What Was Your Favorite T4G Message?  And a Chance for Some Free Books!

Posted by on May 3, 2016 in Announcement | One Comment
What Was Your Favorite T4G Message?  And a Chance for Some Free Books!

Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to attend this year’s Together for the Gospel conference.  I was fully planning on doing so but delayed registering and then, to everyone’s surprise (and my embarrassment), T4G unexpectedly sold out.  May this be a lesson to all procrastinators…

I hope to watch some of the messages and discussions from the conference but am interested in getting your input.  And to encourage your participation, (in the spirit of T4G) I’ll be giving away some free books!

So if you attended T4G this year, which sermon did the most for your soul, and why?  I’m not asking which sermon was the most impressive display of homiletical eloquence, but which single message did the Lord most use in convicting, rebuking, exhorting, admonishing, encouraging, equipping, etc. you, and why?  And make sure you include the “why” part in your answer.

In order to have a chance to win, you just need to leave a comment on this post.  At the end of the week I’ll randomly select one winner to receive a small selection of free books, including (among others) Fred Zaspel’s Warfield on the Christian Life.  In order to qualify, you’ll have to include a legitimate email address when you leave a comment.  And feel free to direct your friends to this post!

Timothy Raymond is an editor for Credo Magazine and has been the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana since April 2006. He received his MDiv from the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania in 2004 and has pursued further education through the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.

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Why science turned Alister McGrath away from atheism

Posted by on May 3, 2016 in Audio | No Comments
Why science turned Alister McGrath away from atheism

Are science and faith opposed to one another? Does science rule out any belief in God? In the first video below, Alister McGrath answers these questions by drawing on his own journey to the Christian faith. Additionally, below you will find a lecture by McGrath on the bankruptcy of scientific atheism. The third lecture, also by McGrath, is titled, “Why we can’t stop talking about science, religion, and God,” delivered at the University of Oxford.
 

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T4G Panels

Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Audio | No Comments
T4G Panels

Last week we highlighted the messages from T4G. This week we would like to highlight the panels as well.
 

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Credo’s Cache

Posted by on Apr 29, 2016 in Credo's cache | No Comments
Credo’s Cache

Each week we will be highlighting important resources. Check back each Friday to see what we have dug up for you. From this week’s cache:

1. Is it Biblical For Churches to Require a Tithe?: Jonathan Leeman – Leeman says, “With regular tithing included in so many church membership covenants, should pastors/elders hold members accountable to giving?”

2. Success is Dangerous: Jared C. Wilson – Wilson notes, “The counter-intuitive truth is this: getting bigger does not mean getting less vulnerable. It very often means the opposite.”

3. Why Are We Chasing?: Jeremy Writebol – Writebol says, “In the beginning, there were no Inner Rings. We were created perfectly in community with God and with others. We enjoyed the security and comfort of full and abundant provision. We were children loved and accepted by God. The reality is that we were part of the greatest community, the greatest Inner Ring; God’s special and uniquely imprinted creation.”

4. Thoughts on The Rise and Fall of Pastors: Scott Sauls – Sauls says, “The best grace you could give to us pastors, then, is this: Pray for us, live in community with us, and insist that we live in community with you. Please don’t put us on pedestals or treat us as heroes. Rather, recognize us as fellow sojourners with you.”

5. See No Evil: Samuel D. James – James notes, “We hunger for something better. We were created for chastity and faithfulness, family and friendship. The tangling of flesh only satisfies when the soul has shriveled to its size. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see more than immaculately Photoshopped bodies. They shall see God.”

Matt Manry is the Assistant Pastor at Life Bible Church in Canton, Georgia. He writes at matthewwmanry.com.

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Barrett’s Book Notes: Natural Law, Mather, Kuyper, Romans, and Zechariah

Posted by on Apr 27, 2016 in Book Notes | No Comments
Barrett’s Book Notes: Natural Law, Mather, Kuyper, Romans, and Zechariah

VanDrunen_Divine Covenants_pb_wrk_013.inddDavid VanDrunen. Divine Covenants and Moral Order: A Biblical Theology of Natural Law (Emory University Studies in Law and Religion). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014.

