The Grand Story of God’s Work: An Interview with Michael Lawrence (Part 2)

Michael-LawrenceDr. Michael Lawrence is the author of Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry, which you can get for free through the end of the month. Lawrence holds an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a PhD from Cambridge University; he has served as associate pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, and more recently as pastor of Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, OR. This is the second part of a two-part interview—if you missed part one, catch up here.

The title of your book invites the question, what does biblical theology have to do with the life of the church?

Everything. If biblical theology is essentially a reading strategy—a way of reading the Bible as a single book telling a single story—then the answer to that question is the same as the answer to “What does the Bible have to do with the life of the church?”

Of course, these days, too many evangelicals assume that the Bible has very little to do with the life of the church. We turn instead to methodology, best practices, media, structures, cultural exegesis, and music, to name just a few. We assume that if we master these things, the church will grow. There’s no question you can grow a crowd through all sorts of methods. But the church is not merely a crowd; it’s the bride of Jesus Christ. And Jesus nurtures and cleanses his bride through the Word.

As I’ve heard David Helm say many times, “God does his work through his Word, in a world gone awry.” I think that’s exactly right. And it’s because I believe passionately in the sufficiency of the Word for the life and growth and health of the church that I think biblical theology is at the heart of what we do as church leaders.

Does systematic theology play into the life of the church as well? How do biblical and systematic theology relate?

Systematic theology is incredibly important to the life of the church. I spend an entire chapter talking about that, and then another chapter thinking through how systematic and biblical theology relate to each other. If biblical theology tells us how God said what he said, then systematic theology summarizes what God said and applies it in our lives. If we don’t understand how God said it, we’ll get our summary wrong. But if we never summarize and apply, what’s the point? I’m a pastor, not an academic with boundaries to draw and defend, so maybe it’s easier for me to call a ceasefire between the two disciplines and think about how they work together in ministry.

Who are some of the authors who have most influenced how you do theology?

The five men I dedicated my book to all had a profound impact on me in seminary: Meredith Kline, David Wells, Rick Lints, Scott Hafemann, and Gordon Hugenberger. In some ways, this book is an attempt to give to others what they first gave to me. Since then, I’ve read quite a bit more. I’ve been hugely influenced by Geerhardus Vos. I’m constantly edified by the work of Graeme Goldsworthy, Richard Gaffin, and Edmund Clowney. I think Ligon Duncan is one of the finest practitioners of biblical theological preaching alive today. And the work Vaughn Roberts has done to make biblical theology accessible to lay audiences is superb. But I still come back again and again to the combination of self-critical cultural exegesis and careful biblical theology that my Gordon-Conwell professors taught me. I was privileged to sit under them.

Can you tell us a bit about 9Marks?

9Marks is a parachurch ministry that grew out of Mark Dever’s passion to encourage pastors and local churches in healthy gospel growth driven by a profound conviction of the sufficiency of the Scriptures. It has since grown into a chorus of like-minded pastors and writers, each of whom, in their own distinctive setting and voice, seeks to remind and encourage us that Christ loves his church and that he’s given us, in his Word, the resources we need to feed and lead and grow it.

9Marks hosts a number of conferences and workshops each year, both in DC and in various other locations around the world. There’s a small paid staff in DC. There’s a fantastic, resource-rich website. And of course there are books. But really it’s a band of brothers scattered far and wide, who together are committed to not only building biblically healthy churches, but also encouraging other pastors to do the same.

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Get Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church free through the end of February! And don’t miss your chance to win the entire 9Marks Series.

Examine Biblical Themes with the Lexham Bible Guides

lexham-bible-guides-genesis-collectionIf you began your yearly Bible reading plan in Genesis last month, you’re likely almost done with the book—and you undoubtedly have some questions. This year, take your annual reading plan to a new level—a deeper level that answers those questions.

The Lexham Bible Guides: Genesis Collection is the ideal resource to help you grow in your understanding of Genesis and the Bible as a whole. Genesis is the foundation for the rest of Scripture. Almost any biblical theme you can think of—from the Old Testament or the New—has a parallel in Genesis.

The Genesis Collection helps you examine those themes. It guides you through your own exploration of some of the Bible’s most difficult and significant passages. You’ll gain new insights into verses you’ve read countless times—and you won’t need to invest countless hours reading commentaries. We’ve done the research for you.

The Lexham Bible Guides: Genesis Collection

  • Provides comprehensive, easy-to-use coverage
  • Unpacks difficult passages and makes them accessible for further study
  • Explains top scholars’ various opinions, and links you directly to those resources in your Logos library for further reading

The Studies in Faithful Living: Patriarchs Collection

To extend your knowledge even further, order the three-volume Studies in Faithful Living: Patriarchs Collection. Walk through the narratives of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and their families in eight-week studies that are perfect for sharing with small groups or your entire congregation.

The Patriarchs Collection:

  • Explores God’s unique relationships with imperfect people who grew to become champions of faith
  • Provides a rich learning experience for individuals, small groups, or entire congregations
  • Prompts reflection on how the lives of these early leaders hold lessons for us today

It’s not too late to make a new commitment to Bible study this year. Order the Lexham Bible Guides: Genesis Collection and the Studies in Faithful Living: Patriarchs Collection today.

The Grand Story of God’s Work: An Interview with Michael Lawrence (Part 1)

Michael-LawrenceDr. Michael Lawrence is the author of Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry, which you can get free through the end of February! Lawrence holds an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell and a PhD from Cambridge University. He has served as associate pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC, and more recently as pastor of Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, OR.

Can you tell us a bit of your story?

I was born in Texas, grew up in South Carolina, and went to school in North Carolina, Boston, and Cambridge. My wife, Adrienne, and I met at Duke, we’ve been married almost 24 years, and we have five children ages 5 to 17. I went to school to be a medical doctor, but while I was in college, God got ahold of my life and propelled me into ministry, much to my family’s initial disappointment. (They’ve since gotten over it!) Three and a half years ago, we moved from Washington, DC, to Portland, OR, when I became lead pastor at Hinson Baptist Church.

From the brief bio above, you can see that, before the move to Portland, I’d lived my entire life (after Texas) within an easy drive of—if not within sight of—the Atlantic Ocean (or the North Sea). Neither my wife nor I have family west of the Appalachian mountains! So we certainly weren’t looking to move west. But Tom Schreiner, who’s from Oregon, encouraged me to take a look at Hinson. And with the blessing of the elders at Capitol Hill Baptist, where I’d served since 2002, we made the move in 2010. Honestly, it felt like moving back to the UK, in terms of both weather and culture. We went through culture shock all over again. But we’re so glad the Lord has brought us here.

Who did you have in mind when you wrote Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church?

I grew up in a typical Southern Baptist church in the deep south. As a result, I grew up knowing all the Bible stories almost by heart. But no one ever told me how to put all those individual stories together into one grand narrative of God’s work of redemption in the world. That didn’t happen until I got to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. So when I wrote this book, not only did I want to encourage seminary-trained pastors like myself to put biblical theology to work; I wanted interested lay leaders of all kinds—Sunday school teachers, lay elders, small group leaders, women’s ministry leaders, etc.—to benefit from it. The book is really for anyone who finds themselves teaching or applying the Bible to others in the church.

Why is it important that Christians know how to do biblical theology?

Whether they realize it or not, Christians are doing biblical theology all the time. They’re relating the OT to the NT, Israel to Jesus and the church, the Law to the gospel. That’s the work of biblical theology. So if you’re going to be doing something anyway, if it’s inescapable every time you pick up your Bible and read it, then I think you should know what you’re doing. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then it’s not that you won’t do biblical theology—it’s simply that you’ll do it badly, or even incorrectly. The Scriptures are the power of God for salvation. Therefore, we don’t want to misapply the Scriptures. We don’t want to misinterpret the Scriptures. Biblical theology is essential.

