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If you have questions about the relationship between God’s sovereignty and our sharing of the gospel, I highly recommend J.I.Packer’s classic, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.

Below I have outlined J.I. Packer’s summary of the gospel message. Keep in mind, this is abridged. But it offers a basic outline of the Christian message. For more, read Packer’s Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God It’s only 126 pages long.

I. The gospel is a message about God. It tells us who He is, what His character is, what His Standards are, and what He requires of us, His creatures . . .

II. The gospel is a message about sin. It tells us how we have fallen short of God’s standard; how we have become guilty, filthy, and helpless in sin, and now stand under the wrath of God. . . Not till we have learned our need to get right with God, and our inability to do so by any effort of our own, can we come to know the Christ who saves from sin.

a. Conviction of sin is essentially an awareness of a wrong relationship with God: not just with one’s neighbour . . .

b. Conviction of sin always includes conviction of sins: a sense of guilt for particular wrongs done in the sight of God . . .

c. Conviction of sin always includes conviction of sinfulness: a sense of one’s complete corruption and perversity in God’s sight, and one’s consequent need of what Ezekiel called a ‘new heart’ . . .

III. The gospel is a message about Christ – Christ the Son of God incarnate; Christ the Lamb of God, dying for sin; Christ the risen Lord; Christ the perfect Saviour.

a. We must not present the Person of Christ apart from His saving work.

b. We must not present the saving work of Christ apart from His Person.

IV. The gospel is a summons to faith and repentance.

a. The demand is for faith as well as repentance.

b. The demand is for repentance as well as faith.

See also:

What Do Christians Mean When They Reference the Gospel or Good News

A Football Illustration: Ron Brown Shares the Gospel

The French Spirit

Chris —  July 14, 2016
Screenshot 2016-07-14 20.36.32

Our 2 youngest with French veterans at the Arc de Triomphe (2010)

“I began to cry. Not out of sorrow for myself, nor because of my wounds, but at the great joy that I felt at being back on French soil.” Commando Robert Piauge, June 6, 1944

Grieving as we are for our fellow image-bearers in France, I was reminded of this D-Day story that so captures the French spirit.

At the last minute, the commander of the group, Lt. Col. Robert Dawson, Royal Marine Commandos, waved the Frenchmen forward so that they would be the first to set foot on shore.

One of those Frenchmen was Pvt. Robert Piauge, twenty-four years old, whose mother lived in Ouistreham. He was on LCI 523, commanded by Sub-Lt. John Berry, which had got hung up on a beach obstacle. Piauge and the other commando jumped into the sea, so impatient were they to get back to France. Piauge landed in chest-deep waters. He waded ashore, the third Frenchman to arrive.

Mortars were exploding around him, some heavy shells coming down, a bit of small-arms fire, a lot of noise. Piauge made it to shore and got about ten meters across the beach when a mortar exploded beside him, riddling him with shrapnel (he still carries twenty-two pieces of steel in his body today). His best friend, next to him, was killed by the same mortar. A British medic examined Piauge’s wounds, pronounced him “fini,” gave him a shot of morphine, and moved on to treat men who could be saved.

Piauge thought of his mother, who had protested tearfully against his joining the French army in 1939, as her husband had died as a result of World War I wounds. Then he thought of France, and “I began to cry. Not out of sorrow for myself, nor because of my wounds, but at the great joy that I felt at being back on French soil.” He passed out.

Piauge was picked up by a medic, carried out to a hospital ship by an LCI, treated for his wounds, and eventually recovered in a hospital in England. He lives today in a seaside apartment in Ouistreham. From his living-room window he can look out at the spot where he landed. (Stephen Ambrose, D Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II, 553-554).

I shared earlier this week that I am part of a group that has met to study 2 Corinthians with Dr. George Guthrie. Dr. Guthrie is the author of the excellent new commentary, 2 Corinthians (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament).

I can’t remember a time when my understanding of Scripture has been so effectively sharpened in such a short period of time. I look forward to preaching this rich book of the Bible to our church.

