Review: G. K. Beale and Mitchell Kim’s God Dwells Among Us (IVP)

God Dwells Among Us exemplified biblical study in service of every day mission. Beale and Kim state upfront, “The goal of this book is to strengthen biblical conviction for sacrificial mission” 14. In this regard, this book succeeds on all fronts. They argue further,

“Mission does not begin with the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, but mission is God’s heartbeat from Genesis 1 until the new heaven and earth become the dwelling place of the Lord God Almighty in Revelation 21-22” 16.

They accomplish this by first laying the foundation for this claim.

Read More

Review: Andy Crouch’s Culture Making›

Andy Crouch wants Christians to think rightly about culture. And not only how we think about it, but also how it fits within the framework of what God has accomplished in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He says that he had “a hunch that the language of ‘engaging the culture,’ let alone the ‘culture wars,’ fell far short. . . . I also sensed that most churches were neglecting the centrality of culture to the bible story and the gospel itself” (p. 5) and “Indeed, the good news is the world is already changed, in a specific and astonishing way. God’s ways are not our ways. . . . The good news about culture is that culture is finally not about us, but about God” (p. 7).

That gospel rootedness reorients the entire discussion ongoing in the church. Culture making is less about what we do or accomplish, rather it’s about what God has already done and is doing in the world. Culture Making starts in Part 1 by defining and exploring what culture is (“Culture is, first of all, the name or our relentless, restless human effort to take the world as it’s given to us and make something else” [p. 23 also see p. 36 “culture is what we were made to do”].

Read More

Review: Jeffrey Niehaus’ Biblical Theology: The Common Grace Covenants

Biblical theologies are the breaking trend in Christian theology. Looking at theology as a comprehensive vision of the Scriptures, Biblical theologies attempt to draw out truths and themes from the Scriptures that pervade the text’s basic essentials. No Biblical theology is definitive or exclusive but work to grapple with the themes and texts often overlooked or underemphasized via systematic theology. Jeffrey Niehaus’s Biblical Theology: The Common Grace Covenants (henceforth, CGC) stands in this growing trend with a profound emphasis on the covenant outworking of God in history.

Both a poet and theologian, Jeffery Niehaus writes in an elegant, poetic, and occasionally frustrating way (e.g. long excursus on Cain building a city that ultimately is more about the Spirit than Cain, 138-153). This makes his mind perfect for the flowing, thematic theology associated with Biblical Theology. Even when discussing familiar subjects, Niehaus is thought provoking in his analysis, definitions, and conclusions. This should make him a pleasurable read for students of theology, pastors, and even interested laymen. In line with his covenant theme, Niehaus wastes no time stressing the Scriptures as “covenant literature” (2-4).

Read More

Jesus is the Better Atoner

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis argues that “we feel the rule of Law pressing on us so ­ that we cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility...human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it.” He says that even though humanity knows what is right and wrong, “they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it.” Truth and untruth are hardwired in us but it’s in the dabbling with untruth that we know there is a culpability. It is in the “breaking” that we taste the bitter loss of innocence. The result? We just can’t seem to get out from under the anvil of guilt.

It all finds it origins in Genesis 3. “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Gen. 3:7­8). After disobeying God, the first actions of our first parents were to cover up and hide. These are the activities of ones who find themselves mired in disgrace.

Read More

Review: Jeremy R. Treat’s The Crucified King

In both the church and the academy, there has been an unfortunate separation of the kingdom and the cross. I’ve experienced church and parachurch settings where either kingdom or atonement was emphasized, to the near-exclusion of the other; and in both contexts I have an ache for what is missing. The same dichotomization characterizes theological tomes—works that treat the kingdom hardly ever mention the atonement, and works that deal with atonement hardly mention the kingdom of God. Both kingdom and atonement are significant motifs in Scripture, and focusing on either while discounting or neglecting the other can have devastating impacts on both one’s theology and ministry/church life.

Read More

New GCD Book: Jeremy Writebol’s everPresent: How the Gospel Relocates Us in the Present

I’m excited about this book and proud to have joined the team during the home stretch. I want to recommend this book to you. Jeremy offers a biblical theology of place, as it relates, to our mission (Matt. 28:18-20). He does so in a way that’s familiar, but also fresh. Reformed folks talk a lot about creation, fall, redemption. Jeremy talks about these events in the gospel as well, but he does so in terms of place (dislocation, relocation, renovation). These fresh terms draw attention and prevent the contempt of familiarity, when discussing how the gospel changes our point of view on place. So if you’re wondering what teaching all nations looks like practically, Jeremy walks us through the practical piece--how the gospel collides with us in our homes, work, third places, and cities. Place is important because our mission requires us to spread the gospel where we are now. It’s important because God will redeem all of creation and make all things new in the end. Enough said.

Read More

Review: Crossway’s Gospel Transformation Bible

If you plan on purchasing ESV Gospel Transformation Bible, consider supporting Grace for Sinners by purchasing from Amazon.

10 out of 10 Stars
Author: Assorted
Publisher: Crossway
Reading Level: Easy

I’m not a huge fan of study bibles. It seems they are either too academic, overly vague and therefore useless, or never seem to answer the questions I’m asking about the text. I haven’t used a study bible for my regular reading for five or six years. I find commentaries are better options when I really want to dig in. You may find this confession odd as an introduction for a study bible.

Crossway’s recently released Gospel Transformation Bible is a different beast and I love it. I’ve been using it in my regular reading for close to three weeks now and have greatly benefited from its notes. I found the kind of notes made the Bible usable. They weren’t overly academic. They didn’t try to answer all of the questions. The notes were focused. It’s a study bible that takes Jesus’s own words that Scriptures are all about him and makes the notes all about him in a way that’s fresh and helpful.

So let’s say you’re reading through the Old Testament and struggling to understand how this has anything to do with Jesus Christ. Instead of continuing on lost in the wilderness or skipping the book or fighting sleep, you now have access to study notes which will point you to Jesus Christ. Let me give you a few examples.

Joshua 27:12-23 Joshua to Succeed Moses

Reminded of his impending death, Moses’ compassionate and selfless plea is for the Lord to provide another leader so that the people would be left as “sheep that have no shepherd” (v. 17). Though having immediate reference to Joshua, this prayer was answered immediately in Jesus Christ, who was moved with compassion when God’s people were harassed and helpless as sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36).

 Deuteronomy 5:1-21 Introduction to the Law

Law follows grace. God saved Israel before he gave them his law to follow. God rescued Israel not because of their obedience to the law but because of his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 3:15-16). Israel’s deliverance was therefore not because of their obedience to the law but because God saw their affliction and cared enough to deliver them from their suffering to abundant life (Ex. 3:7-8). . . . Law follows grace. We obey from, not for, God’s favor.

Judges 19:1-20:25 A Levite and His Concubine

We must also consider that if fallen but redeemed men and women sense the depravity of these events, then how much greater is the pain to our Lord and  how amazing is the grace he provides to atone for such sin. Jesus, the King, has come and conquered our rejection of his reign (John 1:9-13). His suffering with us enables us to bear up in our own suffering (John 16:33; Rom. 8:21-39). The painful experiences of being both sinner and sinned against propel us to plead with God for the return of our true King.

You can find this kind of direction toward the person and work of Jesus and the proclamation of the gospel through out the study notes, not only in the New Testament, through the entire Bible.

The study notes in the Gospel Transformation Bible won’t weigh down your reading. It doesn’t try to answer every historical or interpretation question (although you have some of this as well). It will help you understand how Jesus Christ is alive and working through all of Scripture.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”