Tag Archive for 'D. A. Carson'

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?


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

D.A. “Ducky” Carson?

This isn’t necessarily a funny thing, but whenever I read D.A. Carson, I always think of ‘Ducky’, a character on the TV show NCIS. Just can’t keep the two separate in my head and it kind of drives me nuts.

D.A. Carson (use the volume slider next to the Play/Pause button near the lower left if you need it):

Do you have any similar similarities?

I was reading this today while hearing Dr. Mallard’s voice:
Themelios | Article: The Beauty Of Biblical Balance

Resting in God and Working Out Our Salvation

So, on the one hand, you do really have to trust Christ. At the end of the day, what finally commends you to God is not how hard you tried. What commends you to God is the utterly sufficient sacrifice of Christ. That’s resting in Christ. On the other hand, there are so many, many, many passages in the NT that talk of Christian life and experience as warfare. You’re a good soldier (2 Tim. 2:2). Discipline yourself (1 Tim. 4:7) as an athlete striving to win the prize (Phil. 3:14), or as a farmer who works hard in order to receive some of the reward from the vineyard (2 Tim. 2:6). “We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and the powers of this evil age” (Eph. 6). And “I put my body in subjection so that after preaching to others I myself might not be a cast away,” (1 Cor. 9:27). Lots and lots of texts like that!

You can make sense of these texts when you remember Philippians 2:12-13: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God working in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

So it’s not a question of God having done his bit and then you come along and do the extra bit by trying really hard. Because that suggests this little bit is abstracted from what God is doing. God has done his bit, and now it all depends on you, and we speak of cooperating together with God. It’s God and I together producing sanctification.

Well, there’s a sense in which you can say that, but there’s a sense in which you must not. And if this bit that I contribute is independent of God, then it’s really quite wrong. This text says that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling! And yet it is God working in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

So this does not mean, therefore, that you back off into passivity, let go and let God, God’s doing all the struggling on my behalf. Rather, it’s precisely God working in us that empowers us, and compels us, and activates us, and motivates us, and strengthens us, in order to keep struggling. So you are mandated by Scripture to choose the right, to make right decisions, to be godly, to be self-disciplined, and all the rest of those things.

-D.A. Carson, taken from a synopsis of Clarus 2012: Q&A with D.A. Carson and Fred G. Zaspel; see the whole video

Resources by D.A. Carson

Many of you already know about this page. There have been a few books added and if you’re confused about which are PDFs, I thought I’d help.

Resources by D.A. Carson

If you scroll down quite a ways and find Books, it’s hard to tell which are PDFs because they’re not labeled. You need to put your cursor over them and look at your status bar or wherever the URL is shown in your browser, if at all, to see if it says …pdf at the end.

If you go to Andy Naselli’s page, you’ll see seven books he lists. Those are the ones in PDF format. So just find whichever one you want. Like he mentions, you can also use a download plugin for Firefox or Chrome or whatever to download all files in a certain format, but then you’ll download all the articles too unless it let’s you download from a selection. (I don’t use one.)

There are also many excellent articles, all in PDF format and some parts of books, like the one on the Sermon on the Mount. I’m reading that one for sure.

If you have an ereader, you can then use Calibre to convert them to ePub or Kindle or whatever format. I use my ancient $39 Nokia device I got on eBay which has a convenient 4″ screen and a great eBook reader.

If you need short stuff to read in a waiting room, this has about anything you’d want because of his prolificness.

The general site also has many book excerpts, although it doesn’t say they’re excerpts. Certainly enough to know if you want to buy them or not. If you click on the book title as opposed to just the PDF button, it will tell you what the PDF contains. It’s not always chapter 1.

I’m very thankful for this resource and I hope this helps anyone who may have been confused. If there’s anything I missed or got wrong, let me know. I figured this stuff out myself.

Quote of the Day: Suffering and Knowing God

D.A. Carson writes a chapter in his book How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil about firm structures to establish in helping Christians before suffering comes. I think this is the most important.

Above all, we must help people know God better. Too many answers we give are merely intellectual, merely theoretical, merely propositional. We must so teach and counsel and pray with people that we deepen their experiential knowledge of God. We must so get them into meditative and rigourous reading of the Word of God that they draw vast comfort from its pages. At the deepest level, men and women must learn, with Job, that God is very great, and it is an inexpressible privilege to know Him, to be satisfied with Him, even when – especially when! – we do not have all the answers. Then men and women will learn to rest in His love, and will return again and again to the Cross, where their vision of that love will be constantly renewed.

–D. A. Carson, How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil, pg. 224

Also see:
When You’re Too Tired To Pray

Quote of the Day: D.A. Carson on Devotionals

Not all devotionals, just some. And this is in the introduction to his devotional.

