Old Story New Preview: Week 1, Day 2

Yesterday we began the preview of Marty Machowski’s new family devotional Old Story New: Ten Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God (New Testament).  I hope you found it helpful, and even gave it a test run with your family.  As noted, we’ll be previewing the entire first week courtesy of New Growth Press.  So without further delay…here’s Day 2!

DAY TWO

Remember It: What do you remember about yesterday’s story? What do you think is going to happen today?

Read Luke 1:39–45.

Think about It Some More: After the angel told Mary about God’s plan, Mary went to see Elizabeth, a relative of hers.

When Mary arrived and walked through Elizabeth’s front door, the little baby growing in Elizabeth’s tummy jumped, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Even before Mary could tell Elizabeth that she was pregnant, Elizabeth already knew. The Holy Spirit told her that Mary was going to have a baby, a very special baby. She said that Mary’s baby would be her Lord! That means that she knew Mary’s baby was God and would rule over her life.

Talk about It

  • What was amazing about Elizabeth’s greeting? (She knew what happened to Mary even though Mary didn’t tell her.)
  • What did Elizabeth’s baby do when Mary arrived? (Elizabeth’s baby, who was later to be known as John the Baptist, jumped inside of her.)
  • Why did Elizabeth’s baby jump inside her? What was so special about Mary’s baby? ( Jesus was no ordinary baby; he was the Son of God. Jesus came to earth so that he could die on the cross for our sins. He is only a little baby in our story, but he is still the Savior of the world.

Pray about It: Thank God for the way he used Mary and Elizabeth to work out his plan to send us Jesus.

From Old Story New: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God by Martin Machowski. Copyright © 2012 by Covenant Fellowship Church. Used by permission of New Growth Press, www.newgrowthpress.com

 

 

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Old Story New Exclusive Preview: Week 1

Last week we featured Marty Machowski’s new family devotional, Old Story New: Ten Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God (New Testament).  This devotional is the next offering in Machowski’s Gospel Story for Kids series…a series that I wholeheartedly recommend for its superb ability of explaining and applying the grand story of the Bible to your children.  You can read my interview with Marty here, and my full review here.

This week, I’d like to offer you a preview of the first week’s devotions.  I hope that you’ll use these posts as a test run of sorts with your family, and that it will encourage you to begin to incorporate the entire series in your home.  The kind folks at New Growth Press have provided the unformatted text for use here on my blog.  My many thanks to them for their generosity!

Week 1: The Birth of Jesus Foretold(Coordinates with Story 79 – The Gospel Story Bible)

Introductory Note to Parents:

Prior to Bible study, find a photograph of some people (in a magazine or online) that has a lot of detail. Make a list of questions to ask your children that will test their skills of observation. The children will look closely at the photo and then answer questions to see how well they remember the details. Questions like, “What color shirt was the man wearing?” or “What was sitting on the table?” will work well to test the skill of your eyewitnesses. During Bible study, give everyone one minute to study the photograph taking in as much detail as they can. Then ask the questions from your list to see how observant they are. Explain to your children that this week you will be reading from Luke’s Gospel, which was written from eyewitness accounts.

DAY ONE

Picture It: Can you remember a time when you were startled? Perhaps someone walked up behind you in a quiet room, and you didn’t know anyone was there until you felt a hand on your shoulder. If something like that can scare us, imagine what it would be like to be alone in your room and suddenly see an angel appear out of nowhere. Probably you would either scream in fright or be scared into silence. Let’s see what happened to Zechariah and Mary in our story today when angels suddenly appeared to them.

Read Luke 1:1–38

Think About It Some More: When we read the story it can seem like seeing angels was a normal part of life, but it wasn’t. Zechariah had been a priest all his life but he’d never seen an angel before. Serving in the temple was scary enough, for God’s presence lived inside the temple. Even before he saw the angel, Zechariah would have walked very cautiously into the temple’s inner room. He knew God was holy and that he was a sinner. If he made a mistake, he could die—like Uzzah, who had touched the holy ark with his hand and been killed (2 Samuel 6:6–7). So when the angel suddenly appeared, fear must’ve shot through him like a lightning bolt. Similarly, when the angel appeared to Mary, she also was afraid. Angels had to calm people’s fears before speaking their messages.

