D.A. Carson – on reasons Christians doubt (Essential message)

Carson: „There are many different kinds of doubt, different things that can cause doubt.” Here’s one example Carson cites:  „I’ve had men come to me at the age of 47, who have been reared in a Christian home, married a young christian woman, reared their own children in the admonition of the Lord, been faithful at church many, many years, but somehow they’ve begun to drift, to cool off and instead of being faithful to prayer meetings they show up on Sundays (only) if they have time while climbing the slippery slope of middle and upper management and so on, but, there’s no love for Christ anymore and eventually one of them would come up to me and say, „You know, I just don’t believe all this stuff anymore, I doubt just about everything.” Do you know what I say, „With whom are you sleeping?10,000 decisions got him there, all of them wrong.

Dr. DA Carson speaks on doubting the resurrection of Jesus

D A Carson – summarizes the Bible in 221 words

God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.
But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.
In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16;2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

The Bible tells us that people who end up in hell do not repent

The Parable of Lazarus and the rich man

Luke 16:19-31

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham,have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

via Christian Post

People who end up in hell do not repent, from what the Bible tells us, said respected New Testament scholar Don Arthur (D.A.) Carson on Sunday at The Gospel Coalition National Women’s Conference in Orlando.

Carson, who is co-founder of The Gospel Coalition along with Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, said that as far as he can see in the Bible, „there is no hint anywhere that people in hell genuinely repent.”

Pointing to the well-known parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, Carson, who is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., noted that in the story the rich man dies and from hell he looks up and sees Lazarus and Abraham. But instead of admitting that he was wrong to treat Lazarus poorly while they were alive, the rich man continues to boss him around.

„Wouldn’t you expect him (rich man) to say, ‘Oh Lazarus, did I get that one wrong. I am so sorry. Would you please forgive me?'” Carson posed. „But he doesn’t even address him. He was a nobody in the days of his flesh. The rich man doesn’t deal with nobodies, he goes straight to the top.”

Paraphrasing verse 24, the theologian recalls the rich man saying, „‘Father Abraham, tell Lazarus to go dip his finger into water and bring something to cool my tongue. It’s pretty hot here.’

„Where is the repentance in that? He still thinks he is the center of the universe! He is still going to order Lazarus around! There is no brokenness, there is no contrition, there is no shame!

Moreover, the rich man argues theologically with Abraham, „‘No Father Abraham you got that one wrong. If someone rose from the dead that would really make a difference, don’t you see?’

„Hell is not filled with people who are deeply sorry for their sins,” Carson stated. „It is filled with people who for all eternity still shake their puny fist in the face of God almighty in an endless existence of evil, and corruption, and shame, and the wrath of God.”

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D A Carson at Liberty University Q + A February 2012

You can watch the 66 minute lecture preceding the Q & A here- Biblical Studies Symposium at Liberty University – One Focus of the Gospel: John 3.

The Biblical Studies Symposium hosted Dr. D.A. Carson on February 20th, 2012. Dr. D.A. Carson addressed students and faculty in the Towns Alumni Lecture Hall at 7:30pm with „One Focus of the Gospel: John 3.

Topics addresses: Repentance, being Born Again, Sin, consumerism, built in hedonism is bound up in pleasant places, tolerance, exclusive truth claims, modern day invitational methods, abundant life (i.e. prosperity gospel), the role of law and Gospel, cheap grace, Wesley view of law & grace, Tim Keller & idolatry, regeneration, works based salvation, Scott McKnight,

Questions:

1) Please address the use of repentance when presenting the Gospel. What does the unbeliever understand by that word?

Carson: Nowadays, not much, but it depends a bit on who the unbeliever is. If you are preaching the Gospel in sort of churchified settings, south of the Mason-Dixon line, then people have some sort of notion of what repentance is. But if you use that word in secularized New England or the Pacific Northwest it’s just not a word in every day use.

What you have to see is that very often its not the use of a particular word that is crucial, but by whatever words you choose getting across certain non negotiables that are bound up with what is involved  in conversion and one of the things that’s involved  in conversion is turning away from the direction in which I have been going and turning to Christ and that will have many, many different shapes. If you are a Buddhist in Thailand it will mean turning away from conceptuality of what the spiritual world consists in; it might not even involve belief in a personal God and turning to an entirely different worldview in which trysting Christ is part of the Bible storyline. It means turning away, not only from a lifestyle but from a frame of reference; a looking at something that is just plain wrong to something that puts Christ and His work right at the center of everything. So, it is not so much the word that is critical, but the reality of it.

In some context of the New Testament belief includes repentance. If it is genuine belief it is not just „belief that„; it is belief that is somehow so bound up with how Christ is that it necessarily means turning away from all that He isn’t, which is where you have been in the past.

 2) Specifically about the text in John 3, could you speak as to why the phrase „born again” is not rendered „born from above”?

Carson: The Greek word of course is αναγεγεννημενοι (anothen) and in terms of etymology (that is the parts of the word that go into making the word up) ano-above and then-from there, then anothen looks as if it means from there, from above and so some people want this to be born from above, and if I had time to do a decent exposition before a Greek class I would point that out. But word meanings are not always constrained by the parts that make them up. For example: In the English, in the spring we look for butterflies. Believe it or not, butterflies are not made up of butter and flies and so you have to start asking yourself: How is the word used? Not just the ingredients that have gone into the words, etymology; and you can show that in the broader Greek literature, sometimes anothen really does mean again. So, in this instance you are torn in choosing between born again or born from above. I suspect,  but I can’t prove, is that John meant both. What I tend to do is stick with the translation that I’m using, in which case is born again, but stress the from aboveness thing by pointing out that Christ came from above, and this is by revelation and He was sent from the Father and thus in fact you’ve got this dimension built into the explanation, whether you get the word anothen, to unpack it for you or the entire storyline.