What drove you to write this book?

Can I say Jonathan Leeman? There’s nothing like an editor who believes in your project to drive you along! In fact, ever since I sat through Meredith Kline’s course on OT hermeneutics, I’ve had a passion for biblical theology. And after years of practical ministry, both in parachurch and local-church settings, I was convinced that this way of reading the Bible was crucial to faithful, fruitful ministry. Too many times I’d misapplied Scripture, or watched others do so, for no other reason than that I’d never been taught how to put the Bible together as a single story.

Too many times I’d taught moralistic lessons, or watched others do the same, because I had never been taught how the OT points forward to Christ and finds its fulfillment in him. So, I suppose, once I was introduced, I had the zeal of a new convert. I really want people to know how to read their Bibles, and this is the way to do it.

For the past three years, I’ve been preaching from a biblical-theological perspective in a church filled with older members who had always been taught that the OT was a book for and about the Jews, past and future, with little more for them as NT Christians than moral examples and a few messianic prophecies. I can’t tell you how encouraged I am as a pastor to have elders tell me how they feel like I’ve given them back the other half of their Bible, and how excited they are to find Jesus there!

There are a lot of books on biblical theology that examine various arcs of the Bible’s storyline, from scholars like Tom Schreiner, Desmond Alexander, G. K. Beale, and others. How does your book differ?

I’m not really trying to do biblical theology in my book, so much as give people the tools to do it themselves. In the middle section, I do tell the entire arc of the story from five different theological and thematic perspectives. But those are meant more as examples than as thorough treatments of a single biblical theological theme. Instead, my goal is to introduce people to the key concepts that biblical theology uses, relate those tools to two other sets of tools—exegetical theology and systematic theology—and then show what a difference biblical theology makes to our preaching, teaching, counseling, missions, and ethics. It’s a deeply interdisciplinary book, designed not to give you a biblical theology, but to encourage you to discover and use biblical theology for yourself.

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the interview!

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Get Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church for free during the month of February! And don’t miss your chance to win the entire 9Marks Series.

7 Must-Have Books on Early Christian Persecution

classic-studies-on-persecution-in-early-christianityAs Christianity crossed national and cultural borders and the number of believers multiplied, the religion showed its revolutionary potential and threatened Roman authority. To suppress the growing faith, the Roman government persecuted Christians in brutal ways.

It’s extremely important to know the context and stories behind Christianity’s early years. Here are seven books to guide you:

1. The Early Persecutions of the Christians

Leon Hardy Canfield walks you through topics like the legal basis of early persecutions, the persecution of Christians under Nero and Trajan, and more. This is a great, broad study on the persecutions faced by the early church.

2. Persecution in the Early Church: A Chapter in the History of Renunciation

This book examines the legal, historical, ecclesiastical, and experiential aspects of the early persecutions of Christians, emphasizing “those aspects of the inner life of the church which led to persecution.”

3. Christianity and the Roman Government: A Study in Imperial Administration

This book takes a close look at Roman history, allowing you to get a feel for what happened on both sides of the conflict.

4. The Conflict of Christianity with Heathenism

Based on the best in early-twentieth-century scholarship, this resource offers valuable insight into the struggles between early Christians and pagans.

5. The Valerian Persecution: A Study of the Relations between Church and State in the Third Century A. D.

Patrick J. Healy examines the conflict between Christianity and Rome in light of scholarship that reveals its roots in state policy and administration. In doing so, he illuminates the magnitude of the challenges early Christians faced in spreading a message with the power to revolutionize Rome and the world.

6. The Decian Persecution

One of few resources of its kind, this book follows the persecution of Christians under the rule of Emperor Decius.

