September 4, 2013

Farewell, NIV

by Jesse Johnson

The NIV Bible is no more. Alas.

The version that many grew up reading has finally ridden off into the sunset, never to return. Zondervan has phased it out, buried it, and replaced it with something else.

Many people denied that a significant change had taken place, and tried to act like the Bible being sold now as the NIV is indeed the NIV they grew up with. That myth was sustainable for a while, but eventually it just didn’t work. This year many Christian schools finally dropped the NIV, and replaced it with something else. Even AWANA was forced to make the change.


So what is the fuss about? If you are a parent of a Christian school attender, and you just found out you need to buy a new Bible for the year, or if you got a letter in the mail telling you that all that you can go shopping for new AWANA books, well this is for you. It is a FAQ guide to the NIV, with an explanation for why churches and ministries are dropping it:

Why did so many churches and schools change their translation this year?     Continue Reading…

First, let me encourage you to read Clint’s post yesterday. I know many of our US readers might have missed it in light of the holiday.

Second, while Don Carson’s book Showing the Spirit is a few years old, of late it has taken on a life of its own in the blogosphere. Charismatics (the kind that say “don’t call me charismatic, but don’t say tongues have ceased either!”) point to this book as a defense of their position. Frank Turk reviews the book itself over at Pyromaniacs, but I think the best critique of it is to simply read the section where Carson explains his view of modern tongues. I posted this a year ago, but with the renewed interest in the book, I thought it might be helpful to post it again:

My continuationist friends (and I do have a few) proudly trumpet D. A. Carson as being one of them. In fact, I have met more than one person who has told me that they are continuationist in large part because of Carson’s book, Showing the Spirit, which is his exegetical work on 1 Corinthians 12-14.

And, truth be told, this is one of Carson’s best books, and certainly is one of the best books on spiritual gifts ever written. It is thorough, compelling, and takes the reader deeper into the meaning and significance of every verse in those chapters…with one obvious and comical exception.   Continue Reading…

zuck When 19 year-old Mark Zuckerberg approached his friend Joe Green to become a business partner of a nascent social networking company called TheFaceBook, Green declined. He feared raising his father’s ire about hitching his career to the maverick teenage wunderkind who had recently been chastised by the Harvard disciplinary committee for sundry illicit programming shenanigans. The deal included a significant share in the company in exchange for Green’s part-time commitment to help with programming and design.

Green now wryly calls that decision his “billion dollar mistake.”

With the 20/20 vision of hindsight, we know that anyone with the prescience to secure even a single share early on in a promising company like Facebook would not be second guessing any sacrifice they endured to obtain that preternaturally profitable commodity. And yet any earthly dividend we could gain pales in comparison to the eternal weight of glory that awaits those who have sacrificed for God’s kingdom enterprise. Many, however, demur on the decision and forego the coveted opportunity to be a part of God’s expanding kingdom work.

into the pit

When the “Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Heathen” was formed on October 2, 1792, the inauspicious sum of 13£ 2s 6d was raised in the form of promissory notes (checks) and deposited into a snuff-box. The collection was meant to be the seed that would germinate into a fund to support a volunteer missionary to move abroad. The donations were the financial rope that the Society gripped, as William Carey descended into the dark pit of India.  Continue Reading…

Nobody says it quite like Charles Spurgeon:

SpurgeonLet us abhor the sin which brought such agony upon our beloved Lord. What an accursed thing is sin, which crucified the Lord Jesus! Do you laugh at it? Will you go and spend an evening to see a mimic performance of it? Do you roll sin under your tongue as a sweet morsel, and then come to God’s house, on the Lord’s-day morning, and think to worship him? Worship him! Worship him, with sin indulged in your breast! Worship him, with sin loved and pampered in your life!

O sirs, if I had a dear brother who had been murdered, what would you think of me if I valued the knife which had been crimsoned with his blood? —if I made a friend of the murderer, and daily consorted with the assassin, who drove the dagger into my brother’s heart? Surely I, too, must be an accomplice in the crime! Sin murdered Christ; will you be a friend to it? Sin pierced the heart of the Incarnate God; can you love it? Oh, that there was an abyss as deep as Christ’s misery, that I might at once hurl this dagger of sin into its depths, whence it might never be brought to light again!    Continue Reading…

August 29, 2013

A Sober Warning

by Joey Newton

Jesus teaching crowdJesus was an amazing teacher: “Never has a man spoken the way this Man speaks” (John 7:46). His words always came with power and conviction and the mesmerizing ability to say so much, so clearly, and with such an economy of words (I have a lot to learn from this)! With a small child in arms, He has just taught a room of 12 proud disciples (1 an unbeliever) the sine qua non of Kingdom life: Humility (Matt. 18:1-4). Not simply humility as a virtue, but kingdom humility that marks spiritual life. Humility that has a conscious sense of the glory of God and seeks all grace, all life, all mercy, all joy, and all things from Him in Christ. The humility that trusts, the humility that obeys, and the humility that serves. You would think that’d be enough for one day. It wasn’t. Jesus has more to say. The lesson needs to go deeper, so He adds a gracious, yet sober, warning. Namely, that fellowship in the kingdom should reflect God’s own love for His children and His jealousy for our holiness. Yes, God has a jealous love for His “little ones” (Matt. 18:6) and so should we. Continue Reading…

