The Hobbit

I am really looking forward to this....


  

Christopher Hitchens and the Gospel

Noted atheist Christopher Hitchens passed away Thursday night at the age of 62 from pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer.  So what do we as Christians take away from this? What should our reaction be to the news that a staunch opponent of our faith is now gone?

There are several options available to us.

1. We can take the route that Russell Moore took here and remind ourselves that the Gospel can save even men as opposed to the gospel as Hitchens.  We can say that we don't know his eternal fate but know that redemption is possible even for men like him.

2. We can exult in his death and say that because he denied and repudiated the gospel message his entire life, Hitchens is now reaping the fruits his life of sin here on earth.  If Hitchens remained opposed to the gospel to the end then he is indeed reaping what he sowed, but as believers we should not exult in the eternal punishment of any man.

3. We can use Hitchens' death as a stark reminder of the truths of Romans 2:4-5 as Dan Phillips suggests here.  We can warn unbelievers that to pursue a life course along the lines of Hitchens is to presume on the kindness of God and to store up wrath for the day of His returning.

So what is the answer?  I don't know that there is one right answer (although option 2 is definitely the wrong one).

I suggest a response in line with the Scottish preacher Thomas Guthrie said.
It cannot be too often, or too loudly, or too solemnly repeated, that the Bible, which ranges over a period of four thousand years, records but one instance of a death-bed conversion—one that none may despair, and but one that none may presume. (via: JT)
So, for me the answer is to remember that, yes and amen, God can save men like Christopher Hitchens who reject, ridicule, and rebuff Him their entire lives to the very end.  The reality, however, is that Hitchens probably went into eternity having stored up wrath for himself by continually taking advantage of the kindness of a holy God.

Above all, I am reminded that if it were not for the great mercy and grace of God, I would be no better off than Christopher Hitchens.  The ultimate takeaway for those of us who call Him Father should be to bring much praise to the throne of grace on which sits the only God of the universe who has called us to be His own possession. We deserve the same fate as an unrepentant atheist and yet God has spared us by not sparing His only Son.

So mourn the fate of a man who rejected God his whole life, rejoice that  because of the grace of God, his fate is no longer ours, and go forth and proclaim this gospel that can even save people like Christopher Hitchens, you, and me.

The World-Tilting Gospel

The World Tilting-Gospel was written by Dan Phillips.  Phillips is the writer of the Biblical Christianity blog and also writes at Pyromaniacs (I recommend you read and follow both of those blogs if at all possible.)  The idea behind The World Tilting Gospel (or TWTG) was born when Dan heard a sermon by David Wells in 2007. The though that sparked TWTG was later expressed by Wells in his book Courage to Be Protestant.
Christianity is not just an experience, we need to remember, it is about truth. The experience of being reconciled to the Father, through the Son, by the work of the Holy Spirit all happens within a worldview. This worldview is the way God has taught us in his Word to view the world. That is why the Bible begins with Genesis 1:1 and not John 3:16. (Wells, Courage to Be Protestant, 45)
The World Tilting Gospel is at its core a book about the full truth of the gospel in its purpose, its content, and its implications. Through the course of TWTG Phillips shines a biblical light on:

  • who we really are
  • what kind of world we are really living in
  • how the world really operates and where it is really going
  • who God really is
  • what His eternal plan really was
  • why we really needed Him and His plan so desperately
  • what His terms - the Gospel - really were
  • what difference the Gospel will really make on every day of our lives
Without getting into too much detail and spoiling the read for you, let me just say this: You need to read this book.
It will either introduce you to the true biblical gospel and the God who designed it or it will reconfirm for you the beauty, wonder, and majesty of the gospel and the God who designed it.  Either way, you win.

I believe TWTG addresses the single biggest need in evangelicalism today. Most major ills of the church (rampant pragmatism, shallow worship, seeker sensitive gatherings, emergent/ing/etc. nonsense) can be traced back to a lack of faith in the biblical God of the bible and of the gospel He designed. This book will show you that God and His gospel clearly, sufficiently, and eloquently.  

You will encounter through thorough biblical exegesis and engaging writing a holy, awesome, merciful God who hates sin and makes a way to love and redeem His church.  

You will see that the true gospel of the scriptures needs no help from man, but is wholly sufficient in its own power to redeem the souls of sinful people.

You will learn that the gospel was never intended to do anything less than turn the world upside down for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ.

