30 April 2012

Sermons by Jack Miller

Hard to find many out there, but here are three, available at the Westminster Seminary website, from chapel services thirty years ago. Gold.
Grumblers Surprised by Christ (Exod 17)

The Celebration Song of Moses (Exod 14)

Opportunity: Church with the Open Door (Rev 3:7-13)
HT: Drew Hunter

27 April 2012


The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
-1 John 1:5

I Am Going to Him

On August 23, 1683--the day before he died--John Owen dictated a final letter to his friend Charles Fleetwood. Part of it reads:
I am going to Him whom my soul hath loved, or rather who hath loved me with an everlasting love; which is the whole ground of all my consolation. The passage is very irksome and wearysome through strong pains of various sorts which are all issued in an intermitting fever . . . I am leaving the ship of the church in a storm, but whilst the great Pilot is in it the loss of a poor under-rower will be inconsiderable.
--quoted in Sinclair Ferguson, John Owen on the Christian Life (Banner of Truth, 1987), 18

26 April 2012

Goldsworthy: 'Macro-typology'

The macro-typology I propose is a way of showing the comprehensive nature of the fulfillment of God's promises in Christ. . . . 
When we allow the Old Testament categories to expand to their full potential, antitype is shown to be broader than the mere fulfillment of certain explicit types and promises. Biblical theological study of the events, people and institutions provides us with a comprehensive view of reality and God's part in it. On this view, typology has regard for the full scope of God's redemptive work in that salvation means that he restores everything that was lost or marred by the Fall. According to Paul's take on Genesis 3, this involves the entire creation (Rom. 8:18-23). It was also Paul who declared the resurrection to be the locus of fulfillment of all God's promises (Acts 13:32-33). Paul's cosmic Christology, especially in Colossians 1:15-20 and in Ephesians 1:10, would appear to present a view that God has drawn all things together in Christ, through whom and for whom all things were created. 
--Graeme Goldsworthy, Christ-Centered Biblical Theology: Hermeneutical Foundations and Principles (IVP, 2012), 184

25 April 2012

Christ's Professional Business

Christ has undertaken to save all such from what they fear, if they come to him. It is his professional business; the work in which he engaged before the foundation of the world. It is what he always had in his thoughts and intentions; he undertook from everlasting to be the refuge of those that are afraid of God's wrath.
--Jonathan Edwards, 'Safety, Fulness, and Sweet Refreshment, to Be Found in Christ,' in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (2 volume Hickman ed.), 2:930

23 April 2012

The Central Core of My Life

Jack Miller: 
Personally I do not see anyone as a special case with special problems. . . . As Christians we all believe in the forgiveness of sins. Whenever we confess them to God through Christ, we know that they are released from having power over us and the guilt is removed through His atoning sacrifice. But often this does not really control where we live on a practical level. What we are saying is just words, good words, yes, but words nonetheless which have no reference to where we really live and believe.
But it does not have to be this way. I can begin to build my life on the platform of God's forgiving grace. I can make the central core of my life the knowledge that Christ died for me and thus removed my guilt and with that accepted me permanently as His son. 
--The Heart of a Servant-Leader: Letters from Jack Miller (P&R, 2004), 253

20 April 2012

Home at Last

Jewel the unicorn in The Last Battle at the end of all things in Narnia:
 “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here.
This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.”

Two Beautifully Done Crossway Bibles

I recently went from the Thinline, which I used since 2002 and loved, to the Single-Column Legacy. Both great Bibles. Here's an overview of each.

Thinline Bible Overview from Crossway on Vimeo.

Single Column Legacy Bible Overview from Crossway on Vimeo.

19 April 2012

A Purpose-Driven Cosmos: Why Jesus Doesn't Promise Us an 'Afterlife'

Outstanding article from a few months ago by Russell Moore at CT. Right on, at so many levels. Thanks for this, Russell.

A quote that perhaps represents the heart of the article:
We tend either to ignore the future, because we are so consumed in the drama of the here and now, or to see it as simply a continuation of our present lives, with our loved ones there and sickness and death gone. But in Jesus we see a future that has continuity and discontinuity. In his resurrected life, Jesus has gone before us as a pioneer of the new creation.

Perhaps we dread death less from fear than from boredom, thinking the life to come will be an endless postlude to where the action really happens. This is betrayed in how we speak about the "afterlife": it happens after we've lived our lives. The kingdom, then, is like a high-school reunion in which middle-aged people stand around and remember the "good old days." But Jesus doesn't promise an "afterlife." He promises us life—and that everlasting. Your eternity is no more about looking back to this span of time than your life now is about reflecting on kindergarten. The moment you burst through the mud above your grave, you will begin an exciting new mission—one you couldn't comprehend if someone told you. And those things that seem so important now—whether you're attractive or wealthy or famous or cancer-free—will be utterly irrelevant.
HT: Dave McHale

18 April 2012

16 April 2012

Jesus' Resurrection: 'The First Installment'

Roman Catholic priest and New Testament scholar Gerald O'Collins tends toward universalism and has a less than robust view of Scripture, seeing historical revisionism and significant redaction in both Testaments.

But the edifying tone of his scholarship combined with his refusal to try to sound intellectually impressive is a breath of fresh air. I especially like some remarks he makes in a new book of his about the eschatological significance of Christ's resurrection:
For New Testament Christians, the resurrection of Jesus is inextricably linked to a new creation that touches the entire universe. This resurrection is nothing less than a (new) creative activity of God that initiates the end of all things (Rev 21-22). (p. 101)

"Reconciling all things" (Col 1:20), "gathering up all things" (Eph 1:10), or "making all things new" (Rev 1:5) puts the resurrection and redemption in a cosmic context. The resurrection of Christ had not happened without, and certainly not against, creation. It brought a new world in which not only human beings but also all living creatures and the Earth itself would share. (119)

The new creation, which opened with the events of the first Good Friday and Easter Sunday, produced a state of affairs that anticipated the consummation of life in the new Jerusalem conveyed by Revelation 21-22. The risen and transformed Jesus was the first installment of what would come at the end (1 Cor 15:20). . . . We live now in the situation of the already present kingdom that anticipates, in reality and not merely in thought, the final fullness of the kingdom. (120).
--Gerald O'Collins, Believing in the Resurrection: The Meaning and Promise of the Risen Jesus (Paulist, 2012)

14 April 2012

Where Psalm 51 Takes Us

Can this really be true?

I don't know if I believe it.

Misplaced Sorrow

Toward the end of Anne Bronte's (sister of Charlotte) The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Gilbert laments that one day his romantic relationship with Helen will come to an end when one of them dies and goes off to heaven. He is also dismayed that she seems unbothered by this. "But how can you, Helen, contemplate with delight this prospect of losing me in a sea of glory?"

Helen responds:
"I own I cannot; but we know not that it will be so; and I do know that to regret the exchange of earthly pleasures for the joys of Heaven, is as if the groveling caterpillar should lament that it must one day quit the nibbled lead to soar aloft and flutter through the air, roving at will from flower to flower, sipping sweet honey from their cups or basking in their sunny petals. If there little creatures knew how great a change awaited them, no doubt they would regret it; but would not all such sorrow be misplaced?"
--Anne Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, in The Life and Works of the Sisters Bronte (7 vols; New York: Harper, 1900), 6:412

13 April 2012

The Lifeline Is a Death Line

In the essay "A Slip of the Tongue," Lewis is talking about how reluctant we are to give ourselves fully to the Lord, how frighteningly dangerous that feels--and yet how it is our only safety.
This is my endless recurrent temptation: to go down to that Sea (I think St. John of the Cross called God a sea) and there neither dive nor swim nor float, but only dabble and splash, careful not to get out of my depth and holding on to the lifeline which connects me with things temporal. . . .

Our temptation is to look eagerly for the minimum that will be accepted. We are in fact very like honest but reluctant taxpayers. We approve of an income tax in principle. . . . But we dread a rise in the tax. We are very careful to pay no more than is necessary. And we hope--we very ardently hope--that after we have paid it there will still be enough left to live on. . . .

Swimming lessons are better than a lifeline to the shore. For of course that lifeline is really a death line. There is no parallel to paying taxes and living on the remainder. For it is not so much of our time and so much of our attention that God demands; it is not even all our time and all our attention; it is ourselves. 
--C. S. Lewis, 'A Slip of the Tongue,' in The Weight of Glory, 139-41

12 April 2012

Faith: 'Get You to Christ'

Evangelista, the wise Christian in Fisher's Marrow of Modern Divinity, on faith:
I pity the preposterous care and unhappy travail of many, who study the practice of this and that virtue, neglecting this cardinal and radical virtue; as if a man should water all the tree, and not the root. Fain would they shine in patience, meekness, and zeal, and ye are not careful to establish and root themselves in faith, which should maintain all the rest. . . .

To pray, to meditate, to keep a Sabbath cheerfully, to have your conversation heavenly, is as impossible for you yourself to do, as for iron to swim, or for stones to ascend upwards; but yet nothing is impossible to faith; it can naturalize these things unto you; it can make a mole of the earth a soul of heaven.

Wherefore, though you have tried all moral conclusions of purposing, promising, resolving, vowing, fasting, watching, and self-revenge; yet get you to Christ, and with the finger of faith touch but the hem of his garment; and you shall feel virtue come from him, for the curing of all your diseases.

Wherefore I beseech you, come out of yourself unto Jesus Christ, and apprehend him by faith. . . . and then you shall find yourself loathing sin, and loving the law of Christ; yea, then shall you find your corruptions dying and decaying daily, more and more.
--Edward Fisher, The Marrow of Modern Divinity (Christian Focus, 2009), 222

10 April 2012


In 1990 Jack Miller wrote a letter to his fellow elders at New Life Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. The subject was how they could best care for Andrew, a young man with AIDS. Jack enclosed in the letter to the elders a copy of a long letter he had written to Andrew.

Jack said to the elders:
The letter to Andrew is based on some strong meditation/medicine which derives from Psalm 84 and that wise man Augustine. In the letter I mention its content as also issuing from my struggles with health in Nairobi. All of this is true enough, but the letter has roots in another burden of mine. It has to do with the restlessness of this generation; people everywhere seem to be trying to build a permanent home in this world and do it just as fast as they can.

Incredible restlness everywhere!

Restlessness in the world, and everlasting stirring in the church members and leaders.

My guy feeling is that much of this activity is based upon the unconscious notion that this world is a pretty permanent place, an arena where we can make our home, build our reputations, get ahead in our ambitions, secure the right education, etc. Well, I want to raise the question: Is this restlessness fleshly and also demonic in its power over our hearts in our time? I suspect this restlessness has roots in hell. Consider its subtlety. Who can repent when he is going at warp speed? 
--The Heart of a Servant Leader: Letters from Jack Miller (P&R 2004), 290-91

04 April 2012

Jesus Broke the Great Breaker

Michael Williams of Calvin Seminary on the heart of Ephesians:
Jesus' death on the cross paid the debt of our sin and also drove a stake into the heart of its ability to produce brokenness. Jesus broke the Great Breaker. Jesus broke the back of sin so that it can only exert any of its slithery, divisive influence on us when we choose to go visit it in the hospital. 
--Michael Williams, How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens: A Guide to Christ-Focused Reading of Scripture (Zondervan, 2012), 199

Along with this brief word from Michael about his book, note also the below event at Calvin Seminary that includes a presentation from Michael and then extensive Q&A with him about the book:

03 April 2012

01 April 2012

Staying Christian in Seminary

Posted by request of our friends at Desiring God

What's the secret to soul-health while in seminary?

There are many good things to be said. Stay prayerful, be involved in the local church, cultivate meaningful friendships, fight for sexual sanity, find a brother to confess your sins to, get enough sleep, don’t neglect your wife if married. All important.

But above all else I would say two things to a young man given the privilege of seminary: you are justified by another, and you are strong in weakness.

1. You are justified by another.

Fallen human beings are walking courtrooms.

Internal, tense, anxious, emotional scurrying about will define your seminary experience if you do not settle the astounding truth that for those united to Christ the courtroom verdict over your life is now a past reality rather than a future one. It’s behind you, not before you. A period, not a question mark. You are justified.

In a strange and wonderful text in Isaiah 28, God declared that the inscription on the cornerstone of the future temple would be, “Whoever believes will not be in haste” (Isa. 28:16). Have you tasted that?

The unanswered questions of the heart not at rest are: Am I ok? Do I matter? Who am I before others? How do I measure up? Am I significant? What’s the judgment over my life?

But when Jesus came he didn't tell us to provide self-generated answers to these questions. He said he came to give rest (Matt. 11:28-30). He came to stop the haste. Paul even took Isaiah 28 and said Jesus is that cornerstone so that whoever believes in Christ will not be in haste (Rom. 9:33; 10:11).

In seminary as much as any time in your life you must remember that the sigh of the soul you so desperately desire is yours, freely, abundantly, as you trust in Christ, the radiant Friend of screw-ups. United to him, you are co-justified with him. For you to be un-okayed, Jesus would have to be un-okayed. His verdict is in, and therefore yours is in.

That’s hard, strangely hard, to remember. For various reasons it’s especially hard to remember in seminary. While studying the Bible as a full-time student I found I could write a paper on justification by faith alone and then seek to be justified by its publication.

At Covenant Seminary I startled myself with how quickly I slipped into impress-mode around professors I admired. I forgot the verdict was in. I was bolstering what God thought of me with what others thought of me. Justification plus. Haste.

The pressures of seminary will force you either into greater rest or greater haste. One thing determines which way you go: regular heart-bathing in the gospel of a secured, irreversible verdict won by the now un-condemnable Christ.

His unflappable hug, his undentable favor, is impervious to your mediocre grades, fickle human approval, up-and-down marriage, number of Twitter followers, or how long it’s been since you abused Youtube.

How do you stay Christian in seminary? Above all else, defibrillate your heart daily with the invincible favor of God shining down on you because of the love and sacrifice of another.

Only the doctrine of justification by faith alone will enable you to experience seminary as joyful, relaxed ministry training rather than frantic, fretful impressing.

2. You are strong in weakness.

Few things bring our weakness to the surface like seminary. Spending all day with classmates who read faster than you, memorize paradigms more easily than you do, and preach better than you do pours gasoline on the flames of our insecurity. Ongoing moral failure--for young men in today's hypersexualized world I am thinking especially of sexual failure, though spiritual pride, laziness, envy, intellectual haughtiness, and a bent toward divisiveness also reveal our weakness.

Seminary gathers up all our latent insecurities and forces them before us. We begin to ask questions of ourselves.

Am I supposed to be here? we wonder. Shouldn't I be better at the languages if this is where God wants me? Shouldn't I be able to preach in front of 8 brothers in a homiletics practicum without my eyes being chained to my notes and my palms sweating? Shouldn’t my finances be less strapped if seminary is the Lord’s good purpose in my life? Shouldn’t I be able to finally kick that habitual sin if I’m spending so much time pondering God and the Bible?

Brother: those soul-squeezing questions are your friends. Without them you would coast through seminary and graduate a shallow, twaddling little man with no depth and trite answers.

God’s grace is sufficient for you. Get over yourself. You are weak. You are inadequate. You always will be. And the story of the Bible is God’s delight in taking weak, inadequate men and doing the unthinkable. Stop insulting the Holy Spirit. Your weakness is the single crucial prerequisite for him to make your life a miracle. To think “I don’t have what it takes” is precisely what it takes. Don’t try to overcome your weakness. Leverage your weakness into a lifetime of 1 Corinthians 2:1–5 ministry.

God’s power is made perfect in your weakness.