Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Satan's Battle Plan

"As the King of Syria commanded his captains to fight neither with small nor great, but only with the King of Israel, so the prince of the power of the air seems to bend all the force of his attack against the spirit of prayer. If he should prove victorious there, he has won the day." (Dr. Andrew Bonar)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Message of the Bible in One Sentance

Dane Ortland over at Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology recently asked a gaggle of wise men the following: "What's the Message of the Bible in One Sentence?" Below are their answers:

Greg Beale:
The OT storyline appears best to be summarized as: the historical story of God who progressively reestablishes his new creational kingdom out of chaos over a sinful people by his word and Spirit through promise, covenant, and redemption, resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to extend that new creation rule and resulting in judgment for the unfaithful (defeat and exile), all of which issues into his glory; the NT storyline can be summarized as: Jesus’ life of covenantal obedience, trials, judgmental death for sinners, and especially resurrection by the Spirit has launched the fulfillment of the eschatological already-and-not-yet promised new creation reign, bestowed by grace through faith and resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to extend this new creation rule and resulting in judgment for the unfaithful, unto God’s glory.

Dan Block:
God was so covenantally committed to the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him may have eternal life!

Craig Blomberg:
God is in the process of recreating the universe which has been corrupted by sin and has made it possible for all those and only those who follow Jesus to be a part of the magnificent, eternal community that will result.

Darrell Bock:
The Bible tells how the loving Creator God restored a lost humanity and cosmos through reestablishing his rule through Jesus Christ and the provision of life to His honor.

Mark Dever:
God has made promises to bring His people to Himself and He is fulfilling them all through Christ.

Kevin DeYoung:
A holy God sends his righteous Son to die for unrighteous sinners so we can be holy and live happily with God forever.

Zack Eswine:
Apprenticing with Jesus to become human again.

John Frame:
God glorifies himself in the redemption of sinners.

Scott Hafemann:
The Triune God is the beginning, middle, and end of everything, 'for from him (as Creator) and through him (as Sustainer and Redeemer) and to him (as Judge) are all things' (Rom 11:36).

David Helm:
Jesus is the promised Savior-King.

Paul House:
The movement in history from creation to new creation through the redemptive work of Father, Son, and Spirit who saves and changes corrupted people and places for his glory and their good.

Gordon Hugenberger:
The message of the Bible in one sentence is that genuine truth, unlike every human philosophy, is far too luxuriant, too enthralling, too personal, too all-encompassing, too sovereign, and too life-changing to be reducible to one sentence (or, as Einstein once put it, the challenge is to 'make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler').

Kent Hughes:
God is redeeming his creation by bringing it under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Andreas Kostenberger:
'God so loved the world that the gave his one and only Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life' (John 3:16).

Phil Long:
God, who made us and everything else, loves us and gave himself for us that we might live forever with him as new creatures in a new creation—the news is good!

Sean Lucas:
The message of the Bible is the transforming grace of God displayed preeminently in Jesus Christ.

Ray Ortlund:
The Lover of our souls won't let the romance die, but is rekindling it forever.

Grant Osborne:
God created mankind in order to love them, but we all rejected his love, so God sent His Son to bear our sins on the cross in order that by believing in His sacrificial atonement, we might have life.

George Robertson:
The Bible is the record of God's promise of and deliverance through Jesus Christ.

Leland Ryken:
The message of the Bible is twofold: to show how people can be saved from their sins through faith in Christ's atonement AND how to live all of life as a follower of God.

Tom Schreiner:
God reigns over all things for his glory, but we will only enjoy his saving reign in the new heavens and the new earth if we repent and believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the crucified and risen Lord and who gave himself on the cross for our salvation.

Mark Seifrid:
Verbum caro factum est.

Jay Sklar:
The first sentence that comes to mind is that of my colleague Michael D. Williams, who describes the Bible's story about the world as follows: God made it, we broke it, Jesus fixes it!

Erik Thoennes:
The main message of the Bible is that the one true God is displaying his glory primarily in redeeming and restoring his fallen creation by fulfilling his covenant promises and commands through the glorious person and atoning work of Christ.

Doug Wilson:
Scripture tells us the story of how a Garden is transformed into a Garden City, but only after a dragon had turned that Garden into a howling wilderness, a haunt of owls and jackals, which lasted until an appointed warrior came to slay the dragon, giving up his life in the process, but with his blood effecting the transformation of the wilderness into the Garden City.