 3) What is, in your opinion, the greatest threat within Christianity to a proper understanding of the Gospel and how do we respond?

Carson: I could give a general answer. SIN. The trouble is that sin has many faces and when you say the greatest threat it depends on what part of the world you are in. In some parts of the world there is spectacularly disastrous poverty and in that context it’s not consumerism that is the biggest threat. But, in this country consumerism is one of them. Not the only one, but it’s one of them. I have a daughter who lives in California and a son who lives in Hawaii, suffering for Jesus in those two places and one of the things I observe when I go to visit either of them is, in both cases, how much built in hedonism is bound up with life in pleasant places. As a friend of mine puts it in Hawaii, „What do you need heaven for? We’re already there!”  A pastor friend of mine in Santa Barbara says the most spectacularly difficult problem he’s got is finding young men who will submit to the training to become elders. They’re too busy wanting to surf. You start living in a culture, where the only reason you work is in order to play, and you will undercut the Gospel without a single doctrinal deviation. Now having said that, for other people it’s not that at all.

It’s various kinds of doctrinal deviations; one of them is the widespread view today that tolerance means you can’t say anybody is wrong. That is in fact a new definition of tolerance. An older definition of tolerance said, „I might detest everything that you’re saying and tell you that you’re wrong, but I still insist that you have the right to say it. That was the older view of tolerance. Nowadays to say that somebody is wrong is already intolerant. But that means that you are not allowed to say that anybody is wrong, which means you cannot have discussions, which means you can’t reflect what the Bible says: There is no salvation given to man, by which we can be saved, except in the Name of Jesus and no one comes to the Father except my Me. Those are very intolerant statements by the new definition of intolerance, but they’re not intolerant by the old definition.  You can preach Islam, you can preach radical secular humanism, Hinduism, in this country you can preach a lot of things and tell me I’m wrong as long as I can tell you you’re wrong. That’s still a very tolerant view and the older tolerance. But in the new tolerance, you see, then the new tolerance itself is a terrible threat towards the claims in Scripture of the exclusive  sufficiency of Jesus Christ and I guarantee in this crowd (Carson is speaking at Liberty University) there are many, many, many of you who have bought into the new tolerance without even knowing it and as a result you are made uncomfortable when you hear exclusive truth claims, or that people who don’t trust Jesus as their Savior and Lord are doomed to eternal destruction; you’re just made uncomfortable by that because it sounds intolerant and in our culture that’s one of the biggest things you can do: Be intolerant. We don’t realize how much we’ve absorbed the cultural milieu.

When people say, „What is the biggest threat?” it really depends on where you are in the culture, what age you are, where in the country and then it looks a little different in China, and in China it depends on where you are in China, whether you are in one of the free economic zones where there’s a surprising amount of liberty these days, where one of the biggest dangers is consumerism vs. when you are up country somewhere, where there is still a lot of persecution. What the danger is to us, looks very different than what the danger is in the Middle East. Here, it is widely accepted, in the western world, that if you’re tolerant, you don’t say anybody’s wrong. In Muslim countries, which after all take up about a billion people, nobody thinks that’s the case. Everybody thinks there’s only one way. The argument is which one? That’s a very different frame of reference, a different context in which to do evangelism, than in our context.

At the end of the day (the biggest threat) it’s sin, spiritual blindness. But if you come to specifics, you’ve got to recognize the shape of such unbelief and sin is really quite different form culture to culture.

 4) Do you find modern day invitational methods and decision seeking to be a major hindrance to the Gospel?

Carson: That is another one of those generalized questions that depends so much on what a person means. D.L.Moody when he was criticized for his methods turned to his questioner and said, „What methods do you advocate yourself?” The questioner said, „I don’t really do evangelism, I don’t have methods.”  Moody replied, „I prefer to use the methods I do use and you don’t like, than the methods you do like that yo don’t have.”  So you still want to say, when people start criticizing methods of one sort or another, „I’d rather have people making lots of mistakes in their presentation of the Gospel, pushing people to repent, than not doing it.Moreover, it’s often not just methods per se; it’s the context in which a method occurs. For example: If you have a really shoddy presentation of the Gospel- it doesn’t explain much of what the cross is about, doesn’t explain much about the nature of sin, doesn’t explain what substitution is about, doesn’t explain the wrath of God, it doesn’t explain any of those things; it just uses a whole lot of religious cliches, but it doesn’t explain any of those things and then you start pressing people to come forward and have eternal life, come forward and have the abundant life and maybe you’re dealing with a congregation that is semi literate in any case, biblically speaking, well in that context it really is dangerous to push people that way because, to use the language of the prophets, „They’re in danger of healing My people slightly”; that is, they make some sort of profession of faith, of turning in some way to God without understanding what the real issues are.

