Archive for the Books Category

Jul 3

Romans 9 Resources

2010 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Books,Recommended Link,Sermon Follow-Up

For those of you who missed it, last Sunday night Fred Zaspel gave a very helpful exposition of Romans 9, which was followed by a Q&A.  As promised, we’re providing several suggested follow-up resources here for those wanting further study of Romans 9 and the related doctrines of election and predestination.

Entry-level Books on God’s Sovereignty in Salvation:

John Piper’s Sermons on Predestination and Romans 9:

Mark Driscoll’s Sermon Romans 9:

Jun 4

The Glorious Implications of the Gospel

2010 | by Ryan Kelly | Category: Books,Quote,Recommended Link

The Gospel Coalition website has a great article by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Here’s a sample:

Because of the incarnation, Jesus Christ knows exactly what it is to live in a sin-cursed world with people who break the rules…like me. I am a rule-breaker but He’s loved me and he’s experienced every trial I face. He’s with me. He sympathizes with my weakness (Hebrews 4:15). This understanding of His love in the face of my sin drains my anger at my rule-breaking neighbor. I can love her because I’ve been loved and I am just like her.

Because of His sinless life, I now have a perfect record of loving my neighbor. He perfectly loved rule-breakers. This record of perfect love for my rule-breaking neighbor is mine now; knowing this relieves my guilt. Even though I continue to fail to love, His record is mine.

Because of His substitutionary death, I am completely forgiven for my sin…even the sins that I seem to fall into at the slightest provocation. God has no wrath left for me because He poured it all out on His Son. He’s not disappointed or irritated. He welcomes me as a beloved daughter.

Because of His resurrection (and the justification it brings), I know that the power of sin in my life has been broken. Yes, I’ve failed again, but I can have the courage to continue to fight sin because I’m no longer a slave to it. This replaces despair with faith to wage war against my selfishness and pride.

Because of His ascension and reign, I know that this situation isn’t a mere chance happening. He’s orchestrated it so that I will remember Him and be blessed by the gospel again. He’s ruling over my life and interceding for me right now. I’m not a slave to chaos or chance. He’s my Sovereign King and I can rest in His loving plan today and rejoice in Him.

And, because of His promised return, I know that all the doubt, injustice and struggle will one day come to an end. This line in this grocery store and my plans for dinner isn’t all there is. There’s the great good news of the gospel. I can go home now and share with my family and guests how Jesus met me at the grocery store and we can rejoice together in His work on our behalf.

If you’re unfamiliar with Elyse’s writing, you should remedy that post-haste. Some very gospel-centered, Christ-exalting, hope-giving meditations:

Jun 3

Understanding Luke 18

2010 | by Parker Landis | Category: Books,Gospel,Meditation,Quote,Sermon Follow-Up

Each of the first four units of Luke 18 can easily be misunderstood; each makes abundant sense when read in conjunction with the others.

The first (18:1-8) is a parable that Jesus tells his disciples “to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (18:1). An unjust judge is badgered by a persistent widow so that in the end he provides her with the justice she asks for. “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” (18:7). If even this judge eventually puts things right, how much more will God, when his “chosen ones” cry to him? By itself, of course, this parable could be taken to mean that the longer and louder one prays, the more blessings one gets—a kind of tit-for-tat arrangement that Jesus himself elsewhere disavows (Matt. 6:5-15). But the last verse (18:8) focuses the point: “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” The real problem is not with God’s unwillingness to answer, but with our faithless and lethargic refusal to ask.

The second (18:9-14) parable describes a Pharisee and a tax collector who go up to the temple to pray. Some modern relativists conclude from this story that Jesus accepts everyone, regardless of his or her continuing sins, habits, or lifestyle. He rejects only self-confident religious hypocrites. Certainly Jesus rejects the latter. But the parable does not suggest that the tax collector wished to continue in his sin; rather, he begs for mercy, knowing what he is; he approaches God out of a freely recognized need.

In the third unit (18:15-17) Jesus insists that little children be brought to him, “for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” One must “receive the kingdom of God like a child,” or not at all. Yet this does not commend childlike behavior in all respects (e.g., naïveté, short-term thinking, moral immaturity, the cranky “No!” of the “terrible twos”). But little children do have an openness, a refreshing freedom from self-promotion, a simplicity that asks and trusts.

The fourth unit (18:18-30) finds Jesus telling a rich ruler to sell all that he has and give to the poor, if he is to have treasure in heaven, and then follow Christ. Does this mean that only penurious asceticism will enjoy the blessings of heaven? Is it not Christ’s way of stripping off this particular person’s real god, the pathetic ground of his self-confidence, so that he may trust Jesus and follow him wholly?

