C.S. Lewis’s Secret Writing Sauce

A lot of good thought has been put into why C.S. Lewis was such a successful writer. But from what I’ve read, no one has written on what I consider Lewis’s true “secret sauce” to writing. This is probably because it’s not so much about technique. His use of imagery, his brilliant vocabulary, his simplicity of expression – these things are relatively easy to point out.

This is something a little more subtle.

What is it? It’s this: Lewis was a polymath. That is: he didn’t limit his learning to one field. He studied everything. This is what makes his work truly brilliant, much like Augustine’s City of God – it’s all encompassing. So many theology writers today are so holed up in the world of theology that they relativize their own writing. So many fiction writers stay within the realm of literature, and never stretch themselves to think philosophically and theologically – so their writing is shallow.

But Lewis did neither.

His deep grasp of history gave him a keen and critical eye for current fads.

His deep knowledge of psychology enabled him to be deeply introspective and applicable.

His grasp of logic and mathematics made him a rigorous thinker.

His love of philosophy made him a brilliant theologian.

His writing of poetry gave him the gift of terseness and metaphor.

His love of language armed him with a brilliant vocabulary.

All of these fields fed into his literature and theology – his literature is deeply grounded in philosophical truth, and his theology is deeply rooted in the soil of God’s world.

So, writer: if you want to write like Lewis, get outside of your bubble. Read everything. Be fascinated by everything. And if you’re not, learn about it until you are.

Weekend Java Awards 11.21.15

Apologetics Award: “The Key to Political Persuasion” – This is not a Christian article by any means, but the thrust of it seems to me very wise, and in fact, very Pauline.

Writing Award: “18 Habits of Highly Creative People” – In good creative style, this article isn’t so much prescriptive (for me, anyway) as it exists to say: “You’re not crazy. Just creative.”

Preaching Award: “The Need for Illustrations in Preaching” – R.C. Sproul with some words I imagine just about every reformed preacher needs to hear: Martin Luther preached to kindergarten level. If I had to give you two articles to start you off on preaching, maybe I’d give you this one and the one I posted Wednesday.

A Glimpse of Truth Award: “Peace Within the Holy Texts“: Put this quote in your pipe and smoke it for the day: “Humans also are meaning-seeking animals. We live, as Sacks writes, in a century that ‘has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning.’ The secular substitutes for religion — nationalism, racism and political ideology — have all led to disaster. So many flock to religion, sometimes — especially within Islam — to extremist forms.”

Fun Award:Listen to a Medieval Folk Music Ensemble Play Metallica” – Every year for my birthday growing up, I begged to go to the Renaissance Festival…but I never heard anything like this. It’s strangely awesome.

Theology Award: “We Need Theologians, Not Smarty Pants” – Kevin DeYoung on how to foster a church of theological richness, from the pulpit to the classroom.

Books and Lit Award – “Finding Alice’s ‘Wonderland’ in Oxford” – A sweet, beautiful little article (with pictures!) that brought a thrill of remembrance to me. What a magical place.

Spiritual Life Award: “5 Things Married Couples Should Do Everyday“…and I don’t. This one comes from a licensed professional counselor through Relevant Magazine. Good stuff.

Christianity and Culture Award: “Building His Church in a Refugee Crisis” – This is the one article I’ve read that manages to get past the polemical politics of the situation and put things into an eternal perspective. Well done.

Church Leadership Award: “6 Reasons Why Longer Tenured Pastors are Better” – Thom Rainer with some great thoughts and stats on why you should push through the pain of the first five years.


How Spurgeon, Edwards and MLJ Structured Their Sermons.

Lately I’ve been studying some of my favorite preachers: Martyn Lloyd Jones, Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon. All three saw revival in their own days and were known globally for their powerful, biblical preaching.

Since I’m a narratology nerd, I decided I’d listen carefully to the way each of them structured their sermons. I found something stunning:

Each of them structured their sermons the exact same way.

Now there is some variety, especially with Spurgeon. But part of me wonders if Spurgeon and Lloyd Jones didn’t actually get this sermon template from Jonathan Edwards himself, who was very meticulous about it (read his sermons, and you’ll see they’re labeled into three sections). Both were big fans and avid readers of Edwards’ work, and are fairly consistent on this sermon template.