For example: Many,many of the evangelistic approaches that are used today, turn on having the abundant life. Would you like to have an abundant life;  step 1. Well, what idiot is going to say no? On the other hand, where does the abundant life language come from in the Bible? It comes from one verse, in John 10: „I have come that they might have life and they might have it more abundantly,”  and this in a context of an extended metaphor on sheep. So, the sheep are supposed to have a more abundant life. What does that mean? It probably means a whole lot more grass. When I first started doing university evangelism 35 years ago, when I was dealing with an atheist on a campus, he or she was a Christian atheist. That is to say that the God they disbelieved in was the Christian God, which is another way of saying that the arguments were still on my turf, my categories. I can’t even assume that today. The people I evangelize in university missions today don’t know the Bible as two Testaments. They’ve never heard of Abraham. If they’ve heard of Moses they confuse him either with Charlton Heston or the more recent cartoon character. They have no idea how the Bible’s put together and all of their religious vocabulary, as slight as it is- faith, God, Jesus, in every case they mean something different than what I mean. So, I come to these people and say, „Would you like to have abundant life?” What do they hear?  „Oh yeah, you bet I’d like. More sex, umm. Better job. Sense of fulfillment. Can you give me that?” So, they’re not hearing at all what the first century hearers heard, when Jesus spoke those words in John 10. So, we’re at a time of life when, if we’re evangelizing to people outside of the churchified, outside of the category of the people who already have a religious vocabulary, if you’re evangelizing in that sort of context, you’ve got a rebuilding job to do: to explain what the categories are, what the Bible stories are, how the Gospel works. That’s part of explaining the Gospel faithfully. If you don’t do that and instead apply immediately to ask people for a decision or to come forward or pray a prayer, where they don’t understand any of the categories, then you’re asking them to leap into an experience without any of the context of the constructs of the Gospel that make believing in the Gospel coherent. In that sense, it is very foolish to push those things. It’s not just whether you are pushing someone to bow to Christ, it’s the context in which you are doing it; how well the Gospel has been genuinely explained. It’s not method in some cheap, narrow sense that is at issue. The much bigger issue is how faithful a presentation is there, of the Gospel itself.

 5) Discuss the role of law and Gospel in your preaching.

Carson: In one sense, the role of law should be pretty substantial. In my view it shouldn’t take top priority and I need to explain both of those. You cannot get agreement on what the Good News is until you get agreement on what the problem is. The reverse is also true. The solution to the problem stand together. So if you think that the biggest human problem is economic injustice, what you need is a new social order. What you need is new economics. That is what you need to fix things.  If you think that the biggest human need is loneliness or social misidentity, not finding yourself; then you need a decent psychologist. So you need to have some awareness as to what the Bible presents as the fundamental need, the need behind every other need, and biblically speaking that is alienation from God. It is in a word, sin. It is transgression. It is degod-ing God.  It is idolatry. It is dishonoring God. Until people can see that that is what the problem is and to present Christ as the One who comes along and delivers us from the death that ensues from our sin, then the Gospel doesn’t make any sense. It’s not coherent. You need to present law – the demand of God, so that people can see what the effect of the law is. We don’t live up to God’s standards. He says we’re supposed to love God with heart, soul and mind and strength. And we don’t. He says we’re supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves. And we don’t. He says we’re not supposed to lust. And we do. He says we’re not supposed to hate and we manage that too, and on and on and on and on… All of these things in the Bible are presented as fundamental offenses against God HImself, against the living God and He stands over us not only as our Creator and our gracious providential provider but He also stands over us as judge, and He has very right to be angry with us. Six hundred times the Bible portrays God, in the Old Testament alone, as a wrathful God against us. Not that He has lost His temper, but His wrath is a determined, holy response to human sin. 

Anything that we do in preaching the law of God, so as to set up the stage for showing how wonderful the grace of God is, is surely got to be a good thing. If you talk about the grace of God before people recognize there’s any sort of problem, it’s almost inevitably going to turn out a bit of cheap grace. Wesley, in one of his letters, 137 or something like that, was asked, „How do you preach the Gospel in any place?” That is: He gets on his horse, goes to the next town, starts preaching; what does he do first? He says, „I begin with a general declaration of the love of God and the Gospel, and then I preach law. I preach law that men may know that they are lost. Then I preach more law and when I see a few people come under conviction of sin, knowing they are lost, maybe a few tears, I preach more law. When substantial numbers are clearly under conviction of  sin, then I admix a little grace. ” Wesley says that when the entire congregation is under the deep conviction of God, and crying out like those in Acts- „What shall we do?” Then, he says, ” I preach grace freely, and fully and richly, so that they see how glorious is the Gospel of God and then quickly do I admix law, lest men shall presume.” That was actually the Puritan view of things. Much of Wesley’s theology was actually puritan.

There is something right about all of that. I think there is also something wrong about it too, but there is something deeply right about it.  It really reflects the fact that you can’t get the Gospel right until you see what the problem is. One way or the other, they have to get that across. But, Tim Keller, a Presbyterian Minister in New York City who has about 6,000 members , average age of 31, mostly converts and biblically illiterate; he has learned not to begin with law, but with idolatry; because today, with a post modern world, in  a world with new ideas about tolerance when you preach law, what people hear you to be saying is that there’s some arbitrary being up there that just wants to step off and tell me what to do all the time. None of his business. Says who? But when you begin with idolatry, then you’re portraying something of the same thing, but in a relational dimension. The heart of idolatry is, you rebel against your maker. That’s a form of betrayal. This generation understands betrayal better than it understands trespasses. And, as Keller likes to point out, Paul himself in Romans 5 said: Before the law came that is with Moses and the giving of the law covenant, there was still idolatry and because of  it death reigned from Adam to Moses. Before the giving of the law there was still massive idolatry. So there is a sense that all of idolatry is a sense of transgressing against God. All of acting against the law is also idolatrous.

Now at what point do you start introducing the grace of God in the Gospel? That still has to be out there. It has to be the goal towards which we press. I don’t care how you mix it in. But somewhere along the line that if you run to grace and the Gospel before people have any idea of what the offense is then we ultimately end up with a diminished Gospel.

6) You’ve talked about the transforming power of the Gospel. If you are saying that after you are saved, there’s a certain way you have to live, how is that not works based salvation?

