By Greg Gibson
How to Use the Bible Story
“вЂ¦2. How would you summarize your book’s argument in one sentence?
With biblical theology, we have in Scripture everything we need for effective ministry in the church; without it, vast sections of Scripture are nothing more than moral tales at best and irrelevant history at worst.
3. How would you summarize your book’s argument in one paragraph?
вЂ¦Too often though, pastors and church leaders approach the OT as not much more than a collection of moral examples and the NT as the story of Jesus and how we get saved. But the Bible is so much more than life’s little ‘answer book’ and the world’s first evangelistic tract. It’s the story of everything; it’s the revelation of God’s grand design to glorify himself through the history of salvation. This means Scripture isn’t a story we turn to in order to answer our questions, but a story we’re in that explains us to ourselves and teaches us the questions we should be asking and the answers we needвЂ¦
4. You write, ‘I think it’s fair to say that everything in the life and ministry of the local church is affected by a proper use of biblical theology’ (p. 199). How?
Biblical theology places us inside the storyline of Scripture. So good biblical theology is almost always the difference between misapplying and faithfully applying Scripture. For example, should the unemployed, barren, or disabled in your church consider themselves cursed by God, while the rich, fruitful, and strong in your church consider themselves favored? Does God-honoring worship require the use of cymbals and tambourines? Should we baptize infants, and if so, whose? Should the church seek political power and a role in civil law-making? I could go on. The answers to all of these questions, and countless more, aren’t found by simply collecting and comparing all the references in the Bible to childlessness, cymbals, or laws. They’re found by understanding the whole storyline of Scripture and where the Christian and the local church fit into itвЂ¦” Interview with Michael Lawrence on Biblical Theology and the Church by Michael Lawrence
How Would You Summarize the OT’s Message in One Sentence?
“1. How would you summarize your book’s (Dominion and Dynasty) argument in one sentence?
God created humanity to rule the world in his image, and humanity was dethroned from that rule and will be re-enthroned as kings and queens of creation.” (GG:…through Messiah.) Interview with Stephen Dempster on Old Testament Theology by Andy Naselli
Summary of Hebrews’ Message by Peter O’Brien
“вЂ¦1. How would you summarize the message of Hebrews?
Hebrews is a вЂњword of exhortationвЂќ (Hebrews 13:22) sent as a letter to Christians, probably from a Jewish background, urging them to maintain their confession of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and perfect high priest (3:6, 14; 4:14; 10:23).
Through exposition the author uses the Old Testament to show the Son’s place in God’s saving plan, his superiority to angels (1:5вЂ“14), the purpose of the incarnation (2:10вЂ“18), the superiority of Jesus’ priesthood (5:1вЂ“7:28), and his high priestly offering by which he inaugurated the new covenant (8:1вЂ“10:18).
Through exhortation, which includes words of encouragement and stern warnings, as well as positive and negative examples, the author repeatedly urges his listeners to persevere faithfully in order to reach their eternal rest in the heavenly city.
2. Why did the audience of Hebrews need this message?
The members of the community had previously suffered persecution, imprisonment, public abuse, and the loss of their property (10:32вЂ“34). Now they were being called upon to endure suffering again.
They had grown weary as believers and were in danger of drifting away or, worse, willfully persisting in sin and rejecting the Son of God. Although the author does not say that they have actually committed apostasy, some are in great danger. In order to prevent such a disaster he addresses his powerful вЂњword of exhortationвЂќ to themвЂ¦” Interview with Peter O’Brien on the Letter to the Hebrews by Peter O’Brien
Pornified or Purified?