I also wonder why I’ve never read anything about this structure. Maybe it’s because it sets itself against just about all the preaching advice we pass around these days. The structure goes something like this:

1. Orientation

All three preachers refuse to begin their sermons with cute anecdotes or even any sense of “hook”: they all begin their sermons simply by examining the exegetical context of their passage. They give historical, grammatical and literary background to the text. There’s no promise of practical help, no catchy story, no curious questions raised. They simply lay out the pieces of the text, in order to better allow their listeners analyze the sermon.

From what I can tell, this seems to be common fair for the puritan context. As I read through puritan Thomas Adams’ sermons this week, I found the same.

To me, this is a rebuke of two types of preachers: the one who spends much of the sermon laying out exegetical facts – to these men, this was not preaching. It was the preface to preaching.

The second is the pragmatic preacher, who makes worldly promises in the name of biblical truth. These preachers would not and could not do this, because they see preaching as a confrontation with man, not a help along the road to success.

2. Imagination

The second part of the sermon, which Edwards calls “doctrine”, is essentially a tracing of a single theme from the passage throughout scripture. This “doctrine” could in fact be an application: for example, Edwards considers the principle of ‘seeking God’s kingdom with our whole heart’ a doctrine, which he traces throughout the Old and New Testament. He’s a master at employing symbols from the natural world to illustrate his theological points.

Lloyd Jones takes a more systematic approach. For example, he preaches a whole sermon on Romans 1:1 by simply tracing the history of the word “Apostle” and defining its meaning. There’s very little color here, but he is strikingly clear.

Spurgeon typically takes examples from the Old Testament, Hymns, Puritans and culture and meshes them together. If you know Spurgeon for his “three point preaching”, you’ll note that his first point is typically theological.

Again, this is a rebuke to modern preaching. All of these men preached theologically. They did not believe that faithfulness to the text meant staying within the text – to them, this was unfaithful to the whole counsel of God. For these men, the hinge point of every sermon was a vision of God which, once again, confronts us. It is this vision of God which provided the basis for their application afterward. Producing this vision was, to Edwards, sanctification itself.

3. Application

After establishing the doctrinal principle, these preachers worked that doctrine out into life. It’s important to note that “application” for all three men looked nothing like application of today: “5 Steps to a Better fill-in-the-blank.” It would be more comparable to what we might call “argumentation.” This is especially true of Edwards and Lloyd Jones, who made application in ways more appropriate to their secular contexts (though we typically think of Edwards’ Northampton as a place burgeoning with Christian piety, the truth was before Edwards and his grandfather, it was a secular wasteland).

So, Edwards and Lloyd Jones’ approach to application was dialectical, much like the Apostle Paul. They anticipated objections to the doctrine presented, and they carefully refuted them. This, for Edwards and Lloyd Jones, occupies the majority of sermon work. After engaging the imagination, they would address the mind, the heart’s final defense.

Spurgeon was the most exhortative of the three, typically using his second point to give practical advice on piety and the Christian life, stemming from the doctrine established previously. However, he includes dialectical elements typically in his first point, on doctrine.

The takeaway is: we haven’t preached until we’ve argued. Yes, I stand by that: I believe preaching is confronting man with their view of God, and that means arguing the truth into people’s hearts. This was the climax of these men’s sermons, and if we leave it off, we’ve stopped short of all preaching can be.

4. Invitation

This was the Christ-centered end for which each of these men aimed: an invitation to be “born again” and to join God’s kingdom. For Edwards, this was the aim of most of his application: he was arguing against people’s objections to conversion. So in a way, he’s the most explicit of the three.

Spurgeon makes it most explicit in his structure: his third point is always an invitation to belong to Christ.

Lloyd Jones is the least explicit of the three, often leaving off the invitation in his Sunday morning sermons and being more explicit during his evangelistic Sunday nights.

This, to me, is a rebuke to many of us in the reformed movement. God’s choosing of men to believe ought never to prevent us from inviting them. The Apostles made this a practice. Although it need not (and should not) look like hand-raising, aisle-walking and magic-prayer praying, it is nevertheless necessary to call people to “repent and believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

It’s no coincidence that these men were at the head of true spiritual revivals: they didn’t simply pray toward these ends, but invited men and women toward them passionately, intelligently, imaginatively and explicitly.

Weekend Java Awards 11.14.2015

Apologetics Award: “If Richard Dawkins is Right” – Bernard Howard ingeniously distills the essential errors of rejecting the accuracy of the gospel writers in a simple, fun virtual dialogue.

