Category Archives: Gospel

Noteworthy Book – Philippians: A Mentor Commentary

CoverAs some of you know, I have been working on a Philippians commentary for the past several years. What a privilege it has been to live inside this rich letter and see my joy in Christ and his gospel deepen as a result. Philippians has much to say to us as believers today, so I have written this commentary to help pastors, missionaries, Sunday school teachers, Bible study leaders, and all Christians understand and apply it to their lives.

I am excited to announce that it has finally been released in the United Kingdom (the publisher, Christian Focus, is located in Scotland) and will soon be available here in the United States and internationally. You can order it through Amazon or ChristianBook.com.

Here are the endorsements:

Matt Harmon explains Paul’s letter clause by clause, traces Paul’s argument, reads Paul’s argument in light of the rest of the Bible, and applies the letter to people today. He reminds me of two of his professors when he was working on his PhD at Wheaton: Doug Moo and Greg Beale.

Andy Naselli, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis

 

Historically aware, exegetically astute, and theologically sensitive, Matt Harmon’s commentary on Philippians is full of insight and ideas for those who want to understand this beautiful epistle. He is not simply up to date on recent scholarship, but digs deeply and appropriately into evangelical commentaries of the past too, to enliven and enhance his own exposition. His suggestions for preaching and applying Philippians are crisp, clear, and eminently useable. A new go-to resource for pastors and students!

Dr Lee Gatiss, Director of Church Society and Editor of the NIV Proclamation Bible.

 

Our Lord calls his own to love God with all their heart, soul and mind (Mt. 22:37). This blend is seldom seen in commentaries, which tend to favor either the academic or the devotional. Authors write as believing pastors, or as detached scholars – which would seem to sunder what God has explicitly joined. Matt Harmon represents this happy marriage in his commentary on Philippians. Harmon has no less a keen eye for the particulars of the Greek text and academic illumination than he does for the splendorous and transforming truths that text communicates. It is clear that Matt has put the text under a microscope; it is just as clear that he is thrilled with the Savior and Gospel it reveals. This will now be my “go-to” book for teaching or preaching Philippians, joining Martin and Silva and Lightfoot and the others. I can’t commend Matt Harmon’s commentary on Philippians highly enough to pastors and students in all areas of church ministry and life. It is deep-rooted, solid, and broadly accessible. God grant that it receives the visibility and use it merits, to His glory and His church’s edification!

Dan Phillips, Pastor, Copperfield Bible Church

 

Matthew Harmon has given us a fresh and faithful reading of Philippians that will be a powerful help to all who preach and teach the word.

James M. Hamilton, Professor of Biblical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

 

Matthew Harmon’s commentary on Philippians is a model of good commentary writing: clear prose, adequate interaction with the array of scholarly perspectives, and helpful application. I commend his work to students, teachers, and preachers who seek better to understand this important letter of Paul.

Douglas J. Moo, Wessner Chair of Biblical Studies, Wheaton College

 

Matthew Harmon is a gifted and trustworthy guide for helping us to understand and apply this Pauline epistle of joy. This commentary strikes me as just the right combination of what most of us need: clear prose, sufficient background and lexical information (without overwhelming the read in technicalities), insightful theological analysis, and practical pastoral application. Pastors and laypeople alike can benefit from this finely crafted work.

Justin Taylor, managing editor, The ESV Study Bible

 

This commentary is a study in clarity and balance. It is simple in expression, yet profound in insight. It is thorough in scope, yet selective enough not to overwhelm. It is informed by recent scholarship, yet avoids fruitless complexities. It draws on knowledge of ancient languages, yet makes its case in plain English. It is classic in its focus on God, Christ, and redemption, yet current in showing how a gospel from long ago is just as true and powerful today. In a word, this is a fine resource for serious students of Philippians in both church and college settings.

Robert W. Yarbrough, Professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, MO

 

Matthew Harmon’s commentary on Philippians is an outstanding work. We find careful exegesis and a clear explanation of the the text. The commentary is theologically rich, in terms of both biblical and systematic theology, and so there is more than a running commentary. Harmon also applies the text to readers in practical ways. Scholars, students, pastors, and teachers will profit significantly from this work.

