April 2, 2014

The Hands, Feet, and Fish of the Gospel

I have a guest post today on Mathew Sims' blog, one part of his collected series of devotionals on the resurrection.  You can read it here.

March 28, 2014

CRandE Video Book: The Everlasting Righteousness

I'm currently working through the chapters of Horatius Bonar's little book on justification called The Everlasting Righteousness. These readings are being posted on Vimeo. You can watch them by clicking on the video montage below. I've hosted the text for this book for years on my website. Several years ago, I started audio recordings of the chapters, but the quality was not publicly presentable so I dropped those recordings. The time has come for a fresh attempt.


February 25, 2014

Rob Bowman In Discussions with former Mormon Shawn McCraney

Dear Friends of CRandE and Rob Bowman:  Please be in prayer today for Rob and Shawn McCraney. Rob has shared the following update earlier today. The livestream of the program starts at 8pm MST tonight.

From Rob Bowman on his facebook page: 'Tonight (2/25/14), I will be a guest on the TV program "Heart of the Matter," hosted by Shawn McCraney. Shawn is a former Mormon who became a born-again Christian and now leads an informal church in Salt Lake City. Shawn recently did a couple of programs disparaging the doctrine of the Trinity, in response to which I flew out to Salt Lake City yesterday to meet with him. We talked for four hours yesterday and are planning a similar meeting tomorrow. Tonight I am expecting to answer some questions about the doctrine of the Trinity on his live streaming broadcast: http://hotm.tv/. The situation with Shawn is complicated and difficult for a number of reasons. I would appreciate the prayers of my Christian friends for the program tonight and also my personal conversations with Shawn.'

Edwards On The Good Life, by Strachan & Sweeney $2.49 @ CBD

Edwards On The Good Life (Slightly Imperfect Copy), ony $2.49 at CBD.

Jonathan Edwards on the Good Life explores the dimensions of life as God desires. Using Edwards as a guide, Strachan and Sweeney engage such topics as God's original design for mankind, the effects of sin, the transformation of conversion and more.

February 22, 2014

What is Justification? Robert Traill (1642-1716)

Galatians 2:21

"What is justification? We read much of it in our Bible, and the doctrine of it is reckoned one of the fundamental points of the true Christian religion, and so indeed it is. This grand doctrine, the fountain of our peace, and comfort, and salvation, was wonderfully darkened in the Popish kingdom; and the first light of the reformation, that God was pleased to break up in our forefathers' days, was mainly about this great doctrine. 

Justification is not barely the pardon of sin; it is indeed always inseparable from it, the pardon of sin is a fruit of it, or a part of it. Justification is God's acquitting a man, and freeing him from all attainder; it is God's taking off the attainder that the broken law of God lays upon every sinner. Who is he that shall condemn? It is God that justifies, Rom. 8:33. 

Justification and condemnation are opposites; every one is under condemnation that is not justified; and every justified man is freed from condemnation. Justification is not sanctification; it is an old Popish error, sown in the heads of a great many Protestants to think that justification and sanctification are the same. Justification and sanctification are as far different as these two:—There is a man condemned for high treason against the king by the judge; and the same man is sick of a mortal disease and if he dies not by the hands of the hangman today, he may die of his disease tomorrow: it is the work of the physician to cure the disease, but it is an act of mercy from the king that must save him from the attainder. 

Justification is the acquitting and repealing the law-sentence of condemnation; sanctification is the healing of the disease of sin, that will be our bane except Christ be our physician."
--From a sermon by Robert Traill (1642-1716) on Galatians 2:21

February 21, 2014

From the Archives: The Atonement, Its Meaning and Significance by Leon Morris

Originally published in 2009:

I've spent several hours this month with the late Leon Morris. It has been time well spent. You will typically find high recommendations for his scholarly work The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross. For all of the glowing and deserved recommendations, it is written targeting an education level that most of the church never reaches. Like climbing Everest, you need to bring along theological oxygen bottles to survive the rarefied atmosphere. Recognizing the limiting nature of that work for evangelicals in general, Morris set out to bring the hay down out of the loft so we all might ruminate and benefit from his work. He succeeded.