Writing Award: “12 Daily Routines of Famous Writers” – This article is packed with incredible, lengthy quotes from some amazing writers on what it takes to get it done. Dive in.

Preaching Award: “4 Reasons Pastor-Theologians Should Read Fiction” – The tie-in to preaching isn’t explicit here, but I think each of these four have relevance to the task of preaching. Also, there are some golden quotes in here from CS Lewis and others you’ll want to mine up.

A Glimpse of Truth Award: “How ‘Peanuts’ Took Faith to Culture” – Communicating the Christian worldview wasn’t just about Linus’s little soliloquy; Shulz was trying to communicate a much broader view of humanity. Fascinating article – take a look.

Fun Award:12 Doomed Facts About the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald” –  Having grown up a Michigander, sitting round the campfire every year as my uncles strummed Gordon Lightfoot’s classic ballads (yes, they memorized the whole 6 minute tune), I’ve always had an attraction to the lore of the Fitzgerald. I still remember my 4th grade teacher Mr. Nippa passionately exhorting us not to fall for the drama of Hollywood’s Titanic (which had just been released…yes when I was in 4th grade): “You want drama? You want mystery? The Titanic is NOTHING compared to the Edmund Fitzgerald!”. Wild eyes and finger raising and all. Click here to find out why.

Theology Award: “Truly Reformed And Catholics” – I so appreciate this article from Mark Jones. Jones loves the puritans and the reformed tradition, but he criticizes the overly narrow view many of us reformed folks take of doctrinal precision. Applause.

Books and Lit Award – “The Amazing Fantastic Incredible Life of Stan Lee” – I expected Stan Lee (comic book creator of Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, etc) to be some hollow, crazed genius with scientific theories out the ears. Actually, he’s pretty down to earth and “wouldn’t recognize a gamma ray if it walked into the room.” This interview is really enjoyable.

Spiritual Life Award:10 Diagnostic Questions for Your Marriage” – This is hard-hitting, but cheerily spirited.

Christianity and Culture Award: “The Ressentiment of Christians” – Trevin Wax demonstrates how North American Christian’s ‘martyr’s mindset’ is actually a very worldly way to look at our culture. Brilliantly done.

Church Leadership Award: “5 Essential Elements of Transformational Small Groups” – Obviously you’ll need to read the book for more in-depth analysis, but I still find these five points very useful.


Introducing 2 New Segments…

Hello All,

First, thank you to all of you who’ve shown your support for Faker’s launch over the last two months. Today’s the last day I’m offering the 50% off discount, or the digital edition for $2.99. You can grab it by going to and typing in the promo code: TGCSPECIAL

Second, I’m announcing two new series for

1. Every Wednesday, I’ll be publishing some brief notes on either preaching or writing. I know a lot of you come to the blog for this, but I normally have too much juice on another topic by Friday afternoon to include my thoughts on communication. So, expect 3 posts next week: Wednesday for Writing/Preaching, Friday for my new series, and Saturdays for the Weekend Java awards.

This would be a satisfying spread for me as a reader, so perhaps you’ll find it satisfying as well.

I’d also like to include an open invite for my Wednesday segment: anyone who preaches or writes regularly is invited to contribute a guest article by e-mailing me at, under the heading, “Guest Post: Title”.

2. Fridays, I’m going to be traveling through Book 1 (not volume 1) of John T McNeill’s version of “Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.” I invite you to join along with me – you’ll need the same translation to read along with me, as I’ll be providing pages references along the way.

But if you don’t want to read along (or can’t afford a $50 translation of Calvin right now, even though it’s the best investment you’ll ever make), I understand. That’s part of the reason I’m doing the series: I want to introduce you to Calvin in a fun, concise and accurate way so a. You’ll at least feel guilty for not reading Calvin, or b. You’ll eventually forget my notes and dive straight in. Honestly though, here’s why I’m writing this:

  • If you’re shy to read Calvin, I want to help you see it’s not that difficult.
  • If you’re against reading Calvin, I want to show you he’s misunderstood.
  • If you love reading Calvin, I want you to stop taking yourself so seriously. 
  • If you’ve read Calvin before, I want you to relive the magic, this time in community.
  • If you’ve always wanted to read Calvin but haven’t gotten around to it, I want to provide some accountability. 

