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Status Report: July

Eating…a roast beef, cheese, and avocado sandwich for lunch. 

Enjoying…summer. It was slow coming this year, and I’m very happy it finally made it. 

Anticipating…picking the first ripe tomatoes from my patio tumbler tomato plant.

Thinking…about the things I want to accomplish this summer. Our summer is so short, and I don’t want to use it all up doing the many chores I can do only in the summer. I’ve already cut way back on the gardening I’m doings. What else can I give up, at least for a year?

ReadingThe Question of Canon: Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate, because I’m finally done with From Heaven He Came and Sought Her. I was afraid The Question of Canon might be a revisitation of Canon Revisited, but it’s not. 

Also reading…The House of Wittgenstein: A Family at War. It’s a whole lot of fun, especially for a book with so much suicide. I chalk this up to the way Alexander Waugh tells the story.

Thanking…God for his many provisions in answer to prayer. We (my family) have had so many lately, and I want to acknowledge them even though I can’t give more details than this.

Laughing…at these. You’ve probably seen them already, but it not, you might enjoy them, too. (I woudn’t have used one of the words included. In case you were wondering.)

Needing…to call a refrigerator repairman. My frost-free is not defrosting and the fan stops working when the ice builds up. 

Thinking…the dog must have fished the half-eaten bean burrito out of the garbage. 

Taking…him out for a walk.

Wishing…you a joyful July. And may you have more fireworks than we did.

Theological Term of the Week

“[T]he view that there is only one God—the Supreme Being whom Jesus referred to as ‘Father’—and that Jesus himself was not divine, at least not in any literal sense.”1 (Although Unitarians do not believe Jesus was divine, they do claim to follow him.)

  • Scripture that proves that Jesus’ disciples were not Unitarians, and neither was the author of Hebrews:

    And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. (Matthew 28:9 ESV)

    And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” (Hebrews 1:6 ESV)

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Heidelberg Catechism

Question 42. Since Christ died for us, why must we die, too?

Answer: Our death is not a payment for our sins, (a) but it abolishes sin, and is a passage into eternal life. (b)

(Scriptural proofs after the fold.)

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Sunday's Hymn: Servant Song

Brother, sister let me serve you, 
let me be as Christ to you. 
Pray that I might have the grace, 
to let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey, 
We are family on the road. 
We are here to help each other, 
Walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you, 
in the night-time of your fear. 
I will hold my hand out to you, 
speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping, 
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you. 
I will share your joys and sorrows, 
till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven, 
we shall find such harmony. 
Born of all we’ve known together, 
of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister let me serve you, 
let me be as Christ to you. 
Pray that I might have the grace, 
to let you be my servant too.

—Richard Gillard

This hymn is in the hymn book my church uses (when we use hymnals, that is) and we sing it occasionally. It is not my favorite, but it is a favorite of a couple of people I know. In this video, it’s sung by the man who wrote it. (HT: Patrick Chan)

Other hymns, worship songs, prayers, sermons excerpts, or quotes posted today:

Have you posted a hymn (or sermon, sermon notes, prayer, etc.) today and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by contacting me using the contact form linked above, and I’ll add your post to the list.


Book Review: From Heaven He Came and Sought Her

From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective

Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective edited by David Gibson & Jonathan Gibson

I knew I wanted to read this exhaustive study of definite atonement the first time I heard about it way back in July of last year. I pre-ordered immediately, waited until it finally arrived mid-December, and began reading right after Christmas, finishing (finally!) a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, it took me more than 5 months to make it through From Heaven He Came, not so much because it’s nearly 700 pages long (although that would be reason enough), but because every one of its pages is dense. I rarely write in a book as much as I have in this one, but I needed heavy marking to understand and remember what I read. Now it’s time to write a review, and this is not easy task, either. How can I sum up a book that took five months to read in one blog post?


Definite atonement, the doctrine defended within this book, means that 

in the death of Jesus Christ, the triune God intended to achieve the redemption of every person given to the Son by the Father in eternity past, and to apply the accomplishment of his sacrifice to each of them by the Spirit. The death of Christ was intended to win the salvation of God’s people alone (page 33).

You may recognize this quote as a statement of what is more commonly called limited atonement, the L in the TULIP acronym used to represent the five points of Calvinism. But definite atonement is the name used for this doctrine throughout this book and there’s good reason for this: definite atonement is a simply a better descriptor of it. That the atonement is definite means it has a defined purpose and a defined effect. Christ died to save a specific group of people, his people, and his work actually saves all of them.

When someone embraces Calvinism, definite atonement is frequently the last of the five points of Calvinism to be affirmed, and some who accept the other four points who never accept it. If I had to explain this, I’d guess it’s because in a battle of proof texts it can look like definite atonement loses to universal atonement, although this is not really the case, as the biblical argument laid out in this book shows.


From Heaven He Came consists of 23 essays by 21 authors, plus a foreword by J. I. Packe—an interesting choice since Packer also wrote the now-classic introduction to a reprint of John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christthe only other work in history that could also be considered a definitive study of definite atonement. The overarching aim of this volume is

to show that history, the Bible, theology, and pastoral practice combine together to provide a framework within which the doctrine of definite atonement is best articulated … (page 37).

Accordingly, the essays are grouped into four sections corresponding with these categories. Contributors include Michael Haykin, Paul Helm, Carl R. Trueman, Tom Schreiner, Robert Letham, Stephen Wellum, Sinclair Ferguson, and John Piper, to list some of the authors you may know. 

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