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Archive for August, 2012

Do You Love Leviticus?

Have you ever wrestled with the relevancy of the Pentateuch or struggled to reconcile the seemingly harsh actions of God in the Old Testament with the merciful and forgiving actions of God in the New Testament? Have you ever struggled to read through the first few books of the Bible, wondering why the law was so specific and how it applies to Christians today?

Nancy Guthrie wants to help you dig deeply into the Old Testament. Her latest Bible study, The Lamb of God: Seeing Jesus in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomyshows us how the Pentateuch and the Old Testament law prepare us for, and point us to, the perfect sacrificial lamb: Jesus Christ.

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:12).

Learn more about The Lamb of God study. Complimentary resources for leaders are available online at SeeingJesusInTheOldTestament.com, and a DVD companion featuring 40-minute teaching sessions from Guthrie is available for purchase.

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August 28, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Biblical Studies,Book News,Life / Doctrine,News,Old Testament,Video | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »

World Premiere of James MacMillan’s “Since it was the Day of Preparation”

James MacMillan’s Since it was the Day of Preparation premiers today at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland.

This choral piece was co-commissioned by Crossway and Soli Deo Gloria, in collaboration with the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Music Festival Expo Fund and The Binks Trust. MacMillan is a renowned Scottish composer whose faith has deeply influenced his music. His hour-long chamber work centers on the figure of Christ (bass Brindley Sherratt), supported by only five instruments.

MacMillan uses the text of the ESV Bible, published by Crossway, to retell the greatest story ever told. “When I finished writing the Passion at the point where Christ dies, my mind turned immediately to the next bit of text, opening with the words ‘since it was the day of preparation,’” MacMillan said. “The challenge was to pick up the story again and take it right through to the Resurrection.”

MacMillan shares more about the setting of Since it was the Day of Preparation in the video below.

August 22, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,News,The Arts,Video | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 8:58 am | 0 Comments »

Medicine for Motivation

Excerpt from The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung

One of the reasons why I think Christians get tired of hearing about the law is because they never hear why they should obey the law. The imperatives hit us like a ton of study Bibles because we aren’t given any motivation for keeping God’s commands. Everything boils down to, “God said it, so do it.” Or on the oppo­site end of the spectrum, some Christians make it sound like grati­tude is the only legitimate motivation for obedience: “Look at everything Christ has done for you. Now be thankful and let the good works flow.” These are both true motivations for holiness, but they aren’t the only ones.

Jesus is the Great Physician, and like any good doctor he writes different prescriptions for different illnesses. The gospel is always the remedy for the guilt of sin, but when it comes to over­coming the presence of sin, Jesus has many doses at his disposal. He knows that personalities and sins and situations all vary. Jesus is not like a high school athletic trainer who tells everyone to “ice it and take a couple ibuprofen.” He’s not some quack doctor who always prescribes bloodletting. “High cholesterol? Here’s a leach. Overactive blad­der? I got a leach for that. Gout? A couple leaches will take the edge off.”

The good news is that the Bible is a big, diverse, wise book, and in it you can find a variety of prescriptions to encourage obedience to God’s commands.

Here are just some of the ways in which the Bible motivates us to pursue holiness:

  1. Duty. “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccles. 12:13).
  2. God knows all and sees all. “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Eccles. 12:14).
  3. It’s right. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Eph. 6:1)
  4. It’s for our good. “Be careful to obey all these words that I com­mand you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God.” (Deut. 12:28).
  5. God’s example. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiv­ing one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
  6. Christ’s example. “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2).
  7. Assurance. “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these quali­ties you will never fall” (2 Pet. 1:10).
  8. Being effective as a Christian. “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:8). 
  9. Jesus’ return. “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and god­liness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!” (2 Pet. 3:11–12).
  10. The world is not our home. “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Pet. 2:11)

This list could easily be tripled. God doesn’t command obedience “just cuz.” He gives us dozens of specific reasons to be holy. God can prescribe many different medicines for motivation. If you’re struggling with por­nography, he might call to mind your identity in Christ or admon­ish you that the sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God. If you are fighting pride, God might assure you that he gives grace to the humble or remind you that you follow a cruci­fied Messiah. He can highlight your adoption, justification, rec­onciliation, or union with Christ. God can stir you up to love and good deeds with warnings and promises, with love and fear, with positive or negative examples. He can remind you of who you are, or who you were, or who you are becoming. God can appeal to your good, the good of others, or his own glory. You could prob­ably find a hundred biblical reasons to be holy. And the sooner we explore and apply those reasons, the more equipped we’ll be to fight sin, the more eager to make every effort to be more like Christ, and the more ready to say with the apostle John, “his com­mandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

Learn more about The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung.

| Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life | Author: admin @ 8:36 am | 1 Comment »

Filthy Rags or Fully Pleasing?

Advance excerpt from Kevin DeYoung’s forthcoming book, The Hole in Our Holiness

Many Christians believe that all their righteous deeds are nothing but filthy rags. After all, that’s what Isaiah 64:6 seems to say: even your best deeds are dirty and worthless. But I don’t think this is what Isaiah means. The “righteous deeds” Isaiah has in mind are most likely the perfunctory rituals offered by Israel without sincere faith and without wholehearted obedience. In Isaiah 65:1–7 the Lord rejects Israel’s sinful sacrifices. They are an insult to the Lord, smoke in his nostrils, just like the ritual “obedience” of Isaiah 58 that did not impress the Lord because his people were oppressing the poor. Their “righteous deeds” were “filthy rags” (64:6, KJV) because they weren’t righteous at all. They looked good but were a sham, a literal smoke screen to cover up their unbelief and disobedience.