The Atonement, Its Meaning and Significance is a book about the cross for the rest of us. Morris throws biblical light on the death of Messiah using the lamps of covenant, sacrifice, the Day of Atonement, Passover, redemption, reconciliation, propitiation, and justification. Each lamp has a different hue, emphasizing its own aspect of the atonement. Morris is unapologetic about using a broad palette. Only by using a wide range of biblical language can he paint a rich portrait to help us understand and appreciate the length, breadth, and depth of God's solution to mankind's evil and rebellion.

One chapter stands out for me, not for devotional value, but for the devotion Morris shows in pursuing important concepts. I'm thinking specifically of his chapter on propitiation. C.H. Dodd's efforts to empty the New Testament of God's personal wrath has had a deep impact on the church today. Morris brings the scholarly material to bear in a simplified manner and contributes several helpful insights. In doing so, he contemplates the differing semantics of propitiation v. expiation. Morris makes a strong case that our understanding of the atonement is meaningfully diminished if we omit God's righteous indignation. This one chapter is enough to display the profound insights that Morris developed over years of interaction with Dodd's work.

Morris combines a clear writing style with delightful little glimpses of his own personality. I could almost see him shake his head or chuckle a little under his breath. A couple of times his wry sense of humor rises to mock our foolishness. The book is about 200 pages long. It's helpful. I recommend it for your consideration. Following are some morsels served up to whet your appetite.

"The cross is central to Christianity."

"The witness (to a covenant) was not an independent figure who could speak up and testify to the fact and terms of the covenant. The witness was rather something that served to remind the participants of what they had done."

"Every Christian enters the covenant by faith, and here the references to the covenant with Abraham as of continuing force are important. Abraham is the classic example of faith for the New Testament writers and to be involved in the covenant with Abraham means to live by faith as that patriarch did. Not all the descendants of Abraham were caught up in his covenant with God, and Paul specifically makes the point that in the sense that matters Abraham's children are those who believe, whether they are his physical descendants or not, whether they are circumcised or not. And, of course, a consideration of the place of faith in the covenant calls us to consider the reality of our faith. Without faith, there is no membership in the covenant."

"Ancients like me remember that during the years of the Second World War we were frequently called upon to make sacrifices to assist our country. That meant forgoing comfort and pay rises and it involved making do with inferior substitutes instead of insisting on the superior article; on occasion it meant going without something altogether."

"The worshipper laid his hand on the head of the (sacrificial) animal. The Hebrew verb means something like leaning on the animal. It was a firm contact, not a casual touch. The meaning of this is disputed. Some hold that it meant that the worshipper was identifying himself with the offering. If this is the way of it, the action said, 'This is my sacrifice. This is the animal am offering.' It certainly did this at least. But others think that the action was a symbolic transferral of the sins of the worshipper to the animal, so that when it died it was taking the punishment due to the worshipper for his sins. It was being treated as the sins it bore deserved. They hold that this is the obvious symbolism and that it is supported by the fact that in later times at least there are passages which tell us that, as the worshipper laid his hands on the animal, he confessed his sins. It is not easy to see what the laying on of hands means if there is no symbolic transfer to the animal which was to die of the sins being confessed."

"Nobody who came thoughtfully to God by the way of sacrifice could be in any doubt but that sin was a serious matter. It could not be put aside by a light-hearted wave of the hand but required the shedding of blood."

"The term (redemption) as used in the all-pervasive Greek culture of antiquity had its origin in the practices of warfare. When people went to war in ancient times they lacked the refinements of our modern civilization. They had no atom bombs, no poison gas, no germ warfare. But in their own humble way they did what they could to make life uncomfortable for one another. One of the happy little customs was that, when battle was over, the victors sometimes rode around the battlefield rounding up as many of the vanquished as they could. Then they took them off as slaves. It meant a tidy profit and an increase in the spoils of war, though I guess the new slaves did not like it much."

