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June 2012

June 27, 2012

Visual Theology
I trust you are enjoying this Visual Theology series of infographics as much as I am. The series has now visited the ordo salutis, the attributes of Godthe books of the BiblePhilippians 4:8the genealogy of Jesus Christthe TrinityPhilippians 2:5-11, the Old Testament tabernacle, the fruit of the SpiritReformed Theology and the One Anothers of the New Testament. Today it continues with a look at the atonement.

The atonement is the work Jesus Christ accomplished in his life and death to earn salvation for others. This atonement is penal and substitutionary, paying the penalty due to sinners and substituting one person in place of others. Today’s infographic explains that work of atonement.

(Click on the thumbnail image below to see the complete infographic)

The Atonement

Visual Theology Store

If you are after a high-res version, you can have it here in JPG format (7 MB). Please feel free to download, copy, email, share, or print the graphic; I just ask that you don’t sell it.

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

June 27, 2012

Problems with Unconditional Forgiveness - “While automatic forgiveness sounds like an antidote to bitterness, this is not the case. Those who try and simply dismiss grave offenses, apart from resting in the justice of God, often encounter emotional and theological problems. Here is an incomplete list of problems that sometimes arise from unconditional forgiveness.”

Nourish and Cherish - Rick Thomas takes a look at Ephesians 5 and what it means for a husband to nourish and cherish his wife.

Don’t Waste Your Vacation - Trevin Wax on a book I enjoyed a lot: “Last week, I interviewed Steve Dewitt about his book Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything. With his permission, I am posting a section of his book titled ‘Meeting God at the Edge of Infinity and Why I Like Walking Ocean Beaches.’ Since summer is here and vacation season is upon us, I thought it would be a good reminder for us to see through the beauty of nature to our beautiful Creator.”

Guard Your Purity - I love this: “A key and often overlooked aspect of God’s goodness is that He doesn’t give us commands we cannot fulfill. He doesn’t taunt us with impossible directions or challenge us with tasks beyond our ability. Part of the assumption in each of God’s commands to us is that, through the assistance of His Spirit, we’re able to accomplish what He has commanded us to do.”

Ed Young on Reformed Theology - I presume lots of people will be writing about Ed Young’s ridiculous anti-Calvinistic rant. Denny Burk has a few of the details.

How We Die - This is an interesting chart that compares causes of death today versus causes of death in 1900.

The increase of the kingdom is more to be desired than the growth of a clan. —C.H. Spurgeon

June 26, 2012

I am in the unique and enjoyable position of receiving copies of most of the latest and greatest Christian books and I like to provide regular roundups of some of the best and brightest of the bunch. Here are some of the notable books that I’ve received in the past week or two.

Letters from the Front: J. Gresham Machen’s Correspondence from World War 1 transcribed and edited by Barry Waugh – “Never before published, here is a glimpse into the formative years of a great campaigner for the faith … and a stirring example of how the faith of a seminary professor was refined and strengthened through the trials of war.” (Learn more and shop at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Did God Really Say? edited by David Garner – “The church’s historical belief in the truthfulness and trustworthiness of Scripture as God’s written Word is being assaulted from without and from within. In this book, seven scholars from Covenant Theological Seminary, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary confront and repel many of these attacks. Reasoning clearly, cogently, and carefully, they show that the historical doctrine of Scripture is what Scripture teaches about itself, and that this teaching can meet and defeat the ungodly intellectual schemes brought against it.” (Learn more and shop at Amazon or Westminster Books)

1 Samuel (Reformed Expository Commentary) by Richard Phillips – “As are all the books in the Reformed Expository Commentary series, this exposition of 1 Samuel is accessible to both pastors and lay readers. Each volume in the series provides exposition that gives careful attention to the biblical text, is doctrinally Reformed, focuses on Christ thorugh the lens of redemptive history, and apples the Bible to our contemporary setting.” I love this series of commentaries! (Learn more and shop at Amazon or Westminster Books)

