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Posts Tagged ‘the Bible’

This week: the Muslim world’s resistance to the gospel, women and porn, knowing the Bible (not merely defending it), and the usual fantastic sarcasm from Doug Wilson on some freedom of speech issues.

Why is the Muslim World so Resistant to the Gospel? (by Al Mohler)

In the mind of many Muslims, the Crusades are what feels like a living memory. To many within the Islamic world, Christians remain Crusaders, and evangelism is just another way of continuing the crusading mission.

Freedom (by Ali C.)

I was addicted to pornography for over eight years.
I’ll give you a moment to get over your shock, to say to yourself, But isn’t she a girl? Girl’s don’t struggle with that! Trust me; it’s nothing I haven’t heard before, and it’s part of the reason it’s often so hard to tell people. When a man confesses to a struggle with pornography, it’s par for the course and you move on. But women are a whole different story, and I’ve been met with reactions ranging from the incredulous to the downright horrified.

Don’t Merely Defend the Bible. Know What’s in it. (by Mike Conroy)

Paul was not embarrassed because he was vindicated before God in the heavenly places since God united him to Christ and His death and resurrection through the Gospel. Will we be embarrassed when we explain to people what the Bible teaches and what we believe? Of course. But woe to us if we are looking for arguments that take the offense out of the Gospel. Woe to us if we are in search of arguments in order to impress the wisdom of the world. Woe to us if we look for arguments so that we don’t look like fools for giving the Gospel to the people around us. Once we go down that road we are already starting to bow down and worship the very thing that we claim to be trying to help the unbelievers we know and love turn from.

In Burkas in No Time (by Douglas Wilson)

nobody says about the rioters in Afghanistan that they should chill, because we have lots of unstable pastors over here, and if they don’t stop beheading people over there, we might have some more Koran burnings over here. No, that’s not the direction we push.

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This week: Mark Altrogge sharing some thoughts about depression from his wife’s 20 year battle with it, the failure of moral effort, being a resource to those you manage, and believing the reliability and accuracy of the Bible.

20 years of Depression (by Mark Altrogge)

My sweet wife, who was normally lighthearted and cheerful, sat there with a hopeless expression on her face.  Her eyes looked dark and empty to me.  She was unable to be around people.  She was completely incapacitated.  She was suffering pain I couldn’t fathom.

I didn’t know what was going on.  I thought it was a demonic attack.  I fasted and prayed and rebuked the enemy.  I thought it must somehow be my fault, that I wasn’t leading and caring for my wife somehow.  I thought I might have to step down from being a pastor.

The Absolute Failure of Moral Effort (by Zach Nielsen quoting Tim Keller)

Here is a great dialectical tension. Until you know your works are not any good, they are not any good. As soon as you realize that they are not any good there is at least a germ of something real, which is, you are doing it for God’s sake. You are doing it out of faith. You are not doing it out of fear that you are going to lose something or out of pride (now I know I am better than other people).

Be a Resource, Not a Limiter (by Matt Perman)

If you manage in a certain way (namely, with a command and control focus), you incentivize compliance. But if you realize that management is not about control, but rather about helping to unleash the talents of your people for the performance of the organization, and that this comes from trusting your people and granting them autonomy, then you see yourself not as the “boss,” but as a source of help.

Why I Believe the Bible (by Jim Hamilton)

Helped through the storm by the Schreiner-rock, I began to look more closely at what I thought were the hardest cases. I was not at all impressed with the actual argument against the historical accuracy and reliability of the Bible. In fact, I think you would have to know far more than any human being could ever know to be in position to declare definitively that the Bible is in error. Would it be harsh to summarize the argument against the Bible as the whining of rebels?

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The Bible in One Sentence

There were a couple of different articles that I ran into this past week that I felt I had to call attention to because of how much they help with this question. The first is post by Dane Ortlund which phrases this question in another way: What’s the message of the Bible in One Sentence? He gets responses from over 25 different respected scholars and pastors, but here are my favorites:

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. – Craig Blomberg

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. – Doug Wilson

I love the range of responses by each of the men but I love Craig’s because he does not leave out the reality of sin. I appreciate the poetry of Wilson’s response and the inclusion of the dragon, our enemy, aka Satan, as well as painting Jesus as He is: a warrior sent to rescue us. God’s created ones, us, rejected Him and chose our way,

How would I sum up the Bible in one sentence? God sent His one and only Son to suffer and die to rescue His created ones who rejected Him and He’s coming again to make all things new.

One sentence is tough! That’s why I appreciated the four part series just completed by Dr. Al Mohler. In it, he walks through God and creation, sin and our separation from God, redemption and the cross, and how it all ends. I was really refreshed and encouraged reading it. Christianity is a worldview but ultimately it is the story of who God is and how he has related to us and this crazy universe we live in.

