Excellent Concise Summary of Liberal Theology

H. Richard Niebuhr famously once distilled liberal theology into this sentence: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

Tim Keller on The Inadequacy of Preaching Christ

Excellent Illustration of how Gospel/Christ-centered Bible Teachers feel when trying to convey the amazing awesomeness of Jesus in speaking or writing. This is an excerpt from the Atlantic Magazine Online – The article discusses Tim Keller’s new book on the Gospel of Mark.

How Timothy Keller Spreads the Gospel in New York City, and Beyond

FEB 21 2011, 11:30 AM ET

As you were writing King’s Cross, was there anything you learned about the Gospel of Mark that you hadn’t noticed before?

No one thing. I’ll tell you, the thing I struggle with is doing justice to it. When I’m preaching I don’t quite get the same— When you’re writing a book, you feel like you’re putting something down. It’s a little more permanent. And therefore I actually struggled just with a feeling like I’m not doing justice to the material, which is the Gospel of Mark, or more directly, Jesus himself. There’s a true story, evidently, of [Arturo] Toscanini. He was director of the NBC Symphony Orchestra years ago, here in New York. And there was some place where he had just conducted—actually it was just a rehearsal. He conducted a Beethoven symphony. And he did such an incredible job with it that when it was all done, the musicians gave him a standing ovation. And he started to cry. He literally started to cry, and he actually had them sit down, and he wouldn’t let them applaud, and then he said, “It’s not me, it wasn’t me, it was Beethoven.”

Now, what he’s getting across there is a feeling like, “I’m just trying to do justice to the material. And usually I don’t. And if occasionally I do ok, you shouldn’t be applauding me. It’s just, I got out of the way. I just got out of the way and we actually heard how great the music was.”

And I feel the same struggle. I’m just trying to get out of the way. And you can’t. In other words, when you’re actually reading, and you’re getting directly a sense of the greatness and the attractiveness of Jesus—and by the way, to say he’s attractive doesn’t mean he’s warm and toasty all the time. I mean, sometimes he’s scary, but he’s still attractive. I just want to say, I want other people to have the same experience I’ve had as I’ve read. And I never quite get there. So I struggled with that, a lot. And it was a huge struggle to write. It’s a lot harder to write than it is to speak. There’s something about speaking that’s impermanent. You think, “Well, I can do it again next time.” But with a book, I didn’t feel that way.

Sometimes, actually, I have to say, some of the chapters I read and I wept and felt good about. I felt like it wasn’t a great chapter—I let him through. I let Jesus through. But there’s others that I don’t feel that way, and I say, “Agh.” My big struggle was doing justice to him, and doing justice to the material. That sounds a little bit pious, to say it the way I said it there. You understand, I hope.

Prayer Changes Us

“Prayer does change things, all kinds of things. But the most important thing it changes is us. As we engage in this communion with God more deeply and come to know the One with whom we are speaking more intimately, that growing knowledge of God reveals to us all the more brilliantly who we are and our need to change in conformity to Him. Prayer changes us profoundly.” – R. C. Sproul, The Prayer of the Lord, Kindle Location 163-165

Book Review: Sabbath by Dan B. Allender

From Duty to Delight

Dan Allender’s very practical book on the application of the Sabbath to today’s thesis is that practicing the Sabbath results in “delight that delivers us to joy.” He reminds us that the Sabbath is “not merely a good idea; it is one of the Ten Commandments.” Therefore the Sabbath is not optional but a biblical command or absolute that needs to be practiced. However, instead of this merely being an oppressive duty consisting of do’s and don’t’s, the adherence of the practitioner of the Sabbath is led into peace, abundance, and joy.

In other words, the Sabbath was modeled by God Himself after creation not so much as an act of rest, but to actively enjoy and participate in His creation. God has designed the Sabbath for us to proactively enjoy Him, and His creation (not just vegetate and check out on the Sabbath) – because we have been made to find our satisfaction and delight in Him above all else. In the midst of the busyness of our lives God knew that we would need time set apart to celebrate and delight in Him and what He has made for our pleasure.

The book was very helpful in providing many applications of how to delight in God. He did an adequate job with the Scriptures that relate to the Sabbath, and a good biblical theological overview of the reasoning behind God’s establishing this day of delight.

I highly recommend this book – especially as an introduction to keeping the Sabbath and for those who want to spend more time delighting in God and His creation in creative and satisfying ways that result in living the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I am under no compulsion to write a positive or negative review of this book. The opinions expressed are exclusively my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Great Definition of Spiritual Gifts

“Spiritual gifts are not God bestowing to his people something external to himself.  They are not some tangible ‘stuff‘ or substance separable from God. Spiritual gifts are nothing less than God himself in us, energizing our souls, imparting revelation to our minds, infusing power in our wills, and working his sovereign and gracious purposes through us. Spiritual gifts must never be viewed deistically, as if God ‘out there’ has sent some ‘thing’ to us ‘down here.’ Spiritual gifts are God present in , with, and through human thoughts, human deeds, human words, human love.” – Sam Storms in The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts, p. 13.

Book Review: What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

Simple and Clear Presentation of the Gospel

In eight short chapters Greg Gilbert does an excellent job of sharing what the gospel is, by contrasting that with what it is not. Early on in the book Gilbert summarizes the essence of the gospel by stating, “We are accountable to the God who created us. We have sinned against that God and will be judged. But God has acted in Jesus Christ to save us, and we take hold of that salvation by repentance from sin and faith in Jesus.” In the rest of the book he breaks these four points down by showing what the Scriptures have to say about how a person can have a right relationship with God through repentance and faith in Jesus and what that means. I think his discussion of the “Kingdom” was particularly helpful and well explained.

If you aren’t sure whether or not you are a Christian this book is a simple read that will clearly help you understand what you need to do in order to be “saved.” If you already are a Christian this book will help you appreciate the gospel all the more and motivate you to share the good news clearly and cogently with others. I think this book will be around for a long time to sharpen Christians in the amazing truth of the gospel, and as a resource to give to non-Christians with the hope that they will read it and receive the amazing gift of grace that has been offered to us in Jesus Christ. I highly recommend this book!

On Apologetics

“Our priority in apologetics is not to make the nonbeliever listen to us, but to help the person be ready to listen to God and be taught by him.”

– Joe Boot in Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend

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