 Talk about It

  • Why did Zechariah lose his voice? (Zechariah lost his voice because he didn’t believe the angel’s words to him.)
  • How was Mary’s answer to the angel different from Zechariah’s answer? (Mary trusted that what the angel said to her was true. She had faith and did not doubt.)
  • Whose throne was Jesus going to sit on? (Verse 32 tells us that Jesus would sit upon David’s throne. If you have smaller children, you can read verse 32 and ask them to raise their hands when they hear whose throne Jesus would be sitting upon.)

Pray about It: Thank God for sending his Son, Jesus, to the earth to die on the cross for our sins.

From Old Story New: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God by Martin Machowski. Copyright © 2012 by Covenant Fellowship Church. Used by permission of New Growth Press, www.newgrowthpress.com

REVIEW: Old Story New, by Marty Machowski

Family devotions…  Followers of Christ, whose families are growing, likely have the desire to do devotions as a family, but often are at a standstill when it comes to actually setting out to do so.  Whether it is time, organization, lack of content, or a bit of anxiety, the reasons abound for not getting into the rhythm of regular family devotions.

As a husband and a parent (of a quickly growing 10-month old), with both a full-time job and a part-time position in vocational ministry, I often struggle to establish regular, substantive times of devotions with my wife.  I know that what my wife and I establish now will be the foundation upon which we build our times of family devotions when our children are at an age of understanding.  In light of that, it is important to me that I find resources that will assist our family in establishing quality times of family devotion and worship.  And these cannot be  resources that merely market themselves as a “family devotional”.  They must be doctrinally sound, gospel-centered, graciously honest, accessible and applicable to a range of ages, and those that we can utilize well within our busy schedules yet remains substantive.  Though that may sound like quite the list of criteria to meet for a family devotional, I am excited to say that one in particular thoroughly passes this test!

In Old Story New: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God (New Testament) (New Growth Press, 2012), family pastor Marty Machowski provides a guide to lead your family through the New Testament in 78 weeks.  As the next offering in Machowski’s Gospel Story for Kids series, Old Story New remains true to the distinctives which set this series apart.  Here we have a resource that is keenly aware of the Bible’s grand story, rich in biblical theology, hermeneutically sound, and responsible in application that connects the reader’s point of need with the grace of the gospel at every pass.

Machowski begins with an altogether helpful introduction that sets families up to utilize the devotional to its fullest extent.  Beginning with a note on the sovereignty of God in salvation, Machowski explains what responsibility the parents have in training their children while trusting God for their child’s salvation in Christ.  He moves forward to explain the benefit of using the devotional in cooperation with its Old Testament/Hebrew Bible counterpart Long Story Short and the Gospel Story Bible.  As one acquainted with both of the aforementioned resources, I can honestly say I know of no other family devotional series that handles the entirety of Scripture so well.  If you choose to work through the Scriptures with the complete series, your family will be well equipped with a thoroughly Christ-centered understanding of the Bible’s grand story of the redemptive work of God from Genesis to Revelation.

For parents struggling to connect with children who may vary quite significantly in age, Machowski concludes the introductory chapter with extremely practical suggestions and insights as to how to connect each study with your children at various stages in their development.  Far from quick generalities, these suggestions are evidence of the years of experience Machowski has as a parent and pastor.

Moving into the devotional, each week’s devotional is clearly connected to a specific story in the Gospel Story Bible.  Though you do not need to own the Gospel Story Bible to benefit from or follow the week’s devotions, it does provide a helpful rendering of each story for a wide range of children.  The text of Scripture to be read with each devotional is clearly listed.  Each week’s story is then divided up into five days:

Day 1 – “Picture It” – This section helps your family understand the context, setting, and subject of the story.  It is then followed by a reading of the text, questions concerning the interpretation and application of the text, and a time of family prayer.

Day 2 – “Remember It” – This section helps your family recall and retain what they encountered on Day 1.  It is a time of open discussion as your family reviews the story and its significance.  Again, It is then followed by a reading of the text, questions concerning the interpretation and application of the text, and a time of family singing/prayer.

Day 3 – “Connect It to the Gospel” – Perhaps my favorite feature of Machowski’s devotional series, this section encourages your family to think about how the story either points forward to or back at the gospel.  A wonderfully helpful section that helps your family steer away from mere moralism and move toward an understanding of the Scriptures insofar as they tell the grand story of God’s redemptive work in Messiah Jesus.

