Archive - May, 2007

Simon Gathercole and Second Temple Judaism

I previously mentioned my upcoming exegesis paper on Galatians, as part of my intensive course in a few weeks. Well, no sooner had I chosen Galatians 3:10-14 as my passage as a classmate informed me that those verses are the most hotly contested in the entire book. Oh well.
They seem to be crucial for the issue of how salvation by faith relates to works and the law. I found a very helpful article by Simon J. Gathercole, lecturer in New Testament at the University of Aberdeen. It is called, “Torah, Life, and Salvation: Leviticus 18:5 in Early Judaism and the New Testament.” (Leviticus 18:5 is explicitly used by Paul in both Gal. 3:12 and Rom. 10:5, and possibly alluded to elsewhere in the New Testament.) And that reminded me that Dr. Gathercole wrote a respected book called Where Is Boasting: Early Jewish Soteriology and Paul’s Response in Romans 1-5. Having immersed himself in Second Temple Jewish literature, Gathercole powerfully argues that the Judaism of Paul’s day did consider obedience to the law to be both possible and an important criterion at the final judgement. In my paper, I will argue that human nature makes obedience to the law impossible, since Gal. 3:10 (along with James 2:10) says that perfect obedience would be necessary. Therefore, salvation must entirely be by faith in the perfect obedience of Christ.

Different Types of Singles?

My wife and I recently wrote on singleness in With One Voice. Our interest in the topic was rekindled with Pastor John Piper preaching a series of messages on marriage (with his last two sermons being more related to singleness). He also pointed to a provocative, exegetical study by Barry Danyluk. All of this got us thinking about whether there might be different kinds of adult single Christians in the church today. The following graph (I am an engineer) is the fruit of our musings. We welcome any and all feedback on it, as we recognize that any one-page graph necessarily involved making a finite number of categories.

Hats Off To Mark Dever and Crossway

Mark Dever’s The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made (Crossway, 2006) has been honored with the 2007 Christianity Today Award of Merit for Biblical Studies. Christianity Today International sponsors these annual awards to recognize the most influential contributions to Christian literature made in a given year. There were nearly three hundred submissions from over forty publishers.
Crossway president Dr. Lane Dennis notes, “The Message of the Old Testament is a tremendous resource for understanding and applying the teachings of the Old Testament. With remarkable clarity, Dr. Dever guides readers through each book, highlighting the central themes and teachings of each and showing how they apply to the church today. The book is scholarly yet highly accessible. We are delighted to publish a work that is so valuable in helping readers understand the richness and depth of the Word of God.”
The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made and its counterpart text, The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept, systematically reveal God’s faithfulness throughout Scripture. Dever’s analysis of each biblical book, performed with great pastoral and academic skill, will assist readers in apprehending the unity of Scripture and of God’s purpose as expressed in both the Old and New Testaments.
Mark Dever is Senior Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church (in Washington, D.C.) and Executive Director for 9Marks Ministries. He also serves as visiting professor at both Beeson Divinity School and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dever’s Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (revised and expanded in 2004) established him as an expert on church health and church leadership, and his new Crossway titles are exposing a broader audience to his thoughtful and powerful exegesis.
Thanks, Pastor Mark, for your ministry to us!
(HT: Michele)