Tom Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Professor of Biblical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

 

 

 

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Noteworthy Book: The World-Tilting Gospel by Dan Phillips

For various reasons, some books that should get more attention do not. One such title is The World-Tilting Gospel: Embracing a Biblical Worldview & Holding on Tight by Dan Phillips. While there have been a number of “gospel-centered” books published in the past 7-10 years, I can confidently say there is no other book quite like this. Let me explain why.

First, let’s start with the author. For those who do not know who Dan Phillips is, he proudly describes himself as “a Calvi dispie bapto gelical.” In other words, a Calvinist, dispensationalist, baptist, evangelical. He is best known as one of the writers for the Pyromaniacs blog, which has a deservedly large following for its “call it like it is” approach to biblical truth and evangelicalism. In addition he writes for his own blog named Biblical Christianity. All of this is in addition to his “real job” as the Pastor of Copperfield Bible Church in Houston Texas. In other words, Dan has lots of time on his hands 🙂

Dan has a writing style that is all his own. Its hard to describe, which is part of the reason you should go read his blogs. He has a way of communicating truth with insight and humor. But the humor is not of the cheap laugh variety; its the kind that engages the intellect while  “leaving a mark” because it hits so close to home (usually in a convicting way!).

This book is written from a desire to enable people to experience the fullness and power of the gospel in their lives. He argues that many of us have not grasped:

  • who we really are
  • what kind of world we are really living in
  • how the world really operates and where it is really going
  • who God really is
  • what his eternal plan really was
  • why we really needed him and his plan so desperately
  • what his terms–the Gospel–really were
  • what difference the Gospel will really make on our everyday lives

If you want biblically faithful, gospel-rooted, pastorally wise answers to these questions (or know someone who does), this book is an excellent choice. I had the privilege of reading the  manuscript before it was published, and I had a hard time putting it down.

Go out and buy a copy. Read it for yourself. Grab a friend (Christian or non-Christian) and read it with him. Use it in a small group study or for your Sunday School class. You won’t regret it.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

How Gospel-Centered Churches Handle False Teaching/False Tachers (Titus 1:10-16)

Note: This post is adapted from a message I preached in in Graduate Chapel here at Grace Theological Seminary.  Unfortunately, no audio is available.

All one has to do is walk into most Christian bookstores or tune into so-called Christian radio/TV to realize that false teaching is alive and well. So how should a gospel-centered church respond?

Titus 1:10-16 shows us how. But before noting what that passage tells us, it is important to note that Titus 1:5-9 provides us with qualifications for elders. Within the context of Titus, then, the necessity of biblically qualified elders is in part rooted in the need to deal with false teaching.

Having established that, in Titus 1:10-16 Paul identifies three ways that gospel-centered churches handle false teaching:

  1. Gospel-Centered Churches Recognize False Teaching/Teachers (1:10-13a)When doctors are in medical school, part of their training involves diagnosing illnesses by the symptoms that present themselves. In the same way, Paul provides us with some diagnostic tools to recognize false teaching. He instructs us to observe their character (insubordinate, empty talkers, deceivers, etc.), their tactics (upsetting whole families, playing to the culture), and their motivation (shameful gain).
  2.  Gospel-Centered Churches Rebuke False Teaching/Teachers (1:13b-14)

When Paul says “Rebuke them sharply” he uses a play on words with the false teachers’ promotion of circumcision. In effect Paul says something like, “Use the sharp knife of correction with those who wield the dull blade of circumcision.” Paul is not advocating legal action, nor is he promoting a witch hunt. But false teaching is so dangerous that it requires corrective action. The goal of that corrective action is “so that they may be sound in the faith” (1:13). The word translated “sound” can also mean healthy. True spiritual health comes from the gospel, not false teaching.

3.    Gospel-Centered Churches Resist False Teaching/Teachers (1:15-16)

Knowledge of what the gospel teaches about various subjects is the preventative vaccine that enables the believer to resist false teaching. Truly embracing this vaccine produces not merely head knowledge of the gospel, but good works that flow out genuine saving faith.

Regardless of whether you are an elder or not, every believer is responsible for being so familiar with the true gospel that false teaching is immediately obvious. The gospel is the only way that we can be made pure, because it points us to the only one who is truly pure-Jesus Christ. And everyone who has their hope set on him purifies himself in anticipation of his return (1 John 3:1-3).


