Category Archives: Gospel
Denny Burk preached a strong word this morning at Kenwood Baptist Church. For a taste of the passionate and righteous justice of the cause see this post, and check out the audio of this strong sermon:
God will do justice.
The only hope for sinners is repentance.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news.
Hide it in your heart. Talk of them when you rise up and lie down, when you sit in your house and walk by the way.
Don’t waste your life. And don’t waste the childhood of your little ones.
“Abandonment, abortion, abuse, addiction, adultery, alcoholism, alienation, anorexia–words hardly understood a few generations ago but now on everyone’s tongue, words we can hardly escape if we pick up a newspaper or turn on television. It is generally taken for granted that these sins and sorrows can be dealt with only by law, or by something we heard little about years ago–counseling. The results of such measures are not always brilliant.
Glenda’s Story, comprising all of those ‘A’ words, reveals the wondrous efficacy of a far older answer, an answer far less frequently sought today except as a desperate venture–the Cross of Jesus.”
The second to last paragraph in the book reads like this:
“I have heard people argue for abortion ‘because the child would be better off never to see life than to be abused and violated. It is better to be dead than unwanted,’ they say. May I offer my life–and the lives of my children–as a contradiction to that argument?”
My friend Justin Tubbs loaned me this powerful testimony of God’s grace and the cleansing and healing and renewing beauty of the gospel, and I commend it to you.
This past Sunday we were privileged to hear a fabulous exposition of Psalm 127 in its canonical context at Kenwood Baptist Church from Jeremy Farmer. This was the first sermon I’ve heard on Psalm 127, and Jeremy did a great job tracing out how this Psalm of Solomon fits with the promise to David and is fulfilled in Jesus.
You definitely want to hear this.
If you’re like me, you’re eager to know about and support those who are taking the gospel where Christ has not been named, and Jeremy and his family are doing just that. So I commend him to you. Jeremy is a great preacher who understands biblical theology and does a great job articulating God’s big purpose from the perspective of the whole story.
Check out their website. They have raised about 60% of the support they need, and they hope to be ready to go to Cambodia by May of 2011.
Here’s how Jeremy concluded his sermon:
The eternal purpose of God is to call out from every kindred, tongue, people, and nation, a multitude redeemed by the blood of His Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world, over whom He will crown His Son, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, King of kings and Lord of lords forever.
This is the passion of the heart of God that cannot be quenched, the obsession of His mind that cannot be denied, the vision of His eye that cannot grow dim, and the destination to which He has committed His omnipotent, immutable, eternal being: a destination He will not abandon. (Daryl Champlin)
Thomas R. Schreiner and Matthew R. Crawford have done us a great service in editing The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ until He Comes, which has just appeared from Broadman and Holman.
I’m honored to have contributed to this project, and I’m grateful that Broadman and Holman has kindly granted me permission to post my essay here:
“The Lord’s Supper in Paul: An Identity Forming Proclamation of the Gospel,” pages 68–102 in The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes, ed. Thomas R. Schreiner and Matthew R. Crawford, NACSBT (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2010).
Patrick Schreiner has an interview with the editors.
Here’s the outline of my essay:
2. Problems in the Corinthian Church
2.1 First Corinthians 1–4, The Gospel Against Factionalism
2.2 First Corinthians 5–7, The Gospel Against Sexual Immorality
2.3 First Corinthians 8–10, The Gospel Against Idolatry
3. The Lord’s Supper: An Identity Shaping Proclamation of the Gospel
3.1 Anti-gospel Divisions
3.2 Proclaiming the Lord’s Death
3.3 Partaking in a Worthy Manner
3.4 Receiving One Another
4. Implications for the Contemporary Church
Here’s the Table of Contents for the volume:
David S. Dockery, “Foreword”
Thomas R. Schreiner and Matthew R. Crawford, “Introduction”