“Here’s the point: These two pictures of male sexuality are deliberately intended to drive home the point that every man must decide who he will be, whom he will serve, and how he will love. In the end, a man’s decision about pornography is a decision about his soul, a decision about his marriage, a decision about his wife, and a decision about God. Pornography is a slander against the goodness of God’s creation and a corruption of this good gift God has given his creatures out of his own self-giving love. To abuse this gift is to weaken, not only the institution of marriage, but the fabric of civilization itself. To choose lust over love is to debase humanity and to worship the false god Priapus in the most brazen form of modern idolatry.” Two Pictures: Purified vs Pornified by Al Mohler
The Gospel Nuns
“‘вЂ?Some people come to Italy for an audience with the Pope. As for me, I’d prefer to meet with the Sorelle Evangeliche (Gospel Sisters),’ I declared, entering the home of Cristiana Gavagni and Annamaria Mazzari, a.k.a. the вЂ?Gospel Nuns.’ Known among evangelicals throughout Italy, these sisters have a ministry of itinerant evangelism in which they encourage congregations to pursue gospel-centered outreach. Their message is simple: ‘Choose Christ and him alone’…By now, Annamaria was ready to leave the Catholic Church. She could no longer celebrate Mass or attend confession, and she had discarded all of her religious paraphernalia such as statues, beads, and clerical attire. (This is evidently when she broke the habit). After 46 years as a nun, she was ready to resignвЂ¦One thing was leftвЂ¦baptism. On September 25, 2005, Pastors Dick Paul and Sam Wegner baptized them at Bible Christian Church of Florence. Afterward, Cristiana and Annamaria were cut off from fellowship with the sisterhood and alienated from many of their family members. Having served in their order for 102 years combined, they were now on their own for the first time, out from under the protective care of Mother Church. Thankfully, the evangelical church stepped in as Pastor Sam Wegner and the congregation of Bible Christian Church surrounded then with loving support. I asked Cristiana how it felt to undergo baptism knowing that she would face such alienation. She responded without batting an eye, ‘It was joy like I had never felt before!’ Describing the nature of their ministry, Annamaria explained, ‘We visit churches to share our testimony, our love for God’s Word, and the liberation which he has given us in Jesus. It is a privilege to serve the Lord.’” The Gospel Nuns by Chris Castaldo
Interview With the Apostle Paul on the Law
“We have died to the law.
How did we die to the law?
We died to the law through the body of Christ.
For what purpose did we die to the law?
We died to the law so that we would belong to anotherвЂ”to him who has been raised from the dead.
Why did God join us to Christ?
So that we could bear fruit for God.
What kind of fruit will we bear if we are under the law and not united to Christ?
While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.
So we’re not under law?
We are released from the law.
You’re saying we’re dead to the law?
We died to that which held us captive.
What are the results of our death to law?
We now serve in the new way of the Spirit . . .
As opposed to?
. . . the old way of the letter.” An Interview With the Apostle Paul on the Law, Life, and Death by Justin Taylor
Schreiner Answers 40 Questions on the Law
“But if I had to recommend just one book on the topic, it’d be Tom Schreiner’s 40 Questions About Christians and Biblical LawвЂ¦’Tom provides perhaps the most helpful guide available for 40 of the most difficult questions about Christians and Biblical Law.’ I’ve had an opportunity to read an early draft of the book and would give it my highest recommendation.” Schreiner Answers 40 Questions on Gospel and Law by Justin Taylor
What One Thing Would You Change About Seminary?
“Al Mohler: There is a body of knowledge to be mastered and a set of ministerial skills and practices to be developed, of course, but these do not a minister make. The ministry is a calling, and the most important qualifications for the Christian ministry are spiritual.
Don Carson: I’d make it more integrated.
Jeff Louie: We should teach a course on the understanding and centrality of the gospel to every entering seminarian, then build upon that understanding in the theological, canonical, historical, and practical ministry courses. Too often there is no course on the gospel given in seminary, or it is an elective, or it is a subject relegated to a class on evangelism. This subject should be front and center, and everything else we study should be tied to it and flow from it.
Richard Pratt: The agenda of evangelical seminaries is set primarily by scholars. Professors decide how students will spend their time; they determine students’ priorities; they set the pace. And guess what. Scholars’ agenda seldom match the needs of the church.
Can you imagine what kind of soldiers our nation would have if basic training amounted to reading books, listening to lectures, writing papers, and taking exams? We’d have dead soldiers. The first time a bullet wizzed past their heads on the battlefield, they’d panic. The first explosion they saw would send them running. So, what is basic training for the military? Recruits learn the information they need to know, but this is a relatively small part of their preparation. Most of basic training is devoted to supervised battle simulation. Recruits are put through harrowing emotional and physical stress. They crawl under live bullet fire. They practice hand to hand combat.
If I could wave a magic scepter and change seminary today, I’d turn it into a grueling physical and spiritual experience. I’d find ways to reach academic goals more quickly and effectively and then devote most of the curriculum to supervised battle simulation. I’d put students through endless hours of hands-on service to the sick and dying, physically dangerous evangelism, frequent preaching and teaching the Scriptures, and days on end of fasting and prayer. Seminary would either make them or break them.”