  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Video Podcast: What is the Gospel? Part 2

As part of our church’s Grow Initiative, we have begun selecting one book a quarter that we are encouraging our people to read. Because the gospel is so foundational, we began with Greg Gilbert’s book What Is the Gospel?. The book does an excellent job of explaining in very simple but profound terms the basics of the gospel message. In his foreword to the book, D.A. Carson writes:
“This book does not so much claim to break new ground as survey afresh some old ground that should never have been ignored, much less abandoned…This book will sharpen the thinking of not a few mature Christians. More importantly, it is a book to distribute widely to church leaders, young Christians, and even some who have not yet trusted Christ who want a clear explanation of what the gospel is. Read it, then buy a box of them for generous distribution.” (p. 14)
To help our people identify and digest key aspects of the book and its implications, several staff and I recorded a video podcast discussing the book. Here is part two of that podcast:

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Video Podcast: What is the Gospel? Part 1

As part of our church’s Grow Initiative, we have begun selecting one book a quarter that we are encouraging our people to read. Because the gospel is so foundational, we began with Greg Gilbert’s book What Is the Gospel?. The book does an excellent job of explaining in very simple but profound terms the basics of the gospel message. In his foreword to the book, D.A. Carson writes:

“This book does not so much claim to break new ground as survey afresh some old ground that should never have been ignored, much less abandoned…This book will sharpen the thinking of not a few mature Christians. More importantly, it is a book to distribute widely to church leaders, young Christians, and even some who have not yet trusted Christ who want a clear explanation of what the gospel is. Read it, then buy a box of them for generous distribution.” (p. 14)

To help our people identify and digest key aspects of the book and its implications, several staff and myself recorded a video podcast discussing the book. Here is part one of that podcast:

P.S. If you are in the Winona Lake area and want to attend a Roundtable Discussion of this book, join us at 7:00pm tonight at Christ’s Covenant Church.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Mondays with Marty

In this week’s installment from Off the Record with Martin Luther, Luther portrays the gospel as a fesh breeze. IT is lengthy, but worth the read:

“6712. The Gospel is like a fresh, soft, cool breeze in the great heat of summer; that is, it is a comfort to the torment of the conscience; not during winter, when we already have enough of cold–that is a time of peace, when people feel secure and think to make themselves righteous and pious through their works–but in the great heat of the summer, that is in those who through fear and torment of their conscience really feel God’s wrath against sin and weakness.

This  heat is brought about by the sun; just as the fright of the conscience is brought about by preaching the Law and directed to the thought and observation that man has transgressed and opposed God’s and no man’s law. So we have the heavenly breeze to set our conscience straight, to refresh it and comfort it, not the comfort from certain human endeavors and works, but from the preaching of the Gospel.

But now that our strength is restored through the fresh air of the Gospel, we should not become complacent, lie around and snore. In other words, now that our conscience is at peace, quieted and consoled through God’s Spirit, we should demonstrate our Faith with good works, which God has ordered and commanded in the Ten Commandments. Otherwise, we will be led astray and plagued by mosquitoes, flies, and ants, and so on, that is by the devil, the world, and our own flesh. But one must come through all that and not be led astray.” (pp. 467-468)

DISCLAIMER: The views reflected in this quote do not necessarily reflect those of the author of this blog. This quote is shared in the interest of edification, education, and/or humor.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Can one really read EVERY OT passage in light of the NT?

Under a previous post, a reader asked the following question:

I’ve a question about connecting the OT to the NT. Although I do agree that the OT is connected to Christ, for instance, the institution of the sacrifices in Israel’s worship; is it possible to interpret every single passage in the OT as pointing towards Christ? For example, how is it possible to interpret the deep friendship between Jonathan and David in the light of Christ?

So, good readers, is it in fact possible to interpret every OT passage as pointing forward to Christ? If so, how? And what about the example of David and Jonathan’s friendship?

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

The Resurrection & Reading the OT

According to Luke, one of the things Jesus stressed to his disciples immediately after his resurrection was how to read the OT:

“Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:27)

“Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.'” (Luke 24:44-48)

In these two passages, Jesus makes it clear that if his disciples are to read the OT correctly, they must read it with a view to his suffering/resurrection and the proclamation of that message to the ends of the earth. In other words, if we read the OT without attempting to understand how that particular passage in some fashion points forward to Christ and the gospel, we are not reading the OT in the way that Jesus commands us to. I would call this a “gospel-centered hermeneutic.” Only in the light of Jesus’ death/resurrection and the proclamation of that event do we have the hermeneutical key for reading the OT in all its fullness.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon