An extension of the wider mercy view of salvation. What you need to know!
Tag: bible truth
NEW BOOK REVIEW: A GOSPEL PRIMER FOR CHRISTIANS BY: Milton Vincent
Learning to see the glories of God’s love
I had recently been looking through my library and found this long forgotten gem of a writing by Milton Vincent. I quickly skimmed through this one and decided that it would be helpful for my son to go through as a part of his schooling.
I was correct thinking that way but incorrect in assuming that this little primer had nothing of value for myself.
I had some free time the other day and saw this book laying on the shelf so I picked it up and read through it. I was happy that I did.
All of 97 pages, this gospel primer was a great source of encouragement, reflection, and motivation for me, an older man, in my walk of faith.
Endorsed by godly men such as John MacArthur, C.J. Mahaney, and Jerry Bridges, who’s own estimates of the primer saw it as a ” small but meaty overview of the gospel,” and a ” practical tool with a powerful effect.” Which can be ” literally life changing.”
As I read through the forward at the beginning of the book I was happy to read that the author wanted his readers to take their time with it. ” This book was written slowly. It savors of a slow cooking.. . Let it’s truths drip down deep.” In other words this book and the truths contained within will be found to be a spiritually useful book!
With that exhortation in mind, I continued. The introduction lays out the main purpose of Milton’s effort: “This book is a handy guide to help Christians experience the gospel more fully by preaching it to themselves each day.”
What a much needed exhortation. We often think the gospel saves, but struggle with knowing what to do with it once we are saved! I appreciate Milton expressing that fact because it truly is meant to be more than a once embraced truth to be converted, it actually is “offered to us every day as a gift that keeps on giving to us everything we need for life and godliness.”
Briefly in the introduction and then with greater detail in part IV, the writer shares how he came to the conclusion that the gospel is a much needed focus in the daily walk of a believer.
The first part of this book contains reasons to rehearse the gospel daily. In fact, he gives thirty- one of them designed to remind the reader of some valuable blessings which the gospel can render in the life of the believer who rehearses the gospel in faith each day.
The second and third parts contain: A Gospel Narrative in both a prose and poetic format. Both formats are written in a way that facilitates memorization and smooth recital of the gospel.
I really enjoyed how Milton wrote everything in sections I -III in the first person (I, my, me), because it helped me relate these truths to myself on a deeper personal level. I think it was very wise of him to do so because the truths he is relating come off the pages then as not only relating to his own experience, but also to the daily heart experience of others who meditate on what God in Christ has done for them as well.
I am thankful that the writer mentions often that this book is only a tool to “get you launched in preaching the gospel to yourself and rehearsing it’s benefits.” It is not meant to be a substitute for the gospel.
In part one he gives the thirty -one reasons to rehearse the gospel daily. Here are just a few headings:
1. The New Testament model
2. My daily need
3. The power of God
4. My daily protection
5. Transformed by glory
6. A cure for distrust
8. Freedom from sins power
11 Loving my brother and sister
12. My inheritance in the Saints
15. Cultivating humility
18. Perspective in trials
26. Hope of heaven
27. Mortifying the flesh with fullness
With each one of these headings the writer opens up how the gospel is affective in our lives in these ways. I also must note that every page has all the scriptures cited in which the truths expressed are located!
Part two offers A Gospel Narrative in prose. I found the layout of this very helpful for my own comprehension and application. He begins with our sin against God than moves forward discussing God’s work on our behalf and the resulting salvation that comes from it.
I personally think this section would be helpful in our prayer time. We can use one or two of these truths to pray different things than we normally might. We can pray biblical thoughts by using the scripture citations on the bottom of the page.
Part three offers A Gospel Narrative in a poetic form. I truly appreciated this section. It read smoothly and was greatly appreciated and encouraging to my soul. This section, like the others, has all the scriptures used on the bottom of the page. Not only the reference, but the verse written out as well!
Part IV ends the book with the authors story behind this book. I appreciated his honesty and transparency in sharing his “backstory.”
In short, most of his life was lived by trying to maintain his justification status through his own works. Then one day, alone with his Bible turned to Romans five, the Lord “stirred my soul,” with the truth of my justified status before God, which led Him into a fuller, more meaningful walk of faith!
I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting, perhaps needing, a richer, fuller, more practical understanding of the gospel, that not only saves but satisfies our deepest longings each and everyday afterwards.
JUST NOT GETTING IT!
BRIEF INTRO: On the heels of the Pharisees testing Jesus and asking for a sign, we find an incident recorded by Mark regarding the disciple’s slowness in understanding spiritual truths that Jesus wanted them to grasp. This is not anything new. We saw this before when Jesus walked on water to their boat after feeding the five thousand (6:45-52). We witnessed it again in (4:13) when they did not understand Christ’s teaching about the seeds being sown.
In our following study, we will face this issue again, and maybe we might be challenged to examine ourselves to see if we are more like the disciples than we’d like to think when it comes to our understanding of spiritual things.
14 And the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them. 15 And He was giving orders to them, saying, “Watch out! Beware of the [a]leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod.” 16 And they began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, *said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet comprehend or understand? Do you still have your heart [b]hardened? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember, 19 when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?” They *said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they *said to Him, “Seven.” 21 And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
FOCUS ONE: Where’s the bread?
14 And the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them. 15 And He was giving orders to them, saying, “Watch out! Beware of the [a]leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod.”
This statement by Jesus is the catalyst for the conversation if you can call it that, that ensues after leaving the district of Dalmanutha. In a rush to leave, they forget to bring some bread for their journey. Only one loaf is found in the boat with them, and you have to wonder if it has become time to point fingers at one another!
It appears odd to us as we think of Jesus, sitting in the boat with them, hearing the conversation evolve over who’s fault it is that they have no bread, and then for Him to say, “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” We can sympathize with them, can’t we? After all, we would be just as mystified as they were at such a statement.
Take notice of the exclamation point after the “watch out!” Such a punctuation mark is used to indicate strong feelings or emphasize. It helps us grasp a sense of Christ’s tone and demeanor as He engaged these men in what really can be considered a ridiculous conversation to be having at the moment.
Jesus fed five thousand plus with only five loaves and two fish (6:34-44). A bit later, He repeats the same miracle with four thousand people (8:1-9). The latter most likely only being a few weeks ago. And yet, they worry about eating!
What is leaven? Why does Jesus mention Herod with the Pharisees?
“A small amount of yeast can affect a large amount of bread dough when they are mixed. Yeast was a common Jewish metaphor for an invisible, persuasive influence. It often, as here, connoted a corrupting influence. In this context the yeast referred to a gradual increase of unbelief. This lay behind the Pharisees request for a sign even though their minds were already made up (8:11-12; 3:6). So it was with Herod (6:14-16;Luke 13:3133). This attitude had affected the whole nation of Israel, and He warned His disciple against it.”
Jesus’ rebuke will be our next focus point. We see it expressed in five penetrating questions that showed their continual lack of understanding.
16 And they began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, *said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet comprehend or understand? Do you still have your heart [b]hardened? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember, 19 when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?” They *said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they *said to Him, “Seven.” 21
FOCUS TWO: Penetrating questions
Christ’s rebuke is not spoken in anger but compassionately because He understands that they are slow to grasp the spiritual realities He seeks to teach them. Over and over again, these men are stuck in the physical and can’t comprehend the spiritual aspects of Christ’s teachings. “Leaven” leads them to think of bread when Jesus wants them to understand the pervasive influence of misunderstanding and dull insensitive hearts!
Jesus doesn’t repeat His previous teachings. Instead, He asks several penetrating questions. Why would He do that? It appears He does it to get them to think critically and come to the correct answer by applying the truths learned.
The questions are penetrating and direct their minds toward recent events in which Jesus revealed in various ways, very clearly, who He was.
“Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread?”
“Do you not yet comprehend or understand?”
“Do you still have your heart [b]hardened?”
“Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear?”
“And do you not remember, 19 when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up? They *said to Him, “Twelve.” 20 “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they *said to Him, “Seven.”
Jesus exhibits excellent patience with these men. His example is one from which we can learn if we have “ears to hear and eyes to see.”
- People don’t always “get it” the first time they hear or experience something, so repetition is essential.
- Patience is essential and will be the catalyst for healthy learning.
- Asking insightful questions rather than “feeding” the answers will produce in the students critical thinking skills that will help them prosper.
- We are just like them! Let’s be thankful for His patience towards us.
Did you notice that Jesus Reminds them of the two incidents of feeding many people with bread? Why does he do that? Because in both instances, He revealed His deity and authority over all things. He had shown He was the promised Messiah, and they didn’t understand the importance ad significance of those miracles!
Interestingly, They only answered the question of how many baskets they picked up! Maybe that’s because Jesus just fired them off, one after another. Perhaps they were to ashamed to reply? Maybe they were still trying to figure out what he was talking about! In any case, they only answer regarding the number of baskets they picked up; they got that down pat.
21 And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
FOCUS THREE: The sound of silence
This last question is a piercing one, and no answer is recorded! After all, I taught you and explained to you; after all of the miracles I have done in your presence, do you still not understand who I am? Rather than experiencing overflowing faith, they seem to be swimming in a sea of doubts? I can only imagine how grievous this must have been to the heart of Jesus. The text moves on to Bethsaida, leaving the reader to ponder what happened after that question was asked.
In Bethsaida, Jesus heals a blind man. Another miracle. Another revelation of His deity. Jesus does not let the issue go. As we will see, all of this leads to a critical discussion with His disciples.