David VanDrunen has done some excellent work on natural law, this book being his latest release on the subject. What sets this book apart is VanDrunen’s angle: providing a biblical theology of natural law. As you might have guessed, VanDrunen’s biblical theology is rooted in the Reformed tradition, particularly the two kingdoms vantage point.  Part 1 looks at natural law in the covenant of creation and Noahic covenant, while Part 2 explores the Abrahamic and Sinai covenants, as well as Wisdom literature and the new covenant. Also don’t miss the five sections at the end on various topics like Neo-Calvinism, David Kelsey’s Anthropology and the image of God, etc.

Paul Helm commends the book:

“David VanDrunen here continues his sterling work of recovering and re-presenting the Reformed doctrine of the two kingdoms. That there is a biblical-theological account of natural law may be a surprise to those who have habitually thought of natural law in secularized terms. But such law is a divine gift, playing its part in every era. VanDrunen shows that it is a revealed truth, confirmed in experience, and that it undergirds ‘the kingdoms of this world.’ “

9780802872111Rick Kennedy. The First American Evangelical: A Short Life of Cotton Mather. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015.

When you hear the name Cotton Mather (1663-1728) what first comes to mind? Probably the Salem witch trials! Well, Rick Kennedy is out to fix that, calling Mather America’s first evangelical. In this new biography Kennedy corrects misunderstandings and caricatures, demonstrating that Mather was a critical mover and shaker at the start of America’s history. If you are looking for a window into early evangelical-American Protestantism, Mather is an excellent place to start.

Douglas A. Sweeney
— author of The American Evangelical Story: A History of the Movement
“Cotton Mather is widely seen as a moralistic hypocrite, a one-dimensional bad guy we moderns love to hate. But in this lively new biography, he takes on flesh and blood and, more importantly, a heart. . . . This courageous little book offers readers a better feel for Mather’s vibrant, quirky, learned, evangelical spirituality than anything before.”

George M. Marsden
— author of A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards
“Mather’s life is one of the most fascinating in all of American history. Rick Kennedy has done a fine job in providing a sympathetic, engaging, and yet brief account of such a many-sided and influential personality.”

0004655_abraham_kuyper_a_pictorial_biographyJan de Bruijn. Abraham Kuyper: A Pictorial Biography. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015.

I am a big (!) fan of pictorial biographies. As much as I love the printed page, I love it even more when there are colorful photos that depict what I am reading. This new biography of Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) by de Bruijn is just that. The biography itself is unique in that it gives considerable attention to Kuyper’s personal life, rather than limiting itself to his worldview. But the book is in a category all by itself in terms of its illustrations, of which there are over 400 hundred.

John Bolt commends the work:

John Bolt
— Calvin Theological Seminary
“As valuable as Abraham Kuyper’s words are in providing a portrait of the man and his times, they are not enough. A bigger-than-life figure like Kuyper, who was both a product of his own time and a major influence on it, is understood much better when he and his world are made visible to us. Kuyper needs to be seen as well as heard, and this volume gives us the whole picture.”

Longenecker_NIGTC_Epistle to the Romans_jkt.inddRichard N. Longenecker. The Epistle to the Romans. NIGTC. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016.

The latest contribution to the NIGTC just released. Richard Longenecker is professor emeritus of New Testament at Wycliffe College, University of Totonto and has written substantial books on Paul, Romans, and Galatians before. Needless to say, this commentary on Romans is a lifetime’s work. Regardless of whether you agree with him or not on all his conclusions, his exegesis, biblical theology, and application demands engagement.

