A courier for God’s house (Ephesians 6:21-22)

With no Fed Ex or postal service in the first century, letters like the one we’ve been reading (Ephesians) were carried by hand. That’s why we’re introduced to Tychicus, the courier tasked with personally delivering this letter. Continue reading “A courier for God’s house (Ephesians 6:21-22)”

Staying in touch with our king (Ephesians 6:18-20)

Got each other’s back?

Communication matters. Did you see Sam Mendes’ movie, 1917? Two soldiers were tasked with carrying a message across enemy lines, a message that could save the lives of many compatriots. Technology has come a long way in the last 100 years, but the movie reminds us how crucial communication is for saving lives. Continue reading “Staying in touch with our king (Ephesians 6:18-20)”

Abraham and the obstacles to God’s kingdom (podcast) (Genesis 12–25)

Abraham lived his entire life for the kingdom of God.

This podcast (28 minutes) surveys Genesis 12–25 as the foundational story of the kingdom of God.

God founded his human rescue project in Abraham and Sarah. They left the region of the Babel-builders to establish a nation under God — a representative kingdom of God among the nations. The obstacles they faced are the obstacles that threaten God’s kingdom project. They trusted God, even though restoring God’s kingdom would take many lifetimes.

When I first blogged these thoughts four years ago, it became my most popular post (downloaded more than 10,000 times). Enjoy this podcast version.

 


Previous podcast: The world is God’s kingdom (Gen. 1–11)

On grace: John Barclay, “Paul and the Gift” (book review)

“A gift can be unconditioned (free of prior conditions regarding the recipient) without also being unconditional (free of expectations that the recipient will offer some ‘return’).”

The word “grace” encapsulates so much of the gospel, so I was blown away by John Barclay’s masterful study of this word: Paul and the Gift, published by Eerdmans in 2015. It’s big (672 pages), pricey (US $55), and academic, though at the time of this review it was available on Kindle for US $4.50.

If you just want a concise summary, choose Barclay’s Paul and the Power of Grace (Eerdmans, 2020, 200 pages). For me, the larger book was worth the effort. It’s a superb example of how to pursue a word study: I learned as much from his method as his content. Continue reading “On grace: John Barclay, “Paul and the Gift” (book review)”

Christ and the rulers of this world

How does seeking God’s kingdom affect the way we relate to existing rulers?

Some of my conservative friends worry about me. They fear that seeking the kingdom will make me a “leftie,” advocating for social change. They remind me Australia is a great place to live, with a Christian prime minister, who’s doing a good job with the Covid-19 lockdown. Surely, we all need to pray for him and support him as God’s man?

I’ve disappointed my radical friends too. I’m seeking the kingdom, but they don’t see me pushing for social change. They fear if we don’t call out the systemic injustice, nothing will change. They remind me how inhumanely Scott Morrison treated people seeking asylum when he was immigration minister. Surely, we must disrupt the way things are if we are to have a better society, a kingdom of God? Continue reading “Christ and the rulers of this world”

Why doesn’t the Bible condemn bad rulers? (Ephesians 6:12)

The gospel is the history-making proclamation that God’s chosen leader is running the world.

I can’t imagine what it might be like to live through a civil war, where brothers tear each other apart for power. “Civil war” is a euphemism: there’s nothing civil about war.

That’s why Christians must be so careful how we play out the biggest conflict of all time, the battle for who runs the planet. We have a gospel that proclaims the restoration of God’s reign (Ephesians 1:3-14), with God’s anointed on the throne (1:15-23). For the people who’ve been oppressed under evil, that’s liberating news (2:1-10), the end of conflict, the establishment of global peace in God’s Christ (2:11-22). Continue reading “Why doesn’t the Bible condemn bad rulers? (Ephesians 6:12)”

The world is God’s kingdom (podcast) (Genesis 1–11)

If you grew up thinking of the Bible’s opening chapters as a collection of disconnected stories (a creation, a fall, a murder, a flood, a Babel tower), you need to hear this podcast (38 minutes).

The first eleven chapters of Genesis set up the plotline for the Bible’s whole narrative. The intrigue of this story puts a Gresham novel in the shade.

 


Previous podcasts:

For related posts on Genesis 1-11, see the Scripture Index.