Let Christ Be The Diamond

Yesterday, I was listening to Reformed Forum’s Proclaiming Christ podcast during my morning commute.  While discussing presuppositions for preaching, each panelist noted some of the resources they considered helpful in learning to prepare and preach Christ-centered sermons.  One of the panelists mentioned an excellent quote by Edward Reynolds, a Westminster Assembly divine and bishop of Norwich.  For those that labor in preaching and teaching, this one is worth reading over and over…    

220px-Edward_Reynolds“Preach ‘Christ Jesus the Lord;’ determine to know nothing among your people, but Christ crucified: let his name and grace, his spirit and love, triumph in the midst of all your sermons.  Let your great end be to glorify him in the hearts, to render him amiable and precious in the eyes of his people; to lead them to him as a sanctuary to protect them, a propitiation to reconcile them, a treasure to enrich them, a physician to heal them, an advocate to present them and their services unto God: as http://www.clashofclanshackastuces.fr/ wisdom to counsel, as righteousness to justify, as sanctification to renew, as redemption to save, as an inexhausted fountain of pardon, grace, comfort, victory, glory.  Let Christ be the diamond to shine in the bosom of all your sermons.”[1]

[1] Edward Reynolds, The Whole Works of Edward Reynolds, vol. 5 (London: B. Holdsworth, 1826), pp. 326-27. Available via Google Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=AJCoZ443124C

Obedience…Not “Victory”

Jerry Bridges, in his classic The Pursuit of Holiness, offers some convicting and clarifying words relating to the process of Christian growth:

“It is time for us Christians to face up to our responsibility for holiness. Too often we say
we are “defeated” by this or that sin. No, we are not defeated; we are simply disobedient! It might
be well if we stopped using the terms “victory” and “defeat” to describe our progress in holiness.
Rather we should use the terms “obedience” and “disobedience.” When I say I am defeated by
some sin, I am unconsciously slipping out from under my responsibility. I am saying something
outside of me has defeated me. But when I say I am disobedient, that places the responsibility for
my sin squarely on me. We may, in fact, be defeated, but the reason we are defeated is because
we have chosen to disobey. We have chosen to entertain lustful thoughts, or to harbor
resentment, or to shade the truth a little.

We need to brace ourselves up, and to realize that we are responsible for our thoughts,
attitudes, and actions. We need to reckon on the fact that we died to sin’s reign, that it no longer
has any dominion over us, that God has united us with the risen Christ in all His power, and has
given us the Holy Spirit to work in us. Only as we accept our responsibility and appropriate God’s
provisions will we make any progress in our pursuit of holiness.”

(From The Pursuit of Holiness – Chapter 8)

Biblical Foundations Giveaway

Andreas Kostenberger (follow on Twitter) is hosting a giveaway of his recent volume Invitation to Biblical Interpretation at his blog, Biblical Foundations.  If you’re looking for a solid book on hermeneutics, this appears to be a sure bet!  I have not worked through this particular volume, but am well acquainted with Kostenberger’s scholarship and can confidently say that his work will prove to be a blessing to you and serve you well.  CLICK HERE to be redirected to the giveaway.  Be sure to bookmark the site as well!

Here is a brief description of the the book: 

Bible scholars Andreas Kostenberger (NT) and Richard Patterson (OT) provide a textbook utilizing the “hermeneutical triad” method. This approach to interpretation is based on giving due consideration to both the historical setting and the literary context, as well the theological message.

Working through the major genres of Scripture and showing how their method applies to each one, they provide interpretive examples to guide the student in proper exegesis. In addition to the examples, each chapter concludes with exercises and assignments. Also included is a helpful “Building a Biblical Studies Library” appendix along with a four-page summary chart, presentation slides, test bank, syllabus, and illustrations.

REVIEW: Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives (CCEF)

I can say, without a doubt, that some of the most potent, Christ-exalting, gospel-centered biblical counsel I have encountered has come through the speaking and writing of the faculty at the Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF).  These men and women are not interested in quick-fix, self-help, moralistic nonsense.  They are unswervingly committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They are of the conviction that real, Spirit-wrought power for the changing of the human heart occurs as we dive more deeply into the gospel, applying it to the myriad of circumstances and situations of our daily lives.

