SALE: Carson/Gaffin/Piper

There is a great deal going on now at Westminster Bookstore… three books for $20! Get D.A. Carson’s “Collected Writings on Scripture,” and the respective festschrifts of Richard Gaffin and John Piper, “Resurrection and Eschatology” and “For the Fame of God’s Name”—all for just $20! Click the links above or image below for more info.

Of course, you could buy them individually for up to 72% off, but why not save around 80% by buying all three?

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Westminster Wednesday

THE WESTMINSTER LARGER CATECHISM

What Man Ought to Believe Concerning God…

Question 7:

Q. What is God?

A. God is a Spirit (John 4:24), in and of himself infinite in being (Ex. 3:14; Job 11:7–9), glory (Acts 7:2), blessedness (1 Tim. 6:15), and perfection (Matt. 5:48); all-sufficient (Gen. 17:1), eternal (Ps. 90:2), unchangeable (Mal. 3:6), incomprehensible (1 Kings 8:27), every where present (Ps. 139:1–13), almighty (Rev. 4:8), knowing all things (Heb. 4:13; Ps. 147:5), most wise (Rom. 16:27), most holy (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 15:4), most just (Deut. 34:2), most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth (Ex. 34:6).

 

QUESTION 6

 

THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH

Chapter I: Of the Holy Scripture

VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

 

ARTICLE 6

 

For more on this subject, please visit the Systematic Theology page.

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The Quest for Wisdom

THE QUEST FOR WISDOM

“The fear of the Lord is wisdom, because it sets a person in communion with God and sets him on the path to the fullness of knowledge that will dawn in Christ. Indeed, the fear of the Lord is granted to a sinful person only for the sake of Christ. God acts in mercy towards people in Old Testament times by reckoning for their benefit beforehand the grace that will be accomplished in Christ. Even in the Old Testament, godly people experienced beforehand some foretaste of the wisdom of God and the communion with God. The full realization of that communion awaited the coming of Christ. And of course we still await a yet fuller communion with God in the new heavens and the new earth.” (Vern Poythress)

For more on this subject, visit Frame & Poythress.

 

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A Reader’s Review of “The Ascension”

My friends at Christian Focus have blessed me with another book to review. This time around we’ll be looking at “Ascension: Humanity in the Presence of God” by Tim Chester and Jonny Woodrow. The book consists of three short chapters entitled “Ascended Priest”, “Ascended King”, and “Ascended Man” with an reflective and applicatory conclusion and an appendix featuring an “Ascension Hymn” (with verses that reflect the chapter titles).

The ascension of Jesus Christ is unfortunately one of the most underappreciated aspects of the gospel. It is often outshined by the majestic doctrines of the incarnation, the crucifixion, and the resurrection… but the exaltation of Christ, as the authors seek to draw out, is a supremely important and necessary element of redemption and a source of comfort for the Christian pilgrim in the present age.

There are three things about the introduction that are commendable: 1. It provokes the reader to think critically about the ascension of Christ; 2. It presents worship as a result of reflection upon the ascension of Christ; and 3. It points to the “glorious session” as a result of the ascension, where the enthroned Christ represents His people (with a view towards mission).

In chapter one, the authors rightly point out the ascension is “the fulfillment of all that sacrifice and priesthood represented in the Old Testament.” (p. 14) What follows is a survey of the types and shadows that point to Christ (Moses, the Priesthood, the Tabernacle, etc.) and His fulfillment of them as depicted in the book of Hebrews.

There is a nice balance of abstract theology and practical shepherding in this chapter. The reader is presented with weighty concepts such as the necessity of the ascension, but will also receive comfort by way of biblical assurance: “If Christ is not in God’s presence on our behalf then we are not in God’s presence… He is the complete sacrifice who has taken away sin for ever. He is the eternal priest whose ministry never ends. While He stands in heaven you are secure in God’s family” (pp. 22, 23)

The second chapter teases out the meaning of Christ’s enthronement… He is depicted as the sovereign King of the heavens and earth. Relying heavily on the book of Daniel and the writings of Luke, the authors share some fascinating insights:

1. The connection between Samuel (who anointed King David) and John the Baptist (who baptized King Jesus).

2. The connection between the enthronement Psalms (especially Ps. 2), the Davidic covenant, and the transfiguration of Christ.

