My Visual Theology series of infographics has now visited the ordo salutis, the attributes of God, the 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!)
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
Several 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.
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 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.
There are only two religions, said the Apostle Paul - we worship and serve the creature or the Creator. There are no other options. At truthXchange, we call the worship of the creature "One-ism" and the worship of the Creator "Two-ism."
In One-ism, all is one. We worship and serve creation as divine. All distinctions must be eliminated. Though enlightenment, we discover that we also are divine.
In Two-ism, all is two. We worship and serve the eternal, personal Creator of all things. God alone is divine and is distinct from His creation, yet through His son, Jesus, He is in loving communion with it.
These terms evolved through the research and writing of Dr. Peter Jones, who came back to the States in 1991, after teaching at a French seminary for seventeen years under Mission to the World (PCA). When Dr. Jones arrived in California to take up a New Testament teaching position at Westminster Seminary, he was shocked to find that although the US culture was still very spiritual, it had basically changed religions--from a generally Two-ist position, to a generally One-ist position. To understand the change, Dr. Jones began to analyze books written by self-professed pagans and to attend conferences where academic pagan leaders and thinkers laid out their beliefs and plans for society. Eleven years and several books later, he decided to devote himself full-time to informing and alerting the church concerning the false teachers of our age, and equipping Christians to share the gospel in a post-secular culture.
truthXchange was incorporated in 2003 and has a number of resources available for Christians, their churches and their leaders:
An evangelistic tool, There Are Only 2 Religions, that lays out the definitions of those two religions, making the choice clear and allowing a Christian to tell a friend or neighbor why Two-ism is better! We also have "I'm a Two-ist" buttons, should anyone like the idea of wearing one to start a conversation.
We will soon have a training manual that walks Christians through the evangelism tool. This can be used in Christian school classrooms, Sunday School classes and small groups. We should have the manual available by late spring.
Occaisonal public conferences. Our 2010 conference was called the Exchange Conference and featured Dr. Peter Jones, Mark Driscoll, Kevin DeYoung and Francis Chan. Video can also be seen on the Resurgence site.
An annual Think Tank for pastors, teachers, artists, lawyers, scientists, businessmen and Christian leaders of all kinds. Attendance has so far been limited to 200.
Church Seminars. Dr. Jones is available for weekend seminars and some intensive courses. For more information, email Joshua@truthxchange.com
truthXchange is a unique ministry that senses a call to come to the aid of Christians who have been intimidated into silence because One-ists are framing the issues. Find out more by purchasing Dr. Jones' latest book, One or Two. Then help us find those who need what we have to offer by forwarding the truthXchange monthly emails, putting our links on your Facebook page, sending out Tweets, or encouraging your pastor to invite truthXchange to your church.
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.
The Santorum Predicament - I enjoyed Dr. Mohler’s take on The Santorum Predicament. “Rick Santorum is still a long shot for the Republican nomination, but his candidacy and its coverage in the mainstream media tell us a great deal about the fate of conservative candidates and conservative convictions in the public square.”
Bethlehem Succession Plan - It’s interesting to read about Bethlehem Baptist Church’s succession plan for John Piper. It is an unusual process to have to go through—to seek to replace a preacher like John Piper (who intends to step down from his preaching role in the summer of 2014).
Praying During Sermon Prep - Here’s one for the pastor: a guide on how to pray during sermon preparation. It can also help the non-preacher know how to pray for the guy preparing the sermon!
This seemed like a pertinent quote for a Sunday morning. As we head to church and listen to the preaching of the Word, I’m sure it will be profitable to think just a moment about the unction of the Holy Spirit. This quote comes from Charles Spurgeon’s An All-Round Ministry.
One thing more, and it is this. Let us, dear brethren, try to get saturated with the gospel. I always find that I can preach best when I can manage to lie a-soak in my text. I like to get a text, and find out its meaning and bearings, and so on; and then, after I have bathed in it, I delight to lie down in it, and let it soak into me. It softens me, or hardens me, or does whatever it ought to do to me, and then I can talk about it. You need not be very particular about the words and phrases if the spirit of the text has filled you; thoughts will leap out, and find raiment for themselves. Become saturated with spices, and you will smell of them; a sweet perfume will distill from you, and spread itself in every direction; -- we call it unction. Do you not love to listen to a brother who abides in fellowship with the Lord Jesus? Even a few minutes with such a man is refreshing, for, like his Master, his paths drop fatness. Dwell in the truth, and let the truth dwell in you. Be baptized into its spirit and influence, that you may impart thereof to others. If you do not believe the gospel, do not preach it, for you lack an essential qualification; but even if you do believe it, do not preach it until you have taken it up into yourself as the wick takes up the oil. So only can you be a burning and a shining light.
I am a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Aileen and a father to three young children. I worship and serve as a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario, and am a co-founder of Cruciform Press.