Apr

17

2014

Trevin Wax|2:10 am CT

The Multifaceted Diamond of Christ’s Atoning Work

Diamond scinilationThe atonement is like a multi-faceted diamond. What Christ accomplished on the cross is so massive, and the window into the heart of God is so big that no one explanation or description of the atonement can tell the whole story.

Because the atonement is at the heart of who God is and what he has done for us, we can never fully exhaust the riches that flow from this event. But recognizing our inability to mine all the theological treasures represented in the cross of Christ should not keep us from pondering the beautiful truth of this event.

In recent weeks, guest contributors have written about the different aspects of Christ’s atoning work. Here is a summary of their posts, with links for you to dig deeper into the significance of each truth.

On the cross, Christ slays the Dragon and wins our victory:

In the cross and resurrection, Christ the warrior king is the new and better Adam who delivers a head crushing blow to the serpent. He is the new and better Joshua who drives out all his enemies from the Promised Land. He is the new and better David who establishes the eternal kingdom of God.

On the cross, Christ drinks the cup of God’s wrath as a substitute sacrifice:

Because of this, when God looks at us, he no longer sees a sinner destined for wrath; he sees His Son nailed to the cross, shedding His own blood in our place. He died so that we may truly live, free from the shackles of sin and death.

On the cross, Christ redeems us from slavery to sin and death:

Can you see that this is what the redeeming love of God looks like—buying you back from the slave market? He wooed you to himself with gospel promises of mercy instead of punishment, belonging instead of estrangement. He loved you by redeeming you from your enslavement to all lesser lovers, and He is loving you even now as He cuts away from your character every lingering tether to your old way of life.

On the cross, Christ pays the ransom:

The ransom now paid, we have been delivered from the domain of sin and death into perfect union with the Son of God, in whom there is therefore now no condemnation.

On the cross, Christ is the Lamb who takes away our sin and shame:

Expiation is that angle on the atoning work of Christ that means we are clean. Clean. What we need is the good news that Jesus Christ died not only to forgive us, but to cleanse us.

On the cross, Christ is our liberator:

Redemption is not for our restriction, but for our joy. Christ did not die for our duty, but for our delight. I have been set free, but this freedom is not an unfettered pursuit of my desires, for that’s slavery all over again. It’s the joyful mission of bringing God pleasure because He has liberated and set me free.

On the cross, Christ shows how God is with us in our suffering:

There, in the midst of God’s own grief and sorrow, we see God with us and believe that he is able somehow to take up our burdens upon himself and deliver us from our despair. He is not distant from our pain. He understands our suffering because Jesus Christ – God in human flesh – suffered.

On the cross, Christ is the propitiation that makes us right with God:

Everybody needs a plan for getting on the right side of the gods. But if the true God has made his character known as it is found in the Bible, then there’s only one way of propitiation: the one that God himself put forward in the blood of Jesus, to be received by faith, the one who is his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the cross, Christ becomes our ultimate example:

Jesus Christ is the supreme model of Christian discipleship, the ethical exemplar of the Christian life. The compelling force of Christ’s sacrificial example is one answer to indifference and inaction in our broken world. Once we truly grasp what Christ did on our behalf, we will be compelled to live our lives in a way that reflects his self-sacrifice for all others.

 
 

Apr

17

2014

Trevin Wax|2:05 am CT

Worth a Look 4.17.14

WorthALook1Kindle Deal of the Day: The Doctrines That Divide: A Fresh Look at the Historic Doctrines That Separate Christians by Erwin Lutzer. FREE.

Lutzer examines various controversies that exist within the broad spectrum of Christianity, presenting the issue and the biblical understanding of the doctrine.

Russell Moore – Same-Sex Marriage and the Future:

We must prepare people for what the future holds, when Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality aren’t part of the cultural consensus but are seen to be strange and freakish and even subversive. If our people assume that everything goes back to normal with the right President and a quick constitutional amendment, they are not being equipped for a world that views evangelical Protestants and traditional Roman Catholics and Orthodox Jews and others as bigots or freaks.

Michael Bird – How God Became Jesus, and How I Came to Faith in Him:

Bart Ehrman’s narrative suggests the more educated you are, the less likely you are to believe. My life proves otherwise.

10 Reasons Some Pastors Don’t Desire to Go to an Established Church:

I offer today some of the reasons pastors have shared with me, explicitly or implicitly, why they don’t see God calling them to established churches.

Danny Akin – Confidence in the Midst of Decline:

How should we as God’s people respond to the present state of things? Should we despair? Should we panic? Should we even throw in the towel? Of course not! Thankfully, the hope and confidence of God’s people is not in statistics or trends, but in the God who plans and secures the success of his global purpose!

