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Archive for December, 2013

Christ in All of Scripture – Philemon 1:17-20



Philemon 1:17-20

So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

Note how Paul models the transforming love of the gospel as he asks Philemon to “charge that to my account” (v. 18) since Christ already paid the price for all of them. This gospel paradigm reminds us of the “charge it to my account” that Christ himself has said to us. Likewise, when Paul asks Philemon to “receive him as you would receive me” (v. 17), this request that Philemon regard Onesimus as he would Paul himself draws our minds to the gospel. For in the gospel, God regards us as he would his own Son. God receives us as he would receive Christ.

Ever so gently and subtly, then, Paul’s words undermine the cultural norms that are contrary to the gospel by transforming worldly perspectives with the realities of grace. This grace is so powerful that it makes a slave not only a brother (v. 16) and a partner (v. 17) without debt (v. 18); the slave even becomes one to whom a master becomes indebted by the relational ties of the gospel (v. 19).

This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.


December 30, 2013 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Biblical Studies,Gospel Transformation Bible,Life / Doctrine,New Testament | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »

The Meaning of Christmas

The following post is adapted from One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation by Marcus Peter Johnson.

The Necessity of the Incarnation

Without the incarnation—that is, without the Son of God truly assuming our flesh-and-blood humanity—the death and resurrection of Jesus would be unreal and merely hypothetical; salvation would remain in the abstract. After all, it is human beings—flesh-and-blood, corrupted human beings—who need salvation. If the Son of God had not joined himself to us in our humanity, what could it possibly mean to say that Jesus is Savior? Unless he bore in himself our true human flesh and blood as he lived faithfully before the Father; as he experienced wrath and alienation from his Father in crucifixion, forsakenness, and death; and as he was raised in victory over death to newness of life—unless he bore our humanity in all that he did—why should we believe that Christ is our Savior?

Joined to Flesh and Blood

But incarnation is precisely what we find: “And the Word,” John writes, “became flesh and dwelt among us . . .” (John 1:14). Amazingly, John tells us just a few verses earlier that the Word who became flesh is God himself, who created everything that is: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1–3). The Word who “became flesh” is God himself, the eternal Son of God who has eternally existed in perfect oneness with the Father as God. This same Word created and sustains the whole universe: “By him all things were created . . . and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16–17; cf. Hebrews 1:2). The eternally existing, universe-creating Son of God and self-same God joined himself to our humanity, flesh and blood.

The Foundation of Our Salvation

The incarnation of the Word of God, by which he became fully human without ceasing to be fully God, explains what it means for us to be saved. We can participate in the eternal-life-giving relationship between the Father and the Son because the Son has assumed our humanity into his person. We may be joined to God because he has already joined himself to us. In Richard Hooker’s exquisite wording: There can be “no union of God with man, without that mean between both which is both.”

Marcus Peter Johnson (PhD, University of Toronto) is assistant professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute. Along with writing his doctoral dissertation on union with Christ in the theology of John Calvin, he is also the author of several scholarly essays. He and his wife, Stacie, live in Chicago with their son, Peter, and are members of Grace Lutheran Church. He is the author of One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation.


December 25, 2013 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Holidays,Jesus Christ,Life / Doctrine,Salvation,The Christian Life,Theology | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments »

There’s No Such Thing as the “Christmas Spirit”

The following post is adapted from Walking with God Day by Day: 365 Daily Devotional Selections by Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

. . . the blood of Jesus Christ his Son . . .

1 John 1:7

I would not say there is no value at all in good, uplifting, and moral teaching or that there is no benefit to be derived by society from the consideration of noble ideas and exalted conceptions with regard to life. That is all right, but it is just not Christianity. It has nothing to do with it, in a sense, and we can do no greater violence to the New Testament doctrine than to represent the message of Christ’s birth as but some vague general message of goodwill and of good cheer and happiness. That is not its message at all.

If we do not start with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, if we are not absolutely clear about Him, then there is nothing. There is no good news, there is no evangel, there is no gospel; there is nothing to cheer us up, there is no hope. We are just living in the darkness of the world, and we are unutterably foolish in trying to persuade ourselves that things are better than they really are. There is no such thing, in a sense, as “the Christmas spirit.”  That is not the Christian message, which is not a vague spirit; it is a message of news concerning Christ. So, therefore, we must of necessity start at this point and be absolutely clear about this matter.

As has often been pointed out, Christianity is Christ. It all centers around Him, and every doctrine that we have and every idea that we possess is something that comes from Him. Therefore, of necessity we must start with Him, and of course John in this letter has already done so. The whole message that John has to deliver to us is that there is only one way of fellowship and communion with God, and that is because of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is He alone who can enable us to know this fellowship, for there is “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981), minister of Westminster Chapel in London for 30 years, was one of the foremost preachers of his day. His many books have brought profound spiritual encouragement to millions around the world.


December 24, 2013 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Holidays,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments »

The Christmas Invitation You Can’t Ignore

The following is a guest post by Nancy Guthrie. She is the editor of Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas.