Day 4 – “Remember It” – Having discussed a particular story for 3 days, this section helps get your family talking about the impact the story has had on their lives this week.

Day 5 – “Discover It” – Yet another unique feature of Old Story New, Machowski helps your family connect the New Testament story with its Old Testament roots (specifically the Psalms and Prophets).  This will give your family an increased awareness of the unity of the Scriptures and the grand story they tell.  Additionally, it may serve to awaken an interest in the Old Testament Scriptures among your children, as much of the OT, in some churches, is often left aside while a majority of time is focused on the NT.

Overall, I cannot say strongly enough how effective the structure and substance of this series is for developing quality times of worshipful, devotional study as a family.  God has given families a gracious gift in the resources and ministry of Marty Machowski, and I recommend Old Story New and the entire Gospel Story for Kids series with enthusiastic acclaim.

*As a part of the Old Story New Blog Tour, the publisher, at no charge, for the purpose of review, provided a copy of this book.  I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.

Old Story New Giveaway & Interview

Want to win a copy of Old Story New for your family?! CLICK HERE to check out the giveaway and my interview with Marty Machowski.

Old Story New: Feature and Giveaway

As a parent, one of the things I must do when selecting biblical resources for my son/family is sift through the myriads of unhelpful material that makes up so much of Christian literature today.  Simply because something sits on the shelf in a Christian bookstore doesn’t mean that someone has already done the work of discerning the soundness of theology within.  In reality, there are excellent, Bible-saturated, doctrinally sound, and substantial resources available, but many times you just need to be a little more pro-active in your search.  In an effort to point you in the right direction, I’d like to make you aware of an exciting children’s series and its latest family devotional.

The series is Marty Machowski’s Gospel Story for Kids collection of children’s resources, published by New Growth Press.  Susan, Gresham, and I have enjoyed reading from The Gospel Story Bible.  It is truly a joy to read a children’s Bible that is thoroughly Christ-centered, redemptive-historical, and one that responsibly condenses and applies each story.  Alongside The Gospel Story Bible, Machowski has written a children’s curriculum that focuses on understanding how the Old Testament points to Christ.

Additionally, Marty has written two family devotionals.  The devotionals are designed around a 10-minute, discussion-based format.  In 2010, New Growth Press released Long Story Short, which worked its way through the Old Testament with the intent of working through the text in order to draw families closer to Christ.  This month (October, 2012) marks the release of Machowski’s New Testament devotional, Old Story New: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God (New Testament).

In partnership with the generous folks at New Growth Press, over the next week-and-a-half I will be posting the first week of devotions from Old Story New, an interview with Marty, giving away 2 copies of the book, and posting my review as a part of the Old Story New Blog TourBe sure to check back tomorrow for the first excerpt and instructions as to how you can enter to win a copy of Old Story New.  You may want to subscribe via RSS or email to receive the updates automatically in your inbox or reader of choice.

In the meantime, here is a brief bio of Marty as well as some of the advance endorsements Old Story New…

BIO

Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church, a Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for more than twenty years. As leader of their children’s ministry, Promise Kingdom, he has worked for many years to develop curriculum and devotional material that connect church and home. His passion is equipping families to understand the Bible as one gospel story and help them share that with their children. He is the author of The Gospel Story for Kids series including Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God (OT)The Gospel Story Bible; and the Gospel Story Curriculum: Finding Jesus in the Old Testament and the forthcoming Old Story New (NT): Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God and Gospel Story Curriculum: Following Jesus in the New Testament. He and his wife Lois and their six children reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

ENDORSEMENTS

“Marty Machowski has done it again! This book, along with the earlier Old Testament devotional book, Long Story Short, is another masterful devotional book for families. It is simple without being shallow. It is theologically robust without being pedantic. It is comprehensive without being overwhelming. Best of all, it is doable for busy parents with children.”
Dr. Tedd Tripp, Pastor; conference speaker; best-selling author of Shepherding a Child’s Heart
“So much of the family devotional material available today does little more than use the Bible to teach half-truths and full-out moralism. The reason my wife and I love Marty Machowski’s books and the reason they have become important resources as we seek to raise our children in ‘the discipline and instruction of the Lord,’ is their consistent focus on the big picture of the Bible’s big story. Old Story New is yet another wonderful resource that we gladly commend and look forward to reading with our children.”
Tim Challies, Author; pastor; blogger
“Marty Machowski ‘gets’ families. Even more importantly, he knows how to connect them to the Bible with simple, relatable New Testament studies that make much of Jesus in every lesson. If you want your kids to see the Savior through his Word, spend some time in this exciting new devotional.”
Dave Harvey, Church Planting and Church Care, Sovereign Grace Ministries; author of When Sinners Say I Do: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage

Beale on Typology

One of the most controversial and potentially difficult issues within the realm of biblical interpretation is that of typology.  How are the people, places, events, and circumstances of the Old Testament text to be interpreted and understood insofar as their connection to subsequent people, places, events, and circumstances is concerned; especially as they relate to Christ and the church?

Greg Beale, in his forthcoming book, Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation (Baker Academic, 2012), provides a helpful definition for considering that which may be properly understood as having typological significance.  He defines biblical typology as:

The study of analogical correspondences among revealed truths about persons, events, institutions, and other things within the historical framework of God’s special revelation, which, from a retrospective view, are of a prophetic nature and are escalated in meaning. (p. 14)

After defining biblical typology, he offers two helpful points of clarification regarding “escalation” and “retrospection”.

Beale notes, “By “escalation” is meant that the antitype (the NT correspondence) is heightened in some way in relation to the OT type.  For example, John 19:36 views the requirement of not breaking the bones of the Passover lamb in the OT epoch to point to a greater reality of the bones of Jesus not being broken at the crucifixion…”  Additionally, “…escalation would be the correspondence of God providing literal manna from heaven for physical sustenance and providing the manna of Christ from heaven for spiritual sustenance.”  Clarifying “retrospection”, Beale says, “By “retrospection” is meant the idea that it was after Christ’s resurrection and under the direction of the Spirit that the apostolic writers understood certain OT historical narratives about persons, events, or institutions to be indirect prophecies of Christ or the church.” [Please read the qualification Beale cites regarding the “retrospective” characteristic of biblical typology, noted in the “Comments” section.]

While some interpreters are extremely leery of deeming anything in Scripture a “type” that isn’t expressly stated as such, Beale’s definition and subsequent study promises to be handled with scholarly precision and care, and, undoubtedly, a reverence for both God and his Word.

  • WTSbooks.com has a sample chapter and audio lecture available, as well as some overall info on Beale’s forthcoming work.
  • Amazon.com has the book for a deeply discounted pre-order price of $9.67 (Reg. $17.99)
  • Baker Book House is offering the opportunity to win a copy of the book this week at their blog (Giveaway ends, Friday, August 17, 2012, at 6AM EST).  I’m hoping to win a copy myself, so I can continue the study above! 🙂

Baker Book Giveaway

Baker Academic is giving away a copy of G.K. Beale’s latest book, Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation, at their blog. The giveaway runs until Friday, August 17, at 6AM EST.  CLICK HERE to be redirected to the giveaway.

Here’s a little info about the book:

Read inside (PDFs): Sample Pages

Publisher’s Description: This concise guide by a leading New Testament scholar helps readers understand how to better study the multitude of Old Testament references in the New Testament. G. K. Beale, coeditor of the bestselling Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, focuses on the “how to” of interpreting the New Testament use of the Old Testament, providing students and pastors with many of the insights and categories necessary for them to do their own exegesis. Brief enough to be accessible yet thorough enough to be useful, this handbook will be a trusted guide for all students of the Bible.

Contents:
Introduction
1. Challenges to Interpreting the Use of the Old Testament in the New
2. Seeing the Old Testament in the New: Definitions of Quotations and Allusions and Criteria for Discerning Them
3. An Approach to Interpreting the Old Testament in the New
4. Primary Ways the New Testament Uses the Old Testament
5. Hermeneutical and Theological Presuppositions of the New Testament Writers
6. The Relevance of Jewish Backgrounds for the Study of the Old Testament in the New: A Survey of the Sources
7. A Case Study Illustrating the Methodology of This Book

208 Pages
Published September 2012

TALKING GALATIANS w/ J.V. Fesko

Yesterday, I posted my review of the first volume in the Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament series: Galatians, by J.V. Fesko.  Today we have the privilege of interacting with Dr. Fesko, Academic Dean and Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary California.  Dr. Fesko kindly took time to answer a few questions about some of the major themes in the letter to the Galatians and his commentary.

