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In the Cross I Glory

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  Photo by eberhard 🖐 grossgasteiger on Unsplash Colossians 2:13-15, "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, triumphing over them in him." (English Standard Version) How do you see the cross? Do you look at it and see a place of defeat? Does it seem like the great tragedy of history? Paul tells us in Colossians 2 that the only defeat that day was suffered by Satan and his hordes. Not Christ. He triumphed at the cross. There he took the plan that Satan, and Judas, and the chief priests, and all the enemies of God meant for evil, and he turned them upside down. Instead of being defeated by death, he stole its power. "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the l

Figs and the Kingdom

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  Photo by Martin Angelov on Unsplash [the footnotes won't copy into blogger for me, most of the good ideas aren't mine, the Bibliography is attached] Introduction One of the key elements of teaching on the kingdom of God in Scripture is the use of symbol, metaphor, and parable. One need only read the 13th chapter of Matthew to find comparisons made between the kingdom and  a sower and the fruitfulness of his work ,  a sower who sows good seed and received a mixed harvest ,  the seeming insignificance of a mustard seed ,  the slow work of yeast ,  the value of hidden treasure and a pearl ,  and a net thrown into the sea which pulls back a varied catch . One recurring symbol in biblical teaching, coming up in the prophets, and then again in the teaching of Jesus, is the fig tree. The purpose of this paper is to examine some key uses of fig imagery in both the Old and New Testaments, and then to draw theological conclusions for how we might understand the purpose and function of

R. C. Sproul: A Life

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  R. C. Sproul: A Life by Stephen J. Nichols My rating: 4 of 5 stars Sproul is a five-star subject, and this is a very thorough biography. Nichols' prose style doesn't live up to the subject of his writing, which was a little disappointing - but may also be an unfair standard. I listened to an audio version, which in a few places subbed out the narrator for original R.C. audio (most wonderfully, his final two sermons in the Appendix). View all my reviews

How Sharp Are These Lines?

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Photo by  Keyur Nandaniya  on  Unsplash   In an article for the Calvin Theological Journal titled, “Just what do you mean-Kingdom of God?” (Volume 51 (2), 2016) , John Bolt quotes Richard Niebuhr, who contested that “the distinguishing characteristic of the” Protestant Reformation was the kingdom of God. In Niebuhr's view, this difference comes down to the “contrast between visio dei and regnum dei.” Or, in English, the vision of God and the reign of God. While I wonder about the historical validity of such a claim - it would seem to me that doctrines such as the perspicuity of Scripture and justification by faith are far more central to the Reformation project - it did make me ask a question. Why would there need to be any conflict between the idea of living under God's rule and having a vision of who he is? Should we not long to “see the King in His Beauty?” (Isaiah 33:17) Surely we can only see him if we are right with him. At the same time, living under the rule of the pe

My Top 10 Books of 2021

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I like to read books, and people like to read Top 10 lists. In celebration of these two facts, here is my annual Top Books list for 2021. (previous lists: 2020 , 2019 , 2018 , 2015  ... yes, I missed a few years) Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self - I feel like a parody of myself for putting this book at the top of my list. Oh well, it's that important. Carl Trueman traces the modern conception of the self, beginning with Rousseau (a starting point he admits is mostly a function of having to start somewhere). He has a shorter and more popular-level version forthcoming . I will probably buy that to give to some folks, but if you want to contemplate how unusual our plastic understanding of personhood is, then pick up the original. The material is dense, but Trueman is an excellent writer, so reading through is an achievable task.  Hearers & Doers  - In this book, Kevin Vanhoozer gives pastors and church leaders a vision for building disciples fit for following Christ using the

A Controversial Claim

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 Dick Lucas, commenting on Colossians 3:18,  “All this is not to say that the woman will always find the sacrificial giving of herself in loyalty to another congenial. But if we are right in seeing this entire ethical section as a sustained exposition of the rule of Christ, the significant truth about a Christian woman’s relation to her husband is that it mirrors her commitment to her Lord. What Paul is really explaining is what it means to call Christ Lord. In his concept there is no possibility of a married woman’s surrender to a heavenly Christ which is not made visible and actual by some submission to an earthly husband. To claim (as I have heard it said) that the discovery of a new loyalty to the Lord made it imperative (apart from exceptional circumstances) to be disloyal to a husband is to enter a pseudo-spiritual world of double-think.” (R. C. Lucas, Fullness & Freedom: The Message of Colossians & Philemon, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press,

Why Pray?

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Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash A Response to “Thomas Aquinas’s Understanding of Prayer in the Light of the Doctrine of Creatio Ex Nihilo ” by Rudi te Velde Introduction In his paper, “Thomas Aquinas’s Understanding of Prayer in the Light of the Doctrine of Creatio Ex Nihilo”, Rudi te Velde begins with the premise that to pray when one believes in an omnipotent God by whom all things were created and on whom all things - including prayer - depend, creates certain practical and philosophical problems which must be remedied. To put it as he does on page 50, “What is the use of prayer if God’s causality with respect to the world is from all eternity determined and not liable in any way to change?” St. Thommy to the Rescue To help walk through this issue, te Velde interacts with the thinking of Thomas Aquinas, particularly his work Summa contra Gentiles. Here Thomas distinguishes between primary and secondary causes. God is the only being or reality who exists outside of the created r