But we should not think that every kind of “righteous deed” is like a filthy rag before God. In fact the previous verse, Isaiah 64:5, says “you [God] meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways.” It is not impossible for God’s people to commit righteous acts that please God. John Piper explains:

Sometimes people are careless and speak disparagingly of all human righteousness, as if there were no such thing that pleased God. They often cite Isaiah 64:6 which says our righteousness is as filthy rags. It is true–gloriously true–that none of God’s people, before or after the cross, would be accepted by an immaculately holy God if the perfect righteousness of Christ were not imputed to us (Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21). But that does not mean that God does not produce in those “justified” people (before and after the cross) an experiential righteousness that is not “filthy rags.” In fact, he does; and this righteousness is precious to God and is required, not as the ground of our justification (which is the righteousness of Christ only), but as an evidence of our being truly justified children of God.[1]

It is a dangerous thing to ignore the Bible’s assumption, and expectation, that righteousness is possible. Of course, our righteousness can never appease God’s wrath. We need the imputed righteousness of Christ. More than that, we cannot produce any righteousness in our own strength. But as born-again believers, it is possible to please God by his grace. Those who bear fruit in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God are fully pleasing to God (Col. 1:10). Presenting your body as a living sacrifice pleases God (Rom. 12:1). Looking out for your weaker brother pleases God (14:18). Obeying your parents pleases God (Col. 3:20). Teaching the Word in truth pleases God (1 Thess. 2:4). Praying for the governing authorities pleases God (1 Tim. 2:1–3). Supporting your family members in need pleases God (5:4). Sharing with others pleases God (Heb. 13:16). Keeping his commandments pleases God (1 John 3:22). Basically, whenever you trust and obey, God is pleased.[2]

We can think it’s a mark of spiritual sensitivity to consider everything we do as morally suspect. But this is not the way the Bible thinks about righteousness. More importantly, this kind of spiritual resignation does not tell the truth about God. A. W. Tozer is right:

From a failure to properly understand God comes a world of unhappiness among good Christians even today. The Christian life is thought to be a glum, unrelieved cross-carrying under the eye of a stern Father who expects much and excuses nothing. He is austere, peevish, highly temperamental and extremely hard to please.[3]

But this is no way to view the God of the Bible. Our God is not a capricious slave driver. He is not hyper-sensitive and prone to fits of rage on account of slight offenses. He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Ex. 34:6). “He is not hard to please,” Tozer reminds us, “though He may be hard to satisfy.”[4]

Why do we imagine God to be so unmoved by our heart-felt attempts at obedience? He is, after all, our heavenly Father. What sort of father looks at his daughter’s homemade birthday card and complains that the color scheme is all wrong? What kind of mother says to her son, after he gladly cleaned the garage but put the paint cans on the wrong shelf, “This is worthless in my sight”? What sort of parent rolls his eyes when his child falls off the bike on the first try? There is no righteousness that makes us right with God except for the righteousness of Christ. But for those who have been made right with God by grace alone through faith alone and therefore have been adopted into God’s family, many of our righteous deeds are not only not filthy in God’s eyes, they are exceedingly sweet, precious, and pleasing to him.

Learn more about The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung.

[1] John Piper, Future Grace (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1995), 151.
[2] See Wayne Grudem, “Pleasing God by Our Obedience,” in For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper, ed. Sam Storms and Justin Taylor (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 277.
[3] A. W. Tozer, The Best of A. W. Tozer, Volume 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1978), 121.

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August 20, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 8:00 am | (4) Comments »

Inerrancy and Worldview: A Conversation with Vern Poythress

Vern Poythress discussing Inerrancy and Worldview with Credo Magazine:

Claridge: For most people, defending inerrancy is all about solving historical discrepancies or authorial contradictions in the Bible. Although those concerns are not entirely neglected, your focus is quite different. Give us an idea of how you’ve gone about defending inerrancy in this book.

Poythress: My book Inerrancy and Worldview focuses on the way in which assumptions due to a modern worldview affect people’s understanding of the Bible. A large number of modern criticisms of the Bible and modern claims to find “errors” arise from injecting erroneous assumptions belonging to modern worldviews. People see errors because they misconstrue the Bible’s claims or find them implausible when measured against their standard assumptions. They do not humbly endeavor to understand the Bible on its own terms.

Claridge: Behind the dizzying array of historical critical proposals you suggest there is fundamental commitment to a worldview alien to the Bible. Particularly, you routinely distinguish the “personalist” worldview of the Bible from the “impersonalist” worldview of the Modern era. Could you explain for us this distinction and how it impacts the reasonableness of inerrancy in our day?

Poythress: We live in pluralistic times, and so in a sense there are many modern worldviews. But people are deeply influenced by materialism, which says that matter and motion constitute the ultimate structure of the world. That assumption is part of the foundation for a worldview that I call impersonalism. Impersonalism thinks that the structures of the world, whether scientific laws or historical patterns or social or linguistic structures, are just “there.” The world runs by semimechanical means, and God–if he exists at all–is absent. By contrast, the Bible offers a personalist worldview, with God at the center. God rules the world personally. He is intimately involved not only with each individual, but with everything around us. His power, wisdom, faithfulness, and presence are expressed in his governance of science, politics, language, and society.

Impersonalism, by contrast, assumes that God is essentially absent. So its treatment of history excludes miracles. Its treatment of language and society sees these structures as impersonal, and therefore when it sees their marks cropping up in the Bible, they become signs of deficiency. The claim that the Bible is actually the voice of God becomes implausible, because if a person has an impersonalist worldview the Bible is made to fit into that view.

Don’t miss the rest of the interview, which you can read here.

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August 15, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Interview,Life / Doctrine,Scripture,Theology | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 4:24 pm | 0 Comments »