8:28: Unlocking God’s Promise by Bryan Hughes – “With practical applications from other passages of Scripture, Bryan shows readers that Romans 8:28 gives answers to the biggest and most perplexing questions in life.” (Learn more and shop at Amazon)

The Big Fight edited by Tim Thornborough and Richard Perkins – “Christian men are in a battle where the stakes are high and the enemy is strong. There is a trinity of evil at work in the world that will knock us out of the fight if it can. This short, punchy and practical book will help believing blokes of all ages and from all walks of life to contend for the faith against these aggressive opponents.” (Learn more and shop at The Good Book Company)

June 26, 2012

Date Your WifeThere is always a hot market for books on marriage, even among men. Every husband is aware of his inadequacies and every husband is genuinely eager to find solutions, especially if the solutions are simple and step-by-step (just like laying laminate flooring or changing oil). Writing a good and biblical book on marriage—now there is a challenge. Few have done it with excellence. Stepping into the fray is Justin Buzzard with his new book Date Your Wife. It’s a great title, a good idea, and a helpful imperative that is, unfortunately, substantially flawed.

The book’s greatest strength is drawn straight from its title: Buzzard wants men to build dating into their marriage; he wants men to continue to romance their wives throughout marriage. Any man who reads this book will come away with a greater desire to pursue his wife and greater conviction of the inherent goodness of doing so. The book’s foremost application is valid and good, but there is quite a lot of weakness along the way.

The book is fueled by one core conviction: If you want to change a marriage, change the man. Looking first at the sexual relationship and then widening the scope to all of marriage Buzzard says this: “Your wife isn’t the problem. You’re the problem. I’m the problem. Men are the problem. If you want to change a marriage, change the man. If you want to change your marriage, you must first see that you are the main problem in your marriage.” He goes on: “You are the husband. You are the man. And God has given the man the ability to be the best thing or the worst thing that ever happened to a marriage. Before you can be the best thing that ever happened to your marriage, you need to see that you have always been the worst thing that happened to your marriage.”

These are strong and near-universal statements for which he allows no meaningful exceptions. To prove them he goes in an unexpected direction: Genesis 2:15. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” He says this:

Fundamental to his manhood, God gave Adam this double calling: work and keep. These Hebrew verbs can be better translated: cultivate and guard. God commissioned the first man to cultivate the garden and guard the garden. God gave the first man immense responsibility, immense power, to cause the garden to flourish or to fade. … God gave Adam a job before he gave him a wife. So, when God presented Adam with his bride, what did Adam know he was called to do as a husband? If you had to summarize it in a sentence, what was Adam called to do for his marriage and for his wife? Cultivate and guard it. … After giving Adam a calling, God gave Adam a wife—the crown jewel of his calling. “Cultivate and protect this woman I’ve given you; cause life to flourish. Take the raw materials of this marriage and develop them—build, invent, create—so that your wife will flourish and thrive in this environment. Develop and protect what I’m entrusting to you,” God said to Adam.

This is an unusual interpretation and application of Genesis 2:15. Certainly this is a text that gives man his job description in this world, but it is quite a stretch to take that same description verbatim into the marriage relationship. It would have been far more helpful, I think, to look to Ephesians 5 where a husband is told to nourish and cherish his wife and where he is told to wash her in the water of God’s word. What Buzzard wants the husband to see is that if your wife is not flourishing, it must be because you, the husband, are not cultivating and guarding her. The key to fulfilling your mandate as a husband is an ongoing dating relationship that continues well past the wedding day.

June 26, 2012

An Eye for an Eye - This is an interesting take on the “viral youtube video of grandmother and bus monitor Karen Klein being harassed and bullied to tears by small gang of seventh graders.” (Note: I don’t recommend watching the YouTube video at the end of the post)

Reliance - My friend Elisha describes an all-too-typical scene at family devotions and shows that the Lord worked even through chaos.

Darwinism at the End of Its Rope - Here’s a headline I like: Peer-Reviewed Paper Concludes that Darwinism ‘Has Pretty Much Reached the End of Its Rope.’ I am seeing more and more Darwinian infighting, something that can only be helpful in the end.