As I’ve been practicing over the last few weeks, I’ve found the Institutes to be surprisingly bloggable. I’ve already written next week’s segment, but I want to give you a chance to read first, as you’ll find it a bit more enjoyable if you do.

So, here’s where we’re going:

Next Week’s Reading: pg. ix-xxiv, including “General Editor’s Preface”, “Editor’s Preface”, and “Translator’s Note”.

Next Week’s Title: “Some Loquacious Thoughts on Translation (Previously Published Under the Heading: This is How We Do).”

Hope that gives you a fair hint at what’s to come…this is not your average cliff notes.

You can grab your copy of McNeill’s translation here at WTS Books or here on 

Future Posts will include:

“15 Curious Facts About John Calvin”

“5 Things Calvin Wants You to Know about Reading Calvin”

“8 Ways Calvin Defended the Reformation”

“3 Calvin Wants You to Know about Knowing God”

…and more.

Weekend Java Awards 11.07.2015

Apologetics Award:C.S. Lewis and Tolkien on the Art of Conversation” – Aside from the infuriatingly inaccurate description of both Lewis and Tolkien’s apologetic conversations and theological convictions (ayeyeyaye) the suggestions here are still gold. The art of apologetic requires the art of long, serious, non-distracted conversation. That’s what this article is about.

Writing Award: “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” – Jenna Brownson talks about why it’s so darned difficult to finish the work. I can relate.

Preaching Award: “Keller, Piper and Coeken on Expository Preaching” – This interview is 5 minutes well-worth your time. It’s always a breath of fresh air to hear preachers simply expressing their love for God’s word.

A Glimpse of Truth Award: “The 20 Year Impact of Braveheart” – This post brought back a wonderful flood of memories as I thought about how this one movie has made such an enormous impact on my own life, as well.

Fun Award:15 Unintentionally Hilarious Christian Pick-up Lines” – Single guys and gals, take note…ehem…I mean, take NOT.

Theology Award: “Three Sweet Reasons Christ Loves You” – Mark Jones with some mind-bending and heart-warming theological points about why and how it is that Christ shows us his grace each day.

Books and Lit Award – “Amazon Opens Its First Physical Bookstore” – But what does it all mean!? Should I be crying? Should I be jumping up and down? Should I be packing my bags, and if so, where should I be going!?

Spiritual Life Award: “J.I. Packer In His Own Words” – This delightful interview with J.I. Packer is well done and will be an absolute joy for your weekend viewing. Sometimes encountering men and women of godliness is our greatest impetus toward godliness. Especially note the sweet, sincere closing words.

Christianity and Culture Award: “Halloween, Spurgeon and Cigars” – This is about Christians and Halloween, which I don’t really care about, frankly. But I’m in it for the awesomely hilarious and penetrating quote by Charles Spurgeon at the end. Don’t miss it. Hang it up.

Church Leadership Award:A Church Transforming Proverb” – David Murray with a great point about the way we in leadership handle conflict…and the way we encourage those in our churches to do the same.

Faker Picture

Get My Book “Faker” for 50% off or $2.99 for 5 DAYS ONLY.

Hello Dear Readers,

I’m very excited and honored by the fact that The Gospel Coalition has featured my book, “Faker”, at their site. But I’m even more excited that I get to offer you all a long promised discount. From now until next Wednesday, The Good Book Company has agreed to offer all readers 50% off hard copies of “Faker” and $2.99 digital copies.

All you need to do is read through the review and type in the promo code at the bottom. It’s that easy. But the promo only lasts until next Wednesday, and is already out of stock, so grab it while you can!

Here’s an excerpt and the link:

“In his book Faker: How to Live for Real When You’re Tempted to Fake It, McDonald tackles the core issues of identity and being real. He does so in a way that’s approachable for your average preteen to early college-age youth. It’s worth noting here that Faker succeeds in part because of the overall aesthetic.

From design to pop culture references to personal examples from life to writing style, McDonald and the team at The Good Book Company have put together a terrific contextualized apologetic for young people. And there’s a balanced mix of pop culture contextualization with deep theological truths like propitiation, justification, resurrection, and new creation.

For example, as he introduces the doctrine of propitiation, McDonald quips: “Propla-whoozee-whats-it!? Nick, you’re being a nerd again” (46). This kind of humor runs throughout and works as a kind of a release valve for those who might feel the pressure of not being familiar with certain theological terms. That’s why Faker works well.”