3. The necessity of the cross as the preparation for the inauguration of Christ’s Kingdom in the ascension and the consummation upon His second advent.

4. The prophetic element of Daniel 7 in describing geopolitical developments over the next few centuries and the ascension of the Son of Man (Jesus, God the Son) into the presence of the Ancient of Days (God the Father).

5. The typological wilderness temptation failures of Adam and Israel realized in Jesus’ obedient response to His temptation.

6. The authority of Christ in the Great Commission and the extension of His reign “throughout the earth through the mission of His people” (p. 41).

7. The comforting truth of God’s sovereignty in the midst of a hostile mission field.

8. The relationship between the exaltation of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

9. The ascended Christ building His Church through the distribution of spiritual gifts. This section concludes by proposing that the true authority and Kingship of the ascended Jesus, which has been inaugurated (already), is the foundation for mission and gospel proclamation until the consummation of His Kingdom (not yet).

While most informed readers might anticipate a section on “Christ as Prophet”, the authors devote this last chapter to the humanity of Christ. Chester and Woodrow highlight the “scandalous” teachings of the incarnation of God and the exaltation of a man: “The scandal is not just that God has left heaven to be ‘enfleshed’ on earth, but that God will return to heaven in the flesh… Human flesh becomes a permanent fixture in heaven (a scandal to Greeks) and a permanent fixture for the Son of God (a scandal for Jews).” (p. 58) What follows is a brief survey of church history, discussing a number of heretical views on the person of Christ, and maintaining the importance of the full humanity of Jesus and His glorification with regard to redemption.

The authors then proceed to take a strange detour into the spacetime continuum and “relational” proximity. Rather than pontificating upon the finer points of quantum physics, the authors would have done well in heeding their own words: “The presence or absence of God always defies spatial definitions.” (p. 63) I understand what Chester and Woodrow are attempting to do here, but I believe this takes away from the overall point of the book and may confuse some readers. Despite the potential hindrance, there are still some statements in this section that deserve attention. For instance, the authors point out: “Space exists as a Trinitarian act between the divine persons, the Father creating through the Word and breathing life through the Spirit.” (p. 64)

Next, we have a series of short explanations of:

1. The necessity and security of the ascension.

2. The doctrine of the Lord’s Supper (i.e. Christ’s presence) during the Reformation (with special attention to the views of Calvin).

3. Mystical Union with Christ in the heavenly realms.

4. Inaugural eschatology and the “already” and “not yet” nature of the inter-advental period.

5. The restoration of humanity from its fallen, sinful state.

The chapter closes with a focus on mission, and one point is especially interesting. Chester and Woodrow posit an “ascensional” ministry approach over-against the “incarnational” approach. This is commendable, since the church is not a replacement of Jesus with its own agenda, but rather an assembly of disciples under His authority called to participate in His redemptive mission.

The conclusion is an excellent piece of biblical theology (largely influenced by G.K. Beale’s work) filled with mountain-garden-temple imagery, condescension/ascension theology, and Ezekiel’s eschatology. The authors show that Jesus is the fulfillment of these types and shadows and draw out the implications of the believers’ union with Christ before closing the book with the consummation in the New Jerusalem–where there is no temple–because “the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22).

Overall, this little book (96 pages) packs a punch. It is concise, but the authors present some weighty truths with clarity and precision. While I didn’t care for the inclusion of theoretical physics and some of the stylistic choices the authors made, I would still recommend it due to the sound biblical-theological teaching. Due to the contemporary obfuscation of the doctrine of Christ’s ascension and exaltation, this is a much-needed and welcome book that will comfort and encourage believers, and inform them of the necessity and sufficiency of our Savior’s authoritative session-ministry.

 

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Effective December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information clearly on their blog when posting a review of the product… that being said: I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK. 