(GG: Jesus’ training of the 12 apostles is a partial model to pastors’ training today. Seminaries tend to over-emphasize something Jesus didn’t: hyper-scholarly details. Jesus emphasized character and ‘how to’ more: faith, love, humility, how to pray, how to evangelize, etc. The Church needs scholars, but scholarship is not a qualification for pastors. Are we making scholars or disciples? Yeah, I know the 2 aren’t mutually exclusive, but what is our emphasis?
I love reading scholars, but never want to preach like most of them write. Good preachers can translate scholar-speak into pew-speak with simple and clear words. Think about this: The smartest Bible teacher who ever lived was able to explain complex doctrinal truths in simple and clear words that even uneducated farmers and fishermen could understand. Go and do likewise.) TGC Asks: What one thing would you change about seminary? by Collin Hansen
Racism Remedy: Justification by Faith
“11.00 a.m. on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the American week…I want to suggest that one of the best resources for confronting racism in the Christian church is the Protestant doctrine of justification by faithвЂ¦justification by faith according to Paul has vertical and horizontal dimensionsвЂ¦While justification by faith certainly answers the question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ it also answers another question, one seldom asked, ‘Who are the people of God?’вЂ¦ Paul’s formulation of justification by faith took shape in the context of the struggle to legitimize the membership of his Gentile converts in a church under siege from Jewish proselytizersвЂ¦The horizontal elements of justification by faith are displayed in three key places in Paul’s letters. In Rom. 3.28 Paul states: ‘We reckon a person to be justified by faith without works of law’. Then he asks in Rom. 3.29: ‘Or is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not God of the Gentiles too?’…what is the first implication that Paul draws after this in Eph. 2.11-3.11? Paul gives a majestic discourse about how the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles has been broken down, how Gentiles attain the citizenship of Israel, and the unity between the races in the new creation that God has ushered inвЂ¦The argument in Antioch between Paul and Peter described in Gal. 2.11-14 had racial issues at the forefront. Peter ate with Gentiles at the church in Antioch, until certain men from James came. Under duress Peter separated and withdrew from table fellowship with GentilesвЂ¦Justification by faith is Paul’s weapon to argue for the unity of the church of Jew and Gentile against those who would divide them, segregate them, or assign some to a second tier status. If we claim to believe and follow what the Apostle Paul taught about justification then: Do we believe that every person is justified by faith in Christ? Or do we believe that God is the God of our race only? Do we believe that we are saved by faith so that the dividing wall between black and white communities has been torn down? Do we walk towards the truth of the gospel concerning the way we treat those of different race, color, and ethnicity at the table of the Lord.
To practice any form of ethnic or racial exclusion means that one either does not understand or does not believe in justification by faith. Let me be clear. The denial of ethic privilege and racial superiority is not merely an implication of justification by faith; rather, it is a core element of the doctrine. They are mutually exclusive because justification constitutes a church of Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, Greek and Barbarian, White and Black, African and Asian. Churches and Christians that practice racial segregation even for pragmatic reasons deny the biblical teaching and the application of the doctrine of justification to the koinonia of the church. Justification is the act whereby God creates a new people, with a new status, in a new covenant, as a foretaste of the new age.” (GG: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” Rom. 15:7) Guest Post: Justification by Faith and Racism by Michael Bird
What the Bible Says About Ministry to the Poor (Summary)
“#1: Don’t Undersell What the Bible Says About the Poor and Social Justice
#2: Don’t Oversell What the Bible Says About the Poor and Social Justice
Just as some Christians are in danger of over-reacting against social justice, other Christians, in an effort be prophetic, run the risk of making the Bible say more about the poor and social justice than it actually does. Here are a few examples of ‘oversell.’
(1) For starters, the alleviation of poverty is simply not the main storyline of Scripture. Some Christians talk like the Bible is almost entirely about the poor, as if the story from Genesis to Revelation is largely the story of God taking the side of the poor in an effort to raise the minimum wage and provide universal health care. As we tried to show earlier, the biblical narrative is chiefly concerned with how a holy God can dwell with an unholy people. Granted, one aspect of living a holy life is treating the poor with compassion and pursuing justice, but this hardly makes poverty the central theme in the Bible. If our story does not center on Jesus Christ, and the story of Jesus Christ does not center on his death and resurrection for sin, we have gotten the story all out of whack.