Romans scholar (and Credo Magazine contributor), Thomas Schreiner, commends the massive volume:

“Paul’s letter to the Romans is like Mount Everest in its grandeur and beauty. How fitting it is, then, for one of the deans of New Testament scholarship, Richard Longenecker, to present his interpretation of the letter in this magisterial commentary. All the virtues of Longenecker’s work are evident here: in-depth exegesis, careful evaluation of the literary and historical setting of the letter, and consideration of the letter’s message for readers today. Interpreters of Romans are indebted to Longenecker and will want to consult his work regularly.”
— Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

9780802823755Mark J. Boda. The Book of Zechariah. NICOT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016.

While we are on the subject of commentaries, don’t miss the latest addition to The New International Commentary on the Old Testament by Mark Boda on the book of Zechariah. I wish more pastors were brave enough to venture into the prophets as they think through sermon series. If that is you, then pick up this new volume by Boda as you preach through Zechariah. You will need to wrestle with his commentary as you think through his exegesis.

p.s., right now this large commentary is 32% off at Westminster Bookstore!

Tremper Longman III
— Westmont College
“The book of Zechariah fascinates us and informs us about the postexilic Judean community’s relationship with God. Mark Boda, a master of this time period and this genre, opens up the book to readers today. His commentary is clear and profound, informative and illuminating. Everyone who studies Zechariah must read Boda’s work, which makes an important contribution to scholarship and to the church.”

Matthew Barrett is Tutor of Systematic Theology and Church History at Oak Hill Theological College in London, as well as the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. Barrett is the author of numerous book reviews and articles in academic and popular journals and magazines. He is the author of several books, including Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and RegenerationOwen on the Christian Life: Living for the Glory of God in Christ (Theologians on the Christian Life)God’s Word Alone: The Authority of ScriptureCurrently he is the series editor of The 5 Solas Series with Zondervan. You can read more about Barrett at matthewmbarrett.com.

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T4G messages now available

Posted by on Apr 26, 2016 in Audio | One Comment
T4G messages now available

The video from T4G is now available. Here are the main sessions:

 

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Sunday’s Sermon: Citizens of a Free City (Thomas Schreiner)

Posted by on Apr 25, 2016 in Sunday's Sermon | No Comments
Sunday’s Sermon: Citizens of a Free City (Thomas Schreiner)

Credo Magazine contributors Thomas Schreiner, Matthew Barrett, and Fred Zaspel not only teach in the classroom but preach from the pulpit. So each Monday morning we will be highlighting one sermon they have preached in order to provide you with encouragement throughout your week and with an opportunity to study God’s Word.
 

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Doctrine of God books on sale

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in Announcement | No Comments
Doctrine of God books on sale

Westminster Bookstore is having a sale on three doctrine of God books that are must reads for every student, pastor, churchgoer, and theologian.

0875522637mJohn Frame. The Doctrine of God. 

In The Doctrine of God John M. Frame resolves to remain faithful to sola Scriptura. “I seek here above all,” he writes, “to present what Scripture says about God, applying that teaching . . . to the questions of our time.” He includes copious references to biblical texts on particular subjects, indicating “the pervasiveness of these doctrines throughout the Bible.”

This volume’s central motif is that “god is Lord of the covenant.” Frame demonstrates “how all of the acts, attributes, and personal distinctions that Scripture attributes to God are expressions of his lordship.” This approach focuses “our attention on the main biblical message of salvation without ignoring or denying the large amount of biblical teaching on the nature and acts of God.”

“Our message to the world must emphasize that God is real, and that he will not be trifled with,” writes Frame, “He is the almighty, majestic Lord of heaven and earth, and demands our most passionate love and obedience. The theology helps us to formulate that message, applying the biblical teaching about God to us and to our time.”

0830815317mGerald Bray. The Doctrine of God. 

What is theology? What is the nature of God? How should we think about the relationships among the persons of the Trinity? In a carefully reasoned style Gerald Bray distills the essence of these questions and introduces readers to a theological understanding of the personal, trinitarian existence of God.

Engaging classical and contemporary theology along the way, Bray also leads us into conversation with the Eastern Orthodox tradition, where he finds valuable insights sadly neglected by evangelical theology.