God’s Zeal for His Own Glory

GOD’S ZEAL FOR HIS OWN GLORY

God chose his people for His glory (Eph. 1:4–6, 12, 14)

God created us for His glory (Isa. 43:6–7)

God called Israel for His glory (Isa. 49:3; Jer. 13:11)

God rescued Israel from Egypt for His glory (Ps. 106:7–8)

God raised Pharaoh up to show His power and glorify His name (Rom. 9:17)

God defeated Pharaoh at the Red Sea to show His glory (Ex. 14:4, 17, 18)

God spared Israel in the wilderness for the glory of His name (Ezek. 20:14)

God gave Israel victory in Canaan for the glory of His name (2 Sam. 7:23)

God did not cast away His people for the glory of His name (1 Sam. 12:20, 22)

God saved Jerusalem from attack for the glory of His name (2 Kings 19:34; 20:6)

God restored Israel from exile for the glory of His name (Ezek. 36:22–23, 32)

Jesus sought the glory of His Father in all He did (John 7:18)

Jesus told us to do good works so that God gets glory (Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:12)

Jesus warned that not seeking God’s glory makes faith impossible (John 5:44)

Jesus said that He answers prayer that God would be glorified (John 14:13)

Jesus endured His final hours of suffering for God’s glory (John 12:27–28; 13:31–32; 17:1)

God gave his Son to vindicate the glory of His righteousness (Rom. 3:25–26)

God forgives our sins for His own sake (Isa. 43:25; Ps. 25:11)

Jesus receives us into His fellowship for the glory of God (Rom. 15:7)

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Son of God (John 16:14)

God instructs us to do everything for His glory (1 Cor. 6:20; 10:31)

God tells us to serve in a way that will glorify Him (1 Pet. 4:11)

Jesus will fill us with fruits of righteousness for God’s glory (Phil. 1:9, 11)

All are under judgment for dishonoring God’s glory (Rom. 1:22, 23; 3:23)

Herod is struck dead because he did not give glory to God (Acts 12:23)

Jesus is coming again for the glory of God (2 Thess. 1:9–10)

Jesus’ ultimate aim for us is that we see and enjoy His glory (John 17:24)

Even in wrath God’s aim is to make known the wealth of His glory (Rom. 9:22–23)

God’s plan is to fill the earth with the knowledge of His glory (Hab. 2:14)

Everything that happens will redound to God’s glory (Rom. 11:36)

In the New Jerusalem the glory of God replaces the sun (Rom. 21:23)

For more on this subject, visit Desiring God.

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Westminster Wednesday

THE WESTMINSTER LARGER CATECHISM

Question 4:

Q. How does it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God?

A. The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty (Hos. 8:12; 1 Cor. 2:6–7, 13; Ps. 119:18, 129) and purity (Ps. 12:6; 119:140); by the consent of all the parts (Acts 10:43; 26:22); and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God (Rom. 3:19, 27); by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation (Acts 18:28; Heb. 4:12; Jam. 1:18; Ps. 19:7–9; Rom. 15:4; Acts 20:32): but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very word of God (John 16:13–14; 1 John 2:20, 27; John 20:31).

QUESTION 3

 

THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION OF FAITH

Chapter I: Of Holy Scripture

IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

ARTICLE 3

 

For more on the subject, please visit the Systematic Theology page.

 

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Zondervan NIV Application Commentary Sale

9780802881663

All of Zondervan’s e-book editions of the NIV Application Commentary set are just $4.99 each. Click here to see the entire collection.

 

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When Life is Reduced to a Choice

ABORTION AND THE BIBLE

“Ever since the Supreme Court decided against the unborn, abortion as a medical practice has been widely accepted in American society. But does the legalization of abortion in the eyes of the government make it right in the sight of God? To answer this question, one must begin by determining God’s view of the human fetus. Does He consider the fetus a person or mere protoplasm? If the Bible fails to grant personhood to the unborn fetus, then perhaps the premature extermination of such life is morally inconsequential. But, if God’s Word demonstrates that the unborn fetus is indeed a person, then abortion is nothing less than murder (Gen. 9:6; Ex. 20:13).