You’re Invited…

This is the time of year it seems like every day there is another Christmas event. There are the school programs and parties, the office party, the Sunday School class party, the Christmas tea, and on and on. Perhaps you love it all. Or maybe you’d rather just stay home in front of the fire and not have to make conversation at one more get-together. No matter how you feel about holiday parties, you need to know that you have been invited to a very important celebration this Christmas that you don’t want to miss. This invitation is not meant to be a burden; it is meant to relieve your burden. Jesus himself has invited you, and here is how the invitation reads:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

This invitation is not inviting you to come to a place or to a party but to a person.  Jesus is inviting you to come to him. It is easy to go to a party and have no meaningful interaction with the host or hostess. But this is not the kind of party Jesus has in mind. He wants to give you his full attention. He will not be in a rush. He wants to enjoy you. He wants you to enjoy him. This invitation is for more than just a brief visit. He wants you to make your home in him, to truly enter in to all he is and all he has for you.

All Who Labor and Are Heavy Laden

This invitation is addressed to all who are weary and carry heavy burdens. I have to admit that sometimes just thinking about Christmas makes me tired. It is not the buying and wrapping gifts that is so tiring to me, but the deciding what to give people. I was not given the decorator gene, so I find Christmas decorating frustrating because it just doesn’t turn out looking like other people’s houses do, and it is a whole lot of work to put up and then take down a few weeks later.

As you think about the coming Christmas season, does it make you a little bit tired? Are you weary with trying to figure out what to give all of the people on your list, weary of conflict in your family that makes the family get-togethers less than enjoyable? Are you carrying heaven burdens this Christmas season? The burden of having a generous spirit but a small budget? The burden of overcommitment or unrealistic expectations? The burden of a broken relationship? This invitation to those who are weary and carry heavy burdens is for you.

Jesus has a gift he wants to give to you when you come to him.  He wants to give you rest. This is not just a gift for those who are too boring to have anything better to do or for those with a particular personality type.  This gift is for you. When Jesus spoke these words he had in his mind all of the burdens that had been added to the law by Jewish religious leaders.  Over time, so many picky rules had been added to God’s simple commandments, that the people were completely overwhelmed.  There was no way they could live up to it.

Jesus wants to take away that burden and carry it for us. He takes the burden of all of our failed efforts to be good enough, and he gives to us in return his very own perfect goodness. Jesus knows just what you need most this Christmas. He knows what will satisfy you and fit you perfectly even though you may not have thought to put it on your list. He knows that what you need is real rest—not just for your credit card or for your body, or from your schedule, but for your soul.  Only Jesus can give you soul-rest.

How We Come

How do we come? How do we RSVP to Christ’s invitation? He says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” At first the yoke Christ wants to give you may sound like a burden. But the yoke of Jesus is what makes all other burdens bearable. The yoke Jesus gives us connects us so closely to him so that he shares the load and bears our burdens. He wants to bear the weight of your burdens with his strong shoulders. Jesus wants to teach you what he is all about. How are you going to learn of him? By leaning in to him and experiencing him. By refusing to settle for the second-hand faith of your parents or second-hand insights from other people who read the Bible and then tell you what it says. You learn of him by listening to him. Jesus speaks to us through his Word, the Bible. Will you open up the Bible during this busy holiday season so you can learn of Him?

You may want to start with the Christmas story in Luke 2 and, as you work your way through it, keep asking questions and searching for answers: Why did God choose the shepherds for the angels to talk to? When they said “on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased,” who are the people God is pleased with? In what way is this message “good news” to all people?

Eternal, Essential, Meaningful, Restful

Jesus is gentle and lowly of heart. He’s the kind of person you want to hang out with at the Christmas party rather than avoid. The kind of person you want to learn from. But here’s the rub. We simply can’t accept all of the other invitations for our time and attention during this season if we’re going to accept this invitation from Jesus. This Christmas, hear Jesus saying to you, “Come away from what is stressful but insignificant. Say ‘no’ to what is empty so you can enter in to what is eternal, essential, meaningful, restful. Come to me.”

Nancy Guthrie teaches the Bible at conferences around the country and is currently pursuing graduate studies at Covenant Theological Seminary. She and her husband, David, are the co-hosts of the GriefShare video series used in more than 8,500 churches nationwide and also host Respite Retreats for couples who have experienced the death of a child. Guthrie is the author of numerous books including Holding on to HopeHearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow, and the five-volume Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament Bible study series.


December 23, 2013 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Holidays,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments »

Christ in All of Scripture – John 1:1-5



John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The prologue of John’s Gospel is like the opening movement of a grand symphony. It is meant to grab our attention and draw us into the story—the story of all stories. The apostle sets the stage for the presentation of the gospel by highlighting the main plotline and central themes of the entire Bible—creation (vv. 1–4), the fall (v. 5), and redemption (vv. 9–13), all of which point to the person and culminating work of Jesus (see also vv. 23, 29).

Who is Jesus? This is John’s main question and the quest of discovery that he bids us enter. John’s Gospel helps us understand how to look for Jesus in Moses, the Prophets, and all the Scriptures (5:39–47). He wants us to see how Jesus is the “Yes!” and “Amen!” to every promise God has made (2 Cor. 1:20) throughout the history of redemption.

Jesus is eternally one with the Father—the very Word of God (John 1:1–2), God’s agent in creating all things (vv. 3–4). And as he spoke light and brought life into the dark void of pre-creation chaos, so Jesus brings light and life into the dark world of sin and death. His “new creation” order is none other than the long-promised epoch of redemption and restoration of which Israel’s prophets spoke, and angels longed to see (1 Pet. 1:10–12).

This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.