Christ Alone & Catholic Sacramental Theology: A Reformation Response
In order to understand the nature of the Reformers’ disagreement with Rome, you have to understand the nature of two intertwining ideas that anchor Catholic sacramental theology: the “nature-grace interdependence” and the “Christ-Church interconnection.”
Stephen Wellum traces the contours of this main point of disagreement and the Reformers’ response in his new book Christ Alone—The Uniqueness of Jesus as Savior. In it, he explores what the Reformers taught about the exclusivity and sufficiency of Christ—and why it still matters.
For the Reformers, solus Christus entails the confession of Christ’s exclusive identity and his perfect, complete, and all-sufficient work as our covenant head and mediator (258).
Below, we’ve briefly outlined Wellum’s engagement with these ideas to help you understand the Reformers’ solus Christus response to…
What Are the Fruits of the Spirit and the Works of the Flesh?
Jesus wanted his disciples to understand that there were some who would seek to distort the gospel. He called them “false prophets,” and he told the disciples how they’d be able to differentiate them from the real thing:
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and…
What Can We Learn About Walking in the Spirit from Galatians 5?
Due to the influence of law-heavy teaching, the Galatians struggled to understand how to mature as Christians. Did they become righteous by following a set of moral precepts as their forefathers believed, or was there more to it than that?
Throughout the book of Galatians, Paul teaches the Galatians about the relationship between the law and Christian living, and in the 5th chapter of his epistle to the Galatians, Paul begins to explain how the spiritual life works in relationship to Christ and the Holy Spirit.
In his online course on Galatians, Thomas R. Schreiner walks us through Galatians 5. The following post is adapted from Schreiner’s course.
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What Is the False Gospel in Galatians?
It doesn’t take too long for Paul to get to the heart of the issue in his letter to the Galatians. He’s concerned that they’re abandoning Jesus’ grace and turning to a different gospel—a false gospel.
Paul doesn’t mince words when it comes to Judaizers coming in and undermining the work he has done in Galatia. In this letter, we see Paul at his strongest and most aggressive. There is no room for a gospel that strays from the grace of Christ. As we will see, Paul feels so strongly about the good news that has been preached to the Galatians that he calls down a curse upon anyone who would dare to proffer…
Who Were the Galatians?
If someone was to ask you who Paul wrote his epistle to the Galatians to, how would you respond? If you’re like most people, you’d probably answer that it was written to the church at Galatia, and—technically—you’d be right.
But did you know that there’s actually quite a bit of discussion around whether Paul’s letter was written to those in northern or southern Galatia? Does knowing who Paul was writing to affect how we read it? Not necessarily, but it does change the way we look at the book of Galatians in regards to Acts.
In his online course on Galatians, Thomas R. Schreiner helps us understand a little better about who Paul…
The Role of the Old Testament Law in Galatians
Communicating the role that the law played in God’s overall plan of salvation was one of the New Testament church’s biggest challenges. As Jews accepted that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, they struggled to understand how to bring their Jewish roots into this new reality.
The Christian who had come out of Judaism had to reconcile their understanding of what the law actually accomplished and how it worked. In their understanding, the law purified them and made them righteous. Was that true? If not, why were they given the law?
In his online course on Galatians, Thomas R. Schreiner explains Paul’s take on the law from Galatians 3:19–20. The following post is taken from…
How You Can Translate Mark 1–4 On Your Own
A few weeks ago we introduced you to an approach to reading biblical Greek that Mark Strauss calls “interesting and innovative.”
Reading Biblical Greek, conceived of and designed by Richard J. Gibson and Constantine R. Campbell, introduces first-year Greek students to the essential information needed to optimize their grasp of the fundamentals of the Greek language.
The goal of their approach is “to equip students to read the text of Mark’s Gospel as soon as practicable.” (vii) They succeed in part because their grammar is paired with an equally innovative companion workbook.
This supplemental workbook is designed to help students navigate their way through translating Mark 1–4, all on their own, by breaking up the Greek text into manageable portions and providing the…
How to study the book of Romans
Romans is one of the most well-known books of the Bible.
You’ve probably heard a hundred sermons from the book of Romans. You might list Romans 8 as one of your favorite passages. You might be aware that Romans contains some of the key passages on predestination, the doctrine of justification, the doctrine of sanctification, and other core doctrines of the church. And you probably know the role a verse from Romans played in Martin Luther’s articulation of the 95 theses that launched the Reformation.
Romans has had a life-changing impact on the lives of millions of people. It’s not hard to argue that this short letter written to a group of Christians two thousand years ago has changed world history.
So whether you know it or not, you have probably been influenced by the book of Romans.
What the Bible says about predestination
In any conversation about predestination, election, and God’s will in the act of salvation, two verses from Romans 8 are usually cited:
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:29–30)
These two verses are some of the most scrutinized in the Bible, so let’s take a moment to unpack them in more detail to see what they tell us about predestination.
See what Douglas Moo says about Paul’s understanding of predestination:
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An Interesting, Innovative Approach to Reading Biblical Greek
The English idiom “It’s all Greek to me” isn’t merely an expression that something isn’t understandable. It also embodies the frustrations all first-year Greek students have when they encounter the foreign language of the New Testament, yet want to understand it in order to read it for themselves.
A new innovative approach to Greek grammar aims to ameliorate such frustrations.
Reading Biblical Greek, ideated and designed by Richard J. Gibson and Constantine R. Campbell, introduces first-year Greek students to the essential information needed to optimize their grasp of the fundamentals of the Greek language—no more and no less—enabling them to read and translate New Testament Greek as soon as possible.
[This book’s] distinctive approach has been shaped by lessons learned over decades from students struggling with the inherent challenge of language…
Advice on studying Romans from Douglas Moo
We recently sat down with Douglas Moo to talk about some challenges students face when studying Romans. Take a look at what he says.
And be sure to check out his new online course, The Book of Romans: History, Meaning, and Application.
I’ve talked to Christians over the years who say, “Oh, I’m not ready to study Romans yet, that’s too heavy for me.”
You’ve probably heard it taught maybe from the pulpit, maybe you’ve taken a Sunday school class on it. You’ve read it. You’ve studied it perhaps even in Bible study.
Romans is a book that addresses many of those fundamental worldview issues. What does it mean to be a Christian? What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ? How is it relevant to me and to my church?
I think some of the reasons we therefore…
There Is Always a Reason (John 2:1) – Mondays with Mounce 287
We just completed another week of work on the NIV in Cambridge, and I was again reminded that there is always a reason. No matter how unusual a translation of a certain verse may appear, there is always a reason. Like Jason Bourne, nothing is random.
A good example is John 2:1 in the NLT. “The next day (τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ τρίτῃ) there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee.” Someone might respond, how would you ever get “next” from τρίτῃ? But before you pronounce the NLT translators as incompetent — which they are not — repeat after me: “There…