If you’ve been doing talks for a while, you’ll realise that once you find a good quote or a great illustration, rather than re-invent the wheel, you use it again in other talks. The only problem I have is that they’re scattered all over the place – I have highlights in books, newspaper clippings, quotes in folders. Basically I have lots of good stuff built up but no way of finding it.
As I’m a computer programmer I’ve toyed with the idea of writing my own web app to try and solve this, but with life pressures that’s just way too time consuming. The other day though, when I was browsing the web I came across a wonderful bit of software that might just fix my problem. It’s called Evernote and it’s a web tool for saving anything online – photos, files, notes, web articles etc. It has an app that you can download for Windows and the Mac and the app then syncs with your account on the website.
The clever thing about this tool is that it has a brilliant search facility, it allows you to tag your notes and just to be really clever it can recognise text inside images and it can read handwriting. But best of all, it’s free to use for the basic package – you only pay when you upload lots of data.
Evernote even lets you share your notes online, so if you used it to store sermon illustrations and quotes you could share them with a friend. Never will I lose a good illustration again.
Popularity: 34% [?]
A few days ago I was browsing the web preparing a sermon on Romans chapter 1 thinking “I wonder if Amazon has a search inside option on a commentary I thought would help me“. It’s been on my wishlist for a while but I haven’t got around to buying it yet. Then I thought “What about Google Books, they’ve scanned in millions of books?“. So I did a search on Google Books and lo and behold there was the entire commentary or at least most of it available for free online. You can’t download it or anything but you can browse through it in the form of an online pdf file. I found the section on the bit of Romans 1 I was looking studying and made a few notes. As NICNT are a pretty consistent series of Bible Commentaries, I set about looking for other NICNT commentaries on Google Books and here’s what I found. There may be a few bits missing from each of the commentaries but most of them looked like they had the majority of each book available to read online. I haven’t actually spotted any gaps yet. Some books have more page gaps than others. For example Moo on Romans is only a full commentary of chs 1-6 and some or ch 7. To get a set of decent commentaries these days you virtually have to remortgage your house, so it’s at least worth a look at these when you’re preparing a talk to see if the online version has what you’re looking for before paying out hundreds of pounds for all the commentaries.
- The Gospel of Matthew (RT France)
- The Gospel of Mark (William Lane)
- The Gospel of Luke (Joel B Green)
- The Gospel of John (Leon Morris)
- The book of Acts (FF Bruce)
- The Epistle to the Romans (Douglas J Moo) – Full text from chs 1-6.
- The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Gordon Fee)
- The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Paul Barnett)
- The Epistle to the Galatians (Ronald Fung)
- The Epistle to the Colossians, to Philemon and to the Ephesians (FF Bruce)
- The Epistle to the Philippians (Gordon Fee)
- The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians (Gordon Fee)
- The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians (Leon Morris)
- The Letters to Timothy and Titus (Philip Towner)
- The Epistle to the Hebrews (FF Bruce)
- The Epistle of James (James Adamson)
- The First Epistle of Peter (Peter Davids)
- The Epistles of John (I Howard Marshall)
- The Book of Revelation (Robert Mounce)
Think I’ll put together a few more lists in the next few weeks for other series’ of commentaries.
Popularity: 100% [?]
What’s at stake here is the whole comparison between Christ and Adam. If we don’t understand “because all sinned” in Romans 5:12 as “because all sinned in Adam,” the entire comparison between Christ and Adam will be distorted and we won’t see the greatness of justification by grace through faith for what it really is.
Let me try to illustrate what’s at stake. If you say, “Through one man sin and death entered the world and death spread to everybody because all sinned individually,” then the comparison with the work of Jesus could be, “So also through one man, Jesus Christ, righteousness and life entered the world and life spread to all because all individually did acts of righteousness.” In other words, justification would not be God’s imputing Christ’s righteousness to us, but our performing individual acts of righteousness with Christ’s help and then being counted righteous on that basis. When Paul saw that as a possible misunderstanding of what he said, he stopped to clarify.
