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Jesus in Every Book of the Bible

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JESUS THROUGH THE BIBLE BY DR. PHILIP RYKEN

We believe in a Christ-centered Bible. The salvation that was expected in the Old Testament is exhibited in the Gospels and then explained in the rest of the New Testament.

From Genesis we learn that Jesus is the seed of the woman who will crush Satan’s head, and the son of Abraham who will bless all the nations of the earth. From Exodus we learn that Jesus is the Passover Lamb whose blood saves us from the angel of death, and the wilderness tabernacle where God dwells in glory. From Leviticus we learn that He is the atoning sacrifice that takes away our sin. From Numbers we learn that He is the bronze serpent lifted up for everyone who looks to Him in faith. From Deuteronomy we learn that He is the prophet greater than Moses who comes to teach us God’s will.

So much for the Pentateuch.

What do we learn from the historical books? From Joshua we learn that Jesus is our great captain in the fight. From Judges we learn that He is the king who helps us do what is right in God’s eyes, and not our own. From Ruth we learn that Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer. From1 and 2 Samuel we learn that He is our anointed king. From 1 and 2 Kings we learn that He is the glory in the temple. From 1 and 2 Chronicles we learn that He is the Son of David — the rightful king of Judah. From Ezra and Nehemiah we learn that He will restore the city of God. From Esther we learn that He will deliver us from all our enemies.

Then we come to the poetic writings. From Job we learn that Jesus is our living redeemer, who will stand on the earth at the last day. From the Psalms we learn that He is the sweet singer of Israel — the Savior forsaken by God and left to die, yet restored by God to rule the nations. From Proverbs we learn that Jesus is our wisdom. From Ecclesiastes we learn that He alone can give us meaning and purpose. From the Song of Solomon we learn that He is the lover of our souls.

This brings us to the prophets, whose special mission it was to prophesy about the coming of Christ. Isaiah tells that He is the child born of the Virgin, the son given to rule, the shoot from the stump of Jesse, and the servant stricken and afflicted, upon whom God has laid all our iniquity. Jeremiah and Lamentations tell us that Jesus is our comforter in sorrow, the mediator of a new covenant who turns our weeping into songs of joy. Ezekiel tells us that the Spirit of Jesus can breathe life into dry bones and make a heart of stone beat again. Daniel tells us that Jesus is the Son of Man coming in clouds of glory to render justice on the earth.

These are the Major Prophets, but the Minor Prophets also bore witness to Jesus Christ. Hosea prophesied that He would be a faithful husband to His wayward people. Joel prophesied that before He came to judge the nations, Jesus would pour out His Spirit on men and women, Jews and Gentiles, young and old. Amos and Obadiah prophesied that He would restore God’s kingdom. Jonah prophesied that for the sake of the nations, He would be raised on the third day. Micah prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. Nahumprophesied that He would judge the world. Habakkuk prophesied that He would justify those who live by faith. Zephaniah prophesied He would rejoice over His people with singing. Haggai prophesied that He would rebuild God’s temple. Zechariah prophesied that He would come in royal gentleness, riding on a donkey, and that when He did, all God’s people would be holy. Malachi prophesied that before He came, a prophet would turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children.

From Genesis to Malachi, the Old Testament is all about Jesus. But of course it is in the New Testament that Jesus actually comes to save His people. Whereas the Old Testament gives us His background, the New Testament presents His biography.

The gospels give us the good news of salvation through His crucifixion and resurrection. The Gospel of Matthew is that Jesus is the Messiah God promised to Israel. The Gospel of Mark is that He is the suffering servant. The Gospel of Luke is that He is a Savior for everyone, including the poor and the weak. The Gospel of John is that He is the incarnate word, the Son of God, the light of the world, the bread of life, and the only way of salvation. But all the gospels end with the same good news: Jesus died on the cross for sinners and was raised again to give eternal life; anyone who believes in Him will be saved.

Then the New Testament turns its attention to the church, which is still about Jesus because the church is His body. The book of Acts shows how Jesus is working in the church today, through the gospel, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Then come all the letters that were written to the church — letters that tell about Jesus and how to live for Him. In Romans Jesus is righteousness from God for Jews and Gentiles; in 1 and 2 Corinthians He is the one who unifies the church and gives us spiritual gifts for ministry. In Galatians Jesus liberates us from legalism; in Ephesians He is the head of the church; in Philippians He is the joy of our salvation; in Colossians He is the firstborn over all creation. In 1 and 2 Thessalonians Jesus is coming soon to deliver us from this evil age; in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus He shepherds His people; and in Philemon He reconciles brothers who are separated by sin. This is the gospel according to Paul.

Hebrews is an easy one: Jesus is the great high priest who died for sin once and for all on the cross and who sympathizes with us in all our weakness. In the Epistle of James, Jesus helps us to prove our faith by doing good works. In the Epistles of Peter He is our example in suffering. In the Letters of John He is the Lord of love. In Jude He is our Master and Teacher. Last, but not least, comes the book of Revelation, in which Jesus Christ is revealed as the Lamb of God slain for sinners, Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the great Judge over all the earth, and the glorious God of heaven.

The Bible says that in Jesus “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17) and this is as true of the Bible as it is of anything else. Jesus holds the whole Bible together. From Genesis to Revelation, the Word of God is all about Jesus, and therefore it has the power to bring salvation through faith in Him. It is by reading the Bible that we come to know Jesus, and it is by coming to know Jesus that we are saved. This is why we are so committed to God’s Word, why it is the foundation for everything we do, both as a church and as individual Christians.

We love the Word because it brings us to Christ.

Jesus Through the Bible by Philip Graham Ryken. 2005 Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. Revised 2007, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. All rights reserved. All Scripture from English Standard Version of the Bible, unless otherwise noted.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Philip Ryken is the Bible teacher on the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals’ weekly radio broadcast, Every Last Word, and is a member of the Alliance Council. Dr. Ryken also serves as president of Wheaton College. He was educated at Wheaton College (IL), Westminster Theological Seminary (PA), and the University of Oxford (UK), from which he received his doctorate in historical theology. He is the author or editor of more than 20 books, including Written in Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis and He Speaks to Me Everywhere: Meditations on Christianity and Culture.

 

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The Gospel Brings About Reformation By Dr. Philip Ryken

Series: On This Day in Christian History

 Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms – April 17, 1521 – By *Dr. Philip Ryken

It is customary to date the beginning of the Protestant Reformation to October 31, 1517, the day on which a young German monk and Bible scholar named Martin Luther nailed his famous “Ninety-five Theses” to the door of Wittenburg.

Luther’s document attacked the common Roman Catholic practice of allowing people to reduce the punishment for their sin by buying indulgences. His “ninety-five-Theses” also gave the first inkling of his major personal and theological breakthrough: the doctrine of justification by faith alone (If you’re not familiar with them, I have posted Luther’s 95 Theses on this website under the Category Church History).

Luther needed a breakthrough because he had long been troubled by his sins. How could an unrighteous man like himself serve a righteous God? As he later wrote:

“Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God” (Luther’s Works, eds. Jaroslav Pelikan [vols. 1-30] and Helmut T. Lehmann [vols. 31-55], Minneapolis: Fortress and Concordia, 1955-76, 34:336-37).

What especially troubled Luther was Paul’s announcement at the beginning of his epistle to Romans: “In the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last” (Rom. 1:17). This verse was a terror to Luther because the only righteousness he ever heard of was the kind that destroyed sinners like himself.

Then Luther had his breakthrough:

At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’” There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which a merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “He who’s faith is righteous shall live.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates (Luther’s Works, 34:336-37).

That was the beginning of the Reformation, but only the beginning. Luther soon attracted the attention of the pope, not so much for his doctrine of justification as for his criticism of the church. But during the next several years it would still have been possible for the church to have been reformed without being divided. It was not until the Diet of Worms (“Diet” here is a meeting – not the process of losing weight) that the break between the Reformers and the Catholics became final, which is why that meeting, which took place on April 17, 1521, was the most significant event in the church history of the sixteenth century.

Luther had been summoned to Worms by the Holy Roman Emperor himself, Charles V. When the Reformer entered the imperial chamber, he found his writings spread out on the table. These were the writings the emperor wanted Luther to recant, declaring publicly that everything he had ever written about the gospel and the church was mistaken.

Luther hardly knew what to say. Some of his works were devotional writings which no one would wish to recant. Others contained criticisms of the Roman Catholic church which no one could deny. Yet Luther was aware that some of his other writings contained harsh criticisms he perhaps ought to recant. But this he would only do on one condition, namely, that someone exposes his errors “by the writings of the prophets and the evangelists.” “Once I have been taught,” Luther went on to say, “I shall be quite ready to renounce every error, and I shall be the first to cast my books into the fire.”

This was hardly the answer the emperor and his counselors were looking for, especially since they did not have the theological expertise to refute Luther themselves. Again they pressed him to repudiate his doctrine. Finally, Luther spoke his famous words:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well-known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. God help me. Amen. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise (For the full account of Luther’s trial, see Luther’s Works 32:103-31).

With these words, Luther staked all his theological claims on the second great principle of the Reformation: Scripture alone (sola scriptura). For the churches of the Reformation, the Bible and the Bible alone was the final authority for Christian faith and practice.

