A Most Offensive Bible Verse

I recently came across what I think must be one of the most politically incorrect verses in Scripture:

“The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a youth left to himself brings shame to his mother.” — Prov. 29:15

Every element of this verse is offensive to modern sensibilities: 1) the rod of correction; 2) the need to impart wisdom (especially by painful correction); 3) the folly of letting a child do things his own way; 4) the reality of shame; 5) and—particularly—the idea of an unruly child bringing shame on a parent.

Totally offensive, right? And yet, remember, this is inspired Scripture.

Is Your Faith a Political Threat?

So it turns out that Christian convictions actually do matter in and affect the public square. The world rightly sees the church as dangerous. The Christian faith is a political threat. Not quite in the sense that an invading army is a threat to another country… but in the sense of a herald announcing the arrival of the king coming in judgment… in the sense of a community of citizens sojourning in a foreign land who are fiercely loyal to their king… in the sense of an embassy representing and proclaiming the rights of its coming king over all nations.

There are two groups of people who truly understand that threat of Christianity: those who are persecuted because of their Christian convictions, and those who do the persecuting.

Here is yet one more example of the world’s recognition of the truly dangerous nature of Christianity. Dutch authorities are investigating a number of pastors who signed the Nashville Statement on sexuality. They are threatening criminal charges against these pastors for signing an “anti-gay” Christian confession. (See the article here.)

Unfortunately, Denny Burk’s response and commentary on the subject appears a little soft. He seems to imply that the Dutch authorities shouldn’t feel so threatened by the Nashville Statement. He seems surprised that Dutch authorities care so much about “what is essentially a confessional statement.”

The problem, of course, is in the failure to recognize the public and political significance of Christian confessions. When those Dutch pastors signed their names to the Nashville Statement, they were declaring that their highest allegiance is to Christ, not to the Netherlands. Of course, the fact that they are baptized Christians ought to be enough to make that clear, but that’s not often the case anymore. The signing of a public statement articulating biblical morality (particularly one that has entered into the political eye to the degree that sexuality has) is simply another clear message to the nations that we serve a higher sovereign—we serve a king who demands the allegiance of all nations.

And as our allegiance to Christ increasingly comes into conflict with our ability to obey our earthly rulers, we need to be prepared to say with the apostles, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

To read more about the prophetic and political function of the church, I would recommend the book that shaped much of my thinking in this area: Political Church: The Local Assembly as Embassy of Christ’s Rule. In that work, Leeman writes this:

Churches do not need to take up arms against the state in order to pose a threat to the state; they only need to oppose the gods upon which a nation’s political and economic institutions depend.

And, while the Nashville Statement is commendable, I would rather recommend the Fortified Nashville Statement as an even more faithful and sound articulation of the biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality.

“Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” — 1 Peter 4:19

Podles on Honor

In light of my recent posts on honor, here and here, discussing the nature of honor and the importance of seeking honor for and from God, you may be interested in the talk Lee Podles’ gave at the 2018 Touchstone conference. You have to be a subscriber to Touchstone to access the session right now. But that’s also well worth your while. Here it is: “Honorable Men & the Honor of God: The Centrality of Honor in Masculinity & Christianity.”

I’d also commend to you C.R. Wiley’s session on piety from the same conference.

And to learn even more about the honor culture of the New Testament, why it matters for reading our Bibles, and why it’s a shame we’ve lost so much of that culture and understanding, I highly recommend this fascinating work by David de Silva: Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture.

The Thing About Thankfulness

Most of us look forward to this holiday—a day on which we eat good food, enjoy time with family and friends, and perhaps watch some football. And some of us will probably try to set aside at least a little time—perhaps a few seconds of thought dispersed throughout the day—to thank the Lord.

As we celebrate this beloved holiday, it may be helpful to be reminded of a couple of things about thankfulness.

First, that thankfulness—that is, not just the giving of thanks, but the affection of thankfulness itself: gratitude—is always a response of humble appreciation for grace. Gratitude is a response to grace. Not only is it a response, but it is the response; it’s the only appropriate response; it’s the proper response to grace. As such, gratitude is self-effacing. It requires humility to be grateful because it requires acknowledging the fact that I’ve received something that I didn’t deserve, and that the giver didn’t have to give—it was unmerited favor. It was grace.

There are three potential responses to grace: guilt, greed, or gratitude. And the proper response to grace is always gratitude.

The second thing to remember about gratitude is that it’s a humble appreciation of the gracious gift of a giver. You can’t actually be thankful with no gracious giver to whom to be thankful. You can’t have ambiguous feelings of gratitude toward no one in particular. Of course, we can be happy or satisfied with something we have; but without a recognition of the one who gave it, there is no true gratitude. Gratitude requires a personal object.

