One thing I love about summer vacation, which is going to end Sunday night at midnight [sigh] is that I have time to read widely. I can explore the web to find new, good Christian men and women bloggers, essayists, and teachers. I can study with commentaries and listen to sermons from preachers long loved or new to me. Or even bask in the doctrinally solid animations of Chris Powers. Here are some links worth considering, from writers worth reading more of, and issues worth pondering.
Jerry Wragg at Grace & Granite writes today about the oft-heard phrase “Gospel-centered” and how some people take that to mean grace excludes the Law. Or at least, the commandments in the New Testament. As in, “I’m saved by grace and striving to adhere to Jesus’ commands is law, so I don’t have to try.” And if you don’t think there aren’t commands in the NT, read all the way to the end of the Great Commission verse, Matthew 28:19-20. Here are a couple of sentences he phrased succinctly:
“How can anyone claim to be “gospel-centered” and depreciate the very commandments of Jesus at its center?”
But on the other hand, if we truly believe the gospel, our submission to Christ will not be for the purpose of adding anything to His cross, but rather to magnify His glory through the display of His power.
Here is Mr Wragg’s essay about Gospel centered grace and what it actually means. Gospel-Off-Centered? – Part 1
Was Adam a Historical Person? For 100 years or more, since Mr Darwin proposed evolution, we have been dealing with naysayers who claim that earth can’t be old and Adam can’t be new. That we can believe Adam evolved and still retain the essential beliefs inherent in the Gospel, the problem of death, the problem of sin, and the issue of Jesus’ resurrection. Here at Ligonier Ministries, they argue otherwise. Here is a sample:
We may frame the issue in the form of two related questions. First, does the Bible require us to believe that Adam was a historical person? Second, would anything be lost in the gospel if we were to deny Adam’s historicity? In answer to the first question, yes, the Bible requires us to believe that Adam was a historical person. Some of the clearest testimony about Adam comes from the New Testament.
May we uphold universal sin and death while discounting the way in which the Scripture says sin and death entered the world? The answer is no. The Bible does not give us that option. It clearly teaches that sin entered the world through the one action of one historical man, Adam (Rom. 5:12).
In a post-script to this snippet, may I remind us that Mr Billy Graham holds the opposite view, that one may believe God evolved Adam and did not create him in one day, and that this presents no harm to our biblical world view. He said in 1997, [emphasis mine]
The Bible is a book of Redemption, and of course I accept the Creation story. I believe that God did create the universe. I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create man. … whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man’s relationship to God. From, Billy Graham: Personal Thoughts of a Public Man, 1997. p. 72-74
How can the bible be a book of redemption without the historically created, unevolved Adam, as Mr Graham asserts? As Ligonier presents,
“Absent a historical fall, the Bible’s account of redemption through the Second and Last Adam, Jesus Christ, makes no sense at all. How can it at all be meaningful to say with the Bible that God, in His sovereign and infinite mercy, has recovered and restored what was lost in the fall? To deny the historicity of Adam is no trivial matter.”
Read about the Adam issue at Ligonier to compare, and see the damage Mr Graham’s view does to both our biblical worldview, the Gospel, and our position on the sufficiency of the bible.
Pastor Tom Genovese is a pastor in the far reaches of Downeast Maine. He posted about “A Problem at Lord’s Supper“, a sensitive essay with a view of the Lord’s Supper I enjoyed very much. He proposed,
However, we need to ask ourselves, What is it that I’m to look for in my self-examination prior to partaking the Lord’s Supper? The best way to answer this is to see why it was that Paul told the Corinthians to examine themselves. What were these Corinthians doing that made them unworthy to participate in this church ordinance? I believe verse 22 holds our answer. There were some in the church that held such a disdain for their brethren that Paul said that they “despised the church of God” to the point of shame. In verse 29, Paul tells these unworthy Christians that chastisement is a result of “not discerning the Lord’s body.”
And the rest of the essay continues with an explanation of this self-examination. Read it and see what you think.
I love to study the theology of sleep. And this is not solely because I love my naps during summer afternoons! There are many kinds of sleep in the bible. Romans 11:8 shows us one, and I use the KJV here
(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is another good spot to read more good stuff. This recent essay “A Biblical Theology of Sleep” presents interesting food for thought. Like this:
Whereas Jonah avoided God’s call by sleeping in the ship during a storm, Jesus exhibited faith in God’s call by sleeping in the boat during a storm (Mk 4:36-41).
Alistair Begg preaches a wonderful 25-minute sermon about The Use and Abuse of Words. Do the words we speak harm? Divide? Or do they edify? Are they kind? Are they necessary? Words can enhance the progress of God’s people or they can destroy praise and inhibit the progress of God’s people. Has truth vanished from your lips?
“Listen young people, there are three things not returned:
1. The spent arrow
2. The spoken word
3. The lost opportunity”
Listen to this sermon. As a matter of fact I’m going to do an entire blog entry about the power of words in just a moment.
Enjoy your summer day, whether it is the last day of the work week for you or the first day of a weekend, or just great because Jesus gave us another day to ‘to magnify His glory through the display of His power’ it is bound to be a good one. Why am I sure of this? Because Jesus is with us, always and to the end of the age.