"The two concepts (propitiation and expiation) are really very different. Propitiation means the turning away of anger; expiation is rather the making amends for a wrong. Propitiation is a personal word; one propitiates a person. Expiation is an impersonal word; one expiates a sin or a crime."

"An important idea in the New Testament is that righteousness may be imputed. There are grounds for imputation in an Old Testament passage, that in which we read, 'Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness'. This presents a problem to some modern people, because we so firmly believe that righteousness is an ethical quality. It is 'being good'. In that sense, it is nonsense to talk about righteousness being imputed. Everyone who aspires to this kind of righteousness must merit it for himself, by right living. It cannot be 'credited' or 'reckoned' or 'imputed' to him other than in some fictitious and fanciful sense. But when we see righteousness as basically legal, as 'right-standing', it is another matter. A standing or status can be conferred. The narrative says that God conferred this status on Abraham because of his faith. Paul uses this as his classic example of justification by faith. Abraham received his 'right-standing' not on account of any meritorious action but simply because he trusted God."

February 20, 2014

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Don Whitney, $5.

A classic book on prayer, Bible study, and other exercises for the health of your soul, only $5 at CBD. Whitney is a favorite author. This is great material for a book study, discipleship group, or adult Bible fellowship.

February 15, 2014

The Pregnancy of Biblical Theology, or Biblical Theology's Children

Biblical Theology* is hot these days. Yes, it has always been present in the shadows of the academy, a specialized discipline with ardent devotees, but rarely glimpsed outside the seminaries except in polemic upheavals of Reformed and Dispensational "dialogue", perhaps more aptly named "mud-slinging" in some cases (in more polite company, "speaking past one another"). However, those previous earthquakes appear to have released at least some of the pent-up pressure on theological tectonic plates, allowing a realignment with much less, shall we say, stress, between the camps.

We are now seeing (in the past twenty years or so) exercise of the discipline of Biblical Theology across a broad range of Evangelicalism. What was a trickle of readily available publications openly engaging in Biblical Theology has become a wide river as books flow from the presses with the subtitle "a Biblical Theology". To be fair, "Gospel Centered" owns the titular heavyweight belt for now, but "Biblical Theology" is hungry and training hard to The Eye of the Tiger.

The energy invested by Christian scholars is beginning to pay off, as we now see popular-level books which quite capably introduce the discipline to a much broader audience, such as What is Biblical Theology by Jim Hamilton and According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy. Should this pregnant moment continue, it will result in birthing new resources for Bible study unlike many current offerings. These new studies, like the lay-level introductions noted here, will impact everyday believers who would never imagine picking up a thousand-page tome on Biblical Theology proper. And yet, in due time, Biblical Theology will have its day in the sun for every believer in the Son.

A few words about a lot of words

The Bible uses a lot of words. Important words. Words which demand real investment of energy to understand. Today we have ready resources at hand which enable deep study of Biblical words. But words alone, or should I say, words considered alone apart from their context, are insufficient to fully understand what is being said. ["Context, context, context" says the voice inside your head.] Beyond individual words, reading and studying words in their context is absolutely essential to understanding what is meant.

Context must be considered on at least three levels: immediate, epochal, and canonical.  For this article, we will focus solely on the first level, immediate, and demonstrate how to remove some present-day hurdles which obscure this context.  Immediate context itself is also at least a three-level discipline, consisting of how a word is used in its sentence, paragraph, and the entire book (as in the single book of the Bible you are reading). For the modern reader, paragraphs are the fundamental context that simply must be kept in view to avoid skewing or misunderstanding a word within a passage. As more and more books in the evangelical sphere introduce, develop, and expand the practice of Biblical Theology, broader concepts of context will gain traction and eventually take hold.