The below images offer an opportunity to look in through the window at our times of study at the Haddon Robinson study retreat.

Even if you are an Auburn fan, this from Bear Bryant is good advice.

The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7 : Christian Counter-Culture)

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A wedding charge in Stillman ValleyTogether — as one — make your marriage a more magnificent mirror so that together you more fully reflect the beauty of Christ and the loveliness of the gospel.

I didn’t officiate for either the vows or declaration of intent at my daughter’s wedding. I did give the charge / mini-sermon. When the time came, I asked the ushers (my two sons) to position a full-length mirror on the platform. It was one we borrowed for the bride to use while getting ready.

*          *          *          *          *

To begin with, let me tell you about a conversation I had with this mirror last night. It was just the mirror and I alone and we had a nice chat.

It may surprise Alex’s family and guests– who do not know me as well– to hear that I talk to mirrors. I suppose it could possibly even concern some – – but my people are from rural Iowa. It’s a solitary life out there on the prairie and we learn to hold conversations when we’re by ourselves that those from more populated areas might find strange.

Yesterday we had a house full of bride’s maids. The place was positively buzzing with energy. But eventually everyone went to bed and I was left alone with this full-length mirror we borrowed to use while our bride is getting ready.

I had never met this mirror before, person to mirror, so as the host of my home I made polite introductions. I gave my name and said, “Welcome. You’re a fine looking mirror.”

The mirror thanked me and expressed appreciation for our hospitality.

Making conversation I said to the mirror, “It seems like a beautiful thing, to be a mirror.”

He liked the question. He responded expansively, “You know, it really is. You participate in the best occasions in life: Children starting to school. Mothers face painting for football games. Proms. There’s nothing I would rather do than be a mirror.”

I agreed that it sounded nice.

Then the mirror graciously volunteered, and I appreciated him doing so, he offered: “Say, I know that I’m here to serve you as a family. And I’m happy to do it. I wonder if you have a word for me about the big event tomorrow. How can I help you for the wedding? Do you have any special requests?”

It was a question I was hoping for and I said, “Well thanks for asking. Actually, as it turns out, I have four words for you. And, just to help you remember, I alliterated my points. I am a preacher after all. So here are 4 m’s for you to remember the day of my daughters wedding. I counted them off with my fingers:

  1. More
  2. Magnificent
  3. Modest
  4. Mirror

I was concerned that the list might be a bit long for a mirror, so I added, “I know you only asked for one “m” and that’s four. So if you need to remember only one of the four, remember the word more.”

The mirror thought about all of this. He mumbled m’s. He paused and thought for a few minutes.

I thought maybe he didn’t get them. So I started to repeat them . . . but the mirror interrupted, “No. I’ve got it.”

CDB_6549The mirror cautiously explained, “Well, I can work with three of the four. Obviously, I know a mirror’s job. I reflect images. I’m up for magnificent. Every day work is okay. But mirrors, even small town mirrors, live for big days. That’s what we love about being mirrors. Having said that, I’ve always been a modest mirror. I know there are mirrors with bigger jobs. There are mirrors on the Hubbell Space telescope, and mirrors in the Palace of Versailles – – I’m a small town mirror.”

I could tell he was being careful, but the mirror continued and said, “But the one word that gives me some pause – – which as it turns out – is the one you are especially stressing is the word ‘more.’ To me, and I don’t want to read too much into what you are saying, but to me, ‘more’ implies that you think tomorrow I will portray a more magnificent image than I ever have in the past. It sounds like you are expecting a greater degree of reflection and beauty.”

The mirror said all of this in a very diplomatic way. He then waited for me to say that I didn’t think tomorrow would be more magnificent. But I didn’t deny the point. In fact I assured him that I did think tomorrow (which is now today, my little girl’s wedding day) would be the mirror’s best moment ever.

At this point the mirror got a little salty. He said, “Look that seems a bit presumptuous. How can you say that tomorrow will be more magnificent? You don’t know my body of work. I’ve conceded that I am a small town mirror, but I have reflected at some big events by Midwestern standards.”