7. The Persecution of Diocletian: A Historical Essay

Built around a paper that won the Hulsean Essay Prize in 1874, this resource presents a vivid picture of the Diocletian persecution and offers several innovative interpretations of the period’s historical records.

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You don’t have to go out and buy all these books on their own. Right now, you can pre-order the Classic Studies on Persecution in Early Christianity collection, which gives you all seven titles, for just $69.95—that’s 30% off! Pre-order yours now.

Then check out the rest of our resources on Pre-Pub!

Explore the Ancient World with Cutting-Edge Archaeology Research

American-Schools-of-Oriental-ResearchWe’re pleased to announce a new partnership with The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), an academic organization dedicated to the study and preservation of the culture and history of the Near East. Committed to “initiating, encouraging and supporting research into the culture of the Near East . . . and helping the public to understand the findings of that research,” ASOR plays a crucial role among academics working in the fields of archaeology and biblical and Near Eastern studies, as well as those outside the academy wishing to learn from their research.

For several decades, ASOR has published three academic journals, as well as a newsletter and monograph series. We recently listed several volumes of their journals on Pre-Pub. If you’re interested in biblical studies and archaeology, you’ll want these resources.

A must-have for Near Eastern studies

bulletin-of-the-american-schools-of-oriental-research

Founded in 1919, the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research is an interdisciplinary journal that includes articles about the Near East and the eastern Mediterranean world from the Paleolithic period through Islamic times. The journal features articles in a multitude of disciplines, including art and archaeology, history, anthropology, geography, philology and epigraphy, and literature. With an emphasis on the significance of archaeological discovery and excavation for understanding Near Eastern culture, BASOR provides cutting-edge research on the ancient world.

If academic writing and topics seem intimidating, rest assured that BASOR is designed to serve both lay and academic audiences. There’s simply no better way to get a sense of recent research in archaeology and biblical and Near Eastern studies.

Get the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research before the price goes up!

Interested in more from ASOR? Check out their other journals on Pre-Pub—Biblical Archaeologist / Near Eastern Archaeology (1992–2011) and the Journal of Cuneiform Studies (1993–2011).

Logos 5: Collapse Sections in Bible Facts Sidebar

Today’s post is from Morris Proctor, certified and authorized trainer for Logos Bible Software. Morris, who has trained thousands of Logos users at his two-day Camp Logos seminars, provides many training materials.

Bible Facts, one of my favorite features in Logos 5, generates reports on the Bible’s people, places, things, and events. The left sidebar, with its wealth of data about a given subject, can become quite lengthy. Try this little trick to navigate through all those facts:

  • Choose Tools | Bible Facts.
  • Type a subject, like David, in the box (A).
  • Press Enter to generate the report.
  • Notice, in the sidebar, the long list of helpful information (B).

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  • Right-click one of the section titles, such as Role (C).
  • Select Collapse all (D).

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  • Now you can easily see all the information categories (E).

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  • Navigate to the section of your choice by clicking its title—you’ll be working with just the facts in that area! (F)

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Get to know every person, place, thing, and event in the Bible: get Logos 5, and start using Bible Facts today!

The Online Experience with Knox Theological Seminary

Knox LogosToday, biblical education is more accessible than ever before. Knox Theological Seminary and Logos Bible Software have teamed up to offer several enriching degree programs in a distance-education format: you can earn your Doctor of Ministry or master’s degree from a well-respected, accredited institution, regardless of where you are.

But starting a new educational endeavor can be daunting; you might not be sure what to expect. Here’s a taste of what it’s like to take a master’s-level online class from Knox.

A carefully chosen curriculum

Knox offers an exemplary faculty, with world-class scholars in every area of study. These experienced educators will lead you through all sorts of material in a video-lecture format. Each week (or module) will have a handful of lecture videos, often 30 minutes in length. The videos are helpfully edited so that you don’t have to sit through irrelevant course announcements or other material—instead, you’ll get the meat of the content, taught by leading scholars in the field.