Read the whole thing and grab the promo code here. And once you’ve done that, would you share the link on social media?

Thanks team.



Weekend Java Awards 10.31.15

Apologetics Award: “Why ‘God’s Not Dead’ Resonated…And What it Got Wrong” – Some of you know that this year, I’m pursuing ordination in the PCA in order to do full time campus ministry through Reformed University Fellowship. This article is why.

Writing Award: “Eradicating Academic Writing” – On the curse of knowledge, and why writing things simply actually makes you sound smarter.

Preaching Award: “5 Ways to Deepen Your Preaching” – A fantastic collection of thoughts from Gavin Ortlund. I appreciate especially the humble admission that we need not show off our pedigrees in preaching…from a guy who has a better pedigree than me!

A Glimpse of Truth Award: “Secular Norway is Obsessed with Ghosts” – The NY Times with a fascinating article on a culture that tried to be secular…but can’t: “God is out but spirits and ghosts are filling the vacuum.” That’s an important line.

Fun Award:Swing Dancer’s Dance to Hip-Hop, and Vice Versa” – This strangely and awesomely works…and it’s very fun to watch.

Theology Award: “A Fundamentalists/Liberal Interpretation of Scripture” – Rishmawy nicely distills the #1 lesson I learned at seminary: fundamentalists read the Bible as though they have no cultural/spiritual bias. Liberals read it as though they only have a cultural/spiritual bias. Dig in.

Books and Lit Award – “The Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2015” – Enjoy some cute and curious illustrations from this year’s winners.

Spiritual Life Award: “Major Obstacles to Forgiveness” – This is psychologically very helpful – the reason we don’t forgive is, in part, because we know what that will communicate to others around us. Ouch.

Christianity and Culture Award: “Secularization Falsified” – A fascinating, globally informed and academically astute analysis by Boston professor Peter Berger on what we mean by ‘secularization’ in America. As Inigo Montoya wisely said: “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Church Leadership Award: “One Word that Defines Eldership” – Andrew Wilson with a fantastic article on the one word that defines eldership/pastoring/teaching in the New Testament. Click here to find out what it is.


How the Bible Works: Genesis 1-3

I’m currently team-teaching a series for youth on “How the Bible Works”. I was struggling to find a resource that did everything I wanted it to do (when does one?), so I put together some teaching packets that I plan to use and re-use in the future. This week, we’re focusing on how to read Genesis 1-3.

Those familiar with covenant theology will recognize the “W’s” as the basic Suzerian Treaty covenantal format. The P’s are God’s promises that continue through every covenant, and are fulfilled finally through Christ. I try to draw that out, and show how we can read each epoch of redemptive history in that light. My belief is that the most reliable way to see Christ in the Old Testament is to see the connections between the covenants…this keeps us clearly connected with God’s actions then and now, and prevents us from ‘stream-of-consciousness’ symbolism.

One more thing: obviously, this is meant as an introduction, not an argument. For those who don’t subscribe to covenant theology, this will give you a clear picture of the pattern covenantal theology folks see, but it’s not designed to argue you into the kingdom 😉 Also – beware that I’m my own covenant theologian. For example – many covenant theologians don’t see a ‘universal covenant’ in Genesis 1-3! I think it’s clearly present, as does the Westminster confession…but I also take issue with calling it a ‘covenant of works’, as does Westminster (and therein lies the reason I write my own stuff!)

So, without further adieu, here’s how to read Genesis 1-3 (feel free to print this resource and use it – just copy in the source:

The Universal Covenant: How to Read Genesis 1-3

God’s Work: Grounding God’s Lordship of the covenant in His work: “The Spirit hovered over the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2)

God’s Way: God’s conditions for covenant members: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.” (2:16-17)

God’s Wealth: God’s promised blessings to covenant members.

  1. Place: “And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed” (2:8) …And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
  2. People: “It is not good for man to be alone… (2:18); “Be fruitful and multiply…” (1:28)
  3. Purpose: “Fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (1:28)
  4. PRESENCE: “So God made man in his image; in the image of God he created them.” 1:27

God’s Warning: God’s curses for those who disobey.

  • Death: “If you eat of it, you shall surely die (2:17). Isaiah 24:5 – the world broke the “eternal covenant”.

God’s Witness: The symbol of God’s covenant.

  • The Tree of Life

A Summary of Genesis 1-3

God has established the world, which gives him the right to lordship over it (Revelation 2:11). God did not create man out of His own need, but created out of His grace – His unmerited favor toward mankind. He grants man the highest blessing of His self-revelation, so that in man’s glorification of God he might be satisfied. This covenant focuses on God as Creator – an essential theme in understanding Christ’s ability to redeem us in the future.

In Eden, mankind will enjoy God’s promised blessings: 1. Place. They have received the garden of Eden, and it is for them to enjoy, to care for, and to cultivate. 2. People. Adam is blessed with a wife, Eve, and they are given the divine benediction to be fruitful and multiply, creating the first human community. 3. Purpose: Adam and Eve are called to “subdue” and “have dominion” over the entire earth. This means they are to not only care for creation, but creatively “keep” it, which means continue the work of their Creator by being creators themselves. Note, the biblical narrative begins in a garden, and ends in a city: this is an earth which is finally “cultivated” by mankind (notice the lavish, flourishing garden in its midst (Rev. 22:1-5). 4. PRESENCE: God creates man in His own image, which indicates a special relationship, different from the animals. God proclaims man “very good”, indicating a relationship of special favor. Later, we read of a Christophony, where God “walks through the garden in the cool of the day.” God’s presence (God is omnipresent, so I prefer “favorable presence”, which connects us to the concept behind the concept: God’s grace) is Adam and Eve’s greatest blessing in the garden, and is meant to be chief in our minds when they are expelled (4:16).

Reading Genesis 1-3 as a Story.

Background: Genesis 1-3 is the story of God’s original and ultimate intent for mankind. As we read Genesis 1-3, we are to see the end for which God created the world, not simply some interesting back-story. Here we read of God as Creator – this is the backdrop of everything else in the Biblical story-arch, because God’s act of creation is intimately connected to His lordship.

Tension (Act I): The question posed to us by the narrative is: Will Adam and Eve fulfill God’s purposes in cultivating the world? Or, will they fail to obey God’s command and doom humanity to death?

Climax (Act II): When the serpent comes to Adam and Even in Genesis 3, this is the climax of the story. We are to see this event as an event of cosmic tension, because the serpent threatens to undo Adam and Eve’s obedience, and therefore thwart God’s purposes in the world.

Point of No Return (Act III): Adam and Eve disobey God and obey the serpent. They have revoked the right to the covenant blessings of fruitful marriage (people), fulfilling work (purpose), dominion over the garden and the earth (place), and, above all, the presence of God. Because of this failure, we see a reversal of God’s original blessings: the people that God created would now be filled with strife and competition. The place God created would now be subjected to sin ‘groaning’ under the weight of mankind’s failure. The purpose of God would now be filled with ‘thorns and thistles’ and ‘great pains’. And, ultimately, mankind would be moved from the presence of God – expelled from the goodness of the garden. This makes the story of Genesis 1-3 a tragedy (it has a bad ending, as opposed to a comedy, with a good ending).

Christ’s Fulfillment of Genesis 1-3

Christ’s Work: God initiates the universal covenant and establishes it in His work of Creation. Yet we know that it is “through Christ” and “to Christ” that all things were created that are created. He is the powerful Word through which God created the world. God’s word is not a benign word, but a powerful word, and that is because it is the living and active word of Christ. On the seventh day of creation, the scriptures tell us God ‘rested from His work’. Through Christ, we experience an eternal rest from our own labors and efforts to manufacture righteousness. Through Christ we can experience regeneration, or ‘new creation’, which begins in our hearts and is fulfilled in the resurrection.

Christ’s Way: Though Adam failed to fulfill his covenant obligations, Christ did not. For this reason, scripture calls Christ the ‘second Adam’. Rather than bringing death on mankind, Christ has defeated death by subjecting himself to it. He is then raised, reversing the effects of the fall of man, and fulfilling God’s original call to perfect obedience.

Christ’s Reward: This covenant emphasizes Christ’s Creative work in redemption. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, God’s intention for creation is restored: we are given a place through Christ: not simply a ‘heavenly home’ but a restoration of heaven and earth. He will re-create the world. We are given a people through Christ: the human race under Adam was founded in the marriage between Adam and Eve. But in Christ we see that this marriage was a picture of what was to come – the marriage between Christ and his bride, the church. He creates a new people for Himself,  the fountainhead of the new community of God. Through Christ, our purpose in the world is restored: in the Spirit of God we can work, play, live and eat to the glory of God, as was God’s original intent. Christ is the creative animator of His people. And finally, Christ fulfills the penultimate blessing of God – His presence – by first making us ‘new creations‘ through the Spirit.