Here is a substantial introduction to the nature and subject of God, and a compelling call for evangelicals to renew their commitment to the solid foundation of a truly trinitarian theology.

0801026555mHerman Bavinck. Reformed Dogmatics. Vol. 2: God and Creation. 

Arguably the most important systematic theology ever produced in the Reformed tradition – I have found it to be the most valuable – English-speaking theology throughout the 20th century until now has been singularly impoverished by not having at its disposal a translation of Bavinck’s Dogmatiek in its entirety. The appearance of this volume, with the remaining three planned to follow in the near future, will be an incomparable boon for generations of students, pastors, teachers and others, serving to deepen understanding and enrich reflection in both historical and systematic theology. –Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. – Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia

 

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Credo’s Cache

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in Credo's cache | No Comments
Credo’s Cache

Each week we will be highlighting important resources. Check back each Friday to see what we have dug up for you. From this week’s cache:

1. Evolution and a Universe as Young as Humanity: Tim Challies – Challies says, “If we admit and endorse an ancient universe, we see a vastly purposeless universe that for the great majority of time had no human beings to bring purpose and order to it. We see that humanity’s role in the universe is late and incidental rather than timely and purposeful.”

2. When Your Twenties Are Darker Than You Expected: Paul Maxwell – Maxwell notes, “The human body starts dying at age 25. Our twenties slap us with the expiration date of sin’s curse (Genesis 6:3): slowly, in our ligaments; tightly, in our muscle fibers; subtly, checking for bumps; decimally, with a rising BMI. We feel death in our twenties; emotionally and relationally, in ugly and odious ways.”

3. Longing for My Real Home: Whitney Woollard – Woollard says, “Narnia made a lasting impression on me at a mature level, but that doesn’t mean it’s reserved for adults. If you are a parent, I encourage you to read this series to your children at the appropriate age and use it as a springboard to talk about Jesus and eternity.”

4. 3 Tips for Leading a Volunteer-Led Church: Joshua Hedger – Hedger says, “All churches rely heavily on volunteers. Some of our churches rely solely on volunteers. The average church has a small paid staff. Many churches find themselves with only one paid position. Or, in the case of my church plant, there are no paid positions at this time. We are all volunteers.”

5. Can Your Theology Handle the book of Lamentations?: Erik Raymond – Raymond notes, “You have to see that there is a lot more at stake here than at first glance. If you can’t handle the themes and trajectories of Lamentations then you can’t handle the gospel. Every thread in this book is divinely stitched to Calvary.”

Matt Manry is the Assistant Pastor at Life Bible Church in Canton, Georgia. He writes at matthewwmanry.com.

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A Pastor’s Reading Plan

Posted by on Apr 21, 2016 in Book Reviews | No Comments
A Pastor’s Reading Plan

So you’re a pastor. You might be interested to know that the Schleitheim Confession, an early Anabaptist creed, specified that the first duty of the pastoral office “shall be to read.” The Anabaptists were right. Nearly everything a pastor does in shepherding the flock—preaching, instructing, encouraging, admonishing, counseling—depends upon his growth through reading. That remains as true today as it was in 1527.

As a pastor, you need to have a profound grasp of the Scriptures. That kind of grasp comes only by repeated and detailed reading. A man who is not reading the Bible habitually is not equipped to pastor effectively. In fact, you ought to be reading the Bible at least two ways at once. One way is to read through the entire biblical text fairly rapidly, covering chapters each day. The other way is to study particular texts in detail, probably coordinated with your weekly preaching.

But you ought to read more than the Bible. You need to read materials that directly provide you with information and skills for ministry. You also need to read works that will improve you as a human being, helping you to become more thoughtful, knowledgeable, and interesting.

Most pastors know that they ought to read, but they don’t know what an effective reading program looks like. They need a method or plan that will help to guide them. I want to focus on just one part of that method, namely, a plan for reading books.

