The Gospel in a Nutshell
N.T. Wright: â€œWhen Paul talks about â€œthe gospel,â€ he means â€œthe good news that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Messiah of Israel and therefore the Lord of the world.â€ Now, thatâ€™s about as brief as you can do itâ€ (Interview with Trevin Wax).
Martin Luther: â€œThe gospel is a story about Christ, Godâ€™s and Davidâ€™s son, who died and was raised and is established as Lord. This is the gospel in a nutshellâ€ (Martin Lutherâ€™s Basic Theological Writings).
- The Gospel for Children – Part 1 (William Mackenzie)
- The Gospel for Children – Part 2 (Carine Mackenzie)
- Let the Children Come (Sinclair Ferguson)
- The Church and Children – Part 1 (William Mackenzie)
- The Church and Children – Part 2 (Carine Mackenzie)
- Question & Discussion Session
- Christian Parenting – Part 1 (William Mackenzie)
- Christian Parenting – Part 2 (Carine Mackenzie)
- Can Our Children Survive the World? (William Mackenzie)
1. God is still Father, Christ is still at His right hand, and the Holy Spirit is still abroad in the world, recreating that world according to the image of Christ. When the nations conspire against Him, He laughs at them.
2. The most important thing we can do for our nation, and for the world around us, is to gather for worship every Lord’s Day. The privilege of voting in presidential elections comes to us every four years, while we are graced with the opportunity to take the Lord’s Supper week to week. Right worship reforms the Church, and is therefore God’s central instrument for remaking the world. For this reason, we must insist on worship that is in accordance with Scripture. Judgment begins with the household of God. Our generation is fatherless. In the power of the Spirit, in the name of the Son, we must therefore worship the Father.
3. The first and greatest command is to love God, and the second is to love our neighbor. When the question arises, as it will, as to who is our neighbor, a good policy is to always begin with the smallest, the least, the most defenseless. Never apologize for a crawl-over-broken-glass pro-life stance. Live in such a life-affirming way as to expect apologies from those who would redefine the lives of others (always the lives of others, isn’t it?) into expendible insignificance.
4. Honor women. Honor your mother, your wife, and your daughters. We live in a culture that despises women, and which has engineered a vast machinery of propaganda designed to get them to surrender to it. If you don’t know how to honor, on a day-to-day basis, the women in your life, then learn. Make it a priority.
5. Don’t doubt in the dark what you knew in the light. The late Francis Schaeffer taught evangelical Christians to think like Christians as they engaged with unbelief in the public square. But a goodly number of his proteges, disciples, and name-appropriators have begun to “engage with the culture” in a way that looks more like going native than it looks like missionary work. Melancthons fall apart more rapidly than they used to. Get used to it, but don’t you do it.
6. While pro-life work is at the very center of all mercy ministry, it should not be allowed to distract from the broader kind of mercy ministry that offers gospel help to those who have contributed to their own misery — addicts, convicts, the uneducated and the unemployable. Such mercy ministry must be consistently tenderhearted and hardheaded. Sentimentalists are never able to give themselves away in the ongoing way that bleeding (but thinking) Christians must.
7. Learn something about economics. Please.
Doug Wilson has finished writing a satire related modern day Church culture and their pastors. I encourage you to visit the book’s web site. All of the material is available by chapter in blog format for free. So you can read the whole thing online if you want. Here is the link to the first chapter of the book. Here is some information about the book:
John Mitchell is the pastor of a small, modestly successful Reformed Baptist church in a city in the Midwest. Chad Lester is one of the most successful pastors in North America, and he is the leading light at Camel Creek Community Church in the same city. He is, speaking in theological terms, a dirt bag. And yet, his quasi-secret sexual misbehavior leads only to church growth success followed by publishing success, followed in turn by ever more church growth. John Mitchell hates everything that Lester stands for and yet, unbeknownst to him, envy of Lesterâ€™s success has him secretly by the throat. He thinks of it as indignation, or righteous concern, or something, but the real issue is that he is peeved that Lester appears to be blessed by God for being a creep, and he, Mitchell, struggles in obscurity for being faithful. But of course, Mitchell is faithful, and Lester is a creep, and the reader is not surprised that Mitchell canâ€™t see it. None of us would if we were in his place.
When Lester is falsely accused of the one rotten thing he didnâ€™t do, and his ministry starts to implode, John Mitchell is dragged into it much against his will, All this said, Evangellyfish is not really a dark comedy, but rather a medium brown comedy. In some sense, it is a satire on a world that defies satire.
You have probably seen by now one of the ads for Bill Maherâ€™s new documentary â€œReligulous.â€ If you havenâ€™t seen it, itâ€™s a movie that was produced for the expressed purpose of denigrating religion. The fundamental point seems to be that having faith in any religion is ridiculousâ€”thus â€œReligulous.â€ In the trailer for the movie, the following exchange takes place between Maher and a person dressed up like Jesus.
