Galatians For You & Other Resources

In the present sermon series in our church I am working through Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  Rather I should say “we” are working through the book of Galatians, as while I am preaching the bulk of the messages I am sharing the teaching with my Associate, Camper Mundy, and a couple of other pastors who are part of our church.  But in my preparations for each message there are a few non-technical resources I am uising that would also be beneficial for anyone who is studying Galatians – whether a seminary graduate or a typical church member wanting simply to deepen his/her understanding of this letter.

One of these resources is Tim Keller’s Galatians For You.  In the video above Tim introduces his intent in developing this book, and offers some suggestions of how it might be used beneficailly.  And though perhaps to those hearing my message may assume seeming little of Keller’s words may be overtly expressed my messages, without question the depth of Keller’s insights has helped shaped my understanding of this book and how the message applies to us today.

Below is a short list of some of the non-technical resources I am reading (or re-reading) during this series, Freedom: A Study of Galatians.

No Other Gospel

After learning I would be beginning a new sermon series this week, a study of the book of Galatians, a friend and colleague who is an Army Chaplain asked me if I had read the relatively new book, No Other Gospel.  Though I had seen it, I admitted I was not really familiar with it.  He suggested it would be a good parallel book to coincide with the series of messages we will be offering at Grace Covenant between now and Easter.

I picked it up, skimmed it this afternoon, and expect to commend it to our congregation – at least to No Otherthose who want to do a little digging of their own over the next few months.  (I’ll read it more thoroughly as well.)

In the video above Justin Taylor interviews the author of the book, Josh Moody, who serves the historic College Church of Wheaton.  Moody explains the basis and the gist of the book.

About Bible “Admissions”

HAPPY Strawman

When first reading an article featured in Relevant Magazine by John Pavlovitz, 5 Things I Wish Christians Would Admit About the Bible, I found myself feeling a mixture of mild reactions: chagrined by the banality, and indifferent because of the banality.  While the magazine does occasionally publish some thoughtful pieces, the majority seem to be either old fashioned theological liberalism dressed up in contemporary Millennial angst, or shallow pragmatism desperately wanting to be considered poignant and profound.  This particular article managed to qualify for both categories, as Pavlovitz offered his handful of wishes that people would understand:

  1. The Bible Isn’t a Magic Book
  2. The Bible Isn’t as Clear as We’d Like It to Be
  3. The Bible Was Inspired by God, Not Dictated by God
  4. We All Pick and Choose the Bible We Believe, Preach and Defend
  5. God is Bigger Than the Bible

Really going out on a limb there, with such staggering assertions. (Note sarcasm.)

It was not until I read a post by Blake Deal, What We Will Not “Admit” About the Bible, that I even gave it a second thought.  What had seemed unworthy to receive much consideration had now been given a thoughtful, appropriate corrective.   After reading Deal’s rebuttal, I started thinking to myself: “I wish I’d written that”.

Whether one takes the time to read Pavlovitz’s piece or not, I think Deal’s observations are worth the few minutes it  takes to read them, both for their succinct affirmations of the historic faith, and as an example of a good way to address other straw man allegations levied against historic Christian orthodoxy in the name of becoming relevant to this present generation.

We 3 Kings

We 3 Kings

You probably know the song, We Three Kings of Orient Are:

We three kings of orient are,
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain,
Moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

The song is based upon the account of the Magi, in Matthew 2.  And though it may be a little less than an accurate account, it is still among my favorites during the Christmas season.

What is inaccurate? For one thing, there is no reason to assume there were only three Magi.  The three is largely assumed because of the mention of three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. There very well could have been, and very likely were, far more guys in the caravan than those lonely determined three.  That is just one example.  There are at least a few other somewhat trivial issues. But otherwise, while the song may be a little fanciful, there is nothing seriously erroneous about it.

But more important than a few questionable lyrics is a greater question: “What are some things we can learn from the three Magi mentioned in the song?” To answer this question we can benefit from a helpful little piece Martin Downes wrote a few years ago for Against Heresies: We Three Kings.

Check it out, and give it some thought. And remember, this is not a story limited to Christmas. After all, the Wise Men themselves did not actually arrive to their destination until some time after that first Christmas Day. So this is a story worth pondering well into the New Year.

5 Questions to Read the Bible With Heart & Mind

Clock Lit

Tremper Longman summarizes the entire thrust of his book, Reading the Bible With Heart & Mind, in five simple questions:

1. What does this passage of the Bible teach me about God and my relationship with Him?

2. What does this passage tell me about how God has acted in the past?

3. How does this passage change the way I think about the world and how does it impact the way I live my life?

4. How has God chosen to communicate these truths to me through the Scriptures?

5. How does this passage present Christ?

Great questions to help us get the most of our Bible study.

Seed of the Word in the Soil of the Heart

Sprout in Hand

“Truly, the Bible as the Word of God has an inherent power, but it is not a coercive power. That is, the Bible does not work it’s effects mechanically. We don’t change just because we read it. Out minds may be engaged in the text, but something must happen in our hearts as well. In the parable of the Sower (Matthew 13.18-23), the seed does not miraculously and independently transform itself into a flowering plant. The condition of the soil effects how well the seed takes root. Our hearts must be receptive to God’s Word in the same way the soil must be rich and conducive to the development of deep roots and luxurient growth. As Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: ‘What you bring away from the Bible depends to some extent on what you carry to it.'”

Tremper Longman, from Reading the Bible With Heart & Mind