1. Andreas J. Koestenberger, “Was the Last Supper a Passover Meal?”
2. Jonathan T. Pennington, “The Lord’s Supper in the Fourfold Witness of the Gospels”
3. James M. Hamilton Jr., “The Lord’s Supper in Paul: An Identity-Forming Proclamation of the Gospel”
4. Michael A. G. Haykin, “‘A Glorious Inebriation’: Eucharistic Thought and Piety in the Patristic Era”
5. David S. Hogg, “Carolingian Conflict: Two Monks on the Mass”
6. Gregg R. Allison, “The Theology of the Eucharist according to the Catholic Church”
7. Matthew R. Crawford, “On Faith, Signs, and Fruits: Martin Luther’s Theology of the Lord’s Supper”
8. Bruce A. Ware, “The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper in the Theology of Ulrich Zwingli (1484–1531)”
9. Shawn D. Wright, “The Reformed View of the Lord’s Supper”
10. Gregory A. Wills, “Sounds from Baptist History”
11. Brian J. Vickers, “Celebrating the Past and Future in the Present”
12. Gregory Alan Thornbury, “The Lord’s Supper and Works of Love”
13. Ray Van Neste, “The Lord’s Supper in the Context of the Local Church
Thomas R. Schreiner and Matthew R. Crawford, “Epilogue”
Brian Croft has given us yet another helpful resource in Help! He’s Struggling with Pornography.
It’s like our culture is a field, and every few feet there is a hidden steel trap. Iron jaws ready to smash shut when triggered, ripping flesh and shattering bone, crippling the unfortunate, unwary pilgrim. How do we recover from the devastation of the steel trap of pornography?
This little booklet is a great place to start. Pastor Brian’s theology is sound: the problem is that our hearts are defiled. The solution is the new birth and new heart promised in the gospel. And the help we need to navigate the dangerous field full of hidden steel traps is to be found in the accountability of the local church.
I commend this booklet to you. Flee youthful lusts. Fight the good fight of faith. Honor God and pursue holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.
You can get copies of Help! He’s Struggling with Pornography here.
In this picture you see me and my friend Jason Mirikitani running the White Rock Marathon in Dallas, TX back in 1997. He looks happy and strong, and I’m suffering to finish! That brother carried be through that day. He stayed by me when he could have gone on ahead, finished the race, and gotten off his feet sooner. He laid down his life and suffered with me to help me finish. Praise God for such a friend!
Just under ten years ago, this dear brother was in a tragic accident. The delight of his eyes, his young wife of just over 3 years, was killed. He was in critical condition. Thankfully, their one year old baby was unhurt.
Miraculously, he lived. Miraculously, he walked again. Miraculously, he continued to trust God and give him glory. Jason is a miracle of God. He recently finished a degree at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis.
My dear friend Jason has now given us his story of faith being refined and purified through much affliction. Here is a modern day Job. I commend this book to you: Mile Marker 825: A Widower’s Survival and Resurrected Hope.
Christmas is just around the corner. This would be a great encouragement for a believer facing trials, and it’s a great testimony of God’s mercy and power for those considering the claims of Christianity.
Here’s the blurb I wrote for the book:
Peter likened tested faith to gold refined by fire. Jason Mirikitani’s faith has been refined by suffering, and now through smoke and flame he testifies. Praise be to the mighty God who sustained him in all his woe, and praise God we get to read the story.”
I received my copy on Friday, and my parents were in town this weekend. My mom picked up the book and didn’t put it down until she had finished the whole thing.
Or you can go straight to Amazon to get your copy, which I highly recommend you do.
Crossway has kindly granted permission for me to post my essay from the Piper Festschrift:
James M. Hamilton Jr., “The Mystery of Marriage,” pages 253-71 in For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper, ed. Sam Storms and Justin Taylor. Wheaton: Crossway, 2010.
Taken from For the Fame of God’s Name edited by Sam Storms and Justin Taylor, ©2010. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.
Here is the opening paragraph of “The Mystery of Marriage”:
Marriage holds a unique place in all the Bible: what else joins two image-bearers together as one, serves as a key concept for understanding the relationship between Yahweh and Israel then Christ and the church, and consequently affords to every married couple the opportunity to live out the gospel? God sets himself on display in marriage, which means that God shows his glory in marriage. Thus, the thesis of this essay is that marriage exists as a unique display of God’s glory. In order to establish and exposit this thesis we will look first at the way that marriage joins two persons in the likeness of God as one. From there the second section explores the way that Yahweh’s relationship to Israel is treated as a marriage, and the third section of this essay will examine the way that marriage exists to portray the relationship between Christ and the church. The final section will look at marriages as mini-dramas of the gospel.