Carson: In works based salvation it is the works that finally commend you to God, not Christ. But, in the New Testament we are finally acceptable before God exclusively on the grounds of Christ’s substitutionary death on our behalf. Yet, the inevitable result  of genuine salvation in the New Testament and regeneration is change in their life. That’s why Jesus can say things like: „By their fruits ye shall know them”, and, „many shall say to Me in those days: Lord, Lord haven’t we done this and haven’t we done that, then I shall say to them, Depart from me you workers of iniquity, I never knew you”. This does not say that Christians are sinlessly perfect, it does not say they all grow at the same rate, it does not say there is no possibility of slipping and siding on occasion, having to be restored to God. The experience of most Christians is that as you become closer to God you become more aware of the sin in your life. But having said all of those things and putting all of those caveats in place, when you are converted you want to do what you didn’t want to do before and you don’t want to do what you wanted to do before. There’s a change in the heart. A cleaning, an orientation and holiness becomes attractive instead of something that you have to put up with instead of trying to see what you can get away with. As long as young people are asking, „Can I get away with this, or can I get away with that. I wonder if they’re regenerate. If they’re asking instead, „How can I grow in holiness, then I suspect they’ve begun to understand.

7) What do you make of Scott McKnight’s call for a Gospel that is first Christology, and second soteriology in his recent booklThe King Jesus Gospel?

Carson: Scott’s an old friend. He’s a creative writer and thinker. He couldn’t write a boring sentence if he tried. He’s an excellent communicator. He is also temperamentally a guy who likes to take on almost anything that’s going and push it in a whole other direction. He is the universal corrector. One of the things that bothers me about some of Scott’s writings is that often he is right in what he affirms but wrong in what he denies. How can you have a genuinely biblical Christology without the soteriology entailed? Hw can you have genuine soteriology without knowing something about Christology?  Why do you want to pit them against each other? So, I know the error he is trying to correct, but I think it is rarely the path of wisdom to correct an error by advocating a pendulum swing. The path of wisdom when there’s an error is try to find the center of biblical faithfulness again rather than a pendulum swing. It’s not as if biblical truth is several pearls on a string and which pearl you put in what order makes a difference. It’s more like a symphony and all the instruments need to be playing together.

8) Are the issues of dispensationalism and covenant theology worth breaking fellowship over and should this affect the Gospel movement? 

Carson: In the context of a local church which has a strong statement of faith on either one side or the other, then transparently to be faithful to that heritage you do break fellowship. But there might be some context where a church that is a moderate dispensational church and a church that is a moderate covenant church in the same town might share platforms together, might do some  evangelism together without consigning each other to Dante’s inferno. Behind the question, I see another question. It is bound up with this new view of tolerance. There are many, many people saying today: Anything that doesn’t directly affect your Salvation is not an important doctrine. They are saying in effect: Provided someone believes that it doesn’t matter a twig. I think that’s hugely mistaken. What that’s looking for is the lowest common denominator theology. It’s constantly asking the question: What is the least I can believe in Bible and get away with it?  Whereas there’s so many biblical texts that say that the righteous person loves the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night. To this man I will look, he who is of a humble spirit, who is contrite and who trembles at my word. So it seems to me that the right approach to scripture is how I can understand and believe more accurately  so I can think God’s thoughts, after Him. Not asking purely pragmatic questions: What’s the least I can believe in and get away with it? If God didn’t think it was important, why did He give it?

9) How do we preach the full magnitude of the Gospel in a culture of such busyness and non commitment?

Carson:  If it wasn’t a culture of such busyness and non commitment then sin would manifest itself in some other way. Every Gospel apart of the grace of God and the Gospel is already alienated from God. In the first century they had polytheism to contend with and paganism and blood sacrifices. Every society has things that stand over and against the Gospel and what you do in a culture like that is still to preach the whole counsel of God. You learn to do it winsomely. You learn where the tender spots are so you can negotiate them tenderly and not cause unnecessary offense. But, if there’s an offense in the Gospel itself, then you bear the offense. That’s just the way it is. If people think that you’re intolerant because you say there is no other name under heaven by which you must be saved; then you try hard to think through how you might defend yourself in that regard and thus defend Christ, but you don’t duck it because it’s still the truth. And without that truth there’s gonna be all kinds of people who think that they’re saved when they’re not.

People make their own busyness. They’re not busy in the same sense that people during the industrial revolution were busy, who worked 5 1/2 or 6 days a week, 12 + hours a day. Many of them died at the age of 40 or 45, all worn out. There were no holidays, there were no unions. The beginning of unions, was in fact under John Wesley.The first 3 trade union leaders were exported to Australia as prisoners because of the rapaciousness of all the power being on one side. So, in every culture there are problems to face and in our culture there are these problems. So when people get converted in our culture, I wanna start saying things like this: When you get up in the morning, is the first thing you do turn on the iPhone? Check your email list from the night before or read your Bible? That’s a choice. That’s not the imposition of a culture, that’s a choice. You never, ever pray in any culture unless you make plans to pray. You never drift into self discipline. It’s a choice. Choose your priorities. Stop making excuses about how busy you are. You think you’re busy here? It’s nothing compared to what will come later. So you start challenging anyone who uses that as an excuse. God has given you all the time there is: 24 hours a day. Question is not how busy you are. It’s what you do with it. Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.

Dr. D.A. Carson – Biblical Studies Symposium at Liberty University – One Focus of the Gospel: John 3

The Biblical Studies Symposium hosted Dr. D.A. Carson on February 20th, 2012. Dr. D.A. Carson addressed students and faculty in the Towns Alumni Lecture Hall at 7:30pm with „One Focus of the Gospel: John 3.

Notes from the Symposium:

What is the Gospel?

First and foremost it is news. It’s good news. The question is: What is it news about? Because it’s news, you have to remember that the first thing you do with news is you announce it. „Preach the Gospel, if necessary use words,” as if you are announcing the Gospel by living a certain way.  That’s like telling a newscaster on the 11 o clock news tonight, „Tonight, deliver the news. If necessary, use words. That’s ridiculous. What you do with news is announce it. That is why there is such a huge emphasis in the New Testament on announcing it, on preaching and declaring, on explaining. That’s what you do with news.

