reading through Colossians this evening and took a moment or two to kind of outline the Christological thread of the Text.  This is what I skimmed off the top…

 

Colossians 1, 2 & 3:

 

1.5-6) It is this Gospel, of God’s grace, that grows us in the Way fruitful.

1.15)  It is by this Gospel, we behold the Image of the Invisible God, and are changed.

1.19)  It is in Christ, the Second Adam, the God-Man, that, God’s Image fully dwells. 

1.22)  It is in Christ, we are reconciled into a state of holiness and blamelessness, irreproachableness.

1.23)  It is by faith in Christ, we continue stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the Gospel.

1.27)  It is Christ in you, that, this Gospel makes known.

1.28)  It is Christ we proclaim, for in knowing Him we are matured in Him.

2.2)    It is in Christ proclaimed, we come to a full assurance of understanding.

2.3)    It is in Christ, that God stores such treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

2.4)    It is Christ, we must know, so that, we may not be deluded by ‘very plausible’ arguments.

2.5)    It is Christ, upon whom our faith must fasten firmly.

2.6)    It is in this Christ, THE Lord, who’s revealed in the Gospel, we must walk believingly.

2.7)    It is in Christ, we must be rooted and growing up in, established in a faith in Him.

2.8)    It is in Christ, our minds must be taken captive.

2.9)    It is in Christ, we encounter the Godhood of God.

2.10)  It is in Christ, we are full-filled.

2.11)  It is in Christ, we have a spiritual circumcision, by His having been both physically and spiritually cut-off!

2.12)  It is with Christ, we have suffered a baptismal-death.

2.12)  It is with Christ, we have raised by ‘faith in God’s powerful working’ in resurrecting Christ.

2.13)  It is with Christ, we are made alive, having no sin counted against us.

2.15)  It is Christ, who disarmed(s) the power of sin and death.

2.16)  It is in Christ, we have an “identity” that is lifted far above shadowy religious rites.

2.17)  It is Christ, who is the substance (object) of our faith and practice.

2.19)  It is Christ, who we cling upon by faith, and thereby nourished and knit together, growing up by God. 

2.20)  It is in Christ, we have died to the world, and will keep dying to the world (which includes our sin-flesh).

2.23)  It is in Christ, we find true religion and God’s regulating us, avoiding flesh-exalting ritualism.

3.1)    It is Christ, with whom we are raised, and in whom we seek and find the Kingdom.

3.3)    It is in Christ, we are hidden in God, being dead to what’s less.

3.4)    It is Christ, who is our life, now and forever.

3.5)    It is Christ, who enables us to die, again and again to idolatry (the root-sin), by our beholding Him.

3.9)    It is Christ, who puts the old-man (Adamic) into context, with all his fleshly practices and faithless purposes.

3.10)  It is Christ, the New-man, the Image of the Creator, who renews us by beholding (knowing) Him.

3.11)  It is Christ, who is ALL, and by Whom all temporal social barriers are destroyed.

3.12)  It is in Christ, God chooses, sets-apart, and loves us; and produces the fruit of the Spirit.

3.13)  It is in Christ, that, we obtain and exemplify the forgiveness of God.

3.14)  It is in Christ, crucified, that, we find God’s love fully demonstrated and unleashed, and the Source of our love-bond.

3.15)  It is in Christ, we have peace with God and any hope of peace with one another.

3.16)  It is Christ, the Word incarnate, that becomes the Source and Content of our conversation with one another.

3.17)  It is in Christ, we have access to the Father; and by Whom, all we do or say is sanctified.

3.18-23)  It is on Christ, THE Lord, a household is rightly founded upon and found heartily working unto. 

3.24)  It is Christ, who is (and will give) our Inheritance and Reward.

3.25)  It is Christ, who is (and will bring) Justice.

 

Amen!

 

Sifting and Weeding Through…

I understand that many folks won’t care for Keller, nor do I fully appreciate his thinking on some matters.  But, when it comes down to apprehending and appropriating the Gospel…of all the preaching that I’ve heard that claims to be redemptive-historical and Christo-centric, Keller is among the few who go a very long way toward making clear the differences between *preaching the Gospel* and *preaching Jesus as Example/Add-on/Gap-filler*.