When sand gets in your eye

What gets in the way for you, dear reader,potentially obscuring context as you read your Bible?  [Sidebar: I assume that you do read your Bible. It's kind of a big deal - pretty much the necessary ingredient of this whole exercise.] Answer: verse numbers. Yup, verse numbers. The verse divisions in your Bible are not inspired. While incredibly useful and necessary for group navigation of the Bible, verse numbers can have a subtle, nearly imperceptible impact on your thinking as you read. If I could draw a word picture (using a picture as well), it would sound (and look) something like this. You begin reading chapter 1, verse 1. All is well with the world. We have subject and verb clauses. Everything is clicking along without a hitch. You reach the end of the verse, and your mind goes...

... so you clamber over the fence and begin playing in this wildly different, other-worldly place called "verse 2".

Ok, a bit of hyperbole, I know. But versification does enable us to consider, write about, discuss, study, and claim all sorts of things based on very tiny segments of What God Has Said. When you take a vacation to enjoy the beach, does that mean you enjoy the beach one single grain of sand at a time? Of course not. Yet, through habit and example, versification has given us permission and even goaded us into picking up each grain of biblical sand in the scenic beachfront panorama painted across the entire Bible.

A Small Eye-Wash Station to Clear Your Vision

What can you do today to supplement your regular daily Bible reading which could help you see context in a larger sense? I'm suggesting, for those of you with smartphones and tablet computers, that you setup a Bible reading program with specific settings which remove the numbering of versification. I use and recommend Olive Tree, and have made the following setup changes for the main window text. Basically, set the background and everything not text to match (in this example - Black).

Which will result in the following appearance. Chapter numbers and added subheadings are still visible, but it will give you a cleaner, more continuous text to read, without the need to climb over verse numbers as the words flow on.

Feedback, Please

Give these settings a try for a few weeks, starting with one of the shorter books in the New Testament. I would love to hear back from you, whether the experience is good or bad. Throw your comments onto this post, or email me.


*Biblical Theology - Not a matter of extracting theology from the Bible (all Christian theologies do this), but rather the practice of looking for the over-arching themes of Scripture and unifying the Bible's message across its various historical contexts.

February 12, 2014

Book Sale: Only One Way for less than a buck

Richard Philips edited collection, Only One Way? Reaffirming the Exclusive Truth Claims of Christianity is available @ CBD for $.99.

"Only One Way? guides us unerringly through the contemporary world of religious pluralism and points us to Jesus Christ alone as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Grasping the central truth that the Christian gospel is unintelligible apart from the uniqueness of Christ, these pages expound it in a variety of insightful ways. Here are six scholars and pastors boldly upholding the only kind of Christianity worthy of the name."
Sinclair B. Ferguson, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina
"Although religious pluralism is often treated as a 'postmodern' phenomenon, it has always been the world's most fundamental challenge to the gospel. The authors of this thoughtful work press us, as the apostles did, to stand against the world for the world's sake. Only one way? At a time when many evangelicals don't seem so sure, these writers help us to confidently answer yes!"
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
"There is a battle raging in the world today-it is a battle for truth. And in a day when the god of relativism governs hearts and minds throughout the world, Christians cannot be silent. This timely book calls God's people to action. I am thankful the Lord has raised up faithful men to stand firm and proclaim boldly the truth about God's truth."
Burk Parsons, Copastor, Saint Andrew’s Chapel, Sanford, Florida; Editor, Tabletalk magazine

February 11, 2014

Fred Sanders on the Trinity

 Fred Sanders, Associate Professor, Torrey Honors Institute, Biola University and author of The Deep Things of God, presented several sessions for the EFCA 2014 Theology conference, focusing primarily on the Trinity. The audio and outlines are linked below. 

  • Approaching the Doctrine of the Trinity, pre-conference session (Audio) (Notebook outline)
  • God According to the Gospel, pre-conference session (Audio) (Notebook outline)
  • Tacit Trinitarianism and Q & A, pre-conference session (Audio) (Notebook outline)
  • The Truth and Reality of the Trinity Affects Everything, pre-conference breakout session (Audio)
  • Understanding the Times and Understanding the Places: Theological Localism (Audio) (Notebook outline)

February 8, 2014

Carl Trueman: A Brief History of Trinitarian Thought - John Owen

In my apologetics studies, the Trinity continually surfaces as a critical doctrine, impacting belief and practice in every aspect. Studying the historical background of Christian thought on the Trinity will help you grow in your sense of wonder at the profound nature of the God of Scripture.  Here is an opportunity to be exposed to some of this historical background.

