How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home by Derek Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There is perhaps a no more beautiful single chapter in all of Scripture than chapter 8 of Romans. From declaring our complete lack of condemnation in Christ to the assurance that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ, Paul’s proclamation of the gospel is never clearer.
In the book How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home, seminary professor and pastor Derek Thomas takes us on a journey through that glorious chapter, detailing what Christ’s sacrifice means for us now and for our lives to come. Thomas does a great job of bringing together other passages in Scripture to exposit and support the almost inconceivable truths of the gospel in Romans 8.
Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope by Brian D. McLaren
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Global crisis has rarely been more obvious to the current generation as it is today. Ongoing conflicts in Iraq, Libia, and Afghanistan (even in light of the death of Osama Bin Laden) tell us of the evil that still lives in our world. As a people who long for justice, Christians rightly long for a day when all this will end. Paul compares the ache for peace and justice with the agony of a mother in childbirth. It is something we all share.
In his book, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope, Brian McLaren talks about his own journey in search of something to address the pain and suffering he witnessed firsthand. Convinced that the message of Jesus must have something to say about it, he interviewed people from many different nationalities and poured over the Scriptures, particularly the gospel accounts. Thus, what McLaren does in the book is offer what he describes as a “reframing” of the message of Christ in order to address the world’s ills.
< Hebrews 3:7-4:13 | Hebrews 4:14-5:6 | Hebrews 5:7-10 >
Every day we hear phrases like “have faith” or “leap of faith.” George Michael sang a song called “You Got to Have Faith” about believing that someone is interested in a romantic relationship. Faith is obviously a topic that the Bible addresses often. In the book of Hebrews we read what likely is the most well-known definition in terms of religious belief:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 ESV)
I often hear people talk about faith as being something that we hold without evidence, and sometimes even with evidence to the contrary. Do we read the words “hoped for” and “not seen,” and forget that faith also involves “assurance”? Obviously faith is something about what is “not yet,” but where does this assurance come from? It sounds as if the author of Hebrews is arguing that there is a level of certainty to our faith.
Jesus, transfigured, with Moses and Elijah
< Hebrews 2:5-19 | Hebrews 3:1-6 | Hebrews 3:7-4:13 >
Whenever I have conversations with skeptics about the basics of the Christian faith, I inevitably point out that Christianity is not a system of morals but the story of God’s rescue of his people. The response is typically varied disseminations of puzzlement because, for whatever reason, it is difficult to imagine Christianity not being about thou shalts and thou shalt nots.
“But, Aaron,” I hear from my fellow Christians, “what about the Ten Commandments? What about Jesus’ command to love God above all else and love one another as ourselves?” Indeed there is much in the Bible about right ways of living and doing good deeds. Jesus himself challenges us to “take up [our] cross and follow [him].” Was this the reason that Jesus came? If his intention was to give us a good example to live by then why did he have to die?