KF: How would you summarize Paul’s main concern as he writes to the churches of Galatia?

JVF: Paul wanted the Galatian churches to know that Christ, alone, is the foundation for our salvation and that we cannot contribute any of our good works to that foundation. Paul’s concern is evident in his spine-chilling warning that anyone who teaches another gospel, even an angel from heaven, is liable to God’s curse (Gal. 1:8-9).

KF: What were the circumstances that led to the drift from the true, biblical gospel among the Galatian churches?  Can you cite any examples of modern false gospels that are prevalent in the church?  How can we avoid such error?

JVF: The false teachers taught the Galatians that circumcision was necessary for salvation in addition to believing in Christ. The false teachers taught a faith + works = salvation view of things. In the case of the Galatians it was circumcision but in our own context we bring different things to the table, such as our own sense of self-worth or even something that is biblical, but misused, such as good works. A person can think, “I’m saved by grace, but I know that since my doctrine is orthodox, this commends me more than the person next to me who has incorrect doctrine.” This is an inflated sense of self-worth. We can also think, “God will look upon me more favorably because I try to love my neighbor.” We are commanded to love our neighbor, but not as the means by which we curry God’s favor but rather as the fruit of the salvation we have already received in Christ.

How do we avoid such errors? We must constantly seek Christ—in Christ alone we find redemption. As we read of the law’s condemnation of sin and behold ourselves in the mirror of the law, we can see how frequently we fall short and how desperately we need Christ. We can flee to Christ by faith, not only for our entry-point to salvation but also throughout the entirety of the Christian life—until we die or Christ returns. In so doing we realize that who we are in Christ, and the benefits that we receive in him, chiefly justification and sanctification, among other benefits, we find redemption and a safe haven from false idols. As the Westminster Confession states, “The principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace” (WCF XIV.ii). And we seek Christ through his appointed means, Word and sacrament. That is, we find the grace of the gospel in the preached Word, either audibly to our ears, or to our other senses through the sacraments—through water, bread, and wine.

KF: How important is the Old Testament to Paul’s discourse as he writes this letter?  Would you briefly touch on some of the more prevalent OT motifs that Paul incorporates, and how they enrich our understanding of the redemptive work God has done for us in Christ?

JVF: Paul’s Bible was his Old Testament. If you were to ask him to quote the Bible, he would have undoubtedly quoted the Old Testament. If you pricked his finger, he bled Old Testament Scripture, themes, and its narratives. At a number of points Paul cites a series of Old Testament texts in his discussion of justification by faith alone, such as Deuteronomy 27:26, Psalm 143:1, Habakkuk 2:4, Leviticus 18:5, Deuteronomy 21:23, Genesis 12, 15, 17, 22, Joel 2:28, and Isaiah 32:15 (Gal. 3:10-14). He cites at least seven different Old Testament texts, if not more, in the span of five verses. Paul also refers to the Genesis narrative with his appeal to Hagar and Sarah as types that represent Mt. Sinai and Zion (the Jerusalem above) (Gal. 4:21-31). And at key points Paul employs language that is evocative of Israel’s Old Testament exodus and wilderness wanderings when he characterizes the law as something that held Israel in captivity and bondage (e.g., Gal. 4:8ff), but through Christ they have been set free to “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16ff). In a word, the reader of Galatians really has to know his Old Testament to appreciate fully Paul’s epistle.

KF: You cite, on several occasions, that our faith is “extraspective” in nature.  Can you explain what is meant by that term?

JVF: I believe John Murray coined the term, but extraspective is the antonym to introspective. When we are introspective we look within but when we are extraspective we look without, outside of ourselves. Far too many are introspective when it comes to their salvation—they seek salvation by themselves—looking within to something they themselves can do to somehow scale the heights of heaven. But Paul, by contrast, presents salvation as an extraspective reality—we must look outside of ourselves to what Christ has done on our behalf. Hence, faith is extraspective because it looks outside of a person to Christ as the author and finisher of our salvation.

KF: One of the emphases that may set this commentary apart is your discussion of the new creation motif within the letter.  Why is this theme of new creation so important to Paul as he addresses the Galatians?

