What is your six-word Gospel?

I’m still wrestling with the topic of what is the Gospel? My interest has been piqued in Scot McKnight’s book, “The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited”, in which he seeks to recover the original message of the Gospel apart from our evangelical “salvation culture”.  I’m hoping to read that this spring, but in the meantime have been struck by several of the apostle Paul’s pithy gospel references. I’ve taken the liberty of recasting them as six-word stories:

Believe in Jesus and be saved. (Romans 10:9)
Jesus, son of David, is alive! (2 Timothy 2:8)
Christ in you, hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)

All of the above are true.

To be fair, the Romans statement is a bit broader and includes reference to the resurrection, but I wanted to contrast the statement above with the 2 Timothy reference, where Paul explicitly draws out the lineage of Jesus as heir to throne of David, essential to the Jewish expectation of the Messiah.

Which six-word story resonates most with you? Or what is your own six-word gospel story?

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An initial look: NIV Single Column Reference Bible

Earlier last week, Zondervan released its latest edition of the new NIV translation: the Single Column Reference Bible. As a long-time advocate of the single-column text format, I was naturally attracted to it, but somewhat cautious based on my prior experiences with the TNIV Reference Bible (see here, here, and here). Though largely based on that previous edition, this version has made some changes that earn it a stronger recommendation from this desk.

Here are some quick takes based on my first few days with it, also illustrated in the photo gallery below: Read More »

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A workless faith

Recently I’ve been reading Robert H. Gundry’s Commentary on James (HT: Jeff@Scripture Zealot). I’ve crossed paths with Gundry before on this blog (cf. my post on Matthew’s “narrative” account of the infant Christ), but this is my first time reading his work first hand.

By and large, Gundry presents his own literal translation of the text as an introduction to each section of his commentary. It seems to be fairly straightforward stuff, but I was struck by his approach to James 2:20, in which he presents a twist in his translation:

“But do you want to know, O empty human being, that faith apart from works is workless?” (emphasis mine)

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The victorious redemption of creation as the seal of the abyss

In some of my recent, tentative theological wanderings, I have been considering the Christus Victor view of atonement and what implications that has for my view of things. In many ways, it feels like a “coming home” to the first major systematic Bible study that I did, almost ten years ago, in which the major theme was the Bible as God’s narrative of grace and the victorious redemption of his creation. Perhaps it was Christus Victor without those words…

Regardless, the emphasis I see on atonement as the redemptive – not placating – victory of Christ over the powers and principalities of this world resonates deeply within me.  I was recently reading Greg Boyd’s essay on Christus Victor and the emphasis on spiritual warfare and Christ’s victory over the sphere of Satan’s influence were very persuasive.

[Jesus] said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a lightning flash. Look, I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; nothing will ever harm you.” Luke 10:18-19 (all references taken from HCSB unless otherwise noted)

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Ecclesiasticus 10:13

Persistence in [pride] brings on a deluge of depravity.”

(Ecclesiasticus 10:13, NEB)

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Matthew 5:3

How blest are those who know their need of God; the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

(Matthew 5:3, NEB)

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Making the pot boil and bubble

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 1

Examples of bubbling cauldron scenes — with or without witches — in classic literature are seemingly innumerable, and in the heart of the book of Ezekiel, we find that even the Bible contributes to the genre. The parable of the boiling pot graphically illustrates a message of judgement from God on the leaders of Jerusalem, who had been set siege upon by the king of Babylon. The parable itself is turnabout on an earlier vision, cf. Ezekiel 11:1-12, where the prophet hears the corrupt leadership compare the safety of the city to a boiling pot of meat.

In this post, I am looking at the first part of the parable, Ezekiel 24:3b-5, comparing the classic KJV with two modern translations, the Revised English Bible (REB) and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). My intent is such: compare the KJV to a translation example that emphasizes literary language (REB) and to an example of a translation that offers idiomatic English grammar (HCSB), with the idea to see what is gained or lost from an English styling perspective.

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What is the gospel?

Over the weekend, I was briefly sucked into a theological discussion thread on Facebook in which the original question was posed along the lines of “If Calvanism is the gospel (cf. Spurgeon) and I am not a Calvanist, do I reject the gospel?” Despite my attempt at a quick diversionary answer, the thread quickly transformed into a TULIP discussion, so I left it behind…

For those curious, I quoted Titus 3:9-10 to kick things off:

“But avoid foolish [...] arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.”

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Finding Hope in Christianity’s Past

Are current events part of a cyclical, God-planned upheaval of Christianity or just the results of random social circumstances? My former teacher, Trace James, has published some thoughts on his Studies in Grace blog on why he sees hope for the future in Christianity’s past.

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We are risen!

You once were dead because of your sins and wickedness; you followed the ways of this present world order, obeying the commander of the spiritual powers of the air, the spirit now at work among God’s rebel subjects. We too were once of their number; we were ruled by our physical desires, and did what instinct and evil imagination suggested. In our natural condition we lay under the condemnation of God like the rest of mankind.

But God is rich in mercy, and because of his great love for us, he brought us to life with Christ when we were dead because of our sins; it is by grace you are saved. And he raised us up in union with Christ Jesus and enthroned us with him in the heavenly realms, so that he might display in the ages to come how immense are the resources of his grace, and how great his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you are saved through faith; it is not your own doing. It is God’s gift, not a reward for work done. There is nothing for anyone to boast of; we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the life of good deeds which God designed for us.

Ephesians 2:1-10 (REB, emphasis mine)

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