This posted in adapted from an earlier post on this site, first composed on October 31, 2014.
Tonight is Halloween. A couple of my kids will likely be going door-to-door getting candy, and we'll probably be handing out candy to neighborhood kids from our door as well. But October 31 is significant for more reasons than just this. October 31 is also "Reformation Day" - the day in 1517 when a monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to a church door in Germany and sparked what we now call the Protestant Reformation. (For a recommended introduction to Luther's 95 Theses, check out this book.)
Here's what Philip Schaff, a noted church historian, says about the significance of the Reformation:
“The Reformation of the sixteenth century is, next to the introduction of Christianity, the greatest event in history. It marks the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of modern times. Starting from religion, it gave, directly or indirectly, a mighty impulse to every forward movement, and made Protestantism the chief propelling force in the history of modern civilization.”
If your'e looking to brush up a bit on Reformation history, check out this post from Ligonier Ministries. This post shares a bit more about the history of the Reformation and key players in it. I encourage you to take a few minutes on this Reformation Day of 2018 and check it out.
Here's the post: "The Reformation and the Men Behind It" by Stephen Lawson
Please note the usual disclaimer, that my recommendation of this article is not necessarily an endorsement of everything else on the site where this was posted. As always, read both discerningly and graciously, and with the Bible as your final authority.
In Luke 9:23-25, Jesus makes some bold statements about following Him. In a sense, these verses provide a “101 Class” on discipleship.
“Disciple” is a word you’ll hear in church world a lot - and rightfully so. One of Jesus’ last commands is for the church to go and “make disciples” of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). Making disciples who make disciples should be on the short list of priorities of every church.
The word disciple literally means “learner.” Don’t just think of a learner in some classroom environment, though. Think “apprentice.” Think “someone learning a skill or a lifestyle.” As followers of Jesus, we’re apprentices of Jesus. Or another way to look at it is that a disciple is someone who walks in the footsteps of someone else.
When I was in college, I went on a couple of backpacking trips in Colorado - one to fulfill some P.E. credit, and one as part of a team building experience for R.A.s. They were great: Get away from civilization, sleep in tents, see some awesome sights in the Rockies, and do a whole lot of hiking. And both times I went, the guide we were with reinforced the value of paying attention to the person in front of you. To watch where they stepped and to follow that same path. To literally walk in their footsteps as much as you could.
As disciples of Jesus, then, we walk in His footsteps. And if the path He went on involved suffering and self-denial (Jesus tells us this in Luke 9:22), we can’t go around that ourselves or skip that part of the trail as His followers. Which is exactly where Jesus takes His instruction to us in Luke 9:23-25:
This Fall, Brookside Church is preaching through much of the Gospel of Luke on Sunday mornings. (Check out our "Best. News. Ever." series here.) And in Luke 4:1-13 we read the story of Jesus overcoming Satan's temptations in the wilderness.
There are two levels you can read this story on. The first level points to WHO Jesus is. With the name "Adam" - our first father - still ringing in our ears at the end of Luke 3 (Luke 3:38), we then read about Jesus doing what Adam didn't - overcoming Satan's temptations, relying on God rather than himself (cf. Genesis 3:1-6). Jesus is the "better Adam" who has victory over Satan.
The second level unpacks HOW Jesus defeated Satan. Most practically, he did this by rightly using Scripture (and relying on the Author of Scripture). Satan overcame the temptations and lies of Satan with the truth of Scripture.
I've included a practical resource we developed for this below (tied most closely to this "second level" of reading the story mentioned above). Our hope and prayer is that this resource can help you both identify lies of Satan and immerse yourself in Scripture - so that you can overcome the lies of the enemy with the truth of God's Word.
Recently I taught on 1 Timothy 4:7-8: "7...train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." Over the course of about 40 minutes, I get into WHAT true godliness is, WHY it's important, and HOW we train ourselves for it.
As the Brookside Institute champions values like biblical literacy and theological formation, let's not forget that these aren't ends-in-themselves. Let's train ourselves for godliness.
