Search Results for '"The God Who Is There" Carson'

Repost: What Does “Grace Upon Grace” Mean?

I just noticed that this has become the most popular post on the blog, most likely because of search engine activity. It has surpassed Complete List of Paul's Prayers. So I thought I’d post it again after three years.

First of all, is it in the Bible? It almost sounds like a catch-phrase of some sort. Why, yes, yes it is in the Bible. You can find it in John 1:16:

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
John 1:16 NASB

That’s the wording I’m familiar with for some reason. KJV has “grace for grace.”

This is according to D.A. Carson (quoting the TNIV), which is consistent with what he wrote in his commentary on John, published almost 20 years earlier. 

GRACE AND LAW

John adds, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given” (1:16). That is exactly what the text says—but what does it mean? It does not mean “grace on top of grace” or “one grace after another,” like Christmas presents piled up under a Christmas tree, one blessing after another. It means we have all received a grace in place of a grace already given. What does that mean? The next verse tells us: “For the law was given through Moses [which takes us back to Exod. 32—34]; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:17). In other words, the gift of the law was a gracious thing, a good and wonderful gift from God. But grace and truth par excellence came through Jesus Christ, not in the display of glory to Moses in a cave but in the display of Jesus and the bloody sacrifice on the cross. The law covenant was a gracious gift from God, but now Jesus is going to introduce a new covenant, the ultimate grace and truth. This is a grace that replaces that old grace. It is bound up with a new covenant.

The God Who Is There, pg 116, Chapter 7 — The God Who Becomes a Human Being, published in 2010

What Does “Grace Upon Grace” Mean?

Here is a repost from a couple of years ago that seems to be popular.

First of all, is it in the Bible? It almost sounds like a catch-phrase of some sort. Why, yes, yes it is in the Bible. You can find it in John 1:16:

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
John 1:16 NASB

That’s the wording I’m familiar with for some reason. KJV has “grace for grace.”

This is according to D.A. Carson (quoting the TNIV). This is consistent with what he wrote in his commentary on John, published almost 20 years earlier. Is there another interpretation that you or another scholar prefer?

GRACE AND LAW

John adds, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given” (1:16). That is exactly what the text says—but what does it mean? It does not mean “grace on top of grace” or “one grace after another,” like Christmas presents piled up under a Christmas tree, one blessing after another. It means we have all received a grace in place of a grace already given. What does that mean? The next verse tells us: “For the law was given through Moses [which takes us back to Exod. 32—34]; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:17). In other words, the gift of the law was a gracious thing, a good and wonderful gift from God. But grace and truth par excellence came through Jesus Christ, not in the display of glory to Moses in a cave but in the display of Jesus and the bloody sacrifice on the cross. The law covenant was a gracious gift from God, but now Jesus is going to introduce a new covenant, the ultimate grace and truth. This is a grace that replaces that old grace. It is bound up with a new covenant.

The God Who Is There, pg 116, Chapter 7, The God Who Becomes a Human Being, published in 2010

The Best Book for New Christians

OK, so I haven’t read every book in the world that are supposed to be for new Christians. The one mentioned below is by far the best one that I have read. If you’re short on time, skip to the last paragraph and the quote below it; otherwise, you can read about a few other helpful books too.

I have seen lists of books for new Christians written by bloggers. I think they almost always overshoot. They recommend fantastic books like Knowing God by J.I. Packer, which is one of the best popular level, contemporary books on God ever written (again I realize I haven’t read all of them), but I know from experience that there are Christians who’ve been saved for decades who still need milk and can’t handle this book. (That’s another subject.) I think many Christians, especially those who are well read, forget what it’s like to be new. This is that ‘one book’ that I think every Christian, or certainly everyone in the early stages, should read. But how many times have you read that? Everybody has their opinion.

At one time I was on the lookout for books that fit this category. I looked at The God Who Is There by D.A. Carson, which is a great book aimed at newer Christians. See posts where this book is mentioned. I read this recently and learned a lot from it, but I think it might get to be too much for new Christians. He’ll start out explaining what the gospels are, but then goes on and gets a little ‘thick’. It’s really a great book though for an ‘advanced beginner’. He starts out writing a lot about Genesis, then goes to John, then to Revelation (but not everything in-between). I’m not sure if he is one to write a book for new Christians. He knows like 39 languages and can quote book, chapter and section from Calvin’s Institutes like he wrote it himself. As a tangent–sometimes I tend to exaggerate a little. I think he only knows about 29 languages, or maybe 7.

I also looked at Basic Christianity by John Stott. The book is true to its title, but I don’t know if the content, including the tiny typeface of the edition I have, is quite suitable for most new Christians these days. Maybe it was when he first wrote it 50 years ago.

Then I remembered the one I read when I was a new Christian. It’s upstairs among some really old books that I don’t have on my regular bookshelf. Turns out that the book with the red cover and yellow title has been reprinted over and over in that span of 30 years and now has a nice new cover. You can’t go wrong in buying The Fight: A Practical Handbook for Christian Living by John White, for a new Christian. I’m not sure why I haven’t seen it mentioned. Maybe the title is off-putting. But people are obviously buying and reading it, and for good reason.

Here is a guide through the basic areas of Christian living we wrestle with throughout our lives: faith, prayer, temptation, evangelism, guidance, Bible study, fellowship, work. In this very personal book he offers new Christians sound first steps and older Christians refreshing insights into the struggles and the joys of freedom in Christ.

The Fight by John White for Young Christians

Do you have any suggestions?

Also see:

God Is Love–And Many Other Things

I just finished reading The God Who Is There by D.A. Carson. The Kindle version is on sale right now for $3.99. It’s aimed at new Christians, but with all due respect, I don’t think he is one to write a book for new Christians. I learned a lot. He’s a quote machine. Because of that, it took me a long time to get through the book. I’ve been taking notes on books I read, and I was taking notes and blogging (first four links) on so much of what I read, it seemed to take forever.

I highly recommend it. The book is friendly to new Christians who like to read and investigate more than just the basics. It’s also great for seasoned Christians. He mainly uses Genesis, John and Revelation to talk about who God is and how he deals with people.

The quote below is something I think about a lot. It seems like there is so much focus on the fact that God is love, it’s to the exclusion or diminution of all of the other things God is, as well as having a distorted view of his love as you’ll see below. God is to be feared (which shouldn’t need to be qualified), God is awesome (in the traditional sense of the word–not how it’s used now), he is a God of wrath, judgement, anger, he hates. For those in his Kingdom, these can be comforting things, in addition to warnings. I hope you like the quote.

Why People Today Find It Easy to Believe in God’s Love

If there is one thing that our world thinks it knows about God–if our world believes in God at all–it is that he is a loving God. That has not always been the case in human history. Many people have thought of the gods as pretty arbitrary, mean-spirited, whimsical, or even malicious. That is why you have to appease them. Sometimes in the history of the church Christians have placed more emphasis on God’s wrath or his sovereignty or his holiness, all themes that are biblical in some degree or another. God’s love did not receive as much attention. But today, if people believe in God at all, by and large they find it easy to believe in God’s love.

Yet being comfortable with the notion of the love of God has been accompanied by some fairly spongy notions as to what love means. Occasionally you will hear somebody saying something like this: “It’s Christians I don’t like, I mean, God is love, and if everybody were just like Jesus, it would be wonderful. Jesus said, ‘Judge not that you be not judged.’ You know, if we could all just be nonjudgmental and be loving the way Jesus was loving, then the world would be a better place.” There is an assumption then about the nature of love, isn’t there? Love is nonjudgmental. It does not condemn anyone. It lets everybody do whatever they want. That is what love means.

Of course, it is sadly true that sometimes Christians—God help us—are mean. Certainly it is true that Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matt. 7:1). But when he said this, did he really mean, “Do not make any morally discriminating judgments?” Why then does he give so many commands about telling the truth? Don’t such commands stand as condemnation of lies and liars? Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves: doesn’t that constitute an implicit judgment on those who don’t? In fact, in the very text where Jesus says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” he goes on to say just five verses later, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs” (Matt. 7:6), which means that somebody has to figure out who the swine are.

In other words, when Jesus says something as important as “Do not Judge, or you too Wlll he Judged,” there is a context to he understood. Jesus, after all, cuts an astonishingly high moral swath through his time. So if people think “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” means that Jesus is abolishing all morality and leaving all such questions up to the individual, they have not even begun to understand who Jesus is. Jesus does condemn the kind of judgment that is judgmental, self-righteous, or hypocritical. He condemns such judgment repeatedly and roundly. But there is no way on God’s green earth that he is condemning moral discernment or the priority of truth. In any case there is more to God’s love, to Jesus’s love, than avoiding judgmentalism.

That means that when we think of God’s love, we need to think of God’s other attributes too—his holiness, truthfulness, glory (his manifestation of his spectacular being and loveliness), and all the rest–and think through how all of them work together all the time. Sadly, precisely because our culture finds it relatively easy to believe that God is a God of love, we have developed notions of God’s love that are disturbingly spongy and sentimental and almost always alienated from the full range of the attributes that make God, God.

the-god-who-is-there

God Is Spirit and So Are We

There are two messages to this post:

  1. Isn’t it amazing that being made in God’s image, we are also spiritual beings? The fact that we are able to be reborn spiritually, and with God’s Spirit in us is amazing beyond explanation or comprehension.
  2. This can only come from God. We can’t intellectualize ourselves into the Kingdom or just make a statement and then do nothing or have nothing to show for it.

This came about from reading the book that the quote below is from. I added some emphasis in the first two Scripture quotes so that hopefully you’ll see what I’m getting at. (Good luck.)

God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind.
Genesis 1:25 NLT

Then God said, “Let us make humans in our image, in our likeness.
Genesis 1:26 GW

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stubborn hearts and give you obedient hearts. I will put my Spirit in you. I will enable you to live by my laws, and you will obey my rules.
Ezekiel 36:26-27

However, he gave the right to become God’s children to everyone who believed in him. These people didn’t become God’s children in a physical way-from a human impulse or from a husband’s desire to have a child. They were born from God.
John 1:12-13

Flesh and blood give birth to flesh and blood, but the Spirit gives birth to things that are spiritual. Don’t be surprised when I tell you that all of you must be born from above. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where the wind comes from or where it’s going. That’s the way it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
John 3:6-8

Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will go to them and make our home with them.”
John 14:23

Those who obey Christ’s commandments live in God, and God lives in them. We know that he lives in us because he has given us the Spirit.
1 John 3:24

We know that we live in him and he lives in us because he has given us his Spirit. We have seen and testify to the fact that the Father sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God lives in those who declare that Jesus is the Son of God, and they live in God.
1 John 4:13-15

Being born again is not only a confession. D.A. Carson says, “Where there is new birth, you will always see the results.” [Emphasis is his.] New birth has not necessarily taken place because “somebody’s made a commitment to Jesus.” Where there is new birth–where it has genuinely come from God–you will see transformation. You will see change in the life. That does not mean that people have suddenly reached perfection: we shall have more Christian growth and Christian failures in due course. But where new birth takes place, there is a change of direction, or origin. There is a cleaning up in the life. There is a transformation. There is a beginning of life from God himself that shapes our existence in a new direction.

–D.A. Carson, The God Who Is There

You give glory to my Father when you produce a lot of fruit and therefore show that you are my disciples.
John 15:8

As all of us reflect the Lord’s glory with faces that are not covered with veils, we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

The New Covenant is still an agreement.

But now Christ has brought you back to God by dying in his physical body. He did this so that you could come into God’s presence without sin, fault, or blame. This is on the condition that you continue in faith without being moved from the solid foundation of the hope that the Good News contains.
Colossians 1:22-23

But the fruit comes from God.