 I am humbled to have this opportunity to honor John Piper. The Lord has used him mightily in my life, mainly as I have listened to recorded sermons and addresses across the years. In this preaching, the Lord has used John Piper to herald again and again the infinite glory of God in Christ. I cannot adequately thank him for showing me such glory, but I can join him in praising this glorious God, this worthy Savior, and this powerful Spirit, three persons, ever one God, worthy of all praise. And praise be to God for John Piper! I am also grateful to write on the topic of marriage in honor of Piper, since his chapter on marriage in Desiring God provided a key insight I have pursued in my own marriage and announced at every wedding at which it has been my privilege to speak: love seeks its joy in the joy of the beloved. “The reason there is so much misery in marriage is not that husbands and wives seek their own pleasure, but that they do not seek it in the pleasure of their spouses” (John Piper, Desiring God [Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996], 175–76). See also John Piper, This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence (Wheaton: Crossway, 2009).
 For a wider discussion of marriage in the Old Testament, see Paul R. House, Old Testament Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1998), 466–69. For a broader discussion of marriage that takes up the issues of divorce, qualifications for elders, and children, see Thomas R. Schreiner, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 776–86.
From there the outline of the essay is as follows:
Adam and Eve: Two Become One
Yahweh and Israel: Covenant Broken and Kept
Hosea 1: Hosea and Gomer
Hosea 2: Israel’s History and Future
Hosea 3: Hosea and Israel’s Future
Jesus and the Church: Marriage and the Gospel
The Fulfillment of Old Testament Expectation
The Deep Waters of the Meaning of Marriage
The Gospel and Marriage
The essay’s end is punctuated by an attempt at poetry:
Like land and sea and stars above
And all else he has made,
This too is for the glory of
The one who has displayed
A love not based on beauty’s shades
Nor driven by some debt,
A love before there were yet days
Like none else ever met.
The archetype for man and wife
Is Christ’s love for his bride.
To Christ her Lord the church submits,
And for her life he died.
And for this reason, man should leave
His parents and his kin,
And to his wife then he shall cleave
Never to leave again.
Please do read the whole thing. This essay was written for a volume honoring John Piper, and my prayer is also that it will serve to strengthen the marriages of those who read it.
May your understanding of the gospel be deepened, and may it be displayed in the way you love your spouse and hold marriage in honor (Heb 13:5, even if you aren’t married).
I remember hearing John Hannah say at DTS: There are two things that you need to learn at seminary. First, the Bible is God’s word. Second, the Bible is the tool God uses to conform his people to the image of the Lord Jesus.
To see God’s word at work in the hearts and lives of his people is to see God do miracles. When we see people do what the Bible tells them to do, we should not take it for granted. We should not assume that’s just what people do. We should remember how selfish our own hearts are, contemplate how God by his Spirit has enabled these people to hear his Word, and worship God for the power he exercises in conforming people to the image of Christ, who laid down his life for us. It’s a miracle when a sinner acts like Jesus.
What a blessing and joy to see God’s mighty power at work: Jesus loved us by laying down his life, and I praise God to see the people of Kenwood Baptist Church living out true religion by caring for orphans and widows.
Here’s a beautiful picture of what you normally think of when you think of widows and orphans, and here’s another instance of a man caring for the “orphans” whose parents are alive but don’t protect them (in this instance I’m picking up on the way that Piper spoke of the women and babies affected by abortion as widows and orphans).
It has been my privilege to preach through the book of Ezra at Kenwood, and here are the sermons in one post:
June 27, 2010, Ezra 1-2, God Keeps His Promises
July 4, 2010, Ezra 3, Disappointing Fulfillment
July 18, 2010, Ezra 4, In the World You Will Have Trouble
August 1, 2010, Ezra 5-6, The Second Temple
August 8, 2010, Ezra 7, Change the World: Study the Bible
August 22, 2010, Ezra 8, The Hand of Our God for Good
August 29, 2010, Ezra 9-10, Repentance Is the Only Remedy
May the Lord bless the reading and hearing of his word.
Joseph Fitzmyer writes regarding Genesis 3:15:
“Moreover, this verse does not mention משיח [Messiah], or even have a hidden reference to a coming Messiah, despite the later interpretations often given to it in both the Jewish and Christian tradition” (Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The One Who Is to Come [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007], 28).
