A look back on the most important event in history:
Why are you a Christian? Why is the building you attend church standing there? Why do we have centuries’ worth of hymns and books? Why is the Bible the best-selling book of all time?
Because we believe that in Jerusalem in the first century a man walked out of his grave.
But how can we prove that the resurrection happened? There was no video surveillance. There were no autopsy reports. All of the involved witnesses were biased.
Why do we believe Jesus rose from the dead?
You take out fire insurance so that if, in the unlikely event that your house burns down, you’ll get your house back. You don’t really believe your house will burn down but you admit the possibility and prepare for the worse.
Sometimes you’ll hear Christians argue for “fire insurance” faith. What does it look like? You might try persuading your neighbor to become a Christian just in case there is a God. “What harm could it do,” you ask, “just to be safe?”
This is the modern-day outworking of Pascal’s wager: Continue reading
The title of this article may have thrown you for a loop. That’s okay, I’ll explain as we go.
I think this is a necessary evolution of gospel-centered preaching:
Where we’ve seen symbols in the Bible pointing to Jesus, and themes which find their resolution in Jesus, we should also find a desperate yearning for a Redeemer.
The Primary Methods of Christ-Centered Interpretation
If you’re following the gospel-centered Bible study movement you’ve probably heard these two terms applied to interpreting a passage: Continue reading
When we discuss theology, the study of the things of God, is it enough to know true things about God, true things about humanity, true things about the Temple and true things about other Bible doctrines? Augustus Strong answers:
Science is not only the observing, recording, verifying, and formulating of objective facts; it is also the recognition and explication of the relations between these facts, and the synthesis of both the facts and the rational principles which unite them in a comprehensive, rightly proportioned, and organic system.
- Augustus Strong, Systematic Theology
What does that mean?
Theology isn’t just about the facts of biblical doctrine. Theology needs to be about the relationships between truths:
- What do the doctrines mean together?
- How do the doctrines interact with one another?
- What do the doctrines build to?
Scattered bricks and timbers are not a house; severed arms, legs, heads and trunks from a dissecting room are not living men; and facts alone do not constitute science. Science = facts + relations;
Have you built a library of disconnected facts about God, the Bible and salvation? Or have you built a house from the bricks and timbers of your theology? Have you seen the living, breathing truth from the arms, legs head and torso of the doctrines of Scripture?
The relationship – the house or living body in Strong’s analogy – is God’s grand design to redeem his enemies into his family so that they might glorify and enjoy him forever.
If you know a doctrine but can’t explain how it connects to the Bible’s chief message of redemption and reconciliation, you don’t know that doctrine.
Without that framework, theology is just a pile of bricks and timber.
Doctrine is not enough.
I started my MDiv at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary this semester and I thought I’d share something from my systematic theology class. This is a close paraphrase of something my professor said in class:
I’m an absolute maximalist when it comes to Christ in the Old Testament: Christ can be found everywhere throughout the Old Testament. His Father wrote it.
- Richard Lints
I’ve very much appreciated the strong emphasis on the one-narrative-of-redemption approach that all my instructors share from systematic theology to Old Testament survey.
What do you think of this quote? Is it profound or too simplistic?
The recent controversy over the PC USA voting the contemporary hymn “In Christ Alone” isn’t surprising. A quick summary from Timothy George:
The Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song to exclude from its new hymnal the much-loved song “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. The Committee wanted to include this song because it is being sung in many churches, Presbyterian and otherwise, but they could not abide this line from the third stanza: “Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied.” For this they wanted to substitute: “…as Jesus died/the love of God was magnified.” The authors of the hymn insisted on the original wording, and the Committee voted nine to six that “In Christ Alone” would not be among the eight hundred or so items in their new hymnal.
The Bottom Line: They want to change “the wrath of God was satisfied” to “the love of God was magnified” because they find the idea of God the Father pouring out wrath for sin on God the Son objectionable.
On one hand, the news that a liberal Protestant denomination continues to act in a liberal way is not at all a shock and is just as newsworthy as the headline, “Pope found to be Catholic.”
On the other hand, it is a good moment for reflection:
- Why did Jesus need to die?
- Why did Jesus need to die on the cross?
Interestingly enough, the PC USA agrees with theological conservatives on the answer to the first question. It’s the second question, however, that finds us light years apart. And more importantly, calls into question the love of God. Continue reading
This is the second in a two-part series asking the questions:
- How could Jesus justly be punished for our sin instead of us?
- How can we receive his reward?
We’ll use the same two terms again:
- Propitiation – God poured out his wrath for our sin on Jesus and pardoned us.
- Imputed Righteousness – Jesus’ righteousness is given to us.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Cor 5:21
Isn’t Forgiveness Enough?
If Jesus paid our debt for sin, why do we even need imputed righteousness?
The purpose of humanity is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. We don’t get to be with him to do that without having merit to stand before him. That merit is called righteousness.
Justification means properly no less than this, the being received by Him as if we had not grieved Him. It is not only, the being forgiven by Him. We do indeed as sinners most urgently need forgiveness, the remission of our sins, the putting away of the holy vengeance of God upon our rebellion. But we need more. We need the voice which says, not merely, you may go; you are let off your penalty; but, you may come; you are welcomed into My presence and fellowship.
- H. C. G. Moule, Justification by Faith
Is the Father simply blind?
How could the Righteous Judge look at sinners and pretend that they had merited entrance into His family when they hadn’t? How could the Ancient of Days transfer the Son’s goodness to another party? Continue reading