You didn’t choose me, but I chose you. I have appointed you to go, to produce fruit that will last, and to ask the Father in my name to give you whatever you ask for.
John 15:16

I don’t mean to make a portrayal that seems to remove any responsibility on our part.

He gave the right to become God’s children to everyone who believed in him. These people didn’t become God’s children in a physical way-from a human impulse or from a husband’s desire to have a child. They were born from God.
John 1:12-13

How these two sides of God’s truth—His sovereignty in choosing us (Romans 9) and our responsibility to confess and believe (Romans 10)—reconcile is impossible for us to understand fully. But Scripture declares both perspectives of salvation to be true (John 1:12-13). It’s our duty to acknowledge both and joyfully accept them by faith.

–John MacArthur

Sproul Quote

What Does “Grace Upon Grace” Mean?

First of all, is it in the Bible? It almost sounds like a catch-phrase of some sort. Why, yes, yes it is in the Bible. You can find it in John 1:16:

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
John 1:16 NASB

That’s the wording I’m familiar with for some reason. KJV has “grace for grace.”

This is according to D.A. Carson (quoting the TNIV). This is consistent with what he wrote in his commentary on John, published almost 20 years earlier. Is there another interpretation that you or another scholar prefer?

GRACE AND LAW

John adds, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given” (1:16). That is exactly what the text says—but what does it mean? It does not mean “grace on top of grace” or “one grace after another,” like Christmas presents piled up under a Christmas tree, one blessing after another. It means we have all received a grace in place of a grace already given. What does that mean? The next verse tells us: “For the law was given through Moses [which takes us back to Exod. 32—34]; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:17). In other words, the gift of the law was a gracious thing, a good and wonderful gift from God. But grace and truth par excellence came through Jesus Christ, not in the display of glory to Moses in a cave but in the display of Jesus and the bloody sacrifice on the cross. The law covenant was a gracious gift from God, but now Jesus is going to introduce a new covenant, the ultimate grace and truth. This is a grace that replaces that old grace. It is bound up with a new covenant.

The God Who Is There, pg 116, Chapter 7 — The God Who Becomes a Human Being, published in 2010

God Made Us, and We Owe Him

First off, I haven’t been posting much lately because I’ve been preoccupied with some other things. It will inevitably pick up again, God willing. Not that I think you’re waiting for each post with bated breath (whatever that means). I know that us bloggers are supposed to post a lot, because for some reason, that’s what people want.

I’m reading the book The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story by D.A. Carson. I had bought a few books that are supposed to be for new Christians, should one of the people I’m praying for ever become one. Although it was recommended as such, I think this one might be a little too much.

I started reading it a while ago and wasn’t getting into it. This time around, for some reason, I think it’s fascinating, as many people say everything written by Carson is. In the beginning (get it?) of the book, he spends a lot of time on the beginning of Genesis.

I’ve been having a hard time lately knowing how to live and be content on a spiritual level given the various health conditions and losses experienced. I like the quote below. “He made us, and we owe him. If we do not recognize this simple truth, then,” all kinds of havoc ensues. If I’m not content, I’m “fighting against myself as well as against the God who made me.” He’s not the supreme bully (not that I really see Him that way), but the one who gives us eternal life and ‘the hope‘ we have (Titus 2:13, Hebrews 6:18 NRSV).

What the Bible says about creation is what grounds the notion of human accountability and responsibility. Why should I obey God? If he wants to take me in directions that I do not like, who is he to tell me what to do? Surely I am free to choose other gods or invent my own. I can belt out the popular song, “I did it my way.” Who is he to boss me around? I defy him. Unless he made me; unless he designed me. In that case I owe him everything—life and breath and everything else, such that if I do not see it that way then I am out of line with my Maker. I am out of line with the one who designed me and with what I am designed by God himself to be. I am fighting against myself as well as against the God who made me. All of human accountability and responsibility before God is grounded in the first instance in creation. He made us, and we owe him. If we do not recognize this simple truth, then, according to the Bible, that blindness is itself a mark of how alienated from him we are. It is for our good that we recognize it, not because he is the supreme bully but because without him we would not even be here, and we will certainly have to give an account to him.