John Owen
John Owen is a very important theologian in the history of the church. In the following link, Historical Theology Prof Carl Trueman explains the impact that Owen has had on understanding the nature of our Triune God. 

Click here to listen to Reformed Forum - Christ the Center

Carl Trueman
Trueman specifically highlights the contribution of Owen to Trinitarian theology and practice with his emphasis on the believer’s communion with each person of the Godhead and Owen’s understanding of the Holy Spirit as the bond of communion and communication between the divine and human natures of the one person of Jesus Christ. Listeners will go away from this episode with a renewed appreciation for the importance of understanding the God of Scripture as Triune.

February 7, 2014

Words of Wisdom

"At every moment, sin is wired to destroy. ...  sin can be far more subtle in its destructive intentions than a slashing claw or crushing jaws. Sin regularly assaults us, though we often fail to notice. Sin knows us well and quietly gnaws away at our faith and affections. We can therefore never be tolerant or open-minded about our sin. We are called to aggressively hate our sin—to despise it, reject it, deplore it, starve it, and make every effort to kill it."

--Hedges, Brian G.; Christ Formed in You (p. 132).

February 1, 2014

A Southern Baptist Hot-Topic Has Become a Boil Fit for Lancing

You can usually count on SBCers to rattle sabers with one another fairly regularly. When it comes to Ergun Caner, the rattle has become a din that is spilling out into the Baptist and Evangelical streets.  See this open
letter by an unaffiliated Baptist pastor calling for the issue to be publicly and openly investigated, reported, and dealt with appropriately considering the actions of both sides of the issue. Most importantly, this controversy extends beyond Brewton-Parker College, the SBC, and even Evangelicalism broadly. This is a matter of the reputation of the church of Christ and thus of Christ Himself.

An Open Letter to SBC Friends

January 23, 2014

From The Archives: Of Evangelicals, Bibles, and Blogs

Originally published here in 2008.

"Do you still read your Bible?"

Brothers and Sisters,
Do you? Why would I ask such a question? There are so many influences that impact our daily habits. We can't and won't explore all of them in this small space, but there is one that we can touch on today.

For the last five years there has been an explosion of blogs on the net. While most are personal in nature and intended for family and friends, their use continues to evolve. Blogs are not simply about the summer trip to the Spam Museum anymore. Blogging is increasingly used as a publishing means for social and religious commentary, shared in relatively brief snippets. Twenty years ago, there was no means for 'everyman' to publish their thoughts to a worldwide audience. Not so now. Blogs give a platform to every opinion and viewpoint under the sun.

Certainly this mish-mash of hoi polloi writing has its low points, inane ramblings, and downright nastiness. If you watch where you step and exercise a little discrimination in your reading, you can find hundreds of helpful weblogs. But you already know this. In fact, I'm willing to bet you watch numerous blogs which you find interesting, informative, or challenging.

What does this have to do with reading your Bible? Well... do you? You know... actually read your Bible anymore? Or have Christian blogs taken the place of regular Bible reading in your everyday life?

Oh, I know. It's not like you deliberately set out to abandon daily, regular, habitual feeding on God's Word. And after all, you're spending that time reading Christian blogs that talk about, explore, and apply the Bible; right? I'm sure it was never your intent to let your Bible gather dust. There is so much good information, teaching, instruction, and reflection out there. It's all so interesting. But at what cost, dear friends? Are we using wisdom when we pour our lives into endless reading of commentary on the Bible instead of reading the Bible itself and learning directly from the Master?

"Do you still read your Bible?"

Are you convicted by the question? If you are, here are a few suggestions that might help.

