Saturday, February 19, 2022

What is Old and What is New

In the Gospel According to Matthew, right after a section of recorded parables, we read this: 

[51] “Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” [52] And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” 

Matthew 13:51–52 (ESV)

I have no idea what this means. 

I love it. It is wonderful and marvelous and mysterious. Important truths have been opened to me in the reading of this short little parable. But I don't really know what he is talking about. 

I do know that I genuinely want to be a scribe who has been trained for the Kingdom of Heaven. 

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Filling up the Afflictions of Christ by John Piper - Book Review

 Filling up the Afflictions of Christ is book number five in the series of books by John Piper called, The Swans are not Silent. I think, but I'm not sure, that each of these books... and even each of the three short biographies in each book... sprang from a conference message or a church message that John Piper originally delivered. I believe most of these have sermons that you can find online at DesiringGod.Org. 

In this book we can read about William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton. The unifying thread with these three men is, as the book subtitle states: "The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations..." in each of their lives. 

The title of this book comes from Colossians 1:24 -- 

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.

Piper goes on to explain this passage by saying, 

"What is lacking in the afflictions of Christ is not that they are deficient in worth, as though they could not sufficiently cover the sins of all who believe. What is lacking is that the infinite value of Christ's afflictions is not known and trusted in the world. These afflictions and what they mean are still hidden to most peoples. And God's intention is that the mystery be revealed to all the nations. So the afflictions of Christ are 'lacking' in the sense that they are not seen and known and loved among the nations. They must be carried by the missionaries. And those missionaries 'complete' what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ by extending them to others."

All three of these short biographies are impactful in their own right, but I found the elements of Adoniram Judson's life to be the weightiest in my own heart and mind. The enduring hardships, the regular encounters with death, and the deep distresses of dark emotions all left me with a lasting respect for what was accomplished through God's sovereign grace in his life and an odd desire to follow, in what ways I could, in his footsteps. 

The reading of Christian biographies and autobiographies is important for many reasons; including reminding us of our rich heritage, prompting us toward deeper and more lasting affections, and inspiring us to keep our eyes on things that are eternal and lasting. The benefit of this series of books is found in the brevity of the stories, the emphasis on their lasting impact, and the unpacking of how Biblical doctrine that is both wide and deep will serve as the spiritual food and strength for Spirit-filled people. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Contending for Our All by John Piper: Book Review

It is a snow day today... And I just completed a book!

The book is Contending for Our All, by John Piper. This is the 4th book in his series: The Swans are not Silent. 

This is the first book I have read in this series. In this book, John Piper writes about three men who contended for the Faith: Athanasius, John Owen, and J. Gresham Machen. He isn't attempting to give a complete biography of any of these individuals, but instead is seeking to highlight one aspect of their lives. In the case of these three: it is the controversies that surrounded them, and the heart for the beauty of God in the face of Jesus Christ that supported and motivated each of these men through these controversies. 

With each one of the biographical summaries that Piper shares, I found myself to not only be intrigued by these men... wanting to read more of each of their lives and to read more of their writing, but also spurred on toward a more persistent delving into the mysteries of God myself. 

I would encourage you to read this book, especially if you know nothing about the lives of these three men. This book will give you a taste of our rich historical lineage in the truths of Genuine Christianity.