But what does it say about the work of Christ, if we take the words, “because all sinned” to mean “because all sinned in Adam”? Then it would go like this: “Just as through one man sin and death entered the world and death spread to everybody because all sinned in Adam and his sin was imputed to them, so also through one man Jesus Christ, righteousness entered the world and life through righteousness, and life spread to all who are in Christ because his righteousness is imputed to them.” That is the glory of justification by grace through faith. The basis of our vindication and acceptance before God is not our righteous deeds, but Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. But this would be all distorted if the words “because all sinned” at the end of verse 12 meant “because all sinned individually,” and not because all sinned in Adam and his sin was imputed to us.
The parallel Paul wants us to see and rejoice in is that
just as Adam’s sin is imputed to us because we were in him,
so Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us because we are in him.
One of the best reasons for thinking this is what Paul meant is to look at verse 18 where he really does complete the comparison he started here. “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” In Adam we all were condemned; in Christ we all are justified. Adam’s transgression was imputed to us; and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us (see 1 Corinthians 15:22).
But all that would be lost if at the end of verse 12 the words “because all sinned” referred to individual sins and not to our sinning in Adam. (“Adam, Christ, and Justification: Part II“)
Great comment on why we don’t just sin individually by we sin ‘in Adam’. The fact that Christ’s righteousness is given to us only makes sense when we understand that Adam’s sin was first inherited by us.
Popularity: 24% [?]
While I was preparing a talk for church a while ago, I was listening to BBC Radio Five Live and they previewed a chat with Jonny Wilkinson. If you don’t know who Johnny Wilkinson is, he’s one of England’s finest Rugby Union Players. While his career has been blighted by injury, his most glorious moment was drop-kicking England to World Cup success in 2003. The interview was all about his life, passions, views etc…
By far the most startling comments he made though were about his philosophy of life, the way he approached his rugby career and life. In many ways he has a very ‘religious’ approach to life. He said:
“The one thing I can’t stand is obtaining something without earning it. Whether that be praise, whether that be fame, whether that be money, whether that be anything. For me life… is as simple as what you put in is what you get out. Anything that comes for free is dangerous. There’s something else behind it. Everything in life has to be earned. I believe that’s the way the world works. You earn your respect, you earn your chances, you earn your opportunities. And if you get something in advance you have to then put the earning work in afterwards. Retrospectively you earn it. For example, the gift I was given I was given at the very start I believe and I’ve been trying to pay that back with the way I attack my rugby career”.
Imagine being Jonny Wilkinson. It seems like the striving and earning never stops. There’s always more to do, more to prove, more to earn. And that’s why I found his comments so interesting. It’s the polar opposite to the approach the Bible takes about life.
Popularity: 25% [?]
One great twitter feature is the ability to use tools such as twitter search and TweetDeck to keep an eye on tweets containing certain phrases. I thought I’d start a search on Tim Keller and here are the top twitter Tim Keller quotes I found (after trawling through a lot of retweets!). I hope you enjoy them.
- jaredpete When talking about difference btw legalism and gospel: “Jesus didn’t tithe his blood.”
- timmybrister “God’s immanence makes his transcendence comforting; his transcendence makes his immanence amazing. The gospel leads us in both.“
- ronsylvia: “Most use their city to build a great church. Use your church to build a great city”
- jakebelder “A world in which everyone you love becomes fertilizer … is not a world which our hearts can rest in!”
- RedeemerNYC: “the church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”
- brandonsandifer “Without knowledge of our extreme sin, the payment of the cross seems trivial and does not electrify or transform.”
- daveferguson: “6 things you can give a new church: money, mentoring, model, members, minister & major leaders.”
- Kevinbrbc “The gospel shows us a God far more holy than a legalist can bear and yet more merciful than a humanist can conceive.“
- andrewhsieh “When I focus on Jesus’ Love I will not think too much of myself, too little of myself, I will just think of myself less.”
- jasonsalamun “I’m so flawed that Jesus had to die for me yet I’m so loved & valued that Jesus was glad to die for me.”
- jasonkelliott “mere moral effort without the gospel may restrain the heart but cannot truly change the heart”
- LizaGrimmet “you can rebel against God and be alienated from him either by breaking his rules or by keeping all of them diligently”
- jakebelder “Only people who know they are lost have any hope of ever being found.”