–D.A. Carson, The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story pg. 26

the-god-who-is-there

Top Three Books Sold From This Blog

This post is basically an advertisement.

I looked through my Amazon Associate site’s reports to see what the best selling books are among this blog’s community. Whenever there is a link to a book here, it’s through my Amazon Associates account where I earn 4%. I should be making this more clear. The cost to the customer is the same of course, or I wouldn’t do it. I have to be thrifty myself. I don’t make much at all since books aren’t exactly a high priced item, especially with Kindle books (see all of the Fire and E-reader products there, like the new Paperwhite) and used books. I have a link in the right column for those who want to buy other items through it to help me out (along with two other bookstores–which is OK with them), which I’m very grateful for.

I read on ProBlogger that one way to make some sales is to post the top products sold on one’s blog. This shows what might be good to buy because of popularity. This is also a service to the readers.

The first one, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, Priorities from Paul and His Prayers by D.A. Carson, is by far the most popular, bought in paperback and Kindle editions. I didn’t review it–I wrote a post about it and Paul’s Prayers, including a list of the Bible references to all of his prayers, which can be ‘moused over’ if you have a computing device that handles it, to get a good idea of the content, or click through to see the whole passage. The idea is to compare Paul’s prayers to your own, which transformed how I pray quite a few years ago. (There is a new edition out with a new, and I think more appropriate title: Praying with Paul: A Call to Spiritual Reformation. As far as I can tell, it’s the same book with a new cover and a new Preface.)

The next one, The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story coincidentally (providentially?) also by D.A. Carson, may be second partly because somebody bought a lot of them. But anything by D.A. Carson is well worth it. This is a more basic book of who God is and how he works. I included this in a post titled Three Books For New Christians.

D.A. Carson

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions is something that can be found on the Puritan Prayers page. I have some of the prayers on that page and formatted them to be printed out. I pray through one of them once a week and never get tired of them.

Puritan Prayers

So two of them are by D.A. Carson and two of them are on prayer. The one in fourth place is also on prayer but it’s one I don’t endorse, so I chose not to list it. There are a whole lot of others lined up in fifth and sixth place, etc. Someday I may list my favorites. I also have a Reviews page with links to all of the books that have been formally reviewed here.

Thank you for stopping by and reading.

A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology

This came to my attention via Challies.comA Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology by Kelly M. Kapic. In a previous post titled Three Books For New Christians, I was looking for books that would help people start learning about the Bible and theology in a way that’s easy to understand and not look like a daunting task. I bought one of the books I found, D.A. Carson’s The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story, and have started to read it myself–a chapter here and there–but it may be just a bit much for someone in the target group I’m thinking of.

This new book, at 128 pages, might be one to consider. Click the book image and read the Editorial Reviews to get a feel for it. There are no Customer Reviews yet. If you happen to read it, let me know what you think.

Finished Three Year Plan

I finally finished my three year plan. It took me 5 1/2 years. That’s because I took two years out to spend on the Old Testament, which was only going to be one year, but there was surgery in the middle and too many books to read.

This post sounds a little arrogant to me. If it does to you, I apologize. This is what God has been doing in me. I didn’t start this on my own initiative. I hope you can be thankful with me.

I’ve written about this before, but nobody would remember with all of the blogs out there, so I will again. If you get bored, please move on to the Three Year Plan below or to something more important. Don’t worry that I start with my testimony (the world’s shortest).

I became a Christian by reading the book of John. Over two weeks, the Holy Spirit came in and opened my eyes and I believed. (That was it–if you blinked, go back.) I was part of the Navigators on campus and got a great start with spiritual disciplines. I memorized Scripture like crazy and was absolutely “on fire”, whatever that means. Everything came, and still does come easy.

