Perhaps some of the most famous words ever spoken on the topic of holiness by a pastor came from Robert Murray McCheyne. He said,
It’s the central claim of Christianity: Jesus is alive.
Not just that his memory lives on in people’s hearts. Not that his teaching still inspires people today. But that Jesus rose from the dead—flesh and blood, in time and space. (more…)
My favourite Easter hymn is “Man of Sorrows” by Philipp Bliss (1838-1876). Its first line and title comes from the most famous Old Testament prophecy of all, one of Isaiah’s so-called Servant Songs. (more…)
I’m reading the Bible through, chronologically this time. I’ve just got to Leviticus: the shoal that’s wrecked a million Bible reading plans (at least, it did mine when I was a teenager). Once again, as I read this hard part of God’s word, it seeps into my skin and reshapes my insides.
There’s something beautiful about Leviticus. Sometimes, like those 3D pictures, you have to blur your eyes to see it. As you persevere through the bewildering details (split hooves? a sore with white hairs in it? two materials woven into one?) you begin to sense the outlines. Laws that protect life and relationships. Laws that forbid detestable practices and depraved worship. Laws that uphold justice and provide for the poor.
There’s also something terrifying about Leviticus. (more…)
Paul Barnett—New Testament scholar, author, former bishop of North Sydney—on 5 epiphanies he has had over his 55 years of being a Christian regarding the historical reliability of the New Testament.
So why are these men who fill the pages of Josephus forgotten today and Jesus is a household word? It’s because history is full of people who blaze briefly like comets and are then forgotten. But Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man who forgave sins, who healed the sick and raised the dead, who entered Jerusalem as its Messiah-king, whose teaching on love and forgiveness was profound and unheard of, and who himself was resurrected from the dead. Without the resurrection Jesus would have been just another mistaken prophet whose death guaranteed his relegation to obscurity, like the shadowy figure of the Teacher of Righteousness, the founder of the Dead Sea Sect, whose name we do not even know.
As Paul concludes, “I could not reject the historical reliability of the New Testament, even if I wanted to”.
This Christmas the American Atheists have posted a large billboard in Times Square New York. It has two pictures: one of Santa Claus and the other of Jesus on the cross. The captions under the pictures are “Keep the Merry” and “Dump the Myth”. Apart from having the captions under the wrong pictures, the sentiment is one I agree with. (more…)
I cannot believe how often educated people pull out the claim that Jesus probably never existed. Except that it’s not PC to say so, it really deserves the title of Old Wives Tale! (more…)
Maybe you’re a people-pleaser (like I am), and like to be liked by the smart and the sensible. If that’s you, then I wonder if Jesus’ words in John 7 will cut you like they did me this morning. (more…)
Thanks to the CASE team (CASE = Centre for Apologetic Scholarship & Education) at New College, I’ve enjoyed receiving their quarterly journal for the past few years. Each one has a theme, and they’ve had some real winners in the last two years, including on: (more…)
In the middle of the classic Christmas hymn ‘Away in a Manger’, there is this one line that doesn’t quite ring true. The second stanza tells us, “The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes / But little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes”. Did baby Jesus really not cry? The hymn author was likely thinking that Jesus did not cry because he was perfect and divine. But does a crying baby Jesus detract from his divinity? I think not, but a non-crying baby Jesus detracts from his humanity. (more…)
Last Saturday, the ‘Good Weekend’ magazine published by the Sydney Morning Herald (and the Melbourne Age?), ran an article by Fenella Souter entitled “Truth, Lies and Santa Claus: Exploding the Myths of Christmas” (not available online). (more…)
Preaching Christ from the Old Testament is hard. It’s hard because the Old Testament text itself can be hard to deal with—it’s long, complicated, and culturally distant. It’s hard because even when we get to grips with the text, it isn’t always easy to see how it relates to Jesus and/or how we can encourage people with the gospel, rather than simply making them feel guilty and weighed down with impossible requirements. (more…)
Is this a modern scandal for Christians—a truth that some find hard to swallow? I don’t mean that that Jesus was a Jew, but that he is one now.
I have been thinking about the nature of Christian truth recently—in particular, what it means to live the Christian life. And I keep coming across these poles to avoid: one the one hand, legalism, and on the other hand, licentiousness.
But what would happen if you tried to drive your car down the middle of the freeway by adopting this strategy—whatever you do, avoid the right hand and left hand edges of the road? (The golfers all know the answer to this question already: “Don’t hit it left, don’t hit it left … Doh!”).
Vintage Jesus: Timeless answers to timely questions
Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears
Crossway Books, Wheaton, 2008, pp. 256.
It is easy to like Mark Driscoll. How can you not like someone who founded a megachurch in his 20s, who has the flare of a stand-up comedian, and who can speak for an hour without wearying his audience? Minor differences aside, he is the poster boy for 21st-century Evangelicalism. And having spent considerable bandwidth downloading his sermons, I am constantly impressed at his sparkling use of language and his passionate conviction of the centrality of Christ. (more…)