Monday, June 25, 2012

Gospel as Center: chapter 7

The question: "What is the Gospel?"

Short answer: 1 Timothy 1:15. Sinners miss God's holy standard, hurting our relationship with Him. BUT that's where Jesus comes in. Of note: "Sin has power in your life because you love it" (p. 130).
  1. God provides what He requires:
    1. His image (in Christ)
    2. His holiness (of Christ - showing how and enabling to rightly live)
    3. His justice (a perfect sacrifice)
    4. Christ's righteousness (the "great exchange")
    5. God's love (unconditional)
    6. Covenant faithfulness (deliverance before obedience; Ephesians 2:8-9)
    7. Faith in Christ (simply trust His power by admitting your lack thereof)
    8. Rest in Christ - "simply relying on Christ's work" (p. 120).
  2. God perfects what He provides:
    1. Union with Christ (His death and resurrection)
    2. Family bonds (always His child)
    3. Eternal protection (Romans 8:28)
    4. Personal power - "the Holy Spirit translates our prayers into perfect petitions for God's will to be done" (p. 128); 1 Corinthians 1:27
    5. Spiritual growth (SIMPLE FAITH - by testing and transformation)
    6. Spiritual security (birthed of yielding to Him; see 1 John 4:19 and Romans 12:1-3)
    7. Eternal inheritance (new heaven and earth)
  3. God uses what He perfects: Our purpose is
    1. Individual - Christ's heart is our heart (Romans 6:4-11)
    2. Corporate - proclaiming the Gospel as the church
    3. Redemptive - He transforms all areas of our lives!

Gospel as Center: chapter 6

Simply titled "The Plan."
  • Revelation 13:8 and Titus 1:2-3 - This was no surprise, but ordained from the beginning! God brings His own plans to pass without contingencies.
  • Old Testament promises:
    • Humans are created unique.
    • The curse was shunted from us to the ground.
    • God took the initiative to elect Abraham.
    • Redemption and reconciliation are in the Passover sacrifice.
    • David would have an eternal (!) kingdom.
    • Resisting God's call means to expect discipline from Him.
    • Resurrection and restoration (Ezekiel 37:1-13)!
  • New Testament promises:
    • God (Christ) became man too (Jesus).
    • When tempted, Christ triumphed, giving us strength.
    • John 1:11-12 - He was and is rejected. . .but He blesses those who receive Him!
    • God calls us to heed the transfigured Christ by faith.
    • In the Crucifixion, our punishment was shunted onto Jesus Christ.
    • Christ's bodily resurrection guarantees ours, for which we wait with repentance (complete) and forgiveness (total).
    • He blessed while ascending and continues to bless today.
  • Acts (church spreading the promise) and the Epistles (the Spirit giving the promise's fruits):
    • Faith and repentance are to occur together, just as justification and sanctification cannot be confused nor separated.
    • Other gifts: regeneration, union with Christ (reality!), adoption by the Father, glorification (life as a mirror of God's glory), and consummation (seeing God's face).

Gospel as Center: Chapter 5

On "Sin and the Fall."
  • The Theory of Evolution (note capitals) and Islam both assume that evil is a natural thing, with the implication that sin need not be dealt with.
  • But Christianity contends that angels first sinned (2 Peter 2:4), progressing to Satan tempting Eve, then Adam, then sin being inherited by all his offspring.
  • We were created righteous; strangely, God proclaimed evil's entry (no surprise nor mere permission) "so that in it and against it He might bring to light His divine attributes" (Bavnick, Reformed Dogmatics, qtd. in p. 81; compare Colossians 2:15).
  • Adam's sin led to lawlessness and judgment, alienation, inability to be holy, and Satanic bondage. It is universal, and its depravity involves the whole person (T of TULIP).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Gospel as Center: chapter 4

On the foundational topic of Creation.
  • The whole creation is purposed to show off God's glory, and humans to know God's glory through the evidences. "The earth is the center of God's purposes for the universe" (p. 68).
  • Because we have sinned, however, we cannot innately know His glory, so "physical creation prepares us for saving faith" (p. 57, cf Psalm 22:9).
  • The making and sustaining of all creation is in Christ! (Colossians 1:15-16; Hebrews 1:2)
  • Naturalism/materialism both deny the purpose ordained by God (Romans 1:18).
  • Beware of a "God of the gaps" - science shrinks this sort of god.
  • Genesis 1:1-3 is foundational for everything in the Bible.
  • Genesis 2 is an "inset map" of chapter 1.
  • Genesis 1:26-27 - humans are made in God's image (i.e. having some of His traits and abilities, being stewards of creation). The one-man-one-woman marriage pattern produces child-blessings.
  • Applications of creation:
    • Reasons to worship God!
    • Reminder of the marvelous fact of our moment-by-moment sustenance
    • Evidence that God, the 100% Creator, also 100% saves us (2 Corinthians 4:6)
    • Parents teach their children and others about God via what He made
    • Students of science are to be worshipers of the Maker first and foremost
    • Use creation to help comprehend the Bible ("consider the lilies. . .")
    • Be refreshed in soul (nature walks)
    • Live anticipating creation's renewal

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gospel as Center: chapter 3

The title of this chapter is "The Gospel and Scripture" (i.e. how to read the Bible in light of the centrality of the Gospel).