 
 

Apr

16

2014

Trevin Wax|2:10 am CT

Arms Outstretched

Psalm22

Those hands need nails to keep them in line.

Something must be done.

Those arms must never embrace again.

We saw His arm reach out when He touched the leper, in defiance of our purity laws.

We saw His hands lift the face of an adulterous woman, thwarting our execution of her just sentence.

We saw Him welcome children into His arms, as if one must become like an infant to belong to His kingdom.

We saw Him break bread and divide the fish, as if He were supplying manna from heaven.

We saw His arms beckon sinners to His table, as if by repentance one can wash away the past.

We saw His arms do nothing to stop a sinful woman from anointing Him, as if He were a treasure greater than her priceless perfume.

We saw His arms crack the whip and overturn the tables, as if He were in charge of the temple.

And then we watched Him lead the blind and the lame inside, as if God’s house were for the broken and weary.

His hands are tainted, unwashed, defiled.

His hands, just like His speeches, are always about Him. He never ceases to point to Himself.

As if He were the only way. As if He alone has truth. As if He alone gives life.

His arms are open to anyone (anyone!) who will repent, and yet He bars the door from those of us who need no repentance.

No more.

Those cursed arms must be pinned down. Those hands must be stilled. Those wrists must be bound.

If He is so determined to stretch out His arms, let them be stretched out and nailed to the tree.

Perhaps then His embrace of sinners will end. Perhaps then people will understand true holiness. Perhaps then purity and righteousness will reign.

But wait, what is He saying?

Who is He talking to?

Father, forgive?

He is praying. Yes, He is praying… for us.

See Him there, with arms outstretched. His hands are speaking again.

This time, they beckon us to come. To trade our taunts for tears. Our efforts for His accomplishment. Our debts for His inheritance.

Before His cross we kneel. Here He is enthroned, hovering over us, arms outstretched, His shadow covering our sin. Blessing in His blood.

Arms outstretched, His broken body fills the threshold. The narrow door of repentance is open to the world.

 
 

Apr

16

2014

Trevin Wax|2:05 am CT

Worth a Look 4.16.14

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKindle Deal of the Day: Risen: 50 Reasons Why the Resurrection Changed Everything by Steve Mathewson. $2.99.

In the spirit of John Piper’s Fifty Reasons Why Christ Came to Die, Steven D. Mathewson unpacks the New Testament Scriptures that speak of the reasons Jesus was raised from the dead.

Adam Mabry, a church planter in Boston, reflects on the Boston Marathon bombing a year later:

  • Everything changed.
  • Nothing changed.
  • We Must be Changed.

The Power of Story – Captivated by the Gospel:

As Christians, we understand all people are confronted by a host of master narratives that compete with, and often contradict, the gospel of Jesus Christ. We also believe God has revealed the true story of the whole world. The story of Christ is, as C.S. Lewis put it, “the true myth.”

Nancy Guthrie – Please Don’t Make My Funeral All About Me:

I just got home from another funeral. Seems we’ve gone to more than our share lately. And once again, as I left the church, I pled with those closest to me, “Please don’t make my funeral all about me.”

“Something That Was Not Imaginable 40 Years Ago Has Happened:”

The historian Lawrence Stone said the scale of marital breakdown in the West since 1960 has no historical precedent. It is unique. And as a civilization we seem unable, or at least unwilling, to do much of anything about it.

 
 

Apr

15

2014

Trevin Wax|2:10 am CT

The 4 Stages of Writing and the 3 Mistakes We Make

good-writer

I recently came across the HBR Guide to Better Business Writing, a book that has a chapter on the four stages of the writing process. Reflecting on my experience writing blogs and non-fiction books, I recognized these stages even if I’d never consciously labeled them this way.

1. THE MADMAN

This is the brainstorming phase. You gather material related to the subject you will address, generating as many good ideas as you can. Don’t think of this as a rough draft, but more like a collection of thoughts. Do your research and write whatever you think.

2. THE ARCHITECT

This is the outlining phase. Take the material you created and gathered in the “madman” phase, and organize it. If you run into trouble putting together an outline, it may be that you’re working with either too much or too little content from the first stage. Ditch what you don’t need. Go back to the madman stage if you don’t have enough. Whatever you do, try to keep your outline simple and precise.