(2) Likewise, we must remember that the ‘poor’ in Scripture are usually the pious poor. They are the righteous poor, the people of God oppressed by their enemies yet still depending on him to come through on their behalf (see for example Psalm 10; 69; 72; 82). This does not mean вЂњthe poorвЂќ should be evacuated of any economic component. After all the pious poor are very often the materially poor. But it does mean that the poor God favors are not the slothful poor (Prov. 6:6-11; 2 Thess 3:6-12), nor the disobedient poor (Prov. 30:9), but the humble poor who wait on God (Matthew 5:3; 6:33).
(3) We should note that almost all the references to caring for the poor in the Bible are references to the poor within the covenant communityвЂ¦ Christians are enjoined to do good to all people, but the priority is ‘especially to those who are of the household of faith’ (Gal. 6:10).
(4) Justice, as a biblical category, is not synonymous with anything and everything we feel would be good for the world. We are often told that creation care is a justice issue, the gap between rich and poor is a justice issue, advocating for a ‘living wage’ is a justice issue. But the examination of the main social justice texts has shown that justice is a much more prosaic category in the Bible. Doing justice means following the rule of law, showing impartiality, not stealing, not swindling, not taking advantage of the weak because they are too uninformed or unconnected to stop you.” A Brief Wrap Up on The Poor and Social Justice by Kevin DeYoung
Which Motives to Conversion Should Evangelists Use?
“Most of us, I suspect, develop fairly standard ways, one might even say repetitive ways, to appeal to the motivations of our hearers when we preach the gospel. Recently, however, I have wondered if I have erred in this respectвЂ”not so much in what I say as in what I never or almost never sayвЂ¦
1. A Survey of Possible Motivations
1.2 The Burden of Guilt
1.4 The Need for вЂ?Future Grace’
1.5 The Attractiveness of Truth
1.6 A General, Despairing Sense of Need
1.7 Responding to Grace and Love
2. Four Theological and Pastoral Reflections on This Survey
2.1 We do not have the right to choose only one of these motivations in people and to appeal to it restrictively.
2.2 On the other hand, we may have the right to emphasize one motivation more than others.
2.3 Nevertheless, the comprehensiveness of our appeal to diverse motivations will reflect the comprehensiveness of our grasp of the gospel.
2.4вЂ¦failure to cover the sweep of motivations ultimately results in diminishing God.
The point to be made is simple: any failure to appeal to the full range of biblically exemplified and biblically sanctioned motivations not only means that there are some people we are not taking into account, but, more seriously, that there are elements in the character and attributes of God himself that we are almost certainly ignoring.” Pastoral Pens?es: Motivations to Appeal to in Our Hearers When We Preach for Conversion by Don Carson
The New Perspective’s False Dichotomies
“Mois?s Silva explains why we can be grateful to the вЂњnew perspective on Paul: first, for reminding us of what was obvious long before E. P. Sanders’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism came on the scene, namely, that it is quite unfair and inaccurate to paint postbiblical Judaism with the broad, indiscriminate brush of ‘legalism’ and self-righteousness; and second, for helping us to see more clearly that Paul’s overarching interest in Galatians 2-3 was not precisely to expound the doctrine of justification but to address the Jewish-Gentile question in the church and thereby to clarify who are the true descendants of Abraham.
But one exaggeration doesn’t deserve another: But to acknowledge that much is hardly to accept other exaggerated claimsвЂ”for example, the tendency to seek right-standing with God by human effort was not much of a problem in Judaism (and therefore that such a thing was outside Paul’s purview), or that the doctrine of justification by faith alone, as understood in Protestant theology, does not play a significant role in Galatians 3 (let alone that it was foreign to Pauline thought!).” Gratitude for the New Perspective on Paul but Resistance to Its False Dichotomies by Moises Silva
Blessed Are the Peacemakers
“I would recommend that every church at least be familiar with Peacemaker Ministries and the resources that they offer. I recently had an opportunity to lead a group through their small-group DVD set and study guide, and the feedback was very encouraging, with tangible fruit produced.” Blessed Are the Peacemakers by Justin Taylor
More Christians Than Communists in China?
“No one knows exactly how many Christians there are among China’s population of 1.3 billion. There are an estimated 21 million members of the government sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic movement, but nobody knows how many Protestants worship in unregistered house churches. Some recent surveys have calculated there could be as many as 100 million Chinese Protestants. That would mean that China has more Christians than Communist Party members, which now number 75 million.” NPR on the Chinese Christian Boom by Collin Hansen