Our Wedding Vows

A couple friends over the last few years have asked Marni and I for our wedding vows. I asked Marni if she’d mind if I posted them. Her reply was excellent: “Are you sure you want all that extra accountability?” Well, since we’re already accountable to God and those who attended our wedding, we figure it can’t be that much scarier to add you. Here they are — you’ll recognize that they are a mixture of the traditional vows with some of our own thoughts. I also should add that we are indebted to Pastor Tom Steller and his wife Julie, who were willing to share their vows with us before we wrote our own. Towards the bottom you might recognize Marni’s allusion to Rom. 15:6, which is also where we got the title for our book.
By God’s grace and in His name, I, Alex, take thee, Marni, to be my wife. To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until we are parted by death. I promise to be yours exclusively, a loving and faithful husband, forsaking all others, and to honor you above all except God.
I recognize today with thanksgiving that you are the greatest treasure that God has given me—given to complete me, and that I might complete you. I cannot become what God would have me be apart from you. I love so many things about you, dearest Marni. Your tender heart, your warm smile, your ever positive attitude, your intelligence, your tendency to be on top of things. It is staggering that you would agree to marry me. In learning to love you, my heart is enlarged. I marry not just because I love you, but so that I can love you.
I promise to love and respect you as a woman, and to honor you as my partner and fellow heir of the grace of life. I promise to take with utmost seriousness my responsibilities to you as a Christian husband, to pray for you, to protect you, to provide for you, to comfort you, to encourage you, and to always seek your deepest well-being. By God’s grace, I promise to listen to you, to spend time with you, to tell you what I’m thinking, to include you, and to be there for you. I promise to deny myself when we discover our differences as we live together. I promise to cherish you above all others and above achievements. I promise to raise with you any children God gives us, and to train them in the way they should go.
I pray that I will make you happy by appreciating and accepting you as God made you and by enjoying and appreciating your love. I pray that God will enable me to preserve and increase your enjoyment of God so that your heart can overflow to bless others. I pray that God would increase our capacity to enjoy Him through the love he builds in us towards each other for as many years as He gives us. I pray that we will both live and die in a way that makes much of Jesus.
By God’s grace and in His name, I, Marni, take thee, Alex, to be my husband. To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until we are parted by death. I promise to be yours exclusively, a loving and faithful wife, forsaking all others, and to honor you above all except God.
Alex, blessed am I among women! You are the man I have prayed for my whole life. I am continually awed and delighted by your strong leadership, your intelligence, your sensitivity, your wit, your tender affection, and your intensity as you strive to know and please God. I am blessed by how you move toward me and how we grow closer in difficult situations. You make me so happy! My sweet Alex, you are God’s precious gift to me. It is my desire that our covenant becomes more important than we are as individuals, so that when I love you and deny myself for you, I am loving myself.
I promise to love and you respect you and submit to your headship intelligently and joyfully, trusting your leadership. I promise to uphold you in prayer, to support you, to encourage you, to comfort you, to respect you, to be your helpmate in all situations of life, hoping always to be that refuge where you might find rest. I promise to keep careful watch over our household, endeavoring to make it a happy and pleasant place to live. Should God bless us with children, I promise to continue to honor you as my highest priority after God, and to raise them to love the Lord and respect you.
I pray that we would each seek daily to delight in and commit ourselves more fully to Christ, our Shepherd and Savior. I pray that God would use us in each other’s lives as He sanctifies us. May the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant us to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord we may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Foundational Documents for the Gospel Coalition

The twelve page paper, originally envisioned by Don Carson and Tim Keller, is now available.
A brief outline:
I. The Gospel For All of Life: Preamble
II. Confessional Statement
A. The Triune God
B. Revelation
C. Creation
D. The Fall
E. The Plan of God
F. The Gospel
G. The Redemption of Christ
H. The Justification of Sinners
I. The Power of the Holy Spirit
J. The Kingdom of God
K. God’s New People
L. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
M. The Restoration of All Things
III. Theological Vision for Ministry
A. How should we respond to the cultural crisis of truth? (The epistemological issue)

1. Truth is corresponding to reality.
2. Truth is conveyed by Scripture.
3. Truth is correspondence of life to God.
4. This vision of truth shapes us.

B. How should we relate to the culture around us? (The contextualized issue)

1. By being counter-cultural.
2. For the common good.
3. How this relationship to culture shapes us.

C. How should we read the Bible? (The hermeneutical issue)

1. Reading ‘along’ the whole Bible.
2. Reading ‘across’ the whole Bible.
3. How this reading of the Bile shapes us.

D. In what ways is the gospel unique?
E. What is gospel-centered ministry?

1. Empowered corporate worship.
2. Evangelistic effectiveness.
3. Counter-cultural community.
4. The integration of faith and work.
5. The doing of justice and mercy.