Dr. John V. Fesko

JVF: Paul explains that Christ suffered the curse of the law so that the blessings of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, “So that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith” (Gal. 3:14). The Old Testament promised that the Spirit would be poured forth and would renew the creation—the Spirit would bring forth the new heavens and earth and it would be abundantly filled with fruit. But literal fruit was not in view, rather Isaiah was prophesying about the fruit of righteousness filling the earth (e.g., Isa. 32:14-17). So when Paul unpacks the fruit of the Spirit, he has in view the long-promised work of the Spirit. In other words, with the advent of Christ the clock of redemptive history has been irreversibly pushed forward—the new creation has dawned with the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, and he has poured out the Spirit upon the church (e.g., Acts 2:33). This means that the fruit of the Spirit that believers manifest (Gal. 5:22-24) is evidence that the new creation has dawned. The hour-hand has advanced and now reads, “the time of the new creation.”

I think far too many believers look at the fruit of the Spirit merely as a part of their own sanctification rather than as one smaller part in the greater whole of the unfolding narrative of redemptive history. Hence, believers should not only ask, “Who am I in Christ?,” to which we should answer, “A new creature.” But we should also ask, “What time is it?,” to which we should answer, “It is nearly the end of all things as Christ has inaugurated the new heavens and earth in his ministry.”

KF: You note, concerning the fruit of the Spirit in the life of the believer, that some may think that, having been justified by Christ, this fruit is now produced simply through concentrated moral effort.  Would you explain what Paul considers to be the source of this Spirit-wrought fruit?  

JVF: I have addressed this question in my previous answer, but I can restate my answer in these terms, which hopefully give another view upon this vital issue. All too many Reformed Christians believe that there is a distinct Reformed doctrine of justification but that everyone agrees on the doctrine of sanctification. But such an idea is not true—there is a Reformed doctrine of sanctification as well. In other words, people can have unbiblical ideas about the doctrine of sanctification.
If we are saved by grace through faith in Christ (e.g., Eph. 2:8-10), then the grace of the gospel is not only vital for our entry-point into salvation (such as with our justification) but also for the entirety of the Christian life (in my sanctification). There is no point in the Christian life where we are not totally and utterly dependent upon Christ’s gospel. The way in which we will manifest the fruit of the Spirit, therefore, is not through concentrated moral effort but rather through drawing near to Christ through the means of grace. And in drawing near to Christ, we become like the one we worship. Like Moses’ face aglow with the glory of God merely by being in God’s presence, so we are transformed more and more into the holy and righteous image of Christ as we draw near to him in worship. In drawing near to him, then, we are transformed and enabled and equipped to manifest the fruit of the Spirit, grow in our sanctification, and feed our faith so that it might work through love (Gal. 5:6).

KF: As a pastor, professor, scholar, and one who has rigorously studied the letter to the Galatians, and many of Paul’s motifs therein, how did this particular sermon series and the writing of this commentary most impact your life, ministry, and understanding of the gospel?

JVF: I think it has reminded me to two chief things, among many others. First, how desperately we, individually and corporately, need Christ and his gospel. There is no hope without it. And second, it struck me how quickly the Galatian churches abandoned the gospel even though Paul himself planted these churches. It gave me solace to know that Paul faced false teaching and so the false gospels we see in our own day are nothing new. It was also a reminder that the greatest threat to the gospel comes, not from without the church, but within. The Judaizers were wolves in sheep’s clothing. False teaching comes dressed as light, not as the darkness it truly is. I think that far too many think greater threats to the church’s well-being lie outside the church. This is a constant reminder to me in my own ministry to pray that Christ would keep me close and in his grip so that I would not spread false teaching. But it also causes me to pray the same for the church—that we would collectively pray for fidelity to Christ and his gospel.

My sincere thanks to Dr. Fesko for taking the time for this interview.  I trust it’s been as insightful and edifying for you as it has been for me.  If you haven’t already done so, take time to check out my interview with Dr. Jon D. Payne, the series editor of the Lectio Continua commentary.  Great stuff there as well!

Lastly, for more information regarding Dr. Fesko’s commentary on Galatians, and to pick up a copy for yourself or your pastor, CLICK HERE.

OTHER RESOURCES BY J.V. FESKO

Justification: Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine (P & R, 2008)

The Fruit of the Spirit is… (Evangelical Press, 2011)

Word, Water, and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism (Reformation Heritage, 2010)

Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology (Christian Focus/Mentor, 2007)

THE LECTIO CONTINUA METHOD w/ Rev. Dr. Jon D. Payne

Is there a way of approaching the task of preaching that ensures a local church receives a balanced diet of the Word?  Is there a manner of proclamation that takes up “the whole counsel of God”, rather than allowing the preaching to be driven by the preacher’s every whim?  The answer is,”YES!”

Rev. Dr. Jon D. Payne, series editor of The Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament, was kind enough to answer a few questions about the lectio continua method of reading and preaching, its benefits, and what we can expect from this exciting new expository commentary series on the NT.

As was touched upon yesterday, Dr. Payne is senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Douglasville, GA, and Visiting Lecturer in Practical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta. He is the author of John Owen and the Lord’s Supper (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2004), In The Splendor of Holiness: Rediscovering the Beauty of Reformed Worship for the 21st Century (Tolle Lege Press, 2008), and co-editor of and contributor to a forthcoming collection of essays celebrating the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism (Reformation Heritage Books, 2012). Dr. Payne is also a frequent contributor to Modern Reformation. Jon and his wife Marla have been married for thirteen years and have two children, Mary Hannah (9) and Hans (7).

KF: What is the lectio continua method of reading/preaching the Scriptures?  What are the benefits of such a method?

JDP: The Lectio Continua method of reading and preaching the Scriptures is the regular, consecutive, systematic, verse by verse exposition of God’s Word.  When executed faithfully, this method ensures that God’s Word is preached, and not something (or someone) else.  Sadly, it has become increasingly difficult for committed believers to find a church where the “whole counsel of God” is faithfully proclaimed.  Too often modern day preachers put style over substance, creativity over content.  Sermons are filled with personal stories, clever anecdotes, and entertaining illustrations, and not with careful exegesis and exposition — a simple explanation and application of the text.  At the root of this problem is a lack of belief in the inspiration, authority, sufficiency, and efficacy of God’s Word.  We boldly confess a high view of Scripture, yet our preaching reveals something quite different.

Dr. Jon D. Payne

The benefits of the lectio continua method of preaching are myriad. To name but a few:

  1. The whole counsel of God is trumpeted forth (Acts 20:27; Matthew 28:20).
  2. The difficult and thorny texts are not passed over (II Timothy 3:16-17).
  3. God’s people learn how to study the Bible as their ministers preach through OT and NT books.
  4. Faith is created and nourished in God’s elect through the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17).
  5. The good news of Christ crucified, risen and exalted is preached from all of Scripture, thus underscoring the Christo-centric nature of the Bible (2 Corinthians 2:1-2).
  6. The indicatives and the imperatives are boldly proclaimed.
  7. The minister may not only choose “soap box” texts from which to preach.
  8. In time, the congregation will hear the entire Bible preached and read in morning and evening Lord’s Day worship (NOTE: In the last nine years our church has read and preached through well over half the Bible in public worship). See I Timothy 4:13.
  9. Ministers are marvelously free to preach with boldness and authority, since it is GOD’s Word that they are preaching, not man’s ideas.
  10. Through careful exegesis and preparation, ministers grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 6:4).  I think that the burnout rate and the rise of immorality among ministers are due, in large part, to a lack of time in the study.  Ministers who rely upon charm, charisma, style (ahem … dare I say, fashion), and intellectual gifts, and not upon God’s Spirit and Word, are easy prey for the Devil.

KF: What are the distinguishing marks of the Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament (LCECNT)?  How often can we expect to see new volumes in this series?

JDP: The aim of the LCECNT is to provide biblical exposition that is unswervingly Reformed, Confessional, Christ-centered, Redemptive-Historical, and full of application. Each volume, as with every preacher, will have strengths and weaknesses.  But we trust that the end result will serve as an example to future preachers, a resource for current preachers, and an encouragement to all members of Christ’s church who desire to grow in their understanding of God’s life-transforming Word. In other words, these expository commentaries are not just for pastors and theologians, they are meant to be read by Christians everywhere.

New volumes will appear every few months. The next three vols will appear this fall and winter, 2012:

  • First Peter by Jon Payne

KF: How did the vision for this series develop?

JDP: Several years ago I read through D.M. Lloyd-Jones’s multivolume expository commentaries on Romans and Ephesians. As a young and impressionable seminary student, these lectio continua sermons had a significant impact on my life and ministry. Now teaching homiletics at RTS Atlanta, I am aware of the great need for students to recognize the value of preaching through books of the Bible.  Many of them are coming out of churches where careful expository preaching is unknown. In addition, many pastors are losing confidence in God’s Word, and thus replacing systematic expository preaching with mostly topical the thematic sermons — of the poorer sort.