3. THE CARPENTER

This is the writing phase. Take your outline, set a time limit (if that helps keep you on task), shut down your internet connection, and turn off your phone notifications. Then write. Fill in your outline. Remember, this is the building stage, not the time to finesse your work. Just write according to your outline and you’ll end up with a rough draft.

4. THE JUDGE

Now you have a piece of writing, but you realize it’s a piece of work! Here’s where the Judge comes in and changes your draft. As you walk back through your work, deliberate on word choice, make corrections to grammar and punctuation, check the accuracy of your statements, and evaluate how naturally your work flows from idea to idea. I suggest coming back to your work as Judge multiple times, usually on different days. I also recommend reading it out loud. When you’re satisfied, you (hopefully) have a polished piece of writing.

THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES

Here are the three mistakes writers often make:

1. Starting as the Carpenter

The first is sitting down with your Carpenter hat on, thinking you’re going to suddenly generate good, thoughtful, well-organized material. Rarely does this happen. (Maybe after years of practice.) In general, you need to start with ideas and an outline – at least in your head if not on paper. Everyone starts as the Madman, not the Carpenter. If writing seems difficult for you, it may be that you think you’ve got to start as the Carpenter.

2. Combining the Stages

The second mistake is trying to do two stages at once. For example, during the Carpenter stage, you find yourself carefully selecting every word and going back to verify every citation or grammatical choice. Stop it. Let the Judge come later. The most important thing to do in each stage is fulfill the purpose of that stage. You’ll slow yourself down and frustrate yourself if you try to outline and write at the same time, or write and edit at the same time, etc.

3. Leaving a Stage Out

The third mistake is leaving one of the phases out. You may think you can get by without the Architect, but chances are, you’ll wind up with polished porridge. Or you may think you can get by without the Judge, but you’ll embarrass yourself with rambling incoherence (“It made sense to me at the time!”). Or you may think you can just start writing without ever being the Madman, but you’re likely to run out of ideas or to fail to have enough material to organize.

What about you? What problems do you run into when you write? What strategies work best?

 
 

Apr

15

2014

Trevin Wax|2:05 am CT

Worth a Look 4.15.14

WorthALook1Kindle Deal of the Day: Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity, and the Things We’ve Made Up by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle. $3.89.

This is not a book about who is saying what. It’s a book about what God says. It’s not a book about impersonal theological issues. It’s a book about people who God loves. It’s not a book about arguments, doctrine, or being right. It’s a book about the character of God.

Tim Keller – Cultural Engagement that Avoids Triumphalism and Accommodation:

The term “cultural engagement” is so often used by Christians today without a great deal of definition. This account of Paul and Athens gets us a bit closer to understanding what it is by showing us what it is not. Christians are to enter the various public spheres—working in finance, the media, the arts. But there we are neither to simply preach at people nor are we to hide our faith, keeping it private and safe from contradiction. Rather, we are as believers to both listen to and also challenge dominant cultural ideas, respectfully yet pointedly, in both our speech and our example.

4 Ways to Improve Your Church’s Website:

Lack of resources no longer has to hold churches back from representing themselves digitally. By cleaning up a cluttered website and investing in keeping it current and relevant, churches can serve the body of Christ in deeper ways than previously possible.

Philip Nation – 8 Thoughts on Preparing an Easter Sermon:

A few in our ranks knew months ago what passage they would use and have already planned the sermon. Others have identified the passage and will prepare the message this week. We will all pray, read, study, and pray some more as the week speeds by. The following are a few of my own thoughts about preparing for the Easter sermon.

Christianity Today - Why Resurrection People Remember the Dead:

We proclaim that our deceased loved ones who trusted Christ are in the hands of a loving Savior. This is central to biblical faith. Yet on this side of the Resurrection, memory also plays a central role in keeping hope alive. Remembering our loved ones who have died is part of our Christian understanding of hope.

 
 

Apr

14

2014

Trevin Wax|2:10 am CT

The God of Joyful Tears and Sorrow

Baby-casket_2621_w350Last Thursday was one of the most joyful and somber days of my life. We often speak of life as a journey of mountaintops and valleys, but rarely do we experience the joy of the mountain and the sorrow of the valley so close to each another.

The morning began with the good news that my youngest brother’s wife was in labor, about to deliver their first child. I stopped by the hospital on the way to work, and then again at the end of the day, excited to become an uncle again and to see my brother and his wife begin a new chapter.

The joyful anxieties of childbirth were our family’s chatter all day. How many centimeters dilated? What position is the baby in? How much will he weigh? Who does the baby look like?

Once the joyous moment arrived, pictures flooded iPhones and FaceBook posts. A little boy arrived at 4:51 p.m., lungs full of passion and eyes filled with wonder at this strange new world.

~~~~~

An hour later, Corina and I were standing at the graveside of a stillborn baby. Some dear friends of ours, seminary friends and partners in ministry, had come back to middle Tennessee to bury their little girl, their fourth child, who – without any sign of trauma or any cause the doctors could discover – fell asleep quietly in the womb.

The pictures of the baby girl broke our hearts. The little casket and the little hole in the ground, the weeping family, the somber service.

As we stood at the grave and sang “In Christ Alone,” “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” and “It Is Well,” my thoughts bounced back and forth between the joy we’d experienced in the hospital and the deep pain we were feeling at the graveside. From the joyful arms of a new mother to the tearstained grief of a precious family…

As the sun began to set over the hill and the warm breeze caressed our faces, I thought to myself: God is big enough for both.

The God who meets us in the tears of joy is the same God who meets us in the tears of sorrow.

And somehow, there is joy and pain mixed in all the seasons of life.

The delivery room is a place of great pain, but also joy as a woman awaits the arrival of new life from her womb. The graveside harbors a family’s great grief, but also, an insuppressible hope and joy as we feel the birth pangs of a world that is passing away and look forward to the world that is to come, a world in which a little girl whose first sight was the eyes of Jesus will receive her little body back and bow before her Maker, a world in which God Himself will wipe away our tears, a new world born out of the pain and suffering of the old.

~~~~~

We don’t know the ways of God. We don’t understand the intricacies of His plan. Who can fathom the infinity of His mind?

Like Martha, our questions are heartfelt, Lord why? If you had only intervened, if you had only come… And like Martha, we also find hope in the resurrection at the last day.

But it’s when that day seems so far away, when what should have been a celebration of birth becomes a memorial of death, that Jesus meets us and reminds us – the resurrection is not just an event. It is a Person. “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” Because of Him, though we die, we shall live.

Spring is coming, because He is coming. And when the Resurrection returns, joy will overflow its earthly banks and drown our griefs forever.

 
 

Apr

14

2014

Trevin Wax|2:05 am CT

Worth a Look 4.14.14

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKindle Deal of the Day: HCSB Study Bible $2.99.

Colbert the Catholic:

There’s no telling how Colbert’s faith will impact “The Late Show,” if at all, but it’s intriguing to see such a public figure embrace his religion so openly.

Ross Douthat – Diversity and Dishonesty:

This refusal, this self-deception, means that we have far too many powerful communities (corporate, academic, journalistic) that are simultaneously dogmatic and dishonest about it — that promise diversity but only as the left defines it, that fill their ranks with ideologues and then claim to stand athwart bias and misinformation, that speak the language of pluralism while presiding over communities that resemble the beau ideal of Sandra Y. L. Korn.

Remember Fort Pillow!

The obscure military post was the site of the worst atrocity against black troops during the Civil War.

25 Ways to Spot Leaders You Can Trust

 
 

Apr

13

2014

Trevin Wax|12:10 am CT

All Glory, Laud, and Honor

giottotriumphalentryAll glory, laud and honor,
To Thee, Redeemer, King,
To Whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David’s royal Son,
Who in the Lord’s Name comest,
The King and Blessèd One.

The company of angels
Are praising Thee on High,
And mortal men and all things
Created make reply.

The people of the Hebrews
With palms before Thee went;
Our prayer and praise and anthems
Before Thee we present.

To Thee, before Thy passion,
They sang their hymns of praise;
To Thee, now high exalted,
Our melody we raise.

Thou didst accept their praises;
Accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.

-  The­o­dulph of Or­le­ans, cir­ca 820

 
 

Apr

12

2014

Trevin Wax|2:10 am CT

The Hollowing Effect of Sin

fyjudhb-Download wordleTim Keller on the banality of evil:

Evil does not usually make people incredibly wicked and violent – that would be interesting, and tends to wake people up. Rather, sin tends to make us hollow – externally proper and even nice, but underneath everyone is scraping and clutching for power, in order to get ahead. We continually just step on each other…

C. S. Lewis called these folk “men without chests” in The Abolition of Man. They may have reason (represented by the head) or visceral feelings and drives (represented by the gut), but they don’t have hearts. They are not really choosing, but rather are being driven by their desires for power and gain, by their fears and anger. We are all in danger of being just as banal and hollow and uninteresting, if we insist on making God “tame” and banal! Only by worshiping the real God can we escape this boring fate and know the blessing of coming to the house of God, the Lord Jesus, the One who has the words of eternal life.

Judges for You179.