But what is it news about?

It is first and foremost news about our God, our Maker and Judge has done supremely in Christ Jesus and especially in Christ’s cross and resurrection, to reconcile rebels to Himself. Now you can fill that our and say, „What has He done at the cross and resurrection and what does it mean to be reconciled back to God?

  • When you start asking: What is the shade of this „bringing rebels back to God”, then you start bringing out different dimensions. For example there is what might be called a „legal dimension„- How can guilty people be declared just before this God who is perfectly holy? That brings you into some fundamental issues of what the problem is. The problem is sin. You can’t get agreement on what the good news is unless you have the bad news.
  • You don’t know what the good news is supposed to fix until you know what the bad news is in the first place. So that means you’ve got to figure out what the bad news is from Holy Scripture to see what the good news is. The Gospel is the good news by which God reconciles sinners to Himself. Now you’re into substitution. Christ dies for the ungodly. The justice of Christ becomes ours. Our sin becomes His. He expiates our sin. He propitiates God. He cancels our sin, He turns God’s wrath away by absorbing our guilt in His place. All that has to do with my standing before God.
  • But supposing salvation was just bound up with standing before God. How would that transform me? Then you realize that salvation, the good news that brings about salvation is not just about how people become just before God; it’s also how they get transformed. And now you are in new birth language. Power of the Spirit. It’s not just that God declares us just on the basis of what Christ has done; He transforms us so that we have the power of God to give differently.
  • And thus, the notion of a powerless Gospel is in the Bible incoherent. Paul says that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, unto wholeness. But, it’s not an isolated thing. The Gospel so transforms us that men and women are brought together. There is a relational component to what the Gospel does. Not the Gospel itself. The Gospel IS what God DOES.  What God does supremely in Christ Jesus to reconcile guilty sinners back to Himself but part of what He does out of this Gospel, through this Gospel, is to reconcile people to each other as well as to Himself. So there is a relational component to all of this, as well.
  • There is also an eschatological component to it. It is not only what He does for us now, but ultimately the restoration of rebels to Himself is so complete that we will have resurrection bodies in a new heaven and a new earth on the last day, all achieved on one little hill, outside of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.

The Gospel of God centers on Christ. It’s the good news about Christ Jesus, about what Christ has done in Christ Jesus to reconcile sinners to HImself. And everything that flows out of this, in terms of the way we act, our concern for justice, our hopes for the future, resurrection existence, personal relationships and above all that, we ourselves have been reconciled to this God- all, all was achieved through what God did on the cross and in Jesus’ resurrection and all that flows from those great events.

There would be a lot of ways to get to biblical passages to show you the sweep of this Gospel. One way, for example is to study 1 Corinthians 15, where most of these components are built in. If you are interested in a sermon just on that passage to try to explain it, you can find it on the Gospel Coalition website. This evening I want to direct your attention on John 3 and talk about one component of this Gospel, however it is tied to a lot of other components. John 3:1-21  will talk about this new birth component.

As far as we know, this is the first time in history when the expression born again was used. I have not found it in any earlier source, greco roman, nor jewish. I think Jesus coined it. What did He mean?

Dr. Carson continues to outline what Jesus meant by born again…..(66 minutes)

Uploaded by  on Mar 8, 2012

Online book on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood edited by Wayne Grudem and John Piper

This book has been added to my

Online Book PAGE

which you can easily access anytime at the top of the blog.

Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

John Piper & Wayne Grudem, editors

View entire book (PDF) (on The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website)

Book CoverCrossway Books re-released Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhoodcomplete with a new cover and new preface that was co-written by CBMW leaders J. Ligon Duncan III and Randy Stinson. The new printing includes all of the chapters and materials from the original. The work covers the entire scope of gender issues from the biblical meaning of headship to head coverings and an examination of gender issues in church history. All of the authors in this book are well-established scholars, and each chapter provides a book’s worth of insight.

Here is a list of the Chapters:

You can actually read a chapter at a time, here at the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:

Item Title Author
Table of Contents John Piper and Wayne Grudem
Preface John Piper and Wayne Grudem
For Single Men and Women (and the Rest of Us) John Piper
A Vision of Biblical Complementarity John Piper
An Overview of Central Concerns John Piper and Wayne Grudem
Male-Female Equality and Male Headship Raymond C. Ortlund Jr.
Women in the Life and Teachings of Jesus James A. Borland
Head Coverings, Prophecies, and the Trinity Thomas R. Schreiner
„Silent in the Churches” D. A. Carson
Role Distinctions in the Church S. Lewis Johnson Jr.
Husbands and Wives as Analogues of Christ and the Church George W. Knight III
What Does It Mean Not to Teach or Have Authority Over Men? Douglas Moo
Wives Like Sarah, and the Husbands Who Honor Them Wayne Grudem
The Valuable Ministries of Women in the Context of Male Leadership Thomas R. Schreiner
Men and Women in the Image of God John M. Frame
The Church as Family Vern S. Poythress
The Meaning of Authority in the Local Church Paige Patterson
Women in the History of the Church William Weinrich
The Biological Basis for Gender-Specific Behavior Gregg Johnson
Psychological Foundations for Rearing Masculine Boys and Feminine Girls George Alan Rekers
The Inevitability of Failure: The Assumptions and Implementations of Modern Feminism David J. Ayers
Is It Legal for Religious Organizations to Make Distinctions on the Basis of Sex? Donald A. Balasa
The Family and the Church George W. Knight III
Principles to Use in Establishing Women in Ministry H. Wayne House
The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective Dorothy Kelley Patterson
Where’s Dad?: A Call for Fathers Weldon Hardenbrook
Women in Society: The Challenge and the Call Dee Jepsen
The Essence of Femininity Elisabeth Elliot
Charity, Clarity, and Hope John Piper and Wayne Grudem
The Meaning of „Head”: A Response to Recent Studies Wayne Grudem

D.A. Carson on Apostle Peter, Judas, Psalm 69 and the quoting of the OT in the NT (via) Gospel Coalition

Posted by John Starke via the Gospel Coalition Blog .