August 28, 2013

The Class of 2017

by Jesse Johnson

Where I live (the Washington DC area), most students return to school this week. So as a service to youth pastors (to keep them from making hackneyed references) and adults everywhere (to make us feel old), here is this helpful guide to this year’s freshman, aka the class of 2017:

class of 2017

They were born in 1999/2000, which means they were too young to remember September 11. But it also means that:

Continue Reading…

gideon_fleeceIt’s easy to over complicate the call to ministry. But there’s nothing particularly magical about discerning it, even when it comes to church planting. And we need not put out a fleece or wait for a vision. In fact, if you’re looking for that, then you’re probably looking in the wrong place. The call to plant a church is similar to the call to pastoral ministry since a church-planter, by definition, will do all that a pastor does, though a bit more. Church planting, then, is fundamentally pastoral ministry, which makes discerning the call simpler than we might think.

Here are 5 criteria to help discern the call:

Continue Reading…


William Carey is widely regarded the father of Modern Missions. There are several critical moments on the timeline that mark progress from his modest career as a cobbler, to the revolutionary impact he would have on the way we do missions. Before Carey, it was unheard of for multiple small churches to band together and pool support for the purpose of permanently transplanting  a volunteer to the foreign field. Missionaries were Christians who used to go on short-term journeys, or otherwise were passengers of the Catholic armada that accompanied British Colonial conquests. Carey pioneered this profound shift. One of the lesser known turning points was after the second attempt he’d made to have his minister’s fraternal establish a missions committee.

William Carey turned the tide of history with a simple, pleading question he posed to Andrew Fuller, his like-minded friend and fellow member of the Baptist fraternal of ministers who met at Nottingham in 1792. It was the meeting at which Carey had preached his renowned “Deathless sermon” which challenged the ministers to “Expect great things of God, attempt great things for God.”

The seventeen delegates were about to close the business of the day without any resolution in favor of initiating a mission to the lost. This would be the second time Carey was disappointed by their sluggish lassitude. Ecclesiastical wheels grind slowly at the best of times, but it was Carey’s passion that lubricated the mechanism that historic day.

Carey turned in agonizing desperation to the taciturn Andrew Fuller, grasped his arm and cried out earnestly… Continue Reading…

Don't Miss the Forest for the TreesLast week I wrote an as-condensed-as-possible version of the great story of redemption, tracing God’s gracious promise to provide the seed of the woman to crush the head of the serpent through the Old Testament. We looked at how that promise narrowed from the seed of the woman, to the seed of Abraham, to the nation of Israel, and to the line of David. We saw how Israel’s repeated failure to be faithful to the covenants Yahweh established with them all pointed to the One who would exemplify covenant faithfulness and fulfill all righteousness on behalf of His people. To put it another way, contrary to what some believe about dispensationalists and the Old Testament, we observed how the whole of the Old Testament finds its climax and fulfillment in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the Israelite par-excellence, and the Son of David. If you’ve not read that post, I’d encourage you to do so.

I mentioned in that post that a great help for interpreting the Bible properly consists in keeping that big picture in the front of our mind so that we can interpret the parts in light of the whole. We don’t want to miss the forest for the trees. This is especially helpful in the Old Testament, where the increased historical, cultural, geographical, literary, and even covenantal gaps can make us raise our eyebrows at not a few passages, which just seem wholly unfamiliar.

Now, we need to be sure that we interpret each passage on its own terms, according to its context, always in search of the intent of the original author. But keeping this grand narrative of redemptive history in mind and locating at what point in the story of redemption that a particular passage finds itself, can often help us understand why some more obscure (or at least, seemingly-removed) passages are in the Bible. Passages that look like road blocks or obstacles in our Bible-reading plans can be transformed (at least in our perception, anyway) by relating them to the larger story of redemptive history.

Today I’d like to just share a few examples.

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2000_YearsThis post wraps up our list of 10 reasons why church history is important … and why you should care about it. To access the previous three articles (for the complete list) click here (Part 1), here (Part 2), and here (Part 3).

8. Because just as we can learn from the good examples of faithful Christians (see Reason #7), we likewise have much to learn from those who failed at various points.

It is an old cliché, but often true: those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.

In church history, we see examples of all kinds of spiritual failure. There are those who fell into heresy, those who gave way to corruption, those who denied the faith, and those who fell morally. The lives of such individuals serve as a warning for us.

In 2 Corinthians 6:10–12, the apostle Paul uses the negative illustration of the Israelites in the wilderness to teach his readers an important spiritual lesson. Paul’s example sets a precedent for the way we think about both biblical history and church history. Continue Reading…