We’re ringing in the new year and looking forward to an exciting Winter/Spring list here at Crossway. Check out some of our new titles coming this January:
Archive for December, 2009
Via Justin Taylor…
Crossway makes available about ten reading plans. I’ll explain them in a separate post. But note that the ESV Bible Reading Plans can be accessed in multiple ways:
- web (a new reading each day appears online at the same link)
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- email (subscribe to receive by email)
- iCal (download an iCalendar file)
- mobile (view a new reading each day on your mobile device)
- print (download a PDF of the whole plan)
Mark Dever on Unbiblical Theology: Questioning 5 Common Deceits
Adapted from Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology
New challenges to the clarity and sufficiency of the gospel arise in each generation. Today some people, even within evangelicalism, are acting and speaking as if Jesus Christ alone is not fully sufficient and as if faith in him and his promises alone is a reduction of the full gospel. They are effectively modifying, or expanding, the gospel we have received.
There are several different ways that people are trying to supplement or add to the gospel. Let’s consider some of the threats that we face, some of the mistaken notions that threaten to carry us away.
1. “Make the Gospel Social!” I don’t mean by this to communicate any indifference about issues of this life. Are both evangelism and compassionate service to be part of our individual discipleship? Yes. Are they both to typify our lives as Christians? Yes. Are they equally part of the gospel? No. Never substitute doing good works for sharing the gospel. Don’t try to improve the gospel by making it social; you’ll end up losing it. We must preach the gospel we have received.
2. “Make the Gospel Larger!” There is a problem of confusing an action of ours with the gospel itself, even if that action can be said to reflect the gospel or to be consistent with it, perhaps even be an implication of it. When someone says that the gospel includes opposition to abortion or working to end unjust laws, then I have a few questions: does it also include nationalized health care or the war in Iraq? To require us to include what we take to be implications of the gospel as part of the gospel itself can too easily confuse our message and cause us to lose the radical and gracious sufficiency of faith in Christ alone. We want a Christian worldview and we don’t want to confuse that with the gospel. Don’t try to improve the gospel by making it larger; you’ll end up losing it. We must preach the gospel we have received.
3. “Make the Gospel Relevant!” We should reject any kind of “relevance” that sacrifices the very distinctiveness that Scripture tells us will a part of our life-saving witness to the gospel among those we would reach. We should illustrate the gospel before them by our lives of Christlike love. The gospel’s relevance appears precisely in our being distinct. Don’t try to improve the gospel by making it more relevant; you’ll end up losing it. We must preach the gospel we have received.
4. “Make the Gospel Personal!” Some people seem to understand the gospel only in reference to themselves as individuals with no idea of the local church. This individualism, which ignores the local church, ends up distorting our discipleship and even our gospel. The local church is a glorious testimony to the gospel, which is greater than the sum of its visible parts. The local church is not simply a collection of individual lights; it is a furnace that rages against the dark that God uses to create more lights. Don’t try to improve the gospel by decoupling it from the church; you’ll end up losing it. We must preach the gospel we have received.
5. “Make the Gospel Kinder!” Many people have assumed that the ultimate purpose of the gospel is the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Therefore, we should do whatever we can to reach whomever we can (which in and of itself, of course, is good). But here, “reaching them” is not seen as merely making sure they hear and understand the gospel, but making sure that they accept the gospel. God is in this for our salvation—and even our glory, as Paul says in 1 Cor 2:7—but also, and more fundamentally, he is in it to please himself, to demonstrate himself to the universe. He has a larger end in mind—the display of his character in creation, the theater of his splendor. Don’t try to improve the gospel by making it appear kinder at first glance. If you do, you’ll end up losing the gospel. We must preach the gospel we have received.
*You can also read chapter 5 on The Curse Motif of the Atonement by RC Sproul here.
Last week Jay Leno joked that two of the three wise men must not have gotten the memo about the appropriate gift to bring Jesus. They brought only frankincense and myrrh while the third one brought gold.
James Montgomery Boyce gave further insight to these “gifts of faith” in Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus:
Gold: It is easy to see why gold is an appropriate gift for Jesus Christ. Gold is the metal of kings. When gold was presented to Jesus, it acknowledged his right to rule. The wise men knew Jesus was the King of kings.
Incense: Incense was also a significant gift. It was used in the temple worship. It was mixed with the oil that was used to anoint the priests of Israel. It was part of the meal offerings that were offerings of thanksgiving and praise to God. In presenting this gift the wise men pointed to Christ as our great High Priest, the one whose whole life was acceptable and well pleasing to his Father.
Myrrh: Myrrh was used for embalming. By any human measure it would be odd, if not offensive, to present to the infant Christ a spice used for embalming. But it was not offensive in this case, nor was it odd. It was a gift of faith. We do not know precisely what the wise men may have known or guessed about Christ’s ministry, but we do know that the Old Testament again and again foretold his suffering.
2 Corinthians 8:9
From Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening:
The Lord Jesus Christ was eternally rich, glorious, and exalted; but “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor.” As the wealthy believer cannot be true in his fellowship with his poor brethren unless from his wealth he ministers to their needs, so (the same rule holding with the head as between the members) it is impossible that our Divine Lord could have had fellowship with us unless He had given to us from His own abounding wealth and had become poor so as to make us rich. If He had remained upon His throne in glory, and we had continued in the ruins of the Fall without receiving His salvation, fellowship would have been impossible on both sides. Our position by the Fall, apart from the covenant of grace, made it as impossible for fallen man to communicate with God as it is for Satan to be in communion with Christ. In order, therefore, that communion might be enjoyed, it was necessary for the rich relative to bestow his estate upon his poor relatives, for the righteous Savior to give to His sinning brethren from His own perfection, and for we, the poor and guilty, to receive of His fullness grace for grace, so that in giving and receiving, the One might descend from the heights, and the other ascend from the depths, and in this way be able to embrace each other in true and hearty fellowship. Poverty must be enriched by Him in whom are infinite treasures before it can begin to commune; and guilt must lose itself in imputed and imparted righteousness before the soul can walk in fellowship with purity. Jesus must clothe His people in His own blood or else they will be too defiled for the embrace of His fellowship.
Believer, herein is love. For your sake the Lord Jesus “became poor” that he might lift you up into communion with Himself.