My good friend Jason Stellman has some very thought provoking write-ups on contextualization here and here. Contextualization is all about learning to build a bridge from the "real world" into the world of Scripture so that the gospel would become more intelligible to people. Jason is answering this well, so read his blog.

But to add a bit to the discussion, here is something that Lee Strobel wrote a few years back that exposes the abuse of contextualization:
John Stott once said that good preaching begins in the Bible and then builds a bridge to the real world, which I think is true for believers, because they trust the Bible. Often for seekers, however, I find that the reverse works: I begin in the real world, connecting with their needs, and show them that I do understand where they've been and where they are. Based on that, I show the relevance of Scripture. I build a bridge from the real world into the world of Scripture.

Pastors who are obsessed with this approach treat the whole worship service as if we are in New York Square. In a Better Way Michael Horton asks these provoking questions, "Is it possible for the message to remain what it is if we must make it immediately intelligible to those who are currently "strangers and aliens" to it? And if the message if made something other than that gospel which "is the power of God unto salvation," are we doing anybody any favors by trying to make it as inoffensive to and indistinguishable from their present existence "under the sun"?
The real issue here is how we understand Paul's call "to become all things to all people." I contend, along with Jason, Horton and others, that God has already built this bridge for us, from the Word to the hearer, when the God appointed messenger proclaims the crucified body and shed blood of his son. Simplistic? Even worse, it is foolishness--as God calls it. But at least I can rest confident that the excellency of the power belongs to him and not us. Anything else is severely compromised. The results belong to Christ anyway. What think you?


New Bible Study & Church Plant in Gig Harbor/Tacoma, WA Area

For those that live in the Tacoma/ Gig Harbor, WA area: Are you interested in seeing a solid, Confessional Reformed church in your area? There is currently in the early planning stages a Bible study/church plant in Gig Harbor with the goal of establishing a URC church. Since this is still in its infancy we are just trying to gather some rough idea as to how many people would be interested in this work. This is a unique opportunity that the Lord has placed before us and we hope and pray that the field is ready for the harvest on the Kitsap Peninsula.

So if you live near Gig Harbor and this interests you then please send an e-mail to Mark Vander Pol at gigharborreformed@gmail.com or check our blog at gigharborreformed.wordpress.com. If you know somebody that lives close to that location then please forward this information on to them! This group needs to know that you are out there so please contact them!

Abounding Grace Radio

Abounding Grace Daily Broadcasts May 4-8, 2009
Monday May 4, 2009
That We May Know
Tuesday May 5, 2009
That We May Know
Wednesday May 6, 2009
That We May Know
Thursday May 7, 2009
That We May Know
Friday May 8, 2009
Pastors Bredenhof & Gordon-True & False Churches

In Living Color by Danny Hyde

Here are the endorsements:

Danny Hyde has written an excellent piece on a very misunderstood subject. Through effective combination of biblical, theological, and confessional discussions, he has presented the Reformed view of the second commandment winsomely and attractively. He helpfully emphasizes not the negative prohibition of making images of God but the positive facts that God has revealed himself now so generously in Word and Sacrament and will one day reveal himself visibly in the most perfect and authentic way—David VanDrunen, Robert B. Strimple Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics, Westminster Seminary California

In these pages, Danny Hyde argues with great clarity against all images of Jesus as man-made media. He shows that all such images are abominated in Scripture and roundly rejected by the Reformed confessional heritage without exception. Hyde goes on to argue, however, that God does provide us with His “media”—the preaching of His Word and the administration of His sacraments—Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

The Reformed Fellowship has made available the Foreward by Joel Beeke, Table of Contents, and Introduction as a free .pdf here.
Please support this organization that has existed since 1951 as the voice of confessional Reformed orthodoxy among the Christian Reformed Church (and now the United Reformed Churches) by checking out there website here.



I recently acquired a 1641 folio set of John Foxe's Acts and Monuments of the Christian Church--first published in 1563. You probably know this as Foxe's Book of Martyrs. The volume you find in the Christian bookstore is around 6% of the original--a pathetic representation of what originally came in three massive folios. Every major Reformed theologian read Foxe in the late 16th and throughout the 17th centuries. Next to Calvin's Institutes, it was the most influential work of the 16th century. In the same vein as Perkins, here is Foxe on Law and Gospel. Keep in mind this was written around 1560 demonstrating that the law/gospel distinction, with clarity, was alive and well in early Reformed theology.