Bob Yarbrough:
He—God in Christ—shall reign forever and ever; so today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart but believing the good news take up your cross and follow Jesus.

Very helpful, brothers! Thanks very much for this. And may I say how particularly tickled I am with the brevity of Seifrid, Frame, and Helm, the strategic literary deployment of chiasm and alliteration by DeYoung, and the answer that is more substantive than some whole dissertations I have read, despite having less than .0001% the words, by Beale.

My response would be something like: Despite ongoing rebellion on our part, the holy God of the universe refuses to leave us to wallow in our sin, eventually and climactically becoming one of us, in the moral mud, to restore us to glory, if we will receive his love in trusting contrition. (Dane Ortland)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Little Help for My Friends

"In the morning we should look forward to the duties of the day, anticipating those situations in which temptation may lurk, and preparing ourselves to embrace such opportunities of usefulness as may be presented to us. In the evening we ought to remark upon the providences which have befallen us, consider our attainment in holiness, and endeavor to profit by the lessons which God would have us learn. And, always, we must acknowledge and forsake sin. Then there are the the numberless themes of prayer which our desires for the good estate of the Church of God, for the conversion and sanctification of our friends and acquaintances, for the furtherance of missionary effort, and for the coming of the kingdom of Christ may suggest. All this cannot be pressed into a few crowded moments. We must be at leisure when we enter the secret place." (David McIntyre, The Hidden Life of Prayer)

This book is, as John Piper, Wayne Grudem and others have noted, a rare gem and probably worth reading at least once a year.

In an effort to simplify McIntyre's above exhortation I have begun praying DOT morning and evening. In the morning seeking God's grace for the duties, opportunites and tempatations that lie before me and rehearsing God's promises for the same. And then in the evening praying DOT again, this time looking for lessons learned, seeking forgiveness for neglects and transgressions of God's law and rehearsing God's delight to pardon, cleanse and receive me for Jesus' sake. For one who is so easily discouraged in prayer, this simple exercise has been a great help already, to me and a handful of saints who began praying thusly after hearing about it in sermon a few weeks ago.

If you purchase and read the book for yourself I would love to hear your comments here at Parbar Westward. Blessings!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Helping You Realize Your Untapped Love for Classical Music

I laughed as Benjamin Zander explained the glory of "one buttock" piano playing. And I'm not embarrassed to say that I wept when he played the final chord of the Chopin prelude. This presentation is a twofer. It is at the same time a lovely apologetic for classical music and a prime example of true communication. If you watch the lecture you'll most likely laugh and you might even shed a tear, but you won't think the same about classical music again. This guy is a-mazing. You can enjoy the video for yourself here. Let me know what you think.

HT: Rachelle ("Good-morning Rochelle") Johnson

Monday, January 03, 2011

Desire. Choice. Consequence.

I love stories and enjoy musing about their structure and what makes them work (or not work.) If we are to understand the grand story of redemption that God is currently writing, and our own stories within the grand story, then we simply must understand the nature and flow of story.

I recently read this article by Jonathan Rogers that appeared on website that I frequent and found some helpful insights into both the structure of story and how to use it to form godly character in our children (and grandchildren.) You can read the full article here, and here (below) is an excerpt to pique your interest. Enjoy.

Desire. Choice. Consequence. It’s what character is made of too.

It is that parallel between story development and character development that makes story such a valuable tool in shaping your child’s character. In the midst of life’s battles, it can be hard for a child—for any of us—to step back far enough to see the connection between desire, choice, and consequence. In a well-told story, on the other hand, it is easier to see the big picture, even as we inhabit it in a small way.

If you are going to use stories as a means of shaping your child’s character, it is important, of course, to find stories that teach the right things. But that is not the only important thing; it is at least as important that you get in the habit of talking to your child about the stories he or she experiences. Help your child see the connection between desire, choice, and consequence by asking questions like these about the stories you read together:

- Why do you think the character made that choice? What was he trying to get?
- Did that choice get him what he wanted?
- What else did it get him?
- What was the cost of that choice?
- Do you think the choice was worth the cost?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Ten Questions With Which to Begin the New Year

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1.What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2.What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3.What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4.In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5.What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6.What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7.For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8.What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9.What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10.What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

The value of many of these questions is not in their profundity, but in the simple fact that they bring an issue or commitment into focus. For example, just by articulating which person you most want to encourage this year is more likely to help you remember to encourage that person than if you hadn’t considered the question. (Don Whitney, author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life)

HT: Justin Taylor