You should have goals in reading, just as you should in every area of ministry. Tracking progress toward a goal can help you to balance reading with other pastoral duties. An average pastor with a college and seminary education can comfortably complete about one ordinary book every week. By “ordinary book” I mean a book written in non-technical, discursive prose, with average page and print size, running about 250 pages. Some books can be read faster, some slower. Some books are longer, some shorter. Some pastors sprint through books like cheetahs after antelope, while others just lope along. But every pastor should be able to read a book per week.

If that seems challenging, then a few tips might help. First, force yourself to read rapidly. You can almost certainly read more quickly than you already do, and rapid reading is a skill that can be learned. Second, set aside blocs of time for reading. As a pastor, I would do much of my reading on Mondays, and then take a different day off when I felt less drained. Third, always have a book with you to read in odd moments. You can read in the airport until your flight boards. You can read at the mall while you’re waiting for your wife to come out of the shoe store. You can read while you’re stopped by a train crossing the road. Fourth, choose to read instead of getting trapped in time sinks like television, social media, or computer games. Fifth, join a reading group. Start one if you need to.

What should you read? Since you work directly with Scripture, a good bit of your reading will obviously focus upon biblical studies. You will read commentaries as part of your sermon preparation. You should also read works dealing with biblical history, Bible backgrounds, archaeology, biblical theology, and critical issues.

Furthermore, you should read systematic theology regularly. Ernest Pickering used to recommend that pastors read fifty pages of theology every week. That would only be ten pages a day. Three or four years of this kind of reading will help a young pastor prepare for his ordination council, particularly if he keeps his doctrinal statement open on his computer screen while he reads.

Works of philosophy should also be part of your regular reading—especially if the word philosophy is understood rather broadly. Philosophy includes not only metaphysics, epistemology, and logic (though pastors should have more than a passing acquaintance with these disciplines), but also esthetics (the study of the nature of beauty and, more broadly, art) and ethics. These days it arguably includes hermeneutics. Philosophy of religion and its cousin, apologetics, also comes under this rubric.

A grasp of history is important for many reasons, and especially for understanding how Christianity has developed and spread. Of course you should read history, and not only church history. Political history, social history, intellectual history, and biography should be a regular part of your reading cycle.

Some of your reading ought to help you improve your gifts for ministry. In seminary you probably read lots of books on administration, counseling, preaching, evangelism, and other areas of pastoral labor. You ought to keep on reading those books as long as you hope to become more skillful.

As a pastor, you are a communicator. In your preaching and teaching you should aim not only to impart information but also to shape affection. To reach the affections you must pass through the gate of imagination. You must be a sufficiently competent student of the imagination to distinguish legitimate from manipulative appeals. Consequently, you will be well served to study works of imagination, which means that you ought to read a certain amount of poetry and belletristic literature. You should pay special attention to those who have used storytelling to communicate Christian ideas and sensibilities. Authors like MacDonald, Chesterton, Lewis, and Tolkien deserve whole shelves in your library.

Do not neglect your own devotional life in your reading. Some works you should read, not because they help you to know more about God, but because they help you to love God better. As a pastor, part of your job is to confront, correct, and encourage others. You also need to be confronting, correcting, and encouraging yourself, and the right kind of reading will help you do that.

Finally, you ought to read widely. Part of your planned reading ought to include books that fit none of the above categories. You should read books of math and science, books on sailing and aviation, books about hunting, art criticism, home repair, and automotive maintenance. You should aim to be able to converse intelligently on as many topics as possible.

How will you stay on track with such a variety of reading? You will almost certainly need to keep a log of what you have read. You can list your reading in a notebook or journal, keeping track of the number of books and pages you are reading. You should also keep track of the categories from which your reading comes. If you see that you are neglecting a category, you’ll know that you need to do your next reading there.

I’m always surprised when I meet pastors who read only a book or two each year. I wonder what their congregations must be hearing from their pulpits. So, you’re a pastor? Read.

Kevin T. Bauder is Research Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary

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