IV. Conclusion
(HT: Justin Buzzard)

Gospel Coalition Conference

Justin Buzzard has been providing live-blog posts of the Gospel Coalition Conference, which is getting wrapped up today.

Tom Schreiner – Gregg Strawbridge Debate on Baptism

Tom Schreiner (co-editor with Shawn Wright of Beleiver’s Baptism) debates Gregg Strawbridge (editor of The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism).

When: May 24, 10:00-11:30 PM EST

This debate is sponsored by the Converse with Scholars series (organized and led by a ministry called Reclaiming the Mind).
Participants are allowed to call in and join the discussion.

Update: Though it is called a debate, in fact Strawbridge gave his presentation last week (May 17), and Schreiner is speaking tonight (May 24). I apologize that my post, prior to this update, was probably misleading.

(HT: Erik Schaefer)

An Array of Christ-Centered MP3s

Looking for a vast array of sermons and messages from men like Ken Sande, Voddie Baucham, Sovereign Grace Ministries, and Sinclair Ferguson? Look no further.

Family Driven Faith

This book is about the crucially important role of parents in raising godly children with a view to multigenerational faithfulness. Voddie Baucham (quoting a 2001 study from the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee) notes that “between 70 and 88 percent of Christian teens are leaving the church by their second year in college.” This immediately grabbed my attention because a similar trend was reported 15 years ago when I was in high school. If it was happening back then, I imagine the ascendancy of post-modernism has only increased this disturbing trend. For example, George Barna noted in 2003 that 85% of “born again teens” do not believe in the existence of absolute truth.
In the opening chapter, Baucham asks: “What if our sons and daughters are merely going through the motions as they walk through life as goats among the sheep or tares among the wheat?” What a frightful thought! Yet in spite of this possibility, Baucham laments that “most pastoral search committees never even bother to meet a man’s wife and children, let alone observe him at home or question those close enough to know how he teaches the Word to his family, leads them in family worship, disciplines, instructs, and encourages his children or wife.”
Eighteen years ago, having barely turned twenty, Voddie married his wife Bridget. The two share unideal family backgrounds: over the past two generations on both sides of their family, there have been twenty-five marriages and twenty-two divorces (their marriage being one of the three that has not ended in divorce). Voddie explains that he and Bridget have three commitments: First, staying together and thriving as a couple. Second, investing in their children with a view to multigenerational faithfulness. And third, doing whatever they can to reproduce the first two commitments in the lives of others.
As a young father, I am eager to be equipped by Pastor Baucham to raise children into young adults with an internalized Christian worldview that promotes multigenerational faithfulness — an uphill battle, given our post-Christian, anti-family society. Having read the first chapter, I know this book will be a must-read for me this summer.
The blurbs:

“Voddie Baucham has written an insightful and convicting book challenging parents to prioritize the spiritual development of their children. Only read this book if the salvation and sanctification of your children is of the utmost importance to you.”

–Tony Evans
Pastor, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship (Dallas, TX)

“Every Christian parent ought to read Family Driven Faith. I’ve never encountered a book on family life that compressed so much biblical teaching, provocative thinking, sound theology, and practical help into one volume.”

–Don Whitney
Professor of Spiritual Formation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY)

“Sending young people out into the world without a biblical worldview is like sending an athlete onto the field without a playbook, says Voddie Baucham. Yet few Christian parents even hold a biblical worldview to pass along to their children. Family Driven Faith gives parents winning principles to disciple children who will grow into spiritually mature adults capable of influencing all spheres of society.”

–Nancy R. Pearcey, Author of Total Truth
Update: I posted a lengthy review for a similar book, reThink – Decide for Yourself: Is Student Ministry Working?

New Audio Books from Desiring God

Desiring God has made available a number of new audio books, including What Jesus Demands from the World, Battling Unbelief: Defeating Sin with Superior Pleasure, and Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce.

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