  • We must realize that, while God does call pastors, teachers, and theologians to serve the church, there is no command that we must read everything that every good and godly writer has to say. In fact, it is impossible to do so.
  • We must realize that blog posts take inordinantly more time to read than we account for. This is akin to the old timewarp phrase resulting in multiple hours spent at your computer, "I just need to check my email." Yeah, right. Like we just need to throw away a year of our life.
  • We must realize that the internet and blogs are a relatively recent development and we are not conscious of the invasive and dominating impact they are having on our lives. There has not yet been a broad and intentional development of good and right use of them in everyday life. There are indications that more people are starting to acknowledge these personal challenges raised by the new media.
  • Pare down your blog 'watch list' to a handful. Stop trying to be omniscient or Solomon in the breadth of your knowledge. You can't be, and you're not.
  • Finally, put down the mouse and go read your Bible today.

December 5, 2013

Christ The Door of Heaven

"Oh, what a mercy that you are not already in hell, and that there is a door open to you into heaven! That door is Christ. "I Am the Door." Cease striving to enter heaven by the door of your good works and religious duties; by the merits and intercessions of men, of saints, or angels. There is but one door into heaven—faith in the Savior, who died for sinners on the cross, and whose blood and righteousness supply all the merit God requires, or man can bring. Jesus came to save sinners—saves them now, saves them to the uttermost, saves there freely and forever. Why not you?"
--Octavius Winslow, Our God 

December 3, 2013

Twitter Tuesday

 Zebulon Carpenter(@ResurrectedZeb)One of the most arrogant things I can think of is for a Christian to believe that he *could* lose his salvation, but hasn't.

Kevin DeYoung(@RevKevDeYoung)Being bold does not mean you say everything that can be said the first time you have an opportunity to say anything.

Nathan Finn(@nathanafinn)Why one bright seminarian opted not to pursue a Ph.D. Worth pondering if you are considering Ph.D. studies. http://t.co/pn5TTGmwc3

November 30, 2013

Risky Gospel: A Book Review

A Great Book for the Millenial Generation

Owen Strachan's book, Risky Gospel, is written for a generation in the eye of today's cultural hurricane. They are floating unattached to needed mooring points, being blown out to sea by the gale, all the while thinking it is merely a nice summer breeze to be enjoyed. While Strachan does call for unsettling risk in living out the gospel every day, it is not the kind of risk we hear from other authors. Instead of calling for "wild-eyed, John the baptist in camel hair clothes gnawing on locusts" radicalism, the author raises visibility to such radical ideas as living a faithful Christian life in obscurity while loving those around you through self-sacrificing service.

Risky Gospel's focus audience is a few years removed from where I'm at in life.  It is strongly oriented towards the 30ish-and-under crowd. The life-choices Strachan explores are not what most empty-nesters, retirees, or senior-citizen-saints are considering. Nonetheless, for its intended audience, I see the author stretching in many ways to try to bring reality as it is and Christian life as it should be into view for the millenials. I found many surprising word-hooks that should find traction with a disconnected, vaguely-committed generation.  For example:

"A Christian is not some prettified spiritual contestant in the great pageant of Who Can Look the Most Religious."

"John Owen, a Puritan teacher who wore one of those killer white wigs,..."

"Life as many evangelicals approach it isn't supposed to be scary. ... We want the Jesus of our best life now to give us a blanket and some hot cocoa, not send us out in a fearsome world."

"We can see where we should be. We just don't really have the oomph, the spiritual horsepower, to get there."

But Discipline Takes So Much... Well... Discipline

In describing hurdles to discipline, Strachan's somewhat sardonic sense of humor is on display:

"I remember the first time I tried to be disciplined in prayer. Maybe you had a similar experience. I saw that I needed to devote myself to prayer, so I set out to pray for half an hour. Target: set. Locked and loaded, I launched in.
 "I prayed up a storm. Everything I could think of. The wind howled; the earth shook. Moses and the saints interrupted their heavenly discussions to peer down through the filmy clouds at this fledgling mystic. This was serious prayer.
 "As I wound to a close, I let my words trail off. A prayer warrior had been forged. A lifetime of supplication had begun. I looked at the clock with a sense of pietistic triumph...
"... and saw that exactly nine minutes had elapsed. And--wince--my knees hurt from kneeling."