But I languished for quite a few years and did my “verse a day (devotional) to keep the devil away” or however that saying goes, along with praying, and reviewing memorized Scripture. I had spurts of book and more extensive Bible reading, was almost always part of a group study, cared very much about my relationship with God, but didn’t really get very far.

Group study with evangelicals sometimes has a lot of cliches and ‘teachings’ that may or may not be Biblical, of which I was as much a part of as any, which partly started to lead me to want to check these things out.

As I spent more time on the Internet, I decided I should be spending some of this time on Christian stuff. At the same time, my mental and physical health started going downhill very fast. I got interested in reading more. I read widely, partly because I didn’t know who to read. Contrary to what it looks like on this blog–because I became a Calvinist soon after I started it–I’m always writing about Calvinists. But beforehand, I read people like N.T. Wright, Philip Yancey, Watchman Nee, Henri Nouwen, Dallas Willard (cuckoo), Catholic scholars (very good) and many others–mostly library books, and later on, commentaries by Pentecostals like Fee and Keener. I read a lot about the (real) historical Jesus, one of my favorite subjects, and the Gospels.

Now it was time to get serious. By now I desperately wanted and needed to get to know God better. I started a small book budget. As suffering increased and motivation for other things I usually enjoyed decreased, wanting to know God and live a godly life increased an amazing amount. I wish it didn’t work exactly this way, but God works through suffering.

The Three Year Plan

I decided I wanted to comb through the New Testament along with reading through a whole commentary for each book and see both what “teachings” are biblical and if there are any passages where I have gross, obvious misinterpretations. I also became like a Berean and looked up everything I heard and read about, outside of trusted people backing up what they teach. If people would just quote the Bible appropriately, there wouldn’t be so much of a problem, but nowadays most Christians are Biblically illiterate and don’t have the ability except for the cliches and sayings.

I read a book of the Bible, starting with Romans because I had spent so much time on the Gospels with library books, then the commentary, then the book of the Bible again. So I was getting each one three times, usually with the commentator’s unique translation. Then I would read a ‘regular’ book in-between on something basic like suffering, prayer, the cross, intro to Calvinism etc. I planned on this all taking about three years.

This may not be the best way to catechize myself, but it was more valuable than I thought it would be. When I started out, I was Arminian, although I didn’t know the term, and sometime soon after Romans I was Calvinist/Reformed already. I had never really looked into it or known what it was. Most of the people I was with are Arminian/Semi-Pelagian Evangelicals and that’s all I knew. When I first read about Reformed theology in Thomas Schreiner’s commentary on Romans, it was rather shocking. It didn’t seem fair or logical. My sense of logic and fairness isn’t God’s. But then over time I started seeing that extent of God’s sovereignty in all things all over Scripture, not just the usual proof texts. I then looked into Arminianism again just to make sure I got both sides basically correct and understand my Arminian friends better.

I found things like how the Philippians gave generously “out of their need” and how Paul praised them for that. God would then meet their needs (Phil. 4:19). But there is no command in the NT to “tithe” out of our poverty as some pastors would have us think.

One highlight was reading Keener’s explanation of Revelation 3:15-17 in The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation as was the whole commentary. It was perfect for me. Another highlight was Cole’s concise but detailed commentary on Mark, which is fitting for that Gospel.

Just about every commentary was a winner. The two that I can remember that I didn’t like were Longenecker’s commentary on Galatians, which was too technical and tedious for me, and Bock’s on Acts, which was like a commentary on commentaries, with so much quoting. I should have just read one of the ones he quoted a lot, like Bruce’s or even Witherington’s. The last one was the only one where I skimmed parts of it, mainly the narrative parts, where he pretty much narrated the narratives. Otherwise I very carefully read all of them, including the 800-900+ page ones like Matthew, Luke, Romans and both Corinthians. Obviously I was mainly reading, not really studying for the most part, but trying to get a good overview for later. I wish I would have taken more time to blog on a lot of it like I did earlier on, but that would have taken time away from reading. A Catch-22.

