Sometimes it’s the little things, the small details, that hit the high notes of our praise.
The story of the gospel is simple enough that a child can understand it and profound enough to fill the most mature mind with wonder. Praise God for the beautiful story of God rescuing his children.
Faithful evangelism begins with clear sight: a sight of God and his glory, a sight of self and our sin, a sight of others and their need.
When is the last time you read Lamentations? God puts books like this in the Bible so we better understand the depths of our sin and his grace.
God’s goodness is on display in the Bible through salvation and judgment.
I have been preaching through the book of Habakkuk and it has been very refreshing and instructive. One area of encouragement came through the interplay between current events and the context of God’s overarching plan. I think it is particularly helpful when we think about the current events in the world today.
If you are not familiar with the book let me set the table a bit. Israel is in a bad place in the early 7th Century BC. Assyria has kicked their teeth in a bit, deporting many and dominating those who remain. Because of the people’s rebellion against God’s Word they are suffering from the suffocating rule of a pagan nation. Habakkuk looks around and sees things getting worse rather than better. He cries out to God in chapter 1 declaring that he is fatigued and somewhat frustrated with what he sees. He wants answers as well as salvation.
God does answer him but not in the way that Habakkuk would have expected or even desired. God says that he is going to deal with the Assyrians and the rebellious covenant community by raising up and deploying the Babylonians. And, it would get very, very bad.
Through all of this however, Habakkuk is taught a very important lesson: God has an ultimate plan, an endgame, for both the nations and his people. To borrow from Jim Hamilton’s excellent book title, God will bring “Salvation through Judgment”. God’s people will be saved. God’s enemies will be judged. But, the saving will not be …
I enjoy watching swimming. Not being much of a swimmer myself, I’m fascinated by how fast and fluid good swimmers are. It appears like an aquatic art form as they splash minimally, move rhythmically, and at the right time grab a breath of air like it’s second nature. One of my favorite things to see good swimmers do is push off of the wall and do a return lap. When they come towards the end and do that flip-sping-thing underwater and then accelerate into the next lap. It’s beautiful. Of course it is not only beautiful it is strategic. Pushing off that wall is an efficient way to turn and it provides a proper push into the next lap.
I have a similar reaction when listening to particularly solid preachers or reading helpful (Christian) writers. In the midst of communicating they seem to effortlessly, but not unintentionally, push of the gospel wall as they steam ahead. It is a beautiful thing.
Some may call it gospel-grammar: we need to have our indicatives (the facts of what Christ did) informing our imperatives (what we must do as Christians). This is the pattern of the New Testament. The Apostles have a gospel reflex. They keep going back to the truth of Christ’s work to inform the priority of our work (consider the commands to husbands and wives in Eph. 5 for example).
You also have the gospel-identity. The fact of what Christ did shapes who we are. Ephesians does this repeatedly. Consider how many …
We all have blind spots. We have our issues. Whether we are talking about personal, social, or theological blind spots, we have them. And to say you don’t, is to, well, make my point.
The important thing for us to look for said weaknesses, identify them and replace them. This is living life as a fallen sinner it is reality.
But sometimes our blind spots are our hobby horses. And this is a problem.
I can remember arguing about abortion with a friend who is pro-choice. In the midst of the discussion (it was civil) he called me out on my flippancy concerning life in the various wars that the US is involved in. He had a point. My issue was inconsistent. I had a blind spot.
Outspoken Bible Guys
I think there are people who are outspoken in their passion and devotion to the Bible. They are proponents of taking the Bible literally, being black or white and trying their best to obey what it says. We might call them evangelicals, fundamentalists, or simply Protestants. There really are many names and stripes available.
These guys (and ladies) will rightly go after those who compromise the Scriptures. They call out those who deny the Bible’s inspiration and inerrancy. They oppose people who inject their ministries with pragmatic methods. They decry the moral compromise in and around the professing church. All of this to say, no one would accuse them of being unbiblical. In fact, this is their cry, “we are just being biblical.”
And quite frankly, …
Zondervan continues its celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the NIV. Recently, I did a little poking around and was greatly encouraged by the impact of the NIV since 1965. In particular, the NIV has held a unique place among Bible readers for whom English is a second or developing language. The video below highlights this:
In celebrating this anniversary, they are offering the free NIV50 app, reading plan, and other aids created to celebrate the 1965 convening of the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT).
The free NIV 50th Anniversary Bible App (available in IOS and Android) provides free access to the NIV, additional quarterly content, and the notes from a variety of NIV Bibles for the 2015 calendar year.
A 365-day reading plan drawn from an NIV study or devotional Bible, delivered via email
But I am most excited about the NIV Zondervan Study Bible with Dr DA Carson as the general editor. As the video below shows, this Study Bible is built on the truth of Scripture and centered on the gospel message. It’s a comprehensive undertaking of crafted study notes and tools to present a biblical theology of God’s special revelation in the Scriptures. This looks like a very helpful tool. I am looking forward to getting a copy.
Years ago I worked in a financial brokerage. In particular I worked in compliance. We were very meticulous about ensuring that we said and did everything right. One phrase I remember seeing regularly is, “Past performance is not indicative of future results.” In other words, just because a fund or company has done well in the past does not mean that it will do well in the future. Typically this is appended to data that demonstrates solid past performance.
In the Christian world however, this phrase is turned on its head. It is in fact very much non-compliant with the Scripture.
What the writers of Scripture tend to do is unload piles of data upon us to show us that this God who has worked powerfully in the past will in fact do so in the future.
Just this morning I was reading the 77th Psalm in my devotions and I saw this same tactic. The Psalmist is, in the present, crying aloud to the Lord (v.1). He is feeling the pinch. Things are hard.
So what does he do? In both verses 5 & 11 we see him looking at the historical data for present comfort (Ps. 77.5, 11).