The language and imagery of Genesis 3:15 is reused all across the Old Testament and into the New. Further, the blessings of Genesis 12:1-3 are the direct answer to the curses of Genesis 3:14-19, and the Balaam oracles in Numbers 22-24 connect Genesis 3:15 to Genesis 12:1-3 and Genesis 49:8-12, so that we see that within the Pentateuch itself Genesis 3:15 exercises a profound influence on the gathering lines of promise. This is picked up in the Prophets and the Writings and rightly understood by, among others, the Apostle Paul, who explains that the blessing of Abraham has come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:14, cf. 3:16).
For more detail, see these two essays:
“The Skull Crushing Seed of the Woman: Inner-Biblical Interpretation of Genesis 3:15,” The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 10.2 (2006), 30–54.
“The Seed of the Woman and the Blessing of Abraham,” Tyndale Bulletin 58.2 (2007), 253–73.
Nice profile here on SEBTS’s Dr. Danny Akin. Some gems:
“I don’t want to stand before God and say I did very little with what you gave us,” Akin said.
. . . .
Of the many sights he has seen on his travels, one keeps him up at night. On a trip to Thailand with wife Charlotte, he and a couple of missionaries were on their way to a restaurant when their car passed a half-mile-long strip of prostitutes, many who apparently were between the ages of 12 and 15.
“Buddhism isn’t going to do a thing to stop that,” he said. “Hinduism isn’t going to do a thing to stop that. What could change the hearts of the pimps and the men who exploit these girls is the gospel.”
But Akin knew that less than 3 cents of every dollar given to his denomination goes abroad. So he set about to change that. Although the Great Commission Resurgence has no financial mandates for change, its approval set the wheels in motion for more money collected in donations to the Southern Baptist Convention to flow to international missions.
. . . .
“It’s always easier to dig a well than to look someone in the face and say ‘Can I share the Gospel of Jesus Christ?'” Akin said.
. . . .
For Akin, it comes down to the exclusive message of the gospel: “If I believe there is a hell rushing at you, I do you no favor by saying, ‘In the end we’ll get to the same place,’ ” Akin said. “I don’t believe that. My assignment is to help you avoid that crisis in eternity.”
Read the whole thing.
HT: SchreinerPatrick and Nathan Finn
You never know who is sitting in your class. When I was teaching at SWBTS Houston, I had the privilege of teaching Jason Skaer. It’s been an even greater privilege to see our friendship grow over the last few years, and he was kind enough to answer some questions about his conversion, how basketball (Oklahoma State, Rice, Austria, and the Rockets made the mistake of not keeping him) has helped him in the ministry. Whereas he used to talk trash at Michael Jordan, Jason now pastors The Church at Alden Bridge in The Woodlands, TX.
Fast facts: Jason was second off the bench on the 1995 Oklahoma State team that went to the Final Four, and he was a Rhodes Scholar candidate. His wife was a star basketball player at Rice and a scholar in her own right (if it doesn’t open to page 10, go to page 10 on the linked PDF). The best thing about Jason, though, is that he is a humble man of God who knows that God the Father exalts Jesus by his Spirit through the word.
Could you describe how you came to faith in Jesus?
Not growing up in the church I had very little Bible knowledge and consequently knew close to nothing about the gospel. However, during my first year playing professional basketball in Europe I decided to read the Bible from cover to cover. Thus it was quite literally through the power of God’s Word that I came to know Christ. No tricks, no gimmicks, the gospel was good enough to convict and save.
Are there ways that basketball has helped and/or hurt your approach to the ministry?
Basketball has been immensely helpful. There’s no “I” in team and that certainly holds true in the church. It takes everybody working together and utilizing their gifts to grow a healthy congregation. Stubborn persistence taken from the athletic arena has also served me greatly. Helping plant and eventually pastor a new church is difficult work. There will be days when the deck seems stacked against you. But if you believe God’s called you to the task you can’t give in. Too many ministers (and church members) throw in the towel during the hard days. But as we’re experiencing now there is great fulfillment and joy in sailing through the storm and ultimately seeing brighter days.
Tell me about The Church at Alden Bridge.
The Church at Alden Bridge has a simple mission statement: “Our mission is to be disciples and make disciples of Jesus Christ.” This means we aim to both know God and make Him known. Thus we are serious about discipleship and equipping our members while being equally passionate about reaching the lost. In my experience churches are usually good at one or the other. Either we’re good at equipping but offer a cold environment, or we’re really welcoming but have no real depth. My hope and prayer is that TCAAB holds these two important mandates in balance.