Earlier this summer I took some time and worked through John S. Feinberg's helpful (and thorough - 799 pages!) Light in a Dark Place: The Doctrine of Scripture. Among so many other things I enjoyed about the book, I benefited from how we approached something called "the animation of Scripture" - the belief that Scripture has life-giving, life-changing power that no other book shares.
This life-giving, life changing power of the Bible is WHY the Brookside Institute champions biblical literacy and Bible engagement in all the ways it does. Not because Bible engagement is an end-in-itself, but because the Bible is the primary means by which God introduces Himself, a primary way the Spirit works to grow us, and the clearest presentation of the all-satisfying Person and work of Christ.
Toward the end of this chapter on the animating power of the Bible, Feinberg draws several practical implications from this belief. Let me quote one of the implications he highlights (from pp. 678-69), in hopes that this will encourage all of us to keep coming back to the Bible, that we might experience the life-changing, life-giving power it offers in all the ways it offers it:
God's word has power like no other words ever spoken. Thus, it should be the focus of our study and of our everyday living. Whatever we are called to do, and whatever challenges confront us, our first response should always be to ask what Scripture says about the subject and the deeds in question. Needless to say, that can't happen if we don't read and ponder Scripture. Sadly, even Christians committed to verbal plenary inspiration, the fully inerrancy of Scripture, and the power of God's word find little time in the course of a week to read even a little of it. Believers know the message of Psalm 1 as it compares the happy and blessed man with the man who is unhappy and heading for disaster. The key to both is what they do with Scripture. They happy man grounds his life in God's word. He does not merely take a 'small taste' of it for a half-hour each Sunday morning when his pastor preaches. He meditates on God's word both day and night. As a result, when the storms of life confront him, he survives and even flourishes. The unhappy man, whose life is grounded in pleasure, money-making, self-aggrandizement and / or any of the many philosophies that leave out God and his word, is not ready for life's challenges. At some time in his life there will likely be disaster and ruin, and even if not in this life, he is headed for a horrific eternity.
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Did you miss some of the most frequented posts at the Brookside Institute recently? It's not too late!
Based on the number of "hits" each month, here's our highlight reel of the top 5 posts here on the Brookside Institute blog for the last six months - January 2018 through June 2018.
Take a minute to scroll through the list below, and either catch up on things you may have missed or revisit things that were especially helpful.
In 1 Corinthians 6, the Apostle Paul includes a strong command that will sound counter-cultural to any American in the early 21st century: "Flee sexual immorality" (1 Corinthians 6:18).
As we read this command, we may ask, "How can Paul say this?" The short answer is that Paul's gospel-centered theology drives the way he thinks about ethics and lifestyle issues. To see this, we need to zoom out a bit and look at the larger context.
Summer is upon us!
If you've got some extra time over the next couple of months - maybe you're traveling a bit, or your summer schedule allows you more time to read for other reasons, or you just want some book recommendations as you maintain a habit of reading - here are a few books (in categories we should keep on our radar screens) you may want to consider. These are books that I've either read recently myself, or am hoping to dig into in the next couple of months.
I encourage you to explore these books a bit (each is linked to their Amazon page where you can learn more), then choose whichever one or two jumps out at you most and dig in!
Every year my wife plants a big garden, and we look forward to all the fruit of that garden throughout the summer and into the Fall. She plants lettuce and tomatoes and peppers and whole lot of other things.
But we also know that if we’re going to eat the fruit of the garden, we need to actively be dealing with the weeds in the garden. Because weeds will steal light and nutrients from the plants we want to grow. Weeds crowd out space you want for the crops to flourish.
Dealing with weeds is a struggle. It’s work! But it’s worth it.
In Colossians 3:5-11, the Apostle Paul tells us to make sure we're dealing with the weeds in our garden. Listen to what he says:
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality,impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
In his recent book, Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism, author and pastor Timothy Keller summarizes the storyline of the Bible - climaxing in the sending and sacrifice of Jesus Christ - in a helpful way. And all in about 300 words. (306, to be exact.)
His summary is too good to pass up. I've included it here (from p. 58 of his Preaching book):
Christian. Husband. Father. Pastor. Learner. Contributor. Reader.