The readings are carefully chosen and thoroughly relevant to the lectures and assignments. Assigned textbooks are, more often than not, available from Logos; your online professor will make note of it when they are. For readings that are not yet in Logos, you’ll usually get a PDF or online article of the assigned portion, making it easy to complete your assignments.

Interactive coursework

Assignments tend to fall into three categories: forum posts and responses, quizzes, and papers. All three categories are simple to turn in—with the upload submission format, you don’t have to worry about your paper getting lost in a professor’s junk-mail folder!

The forum discussion posts are short, engaging pieces, designed to both interact with the material and facilitate discussion with your classmates. You’ll post a couple such articles per eight-week class, as well as several graded responses to your fellow students’ articles.

The quizzes and tests tend to be predominantly multiple-choice—though essay questions are common in midterms and final tests—and are simple to accomplish, review, and submit.

A unified community

In each online class, there’s a thriving community of students seeking to glorify God through their studies. The discussions are lively, and students tend to connect deeply with one another, sharing life and ministry stories, praying for each other, and going far above and beyond the assignments to engage the material together.

Find the degree that suits you

Knox has teamed up with Logos to offer the Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies (MABTS), the Master of Arts in  Classical and Christian Studies (MACCS), and a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program, with three tracks available. These degrees will strengthen your ministry as well as your spiritual life; plus, with Logos forming the backbone of the curriculum, your studies will be connected directly to the world of biblical scholarship.

Learn more about the MABTS, the MACCS, or the DMin, and start furthering your education and ministry today!

The Big Win: Missionary Exchanges Suitcase Full of Books for Logos 5

When traveling to a rugged, isolated region like the Appalachian Mountains, you only pack the essentials: good shoes, toothpaste, coats—you know, the typical can’t-leave-home-without-them items. But the suitcases of Bill Barker, a missionary with the North American Mission Board, SBC, were stuffed a little differently: one had the essentials, and the other was chock-full of his favorite theological resources.

If you can imagine how fun it is to carry around a giant bag of books (as in, not fun at all), then you know how meaningful a tool like Logos 5 would be for someone like Barker.

Bill Barker

Amazingly, out of more than 200,000 entries, Barker was the very worthy winner of our Christmas giveaway, which means he’s traded in his hefty suitcase for a one-of-a-kind MacBook Air, pre-loaded with Logos 5 Gold and a collection of Vyrso books.

Barker is thrilled to have won:

“The Logos edition of the MacBook Air has arrived, and I am looking forward to using it in the years ahead for my Bible study and my daily quiet time. As a missionary with the North American Mission Board, SBC, I spend a lot of time away from home working within the Appalachian Mountains. Over the years, when I left home to travel throughout Appalachia, I had two suitcases: one for clothing and one for my books.  With the MacBook Air from Logos, life has gotten simpler—now I simply pick up the Mac and head out the door. The Bible study tools I need are all neatly packed inside. I want to thank Logos for this wonderful gift.”

Barker plays a major role in reaching people in the Appalachians—organizing food drives, church plants, literacy missions, home repairs, and more. We couldn’t be more excited that he’s using his gift to spread the gospel to one of the poorest, most unchurched regions in America. His story is just one of the many testimonies we’ve heard over the years from people who’ve revolutionized their Bible study with Logos.

Take a massive, interconnected library wherever you go: explore Logos 5, the world’s most advanced Bible software, today.

Our Top Picks: Best Bible Commentaries

the-expositors-bible-commentaryOver the next few months, we’ll be highlighting some of the most popular products in each resource category on Logos.com. Today we start with commentaries.

