What Is the New Covenant?
“You must read the book with X-ray eyes, for it is an essential part of your apprehension of any book to grasp its structure.”
If you were to X-ray the Bible, you would first notice a four-plot structure: creation, fall, redemption, new creation. However, “if we want to see with finer details and understand what shapes the Bible’s deeper structure,” Trent Hunter and Stephen Wellum explain in their new book Christ from Beginning to End, “we need to grasp something called a covenant” (54).
Who God is and how he acts pivots around this word covenant, because “the Bible is…
12 Ways Evangelism Is Changing
You’ve heard it said the twenty-first century is markedly different from the twentieth. It’s not only because we have terrorism scares, self-driving cars, and Facebook. Church attendance is decreasing, religious Nones are increasing, and the way people view and interact with truth has changed.
Yet many Christians and churches are evangelizing as if we are still living in the twentieth century—and failing to make the unbelievable news about Jesus more believable.
Although the essence of evangelism is the gospel—the message that Jesus Christ is Lord—the task of evangelism is our human effort of proclaiming this message. This task used to primarily mean quoting Scripture, or explaining the believability of the Christian faith through clever arguments.
10 Reasons Why People Reject the Gospel
If the gospel is the “good news about Jesus,” then why do so many people reject it? If Christians bear this “good news,” how can they better share it using methods that are effective in today’s post-Christian world?
Evangelism in a Skeptical World offers actionable advice for making the unbelievable news about Jesus more believable. It also explains why people often reject this news in the first place, equipping Christians to make it more enticing to non-Christians they know.
Here are at least ten reasons why people often reject the gospel, and what you can do about it.
1) The gospel doesn’t fit their plausibility structure
Plausibility structures “are accepted beliefs, convictions, and understandings that either green-light truth claims…
What Is Evangelism?
For example, is the stay-at-home mom who helps run the play group at her church doing evangelism if she incorporates Bible stories into the craft activities? Can a play group become an evangelistic play group?
Or does evangelism only occur in more “conventional” tactics: witnessing on the street, leading large crusades? Are those the only ways the gospel of Jesus Christ can be communicated, the only way people can evangelize?
In other words: What counts as evangelism? What is evangelism?
This word evangelism carries a lot of baggage, tradition, and emotion. Furthermore, most people have been poorly equipped with evangelism methods that are no…
The Truth About God’s Love
Telling the truth is the essence of memoir. Jack Deere tells the truth about his own life in order to share with us the truth about life in his new book Even in Our Darkness.
In it, he offers an unvarnished look at the Christian life—with all of its disappointments and disasters, addiction and sin—to tell us something essential about the greatest truth: God’s love.
Below are some vignettes of his life showcasing the truth about God’s love, beginning with his early understanding of God’s posture toward humanity and ending with the ultimate truth about this love.
Jack’s dad was the first person to tell him about God, which left a lasting impression:
Dad told me we were born with immortal souls. After we died,…
The Truth About Shame and Grace
Memoir is truth-telling. About one’s own life, yes, but also life. As Elie Wiesel said, “with memoir you must be honest, you must be truthful.”
In Even in Our Darkness, Jack Deere has written a moving memoir that tells the truth. Through his unvarnished story of the Christian life, Jack guides readers in overcoming life’s disappointments and learning to hear God speak in unimaginable ways.
One pathway Jack offers guidance is through the shoals of shame, and the importance of grace in finding victory. Through unvarnished honesty, he explores how each of us have a role to play in other’s experience of both shame and grace.
In one childhood anecdote, Jack recalls cussing out his mother. The next day, his dad told him to go to the dreaded “Back Bedroom” for…
The Truth About Suffering
“I will say, with memoir,” Elie Wiesel is quoted as saying, “you must be honest, you must be truthful.”
Jack Deere tells the truth in his new book Even in Our Darkness. Not merely about his own life, but about life.
Deere’s story is one of beauty in a broken life brimming with the kind of authenticity and realism, failure and fortitude, darkness and light we need to help us and others make sense of life in all of its trueness.
Under Deere’s guidance, truth—his truth, life’s truth—is “profoundly unmasked, unsettling, and unforgettable.” Beginning with the truth about suffering.
There were three insights I gleaned from his raw, harrowing account of life.
Suffering is Mysterious
Deere’s opening paragraph illustrates the truth of suffering’s mystery with painful precision:
On the morning of…
What Can Churches Do to Help with Mental Health Conditions?
ADHD and autism, depression and anxiety, mood disorders and other common mental health conditions are all part of people’s lives this side of the fall.
Yet the very place that should offer healing and hope is often the least equipped to help. Further, it is the place least likely to be actively attended by people suffering with such conditions.
That place is the church.
Stephen Grcevich explains this in his new book, Mental Health and the Church:
The families I meet through my work as a child and adolescent psychiatrist are far less likely than other families in our community to be actively involved in a local church. This reality is a tragic departure from Jesus’ plan for his church. (16)
Thankfully, he wrote…
How Jesus Subverts the Kingdoms of this World
He was born in the Roman Empire over two thousand years ago, growing up to command the loyalty of thousands. During his thirties he was seen as the fulfillment of national hopes and founder of an endless kingdom.
His achievements were considered signs of divine authority. Official proclamations of these acts, known as “gospels,” were published in his honor. In fact, an inscription on a stone was uncovered in southwest Turkey describing him in this way:
God sent him as a savior for us to make war to cease, to create peaceful order everywhere. And the birthday of this “god” was the beginning for the world of gospels that have come to men through him.
Who was this “god”? If you said Jesus, you’d be wrong. The “savior” described is Gaius Octavius, otherwise known as…
What History Tells Us About Jesus
Which makes it open to historical scrutiny.
As John Dickson explains in his new book A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus: “If you claim that something spectacular took place in history, intelligent people are going to ask you historical questions.”
How has it fared in the face of such critical observation? Surprisingly well! Particularly because Jesus is mentioned several times outside of the New Testament.
One lucky outcome of this flurry of ancient literary output [about the Roman Empire] is that a small-town Jewish teacher, named Yeshua ben Yosef, or Jesus son of Joseph, happened to…
How Much Exegetical Material Should You Share in Your Sermon?
But how much of that “science” and exegetical material should you share in your sermon in order to preach God’s Word effectively?
In other words: how much of the “then” should you share to help them get the “now” meaning and see the connection?
In their second edition of Preaching God’s Word, Terry G. Carter, J. Scott Duvall, J. Daniel Hays offer this insight:
If your audience does not make the connection between the exegetical meaning in the text and the applicational meaning you are proclaiming to them, your message loses its tie to biblical authority.
How Does Archaeology Contribute to Biblical Studies?
Whether for personal or professional study, inevitably you will come across something in the Bible that relates to its ancient persons, places, or events. How can you better understand this past context in order to understand the message in its historical context and apply it in our own time?
The historical and archaeological record, that’s how. And the new Zondervan Handbook of Biblical Archaeology is your guide to that record.
Written by archaeologist Randal Price with historian H. Wayne House, this handbook provides a window into the biblical past through the information available from the field of archaeology to aid your study of the Bible.
Consider these four specific ways that archaeology contributes to biblical studies—and your own study of God’s…