Category Archives: Scripture

The Reckless Love of God?

Every now and again a song will come out that takes the Christian world by storm. The latest mega-hit is “Reckless Love.” It’s a good tune. The Bethel version sounds great. I just spent over 40 minutes watching Anthony Brown and a young adult choir doing a more gospel type version of the song and I’m not gonna lie, I felt the Spirit of God as they were singing it.

But I’m a lyrics guy. I’m also theologically minded. So when I hear something in a song that doesn’t quite sit right I tend to focus in on it; sometimes to my detriment. I’m sure everyone knows where I’m going with this. I’m not the first to point it out or discuss it. In fact, John Piper addressed it on his Ask Pastor John podcast a while back. It’s the word “reckless” in the song. Why is it there and how does it function?

I’ve heard various explanations, one being that God will do whatever it takes to get to his people. Okay, that sounds good, and I agree, but does that equate to recklessness? Let’s take the definition that comes up with a simple Google search:

reckless3

Now I want us to think about this for a second… Have you thought about it? Does the God we know, love, and worship fit the description of the adjective “reckless”? Does God act without thinking? Let’s look to a piece of Paul’s glorious run-on sentence in Ephesians:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Eph 1:3–10)

Look at the language Paul uses to describe God’s actions here. He says that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. Choosing requires intentionality. Doing it before the foundation of the world requires premeditation. Let’s continue… He says that we’ve been predestined to adoption as sons. Again, predestination requires premeditation and adoption requires intentionality. No one was ever adopted on accident or without thought. And he did this according to the purpose of his will. Folks, there was purpose in this! And it was according to his will! Paul speaks of wisdom and insight and a plan to unite all things in him in the fullness of time! This is the polar opposite of recklessness.

The crucifixion was not an act that was carried out with no thought to the consequences of the action. Likewise with the resurrection. God knew exactly what he was doing. He still does. His love is many things, but reckless is not one of them. There is a way that God can do whatever it takes to get to his people without it being reckless. For God to cast light on a shadow or climb a mountain or tear down a lie, as the song says, he does not need to do so recklessly. He’s God! Leaving the 99 sheep to rescue the 1 is not a reckless act. It’s very thoughtful. It’s very intentional.

We could go through Scripture from Old Testament to New and point out example after example of God’s divine plan in action. How he had things set up that seemed one way to us but in the grand scheme of things were really another way altogether (think about Joseph being sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape, and unjustly imprisoned only to be called upon by Pharaoh to interpret a dream and rise to a level of prominence that would allow him to save his family from a sure death that would have resulted from famine). The point is that of all of God’s attributes, recklessness is not one of them.

Now let me say this: I like the song. In fact, after hearing the version I heard this morning I’d go so far as to say that I like it a lot. I just don’t like that one adjective. I’d prefer to say “endless” or “precious” or “relentless” love of God. I think that they’re all theologically correct. Endless and precious wouldn’t change the cadence of the chorus at all and relentless would change it minimally. I think for the point that the song is making relentless makes more sense than reckless. God will stop at nothing to get the one sheep that goes astray. He’s relentless in his love for us; never letting up. But that jives with God’s thoughtful, intentional, well planned out initiative for saving his people.

B”H

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Quote of the Day

“For my people are foolish;

they know me not;

they are stupid children;

they have no understanding.

They are ‘wise’—in doing evil!

But how to do good they know not.”

(Jer 4:22 ESV)

B”H

Just Ordered, In the Mail, and Other Miscellany

So first off, my big CBD order that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago is pretty much all here. I’m just waiting on Scott Hahn’s The Fourth Cup to arrive but that should be either today or tomorrow. I got 20 books and they were sent in various shipments. Hahn’s commentary on Romans in the CCSS series arrived damaged and the fine folks at CBD were good enough to replace it without requiring me to send them back the damaged copy.

In addition to those 20 books I also received the 4 used copies of various Hahn books that I ordered from different Amazon sellers. They’re all in good shape, thank God! And the free book that Hahn was giving away through the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology arrived as well.

My old friend Bryan L. made note of this year’s Fortress Press/Givingtons sale on Twitter and I took full advantage. Some might remember the trouble I went through last year with the sale when trying to acquire David Congdon’s big book on Bultmann. I went ahead and ordered a dozen books, namely:

The Gospel on the Margins: The Reception of Mark in the Second Century by Michael J. Kok

Deviant Calvinism: Broadening Reformed Theology by Oliver Crisp

Paul and the Stories of Israel: Grand Thematic Narratives in Galatians by A. Andrew Das

The Gospel of John and Christian Origins by John Ashton

Johannes Bugenhagen: Selected Writings, Volume I and Volume II

Irenaeus: Life, Scripture, Legacy edited by Paul Foster & Sarah Parvis

Persons in Relation: An Essay on the Trinity and Ontology by Najib George Awad

The Holy One in Our Midst: An Essay on the Flesh of Christ by James R. Gordon

Election of the Lesser Son: Paul’s Lament-Midrash in Romans 9-11 by David B. Wallace

