Is Your VBS Christ-Centered and Gospel-Powered?

Dear Zion,

We are so excited to get kids pumped up for Jesus in our VBS program this summer, but we will not be teaching the Babylon lesson curriculum exactly as it is written. Even though the Babylon lessons teach a lot of good things – like trusting God when we’re scared, and the importance of gratitude and prayer – it does not focus on Jesus[*]. We want our kids at Zion to not only live a godly life, but we want them to do so because they love Jesus so much! In Luke 24:27, 44 we learn that all of the Bible, even Old Testament books like Daniel, were written to teach us about Jesus, and that He is the center of the story, not us. Sometimes, our message to kids is “improve your life by daring to be like Daniel,” but we forget that the Bible is about what Jesus wants to do to our lives. So this year, we want to take our VBS further.
Maybe some examples would help: Continue reading

Bridges: Only Preaching the Gospel Leads to Holiness

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The sovereignty and freeness of grace are the principles of laborious activity, not the allowance of Anitnomian ease. Thus the doctrines of the Gospel not only explain the nature and obligation, but are themselves the principles – nay the only principles – of holiness. We must live every moment by faith, and as we live, we shall love – overcome the world – crucify sin – delight in the service of God. No mere precepts will extirpate the natural love of sin, or infuse this new bias in the heart. The doctrine of faith alone effects this mighty change, by exhibiting Christ as the source of life, and detailing all the exercises of holy practice, flowing from that life…

It is the promise, and not the precept; it is encouragement, and exaction; it is grace, and not nature, which consecrates a course of moral beauty and blessing, and convinces the believer, that, whether grace is to be exercised or duty discharged, he is eminently ‘God’s workmanship,’ the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Charles Bridges The Christian Ministry (265-66) emphasis original

Reformed Exclusivism

How do the various claims to truth of world religions relate to one another? Further, how should Christians think of salvation for those who have never heard? The traditional distinction to answer this question breaks into three categories:

  1. Exclusivism: Jesus is the only Savior of the world, and one must believe God’s special revelation culminating in the gospel of Christ to be saved.
  2. Inclusivism: Jesus is the only Savior of the world, but one does not have to believe the gospel to be saved.
  3. Pluralism: All paths are valid and lead to God.

Andy Naselli points to Christopher W. Morgan’s “Inclusivisms and Exclusivisms” in Faith Comes by Hearing: A Response to Inclusivism (WTS books). Morgan drills down into these categories, and notes that while most theologians still operate within these traditional sectors as a framework, in reality there are nine discernible categories:

  1. Church exclusivism: No, outside the church there is no salvation.
  2. Gospel exclusivism: No, they must hear the gospel and trust Christ to be saved.
  3. Special revelation exclusivism: No, they must hear the gospel and trust Christ to be saved, unless God chooses to send them special revelation in an extraordinary way—by a dream, vision, miracle, or angelic message.
  4. Agnosticism: We cannot know.*
  5. Continue reading

Holy Week Timeline

Click for full image

Beginning with the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on the first day of the week through His death and resurrection, this timeline/visual aid nicely depicts what the Four Gospels describe happened to the Son of Man. You can trace each line through to see how Pilate, John, the disciples, and Jesus journeyed through those days. I think my favorite is how the graph depicts the resurrection sightings. Hopefully this will encourage you to meditate on your crucified and risen Savior this season.

Link

Tullian: “I hear people say that there are two equal dangers Christians must avoid: legalism and lawlessness. Legalism, they say, happens when you focus too much on law, or rules. Lawlessness, they say, happens when you focus too much on grace. Therefore, in order to maintain spiritual equilibrium, you have to balance law and grace. Legalism and lawlessness are typically presented as two ditches on either side of the Gospel that we must avoid. If you start getting too much law, you need to balance it with grace. Too much grace, you need to balance it with law. But I’ve come to believe that this “balanced” way of framing the issue can unwittingly keep us from really understanding the gospel of grace in all of its depth and beauty.”

Read more at The Marrow Project