The Gospel Coalition Blog has a new, regular feature titled “You Asked,” where readers send in theological, biblical, and practical ministry questions that get passed along to The Gospel Coalition’s Council members and other friends for an answer. Anyone can ask a question,  by sending  it to  ask@thegospelcoalition.org along with their full name, city, and state.

Today’s question  was posed to D. A. Carson, president of The Gospel Coalition and research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of numerous books on New Testament studies, theological issues, pastoral concerns, and more. The volume he edited with G. K. Beale, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, deals directly with today’s question.
The question, posed by Fletcher L. from Louisville, Kentucky, is:I’m reading through Acts this month. In Acts 1:20, Peter’s talking about Judas and quotes Psalm 69, “May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it.” But Psalm 69 doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Judas. In fact, that psalm seems somewhat anti-gospel. It’s all about David wanting God to smite his enemies, but Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they’re doing.” Did Peter have a bad hermeneutic? If someone tried to quote a psalm like this without apostolic authority, would you call them crazy?
and D.A.Carson asnwers in 3 parts:
  1.  Doesn’t Psalm 69 sound anti-gospel, with its rhetoric of retaliation? Answer: I suspect this casts the matter too antithetically: gospel versus anti-gospel. After all, the same Jesus who cries “Father, forgive them” also pronounces blistering denunciations on assorted spiritual hypocrites (e.g., Matt. 23), and the ultimate retaliation at the end is not glossed over in the New Testament (e.g., Rev. 19). The Old Testament, which includes many passages like Psalm 69 that ask God for retaliatory justice, also includes many affirmations of God’s enduring and pursuing love (e.g., Hosea).
  2. Doesn’t Acts 1:20 rip Psalm 69:25 out of its context, since the psalm makes no mention of Judas Iscariot, and the writer does not appear to have him in view? Answer: Psalm 69 is often called an “individual lament.” In such laments, the psalmist depicts his anguish and suffering, usually caused by horrible circumstances and cruel oppressors. He asks God for grace, strength, faithfulness, and triumph, beseeching God to bring down judgment on the wicked who are trying to destroy him. This, as we have seen under the first question, is not antithetical to one of the major strands of the Bible. But there is more: Psalm 69, the superscription tells us, is a psalm of David. One of the things that Bible readers must come to grips with is “Davidic typology.” This means that in the Old Testament’s progressive description of and comments about David, a trajectory is created, a Davidic trajectory.
  3. So does Peter have a bad hermeneutic? Is his reading of the Old Testament simply crazy? Answer: Some skeptical scholars argue precisely along those lines. They say the New Testament preachers and authors regularly ripped Old Testament texts out of their respective contexts in order to justify the Christian position. This skeptical stance, in my view, is justified only if we concede that the only way the Old Testament is allowed to point forward is in explicit verbal predictions. But that is clearly not so. I have spent much of my adult life working through the way the New Testament quotes the Old, and the longer I ponder these texts, the more I begin to see how they “work,” how rich and beautiful are the ways in which God ordained that his great plan of redemption would be prefigured in an extraordinarily rich, complex, and intertwined array of promises, types, trajectories, histories, institutions and persons, working together to point forward to Jesus and his gospel (see Luke 24:26-27, 45-48; John 5:46).

Click here to read the entire answer.

Love in Hard Places by D.A.Carson

Don Carson presented four lengthy lectures at Oak Hill Theological College in 2001 before September 11.

Shortly after that, he turned those lectures into the book Love in Hard Places (Wheaton: Crossway, 2002).

TGC hosts a free PDF of the entire book.

Carson updated his notes after 9/11 to include a 35-page section entitled “Hard Case Two: Osama bin Laden” (pp. 108-44).

Here’s an outline:

  1. It may be helpful, first of all, to reflect on pacifism and “just war” theory in the light of the biblical commands to love and forgive.
  2. On the other hand, all war, even just war, is never more than rough justice. Even the just war is prosecuted by sinners, and so injustices will occur.
  3. Several other factors are often thrown into the debate about how we should respond to Osama bin Laden and other terrorists.
  4. Historically, wars have changed their form from time to time, generating fresh discussion about just war theory. It is time to begin this process again.
  5. As with racism, so here: Christians need to reflect on how some of the fundamentals of the faith bear on just war.
  6. One more theological reflection is relevant to the concerns of these lectures. Complex discussions about justice, forgiveness, enemies, and just war theory may entice us to forget that they were all precipitated by the effort to think exegetically and theologically about love.

Therefore, in the present struggle, even while we must try to prevent the terrorists from doing more violence, we must eschew a vendetta mentality. Love demands that we do not demonize Osama bin Laden. He is a human being made in the image of God. He is an evil man, and he must be stopped, but he is a man, and we should take no pleasure in destroying him. Vengeance is the Lord’s alone. Do not offer the alternative, “Should we weep for Osama bin Laden or hold him to account for his genocide and prevent him from carrying out his violent intentions?” The right answer is yes.

(VIA) The Gospel Coalition Blog

D.A.Carson on God and Israel from Isaiah 1

From today’s post at the Gospel Coalition You can subscribe to get his daily posts through email, which consist of Daily Devotionals from the Riches of God’s Word from his 2 book set- For the Love of God.

Below is an example of the insightful and in depth Bible study that D.A.Carson takes the reader through:

THE OPENING VERSE OF ISAIAH 1 introduces the massive sweep of the book. It announces a vision that Isaiah saw, a vision that runs through the reigns of the four kings of Judah from King Uzziah on.