Devotional guides tend to offer short, personal readings from the Bible, sometimes only a verse or two, followed by several paragraphs of edifying exposition. Doubtless they provide personal help for believers with private needs, fears, and hopes. But they do not provide the framework of what the Bible says—the “plotline” or “story line”—the big picture that makes sense of all the little bits of the Bible. Wrongly used, such devotional guides may ultimately engender the profoundly wrong-headed view that God exists to sort out my problems; they may foster profoundly mistaken interpretations of some Scriptures, simply because the handful of passages they treat are no longer placed within the framework of the big picture, which is gradually fading from view. Only systematic and repeated reading of the whole Bible can meet these challenges.

This is the type of devotional reading I used to do, although I never did the self-help types. But for periods of time I’m embarrassed to say, this was the only Scripture I would take in each day in addition to reviewing memorized Scripture.

His devotionals go along with the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan. So the emphasis is on reading the Bible with a comment from him instead of the other way around. You can find a blog devoted to this devotional and also download PDFs of both devotionals for free (and use Calibre to convert them into eBooks if you’d like).

Carson’s For the Love of God Blog

Book Giveaway: Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount by D.A. Carson

Bitsy at Jack Of All Trades is giving away Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World: An Exposition of Matthew 5-10 by D.A. Carson.

Drawing rules:

  • Shipping to USA addresses only. (My sincere apologies to my overseas friends, but postage is what it is!)
  • Post here and on your blog for two entries. (either/or will get you one.)

The Sermon on the Mount is one of my favorite parts of the Bible and this book has been on my list already.

Knowing God

Deuteronomy 6:5
And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

Matthew 22:37-38
Jesus replied, ” ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

How seriously do we take this? I know there are a lot of people who say that we love God by doing things for others etc. which is obviously important. But why does it seem to be easier for some people to “do things” than it is to get to know God better? How can we really love God without knowing Him? How can we know Him without knowing the Bible? We are in a seriously Bible illiterate Christian culture. Just the the other day I was thinking about how I sometimes get Esther and Ruth mixed up. That’s pretty embarrassing.

Here is yet another quote by D.A. Carson from A Call to Spiritual Reformation, Priorities from Paul and His Prayers:

When it comes to knowing God, we are a culture of the spiritually stunted. So much of our religion is packaged to address our felt needs–and these are almost uniformly anchored in our pursuit of our own happiness and fulfillment. God simply becomes the Great Being who, potentially at least, meets our needs and fulfills our aspirations. We think rather little of what he is like, what he expects of us, what he seeks in us. We are not captured by his holiness and his love; his thoughts and words capture too little of our imagination, too little of our discourse, too few of our priorities.

This isn’t to lay a guilt trip on myself or others. Those familiar with this blog know I’m not into that. This is to spur us on to know Him better so that we can do what we were created to do which is truly fulfilling and pleasing to God so that we can live in the reality of His Kingdom instead of the veneer of this world.

(This post was prepared before I was sick. Proverbs 30:25)

Unanswered Prayer (or Answer of No) in the Bible

When Jesus asked that the cup (of wrath) be taken from Him, God answered no (Mark 14:35-36). When Paul asked for the thorn to be taken from his side, God answered no (2 Cor. 12:7-9).

But there are more in the life of Paul that I wasn’t aware of or had forgotten.

Romans 15:31 NIV
Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there,

Acts 28:17 NIV
Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans.

Paul also desired to go to Spain. As far as we know, he never got there.

Did they not have enough faith? Were they not “tithing”? Was there sin in their life? Were they not using the right formula? These are more often than not ridiculous questions to ask.

According to D.A. Carson in A Call to Spiritual Reformation, Priorities from Paul and His Prayers:

Suppose, for argument’s sake, that every time we asked God for anything and ended our prayers with some appropriate formula, such as ‘in Jesus’ name,’ we immediately received what we asked for. …

[T]his is not true religion. This is magic, not worship; it is another power trip, not hearty submission to the lordship of Christ. It is superstition, not a personal relation with the Father God who is wise, good, and patient.

I know I’ve been quoting from him a lot lately. And I have a few more coming.

Quote of the Day: Prayer

This goes along with a previous quote by D.A. Carson.

We quickly learn that God is more interested in our holiness than in our comfort. he more greatly delights in the integrity and purity of his church than in the material well-being of its members. He shows himself more clearly to men and women who enjoy him and obey him than to men and women whose horizons revolve around good jobs, nice houses, and reasonable health. He is far more committed to building a corporate ‘temple’ in which his Spirit dwells than he is in preserving our reputations. He is more vitally disposed to display his grace than to flatter our intelligence. He is more concerned for justice than for our ease. He is more deeply committed to stretching our faith than our popularity. He prefers that his people live in disciplined gratitude and holy joy rather than in pushy self-reliance and glitzy happiness. He wants us to pursue daily death, not self-fulfillment, for the latter leads to death, while the former leads to life.

–D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, Priorities from Paul and His Prayers


Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament

There has been a lot of buzz in the biblioblogosphere about the book Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament, D. A. Carson & G. K. Beale.

Some blog examples:


Here is an interview in Christianity Today with the editors of the book:
Two Testaments, One Story
Top evangelical scholars team up for landmark commentary on New Testament use of Old Testament.