Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

February 2012

February 29, 2012

Visual Theology
My Visual Theology series of infographics has now visited the ordo salutis, the attributes of Godthe books of the Bible and Philippians 4:8. Today it continues in what is kind of an unexpected direction. This graphic is different in that a) I did all the work myself where the others have all featured hired designers (which may also explain the diminished quality) and b) it arose from my own Bible study. It just kind of happened. I woke up one morning wondering why there is variance between the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 and Luke 3, so I put the two lists side-by-side. Then I drew a timeline. Then realized I was halfway to an infographic, so I just kept going. And here it is—the promise-fulfilling genealogy of Jesus Christ.

But first, I have opened a store where you can buy prints of each of these infographics. They are all professionally printed in a variety of sizes and are suitable for display. Today only you can use the code LEAP25 to get 25% off your order. (Because of the dimensions of this one, you’d only want to order it in a big size!)

Awaiting the Messiah

Visual Theology Store

If you are after a high-res version, you can have it here in JPG format. That will allow you to print it on your own.

If you have other ideas for theological infographics, please feel free to leave a comment. Several more are already in development.

February 29, 2012

I have been asked to write about the Christian position on birth control. This is something I have discussed in the past, but there are many ways to approach the topic and this time I would like to approach it from a bit of a different angle. I intend to share how I have gone about arriving at my own position. I will begin by immediately stating what the Bible clearly forbids when it comes to birth control. From there I will survey the Bible to find principles that are helpful in the discussion. That will take us to the end of this article, leaving me to say more another day.

We begin here: The Bible is silent on any explicit discussion of the subject of birth control. (If you are wondering about Onan, feel free to scroll to the bottom of this article.) Nowhere in the Bible does God command that a couple must or should use birth control at any stage in their marriage. Likewise, nowhere in the Bible does God explicitly forbid the use of birth control. It’s not that birth control did not exist in the day the Bible was written, but simply that God, for his own good purposes, chose not to give us explicit direction. However, the Bible has so much to say about marriage and sexuality and family and human life that we are not simply left guessing and hoping for the best.

What God Forbids

From what the Bible teaches about life and marriage, we can all affirm that two methods of birth control are clearly forbidden by Scripture.

God Forbids Abstinence. The Bible tells us that spouses are not to deprive one another but, rather, are to regularly enjoy the sexual relationship. The only exception is given by the Apostle Paul who says that a couple may abstain for a short time in order to devote themselves to prayer. “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:5). Long-term abstinence within marriage is not to be used as a method of birth control.

February 29, 2012

The Best Thing - What’s the best thing you can do for your pastor? “Compliment him on his outstanding, almost Charles Spurgeon-like sermon? Give money to the church? Give your time and skills to the church? Not heckle him? Admire him for his manly beard? While those are all wonderful things, they are not the best thing that you can do for you pastor.”

The Joy of Calvinism - Westminster Books is offering a one-week sale on the new book The Joy of Calvinism. There are a few other good deals there as well.

Translating Son of God - John Piper looks at some forty-year-old wisdom on how to translate “the Son of God,” a raging debate in the Muslim world.

Luther Insulter - Click the link and Martin Luther will insult you. You know you want to…

The Relief of No Career - “I have never had a ‘career.’ When my kids’ friends were asked what I ‘did,’ my kids would say, ‘She’s my mother.’ Unlike most women, I don’t have an identity to add to the designation of mother, Christian woman, or wife.”

An Ancient Tomb - “In an ancient tomb located below a modern condominium building in Jerusalem, archaeologists have found ossuaries — bone boxes for the dead — bearing engravings that could represent the earliest archaeological evidence of Christians ever found.”

All He Does Is Lin - Here’s a fun take on the Lin phenomenon.

Be careful how you spend your time: Spend your time in nothing which you know must be repented of. —Richard Baxter

February 28, 2012

I love writing book reviews and I love reading them. Since I cannot possibly read and review all of the interesting books out there, I’ve decided to put together some occasional round-ups of reviews written by other writers. Here are a few notable links I’ve collected over the past few weeks.

Die Young by Hayley and Michael DiMarco – review by Staci Eastin. “Books on sanctification are prey to two common pitfalls. Either the author can get so caught up in the actions of the Christian walk that they inadvertently add more rules (i.e. if you really love Jesus you’ll quit your job and become a missionary), or they portray the Christian life as the key to better relationships (Jesus as life coach, if you will). The DiMarcos avoid both errors.”