The first section (Isa. 1:2–9) displays how far the nation has fallen. God himself raised up the nation of Israel (Isa. 1:2)—indeed, he “reared” them, brought them up like children; and like rebellious children they have turned against him. An ox or a donkey knows more of its true home than Israel knows of hers. The heavens and earth are invited to listen in on the rebuke (Isa. 1:2), both as a measure of the intensity of the rebellion and because there is a sense in which the well-being of the entire universe depends on whether God’s people obey or disobey his word. The description of the devastation in the land (Isa. 1:5–9) is not metaphorical: probably what is being described is the bloody carnage that accompanied the invasion of Judah by Sennacherib’s Assyrian forces (701 B.C.)—a foretaste of judgment to come.

From here to the end of the chapter, the thought runs in three movements:

(1) Israel is excoriated for her corrupt and hypocritical worship (Isa. 1:10–17). In dripping sarcasm, God addresses his covenant people as Sodom and Gomorrah. They maintain the stipulated sacrificial system and high feast days, but God insists he cannot bear their “evil assemblies” (Isa. 1:13); he hates them (Isa. 1:14). God will not even listen to his people when they pray (Isa. 1:15), for oppression of the weak and corruption in the administration have reached such proportions that he must act in line with the Sinai covenant (Deut. 21:18–21). He can ignore these violations no longer.

(2) Nevertheless Israel is still being invited to forgiveness and cleansing: “ ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’ ” (Isa. 1:18–20). It is not cultic observance that triggers such forgiveness, but repentance: “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land” (Isa. 1:19). The alternative is judgment (Isa. 1:20). Later in the book the basis for such forgiveness will be set forth; the devastating judgment of oppression and exile was not necessary, but so often we prefer sin to salvation, greed to grace.

(3) Yet Zion (representing the people of God) will one day “be redeemed with justice, her penitent ones with righteousness” (Isa. 1:27). There is no final redemption that ignores justice and righteousness; only judgment awaits the impenitent (Isa. 1:28, 31).

R.C. Sproul Interviews D.A. Carson on Biblical Exegesis 

(via) Thinking Matters NZ

The Story of Jacob (2) the Father of Israel) Genesis 25-33

Click here to read Genesis 25-33, the Biblical account of the life of Jacob.

some excerpts taken from D.A.Carson’s ‘For the Love of God” Volume I:

by D.A Carson

Genesis 27 is in many ways a pathetic, grubby account. Earlier Esau had despised his birthright (25:34); now Jacob swindles him out of it. In this Jacob is guided by his mother Rebekah, who thus shows favoritism among her children and disloyalty to her husband. Esau throws a tantrum and takes no responsibility for his actions at all. indeed, he nurses his bitterness and plots the assassination of his brother. The family that constitutes the promised line is not doing very well.

Yet those who read the passage in the flow of the entire book remember that God himself had told Rebekah, before the twin brothers were born, that the older will serve the younger (25:23) Perhaps

Jacob blessed instead of Esau

that is one of the reasons she acted as she did: apparently she felt that God needed a little help in keeping his prediction, even immoral help. Yet behind these grubby and evil actions God is mysteriously working out his purposes to bring the promised line to the end he has determined. Certainly God could have arranged to have Jacob born first, if that was the man He wanted to carry on the line. Instead, Esau is born first, but Jacob is chosen, as if to say that the line is important, but God’s sovereign, intervening choosing is more important than mere human seniority, than mere primogeniture.

The name „Bethel” means House of God. The event that gave rise to the name (Gen. 28) was a mixed bag. There is Jacob, scurrying across the miles to the home of his uncle Laban. Ostensibly he is looking for a godly wife–but the previous chapter makes clear that he wishes to escape being assassinated by his own brother in the wake of his own tawdry act of betrayal and deceit. Judging by the requests he makes to God, he is in danger of having too little food and inadequate clothing, and he is already missing his own family (28:20-21)Yet here God meets him in a dream so vivid that Jacob declares,”How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven” (28:17).

For his part, God reiterates the substance of the Abrahamic Covenant to this grandson of Abraham. The vision of the ladder opens up the prospect of access to God, of God’s immediate contact with a man who up to this point seems more driven by expedience than principle. God promises that his descendants will multiply and be given this land. The ulrimate expansion is also repeated: „All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring” (28:14). Even at the personal level, Jacob will not be abandoned, for God declares, „I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back over to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (28:15).

Awakened from his dream, Jacob erects an altar and calls the place Bethel. But in large measure he is still wheeler-dealer. He utters a vow: If God will do this and that and the other, if I get all that I want and I hope for out of this deal, „then the Lord will be my God” (28:20-21).

And God does not strike him down! The story moves on: God does all that he promised, and more. All of Jacob’s conditions are met. One of the great themes of Scripture is how God meets us where we are: in our insecurities, in our conditional obedience, in our mixture of faith and doubt, in our fusion of awe and self interest, in our understanding and foolishness. God does not disclose Himself only to the greatest and most stalwart, but to us, at our Bethel, the house of God.

When I was a child in Sunday School, I learned the names of the twelve tribes of Israel by singing a simple chorus: „These are the names of Jacob’s sons:/Gad and Asher and Simeon,/Reuben, Issachar, Levi,/Judah, Dan and Naphtali-/Twelve in all, but never a twin–/Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin.”

But many more years passed before I grasped how important are the twelve tribes in the Bible’s storyline. Many of the dynamics of the rest of  Genesis turn on their relationships. The organization of the nation of Israel depends on setting aside one tribe, the Levites, as priests. From another son, Judah, springs the Davidic dynasty that leads to the Messiah. Over the centuries, the tribe of Joseph would be divided into Ephraim and Manasseh; in substantial mesaure, Benjamin would merge with Judah. By the last  book in the Bible, Revelation, the twelve tribes of the old covenant constitute the counterpoint to the twelve apostles of the new covenant: this twelve by twelve matrix (i.e. 144, in the symbolism of this apocalyptic literature) embraces in principle the whole people of God.

