This Mystery

reflections on theology and life

Category: Books

Schreiner on the law of Christ

There are some on the edges of New Covenant The­ol­ogy who wish to make the law of Christ into a new cod­i­fied law, which may make log­i­cal sense from a sys­tem­atic approach, but which goes beyond the con­text of the phrase in .

Thomas Schreiner points to lov­ing one another as the iden­tity of the law of Christ:

It seems most promis­ing to iden­tify the law of Christ with the admo­ni­tion to love one another (), for there is a clear link between and 6:2. The Old Tes­ta­ment law “is ful­filled” (peplērō­tai) in the injunc­tion to love one’s neigh­bor as one­self ( in ). And the law of Christ “is ful­filled” (anaplērōsete) when believ­ers ful­fill one another’s bur­dens (). If we carry the bur­dens of other believ­ers, we show our love for them. Sac­ri­fi­cial love for fel­low believ­ers, then, ful­fills the Old Tes­ta­ment law and the law of Christ. Such a read­ing fits with –10, where the Old Tes­ta­ment law is cap­sulized in the admo­ni­tion to love one another. We also could say that Christ’s life, and the sac­ri­fice of his life in his death, exem­pli­fies to the utter­most the law of Christ. That is, Christ’s life and death are the par­a­digm, exem­pli­fi­ca­tion, and expla­na­tion of love. How­ever, –10 guards us from over­sim­pli­fy­ing the nature of Christ’s law, for love is expressed when believ­ers ful­fill moral norms. The law of Christ is exem­pli­fied by a life of love, but such love is expressed in a life of virtue.

Schreiner, Thomas R. 40 Ques­tions About Chris­tians and Bib­li­cal Law (40 Ques­tions & Answers Series). Ed. Ben­jamin L. Merkle. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Aca­d­e­mic & Pro­fes­sional, 2010. Print. 40 Ques­tions Series.


Bear one another’s bur­dens, and so ful­fill the law of Christ. (ESV)

14 For the whole law is ful­filled in one word: “You shall love your neigh­bor as your­self.” (ESV)

18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own peo­ple, but you shall love your neigh­bor as your­self: I am the Lord. (ESV)

Bear one another’s bur­dens, and so ful­fill the law of Christ. (ESV)

Owe no one any­thing, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has ful­filled the law. (ESV)

Owe no one any­thing, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has ful­filled the law. (ESV)

How to disagree agreeably

This video from The Gospel Coali­tion with Tim Keller, Matt Chan­dler and Michael Hor­ton was pub­lished in 2011, but reposted by TGC on Sep­tem­ber 18, 2015 on Facebook.

I wish I had found it ear­lier. It sums up the issue I have with a newly-published book. I’ve been debat­ing whether or not to review it.

This sums up what the author did not do: “Be able to describe the other person’s posi­tion in a way that they would under­stand it before you earn the right to cri­tique it.”

Per­haps that’s enough of a review.

Fulfilling the Law of Christ: Applying NCT in church life

burdenOver the past sev­eral years, I’ve seen, read, and par­tic­i­pated in a lot of dis­cus­sions about what laws or com­mand­ments we need to fol­low in the New Covenant, what a Bib­li­cal The­ol­ogy of the New Covenant should be, or what the escha­tol­ogy of NCT adher­ents should be. (That last one is a par­tic­u­larly volatile one at the moment, with some amills want­ing to kick out the premills.)

In other words, there’s a lot of con­ver­sa­tion about NCT orthodoxy.

But what about NCT orthopraxy?

What should a church that teaches New Covenant The­ol­ogy look like? What are its hall­marks? Con­tinue reading

The inheritance of the saints

Charles Spur­geon called Christ and the Inher­i­tance of the Saints: Illus­trated in a Series of Dis­courses from the Colos­sians, the expo­si­tion and devo­tional on by Scot­tish divine Thomas Guthrie, “brilliant.”

Thanks to Google books, it’s avail­able as a free down­load.

And it is brilliant.

12 giv­ing thanks to the Father, who has qual­i­fied you to share in the inher­i­tance of the saints in light. 13 He has deliv­ered us from the domain of dark­ness and trans­ferred us to the king­dom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemp­tion, the for­give­ness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invis­i­ble God, the first­born of all cre­ation. 16 For by him all things were cre­ated, in heaven and on earth, vis­i­ble and invis­i­ble, whether thrones or domin­ions or rulers or authorities—all things were cre­ated through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the begin­ning, the first­born from the dead, that in every­thing he might be pre­em­i­nent. 19 For in him all the full­ness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to rec­on­cile to him­self all things, whether on earth or in heaven, mak­ing peace by the blood of his cross. (ESV)

His glory is the center

I’ll say it up front. I love Bib­li­cal The­ol­ogy. The under­stand­ing that Scrip­ture has a com­plete, dis­cernible and con­tin­u­ous story line is essen­tial to under­stand­ing God’s work to restore cre­ation and redeem a peo­ple for himself.

One recent BT book I enjoyed read­ing and con­tinue to ref­er­ence is James Hamilton’s God’s Glory in Sal­va­tion through Judg­ment: a Bib­li­cal Theology.

This snip­pet sum­ma­rizes the preser­va­tion of a rem­nant through their return from exile — a return that leaves them under­stand­ing that some­thing, Some­one, else is yet to come.

The story line of the prophets is straight­for­ward. The peo­ple of Israel enter the land promised them by God. In doing so, they are like a new Adam in a new Eden. Their task is to rule over the earth and sub­due it, but they fare no bet­ter than Adam did. The ini­tial con­quest under Joshua is sub­verted by the Canaaniza­tion of Israel in Judges, and then the nation rejects Yah­weh for a king like all the other nations. Hav­ing removed Saul, Yah­weh mer­ci­fully raises up David and promises that his seed will rule. Solomon builds the tem­ple, but then he wor­ships the gods of his many wives. The nation is rent aus­nder. Israel falls to Assyria, Judah to Babylon.

Along the way, Isa­iah, Jere­miah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve call the kings, priests and peo­ple to repen­tance. They also proph­esy that Yah­weh will redeem his peo­ple after the exile. Just as he brought his peo­ple out of Egypt, he will bring them back from all the lands in which he scat­tered them. Just as he shook heaven and earth at Sinai, he will once again shake heav­ens and earth, and once again enter into a covenant with Israel, and the peo­ple will know Yah­weh. … Through the judg­ment of exile, Yah­weh will purge his peo­ple, bring them to final sal­va­tion and his glory will be the cen­ter­piece of praise, as it is the cen­ter of bib­li­cal theology.

Hamil­ton, James M. God’s Glory in Sal­va­tion through Judg­ment: a Bib­li­cal The­ol­ogy. Wheaton, IL: Cross­way, 2010. Print. p. 267

The greatest threat

I’ve been fol­low­ing Tul­lian Tchividjian’s pas­sion­ate advo­cacy of the suf­fi­ciency of the gospel and the dis­cus­sions he’s had with oth­ers who want to drive peo­ple to law for sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion. Two peo­ple at our church have brought up Tchividjian’s lat­est book,Jesus + Noth­ing = Every­thing, so I thought it was about time I read it. This snip­pet is from a sec­tion of the book sub­ti­tled, “The Great­est Threat”:

The Bible makes it clear that the gospel’s pre­mier enemy is one we often call “legal­ism.” I like to call it per­for­man­cism. Still another way of view­ing it, espe­cially in its most com­mon man­i­fes­ta­tion in Chris­tians, is moral­ism. Strictly speak­ing, those three terms — legal­ism, per­for­man­cism, and moral­ism — aren’t pre­cisely iden­ti­cal in what they refer to. But there’s so much over­lap and inter­con­nec­tion between them that we’ll basi­cally look at them here as one thing.

And what really is that one thing?

Well, it shows up when we fail to believe the gospel. It shows up when behav­ioral oblig­a­tions are divorced from gospel dec­la­ra­tions, when imper­a­tives are dis­con­nected from gospel indica­tives. Legal­ism hap­pens when what we need to do, not what Jesus has already done, becomes the end game.

Our per­for­man­cism leads to pride when we suc­ceed and to despair when we fail. But ulti­mately it leads to slav­ery either way, because it becomes all about us and what we must do to estab­lish our own iden­tity instead of rest­ing in Jesus and what he accom­plished to estab­lish it for us. In all its forms, this wrong focus is anti-gospel and there­fore enslaving.

Tchivid­jian, Tul­lian.Jesus + Noth­ing = Every­thing. Wheaton, IL: Cross­way, 2011. Print. (p. 45–46)

I haven’t com­pleted the book yet, but I’d rec­om­mend it on hav­ing read the first third of it alone.

Love for those we evangelize: no strings attached

I’ve read and enjoyed two pre­vi­ous books by Randy New­man (no, not that Randy New­man) called Ques­tion­ing Evan­ge­lism and Cor­ner Con­ver­sa­tions. Randy, on staff at Cam­pus Cru­sade for Christ since 1980, has just released his third book (which I’m now read­ing), Bring­ing the Gospel Home: Wit­ness­ing to Fam­ily Mem­bers, Close Friends, and Oth­ers Who You Know Well (Cross­way, 2011).

In the chap­ter “Love: Always Craved and Yet Sel­dom Con­veyed” he writes about the need to truly love peo­ple and not just use the appear­ance of love as a means to evangelize:

We need to love peo­ple sim­ply because they are peo­ple, fash­ioned by God in his image; we should not show them love just as a way to evan­ge­lize them. Surely, we can find traits, com­mon ground, unique gifts, per­son­al­ity nuances, and expe­ri­ences we can affirm, and, bet­ter still, enjoy. But we must not love them merely as a manip­u­la­tive pre­lude to preach at them. They’ll smell such nonlove miles away. Instead, we must ask God to enable us to love them. Period. No strings attached. If they’re wait­ing for the other shoe to drop — a shoe in the form of a gospel pre­sen­ta­tion — they won’t feel loved by us because, in fact, they’re not.

Manip­u­la­tion as a means to the gospel is not evan­ge­lism — and risks cre­at­ing a false con­vert. And that “com­mon ground” — that’s the “point of con­tact” Fran­cis Scha­ef­fer advo­cated, a place where con­ver­sa­tion can begin.

More impor­tantly, that love does absolutely need to be gen­uine. As Albert Mohler said at a Desir­ing God con­fer­ence whose topic was Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, we need to love them — the sin­ner, the uncon­verted — more than they love their sin.

After all, God showed his love for us, “in that while we were still sin­ners, Christ died for us.” ()

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sin­ners, Christ died for us. (ESV)

First Item on my 2011 Christmas list

Thomas Schreiner calls Gre­gory K. Beale’s forth­com­ing book,  A New Tes­ta­ment Bib­li­cal The­ol­ogy: The Unfold­ing of the Old Tes­ta­ment in the New his “mag­num opus.”

Beale, author of two favorites of mine, We Become What We Wor­ship: A Bib­li­cal The­ol­ogy of Idol­a­try and The Tem­ple and the Church’s Mis­sion: A Bib­li­cal The­ol­ogy of the Dwelling Place of God – as well as co-editor with D. A. Car­son of Com­men­tary on the New Tes­ta­ment Use of the Old Tes­ta­ment — has this new work hit­ting on Decem­ber 1.

In his endorse­ment, Schreiner writes, “Cer­tainly Beale has writ­ten his mag­num opus, in which he deftly inte­grates the Scrip­tures via the new cre­ation theme. The use of the Old Tes­ta­ment in the New Tes­ta­ment forms the back­bone of this work so that read­ers grasp how the sto­ry­line of Scrip­ture coheres. We stand in debt to the author for his detailed and pro­found unfold­ing of New Tes­ta­ment theology.”

Dou­glas Moo’s endorse­ment: “The canon­i­cal scope and focus on the bib­li­cal story line give Beale’s New Tes­ta­ment Bib­li­cal The­ol­ogy a unique place among the many New Tes­ta­ment the­olo­gies now avail­able. The book is vin­tage Beale, cre­atively mak­ing con­nec­tions between Old Tes­ta­ment and New Tes­ta­ment and pur­su­ing a def­i­nite vision of how the Bible hangs together.”

I can’t wait!


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