The writings and resources of the CCEF are incredibly extensive.  Effectively working through all of them, though undoubtedly worthwhile, would take years to accomplish.  That’s why I was immensely excited when I was introduced to Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives (New Growth Press, 2012),ed. by Nancy B. Winter.  This daily devotional is a collection of some of the most powerful excerpts from the writings of those on staff at CCEF.  The authors include, but are not limited to, Paul David Tripp, Edward T. Welch, David Powlison, and Timothy S. Lane. Organized by the calendar year and paired with a daily reading from the Scriptures, these vignettes are sincere, to the point, and clearly hopeful in the power of God to change hearts through the gospel of Christ.  While deeply steeped in the grace believers have received from God in Christ, each devotion then includes questions for personal reflection and application.  As I mentioned, these devotions are not designed to give the reader 5-steps to personal change/fulfillment, but rather are written to make the reader aware of the sovereignty of God, the grace presently available in the gospel, and hope that real Sprit-wrought change is possible.

Two things that make this resource particularly helpful are the Source Index and Scripture Index included at the conclusion of the volume.  This will be of great assistance to readers who, when particularly impacted by a given devotional, desire to know the resource from which the excerpt came.  Additionally, the Scripture Index allows the reader to use the devotional as a companion when studying a specific book of the Bible boom beach cheats iPhone

In a day and age where so many “Christian” devotionals are filled with mere fluff, Heart of the Matter is a distinctly different resource that will assuredly encourage believers to reflect more seriously upon the gospel and be used by God to powerfully change hearts and lives to the praise of his glorious grace.  I wholeheartedly commend it to you!

*A copy of the book was provided by the publisher, at no charge, for the purpose of review.  I was under no obligation to offer a positive review.


Publisher: New Growth Press
Author: CCEF Faculty
ISBN-13: 9781936768653
Cover Type: Hardcover
List Price: $19.99
Pre-Order at Westminster Bookstore: $17.99 - 10% Off

You may also pre-order the volume for $17.59 from the New Growth Press webstore: Available Here.

Post-Election Gospel Sanity

Now that the 2012 Presidential Election has passed, and President Obama has been re-elected to a second term of office, the opinions and reactions of many people are flooding virtually every media outlet.  Whether it is a blog, Twitter, Facebook, or any other variety of instant publication, as soon as the results were announced, the statements started to fly…some helpful, others unhelpful.

For many, the re-election of President Obama comes with grave concern.  The President’s stance on abortion, his views on the constitution of marriage, his economic policy, only to name a few, all warrant a high level of concern.  The post-election question for followers of Christ is: How are we to respond in light of the gospel and God’s holy Word?

Several pastors and bloggers have brought a level of gospel sanity to the post-election discussion and I wanted to mention a few that I have found to be particularly encouraging…

  • Scotty Smith has offered two prayers; yesterday and today, Smith posted exemplary petitions in light of God’s sovereignty and Scriptural instruction.  Here are excerpts of both:

Yesterday, Smith wrote: “On this Election Day, we bow to you and cast our votes. The brokenness in our country, hearts and world leads us to cry out, “How long, Oh, Lord? How long before you return, Lord Jesus, and finish making all things new?” Until that Day, we will seek to “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” (1 Pet. 2:7). We will seek to live as good citizens of two kingdoms—the city of man and the City of God. We will seek to adorn the gospel and serve you faith-fully, wherever you place us in the community and culture.” Keep reading…

Today, in light of 1 Peter 2:11-17, Scotty writes: “Father, may we fear you 1000 times more than we are either excited this morning or are quite disappointed by the outcome of the election. You alone are God; you are in the heavens and you do whatever pleases you. As your servants, may we prove the wonders of Jesus’ love this very day, and tomorrow, and the next, far as the curse is found. So very Amen we pray, in the exalted and triumphant name of Jesus.” Keep reading…

  • Russell Moore, on his blog “Moore to the Point” writes:

“Christians, above all people, should pray for and show respect for our President and all of our elected officials. After all, unlike those who see politics as ultimate, we recognize that our political structures are important, but temporal, before an inbreaking kingdom of Christ. We don’t then need to be fomented into the kind of faux outrage that passes for much of contemporary political discourse. And, unlike those who see history as impersonal or capricious, we see behind everything a God who is sovereign over his universe.”  Keep reading…

  • Kevin DeYoung weighed in with a prayer for the President, which he wrote for either man, before the outcome was announced:

DeYoung writes:  “Make him a defender of the unborn, a protector of marriage, and a champion for religious liberty.

Make him a man of prayer and a daily student of the Scriptures.

Give him humility to admit his faults, forgive his enemies, and change his mind.

Lead him to a firm understanding of the truth of the gospel, a resolute commitment to obey the Word of God, and a passion to promote what accords with your truth.

By your grace, heavenly Father, may our President be a better man than so many expect and a better man than we deserve.

In the name of Jesus our Lord, let it be.” Keep reading…

May we be those who join these men in praying for our nation and our President in light of the gospel and the Holy Scriptures!

REVIEW: Jonathan Edwards and Justification, ed. by Josh Moody

It’s no secret that there has been, in recent years, a great resurgence of interest in the theology of Jonathan Edwards.  Both academic tomes and largely accessible works abound about the man, his ministry, and his theology.  This is good news, in light of the fact that Edwards is arguably the greatest North American theologian in history, and perhaps the greatest overall thinker as well.

Continuing to push Edwardsian scholarship forward and refine both scholarly and popular understanding of the theology of Jonathan Edwards, Josh Moody, pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL, and Edwards scholar, has edited the recent Crossway Books release, Jonathan Edwards and Justification.

The book is a collection of essays by contemporary Edwards scholars seeking to correct some of the popular misunderstandings of Edwards’s doctrine of justification, as well as demonstrate how Edwards’s writing on justification contributes to the modern justification discussion and debate.  The Edwards scholars, their particular contributions, and brief statements of their purpose are as follows:

Introduction by Josh Moody

-A brief introduction to the matter at hand, along with introductory remarks concerning the scholarly contributions and the desired end of the volume.

“Edwards and Justification Today” by Josh Moody

-Moody argues for the importance of the contemporary study of Edwards’s doctrine of justification because it adds to and supports the Protestant Reformation understanding of the doctrine in creative terminology.

“By Word and Spirit: Jonathan Edwards on Redemption, Justification, and Regeneration” by Kyle Strobel

-Strobel relates Edwards’s doctrine of justification to his overall theology of redemption.  He gives special attention to the concepts of faith, imputation, union with Christ, and the Spirit’s presence in the work of redemption.

“The Gospel of Justification and Edwards’s Social Vision” by Rhys Bezzant

-Bezzant speaks about Edwards’s preaching as both designed to “revive and reform.”  He seeks to show the social impact of Edwards’s doctrine of justification when rightfully understood and embraced.

“Justification and Evangelical Obedience” by Samuel T. Logan, Jr.

-Logan here ties the discussion to the process of sanctification.

“Justification by Faith Alone? A Fuller Picture of Edwards’s Doctrine” by Douglas A. Sweeney   

-Sweeney engages some of Edwards’s lesser studied writings to demonstrate the full picture of Edwards’s doctrine of justification, with special attention given to his “stoutly anti-Catholic” position.

Overall, the book is likely to be of greater use to those more acquainted with Edwards’s writings.  Undoubtedly, many may benefit from the essays therein.  However, most of the discussions (as well as the footnotes) are written more toward the scholar-pastor and less toward the person simply generally interested in Edwards.  To the benefit of the scholar there is a great deal of interaction with both historical and contemporary Edwardsian scholarship for such a brief volume.

All said, I would strongly suggest this volume to any student or scholar of Edwards.  I would especially suggest it to those who have been led to believe, through certain scholarly efforts, that Edwards’s theology was closer to Catholicism than Calvinism.  The authors do an exemplary job explaining Edwards’s use of terminology and provide the larger context of many of Edwards’s oft misunderstood writings.  This is a needed and welcomed volume.  I certainly recommend it.

*A copy of the book was provided by the publisher, at no charge, for the purpose of review.  I was under no obligation to offer a positive review.

Book Details

Publisher: Crossway/Good News Publishers
Author: Moody, Josh (Editor); Bezzant, Rhys; Logan Jr., Samuel T.; Strobel, Kyle; Sweeney, Douglas A.
ISBN-10: 143353293X | ISBN-13: 9781433532931
Cover Type: Paperback
List Price: $17.99
BUY NOW at Westminster Bookstore: $11.21 - 38% Off