Maher: Why doesnâ€™t [God] just obliterate the devil and therefore get rid of evil in the world?
Jesus Impersonator: He will.
Maher: He will?
Jesus Impersonator: Thatâ€™s correct.
Maher: Whatâ€™s he waiting for?
The whole point of the exchange is to show how ridiculous it is that the Christian God will not do anything about evil in the world even though Heâ€™s supposed to be both good and all-powerful. Even though itâ€™s delivered with sarcastic humor, Maher is asking a serious question. At bottom the exchange is really about the classical question of theodicy, and the whole thing is framed in a way to discredit the Christian faith.
In a recent blog post, John Piper answers Maherâ€™s question, though he doesnâ€™t mention Maherâ€™s name. Nevertheless, the title of Piperâ€™s essay reads like an allusion to â€œReligulousâ€: â€œWhy not destroy the devil now?â€ Piper gives an answer that is (as you might expect) grounded in Godâ€™s passion for His own glory. God is most glorified by allowing Satan to remain for a time. He writes:
â€œThe glory of Christ is seen in his absolute right and power to annihilate or incapacitate Satan and all demons. But the reason he refrains from destroying and disabling them altogether is to manifest more clearly his superior beauty and worth. If Christ obliterated all devils and demons now (which he could do), his sheer power would be seen as glorious, but his superior beauty and worth would not shine as brightly as when humans renounce the promises of Satan and take pleasure in the greater glory of Christ.â€
Maherâ€™s question deserved a serious answer, and I am grateful that Piper took the time to write one. You should read the rest.
Prayer as Calvin describes it is not giddy, and he goes on to give Scriptural definitions of proper thought, engagement, and attitude. What do the roles of patience and self-denial play in the role of the Christian life and what does Christian piety look like? What should our views be of the present life and the future life? These two sections of The Institutes guide us ever so thoughtfully and gracefully into his theology and practice of Christian living.
Just use the coupon code NOV2008 during checkout. Add the download format of Calvin: Of Prayer and The Christian Life to your cart and then enter the coupon code NOV2008 when prompted during checkout.
Covenant Christology: Herman Bavinck and the Pactum Salutis
By Rev. Mark Jones, Leiden Universiteit
For Herman Bavinck (1854-1921) â€˜the doctrine of the covenant is of the greatest importance.â€™ Behind the temporal covenants of works and grace stands the pretemporal pactum salutis (counsel of peace/covenant of redemption). The pactum salutis is an intratrinitarian covenant between the Father, Son and Spirit that provides the eternal, inviolable foundation for the temporal covenant of grace (foedus gratiae). The Reformed orthodox in particular, since the sixteenth century, used the pactum salutis as an argument for the ad intra trinitarian grounding for the ad extra work of salvation. Thus, soteriology is decidedly trinitarian, that is, â€˜salvation is an undertaking of the one God in three persons in which all cooperate and each one performs a special task.â€™ Consequently, this doctrine is the starting-point for any Christological discussion of the person and work of the Mediator, Jesus Christ.
In defending and giving expression to the pactum salutis, Bavinck is conscious that this doctrine has a fairly long and illustrious history among Reformed covenant theologians. And though this doctrine is â€˜rooted in a scriptural ideaâ€™, Bavinck suggests that not a few of the Reformed were guilty of â€˜scholastic subtletyâ€™ by quoting various Scriptural passages (e.g. Zech. 6:13, translated by the Latin Vulgate as consilium pacis) that did not have reference to the pactum salutis. Thus, while clearly appreciative of his Reformed heritage, Bavinck is not uncritical of various formulations of the pactum salutis.
In order to understand why Bavinck gives such prominence to the pactum salutis, something of this doctrineâ€™s history must be understood, which will show, among other things, that his theology reflects the broad parameters and concerns of the Reformed interpretive tradition.
[HT: James Grant]
As America has seen fit to usher in a man who will act in the ways that will destroy the foundations of this country’s constitution, the rights of individuals and states, and the freedoms that we have enjoyed for so many years… I cannot help but look to God in Jesus Christ for my only hope and joy and comfort!
God’s judgment is being revealed against all ungodliness and wickedness of mankind through the election of Barack Obama as President of the United Stated of America. America and the Church in America will receive the judgment that God sees fit to bring upon it in the coming months and years. Freedoms will be reduced and Government will seek to grow bigger and make more and more people dependent upon it. We can only hope that people will feel in their hearts that freedom and liberty are more important than peace and safety “at all costs.”
May God have mercy upon this country and may God glorify Himself and show forth the rule of Jesus Christ over all powers and principalities that seek to make themselves greater than He.
Thankfully, this is a day of change that will work against the glory of America and work for the glory of God in Jesus Christ! Amen.
In Christ and In Defense of the Faith,