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Union with Christ is "everywhere in Paul's letters but almost nowhere in our churches." Rory Shiner wants to fix that and "One Forever" is a terrific tool for the job.

In 77 - count em - 77 pages of crystal clear, garden fresh prose Shiner takes us from creation to new creation, demonstrating the centrality of union with Christ.

The material began life as a series of talks to students (see here **) and that origin shows in its relaxed tone and lively humour. He manages to quote from (among others)  Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Karl Barth and John Owen while maintaining a light touch and a simplicity of delivery.

The chapters are as follows:

1. Glory be to God for dappled things: creation
2. Into the far country: incarnation
3. In Christ you are a new creation: salvation
4. Before the throne of God above: justification
5. In which we face some playground bullies: union and sin
6. United to the body of Christ: church
7. Union with Christ, resurrection and the end of the world

Time and again Shiner returns to an illustration I'll be nicking forthwith - the airplane. See here:


At various points the plane illustration helps him explain salvation, assurance and justification in such helpful ways.

Think about salvation... when you're in - what happens to the plane, happens to you.
Think about assurance... if you're in the plane it doesn't matter how full of confidence or doubts you are, you're gonna get home.
Think about justification... we're not interested in some legal fiction of imputed 'air miles' -  if you're "in" you've actually arrived!

The book is rich and warm and my only criticism is it's over far too quickly. Please can we have more of such books that grapple with the core of our faith in fresh and engaging ways!

10ofthose are doing a special deal on One Forever until Sunday night (thanks Jonathan!). Get it NOW for the special price of £4.49: CLICK HERE.


** I know what every cricket fan will say... yes he does bear a striking resemblance to Ricky Ponting. But try to get over that, ok? Let's be grownups please.


I'm half way through Mike Reeves new book "The Good God".

It is.... drum roll... sensational!  It's life shaping for the reader, and I hope career shaping for Mike.  Let's pray that Christ-centred trinitarian theology becomes more than a curiosity or a passing fad, but the very atmosphere of our lives, our theology, our ministry.

Below I'll list some favourite little quotes in my reading so far.  But really I could have picked a hundred others.  And I'm aware that piecemeal nuggets won't convey the real strength of the book.  Essentially "The Good God" is a luxurious soak in the loving life of Father, Son and Spirit.  It's mind-stretching, vision-lifting, paradigm shifting and all the things that a radical trinitarian theology should be.  But the greatest strength of the book is simply this: Mike loves God.  Hugely, tangibly, contagiously - he revels in the Spirit's knowledge of our generous Father in the face of Christ.  And as you read, you cannot fail to love Him more yourself.  I can't think of a better reason to read a book!

So pre-order your copy here!

"We must confess Father and Son before we can apprehend God as one and true" Hilary

"When you start with the Jesus of the Bible, it is a triune God that you get"

"For eternity the Father has been fruitful, potent, vitalizing."

"The God who loves to have an outgoing Image of himself in his Son loves to have many images of his love (who are themselves outgoing)."

"The triune God is an ecstatic God: he is not a God who hoards his life but one who gives it away, as he would show... at the cross."

"God's pleasure is in diffusing and communicating to the creature rather than in receiving from the creature" J. Edwards

"The world must learn that I love the Father" John 14 means that the world learns from the Son how to be a counterpart to the Father [my summary].

"Absolutely singular supreme beings do not like creation"

"The very nature of the triune God is to be effusive, ebullient and bountiful; the Father...finds his very self in pouring out his love"

"To be coherent and meaningful, maths requires the existence of ultimate plurality in unity."

"Through the cross we see a God who delights to give himself."

"To be the child of some rich king would be nice; but to be the beloved of the emporer of the universe is beyond words."

"Our God does not give us some thing that is other than himself, or merely tell us about himself; he actually gives us himself."

Ok, what about this for a little cheapy evangelistic book.  Piggy-backing on the King James 400th anniversary, why not a short book going through some of the more famous phrases of the King James translation?  A short chapter on each, building up a gospel presentation as we go.

So far I've thought of...


Let us make man in our own image

Trinity, creation, us


Adam knew Eve (nudge nudge)

The 'biblical sense' of know is very deep.  That's the kind of sense in which we're meant to know God


Love thy neighbour

Love God and Love neighbour is the law.  It describes the life of the Son.  But it doesn't describe your life does it?  What's wrong with us...


Money is the root of all evil

Slight misquote - the love of money is the problem.  And it's a root.  Money's not the only thing that captures our hearts.  But that's our problem.  What we love is all akimbo.




Explain importance of substitutionary sacrifice


The sufferings of Job

Optional chapter on suffering


The valley of the shadow of death

It starts with "the LORD is my shepherd" but it enters the valley.  This is the way of the LORD.  Maybe stuff on Psalms as prayers of Christ from the depths.  He enters the valley for us.