Even as the postmodern age has rejected the metanarrative, most postmodern thinkers accept the fact that human existence is essentially narrative in terms of our consciousness. This is an important insight, for it is impossible to give an account of our individual lives without using the structure of a story. The postmodern resistance to a master narrative is the fear that such a story would be inherently repressive. But the Christian gospel is the most liberating narrative ever heard, and the Bible presents the story, not merely as one account of reality to be put alongside others, but as the one definitive account of God’s purposes.

The Christian Worldview as Master Narrative Series by Dr. Al Mohler:

Creation

Sin and its Consequences

Redemption Accomplished

The End that is a Beginning

So What is Christianity?

God is there and He is not silent. He made this world and us by a spoken word. We rejected Him, chose to believe we could make ourselves happy without Him and we became enslaved to sin and to the evil angel, Satan. But God did not desert us. He claimed a people, the Israelites, as His own to someday bless the entire creation. Through that nation, God showed how we could not redeem ourselves but we needed a savior. God sent that savior in the form of His only Son, who became one of us, not as a wealthy prince but born of a virgin in a stinky manger, becoming a blue-collar carpenter, the only sinless man. He would then be betrayed, beaten, whipped, and nailed to a cross to die in maybe the most painful ways ever devised to execute someone. Jesus, the perfect man, died a criminal, taking on the sins of the world, being cut off from His Father, to free us from our sin and Satan and bring us back into His family. He would rise again, showing us He was the truth and that we can live and rise again with Him, and that He defeated the final enemy, death. Now, He is patiently waiting for and drawing people back to Himself, preparing a new heavens and earth for us for when He will come back, making all things new and ultimately freeing those who know Him to live forever with Him, fully satisfied with no more tears, no more pain, no more fatigue, no more sickness, and no more separation from the God who loves us.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17 ESV)

What do you guys think? How would you sum up the Bible in a sentence? In a paragraph?

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The challenge, really, is how to bridge the gap between an ancient biblical text and a present-day life situation. How do we attempt to bridge that divide? Most of the time we assume that a direct line of connection must exist between the situation then (in the text) and the situation now.

CrossTalk by Michael Emlet is a fantastic, helpful read. While it is written as a guide for the use of the Bible in counseling situations, it digs much deeper than a mere how-to book or a recipe but to the heart of the matter: Is the Bible relevant? Emlet, in very accessible language, dives into what the Bible is primarily not and what the Bible truly is. Is the Bible primarily a book of dos and don’ts? Is it primarily a book of casebook of characters to imitate or avoid? Is it even primarily a system of doctrines? What is the primary intent of the Bible then?

If you read the Bible from cover to cover you realize that it narrates (proclaims!) a true and cohesive story: the good news that through Jesus Christ God has entered history to liberate and renew the world from its bondage to sin and suffering.

There are a number of implications for this that Emlet then proceeds to walk through:

1. We read any text (especially Old Testament passages) “in light of the end of the Story: the coming of the Kingdom in Jesus Christ.” The Cross infects everything. Details matter.

2. When we see the big picture of the gospel, the previously neglected portions of the Bible start to come alive.

3. The centrality of God’s mission is huge. It is not merely about us.

Seeing the Bible as a unified story of God’s redemptive mission helps us avoid introspective, individualistic application… If we view the gospel in shortsighted and individualistic terms – “Yeah, I know that Jesus died for my sins, but what has he done for me lately?” – we are more tempted to grow cynical and self-absorbed. But if we view this life as colaboring with our King as “ministers of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:17-20), we are strengthened to press onward and outward, expressing our love for others in sacrificial ways.

4. We “constantly look backward and forward” as we live out our lives. Our lives are “framed” by God’s acts of redemption and the future He has planned for us.

5. Interpretation and application are a community affair.

It’s [interpretation and application] not simply a private affair in which I “get my life together” before God (as if that can ever happen!). Rather, because the Spirit of God, through the Word of God, is intent on building a community liberated and transformed by the gospel.

Emlet then goes on to discuss how we then connect the Bible to people’s lives that we minister to and how everyone is ultimately, all in one, a saint, sufferer, and sinner and all three of those pieces have to be remembered and taken into account.

In discussions over this book with the group of brothers I read this with, I was consistently moved by the awesomeness of God’s Word. Most of our discussion revolved around working through our own struggles to see the Word in light of the gospel and sharing the passages that have most moved us. It was incredible to hear these men share just tidbits about passages that changed their lives and that they keep running back to. I wanted to hear more – I wanted to hear these brothers preach on the passages they mentioned. I remember at one point getting the chills, just moved that God’s Word is living and active. It struck me that we don’t share or use the Word with each other nearly enough (one of the points of Emlet)!

You might be reading this saying “I’m no pastor, I don’t counsel people” or “This book looks too technical.” Give this book a shot. If you’re struggling with connecting with Scripture, if it is just boring to you right now, if you’re wrestling with “been there, read that,” then read this book. It is not a difficult read. You don’t have to be a counselor or a pastor to read this, just someone who desires to more profoundly see that, indeed, the Bible is truly relevant and powerfully life-changing.

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