Watch Where You Step

The author isn't afraid to scatter some sanctification landmines across the countryside. He skewers the oft-repeated mantra, "I lack discipline." Instead, Strachan rightly diagnoses our heroic, olympian, mis-directed discipline.  He writes:

"We have discipline, all right: discipline for hedonism, self-satisfaction, pleasure.
 "Call it self-driven discipline.
 "Our favorite TV shows? You couldn't make us miss that must-watch reality program on fashion if you stole all five of the remotes it takes to DVR them. Our fantasy football league? We conduct more research on who to draft in round seven than paralegals working on billion-dollar settlements. Going to sports events or concerts of the artists we love? Of course we can postpone our studying or call in sick for work. You only live once, right? Buying the latest offerings from the technology gods? We'll wear the same clothes for a month if it means we can access the cloud whenever we want. Getting the coffee and treats we want? You couldn't stop us from that Starbucks run if you personally took hold hold of the wind, the rain, and the snow. Nothing keeps us from our $4.50 coffee--truly nothing.
 "You know what these patterns show us? You and I are serious about what we want to be serious about."

Can Risky Gospel Christians Make Plans?

Risky Gospel hits on many areas of life, and some very specific challenges within the evangelical world. For example, many of our young people are fearful to embark on an active faith because they don't have any solid footing biblically to stand on. More specifically, many are confused on how to turn faith into any specific concrete action due to a flavor of mysticism at work in the evangelical world. Waiting to hear "the still small voice", a profound paralysis strikes our young people because they aren't sure if they are hearing anything. Strachan writes:
"You may have been trained as many believers are in mystical, fearful Christianity. If so, the Bible has great news for you. Provided you are saturating your mind and your prayers with biblical wisdom in a Romans 12:1-2 sense--such that your heart and mind are being transformed by Scripture--it's appropriate to strategize, and plan, and then to act."

Could Ricky Gospel Launch You To a New Life?

Yes. It is worth reading, considering, learning from. The author gives wise counsel, settles a few old debts and doubts, and keeps his eyes on the cross of Christ while moving towards it. I believe this book will prove to be a cornerstone work for the Millenial generation. To give a compliment that is truly a compliment, Strachan has written an impacting work akin to Jerry Bridges' Pursuit of Holiness/Practice of Godliness for this generation. Risky Gospel is set on the bedrock of the cross-work of Christ and the real freedom that results from the concerted effort of the Trinitarian God in saving all who would come to Him. I leave you with the following extended quote to demonstrate Strachan's commitment to the gospel as the bedrock of Christian freedom, upon which every encouragement to risk is built.

"Jesus triumphed over the grave, much to the shock of his followers. This is not an abstract fact, though. It's not a magnet for your refrigerator, a key chain for your pocket. With the defeat of sin at the cross, the defeat of death through the resurrection means that now we can live righteous lives.
"This is a bonfire in your heart.
"The gospel message of Jesus' saving work offers us the power to risk everything for him, and gain everything in him. When we come to Jesus, we are not merely punched through to the afterlife, though. We are redeemed--all of us. Heart, soul, and mind. The old has passed away. The new has come. This is precisely what Paul tells us: "From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation" (II Cor. 5:16-18).
"This passage is foundational for bold spirituality. If you're going to pursue the Lord with zeal each day, you need to know the core DNA of your faith. Here it is. Bullet, meet powder. You are not a miserable wretch. You are not 50 percent saved/50 percent wicked. You are in Christ, and you are a "new creation." The old is gone. The new is here.
"This isn't your work or mine. God has done this through Christ. On the cross, Jesus bore our sin; through the cross, we gained his righteous standing. This is what his reconciliation means for us. We're no longer outcasts. We're reconciled to God. This is our fundamental identity.
"God loves us. We are his."