The Holy Spirit and Ethics in Paul: Transformation and Empowering for Religious-Ethical Life, Second Revised Edition by Volker Rabens

What Is the Bible?: The Patristic Doctrine of Scripture edited by Matthew Baker & Mark Mourachian

The So-Called Jew in Paul’s Letter to the Romans edited by Rafael Rodríguez & and Matthew Thiessen

Chris Tilling raved about Rabens’ book so I’m sure it’s good since Chris would never lie. I’ve had my eye on Gordon’s book since it was published but it was always too pricey. I meant to get the 2 volume set by Bugenhagen last year after my brother from another mother Esteban Vázquez mentioned it but the whole fiasco caused me to be a bit gun-shy with ordering more than the two books I got. Hopefully I won’t have any issues with this order!

In other ordering news, I’ve had my eye on the ESV Scripture Journal New Testament set for a few weeks now. It was finally released yesterday and I proceeded to promptly order a copy from WTS Books. You can see a nice little promo video for the set on CBD’s website.

In addition to these items I got a copy of Gordon Fee’s Jesus the Lord According to Paul the Apostle: A Concise Introduction, which is a distillation of his larger Pauline Christology. Aside from my love for all things Fee, I ordered this volume in order to get free same day shipping on a book stand (pictured below) and some 005 Pigma Micron pens. I had originally gotten 01 Pigma Microns for marking up my Bible but I found them to be slightly thicker than I wanted. So I went a size down. I much prefer the 005.

And that just about does it.

B”H

ESV Heirloom Single Column Legacy Edition (Blue Goatskin): Some Preliminary Remarks

Nearly two weeks ago I mentioned that I had ordered a premium ESV from evangelicalbible.com. I went with the Ocean Blue goatskin ESV Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible after more than a week of research. My research included watching video reviews, reading written reviews, and looking at as many pictures as I could find. This was, after all, a pretty big purchase. I got my copy for $155 marked down from $275.

Now this isn’t the first premium Bible I’ve ever owned. In point of fact, some years back Zondervan sent me a Premium single column NIV reference Bible for review. It’s really a beautiful Bible but it’s not one I’ve found myself using frequently over the years. I think the main reason has been that the type is on the small side and I have a double column NIV reference Bible with large print that I prefer to read and preach from.

But my friend Michael Burgos put the bug in my ear when he started talking about getting a new preaching Bible. I’m going to be leading a Bible study series at church in the near future and I’ll be starting up a Bible study at my job after work on Tuesdays so I figured that I’d get a nice preaching/teaching Bible as well. I had a short list of things I was looking for:

First, I wanted an ESV. I love the NIV and it’s almost always the translation I preach from, and I love the KJV because it’s the translation I was raised with, but the ESV strikes the right balance between the two for me and it’s the one I read most of the time. At this point it’s the translation I’m most familiar with.

Second, I wanted something with wide margins so I could take notes. I haven’t written in a Bible in years but I wanted to go back to my roots and really mark this thing up. For months I had my first KJV on my desk and I’d revisit it from time to time and look at my markings with fondness.

Third, I wanted a single column because I just find them easier for reading. Over the last couple of years I’ve been reading the various versions of the ESV Reader’s Bibles. It’s hard to go back. 

Lastly, I wanted something that was manageable in terms of size. A thinline would have been preferable but not absolutely necessary. I just don’t like unwieldy Bibles and this one will be traveling with me rather than positioned permanently on a pulpit.

So with this in mind I went searching evangelicalbible.com and I immediately fell in love with their selection of blue Bibles. Something about the blue gilding jumped out and grabbed my attention. They had a few to choose from but the Heirloom Legacy was the only one that met my criteria.

Technically it’s not a wide margin but because it’s a reader type of text there isn’t really anything extra on the page. I think they said its layout is based on the concept of “the perfect page.” This leaves plenty of room in the margins and page footers.

It’s also not a thinline. I had a Legacy when Crossway first published it and I hated it for its size. From my research I discovered that this one wasn’t as thick. I couldn’t be sure exactly how thick it was though as I hadn’t seen too much to establish a scale by which to judge it. I could just tell that it was thinner than the one I owned a few years back.

But it was an ESV and it was single column and that blue… So I ordered it and eagerly awaited its arrival. Well, it came in more than a week ago and it’s glorious! Below are some pictures showing just how nice the blue is, how flexible and soft the goatskin is, and how thin it actually is (take note of the last three photos; which include the original Legacy compared to my thinline NIV reference Bible and the new Heirloom Legacy compared to the same Bible).

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 In another post I’ll say some more about how I’ve been marking this Bible up and the pens I’m using to do so. Until then, enjoy the pictures, which really don’t do the reality any justice.