  • The Gospel causes revelation, and revelation causes the Gospel.
    • The Gospel is God's planned purpose (intent) of redemption.
    • Preaching the Bible performs this purpose (Romans 10:12-14).
  • Convictions of our basis for reading:
    • God-breathed - freedom from doubt and instability
    • Understandable - we labor to study it because He reveals it to us.
    • Useful - it works inasmuch as we believe and obey it.
    • Effective - accomplishes every part of life and godliness.
  • We are the ones judged by the Bible - no wiggling out from under this fact!
  • Principles of interpretation:
    • Christ is the subject of all Scripture (therefore Scripture interprets Scripture)
    • The Holy Spirit guides us into understanding it (e.g. the road to Emmaus)
  • Ways to read, shaking the tree of life for fruit*:
    • "Along" - as historical narrative, the gospel storyline
    • "Across" - as theology, Scripture interpreting Scripture.
* The quote I am referencing, from Martin Luther: "First I shake the whole Apple tree, that the ripest might fall. Then I climb the tree and shake each limb, and then each branch and then each twig, and then I look under each leaf."

Gospel as Center: Chapter 2

Title: "Can We Know the Truth?" - an appropriate question in our age!

  • Our stating truth as Christians must be backed up by defending the idea of truth itself.
  • Postmodernity rightly rejects the philosophy of modernity - its rationalism attacks God, ignores sin, and has no room for humility and charity.
  • Positives of postmodernism: (1) People are finite and therefore cannot fully understand truth. (2) Truth can potentially engender oppression, something to guard against. (3) We are led to think again through doctrines, strengthening the right. (4) Christians and postmodernists can combat modernism.
  • However. . .you can't live as if there is no truth! Try it, it's impossible.
  • Our Christian defense of truth:
    • "Truth corresponds to reality" (p. 29).
      • God exists, specifically the God of the Bible.
      • One God implies a unity to His whole creation.
    • "Sin prevents humans from receiving the truth" (p. 30).
      • We are necessarily finite anyway.
      • We are sinful.
    • Jesus the Savior is the solution to sin!
    • "The Bible - God's written revelation - conveys truth" (p. 32).
      • Scripture is verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit.
      • God's perfection implies that Scripture is also trustworthy and without error.
      • The Bible's authority is God's authority, since it proceeds from His mouth.
      • God reveals Himself in a variety of genres. So. . .
      • To read the Bible is to drink living water (2 Peter 1:19).
    • Truth is in God's covenant with us as well.
      • God is the higher party in His covenant.
      • Humans are His stewards.
      • Jesus, God in the flesh, is touchable human Truth.
  • Thus, in our witness, we start and end with Scripture, always humbly (as forgiven sinners) and boldly (knowing the teachings). Back up your witness with life-evidence that Jesus is a real Person to you - love, holiness, gentleness. Jesus is your confidence!
  • People have an innate need for truth - go from there, challenging them to evaluate the Word's claims.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Gospel as Center: Chapter 1

The Gospel as Center, edited by D. A. Carson and T. Keller ((c) 2012 Crossway), expounds on the essence of the Gospel and how it applies to every aspect of ministry, worship, and daily life. Chapter 1 summarizes "Gospel-Centered Ministry."

  • Biblical language is the first choice of the book to describe theology, as well it should be.
  • Begin with God versus with our culture's interpretation of Scripture.
  • Individualism (based on secularism) makes us too fluid, commitment-phobic.
  • How to address today's incomprehension of typical expository preaching? No matter what, tie all things to Christ's person and work, since He is the center of  our faith as Christ-followers.
  • Social ministry is certainly appropriate, based on our received grace.
  • Minding the cultural context, The Gospel Coalition (TGC) seeks to support churches (1) preaching for discipleship, (2) emphasizing repentance and its fruits, (3) involving members in the world (for all areas of daily life are within the realm of Jesus Christ), and (4) supporting Christian communities marked by generosity.
  • Churches to the Word-ministry are to be compared/contrasted with believers to the world-ministry.
  • Systematic (atemporal concepts) versus biblical (historical/thematic) theology.
  • The Gospel flows into ALL our life and thought! We live with the ethics and morals we have because they imitate Jesus' work.