- Tom Holland’s Contours of Pauline Theology: He provides new light and a new way of understanding Paul. This book impacted my own devotional life as I was reading through the bible and it will yours too
- Tony Reinke’s Lit!: All Christians who love reading should this read Lit!. He will help prioritize and organize your reading.
- N.D. Wilson’s Notes from a Tilt-a-whirl: This book strengthened and solidified my faith and also helped me realize you can have fun in the process of defending your faith; and last but not least.
- Joel Beeke’s Parenting by God’s Promise: It's an in-depth exposition of the gospel within a covenantal framework that is deeply practical. I recommend it for all parents.
Rumor has it that most normal men send at least eight million “forward swimming” sperm looking for an egg every sexual act. Don’t even bother adding in egg variation, or the total number of sperm that may have had a fighting chance during your mother’s days of fertility when you were conceived (or the possibility that she might have taken her friends’ advice and shunned your father). Keep it simple and wildly conservative. Your chances of being here were about one out of eight million. Funny. Those were my odds too. The chances of us both being here? One out of sixty-four trillion. The chances of us both being on the same round planet, leaning far enough away from the sun that our nostrils freeze shut but we don’t die? The chances of us both being on the same round planet buzzing around the same star, with six billion other very particular people all simultaneously in existence? It makes me tired, like the cold. And I don’t know what numbers bigger than a googolplex are called, especially since a googol is supposed to be bigger than the number of elementary particles in the “observable universe” (whatever that means), and a googolplex is a one with that many zeros after it. I’ve been told that the whole concept was invented by a nine-year-old named Milton.
But I’m not letting it rest. Not yet. One more round of odds. Start with your grandparents. What were the odds of all four of them blinking, crying, and discovering that they existed? Assuming that surviving, finding each other, and getting married was a sure thing (and keeping the variables limited to a single procreative act), what were the odds of both your parents being conceived? Assuming that finding each other and getting to work on you was also a sure thing, what were the odds that you would be the result?
One out of 2.097152 . . . wait . . . I think I just screwed that up. Duodecillion? No. That only has thirty-nine zeros. Should we just go with umpteen? You get the point, don’t you? You basically have no chance of being here and you should quit trying already. Getting your hopes up will only make it hurt more when you don’t happen.
We are a world of lottery winners. For every one of us here right now, in every begetting, there were at least 7,999,999 losers. They don’t even know how almost they were.
“I wish I’d never been born,” the adolescent moans.
“Shut up, Randy. There are eight million other kids who would be wishing they could be here right now if only they were here to wish.”
The joyful news of the gospel is that God the Father brings us to share in the loving communion that he forever enjoys with his eternal and natural Sonthrough the work of his eternal and natural Son in our place and in our stead. Through the adoption God graciously brings us to participate in the reciprocal love that ever flows between the Father and his Son. Not only is this the very heart of adoption; it is also the very heart of the gospel.
Even in its fallen condition, creation continues to emit the Creator’s glory, a glow that can be found in the pages of great books. . . .
[L]it represents a conviction underlying this entire book: Christian readers are illuminated by “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4). “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Illuminated by the gospel, we now perceive and ejoy god’s truth, goodness, and beauty--whether it’s in the blazing sun of the inspired Word of God, in the moonlight of creation, or in the starlight of the great books. The Holy Spirit has opened our spiritual eyes, and our entire reading experience is not “lit” by God’s illuminating presence.
When I speak of the covenant of grace, I mean the promises and commands of God to His people in Christ, binding them together forever (Gen. 17:18). We call this bond a covenant because it is sealed with God’s oath (Deut. 7:8–9). We call it the covenant of grace because it comes out of God’s eternal decision to show grace, stands on the accomplishment of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, offers salvation to people as a gift of grace, and implements salvation through God’s regenerating and transforming grace. . . .
The covenant of grace is like a wedding vow that God will never break. The sacrament of baptism is the wedding ring, the outward sign of our union with Him. People broken by sin who have been taught by the Spirit to trust in the gospel are the bride. And Christ is the groom—indeed, the heart of the covenant.
Many people hear this and say, “I’m sorry, I can’t give love if I don’t feel it! I can’t fake it. That’s too mechanical for me.” I can understand that reaction, but Paul doesn’t simply call us to a naked action; he also commands us to think as we act. “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
This means we must say to ourselves something like this: “Well, when Jesus looked down from the cross, he didn’t think, ‘I am giving myself to you because you are so attractive to me.’ No, he was in agony, and he looked down at us—denying him, abandoning him, and betraying him—and in the greatest act of love in history, he stayed. He said, ‘Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.’ He loved us, not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely. That is why I am going to love my spouse.” Speak to your heart like that, and then fulfill the promises you made on your wedding day.
However De Vaux fails to distinguish the essential difference between the Hebrew slave, who is sold into the possession of another, and the slave of Yahweh. It is not merely the status of the owner. The essential difference is one of covenant. The king was the ebed of Yahweh because he had been elected, called and appointed to that office, and not because of anything less. The ministers of the king in turn represented Yahweh and fulfilled the purpose of the covenant, to establish righteousness. To fail to see this is to miss the whole point of theebed of Yahweh. In social terms it would be equivalent to seeing little difference between the role of a housekeeper and the role of a housewife in Western society today. It would also be foolish to think that the role of the housekeeper could simply evolve into the role of the housewife. Language may evolve, but a covenant relationship does not; it requires a decisive act of commitment and acceptance.
We should not cheapen good deeds by making them only a means to some other end (evangelism), but neither do we want to exaggerate our responsibility by thinking it is our duty to build the kingdom through our good deeds. Similarly, we should not overspiritualize social action by making it equivalent to God’s shalom. As the church loves the world so loved by God, we will work to relieve suffering wherever we can, but especially eternal suffering. (27)
Woe to the flatteners of what is hyperspatial, multidimensional, intra-Trinitarian, and eternal in ways awesomer than ‘one year after another.
Paul already dealt the possibility of an accusation of guilt being brought against the church for entering into another marriage relationship (Rom 6:7; 7:1-4). Satan will accuse Christ and the church that their union is not lawful. Should the call go out: “if anyone can show any just cause why they may not lawfully be joined together in matrimony, let him now declare it, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace” he is read to cry out: “She is mine. She is already married.” It is into this awful scene that Paul confidently declares: “It is God who justifies!” The judge of the whole earth will accept there is a charge to answer, and Paul states why this is so in the next verse [i.e., we have died with Christ and have risen to new life]. Of course, if Satan cannot persuade believers that it was unlawful for Christ to take his people as his bride then he will find other means to charge them. The answer to all charges, whatever they may be, is: “Christ has died and is rise! Hallelujah!”
John Thomson’s Genesis 1-11 (Reformation Commentary on Scripture) BUY
Constantine Campbell’s Paul and Union with Christ BUY
C. J. Mahaney’s Christ Our Mediator BUY
Iain Campbell’s I AM... BUY
Tim Keller’s Center Church (p. 46) BUY
The gospel is not just the ABCs but the A to Z of the Christian life. It is inaccurate to think the gospel is what saves non-Christians, and then Christians mature by trying hard to live according to biblical principles. It is more accurate to say that we are saved by believing the gospel, and then we are transformed in every part of our minds, hearts, and lives by believing the gospel more and more deeply as life goes on (see Rom 12:1 – 2; Phil 1:6; 3:13 – 14).