Forever by Paul David Tripp – review by Aaron Armstrong. “We might give assent to the idea that there is an afterlife, yet we act as though it doesn’t make a difference. … In Forever, Paul Tripp offers readers a practical, helpful, and (most importantly) biblical look at the importance of eternity. I trust that readers will be blessed and challenged by it and will embrace a healthy view of forever.”

Prayers of the Bible by Susan Hunt – review by Aimee Byrd. “This is one of those books that gets better as you read it. The chapters focus on different themes in prayer that are gathered from particular prayers in Scripture. … Each chapter offers Scripture to read, theological exposition, along with practical application.”

February 28, 2012

The Intolerance of ToleranceSeveral times in the past decade D.A. Carson has been asked to give a public lecture at one university or another. Three times he has taken the opportunity to speak on the subject of tolerance, or intolerance, as the case may be. Those lectures proved the foundation of what would become his cleverly-titled new book, The Intolerance of Tolerance.

Here’s the thing: In a society obsessed with tolerance, we are actually not tolerant at all. It’s all a big lie, a big fiction, and we’re all playing along. In order to claim tolerance we’ve had to rewrite the definition of the term and in so doing we’ve put ourselves on dangerous ground. Tolerance has become part of the Western “plausability structure”—a stance that is assumed and is not to be questioned. We are to be tolerant at all times. Well, almost all times, that is.

Carson begins by showing that tolerance presupposes disagreement. That’s the beauty of being tolerant—one person expresses disagreement with another but still tolerates him, accepting that differing views exists even while holding fast to his own. He puts up with another person even though they do not believe the same thing. But over time there has been a subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle shift in the word’s meaning. Today’s version of tolerance actually accepts all differing views. We’ve gone from accepting the existence of other views to believing that we need to accept all differing views. This brings us into the natural outworking of postmodernism, a philosophy that denies the singular nature of truth.

February 28, 2012

Little Miss Red Shoes - A heart-wrenching article from the field. “Little Miss Red Shoes goes to school with her friends. She’s in second grade. She lives with her mother and an aunt. Her father left the family years ago, though she thinks she saw him sometime in the last year. Her mom is HIV positive on treatment, sells little bits of beans and corn for a living, and often turns to the local church for assistance.”

Theology Refresh - Theology Refresh is a helpful new series from Desiring God. You can watch or listen in as pastors and theologians address a particular issue with each episode. Remarkably, they even manage to keep it short!

How to Listen to a Sermon - Reformation21 has an interesting article from Philip Ryken who offers wisdom on how to listen to a sermon.

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom - This is really powerful.

The Gift of Discouragement - “Some people in the church seem to have the spiritual gift of discouragement.  It’s all that guy can do – discourage others. Truthfully, we are all ‘that guy’ far too often.” Here’s how to turn it around!

Rise O Buried Lord - This album from Redeemer Church of Knoxville is on sale until Easter. You can also listen to it here if you want to give it a try.

Making a Wrong Decision - Does God have a plan b for my life if I make a wrong decision?

The Christian’s task is to make the Lord Jesus visible, intelligible and desirable. —Len Jones

February 27, 2012

I am better at sinning than asking forgiveness. This morning, as if to prove this, I found myself thinking about a situation that came up a couple of years ago. For weeks I had been trying to figure out something with a nearby bank—something that should have been simple. It had been a comedy of errors. Every time I tried to do something (anything!), it seemed that their incompetence or ignorance conspired against me. I would receive a phone call telling me to come in and sign papers, but when I got there I would be told that the papers were actually still at the head office. The next time I went to the bank they ran around the branch scraping together some paperwork, all the while calling across the branch with personal details of my account and its contents (despite all kinds of other customers milling about). After a couple of weeks of this I had to admit that I had been holding on just to satisfy my own morbid curiosity as to whether they could actually follow through on any of their promises.

Finally I was told I could drop by to fill out the paperwork for a safe deposit box they had reserved for me. When I arrived at the branch I was told that all of the boxes were already spoken for. A little vein in my forehead started throbbing. I tried to explain with decreasing self-control that every time they called me to the branch I took time out of my day only to find that they had been wrong. The girl behind the counter explained that her manager and all other superiors were out at the moment but that they would call me when they arrived later. Of course I could also wait at the bank if I preferred. I rolled my eyes, barked something grumpy and stormed away with a black rain cloud over my head.

Fifteen minutes after I got home the branch called and left a message to say that there was a safe deposit box for me after all. Once again I headed back to the branch just hoping that I’d be able to get in a word or two with that manager. There was so much I wanted to say. I was ready. I was prepped.