The wisdom of Solomon

Son of David, portrait of Christ (some Psalm 72 stuff?)


Thus sayeth the LORD

Bible, prophecy, all Christ-focused.


Unto us a child is born



A prophet hath no honour in his own country

They received Him not...


Turn the other cheek

Stuff on Jesus' teaching as embodying His own life of other-centredness


Do unto others...

So true, and yet, do we?


Ye must be born again

You must be born again.


Let him who is without sin cast the first stone

Just tell the story


Jesus wept

Stuff on Jesus entering into our mess


Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends

Christ's love as ultimate


He gave up the ghost

Jesus death


Our Father in heaven

The essence of prayer is Jesus bringing us to the Father...


Faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these...

Gospel faith leads to gospel love.  Perhaps stuff on importance of church


No rest for the wicked

Biblical portraits of judgement.  Not Dante.  God confirming us in and leaving us in our restlessness.


The wolf shall dwell with the lamb / They will soar on wings like eagles / Hallelujah

New Creation


God so loved the world...

Appeal to trust in Jesus


What else?  Any thoughts?


From Watchman Nee's Sit, Walk, Stand.

"An engineer living in a large city in the West left his homeland for the Far East. He was away for two or three years, and during his absence his wife was unfaithful to him and went off with one of his best friends. On his return home he found he had lost his wife, his two children and his best friend. At the close of a meeting which I was addressing, this grief-stricken man unburdened himself to me. 'Day and night for two solid years my heart has been full of hatred,' he said. 'I am a Christian, and I know I ought to forgive my wife and my friend, but though I try and try to forgive them, I simply cannot. Every day I resolve to love them, and every day I fail. What can I do about it?' 'Do nothing at all,' I replied. 'What do you mean?' he asked, startled. 'Am I to continue to hate them?' So I explained: 'The solution of your problem lies here, that when the Lord Jesus died on the Cross he not only bore your sins away but he bore you away too. When he was crucified, your old man was crucified in him, so that that unforgiving you, who simply cannot love those who have wronged you, has been taken right out of the way in his death. God has dealt with the whole situation in the Cross, and there is nothing left for you to deal with. Just say to him, 'Lord, I cannot love and I give up trying, but I count on thy perfect love. I cannot forgive, but I trust thee to forgive instead of me, and to do so henceforth in me.'

The man sat there amazed and said, 'That's all so new, I feel I must do something about it.' Then a moment later he added again, 'But what can I do?' 'God is waiting till you cease to do,' I said. 'When you cease doing, then God will begin. Have you ever tried to save a drowning man? The trouble is that his fear prevents him trusting himself to you. When that is so, there are just two ways of going about it. Either you must knock him unconscious and then drag him to the shore, or else you must leave him to struggle and shout until his strength gives way before you go to his rescue. If you try to save him while he has any strength left, he will clutch at you in his terror and drag you under, and both he and you will be lost. God is waiting for your store of strength to be utterly exhausted before he can deliver you. Once you have ceased to struggle, he will do everything. God is waiting for you to despair.'

My engineer friend jumped up. 'Brother,' he said, 'I've seen it. Praise God, it's all right now with me! There's nothing for me to do. He has done it all!' And with radiant face he went off rejoicing."






Are you aware of Mike Reeves' new book on the reformation, The Unquenchable Flame


Mark Dever says about it:


'With the skill of a scholar and the art of a storyteller, Michael Reeves has written what is, quite simply, the best brief introduction to the Reformation I have read.'


How about that?!  You can check out all the wonderful resources surrounding it on Theology Network.


Anyway, in the book Mike makes the point that there were no Lutherans among all the refugee theologians who came to England (something still felt today in the almost total lack of Lutheran flavour to English evangelicalism, which has always been much more Zwinglian and Calvinist). p129

That seems to me to be a very great loss.  Take for instance Luther's advice to a friend, Jerome Weller who suffered great bouts of depression:

Whenever the devil pesters you with these thoughts, at once seek out the company of men, drink more, joke and jest, or engage in some other form of merriment. Sometimes it is necessary to drink a little more, play, jest, or even commit some sin in defiance and contempt of the devil in order not to give him an opportunity to make us scrupulous about trifles. We shall be overcome if we worry too much about falling into some sin.

Accordingly if the devil should say, “Do not drink,” you should reply to him, “On this very account, because you forbid it, I shall drink, and what is more, I shall drink a generous amount.” Thus one must always do the opposite of that which Satan prohibits. What do you think is my reason for drinking wine undiluted, talking freely, and eating more often if it is not to torment and vex the devil who made up his mind to torment and vex me? Would that I could commit some token sin simply for the sake of mocking the devil, so that he might understand that I acknowledge no sin and am conscious of no sin. When the devil attacks and torments us, we must completely set aside the whole Decalogue. When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: “I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made satis­faction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there I shall be also.”


Compare Luther with Zwingli - here's Mike on p69:

Luther believed that when Adam sinned and was declared guilty, the entire human race became, as it were, ‘clothed’ in his guilt; but when we turn to Christ we are ‘clothed’ in his righteousness. Zwingli, on the other hand, believed more that we each become guilty when we actually sin, but that Christ makes us righteous in ourselves. Luther’s idea that believers are at the same time righteous (in status before God) and sinful (in heart), did not really figure in Zwingli’s mind.


Where can I get me some sweet draughts of Lutheran liberty??



Who said the appendix is redundant?  There's some brilliant appendices to Bible Overview

How about this from Paul Blackham - he answers 24 frequently asked questions about an explicitly Christ focused Old Testament.  Here are the questions - if you want to read his answers - buy the book!

Appendix I - Frequently Asked Questions (Written by Paul Blackham)

 1. Do we need the New Testament?  If the gospel was set out in the Old Testament and the ancient church was saved by that revelation, then is the New Testament ultimately necessary?

 2. Weren't the writers of the Old Testament trying to work out what they had written, according to 1 Peter 1:10-12?

 3. Did the writers of the Hebrew Scriptures understand what they were writing?

 4. How much did the Old Testament saints really know about the person and work of Jesus Christ?

 5. According to Hebrews 1:1-3, didn't God have a different revelation in the Old Testament?

 6. If the Old Testament church knew so much, what was the point of the incarnation?

 7. What difference did the incarnation make to God the Son? How did the incarnation affect Him?

 8. In Hebrews 11:40 doesn't it seem as if the Old Testament church was imperfect until the New Testament church came along?

 9. According to Exodus 6:2-3, did Abraham know the name of the Lord?

 10. When Jeremiah spoke about a ‘new covenant' was he looking forward to a different way of salvation?

 11. What are the differences between the church in the Old Testament and the church in the New Testament?  What are the areas of continuity and discontinuity?

 12. We just speak about ‘Jesus' all the time, but what name did the Old Testament saints use to refer to God the Son?

 13. What is the meaning of the day of Pentecost in Acts 2?  Is it ‘the birth of the church' or perhaps ‘the coming of the Spirit'?

 14. Why does Paul speak about the ‘mystery' that was not revealed to people in the past as it has now been revealed in the New Testament?

 15. Why do so many Christians think that the Angel of the Lord is God the Son?

 16. Is the Word of the Lord in the Old Testament the same as the Word of God in John 1?  Is the Word of the Lord a title for Jesus in the Old Testament?

 17. Are we in a more privileged position today than the Old Testament saints?

 18. Is the revelation of God ‘progressive'?

 19. In Matthew 11:11, doesn't Jesus say that even the least New Testament Christian is greater than the greatest Old Testament prophet, John the Baptist?

 20. Can the gospel of Christ really be understood from the Old Testament as well as the New Testament?

 21. Did every believer in the Old Testament have a personal meeting with the Angel of the Lord?

 22. How can we speak of the ‘church' in the Old Testament when that word is never used in the Old Testament?

 23. Why did the early church think that Jesus was in Proverbs 8?

 24. Do all Christians understand the Old Testament in this way?


This is followed, in appendix 2, by a list of quotes from the greats of church history.  All of them uphold conscious faith in Christ from the very beginning:

JC Ryle
CH Spurgeon
RM McCheyne
John Newton
George Whitfield
Jonathan Edwards
John Bunyan
Richard Sibbes
John Owen
Francis Turretin
The Geneva Bible notes
Church of England homilies (1562)
John Calvin
Martin Luther
Leo the Great
Eusebius Pamphilius
Clement of Alexandria
Justin Martyr

.That's some cloud of witnesses eh?


Go buy this book.


Okay it's one of the least inspiring book titles ever conceived, but it does exactly what it says on the front.

Steve Levy has written it with Paul Blackham.  It's 336 pages.  There are 11 sections:

What the Bible says about itself

Creation to new creation

Father Abraham


Promised Land

Kings to Exile

Latter Prophets

The Writings

The gospels

Acts and the church

The church in Revelation


Loving what I've read so far.  I reckon this is the book I'll be giving to anyone wanting a grounding in Christ-focused biblical theology.

Here's a provocative paragraph early on:

"When you are reading any of the Old Testament books, whether Numbers, Leviticus, Kings or Chronicles, you are reading about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  You are not reading an illustration of the gospel, you are not reading stories that can be reinterpreted in the light of the gospel.  You are reading God's clear word about Jesus.  That is how the Bible sees itself."  (p22) 

I'm sure I'll be posting quotes as I go.  But seriously - go and buy this book!


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