B”H

Just Ordered (and, Just Picked Up)

Indulge me a quick(ish) preface to this announcement of recent purchases. Today marks exactly one year since I stood before a room full of witnesses and made vows to my wife. I mention this firstly because it’s one of the more monumental moments in my life and secondly because it brings to mind something that we were told during out premarital counseling. The pastor who married us shared a story about how him and his wife have made it 40 years without impulse buying. They agreed that anything they wanted but hadn’t already planned for would be written down on a list in the kitchen and if they still wanted it after a day or two then they’d get it. He said that in all those years they never got anything off the list.

I’m not nearly as disciplined, but I have tried to implement that advice when and where possible. I share this anecdote because more than a week ago my buddy Michael Burgos started talking about getting a premium Bible. That sparked my interest and I began perusing evangelicalbible.com’s offerings. I found a couple that I liked but I determined that I wouldn’t get anything because I didn’t really need another Bible and I had no good reason to grab another at this moment in time. Well, after a week I still wanted one and I kept reading reviews, watching videos, and looking at pictures before finally deciding to pull the trigger.

I went with the Ocean Blue goatskin Crossway ESV Heirloom Legacy Bible. Now I’ve had an ESV Legacy before and I hated it. I ended up giving the thing away. It appears that this is an update and the major things that irked me are no more. I also went with this version because I had my heart set on blue (it really is quite striking!) and I’ve come to know and love single column texts over the years. As of late I read my Bible almost exclusively in my many Reader’s editions from Crossway. And though I haven’t handwritten anything in a Bible in quite a long time, this particular Bible has plenty of room in the margins and footer for note taking. I think I will pick the practice back up once I get it.

In addition to this premium Bible, my wife and I spent our first anniversary together out and about doing all manner of things. Our first stop was a Barnes & Noble for some Starbucks and book browsing. I ended up grabbing a copy of H. A. Guerber’s Classical Mythology for $7.98. I saw it the last time I was there and wanted to grab a copy but never did. I also opted to order a bunch of books from CBD’s Spring Sale before we went to see Death Wish, which was great, by the way! Here’s what I got from them:

The Structure of Sacred Doctrine in Calvin’s Theology

Translating the New Testament: Text, Translation, Theology

Rowan’s Rule: The Biography of the Archbishop of Canterbury

Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization*

The Age of the Spirit: How the Ghost of an Ancient Controversy Is Shaping the Church

What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? Diet in Biblical Times

ESV Gospel of John, Reader’s Edition

Friends of Calvin

The Fourth Cup: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper and the Cross*

Abraham Kuyper: A Pictorial Biography

An Outline of New Testament Spirituality

Romans: Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scriptures*

Treasures Old and New: Essays in the Theology of the Pentateuch

The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass As Heaven On Earth*

At the Heart of the Gospel: Suffering in the Earliest Christian Message

Consuming the Word: The New Testament and the Eucharist in the Early Church*

Qumran and Jerusalem: Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the History of Judaism

The Gospel and The Mind: Recovering and Shaping the Intellectual Life

The Challenges of Cultural Discipleship: Essays in the Line of Abraham Kuyper

God Speaks: What He Says, What He Means

I got too many to link them all. Most of them ranged in price from $0.99 to $2.99. The notable exceptions are the volumes by Scott Hahn*, but I’m trying to get my hands on everything he’s ever written so I’m willing to pay the price for those. I’d love to say that this should hold me over for a while, and while it probably should, it definitely won’t. Until next time…

B”H

Home Library/Office Tour

I wanted to do this for a while. I had some time today. One day I’ll get a good camera and give this thing some real production value.

B”H

I Missed International Septuagint Day

I meant to post this yesterday but I got held up at work. I think it was roughly 2005 or 2006 when I became interested in the academic study of the Bible and related literature. I had been a believer for a few years at this point but until then my library consisted of a KJV and an NIV. I’d read both voraciously, which was great (I miss those days!), but there came a point when I needed to supplement my study of the Bible in English.

The first two resources I got my hands on were the New Oxford Annotated Apocrypha, 3rd ed. and Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton’s translation of the Septuagint, which was a diglot containing both the Greek text alongside Brenton’s translation. I procured both books from Walmart and this was my entry into a deeper study of the Scriptures.

I still have that Septuagint, and while I mostly consult my Rahlfs-Hanhart edition these days (or an electronic text in Accordance), it’s nice to pull it down off the shelf and flip through it just to reminisce. Brenton’s was the only English translation of the LXX I knew for years until the NETS came to my attention. I believe it was my brother-from-another-mother Esteban Vázquez and our friend Kevin Edgecomb that first informed me about the NETS, and while I’ve never gotten my hands on a physical copy, I have made use of a PDF copy as well as the edition provided in Accordance.

I’ve said all this to say that the LXX is at the foundation of my love for biblical studies and theology. It was there right at the beginning and it will remain close at hand until the end.

Λύχνος τοῖς ποσίν μου ὁ λόγος σου
καὶ φῶς ταῖς τρίβοις μου.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my paths.

Psalm 118 (119):105

B”H