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Archive for January, 2011

Saying What You Believe Is Clearer Than Saying “Calvinist”

John Piper had a really helpful post on this topic. He said that “using a label for what you believe is not nearly as helpful as telling people what you actually believe. So forget the label, if it helps, and tell them clearly, without evasion or ambiguity, what you believe about salvation.”

Closely related to this topic, Timothy George’s new book, Amazing Grace deals with what has been coined as the “Calvinism controversy.” It was originally written to address the growing concern in the SBC about conflicting views on the “doctrines of grace.” As incredible as grace is, the topic provokes some of the most heated disagreements in the history of the Christian church. George felt that “a clear, simple exposition of what are known as the doctrines of grace might shed more light than heat on this growing dispute.”

Amazing Grace is an effort to help articulate what we believe and to promote understanding and unity within the church as we seek to know the God of the Bible. George writes, “God’s grace should provoke wonder and worship among all God’s children.”

Learn more about Amazing Grace or download a sample chapter.

January 31, 2011 | Posted in: Books,Faith,The Grace of God | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 2:00 pm | 1 Comment »

Gospel Healing VS. Self-Help

The prevalence of sexual assault and abuse is staggering. Authors Justin and Lindsey Holcomb have written a timely and much needed resource for the church today called Rid of My Disgrace. One important topic they hit on is the difference between self-help (unfortunately offered to many suffering in our culture at large) and gospel healing (the message we all need to be prepared to share with friends, family, and people in our congregations).

Tragically, positive self-statements “have more impact on people with low self-esteem than on people with high self-esteem, and the impact on people with low self-esteem is negative.” The consequences are that positive self-statements are likely to backfire and cause harm for the very people they are meant to benefit—people with low self-esteem.

This rejection of simplistic self-esteem enhancement methods is not because we want you to continue in self-loathing, but because something better exists. To experience healing and freedom, your identity must be established on the work of Christ, not on the foundation of the shame and self-hate that frequently results from assault. Making a transition from a “victim” identity to an identity in Christ is offered in God’s redemptive work through Jesus. You need to know God’s statements and images about who you are, not self-produced positive statements or the lies being told to you by your experience of disgrace. Confronting your distorted self-image and having your identity reconstructed is not a chore you do but is the fruit of having faith in the person and work of Jesus.

What victims need are not self-produced positive statements, but God’s statements about his response to their pain. How can you be rid of these dysfunctional emotions and their effects? How can you be rid of your disgrace? God’s grace to you dismantles the beliefs that give disgrace life. Grace re-creates what violence destroyed. Martin Luther writes that “the love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it.”One-way love is the change agent you need. Grace transforms and heals; and healing comes by hearing God’s statements to you, not speaking your own statements to yourself.

What grace offers to the victim experiencing disgrace is the gift of refuting distortions and faulty thinking and replacing their condemning, counter-factual beliefs with more accurate ones that reflect the truths about God, yourself, and God’s grace-filled response to your disgrace. This is an important point to highlight. We are all powerless to heal ourselves. Research shows that self-help statements have been found to be ineffective and even harmful by making some people with low self-esteem feel even worse about themselves in the long term. As a matter of fact, positive self-statements frequently end up reinforcing and strengthening one’s original negative self-perception they were trying to change.

As we explore the effects caused by sexual assault and how grace can heal them, it is helpful to look at the prayer of Psalm 13. It is a request for God to deal with our sorrow, distress, and disgrace with his steadfast love, in the hope that we may rejoice in salvation:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Excerpt from Rid of My Disgrace by Justin Holcomb and Lindsey Holcomb.

Download a sample chapter.

The Four Holy Gospels, iPad Edition

We’ve been talking a lot lately about The Four Holy Gospels, a ground-breaking illumination of Scripture featuring the works of contemporary artist Makoto Fujimura.

We recognize that the cost of this 6-color, artist quality volume—$129.99 for the cloth over board edition, and $349.99 for the genuine leather over board edition—may be prohibitive for some of our friends. And so we’ve released a $14.99 electronic version for your Apple iPad, enhanced with video and additional artist commentary. Simply open the iBooks app on your iPad, and search for “Crossway” to find it.

There’s nothing like the look and feel of real ink imprinted onto the highest quality gilt-edged art paper, something you’ll find in both print versions of The Four Holy Gospels. The print versions look great on your coffee table, and are sure to spark some meaningful conversations about Scripture and artistic engagement with God’s word.

But if you have an iPad and want to experience The Four Holy Gospels immediately,we encourage you to check out this enhanced eBook.

January 29, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Arts & Literature,Bible News,Books,Digital,Digital,E-Books,ESV,ESV,News & Announcements,The Gospel | Author: Crossway Staff @ 12:00 pm | 0 Comments »

Five Principles of Providence

Our faith should be strengthened as we consider God’s providence—how our loving father carefully governs our lives. As you study providence, there are five principles that you should keep in mind:

  1. The doctrine of providence reminds us that God is the sovereign Lord of history. It is important to remember that God is the creator and judge of the world, moving it toward an ultimate goal that we cannot fully grasp. For this reason we must remember not to align our faith with any particular political movement or institution.
  2. We often see the pattern of providence only in retrospect. We are often so overcome by grief or anger about our circumstances that we struggle to see how these experiences fit into God’s plan for us. Remember the story of Joseph? Surely Joseph wondered about the goodness of a God who allowed all of those things to happen to him. And yet through those trials, God raised up Joseph and saved the entire nation of Israel.
  3. God uses suffering and tragedy as occasions to display his glory. It is easy to doubt God’s love during times of tragedy. But behind the suffering, we are able to experience the love of a wise father who has promised never to leave or forsake us.
  4. God’s grace is sufficient when the answer is no. When we are denied requests or experience afflictions, like Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, we come to know more deeply the sufficiency of God’s grace.
  5. The cross is the place where grace and providence embrace. No other place can confirm the truth of Romans 8:28 like the cross of Jesus. Tortured and abandoned, Jesus experienced the ultimate betrayal and sacrifice. Yet we look back on the event as a triumph, for God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ that day. We can be sure that he will also take the broken pieces of our lives and piece them together into a beautiful, whole mosaic.

Modified content from Amazing Grace by Timothy George.

New: Daily Reading Plans for ESV Bible Online

Have you ever started a “read the Bible in a year” program, only to lose heart when you find yourself hopelessly behind schedule? If you’re already behind, you may want to check this out.

Crossway recently unveiled a new feature for our popular online ESV Bible: Reading Plan Tracking.

Here’s how it works. First, click over to the online ESV Bible site, and sign up for a free account if you haven’t already done so. Then select one of the 12 available reading plans within the “Devotions” tab. Click one of the reading options, then the suggested passage, and then begin reading. Once you’ve finished a section of Scripture, click the relevant checkbox, and click the “Next” button.

The next time you log into the online ESV Bible site, from any computer or mobile device, you’ll be able to continue right where you left off. A simple meter tracks your progress so you aren’t confined to a calendar. You can also start multiple reading plans if you’re so inclined.

Future enhancements include syncing reading plans (and notes, and highlighting) between the website and your mobile app.

Give it a try, and let us know what you think.

January 28, 2011 | Posted in: Digital,ESV,The Bible | Author: Crossway Staff @ 4:00 pm | (10) Comments »