What do you find most helpful as you prepare to preach?
The most helpful aspect of my preaching preparation is that I am absolutely committed to and passionate about expository preaching. We simply march verse by verse through the whole counsel of God’s word. For instance, we spent the last two semesters in James and this Summer we are working through Psalms 11-21. I simply don’t have the capacity or creativity to wake up each Monday morning and invent some new catchy sermon series. We believe that God’s Word is good enough for God’s people and it’s been my experience here that His Word is more relevant and penetrating than anything I could ever invent. Thus in sticking with the Bible, regardless of how it gets delivered (which I work very hard on), I know for certain that the content is always good.
Tell me about the specific challenges of doing ministry in The Woodlands.
The Woodlands is a pretty affluent community and thus like other similar communities many don’t see a need for God. We’ve built our identity around job and possessions and family and missed out on the Main Thing. I will say however that with the recent economic downturn some of our idols have been taken away and many are now asking questions that only the gospel can answer.
What have you most enjoyed seeing God do as you have served The Church at Alden Bridge?
There are few greater joys than witnessing hungry people get fed the things of God. We get lots of folks who are “tired of seeing the same movie every week” and looking for something deeper and it’s fun to feed them. We also get lots of unchurched and unbelieving folks who stroll in on a Sunday not knowing what they’re looking for but get turned on to the truth of the gospel and it’s fun to feed them too. God is building a church in this community that vindicates once more the sufficiency of His Word and it thrills me to no end to have the privilege of serving a work like this.
Thanks for taking the time to serve us with this interview, Jason!
It’s beautiful to see the Lord transform people. Glory to God for his mercy!
I recommend you check out Jason’s sermons here.
God’s best gift to me (excepting salvation) was born on this day. What a gift! Mere words could never communicate my gratitude and joy at being married to this woman. Thanks be to God, and thanks be to Jillian Ashley Hamilton for marrying me.
On this day I think of the little book put together by Michael A. G. Haykin withVictoria J. Haykin, The Christian Lover: The Sweetness of Love and Marriage in the Letters of Believers. When Dr. Haykin so kindly gave me a copy of this book, I was surprised by what I found. I expected the kind of romantic expressions one finds in poems like Byron’s “She Walks in Beauty” or in the culture at large–glorifying the beauty of the beloved or professing (idolatrous?) devotion to another human . . . To my surprise, this book is full of Christian lovers praising God and spurring one another on to love and good deeds. In The Christian Lover one sees that human love is most fitly expressed by those devoted to Christ and his kingdom.
I commend this book to you, and in its spirit I attempt a literary tribute to my sweet wife. This effort seeks to turn Byron’s “She Walks in Beauty” from a focus on superficial beauty to that which is true and lasting.
This adaptation of “She Walks in Beauty” is for my sweet Jill on her birthday.
She walks in beauty, like the Christ
Of servant love and laid down life;
And all her own is sacrificed
For those she loves, O noble wife!
With others’ joy she is sufficed
And so with peace and hope is rife.
The children know her love for them,
And deep is their security;
Her husband knows her love for him
How blessed am I, that I am he!
In season she does bear and blossom,
By water streams, a God-planted tree.
Thus wizened by the Lord’s own ways,
The shallows she does all deny,
And I will sing for all my days,
And glory, laud, and honor cry –
To God I give my thanks and praise,
For she is mine and hers am I.
June 16, 2010
Happy Birthday, sweet Jill
Curious about what’s happening in the Southern Baptist Convention, especially with the Great Commission Resurgence? I’m thinking especially of those of you who might be coming to SBTS from non-SBC backgrounds–and that includes those of you thinking about coming to SBTS but your hesitations about the SBC are in the way.
You really should read Trevin Wax’s great summary of the issues: GCR in a Nutshell. Here’s his conclusion:
At the fundamental level, the GCR Task Force recommendations are about how we can best cooperate in pushing back lostness. Some of the recommendations are missional; others are about SBC culture. Some are about ministry priorities; others are about stewardship and structure. Regardless of one’s point of view, it is our Christian duty to assume the best in our brothers and sisters, seeing in each another the sincere desire for Southern Baptists to be good stewards of God’s money.