Bible Quoters or Bible Readers?

I took the click bait when an article by Russell Moore found its way into my inbox. The article that got my attention was entitled, “Have Bible Quoters Replaced Bible Readers?” In the article, he refers to David Nienhuis’s book, A Concise Guide to Reading the New Testament. Speaking of the students in his college New Testament classes, Nienhuis writes that they struggle with the biblical material “because they have been trained to be Bible quoters, not Bible readers.” Nienhuis continues,

They have the capacity to recall a relevant biblical text in support of a particular doctrinal point, or in opposition to a hot spot in the cultural wars, or in hope of emotional support when times get tough. They approach the Bible as a sort of reference book, a collection of useful God-quotes that can be looked up as … Read More »

The Peace of Christ

It wasn’t until my son’s first wrestling match that I realized how intense and physically demanding the sport of wrestling is. It may be the purest expression of competition—two people with no gear engaged with one another for the sole

As Christians, our vocation is the vocation of peace.

purpose of dominating the other. In wrestling there are clear lines. There are winners. And there are losers. There is pain. It’s rough and tough. But more jarring than the physical combat, for me, was what takes place after the match is over. When the time is expired the two wrestlers face each other and shake hands. At first it seems a strange juxtaposition. But it’s not. It’s an important gesture. It’s as if to say, “Good job.” And, “that was a sport, a competition, I don’t hate you, I’m not mad … Read More »

Welcome

Welcome to New Life Presbyterian Church! We are glad you have joined with us to worship our Triune God. Please join us after the service in our fellowship hall and get to know others in our community who call New Life home. If you have any questions about our church—what we believe or why we do the thing we do—please feel free to contact the church.

When you arrive for worship, please take opportunity to prepare yourself for worship and to enter into God’s Divine Service. Silence your cell phone, listen to the prelude, read the Scripture reading for the morning, and join others in prayer and meditation.

Our Worship

Our service is intentionally structured to reflect our belief that worship is God’s service to us, his people. By design, there are three parts to our worship: the Service of Entrance, the Service … Read More »

Overcoming Absence

Last Sunday I found myself back in the state of Michigan to preach at the ordination service of a former intern. I had been there previously in January and it was then that I learned firsthand why people leave that state. However, coming back this time in early June, I came to realize why people stay. When the snow melts it is a remarkably beautiful place.

The text I preached on was Ephesians 4:1-16 – a text which emphasizes the ascension of Jesus into heaven – and I chose it because of the ordination’s close proximity to Ascension Day, just three days prior. I pointed out how Jesus’ ascension into heaven manifests his cosmic authority — that’s what “seated at the right hand of God” means — and how Paul highlights this by quoting Psalm 68, a psalm about God’s utter … Read More »

The Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed is arguably the most famous and important creed in all of Christendom. The 4th century was a tumultuous one, both politically and religiously. At the center of the religious upheaval was a man named Arius, a Presbyter from Alexandria, who taught that Jesus was something less than divine, something different than the Father who alone was God. There was also another religious man who needs mention: Athanasius. Also from Alexandria, Athanasius would later become Bishop of Alexandria and chief defender of the Holy Trinity.

Politically the man that stood at the center was Constantine. After his dramatic victory at the Melvian bridge (312 AD) and his subsequent conversion to Christianity, Constantine became the chief promoter and defender of all things Christian, demonstrated in acts like the Edict of Milan (313 AD) and, perhaps most importantly, the convening of … Read More »

God’s Gracious Call

The five points of Calvinism often go under different names.  Sometimes they are called “The Five Points,” others refer to them as “Biblical Christianity” (Spurgeon), and, of course, sometimes they are described as a TULIP.  Equally common, “Doctrines of Grace” is used to refer to them.  Grace. Grace is an appropriate way to think of these doctrines for at every point they force us back to the gracious plan of God to effect our redemption.  It is by grace we have been saved (Eph. 2:8) and the grace extends back to election and is present today in perseverance.  The whole of the Christian life is by grace.

Even among these doctrines of grace there is one, the I in Tulip, known as Irresistible Grace. When we speak of Irresistible Grace we are thinking specifically of conversion in real time.  The Bible … Read More »

Easter Hope

People say the darnedest things at funerals. Orthodoxy often gives way to sentimentality. The religion of Scripture often takes a back seat to the folk religion of the day – a toxic blend of new-age wackiness, a smattering of Bible verses and a healthy dose of sappy sentimentalism. When this is all mixed together we hear about people floating on clouds and singing with the angels. And, almost always, we hear of the blessings of being delivered from the body.

Much of this stems from trying to make sense about things the Bible really doesn’t talk about. Frankly, apart from a couple of New Testament verses, nothing is said about the intermediate state (Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8) – the time between death and the resurrection of the body. The note the Bible strikes is one emphasizing the final state, the … Read More »

Eastertide

As with many Christmas celebrations, Easter is here today and gone tomorrow. But this is not the way the vast majority of Christians have and will celebrate Easter. Historically and traditionally Easter–similar to Christmas–is an extensive celebration lasting fifty days and has come to be known as the time of Eastertide. Sunday was actually the first Sunday of Easter and there will be seven more after it. For the next seven weeks we will sing pointed songs about the resurrection and begin the service with the Easter refrain: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

While Lent was the 40-day period of fasting, Easter is the 50-day period of feasting. One writer from another generation noted, “Easter Sunday and Christmas Day; the two best days for the stomach (O’ Sullivan, 6 Apr. 1828). Likewise, dating back to the fourth century, the … Read More »

Passion Sunday

Robert Farrar Capon is most certainly correct when he suggests that Jesus’ actions at the beginning of the week of his passion are a “sustained series” or a “chain” of “acted parables.” So, when we read of the Triumphal Entry and of his weeping over Jerusalem and of his turning over tables in the temple and of his cursing the fig tree we are reading actual historical events, but they are actual historical events choreographed for very specific purposes and freighted with theological meaning. And this includes the climatic events of ministry: the Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, and Second Coming. All of these historical events happened—or will happen—but there is more to them than just a happening. Confronted with all of these we are forced to ask: Why? Why did they happen? What is God up to in them? What is … Read More »

The Glory of Regeneration and Adoption

On one occasion Jesus described his religious antagonists as slaves to sin and sons of the devil! Yowzers! That’s one way to get people’s attention. But don’t forget – these aren’t just any people. These are people who never tire telling the world that they are free from sin and that they have Abraham (and by extension God) as their father. Like the tables in the temple, Jesus turns their claims upside down and exposes them for what they really are. Their slavery and sonship will fully manifest itself when they crucify the Lord of glory.

It’s important that we don’t stop there, though. What Jesus says about them is also true of us, apart from our union with Christ. Apart from Christ, we too, are slaves to sin and can only claim the devil as father. Apart from Christ, God will … Read More »