Popularity: 45% [?]
One of my biggest quests in life is to keep writing new songs about the cross. Every time I release an album I’m keen for it to contain at least one song that centres around that theme. On the latest collection there are actually three songs that do this – You Alone Can Rescue, This is How we Know, and Remembrance (a communion song). I’m really grateful that it turned out this way. As a worship leader I want to make sure that practically every time we sing together, we journey to Calvary. The centrality of the cross is crucial to our faith, and essential in our worship.
This is a great quote by Matt Redman about why he tries to focus on writing worship songs about the cross. Long may it continue!
Popularity: 18% [?]
Recently I posted a link to a quote Tim Keller gave at a Preachers convention from Sinclair Ferguson about how the whole Bible is about Jesus. It’s a great quote (read it here). There’s no record of it on the web but the Proclamation Trust have published a similar article. Download pdf version is available here for free. Definitely worth a read.
Popularity: 25% [?]
I saw this on the internet a while ago. Bono (of U2 fame) has long facinated me. I’ve read a lot of short descriptions of Christianity on the internet but this one caught my eye. Rarely have I read an explanation that puts it better than this and it comes from a rock star!
Is Bono, the lead singer and songwriter for the rock group U2, a Christian? He says he is and writes about Christianity in his lyrics. Yet many people question whether Bono is “really” a Christian, due to his notoriously bad language, liberal politics, and rock star antics (though he has been faithfully married for 23 years). But in a new book of interviews, Bono in Conversation by Michka Assayas, Bono, though using some salty language, makes an explicit confession of faith.
The interviewer, Mr. Assayas, begins by asking Bono, Doesn’t he think “appalling things” happen when people become religious? Bono counters, “It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the Universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.”
The interviewer asks, What’s that? “At the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one,” explains Bono. “And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that. . . . Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.”
The interviewer asks, Like what? “That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge,” says Bono. “It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.”
Then the interviewer marvels, “The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.”
“The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death,” replies Bono. “It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of Heaven.”
The interviewer marvels some more: “That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has His rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?”
Bono comes back, “Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: He was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says, No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: ‘I’m the Messiah.’ I’m saying: ‘I am God incarnate.’ . . . So what you’re left with is either Christ was who He said He was—the Messiah—or a complete nutcase. . . . The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me that’s far fetched.”
Popularity: 45% [?]
Steve Timmis and Tim Chester co-authored a book titled ‘Total Church‘ in the UK that’s also caused a bit of a stir in the US. So much so that Crossway have published an Americanized version of the book and Acts 29 have appointed Steve director of Acts 29 Western Europe. The talks are worth listening to as the book is worth reading.
This is the first of three sessions that Steve took – all the talks are available on the Resurgence website.
Popularity: 22% [?]
Reflecting on Christian confession, it never ceases to amaze me how confession can be so good for you. By definition confession means letting go of control and admitting deep failure and weakness. And yet, because God is so great, confession is so good. But for confession to truly be good for the soul it has to go deep. it has to go beyond the symptoms and search for the deep seated causes. I found this quote from Tim Keller recently while reading a church planting manual.
Dear Father, my sin is ever before me. I have desired control and that has only produced fear. I have desired power over others and that has only served to alienate them from me. I have desired my own comfort and that has only brought forth anger when my comfort was not achieved. I have sought the approval of others and have meticulously kept them from seeing my true self for fear of rejection. Idolatry plagues my heart! I am consumed with thoughts of self-aggrandizement, self-promotion and self-service.
In my deepest parts, I doubt that you are God and I want to rule myself. I cry out to you, Father. Only you can deliver me. Show me the cross. For without Jesus’ glorious robe of righteousness to cover my nakedness, I’ll die. Show me the love of my beautiful Saviour who gave up his glory and even his life that I might be delivered from idolatry. May the work of Jesus ever stir me towards radical, joyful obedience. May he be my reason for living and my eternal source of joy, hope, faith and love. Amen.
Tim Keller: A prayer life that nourishes your relationship with God.
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