 

Of course there are things Keller says that give us pause, but I tend to ignore that sort of thing like I would everyone else’s statements that don’t seem to square with Scripture.  What I most appreciate about Keller is his bringing the finished work of Christ to bear upon Scripture, faith, and life.  May the Lord aide in our sifting wheat from chaff!

 

This sermon (Born of the Gospel) is a decent example of how Tim captures something of the “how” and “why” the Scriptures are to be read from Genesis to Revelation.  Here too, he helps us understand something of why folks can dabble in so-called “redemptive-historical” thinking, but never escape the grip of a functional denial of what they know Christ fulfilled and abolished!  Reading Vos, Kline, et al, without a more fundamental grasp of the implications of the Gospel, will sometimes (often) lead to more confusion and in the end result in one becoming quite frustrated with trying to do “redemptive-historical” thinking, so that, they give up on the idea and turn around and attempt to pick it apart.  (What they are picking apart is often nothing more than a caricature of a sounder and more thorough understanding of redemption and revelation.) 

 

Perhaps I’m coming to the place where… if the Gospel doesn’t penetrate a believer’s thinking and actions, tangibly over the course of time, than it probably isn’t centrally the Gospel they are hearing and trusting.  Thankfully, Keller helps tighten the weave in areas that many others (who I appreciate for other reasons) can’t seem to readily touch on.

 

Hopefully I’m learning (at least a little) to get over some of my own aversions to things less fundamental in lieu of missing what’s foundational to faith, hope, and love.

If not Christ, then what?

Bill Wilder:  “If I could issue a plea to our pastors and priests and ministers of the Word in the world today, it would be this: Give me Christ, or else I die.

“I mean that in the most specific sense—not just what Christ can do in me or to me or for me or through me (or the church or the world), but Jesus Christ himself, clearly portrayed as crucified and preached as having been raised from the dead. Not Jesus Christ as the assumption or foundation or the means for all that is preached, but as its very content and core.

“So, please, preach Christ. Preach him in all of Scripture….

“This is what I need to hear. Because my attention is so easily drawn to lesser things—to my plans, my ambitions, my problems, my triumphs, my failures, my family, my friends, my church, my community. So, please, turn my eyes upon Jesus. Help me to look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely clear in the light of his glory and grace.


“Do you want me to repent of my sins? Then show me Jesus—in his robust goodness and love and self-sacrifice. Linger on that. Do you want to bring me to hope in the midst of suffering? Then show me Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross and scorned its shame. Do you want me to know what it really means to be human? Then show me Jesus in his cruciform love and resurrection glory. Do you want me to worship God? Then show me Jesus, the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.


“What I really need is a vision (not of myself or my community or even the church or the world but) of Christ! Give me that and all these things will be added unto me.

 

G’muse: What more essential thing is there to preach upon and worship than the Lamb of God who is the essence to all our existence now and forever?  Sadly, going to church on Sunday is too often (commonly) a taste of death, for Jesus Christ ends up merely an appendage to so much else that claims centrality.  Hence, the tail ends up wagging the head.

 

 

 

Bible Reading, Biblically!

Paul Tripp:  “The sad fact is that many of us are simply not biblical in the way we use the Bible!  Being biblical does not mean merely quoting words from within its pages.  Being truly biblical means that my counsel reflects what the entire Bible is about.  The Bible is a narrative, a story of redemption, and its chief character is Jesus Christ.”