I didn’t back down. “Well,” I said, “It’s like this. First let me confirm, you were not at my wedding, August 12, 1989.”

The mirror did even have to think about his answer. “No, he said, I wasn’t there. I’ve never worked west of the Mississippi.”

I said, “Well, in that case, you’ve never reflected a more beautiful bride.”

The mirror got it then – — and he smiled – he realized he was dealing with a guy who wasn’t trying to be objective. He conceded my right to be biased, “Okay, you can argue for the unsurpassed beauty of your wife and daughter.”

But then the mirror’s smile turned to concern. He said, “Hey, don’t put too much pressure on me. I can only work with what I’ve been given. I haven’t seen your daughter in her wedding dress yet. So how can I know if she will be pretty?”

I said, “Well, that’s where the ‘modest’ word enters the picture. You don’t have to be magnificent on your own. I assure you that my daughter will supply enough beauty for whatever room she is in. Just show up buddy. My daughter as a bride will light the place up. I know my little girl will be beautiful on her wedding day.”

*          *          *          *          *

Now – – much to everyone’s relief who is worried about my late night conversation with a mirror – – I’ll turn to my audience here. I’m sure Alex agrees that this mirror, reflecting his bride, never had a more magnificent day. Right Alex? The mirror is looking good.

(Alex agreed!)

Allison and Alex, for the both of you, not coincidentally, I have the same four words for you two that I had for our friend here.

  1. Mirror
  2. Magnificent
  3. More
  4. Modest

A Magnificent Mirror

To begin with, any Christian should be a mirror that reflects glory back to Christ – – As our Scottish ancestors wrote, our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The metaphor of a mirror helps us understand what it means to glorify God. God’s glory is his manifest beauty – – glory is to God as beams of light are to the sun – – so glorifying God means that we are the surfaces off which God’s glory reflects. We are mirrors.[1]

The extent to which a mirror brilliantly reflects an image demonstrates its quality. A marvelous mirror shows a marvelous image without distortion. And the degree to which we show an on looking world the beauty of Christ is the degree to which we glorify Him.[2]

Usher #1’s (your brother Christopher’s) reading from the Psalter emphasized that when we pray today for God’s blessing on your home, we have this mirroring / reflective objective in mind:

[1] May God be gracious to us and bless us

and make his face to shine upon us, Selah

[2] that your way may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.

[3] Let the peoples praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you!

[4] Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,

for you judge the peoples with equity

and guide the nations upon earth. Selah

[5] Let the peoples praise you, O God;

let all the peoples praise you!

[6] The earth has yielded its increase;

God, our God, shall bless us.

[7] God shall bless us;

let all the ends of the earth fear him! (Psalm 67 ESV)

 Think of verses 1-2 with my comments inserted:

[1] May God be gracious to us and bless us

and make his face to shine upon us, Selah

[2] that (which is to say, “for the purpose” or “to the end”) your way may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.

 The Psalm is a prayer that asks that God’s glory would shine into our lives. But the goal of the prayer is the result that God’s ways would be known on earth. And today the church asks for God’s blessing so that we might make a difference around the globe. So that we might, as mirrors, reflect his glory.

To say this personally to you Allison and Alex, today when we pray for God’s blessing on your home, we are not simply thinking of your home in St. Louis but we are praying that as you are built into the community of a local church – – that there would be global implications. We are praying that, as the glory of God shines into your lives, that as mirrors you will reflect God’s glory in ways that benefit many others.

Make your marriage a magnificent mirror that reflects the beauty of Christ and the loveliness of the gospel.


What I have said thus far – – that we are to glorify God by reflecting his manifest goodness — is nothing that cannot be said of all of creation. The mirror concept is not limited in its scope. All of creation is in some sense a mirror that reflects the glory of Christ. Every blade of grass reflects the beauty of the Creator.

So why would we say that your marriage should be a more magnificent mirror. The answer to that question flows out of usher #2’s (your brother Benjamin’s) Scripture reading. The Apostle Paul pointed out that marriage and the gospel explain one another.

[22] Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. [23] For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. [24] Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

[25] Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, [26] that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, [27] so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. [28] In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. [29] For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, [30] because we are members of his body. [31] “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” [32] This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. [33] However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV)

So up to this point – – either of you has been mirrors that reflected the glory of Christ to the world. But now – as of today – together – you are positioned to glorify Christ even more because marriage and the gospel explain one another. Notice four ways marriage and the gospel explain one another.

First, marriage is a mirror that magnificently glorifies Christ when wives submit to their husband. Paul wrote:

 [22] Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. [23] For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

 Allison, as a wife, you are called to uphold and support Alex. You are to be a champion for him. You know that in our home your mother has beautifully exemplified this. She supports us and upholds me, if anything to a fault. Believe in your husband. Respect him. Love him.

Second, marriage is a mirror that more magnificently glorifies Christ when husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church.

[25] Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

 Jesus loved us by going to the cross to take the penalty of sin upon him. He gave himself completely for his bride the church. Likewise, Alex the expectation is that you would protect your wife completely. The guy goes down for the girl. If you hear a noise in the apartment, don’t say, “Hey honey, go check that out.” The guy goes down.[3]

Which is to say, Alex, God would expect, that you would step in front of a truck to save Allison’s life, tragic as that would be. But really getting hit by a truck is the easy part. Dying (at least by way of getting ran over by a truck) happens all at once. The more difficult thing is when you are tired at the end of a long day and the dog (by the way, I would encourage you to hold off on getting a dog for a little while) –when the dog wants to go out and you need to be a servant leader and you have to get up and let the dog out. That’s when servant leadership really kicks in. And in those moments you show Christ-like love, however, ordinary, and reflect the glory of Christ.

Third, marriage is a mirror that more magnificently glorifies Christ because when a husband and wife become one flesh they picture the solidarity of God’s people with their Savior. How is it that what a Savior accomplished millennia ago outside Jerusalem has significance for today? The answer is that we are united with Christ. We are “bound together” with Jesus. Likewise, you are to be bound together. The intimacy with which you hold one another pictures the intimacy of Christ and his bride the church.[4]

Fourth, marriage — with its exclusive commitment — mirrors the love of Christ for his church. Your foundational relationship is Christ and his church. But after this – – your central relationship is to one another. For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother . . . You belong to one another. Likewise, Christ is not a universal Savior. The danger we run in a wedding like this – – is that we play some church music and read some biblical thoughts – – and imply that the benefits of Christ are universally bestowed. But this is not what the Bible says. Rather, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).”


Allison, you might be inclined to respond, “Oh you are my father. You have an over-inflated opinion.” And Alex may feel like – – “Oh what am I getting myself into.”

Admittedly, I am biased about the two of you, but remember the word “modest.” My confidence regarding this challenge to be more magnificent mirrors is not because of you. After all, you are modest mirrors. My confidence is because the source of the glory – Christ, our King – – is the brightest possible light. We have a beautiful Savior. We don’t have to worry about him being beautiful. Just show up as mirrors and our King, and his bride, will shine in ways that don’t just fill a church building on a wedding day – – his glory will shine forth and fill the entire universe.


[1] S. Aalen, “Glory,” in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 44–48; Chris Brauns, “How Would You Define ‘Glory’?,” A Brick in the Valley: The Web Site of Pastor and Author Chris Brauns, accessed November 6, 2014,; Chris Brauns, “Notes on Glory for Romans Study,” A Brick in the Valley: The Web Site of Pastor and Author Chris Brauns, accessed November 6, 2014,

[2] In addition to noticing what a marvelous mirror is, we could also notice two things a mirror is not. (1) A mirror is not a source. Mirrors don’t supply light on their own. So a marvelous mirror cannot produce a beautiful image. (2) Mirrors are not sinks. They are not to be black holes that suck up the light and internalize them.

[3] Matt Chandler, “A Beautiful Design: Man’s Purpose” (The Village Church, Dallas, September 21, 2014), 3, Chandler shares that Dr. Randy Stinson, “Has taught all his little boys concerning his daughters and women in general, ‘The boy goes down. The girl goes free.’