Jacob meets Rachel by Raphael 1518

But, what tawdry beginnings they have in Genesis 30. The deceit of Laban in Genesis 29, which resulted in Jacob’s marrying both Leah and Rachel, now issues in one of the most unhealthy instances of sibling rivalry in holy Scripture. Each of these women from this family is so eager to outshine the other that she gives her handmaid to her husband rather than allow the other to get ahead in the race to bear children. So self-centered and impetuous are the relationships that another time Rachel is prepared to sell her husband’s sex time to her sister Leah for a few mandrakes. Polygamy has taken hold, and with it a mess of distorted relationships.

From these painful and frankly dysfunctional family relationships spring eleven sons and one daughter (the birth of the last son, Benjamin, is reported in chap. 35). Here are the origins of the twelve tribes of Israel, the foundations of the Israelite nation. Their origins are not worse than those of others; they are merely typical. But already it is becoming clear that God does not deal with this family because they are consistently a cut above other families. No, he uses them to keep his covenantal promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He graciously perseveres with them to bring about his grand, redemptive purposes. The tawdry family dynamics cannot possibly prevent the universe’s  sovereign from keeping his covenantal vows.

In Genesis 32 Jacob is returning home  and he is still frightened half to death of his brother…Jacob left the tents of his parents a single man, taking almost nothing with him, while here he returns home a rich, married man with many children.

But the deepest differences between the two journeys are reflected in Jacob’s changed attitude toward God. On the outbound trip, Jacob takes no initiative in matters divine. He simply goes to sleep (Gen 28). It is God who intervenes with a remarkable vision of a ladder reaching up to heaven. When Jacob awakens, he acknowledges that what he experienced was some sort of visitation from God (28:16-17), but his response is to barter with God: if God will grant him security, safety, prosperity, and ultimately a happy return home, Jacob for his part will acknowledge God and offer him a tithe.

Now it is rather different. True, God again takes the initiative: Jacob meets angelic messengers (32:1-2). Jacob decides to act prudently. He sends some of his people ahead to announce to Esau that his brother is returning. This spawns devastating news: Esau is coming to meet him, but with 400 men.

On the one hand, Jacob sets in motion a carefully orchestrated plan: successive waves of gifts for his brother are sent ahead, with each of the messengers carefully instructed to speak to Esau with the utmost courtesy and respect. On the other hand, Jacob admits that matters are out of his control. Bartering is gone; in „great fear and distress” (32:7) Jacob takes action, and then prays, begging for help. He reminds God of his covenantal promises, he pleads his own unworthiness, he acknowledges how many undeserved blessings he has received, he confesses his own terror (32:9-12). And then, in the darkest hours, he wrestles with this strange manifestation of God himself (32:22-30).

Twenty years or so have passed since Jacob’s outward-bound journey. Some people learn nothing in twenty years. Jacob has learned humility, tenacity, godly fear, reliance upon God’s covenantal promises, and how to pray. None of this means he is so paralyzed by fear that he does nothing but retreat into prayer. Rather, it means he does what he can, while believing utterly that salvation is of the Lord. By the time the sun rises, he may walk with a limp, but he is a stronger and better man.

Jacob’s story with his 12 children, who are the 12 tribes of Israel continues through Joseph. You can read Joseph’s story here (in English-including maps of Joseph’s journey when sold into slavery by his brothers) and you can read an English illustration of Joseph, the  foreshadow to the Savior here; also read a Romanian article (excerpt from book by Iosif Ton- Ce l-a tinut pe Iosif curat, aflat atit de departe de casa? Part 1 & 2). Lastly you can view the story of Joseph and his brothers in a film (English with Romanian subtitles)

The epilogue:

One of the most difficult things to grasp is that the God of the Bible is both personal–interacting with other persons–and transcendent (i.e. above space andtime–the domain in which all our personal interactions with God take place).As the transcendent Sovereign, he rules over everything without exception, as the personal Creator, he interacts in personal ways with those who bear his image, disclosing himself to be not only personal but flawlessly good. How to put those elements together is finally beyond us, however frequentlythey are frequently assumed in Scripture.

When Jacob hears that Joseph is alive, he offers sacrifices to God, who graciously discloses himself to Jacob, once again: „I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes” (Gen 46:3-4).

The book of Genesis makes it clear that Jacob knew that God’s covenant with Abraham included the promise that the land where they were now settled would one day be given to him and his descendants. That is why Jacob needed the direct disclosure from God to induce him to leave the land. Jacob was reassured on three fronts: (a) God would make his descendants multiply into a „great nation” during their sojourn in Egypt, (b) God would eventually bring them out of Egypt, (c) at the personal level, Jacob is comforted to learn that his long-lost son Joseph will attend his father’s death.

All of this provides personal comfort. It also discloses something of the mysteries of God’s providential sovereignty, for readers of the Pentateuch know that this sojourn in Egypt will issue in slavery, that God will then be said to „hear” the cries of his people, that in the course of time he will raise up Moses, who will be God’s agent in the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, the granting of the Sinai covenant and the giving of the law, the wilderness wanderings, and the (re)entry into the Promised Land. The sovereign God who brings Joseph down to Egypt to prepare the way for this small community of seventy persons has a lot of complex plans in store. These are designed to bring his people to the next stage of redemptive history, and finally to teach them that God’s words are more important than food (Deut 8).

One can no more detach God’s sovereign transcendence from his personhood or vice versa, than one can safely detach one wing from an airplane and still expect it to fly.

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