A couple of years ago it occurred to me that the wider church – ministers and laypeople included – could always use more serious biblical exposition in print, to help drive us back to biblical preaching in our congregations. Fresh and faithful expositions of God’s Word in print should be welcome in every generation. Many friends and colleagues have graciously agreed to participate in the series, and I trust that their contributions will be a blessing.  Currently, the list of contributors includes Terry Johnson, Iain D. Campbell, Sinclair Ferguson, Ian Hamilton, J. Ligon Duncan, Harry Reeder, Kim Riddlebarger, Joel Beeke, JV Fesko, David W. Hall, Richard D. Phillips, et al.  My earnest hope and prayer is that the series will be a help and encouragement to many.

I’d like to extend my gratitude to Dr. Payne for taking the time to answer a few questions about the series.  Please take a moment to check out the following resources by Dr. Payne: John Owen on the Lord’s Supper and In the Splendor of Holiness: Rediscovering the Beauty of Reformed Worship for the 21st Century.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting my review of Galatians, by J.V. Fesko – the first volume in the LCECNT series.  Until then, CLICK HERE, to download a PDF sample of the series preface, introductions, and first chapter.

FOR DISCUSSION:

What manner of preaching is characteristic in your local church?  In light of this preaching method, how would you say the people in your church view God’s Word?
Leave a comment below…

THE NATURE OF THE GOSPEL.

By the week’s end I hope to publish my review of J.V. Fesko’s commentary on Galatians.  Additionally, in the days ahead, I’ll be posting an interview with Dr. Fesko and Dr. Jon Payne, the series editor for the Lectio Continua commentary series.  Dr. Fesko and Dr. Payne have graciously agreed to discuss both the Letter to the Galatians and the distinctives of the Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament.  We’ll be looking at the topics of redemptive history, new creation, and sanctification within Galatians, as well as the lectio continua method, just to name a few.

Overall, you should know that this commentary is soaked with gospel goodness.  It’s solid, simple, and straightforward.  Not only will it help you think more deeply about the gospel, but I believe those who read it will become better equipped at speaking more clearly and substantially about what God has done for us in Christ.  Please consider picking up a copy for yourself or your pastor.

Be sure to stay tuned!

In the meantime I thought I’d share a helpful section from the commentary on the nature of the gospel…

Dr. Fesko writes:

Notice the nature of the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the announcement of the good news. And what exactly is that good news? It begins with some bad news: man is sinful, and his sin not only separates him from God but also renders him liable to God’s wrath and judgment. Sin, whether great or small, separates us from God and makes us liable to his just judgment.

The good news is that God has sent his Son to deliver us from this present evil age. Jesus Christ has come and lived his life in perfect obedience to the demands of the law, which means he has fulfilled the requirements of the law on behalf of those who look to him by faith. Jesus has suffered and died on the cross to pay the penalty and debt that sinful people owe, on behalf of those who trust him by faith. Jesus was raised from the dead to signal his sinlessness and righteousness, to show that God had accepted his sacrifice on behalf of the people of God, and to prophetically declare that all who look to him by faith will be likewise raised. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is our salvation— accomplished and applied.[1]

 

 


[1] Fesko, J. V.  (2012-03-15). Galatians (The Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament) (Kindle Locations 582-592). Tolle Lege Press. Kindle Edition.

 

TIPTON ON LAW & GOSPEL.

I am a big fan of ReformedForum.  I am also a big fan of the Chicago Cubs, but there’s not much worth talking about there…  Anyway, if you are unfamiliar with ReformedForum’s weekly pod/vodcast Christ the Center: Doctrine for Life, or the wealth of free resources they offer at their site, ReformedForum.org, I highly recommend you bookmark the site and subscribe to the feed.

One of their offerings is entitled, “Reformed Forum Express”.  A collection of brief but substantial summaries of various theological topics and issues.  In the video below, Dr. Lane G. Tipton notes the dangers of confusing the Law and the Gospel, the uses of the Law, and the good news that Christ has accomplished salvation on behalf of the elect, apart from their works.

CLICK HERE to view the post at ReformedForum.org, and offer your comments or questions as they relate to the video.