Gospel: Not About You (primarily)

D.A. Carson on 1 Cor 15…   

  1. “The Gospel” is not in the first instance about something God has done for me, but about something God has objectively done in history.  It is about Jesus, especially about his death and resurrection.  We have not preached the Gospel when we have told our testimony and no more, or when we have conveyed an array of nice stories about Jesus, but not reached the telos (the goal or end) of the story told in the four Gospels.   
  2. The primary events of this Gospel unfolded “according to the Scriptures.”  The precise way in which the Scriptures predicted these events — often by typology — is not our immediate concern; rather, it is the simple fact of the connection with Scripture that is so stunning.  No one in the early church saw the significance of Jesus as something brand new, or standing in isolation from all that had come before.  Rather, they saw him as the capstone, the culmination, the glorious goal, the climax of all of God’s antecedent revelation in holy Scripture.  
  3. This Gospel saves us (15:2).  A great deal of theology is already presupposed by these few words:  in particular, what we are saved from.  Embedded here are Paul’s understanding of human beings made in the image of God, the awfulness of sin and the curse of God that has separated us from our Maker, our inability to make ourselves over.  The Gospel saves us — and always we must bear in mind exactly what it is that we are saved from.   
  4. Paul makes clear not only the object of this saving faith (namely, the Gospel), but also the nature of this faith:  it is faith that perseveres, that holds firmly to the word preached by the apostles.  “Otherwise, you have believed in vain” (15:2) — a point often made in the New Testament (e.g., John 8:31; Col. 1:23; Heb. 3:14; 2 Pet. 1:10).

Gospel, start to finish

M. Bird:  “It is not only the importance of the gospel to the Church’s witness that should lead us to be vigilant and uncompromizing about the integrity of the gospel, but the entire task of being theological communities rests on our capacity to construe, imbibe, digest, and apply with greater effect the gospel in our theological and ministerial formation. For the gospel is the beginning point for theological investigation, it is the link between the Old and New Testaments, the integrating theme for theological discourse, and proclamation of the gospel is the goal of theological instruction.

Entry 7: Gospel in Biblical Theology (whole-bible theology)

M. Bird:  “The author of Hebrews detects in Jesus the culmination and fulfillment of Israel’s covenants, law, priesthood, and sacrifices. From a rhetorical point of view this indicates that the Christian message of salvation has a degree of antiquity as it is prefigured in the sacred writings of the Jewish people, and the gospel is also authoritative since those Scriptures were regarded as being inspired by God.”

Entry 6: Gospel in Biblical Theology (whole-bible theology)

M. Bird:  “… it seems that the gospel was the normifying norm within the early Christian communities and the gospel was standard by which truth and conduct were measured (e.g. Gal. 2.11-14; 1 Cor. 15.11; Phil. 1.27).  The gospel connects the Christian proclamation to the history of Israel. Paul declares in 1 Cor. 15.3 that Christ was handed over and raised ‘according to the Scriptures’.  The Old Testament Scriptures provided the ‘script’ that Jesus followed in his ministry but they also constitute, to use C.H. Dodd’s term ‘the narrative substructure of Christian theology’.

Entry 2: Gospel in Biblical Theology (whole-bible theology)

M. Bird:  “In the New Testament canon we are presented with four Gospels, four Jesus-Books, or four biographies which are much like stained glass windows as all present a portrait of Jesus with their own distinctive colouring and artistic display. But it is one and the same person who recognizable in each. The canonical Gospels show that the story of Jesus is a continuation of the story of Israel and is also the beginning of the story of the church.”

Theology, beginning with the Gospel

M. Bird:  “We need to set out the gospel at the beginning of theology because…

(1) our reception of the gospel is the point where we first experience the soteriological benefits of being in a redemptive relationship with God;

(2) it brackets out perversions of the gospel caused by either a liberalism (a truncated social gospel) or a fundamentalism (gospel + works) which might otherwise infiltrate our theological thinking;

(3) setting out the gospel insulates our further theological reflection from either a pietistic reductionism (e.g. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life) or from an equating the gospel with one particular doctrine (e.g. the gospel of justification, the gospel of the pre-tribulation rapture, the gospel of egalitarianism, etc); and

(4) Paul’s epistle to the Romans (although most definitely not a systematic theology, it is still the most ‘systematic’ of Paul’s letters) itself starts with a statement of the gospel in Rom. 1.3-4.

In this light, Romans sets us a ‘template’ to follow in doing theology, a theology that is rooted in and originates with the gospel itself.”