Christ’s Warning: Christ is the source of all life, and in Him we live, move and have our being. But if we reject Christ, we too will remain in the universal covenant of death. We remain ‘in Adam’, we will be subject to the eternal death which he brought upon mankind.

Christ’s Witness: The Tree of Life symbolizes the eternal nature of the life God offers His children. In Revelation, we see this tree restored, and the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil removed. Christ, being the creative source of all life, has removed the second once and for all, and established the first.

10 Questions for Applying Genesis 1-3

  1. Do you acknowledge God’s Lordship, founded on His act of creation, over every area of life?
  2. Do you submit to God’s powerful word on a daily and hourly basis?
  3. How do you see yourself in the failure of the first human couple?
  4. Are you viewing marriage as a picture of Christ and the church, or have you fallen for worldly conceptions?
  5. Are you fulfilling God’s missional purpose for your life?
  6. Are you resting (or ‘sabbathing) today in the finished work of Christ?
  7. Do you see all others as made ‘in the image of God’, and treat them as people with inherent dignity?
  8. How do you see the result of Adam’s failure in the world around you?
  9. Do you set your hope on the place Christ has prepared for you (the new heavens and earth), or on earthly plans and schemes?
  10. Have you been made a new creation in Christ? Have you accepted the reversal of the curse, and the defeat of death forever? Have you been restored to God’s favorable presence, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Have you allowed Christ to remove you from Adam’s headship, and restore you to His own?

Weekend Java Awards 10.24.15

Apologetics Award: “The Difference Between Science and Philosophy” – This isn’t written by a Christian, but I so appreciated Physicist Lisa Randall’s acknowledgment of the limits of science: it can tell us “how”, but it can never tell us “why?”

Writing Award:My Writing Education” – I learned quite a bit just by reading this story in the New Yorker about one writer’s journey through the Syracuse MFA program, his first publishing venture, and his time as a creative writing professor. Plenty of gold to be dug.

Preaching Award: “Expositional Preaching” – David Helm’s ‘Expositional Preaching’ is on sale for $3.99. Here’s what Matt Chandler says: “David Helm has written the most helpful, concise, and useful book on expository preaching I have ever read.”

A Glimpse of Truth Award: “Steve Jobs and the Ghosts of Apple’s Past” – A great article by Christ and Pop Culture on how the new movie on Steve Jobs echoes our universal human plight, especially in one eerily truthful quote repeated by Jobs throughout the film: “I’m poorly made.”

Fun Award: “14 Things From Back to the Future That Actually Came True” – In case you missed it, October 21st 2015 was the day Doc and Marty traveled from the 1980’s into the future…here’s what the filmmakers actually got right.

Theology Award: “10 Dangers of Passive Sanctification” – Dr. David Murray with a brilliantly simple analysis of the increasingly popular notion that sanctification simply means ‘believing in our justification.’ That’s certainly part of it – but there’s quite a bit more work involved.

Books and Lit Award – “On the Road with Dante” – Here’s why protestants need to read this great catholic work…and why I should read it again, this time without a one-week deadline!

Spiritual Life Award: “When Depression Descends, Do the Next Thing” – This is one of the best, most practical articles I’ve read on how Christians can deal with depression.

Christianity and Culture Award: “6 Quotes on Religious Conservatism” – Russell Moore with six really great quotes about the difference between good and bad conservatism.

Church Leadership Award:C.S. Lewis on Sunday Worship” – Justin Taylor with some very fascinating quotes and insights into the way C.S. Lewis spoke about Sunday morning worship. You may not agree with everything here, but you also might feel a bit sharpened by the end.

A Micro Book Review: “The Invisible Man” – H.G. Wells is basically my literary junk-food. I love his early 20th century style of writing, and his aesthetic just gets me. This isn’t as profound as Wells’ other works, and more commercial, but Wells seems to be toying with the idea of what humanity would do given unlimited power. It is also, as is Wells’ other work, a bit of a social commentary – the fact of invisibility itself corrupts, take that how you will. The entire novel reads like a modern blockbuster. However, as is common in Wells, the POV is never settled, and so we’re not left knowing many of the characters, or caring about them. Still, I ripped through this one for mere entertainment value.