When Luther refused to place the authority of the church on par with the authority of Scripture, he was taking a stand that would end up dividing the church. And rightly so! The church can only be the church when it preaches the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, as is taught in Scripture alone.

The great doctrines of the Reformation are as badly needed today as they were in the sixteenth century. Pope John Paul II announced that would grant an indulgence to anyone who made a pilgrimage to Israel in the year 2000. This is just one example of the way the Roman Catholic Church still encourages its members to pay for their sins by doing good works. For this and many other reasons, the world still needs to hear the voice of Martin Luther, who wrote the following paraphrase of Psalm 130:

From trouble deep I cry to thee,

Lord God, hear thou my crying;

Thy gracious ear, oh, turn to me,

Open it to my sighing.

For if thou mean’st to look upon

The wrong and evil that is done,

Who, Lord, can stand before thee?

With thee counts nothing but grace

To cover all our failing.

The best life cannot win the race,

Good works are unavailing.

Before thee no one glory can,

And so must tremble every man,

And live by thy grace only (Luther’s Works 53:223).

About the Author: *Philip Graham Ryken (D.Phil., University of Oxford) is the 8th president of Wheaton College and, prior to that, served as senior minister at Philadelphia’s historic Tenth Presbyterian Church. He has written several books for Crossway, and has lectured and taught at universities and seminaries worldwide. Dr. Ryken and his wife, Lisa, live in Wheaton and have five children. The article above is adapted from Chapter 41 in his book He Speaks To Me Everywhere, Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2004. Historical details of this article were drawn chiefly from Mark A. Noll, Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997, 151-74; among the best biographies of Martin Luther is Roland H. Bainton, Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, New York: Abingdon, 1950.

*Significant Events on April 17th in Church History:

326: St. Alexander died. He was appointed to the patriarchate of Alexandria instead of Arius, who denied Christ’s divinity. Alexander was kind to Arius, even while supporting Athanasius, the defender of the Trinity.

341: Simeon, bishop of Seleucia, Ktesiphon (located south of Baghdad), was executed for refusing to levy an extra war tax on his church people. He was one of many Persian martyrs.

858: Pope Benedict III died. Emperors Lothaire and Louis II had confirmed Anastasius in his place, but popular protest brought Benedict back.

1640: Robert Torkillus of Sweden became the first Lutheran pastor to arrive in the American colonies when they landed in Delaware.

1713: William Law was suspended from his pulpit for nonconformist views. He is famed as the author of A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life and a later book entitled The Power of the Spirit.

1912: The International Conference of the Negro began. Although not explicitly Christian, out of it came a renewed interest to reach Africa for Christ.

*Adapted from This Day In Christian History, edited by A Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves, Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications.

 

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Book Review: Loving the Way Jesus Loves by Phil Ryken

Jesus’ Loves Like No One Else – Perfectly! 

One of the biggest battles that we all face (if we are honest with ourselves) is that we are incurably selfish, self-absorbed, and idolatrous at the very core of our hearts. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he addresses this core reality that leads to all the problems or symptoms affecting the church due to this foundational problem – a lack of love for God and for one another. Phil Ryken has written a very convicting, and yet practically helpful book that exegetes from the context of 1 Corinthians 13 (Biblical Exegesis) but also walks you through the Gospels (giving a Biblical theology of love) and demonstrates how Jesus exemplifies the genuine love that is being described in Corinthians.

The reason that this book and applying this book and the Bible is so challenging is captured well by Ryken mid-way through the book where he writes:

“Unfortunately, many of our attitudes and actions are exactly the opposite of what they ought to be, and as a result, our hearts are constricted. This is one of the reasons why 1 Corinthians 13 is such a challenge for us. All of the things it tells us that love does are almost impossible for us to do, whereas all of the things it tells us that love never does are things we do all the time. This is because we love ourselves more than we love other people or even God.”

Ryken brilliantly and helpfully shows how Jesus does what we can’t do – love perfectly like Him. He shows how each aspect of love in 1 Corinthians 13 (e.g., patience, kindness, not envious, etc.,) is modeled from the Gospels in the life, death, resurrection, and future coming of Christ and how we can be receivers and reciprocators of this kind of love. Though the book is very convicting, it is also very encouraging because it demonstrates that in the gospel – even when we fail to love like Him – he never fails to love us in the deep ways described in 1 Corinthians 13.

I highly recommend this book in order to come to a deeper understanding of godly love, Christ’s love for us, and how to grow more in your love for God and others. Ryken has given us a Biblical Theology of love manifested in Christ, and reiterated in Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth – something we desperately need to apply in today’s church as well. One of the great features of the book is that it contains a very thorough study guide in the back of the book for discipleship or small group discussion.

*I received a free copy of this book by Crossway Publishers and was not required to write a positive review.

 

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