Category Archives: Round Up

Reading from my pastoral counseling course:

Why was such an awesome miracle necessary? Because sin not only reduces us to fools, but also inflicts us with a profound blindness. This spiritual blindness affects us in many ways, by ultimately it obscures our God as He has revealed Himself. Yes, God as a Spirit is physically hidden, but sin blinds us from Him in a much more profoundly spiritual sense. Like the people in the days of Christ, we don’t see God even when He is right in front of our eyes. The troubling thing about Sara’s story of her divorce is not just that it is a sad story of rejection and abandonment. It’s that her recounting of the story is utterly godless. In her heart-wrenching narrative there is no recognition of God’s presence, plan, or active love. Sara suffers not only from the consequences of a nasty divorce, but from a fundamental inability to see God. This aggravates and distorts the impact of the divorce on her heart and behavior. The hope and help that Sara really needs begins with seeing God.
Listen when people tell you their stories. Usually their stories will be devoid of any functional recognition of God’s presence, power, goodness, and grace. When they don’t see God, they become dazzled and captured by other glories—the fading glories of relationships, position, possessions, appearance, and achievement. They get worried or depressed or terrified by the wrong things. When they do not see the glory of God, they treat their problems with more problems! Failures in human wisdom, character, and strength will be treated with another dose of human wisdom, character and strength, rather than a cry to the God of real rescue.

Paul David Tripp, “A Community of Counselors: The Fruit of Good Preaching,” ed. David A. Powlison, The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Number 2, Winter 2003 21 (2003): 48.

What’s our biggest problem? A lack of God.

In the next weeks I’m going to devote a bit of time to cleaning out the closet here at Armchair Theology. I have nearly 50 half-written, half-thought-out, half-crazy posts that I’ve worked on over the years.

Most I’ll throw out. Some I’ll post. Some of the articles I post won’t directly relate to our normal discussions of gospel-centered preaching and Bible study. So feel free to ignore them.

Gospel-Centered Links February 2014

This month there are two monumentally important links. One helps us see the reason for gospel-centered hermeneutics and the other helps us avoid an enormous corruption of gospel-centered hermeneutics. If you are concerned about the gospel-centered movement you must read them.

You must read these two links:

What We’re Saying When We Don’t Mention the Gospel

Cameron Cole explains the reason we must read the entire Bible in light of the gospel:

When we do not preach the Gospel, this is what we say: Everything is fine. We say that our problem with sin is not that severe; we can fix our problems with a little effort. We say that death is not a real thing; we can kick that can down the road. We say that the world is generally fine; it’s not in need of radical rescue. We say that our need for God’s redeeming love and power is not that great.

If there’s no gospel there’s no rescue. If there’s no rescue we must rationalize our way out of life’s troubles. When we do that our souls perish. This is the reason we need to read the entire Bible through a gospel lens.

This link is a purpose statement for the gospel-centered movement. If you want a how-to book, look at Christ-Centered Bible Study.

The Jesus Lens, or the Jesus Tea-Strainer?

If you’re going to read the Bible through a “Jesus lens” make sure it’s the right Jesus. Andrew Wilson shows us how one group is misinterpreting Jesus and when they apply that fake Jesus to the rest of Scripture they are missing the point.

I don’t think Steve Chalke, Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Rob Bell and co are reading the Bible through a Jesus lens, as much as they are reading Jesus through a selective, progressive postmodern lens, and then reading the rest of the Bible through that. The end result, ironically, is that while the Jesus we find in the Gospels fits well with the rest of the scriptures – as you might expect, given that he inspired them – neither the Jesus of the Gospels, nor the Bible, fit particularly well with the pastiche of Jesus that the Red Letter guys want to promote. When all is said and done, the biblical Jesus cannot be squeezed thorough the fine mesh of the progressive Jesus tea-strainer.

Bear in mind that there are lots of ways to misinterpret Jesus. The example here is a postmodern misinterpretation of Jesus. There are conservative misinterpretations of Jesus. There are liberal misinterpretations of Jesus. There are all kinds of misinterpretations of Jesus.

If you’re going to read the Bible in light of Jesus make sure it’s the right Jesus.

The remaining links are good but optional. Continue reading

Gospel-Centered Links January 2014

Without further ado…

Reading the Bible Like Jesus: Matt 22:31

Thabiti Anyabwile looks at Matt 22:20-31 and asks what we can learn about how Jesus read the Bible. We would be wise to follow suit.

John Owen: Sanctification and the Gospel

An excellent quote from John Owen about the relationship between our growth in Christ and his accomplished work:

This whole matter of sanctification and holiness is peculiarly joined with and limited unto the doctrine, truth, and grace of the gospel; for holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing, and realizing of the gospel in our souls.

The Two Johns on Old Testament Faith

David Murray examines the teaching of John Newton and John Owen (again!) to answer the question: How were Old Testament saints saved?

The answer: Faith in the Messiah.

Magi Honor the Greater King Solomon

Mitch Chase looks at Jesus’ birth narrative and sees how the Father set events into play that demonstrate the fulfillment of Israel’s history. This isn’t anything new, but it’s well written and concise.

What does Matthew want readers to affirm when they read about foreigners traveling to Israel with gifts of gold and spices to offer God’s king? Jesus is the New Solomon! Wise men came to worship the Wisest of all. Like Solomon, Jesus was the Son of David (cf. Matt 1:1). The wise men even came from the same area as did the queen of Sheba. Like Solomon, Jesus received gifts of gold and spices.

But Jesus is not merely like Solomon. In his own words: “behold, something greater than Solomon is here” (Matt 12:42).

Gospel-Centered Links December 2013

The final monthly list of gospel-centered posts in 2013!

Why Should Your Teaching Be Gospel-Centered? 3 Reasons

Trevin Wax finds three reasons to make sure your teaching is gospel-centered:

  1. Because the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
  2. Because the gospel is the power of God for sanctification.
  3. Because the gospel provides the motivation for mission.

The Greatest Obstacle to Personal Happiness

David Murray finds at least 17 ways sin is the great killer of happiness. Correspondingly, Jesus is the greatest vehicle to personal happiness because Jesus is the answer to all human unhappiness.

Weird? Bizarre? Coincidence? Or God?

If you remember what impressed me most in David Murray’s Jesus on Every Page this will be familiar to you. Murray asks us to read the Bible over Jesus’ shoulder – how would he have found his own identity as the Messiah in it? Continue reading

Gospel-Centered Links November 2013

Sorry the links are so late this month! It’s finals time for me and things are a bit hectic.

He Created The Tree

A fantastic quote from Octavius Winslow:

So completely was Jesus bent upon saving sinners by the sacrifice of Himself, He created the tree upon which He was to die…

Where will I use this quote? In practically every sermon that references God’s creative action.

10 Errors To Avoid When Talking About Sanctification and the Bible

I guarantee you plenty of people in your church believe most of these. And, unless you’re constantly preaching the gospel to yourself, you do too.

I’m accepted, therefore I obey.

To follow that last article, check out a quote by Keller:

In every other religion the indicative flows from the imperative. Which means, ‘because I do, therefore I am’ …But only in Christianity does the imperative flow from the indicative. ‘Because I am in Christ all these things, therefore I obey.’ Exactly the opposite.

Further Reading: Why Your Gospel-Centered Sermons Fail

Jesus Makes Sense of My Complicated Relationship With the Psalms

This is a great article about imprecatory psalms – those psalms that plead for God to exercise his wrath against the wicked. Stephen Altrogge asks and answers two questions:

  1. How can I possibly embrace this Psalm? Only the blameless can dwell with God on his holy hill. Am I blameless?
  2. Am I supposed to pray God would break the arms of wicked people?

He finds the answer to both questions in Jesus:

“God’s justice will be done to the wicked in one of two ways. Either they will repent of their sins and allow Jesus to bear justice for them or they will bear God’s justice themselves. Either way the justice of God is executed and the righteousness of the King is upheld. We pray the wicked will repent and turn to Jesus for forgiveness. We also pray God will bring justice down upon them if they refuse to repent. We pray God will destroy those who refuse to repent and continue to traffic young girls, corrupt political systems, abuse their children, live for money, relish porn, cuss out their coworkers, and spread rumors.

“And when it comes to the ‘righteousness’ Psalms our approach is the same. Only one person is sufficiently righteous to dwell upon God’s holy hill: Jesus. But Jesus doesn’t hoard his righteousness! Rather, he gives us all his righteousness and holiness when we place our trust in him. I can ascend the holy hill of the Lord because Jesus has ascended the hill ahead of me. He has cleared a path for me to follow.”