So gratitude then, in relation to God, is an affection of joy and appreciation directed toward God for who He is and what He’s done for us.

God says in Psalm 50:23, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.” In fact, the affection most associated in Scripture with worship is actually something less flashy, less viscerally intense, and less directly connected to particular feelings, than we tend to think; the affection most associated in the Bible with worship is thanksgiving.

As the author of Hebrews says,

“Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”


Would you be willing to support our work and help us deliver more regular content? Please consider giving a one-time donation through PayPal with this link, or become a regular supporter through Patreon with this link and get access to more content each month!

How to Start Building Your Book Collection

So you want to start building your library, but you’re not sure where to start. I’ve often spoken with folks who wish to dig deeper into the Christian faith, but then find that there are just too many books to choose from—and it’s hard to tell what’s reliable anyway. The proverbial flooded market can certainly be overwhelming—especially when you want solid, trustworthy resources, not just whatever happens to be on TGC’s top 20 list.

So, here’s another list of recommended books!

I’ve started compiling a list of books that would serve well as a starting point for a basic Christian library. And as always, recommending a book does not mean that I necessarily agree with all of its content. Rather, I think these are books which are accessible, solid, and particularly beneficial in their various categories. If you’re interested in learning more and getting serious about the Christian faith and way of life, I recommend starting here. I’ll explain why I give these specific recommendations in another post.

I’d also love to hear about any other books you’ve found to be an essential introduction in a particular area.


Study Bibles

HCSB Study Bible

Ryrie Study Bible

How to Study the Bible

Grasping God’s Word, by Duvall and Hays

Basic Bible Interpretation, by Roy Zuck

An Introduction to Theology

Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God, by Bruce Ware

Systematic Theology, by Norman Geisler

He Will Reign Forever: A Biblical Theology of the Kingdom, by Michael Vlach

Understanding End Times Prophecy, by Paul Benware

On Living the Christian Life

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World, by Michael Horton

Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness, by Ed Welch

When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man, by Ed Welch

Respectable Sins, by Jerry Bridges

The Pursuit of Holiness, by Jerry Bridges

Anger, Anxiety and Fear: A Biblical Perspective, by Stuart Scott

Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace, by Heath Lambert

On Marriage and Family

Her Hand in Marriage: Biblical Courtship in the Modern World, by Douglas Wilson

Reforming Marriage, by Douglas Wilson

Building a Godly Home, by William Gouge

Why Children Matter, by Douglas and Nancy Wilson

Future Men: Raising Boys to Fight Giants, by Douglas Wilson

For Men:

Federal Husband, by Douglas Wilson

Man of the House, by C.R. Wiley

The Exemplary Husband, by Stuart Scott

For Women:

Why Isn’t a Pretty Girl Like You Married? And Other Useful Comments, by Nancy Wilson

The Fruit of Her Hands: Respect and the Christian Woman, by Nancy Wilson

The Excellent Wife, by Martha Peace

Praise Her in the Gates: The Calling of Christian Motherhood, by Nancy Wilson

The Silver Lining: A Practical Guide for Grandmothers, by Nancy Wilson

On Salvation

Free Grace Theology on Trial, by Anthony Badger

Freely by His Grace, by Hixson, Whitmire, and Zuck

Grace, Salvation, and Discipleship: How to Understand Some Difficult Bible Passages, by Charles Bing

On the Life of Christ

The Words and Works of Jesus Christ, by J. Dwight Pentecost

On the Holy Spirit

The New Covenant Ministry of the Holy Spirit, by Larry Pettegrew

Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship, by John MacArthur

On the Church

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, by Mark Dever

Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus, by Jonathan Leeman

Going Public, by Bobby Jamieson

On Ethics

An Introduction to Biblical Ethics, by Robertson McQuilkin and Paul Copan

Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning, by Wayne Grudem

Devotionals

Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers from Banner of Truth

Morning and Evening, a devotional by Charles Spurgeon

The Puritans: Daily Readings edited by Randall Pederson

Psalms for Trials: Meditations on Praying the Psalms, by Lindsey Tollefson

Always in God’s Hands: Day by Day in the Company of Jonathan Edwards, by Owen Strachan

New Morning Mercies, by Paul David Tripp

Virtuous: A Study for Ladies of Every Age, by Nancy Wilson

Learning Contentment: A Study for Ladies of Every Age, by Nancy Wilson

Hymns to the Living God

Hymns of Grace


 

If you’ve benefited from resources like this one, would you be willing to support our research and help us deliver more regular content? Please consider giving a one-time donation through PayPal with this link, or become a regular supporter through Patreon with this link and get access to more content each month!