Three reader favorites

It’s important to lean on the wisdom and experience of those who have come before us (Proverbs 11:14). Commentaries are one of the best ways to do just that:

“It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others . . . It has been the fashion of late years to speak against the use of commentaries . . . A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences”
—Charles Spurgeon

Logos.com offers nearly three thousand commentaries. That’s a lot to choose from, so here are three of our most popular sets:

1. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

The EBC gives you an analysis of each biblical book, plus an introduction, outline, and bibliography. The result is a well-rounded, accessible commentary recognized for excellence by an ECPA Gold Medallion Award. A team of 50 authors contributed their expertise, each articulating well-researched convictions while dealing fairly with opposing points of view.

word-biblical-commentary2. Word Biblical Commentary

For a more academic perspective, add the 59-volume Word Biblical Commentary to your Logos library. This huge set enjoyed universal acclaim in print, and now, networked with your other resources in the Logos format, it’s even more powerful. The WBC’s depth makes it one of Logos’ most sought-after series.

3. NIV Application Commentary

On every page, this newer set demonstrates how the truth of Scripture remains as relevant today as it ever was. Like many commentaries, it explains historical background and original-language nuance; more than that, though, it also offers pragmatic modern applications for the truth it unearths.

Coming soon . . .

We’re not done adding to our commentary library—there’s some great new content on the way. You can bid on or pre-order both of these sets right now!

Spurgeon Commentary Collection: New Testament Letters

Charles Spurgeon wrote formal commentaries on only two books—Psalms and Matthew. But, of course, he taught on the rest of the Bible all throughout his massive body of work. Logos’ own Elliot Ritzema has undertaken the task of combing through Spurgeon’s essays, lectures, sermons, and books, gathering Spurgeon’s words into commentary form. The first volume—Galatians—is available for download right now, and eight more volumes are available for pre-order at a great discount.

the-speakers-commentaryThe Speaker’s Commentary

In the late nineteenth century, the Anglican Church was at a crossroads. Controversial issues of historical critcism, racism, and polygamy clamored for a definitive response. F. C. Cook led a team of 30 scholars to craft a remarkably self-aware set of commentaries that speak not just to Anglicans but to the the global church about its place in a fallen world. We’re bringing this 13-volume set to Logos through Community Pricing, so you can help set the price—and get an amazing discount.

Download, pre-order, or bid on your favorite commentary sets right now—you can take up to 18 months to pay with an interest-free payment plan.

Pick out your favorite commentaries today!

3-Day Sale: Get 30% Off Commentaries on Romans!

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Here’s the deal: you have three days to get 30% off our most popular commentaries on Romans! This sale is exclusive to Romans commentaries, so it’s likely you’ll find your favorites among the nearly 60 products.

Don’t wait—you have until Monday at 11:59 p.m. (PST) to take advantage of this offer!

Here are four of the most popular commentaries on sale:

baker-exegetical-commentary-on-the-new-testament-romans1. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Romans

Get to know Romans with this clear, comprehensive resource by Thomas Schreiner, which wrestles with the book’s theological issues. You’ll also get a four-part exegetical guide to simplify your study.

2. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans

Join Douglas Moo in examining Romans paragraph by paragraph. You’ll look at how Paul’s first-century concerns relate to contemporary issues.

the-new-american-commentary-romans3. The New American Commentary: Romans

A fundamental tool for teachers and expositors seeking to interpret Romans, this commentary illuminates the book’s historical and contemporary significance.

4. Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 38a: Romans 1–8

The WBC stands out for its thorough analysis of textual, linguistic, structural, and theological evidence. This widely acclaimed volume is an exceptional resource for theologians, instructors, students, ministers, and anyone else interested in building a thorough understanding of Romans.

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Martin Luther considered Romans to be as much a theological essay as a letter to a church. Because of the book’s rich theological insight, Luther even asserted that it would be beneficial for every Christian to memorize the letter.

This three-day sale’s selection of nearly 60 commentaries gives scholars, pastors, and laypeople the tools they need for a thorough study of this important epistle. You don’t want to miss your chance to get resources on Romans at a great price.

The sale ends Monday at 11:59 p.m. (PST)—get your favorite commentary on Romans right now! 

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