"As there is nothing more necessary and comfortable for troubled consciences than to be well instructed in the difference between the law and the gospel; so is the church of Rome much to blame in this behalf, because it confounds together those two, being in nature so divers and contrary one from another: as threatenings with promises, things temporal with things eternal, sorrowful things with glad things, death with life, bondage with freedom; teaching the people, that whatsoever the law says, the gospel confirms; and whatsoever the gospel says, the same is agreeable to the law, and so make they no difference between Moses and Christ; save only that Moses (they say) was the giver of the old law, Christ the giver of the new, and a more perfect law. And thus they imagine the gospel to be nothing else but a new law given by Christ, binding to the promises thereof the condition of our doings and deservings, no otherwise than to the old law. And so divide they the whole law after this disctinction; into three parts, to wit, the law of nature, the law of Moses, and the law of Christ. And as for the gospel (they say), it is revealed for no other cause but to show the world more perfect precepts, and counsels, than were in the old law; to the fulfilling whereof they attribute justification. And so they leave the poor consciences of men in perpetual doubt, and induce other manifold errors; bringing people a false opinion of Christ as though he were no a remedy against the law, but came as another Moses to give a new law to the world."

Perkins on LAW & GOSPEL P2--Was Perkins Lutheran?

I cite this simply to show the ignorance of those who claim a law/gospel distinction is only Lutheran and leads to antinomianism. Those who make such charges might want to read the father of Elizabethan Puritanism whose works outsold even that of Calvin three to one. And to my knowledge, Perkins was no Lutheran.

Here is a good statement from Perkins on the third use of the law in his commentary on Matt. 5:18:

"If it be further said that the law itself is abrogated; for that every one that breaks the law is not accursed according to the sentence thereof (Deut. 37:26). Answer. We must know that the law is but one part of God's word, and the gospel another, revealing another part of God's will, besides that which the law made known; for it adds a qualification to the law, moderating the rigor thereof, after this manner: He is accursed (saith the law) that faileth in any commandment, except (saith the gospel) he be reconciled again in Christ, and in him have the pardon of his transgressions. And yet the law remains forever a rule of obedience to every child of God, though he be not bound to bring the same obedience for his justification before God."


Perkins on the Differences Between LAW & GOSPEL

Here is a real gem from Perkins in his commentary on Matthew 5:17:

"That we may further conceive aright the moral law, we must make a difference between it and the gospel. For the gospel is that part of the word which promises righteousness and life everlasting to all that believe in Christ. The difference between them stands especially in five things.

First, the law is natural, and was in man's nature before the fall; but the gospel is spiritual, revealed after the fall, in the covenant of grace.

Second, the law sets forth God's justice, in rigor, without mercy; but the gospel sets out justice and mercy, united in Christ.

Third, the law requires a perfect righteousness within us; but the gospel reveals our acceptance with God by imputed righteousness.

Fourth, the law threatens judgements without mercy, and therefore is called the ministry of condemnation, and of death; but the gospel shows mercy to man's sin, in and by Christ, if we repent and believe.

Last, the law promises life to the worker and doer of it, "Do this and thou shalt live"; but the gospel offers salvation to him that "worketh not but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly"; not considering faith as a work, but as an instrument apprehending Christ by whom we are made righteous.

The church of Rome in a manner confound the law and the gospel, saying that the gospel, which is new law, reveals Christ more clearly than Moses law did which they call the old law. But this is a wicked opinion, which overturnes all religion; being the cause of many gross points in Popery, which could not stand if they would acknowledge a true distinction between the law and the gospel."

Abounding Grace Radio

Abounding Grace Daily Broadcasts April 27-May 1, 2009
Monday April 27, 2009
The Resurrection & the Life
Tuesday April 28, 2009
The Resurrection & the Life
Wednesday April 29, 2009
The Resurrection & the Life
Thursday April 30, 2009
The Great Sex Controversy
Friday May 1, 2009
The Cult of Personality


Abounding Grace Radio

Here are next weeks recordings:

Abounding Grace Daily Broadcasts April 20-24, 2009
Monday April 20, 2009
Life in Two Kingdoms
Tuesday April 21, 2009
Life in Two Kingdoms
Wednesday April 22, 2009
Life in Two Kingdoms
Thursday April 23, 2009
Life in Two Kingdoms
Friday April 24, 2009
Pastors Bredenhof & Gordon Irresistible Grace

Back to the Blog

I apologize for my blog neglect over the past few weeks. We went on vacation, had a classis meeting, moved to a new home, and then I was sick. I am finally back in the mix, so I will start blogging again. More to come.