Can you see what holds these four units together?

– Excerpted from D. A. Carson’s, For the Love of God, vol. 1, entry for March 4.

Download the whole book for free here or read it day-by-day here.

May 30

Using Maps to Help in Bible Study

2010 | by Ron Giese | Category: Books,Miscellaneous,Sermon Follow-Up

Last Sunday we looked at the “playing board” of Israel. More specifically, we looked at how a map can help in understanding more of what God wants us to see, learn, and apply in the narrative portions of the Bible.

We learned that it helps to visualize what certain areas of Israel look like. Just like if someone says, in our world, “I’m headed to Taos for the weekend,” we immediately call up certain associations with Taos. It’s a small town, great mountains just outside the city with a well-known ski area, some history with a well-known Pueblo just outside the city and Kit Carson’s roots in the city, has a few classy art galleries, etc.

Yet if we read of Jesus visiting Capernaum, most Christians cannot visualize anything about that place at all. Big city or small? On the coast or inland? In the desert or a fortress on top of a hill?

Second, we looked at routes in Israel. Again, to use a parallel, we know how long it takes to drive to Santa Fe. And we know the feel of the switchbacks going up the east side of the mountains to get to the gift shop at the Sandia Crest.

But do we know how far away Bethany is from Jerusalem, and on what side of Jerusalem Bethany lies? Do we know the three possible ways that the Israelites could have entered Canaan when coming from Egypt?

Many Christians think they already have good tools to do map work, since they have maps at the back of their Bibles. I usually don’t find these maps to be very helpful. The reason is that often one map has to serve a fairly large portion of the Old Testament, hence, a map titled “Israel in the divided monarchy.” The result of this it that these maps tend to be very “busy”: they have a lot of cities, names of regional areas, rivers, etc.

It can actually be discouraging trying to use such maps.

You’ll recall that Sunday I tried to simplify things by showing just a few cities and a few arrows to mark where someone traveled.

Books called Bible Atlases are really the kinds of tools you need to do map work in the Bible. In part because they simplify things and isolate just one journey of one person in the Bible. For instance, instead of “Israel in the divided monarchy” you might see “Jacob’s journey when he returned to Canaan” (which only covers a few chapters in Genesis and would have arrows similar to what I showed on the screen on Sunday).

If you’re interested in atlases, I have three to recommend to you. Perhaps check out all three on Amazon, and pick one to get. There are about two dozen atlases on the market right now. But some are too expensive, and some are too scholarly, and with some I don’t think the maps are very well done.

So again here are my top three picks, with a brief description of each:

Holman QuickSource Bible Atlas: With Charts and Biblical Reconstructions, by Paul W. Wright. (retail $14.99, Amazon $10.19).

This would be my top pick, since it’s a good value for almost 400 pages. Over 100 pages are full-color maps. And the subtitle is accurate, there are charts and reconstructions in addition to the maps. Every page has at least one map or photo/illustration. As an example of a reconstruction, there is a drawing of what Jericho would have looked like in the days of Jesus. Another example is a cut-away drawing of an average first-century Jewish house.

Bible Atlas & Companion, by David Barrett, Christopher D. Hudon, and Todd Bolen (Amazon $9.99).

This is my second pick, with 75 full-color maps and 50 additional photographs or illustrations (175 pages total).

The Kregel Bible Atlas, by Tim Dowley (Amazon $21.99).

This is my third pick, 96 pages total with at least one map or illustration per page. This is a hardback (the other two are paperback), which probably accounts for the higher price.

May 17

Carson on Prayer

2010 | by Parker Landis | Category: Books,Recommended Link,Sermon Follow-Up

Here is a great quote from D.A. Carson on prayer in Luke 18, which we’ve been studying recently in our sermon series on Luke:

By itself, of course, this parable could be taken to mean that the longer and louder one prays, the more blessings one gets—a kind of tit-for-tat arrangement that Jesus himself elsewhere disavows (Matt. 6:5-15). But the last verse (18:8) focuses the point: “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” The real problem is not with God’s unwillingness to answer, but with our faithless and lethargic refusal to ask.  (D.A. Carson, For the Love of God, Vol. 1. March 4)

If you want to read more from Carson, this quote is taken from a devotional that he wrote, titled For the Love of God, Vol. 1.  Each day’s devotional reading is posted online at this blog or you can download the entire book for free by clicking here.