Answers - I recently wrote an article for Answers magazine from Answers in Genesis. They’ve made it freely available online if you’d like to give it a read. I deal with the question, “How can you believe in a God who would condemn people to suffer the torments of hell eternally? I reply with a question of my own: How can you believe in a God who would not?”

Marriage Defined - I don’t know that I’ve ever tried to define marriage before. Mike Leake takes a shot at it here and does quite a good job.

Our prayers run along one road and God’s answers by another, and by and by they meet. —Adoniram Judson

June 25, 2012

John PiperJohn Piper does not do a lot of interviews, so it’s rather a thrill for me to be able to do just that. Since I have this opportunity, I thought it might be fun to open it up to the readers of this site (as I did recently with R.C. Sproul—that interview will be ready to go shortly). Here’s your opportunity to ask John Piper a question.

Obviously there are millions of things we could ask him, so before I solicit your questions, I want to put a boundary in place: Let’s keep the questions focused on the subject of sanctification. This year’s Desiring God National Conference is titled “Act the Miracle: God’s Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification.” Let’s anticipate that conference by confining ourselves to that subject. There should be lots we can learn!

With that stipulation in place, go ahead and leave a comment with your question about sanctification. I’ll choose some of the best ones and send them through to pastor John.

June 25, 2012

I woke up in the wee hours this morning and found myself thinking about sleep. Mostly I was thinking that I would much rather experience sleep than think about it, but since that wasn’t happening, I found myself wondering about the purpose of sleep. I’ve been fighting insomnia for a couple of years now and it has been an uphill battle. I have been told that you don’t appreciate all your big toes do for you until you misplace one of them and suddenly find that you can barely walk. I guess the same is true of sleep—having it taken away generates a new level of appreciation. It also generates questions.

This morning I found myself wondering why we sleep. What’s the point of it? Obviously there are physical reasons, but there must be an underlying spiritual reason that God has made us beings who need sleep. We spend nearly a third of our lives sleeping, or, at least, we should spend that much of our lives sleeping. That is remarkable. God must have a purpose behind any activity that consumes so much of our time. I am sure that God could have created us as sleepless beings who could be productive all day and all night, but he chose not to. He created us and he created sleep and he created a relationship between the two.

It came to me that the fundamental reality of sleep is that it assures us that we are not God. Apparently we all need the ongoing reminder. Psalm 127:2 says “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” We need sleep, and peaceful sleep is a good gift of a good God. Meanwhile, Psalm 121 says “Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” We need sleep; God does not. Rather, the unsleeping God grants sleep to the people he loves, the people who need it so badly.

I find myself in good company here. Here is what John Piper says in an article from all the way back in 1982:

June 25, 2012

How Do Plants Know Which Way Is Up? - It’s a good question, isn’t it? “It’s dark down there in the potting soil. There’s no light, no sunshine. So how does it know which way is up and which way is down? It does know. Seeds routinely send shoots up toward the sky, and roots the other way. Darkness doesn’t confuse them. Somehow, they get it right…”

When Homosexuality Became a Man - This is a really good article from Jon Bloom.

Green Drivel - “Two months ago, James Lovelock, the godfather of global warming, gave a startling interview to msnbc.com in which he acknowledged he had been unduly ‘alarmist’ about climate change. The implications were extraordinary.”

Book Deal - Here’s something new from Cruciform Press (the publishing company I co-founded). “Our Ebook Distribution Licenses allow you to give away Cruciform Press ebooks inexpensively—not to mention legally and with a good consience. This service is intended primarily for church and ministry leaders, but anyone is welcome to participate.”

Piper, Same-Sex Marriage and Media - Amy Hall sounds an important warning for those who may be reading in the media about John Piper’s stance on same-sex marriage.

Josh Hamilton: The Movie - Josh Hamilton, the Christian baseball superstar, is going to be the subject of a movie. Here’s hoping they are explict about the role of the gospel in his recovery from addiction.

Christianity is a faith that is based upon and rooted in miracles. Take away miracles, and you take away Christianity. —R.C. Sproul