A number of Bible passages make it clear that God regards conception as the moment at which personhood begins. Job 10:8–12 and 31:13–15, for example, attribute divine value and human qualities. Psalm 139:13–16 similarly exalts God for His creative work in the fashioning of the unborn baby. Isaiah 49:1–5, Jeremiah 1:4–5, and Galatians 1:15–16 all note that God can work in the lives of His chosen servants even before they are born. Furthermore, Luke 1:41–45 documents the emotional joy of the unborn John the Baptist when Mary visited Elizabeth. And Psalm 51:5 points to conception as the beginning of a person’s sinful nature. None of these things would be possible if personhood did not come until after birth.

In some passages, the Bible speaks of an unborn child in the same way that it does of those who have been born—thereby showing that God views them both the same way. For example, in Exodus 21:4 and 21:22 the same Hebrew word translated ‘child’ or ‘children’ is used, despite the fact that verse 4 refers to a postnatal child while verse 21 refers to an unborn life. The New Testament also uses the same Greek word for life before birth (Luke 1:41, 44) as it does for life outside the womb (Acts 7:19). It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that the unborn are often described in the same ways as those who are born (Gen. 25:22–23; Job 31:15; Isa.44:2; Hos. 12:3). For that matter, the prophet Jeremiah notes that had his death been prenatal, the womb would have been his grave (Jer. 20:17); and the prebirth death of one of God’s prophets cannot be equated with the death of a nonperson.

Scripture further espouses the fact that all human persons are the offspring of other human persons. After all, Genesis 1:24–25 decisively mandates that each ‘kind’ within creation is to reproduce solely after its own ‘kind.’ The procreation of existing human persons, therefore, is limited solely to the generation of new human persons. In other words, via the reproductive process, it is impossible for existing persons to even produce a nonperson.

God’s image in man (see Gen. 1:26; James 3:9) is particularly attacked by abortion. After all, abortion not only destroys the image of God in the fetus by killing the baby, but also disregards God’s command to multiply His image in future generations by terminating the reproductive process. In the end, because the fetus results from two persons, each made in the image of God, Scripture indicates that he or she is also a person found in God’s image.

The Bible overwhelmingly argues for the personhood of the prenatal fetus, while simultaneously denouncing the horrible murder of unborn humans (cf. Ex. 21:22–23). When all the facts are in, abortion may have been legalized by the Supreme Court, but it cannot be viewed as anything less than a direct assault on the moral law of God.” (Bill Shannon)

For more in this subject, please visit the following sites:

 

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Mystery and Faith

MYSTERY AND FAITH

“The Book of Job has no interest in praising mystery without restraint. All biblical writers insist that to fear the Lord ultimately leads to abundant life. If this were not so, to fear the Lord would be stupid and masochistic. The book does not disown all forms of retribution; rather, it disowns simplistic, mathematically precise, and instant application of the doctrine of retribution. It categorically rejects any formula that affirms that the righteous always prosper and the wicked are always destroyed. There may be other reasons for suffering; rewards (of blessing or of destruction) may be long delayed; knowledge of God is its own reward.” (D.A. Carson)

For more on the subject, please visit the Biblical Theology page.

 

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Monday with Manton

GOD’S WORD IN OUR HEARTS

“We are not merely to study the Word for the comfort of it, and the suitableness to the conscience. As man is a reasonable creature, he will delight in knowledge; and as he has a conscience which presages death and judgment to come, he may delight in the comfort of it. Many search out promises, but do not love precepts. The stony ground seem to have a joy; they may delight in the comfortable part of religion, but this joy comes to nothing—this gladsome forward spring is no sure prognostication of a plentiful harvest. Then only do we receive the Word aright when we look to the holy part, and mortify our natural desires and affections. Many deal with the Word as great men do with fleshly companions—willing to entertain them at their tables—to hear their discourse, because of the pleasantness of their mirth; but to enter into bonds for them, and discharge them from debt, or better their fortunes, that they will not do. So many will give Christ and the Word, especially the comfortable part of it, entertainment; but they are loath to take the duty of the Gospel unto themselves. Therefore it is not enough to study the Word merely that we may cherish our own persons with the comforting part of it, but we must also study the holy part and that which does require our duty. Then let us labor to hide the Word in our hearts as David did: that we may not sin against God.” (Thomas Manton)

For more on the subject, please visit Meet the Puritans.

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