Go buy or borrow the book, read it, share it, use it for a bible study. Study the scriptures that Phillips lays out in the book.  Discover (or rediscover) the world-tilting nature of our God and His gospel for yourself.

How Great a Salvation!

I began teaching through the book of First Peter yesterday in Sunday school.  First Peter is probably most well known as a book exhorting and encouraging believers in the midst of persecution and suffering and there is no doubt that Peter intended to do those things.  What I think is missing from so many discussions on this book is the foundation Peter lays in the first 12 verses that allows the suffering Christian to stand strong and live a God honoring life in this world even when in the midst of fiery trials.

That foundation is nothing other than the gospel.

In the first 12 verses, before Peter gives these elect exiles any instructions concerning how to live a midst persecution and suffering, he reminds them of the gospel and it's promises. 

In verse 2 he reminds them that all 3 members of the Godhead played a part in their redemption: the father chose them as His own, the Spirit sanctified and regenerated them, and the Son justified them with His blood. In verses 3-12 Peter reminds them of the benefits of their salvation that were purchased and secured by God.  You will notice that in each case Peter mentions that it is God who is doing and acting, not the believers.  In verse 3 it is God who has caused them to be born again to a living hope and an inheritance that is imperishable. In verse 5 it is God's power that keeps them through faith as His own possession.

What Peter is doing is reminding them that because of God's great work in their salvation, they can look beyond this world to the one to come, where they will spend eternity with God.  This reality is assured, not because of their will or their works, but because it is God Himself who is working in them to make it so.  He has chosen them, He has sanctified them, He has justified them, and He is keeping them.  Their salvation is assured because God is faithful.  This assurance of what God has done, is doing, and will do is the rock on which they are to stand as they live their lives in a fallen world. Nothing else will do.

We must remember what God has done for us.  We must learn to meditate on and rejoice in the gospel.  We must learn to look beyond our circumstance to the reality of an eternal inheritance secured and kept for us by our God.  Only as we do this will we be able to live a holy life in this world that will honor God and result in His praise and glory when He returns to judge the world and take us home.

John Calvin to Pastors


Let the pastors boldly dare all things by the word of God. . . .
Let them constrain all the power, glory, and excellence of the world to give place to and to obey the divine majesty of this word.
Let them enjoin everyone by it, from the highest to the lowest.
Let them edify the body of Christ.
Let them devastate Satan’s reign.
Let them pasture the sheep, kill the wolves, instruct and exhort the rebellious.
Let them bind and loose thunder and lightning, if necessary, but let them do all according to the word of God.



(via Justin Taylor)

What Does This Have To Do With Jesus?


Our Jesse tree
We are 4 days into our first year doing the Jesse tree as a family for the advent season.  For those of you unfamiliar with the Jesse tree it is a devotional plan that teaches of God's plan of salvation beginning with Creation.  It takes it name from Isaiah 11:1.

 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
For each day the family looks at a passage of scripture and there is an ornament that corresponds to the passage that is put on the Jesse tree.  There are usually between 25 and 30 passages depending on whose version you use.

Last night we read about Noah and the ark.  As we read the scripture passages about the sinfulness of the people of the earth and God's reaction to their sin, my 10 year old daughter asked the question that became the title of this post.

"What does this have to do with Jesus?"


See, she knows what Christmas is about and she knows that the point of our devotions is to point to and lead up to His birth.  What she didn't understand is how this Old Testament story related to Him.  So we talked about sin and God's abhorrence towards it.  We talked about how God hates sin so much that he decided to destroy the people of the earth in response to their sin and that He was perfectly just in doing so.  We talked about how God cannot just overlook and ignore our sin and that because of that we desperately needed Jesus to come and die on the cross to pay the price for our sin.

Noah's Ark - felt style
I admit that as a father I was thrilled to hear that question come out of my daughter's mouth.  We need to be constantly asking "What does this have to do with Jesus?" as we read the scriptures.  Jesus condemned the pharisees in large part because they failed to do this and in so doing missed the entire point of the Old Testament (John 5:39-40).  The roughly 33 years of Jesus life were the focal point of the entire history of our universe.  All of history either anticipates those years finds it meaning by looking back at them.

As we read our bibles, as we listen to sermons and songs, as we interact with the world around us we should constantly be asking one question.

"What does this have to do with Jesus?"