Now I will relax a little and read a bunch of ‘regular’ books. I also need to do what I probably should have done before reading the commentaries, which is reading very basic books like D.A. Carson’s The God Who Is There. I realize that I will forget most of what I read in the commentaries, and that’s not how they’re normally used, but I learned a lot in addition to worshiping as I read. Then later on this year or next year I have to read Calvin’s Institutes. Later on after that I want to study Colossians as thoroughly as I know how and have the energy for. If possible, I’d like to write a Bible study for it. I’m also thinking about another reading plan for the whole Bible. I started to make my own but it’s too hard for what I wanted to do.

I’m still plodding along with Greek too. I’m using the more inductive Dodson, which is great, after getting a good base with Black.

This post is too long already. Maybe someday I’ll list all of the commentaries or create an Amazon store (so I can get my Affiliate commission of course), but Goodreads basically shows them along with the OT commentaries. Thanks for reading. Thank God for what he does for us.

John 17:3
This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.

revelation-commentary

Three Books For New Christians

I bought John Stott’s Basic Christianity just for the purpose of giving it to someone. I was thinking about sending it to my mom, so I looked at it last night and surprisingly I didn’t really like it. It went a little against my Reformed sensibilities in some ways, which was extremely surprising, it looked a bit daunting for a new or “nominal” Christian, and the typeface was very small. So I went looking again tonight.

I had also looked at this list:
A Monergism Books Reader’s Guide for the Christian Life which I think is pretty good. But I just wasn’t satisfied with the Introductory Reading list.

So here is what I found. I’m guessing on these also, since I haven’t read them, but I looked at the descriptions and reviews carefully.

Esteban pointed me to D.A. Carson’s The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story. Here is the description:

It can no longer be assumed that most people–or even most Christians–have a basic understanding of the Bible. Many don’t know the difference between the Old and New Testament, and even the more well-known biblical figures are often misunderstood. It is getting harder to talk about Jesus accurately and compellingly because listeners have no proper context with which to understand God’s story of redemption.

In this basic introduction to faith, D. A. Carson takes seekers, new Christians, and small groups through the big story of Scripture. He helps readers to know what they believe and why they believe it. The companion leader’s guide helps evangelistic study groups, small groups, and Sunday school classes make the best use of this book in group settings.

I then remembered suggesting this to our small group quite a while ago. It sounds like just what I’m looking for and I know I love the author, having read a few of his books and many articles and blog posts. I could probably stop there but I found two more I’d like to pass on. (Notice I didn’t say shaaaaare.)

To my surprise, Calvin wrote a book (or it was the start of a later book) for this purpose called Truth for All Time: A Brief Outline of the Christian Faith. In 77 pages he writes about the basics of Christianity, the Ten Commandments, the Apostles Creed, The Lord’s Prayer and love of God.

I also found Bitesize Theology: An ABC of the Christian Faith by Peter Jeffery. It has good reviews that summarize the book well.

So these are my guesses based on everything I could find about them. I think we need to realize just how basic this information needs to be for a new or potential Christian. For some people, the Bible is a great adventure and reading comes easy, even if it isn’t all understood. For others it’s completely daunting, Christianity is bewildering with all of the terms and Biblish, and they can hardly get themselves off to a start if they don’t have people who can personally guide them. Many of us are the former and we need to put ourselves in the others’ place, even if we don’t understand it. I remember seeing a list for new Christians and J.I. Packer’s Knowing God was in the list. I think it’s very basic, but I personally know some people who have been Christians for some time and this book was too much for them. Granted, they may not do a lot of reading, or at least non-fiction that’s at a higher theological level than Max Lucado, but some have to start somewhere and we need to accommodate them even if we lament the lack of Bible literacy.

Anyway, those are my picks. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Also see:
A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology