Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Podcast Wednesday: X-Men, Traditionalism, Reading Books, and more

The B.A.R. (Biblical and Reformed) Podcast speaks with Steven Lawson on preaching and preparation

Doctrine and Devotion on Traditionalism

Gotham Central speaks on all things X-Men

The Importance of Reading Godly Books in the Christian Life from Equipping You In Grace

Calvinist Batman and Barnabas Piper on curiosity

Pastoring Singles from 9 Marks

Coffee + Confessions continues reading the 1689 LBC:

Chapters 2 & 3

Chapters 4 & 5

Chapters 6 & 7

Chapter 8

When We Understand The Text answers questions on the beliefs of William Paul Young, the Lord's Prayer, and praying in tongues

We Were Born Into Adam, But God Brings Us Into Christ

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come (Romans 5:12-14).

Paul has just shown how Christ’s death brings us peace with God through reconciliation. Now he sketches details of how Christ restores what was lost when Adam sinned.

Sin in Eden brought death into the world. Death “reigned” (5:14, 17) even before the law given to Moses specifically condemned it. The sin that leads to death has continued to ensnare all people ever since. Paul describes here both the sin of human choice and the natural bent to sinning (original sin) found in every human born since Adam (i.e., sin was present even before there was a formal law to break; cf. vv. 13, 18–19). Adam was a “type” of Christ in that his act would have wide-ranging consequences for the whole world, just as Jesus’ life (and death) would have.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:15-21).

Every human being is either in Adam or in Christ. We are all born in Adam, but God by his grace brings many into Christ. Whereas Adam’s trespass led to death and woe, God’s grace abounds through the free gift offered “by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ” (v. 15). The word “grace” occurs 21 times in Romans—six times in Romans 5 alone. This chapter marks a high point of Romans’ teaching about grace. By God’s grace, the “free gift of righteousness” can be dominant in our lives (v. 17). Condemnation for “all men” because of Adam is universal, but the availability of “justification and life for all men” (v. 18) does not mean universal salvation, as the next verse makes clear. It is by grace—received through faith—that Christ’s obedience makes righteous “the many” (not “all”; v. 19). In the end, grace reigns over and among God’s people through the righteousness Christ won (v. 21). The result is eternal life through him—the strongest possible reversal of all the ills that came about through Adam.

Adapted from the Gospel Transformation Bible

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Book Review: Among Wolves by Dhati Lewis

Dhati Lewis, in his book, Among Wolves: Disciple-Making In The City, writes that the church has "reduced Christianity into conferences, concerts, and church services. We have defined Christianity as mission trips, activities, or simply the events that we do for God." Is he right? In a broad sense, yes. I admit when I became a Christian during my teenage years, I was part of a large church that did a lot of things which included most of the stuff Lewis had listed.

Lewis goes on to say that we have turned the Great Commission into some big suggestion. The Great Commission is to make disciples. The church is called make followers of Jesus. Is the church called to evangelize? Yes, but we are to make disciples who follow Jesus. Lewis takes lessons from the gospel of Matthew by observing how Jesus approached disciple-making. Lewis advocates that Christians can be pursuing active discipleship in the context of your city whether you are in an urban area or a great metropolitan city.

Lewis writes about having a burden for those who are like sheep without a shepherd just as Jesus had on the people that came to him during his earthly ministry. He also writes about looking as the church as a family where God is our Father, Jesus as our Elder Brother, and all Christians as brothers and sisters in the Lord. Lewis continues on with ways of making discipleship a reality in your church and your city. While making disciples, we will encounter wolves that will seek to hinder the mission. Lewis reminds us not to fear them yet many Christians are not seeking the lost, they want them to come to the church where it is more comfortable.

The conclusion of the book deals with training disciples in the church, which is part of what the Great Commission is all about. We are teach disciples to observe all that Jesus commanded them to do. Then we are to unleash them for mission, which may require sending disciples to other lands to make disciples. This book is more about making disciples in the context of the city you are living in.

Lewis writes with conviction and as one who has done all the things he has written with his church. It would be worth your time, whether you are an elder or someone who has a passion to teach the word, to read this book.

Thanks B&H Publishing for letting me review this book.

Quotes from Gospel Fluency

If I had to pick my favorite book this year, it would be Gospel Fluency by Jeff Vanderstelt, which I reviewed recently. Here are just a few quotes from the book:

A life of true living is a life of faith in Jesus, a life of believing in Jesus in the everyday stuff of life (Pg. 21).

It is God's intent that every person who comes into a relationship with him through Jesus Christ eventually will grow up into maturity. And maturity looks like Jesus. He is the perfect human, providing an example of what we are meant to be (Pg. 28).

Gospel fluent people think, feel, and perceive everything in light of what has been accomplished in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Pgs. 41-42).

We are to blame for our sin. We are guilty, and because we are, we need someone else to pay for our sin (Pg. 56).

The wages of sin is death-spiritual, relational, and physical. Sinful rebellion produces brokenness, suffering, and death. This is because rebellion against God is rebellion against the giver of life. And this rebellion began and continues to go on because of unbelief in the truthfulness of God's word and sufficiency of his work (Pg. 57).

The true and better ruler had come and the kingdom of God was being expressed and experienced in and with Jesus. The good news has a King and a kingdom (Pg. 70).

At the cross, Jesus atoned for our sins-he paid the debt we couldn't pay and suffered the death we should have experienced (Pg. 71).

The gospel doesn't just bring about forgiveness of sins and save us from hell. The gospel of Jesus Christ empowers us to live a whole new life today by the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead (Pg. 73).

True faith produces works. And your works reveal what your faith is in (Pg. 78).

The gospel tells us that the new creation includes a new you, a new heaven and earth, and a new King at the center of it all-Jesus Christ...The gospel is not just about what has happened. It's also good news about what is happening right now and will happen in the future. We will be saved! (Pg. 166)

We are called to live lives that demand gospel explanations and, when we have the opportunities, to give people Jesus as the answer for our hope (Pg. 194).

Monday, March 27, 2017

Book Review: The Character of the Church by Joe Thorn

What is the church? What makes up the church? What is a church suppose to do? Joe Thorn answer these questions and more in his book, The Character of the Church.

This is second of three books that Joe has written on about the nature of the church. This one deals with what makes up the local church. Joe begins by stating many, including Christians, have the wrong idea about the church. Some would say it is the building while others think it is a movement. Joe addresses those who are part of God's universal church, which are those who have been truly saved by God which is called the invisible church. Then there are those who are part of a local church that attend weekly meetings. They are either saved or not which is called the visible church.

The rest of the book deals with what the church does and how the church conducts itself. First, it is the Word rightly preached. Joe starts this section of the book going over the Bible's authority, sufficiency, and its usefulness. Next, we have the ordinances of the church that are used correctly. Joe does deal with baptism which he gives a good, solid teaching on believer's baptism followed by what is the Lord's Supper. Joe takes time to address in who shall partake in the Lord's Supper which is an area of disagreement for Christians with the exception that only those who are saved shall partake of it.

Next, Joe addresses the leadership of the church. Every church has one chief shepherd and that is Jesus Christ. Regarding who shall serve as leaders, Joe talks about elders, which are the pastors of the church who provide spiritual leadership, and deacons, who are the ones who take care of the physical needs of the church. Joe takes time to address the congregation and what their roles along with church membership.

Later, we read about church discipline and how it should play a vital role in every congregation. Finally, Joe talks about the mission of the church which is divided into two parts: discipleship and evangelism. The church is called to make disciples to follow Jesus and to share the gospel so other can put their faith in Jesus.

As we Joe's previous book, The Heart of the church, he gets right to the point without chasing any rabbits. The chapters are short easy to read for anyone who wants to know more about what the church is and what is does. I appreciated his chapter on whom shall partake of the Lord's Supper. That is one thing church leaders need to have more of a discussion about.

Thanks Moody Publishers for letting me review this book.

Music Monday: Castle Island Hymns

Sunday, March 26, 2017

God Draws Us To Jesus

We have seen in various passages to come near or draw near to God. Yet Jesus said in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." What does this passage mean? A study note from the ESV Study Bible says:

This implies that no human being in the world, on his own, has the moral and spiritual ability to come to Christ unless God the Father draws him, that is, gives him the desire and inclination to come and the ability to place trust in Christ.

Romans 3 tells us that no seeks after God and all have sinned. Hebrews 11 says without faith it is impossible to please God and all who seek Him must believe he exists. If no one seeks after God, how can we draw near to God especially in salvation? The Reformation Study Bible says:

Due to the corruption that human beings inherit by virtue of original sin (Romans 5:12-21), all people (except Jesus, who was not born in Adam) are born with a moral inability to receive the gospel by faith. This inability must be overcome by the Holy Spirit in His work of regeneration. Since the fall, human beings born in Adam are inclined against the things of God, and they will not and cannot place saving faith in the gospel message unless the Lord first changes their hearts. God must give fallen people the ability to believe, and He does that only for the elect.

The Father through His regenerating work of the Holy Spirit works in our hearts to draw us to Christ and embrace His Lordship. God works in us to believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The In-Between Sundays

Every Sunday, Christians attend a worship service. After they worship the Lord with their church family and get equipped by the preach, we part ways. Some of us attend small groups whether on Sunday evenings or another night and some of us attend a mid-week prayer meeting. If you are attending a faithful, Bible preaching church, you should be seeing some spiritual growth in yourself and your fellow church members.

We live in a day where we have access to many resources that help Christians grow whether it is Christian book or a podcast. We also have social media, where we connect with believers in our city and all over the world. There are times you see posts from Christians that have questionable theology or quote someone that is not a faithful Bible teacher. Some of them you may have known for a long time and you might have wondered what happened to them in their spiritual growth.

I truly believe that one of the things that is hurting the American church is not our Sunday morning worship service even though there are some services that do not exalt the Lord. I believe that Christians in America are stunting their own spiritual growth by what they are engaged in-between Sundays. What I mean is this, Christians attend church where the pastor preaches an excellent, gospel-centered, expositional sermon and they are engaged in teaching that not is not sound at all.

They listen to their pastor, but then listen to an unhealthy preacher. Imagine attending John MacArthur's church where you really are engaged in each sermon then the next day listen to Joel Osteen's latest sermon because you need a pick me up. Here is another one, Christians read their Bible and see what God has revealed to them through the pages of Scripture yet treat The Shack as a godsend.

Christians, what are you engaged in the in-betweens. Who are listening to between Sundays? I know I have listened to sermons from unhealthy preachers to see what if everyone says they said something heretical is true like I have done a few times with Andy Stanley, who I don't recommend to anyone and the same goes with Joel Osteen. What books are you reading outside the Bible? What about the music you listen, which music is a powerful thing because it resonates in our minds a lot more than what we read.

Christians, you need to be discerning if what you are listening to, reading, or even watching is healthy for you. I am talking about Christian books, televangelists, and some Contemporary Christian Music. Are you taking these things and replace the Bible as the authority over you. Please don't miss understand me, there is nothing wrong with reading books, listening to other pastors, and listen to Christian music, even though some of them may have been played over and over again for the past few years.

The one thing that all Christians need to be engaged in before our worship services is the Bible. From the Bible, we see God's Word, listen to God's voice, and respond to Him in prayer and adoration. When you attend the worship service with your church family, share what the Lord has done and/or is teaching you.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Around The Web-March 24, 2017

Why I Love The Psalms by Robert Godfrey

Ben Franklin's Calvinist Father by Thomas Kidd

On Emotionalism and the Gospel by Joshua Jenkins

Who Are ‘The Least of These’? by Kevin DeYoung

Dealing With Disagreements by Jimmy Fowler

Churches, Get a Calvinist Pastor! by Tom Nettles

Lord, Tune My Heart for Worship by Zac Hicks

John Piper attempts to put all of 1 Peter into one sentence.

Need to find a new church? Church Hunters can help you with that.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Three Approaches To How The Bible Is Translated

There are many English translations of the Bible available in many different formats. Most of them are available on Kindle for free while others are available in a very affordable price. Some Christians have multiple translations of the Bible in their home (I know pastors do) while some have one translation.

What approach did translators take in translating the Bible. There are 3 approaches, classifications, or however you want to word it in translating the Bible. First, there is the literal or word-for-word approach. Here the translators of the Bible try to get the best literal meaning of the text to the language it is being translated into while staying faithful to the original Greek and Hebrew. The most literal English translation available today is the New American Standard Bible (NASB). Other literal translations include the English Standard Version (ESV), King James Version (KJV), and New King James Version (NKJV).

Next, we have the dynamic equivalent, which is also known as thought-for-thought. In this translation approach, the translators attempt to balance a literal interpretation and the meaning behind the text while remaining faithful to the original languages of the Bible. This allows a little more freedom in interpreting the text that it can be, at times, taken as a paraphrase (more on that later). These translations are usually easier to read then word-for-word translations which is a big appeal for students and young adults. The most famous of the thought-for-thought translations is the New International Version (NIV), which was my main translation for years before I switched to the ESV. Other translations in the dynamic equivalent approach includes the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) and New Living Translation (NLT).

Finally, we have a paraphrase. This approach is different from the other two. One reasons is the other two translation approaches are usually performed by a team of scholars. A paraphrase is when one person translates the Bible to be a simple read to its readers. For example, Dr. Kenneth Taylor wanted to translate the KJV for his daughter so she can read the Bible, which resulted in The Living Bible. There are not that many copies on the shelf today as there was when The Living Bible came out in the 1970's, but it still regarded to many Christians as their favorite paraphrase. The most popular paraphrase is Eugene Peterson's The Message.

One note I want to make clear is the Bible is inerrant, translations are not. The meaning of words in the English language has changed over the years so the meaning of the words could be off. There have many translations that be revised because of this and a better understanding of the original languages of the Bible.

I hope this gives you a basic understanding of how the Bible is translated.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Podcast Wednesday: Discernment, Logan (again), Political Differences, and more

The Art and Skill of Biblical Discernment from Equipping You In Grace

Traditionalism from Doctrine and Devotion

Am I Called conducted a 2-part interview with Pete Greasley:

Part 1-Long Term Vision & Multi-Generational Settings

Part 2-Leadership Transitions & Building Missional Churches

9 Marks on political disagreements in the church

The guys from Gotham Central had a spoilercast on the hit movie, Logan

Jonathan Gibson on 2 Peter from the Gospel Coalition

Introducing a new podcast called, "Coffee + Confessions," where Matt Robertson drinks coffee and reads Reformed Confessions. He begins with chapter 1 of the 1689 London Baptist Confession

What Does God Compare His Love for Us?

In Communion With God, John Owen shows us from the Bible what God compares His love for us:

1. A father

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. (Psalm 103:13)

For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name. (Isaiah 63:16)

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

2. A mother

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 66:13)

3. A shepherd

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:11)

4. A hen protecting her chicks

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Matthew 23:37)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Review: The CSB: Ultrathin Reference Bible

The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is a revised edition of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) produces by B&H Publishing Group which primarily owned by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The HCSB in the New Testament was released in 1999 followed by the completed translation in 2004. There have been many specialty and study Bibles in the HCSB that been best sellers in Christian retail and will continue in the CSB, which brings me to The CSB: Ultrathin Reference Bible.

Before I move in this review, I like to mention that I have reviewed Bibles before. I have reviewed them in the New International Version (NIV), New King James Version (NKJV), and English Standard Version (ESV). I have mentioned what I liked about that Bible and what I did not. This review will be different. I will review the specialty Bible, then I will review the translation.

This Bible is a called a reference Bible. Meaning as you read this Bible, you will see a letter and a number. The number represents the footnote at the bottom of the page which some translations do even in a simple thinline Bible. The letters represent corresponding letters which can be found in the center column of each page. There are no book introductions (this is not a study Bible). The size of the Bible is excellent for carrying around or having it in your suitcase, backpack, or whatever you are carrying. There is concordance in the back which is perfect if you are doing a simple word study as well maps which is also good when you are doing a study in your church on a book of the Bible.

Now regarding the CSB. First, I was never a fan of the HCSB especially in its earlier days. It was a mess of a translation where there things written in their that more of a paraphrase than a translation. Thankfully, they have made improvements over the years. I am a fan of a few of their specialty Bibles such as the Mission of God Study Bible and Apologetic Study Bible, but never really got into the HCSB. Of course there was a rumor that the SBC and its publishing company, Lifeway, made this translation to get Southern Baptist Churches away from the NIV especially when the TNIV (Today's New International Version) was coming out (that translation was even a bigger mess than the earlier edition of the HCSB).

In looking over the translation, I would say there are many improvements from the HCSB. The CSB is a readable translation that does indeed remain faithful in some aspects to the original languages of the Bible. I like the fact they went back to a traditional translation of God's name in the Old Testament and Messiah in the New Testament. I like that they make any Old Testament reference in the New boldface, which for this reference Bible, it will be a huge advantage.

The translators of the CSB wanted to balance the precision of the translation into English with readability, which is normally called the Dynamic Equivalent or thought-for-thought. The CSB translators call it the Optimal Equivalent approach, which means the same thing as thought-for-thought. Do I feel they have accomplished it? I think they have in some aspect, but there are still times the CSB feels like a paraphrase.

One thing about the CSB that I applaud is they stick with the traditional theological words such as justification and sanctification. They have also preserved the word "saint" referring to God's people which something the NIV did in its recent update, which also got started in the TNIV. However, one of the big disappointments was not keeping the word "propitiation" which only appears four times in most word-for-word translations such as the ESV and New American Standard Bible (NASB). They replaced it with "atoning sacrifice" which is what the 1984 edition of the NIV translated propitiation as. You can't you are preserving theological words and while ditching one that is important to the gospel message.

Regarding the gender terms of the Bible, the CSB does a much better job than the NIV mostly. The still have God created man in Genesis 1:26, and have used man when appropriate, however, they have used the term "brothers and sisters" when the Greek word á¼€delfoi is used which has been translated "brethren" in some translations and "brothers" in other ones. I thought this form of gender neutrality is why the SBC was against the TNIV and the updated NIV that they made a resolution not to support it?

In closing, do I think the CSB is better than the HCSB? Yes, I do. Do I think it is a better translation than the NIV? Yes, in fact, if I had to choose between the NIV and CSB, I would take the CSB. Do I think the CSB is a better translation than the ESV? Absolutely not. I personally think the CSB is the NIV for Southern Baptists during its glory days when the NIV was the most sought out translation before its recent updates. I know some of you will disagree with me on my conclusions, but that is the impression that I got as I went through the CSB.

As far as making the switch to the CSB, that won't be happening for me anytime soon unless I keep read it over and over then change my opinion. There are things in the CSB I like and is a huge improvement to the HCSB. There were a lot of good study Bibles in the HCSB and I hope that continues for the CSB.

Thanks B&H Publishing Group for letting me review this Bible.