If you have never heard James Montgomery Boice, this would be a good starting point. It would also serve as a good reminder of where the evangelical church was in his day and the present trajectory of the evangelical church, as he calls — “mindless times.”
‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian – A look at Christianity around the world.
Polity – If you don’t have Polity, an excellent resource for church government, church discipline, and a guide for how to conduct church life, you need this book. It’s free on the 9Marks website.
Trembling Before the Holiness of God – The best work of R. C. Sproul through the years has been on the subject of God’s holiness. Watch this and you will understand why.
Why Do We Give Up on Bible Reading? – Read why, and then keep up the work of reading through the Bible in 2017.
Hebrews 13:21- True worship & the true church – Jesse Johnson explains how true worship intersects with the local church.
Trump and the prosperity gospel – In case you haven’t already heard, President-Elect Trump is surrounding himself with a host of religious advisors, and many of them are from the prosperity gospel movement.
The Reformation in 60 Seconds – This is a really good video that quickly gets to the point of the Reformation.
Simplicity in Preaching – Kevin DeYoung provides some helpful advice for preaching from J.C. Ryle’s work titled, Simplicity in Preaching.
Theology Word of the Week: Salvation
Salvation. ‘Salvation’ is the most widely used term in Christian theology to express the provision of God for our human plight. The word-group associated with the verb ‘save’ has an extensive secular usage which is not sharply differentiated from its theological usage. It can be used of any kind of situation in which a person is delivered from some danger, real or potential; as in healing a person from illness (Mk. 5:28), from enemies (Ps. 44:7) or from the possibility of death (Mt. 8:25). The noun ‘salvation’ can refer positively to the resulting state of well-being and is not confined to the negative idea of escape from danger. In the OT the verb ‘save’ expresses particularly God’s actions in delivering his people; in the context of his saving Israel from their enemies, the noun can be translated as ‘deliverance’ (Ps. 3:8, rsv). But it is also used in a very broad sense of the sum total of the effects of God’s goodness on his people (Ps. 53:6). Thus the OT understanding of salvation is quite concrete and often covers more than spiritual blessings.
In the gospels the word-group is used of the mighty works of Jesus in healing people from disease. But the terminology developed a distinctive sense which was based largely on the OT understanding of God and his gracious action towards his people. By the time of the later writings of the NT it was common to give both God and Jesus the title of ‘saviour’. (1 Tim. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:1), and it would not be unfair to say that this title summed up the Christian doctrine of God in relation to his people. The name ‘Jesus’ is etymologically ‘Yahweh is salvation’, and this meaning must have been known to Christians (Mt. 1:21). But salvation is now understood in a new way. The sense of rescue or deliverance is still uppermost, but the reference is to deliverance from sin and from the wrath of God as the ultimate fate which awaits the sinner (Rom. 5:9–10). Christians are those people who are certain that they will be saved, and it has sometimes been held that this concept of a future salvation is primary in the NT (Acts 2:21; Rom. 13:11; 1 Cor. 5:5; Heb. 9:28: 1 Pet. 1:15). However, Christians are also described as ‘those who are being saved’ (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Cor. 2:15) and indeed as ‘those who have been saved’ (Eph. 2:5, 8). Thus the moment of conversion is regarded as the moment of salvation (Tit. 3:5).
The use of the term in itself indicates that the thought is of an action from the outside by God who is the saviour; human beings cannot save themselves by their own efforts (Tit. 3:5). Thus salvation is dependent on the grace of God. It is effected through the action of Jesus Christ whose incarnation and atoning death took place in order that he might save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). It is revealed in the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:15), and it becomes effective for individuals through the preaching of the gospel (1 Cor. 1:21), provided that they respond to the gospel message with faith and repentance; those who call on the Lord are saved (Rom. 10:9–10). Thus the word becomes a technical term in NT theology to describe God’s action in rescuing people from their sins and their consequences and in bringing them into a situation where they experience his blessings. Salvation is then understood comprehensively as the sum-total of the benefits bestowed on believers by God (Lk. 19:9; Rom. 1:16). Although it will not be fully realized until the consummation of the new age, nevertheless it is a real experience in the here and now (2 Cor. 6:2; Phil. 2:12).
During the history of the church since NT times the doctrine of salvation has constantly been in danger of misunderstanding and corruption. Most commonly, salvation has been thought of as something that people must earn or merit by doing actions that please God and win his favour. At the Reformation, the Protestants insisted that the doctrine of justification by faith is the indication of whether the church is standing or falling from the truth of the gospel. They realized that salvation is the gift of God and that the church must not usurp his place in declaring who can be saved, even if it is true that the church is appointed to proclaim the gospel. More recently other errors have arisen. Salvation has sometimes been separated from the person of Jesus, who is then regarded as little more than a teacher of morality; the recognition that God was in Christ to reconcile a sinful world to himself has been lost, and salvation has been thought of as exclusively deliverance from ignorance of God and not also as cleansing from sin and its guilt.
The scope of salvation has also been a matter of dispute. The OT usage of the term to express God’s action in saving his people from their enemies has been taken as normative, and salvation has been understood as freeing people from hunger, poverty and the threat of war so that they may live a whole life in this world; the thought of spiritual salvation has retreated into the background. But while there can be no doubt that Christians should be working for these desirable ends, the unfortunate effect can be that the distinctive theological emphasis of the term, which lies at the centre of the NT message, is lost. People fait to realize that the major need of humanity is for reconciliation with God, and that it is only when there is peace between God and humanity that lasting peace between the peoples of the world is possible; in other words, spiritual salvation is not simply a small and dispensable part of a broader ‘salvation’ but is the basis of a new attitude between people. Granted that the task of the church is to care for the spiritual and the physical needs of people, the NT sees the spiritual task, which is inseparable from material concern, as fundamental.
- Sinclair B. Ferguson and J.I. Packer, New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 610–611.