[4] Chris Brauns, Bound Together: How We Are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013).

Screenshot 2015-03-14 18.32.37I’m looking forward to preaching at Oxford Bible Fellowship this morning (3/15/15). Those who would like an electronic copy of my Powerpoint slides can find them at the below link.

Oxford Bible Fellowship Sermon Notes for 3/15/15

The below video is by no means just for singles nor is it simply about the subject of being single. I’ll bet you will be encouraged by this if you take 15 minutes to watch it.

I heard Lizzette Beard at the  2014 ERLC National Conference on “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage.” I continue to reflect on what she had to say and there are a couple of specific ways that her talk influenced my direction as a leader for our church. And, for the record, her influence wasn’t in reference to how we do singles ministry!

Christ said his disciples are the "salt" of the world.Given that Matthew summarizes the response to the Sermon on the Mount by saying that the crowds were astonished at Jesus’s teaching (Matthew 7:28-29)- – and remembering that the Gospel concludes with Jesus saying, “All authority has been given to me (Matthew 28:18) – – any study on the Sermon on the Mount needs to consider the authority of Christ.

As I noted earlier in this series of posts, currently I am preaching through the Sermon on the Mount. Our time on Sunday mornings is limited so I am also making my study notes available. Bear in mind that these are simply my notes and are not particularly well organized and certainly not edited. Some of the material is technical. Previously I posted my notes on the Kingdom of Heaven and Matthew’s use of inclusio / bracketing.

Authority (ἐξουσία /exousia) – “The right to control or govern over” (Louw and Nida).[1]

Matthew concludes the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:28-29) by observing that the crowds were astonished at Jesus’s authority. This summary statement demonstrates that a great deal of attention should be given to what is meant by Christ’s authority. Ultimately we will see Jesus’s incredible yet true claim that his authority rested in Himself and was not derived like that of the Scribes.

But first, we should consider the reaction to Christ’s authority. Matthew’s gospel says that the on looking crowds were “astonished.” The word translated “astonished” means to be so amazed as to be practically overwhelmed.[2] My paraphrase is that those who heard the Sermon on the Mount were “blown away.” It helps gauge the level of the crowds astonishment at Jesus’s authority to observe how the word translated “astonished” in Matthew 7:28 is used by Luke in Acts 13:12. In Acts 13 when a man is struck blind after opposing the early church. Luke gives the following account.

 [4] So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. [5] When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. [6] When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. [7] He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. [8] But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. [9] But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him [10] and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? [11] And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. [12] Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. (Acts 13:4-12 ESV)

 Luke uses the same word to describe the astonishment of the on looking Sergius Paulus, “a man of intelligence,” who had summoned Barnabas and Saul to hear the Word of God.

In reading the Gospel of Matthew, we begin to be astonished with Jesus’s authority even in the way that Matthew presents Christ leading up to the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew’s gospel:

  • Begins by tracing Jesus’s genealogy demonstrating that he is the culmination of the whole flow of the Old Testament.[3]
  • Continues by showing how Jesus is the fulfillment of prophecy[4]
  • Brings Moses to mind by showing how both Moses and Jesus were threatened as infants (Exodus 2:1-10, Matthew 2:16-18).[5]
  • Emphasizes that Jesus comes out of Egypt like Israel
  • Leads up to the Sermon on the Mount with Jesus’s victory in the wilderness.

As the Sermon on the Mount begins, Jesus goes up on the mountain. Matthew’s Jewish readers would have seen a parallel between Jesus going up on the mountain and Moses who went up on the mountain to receive the 10 commandments.[6] As noted above, Jesus has already been paralleled with Moses in that both their lives were threatened as infants (Exodus 2:1-10, Matthew 2:16-18).

Further, the idea of Jesus sitting down with people coming to hear him teach also stressed his authority. Jesus opens his mouth – there is a split second of suspenseful silence – and Jesus begins to speak.[7]

In the content of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’s authority expressed itself in several ways.

  1. Christ spoke as the authority rather than appealing to policies. Notice his repeated use of the saying, “Truly I say to you” (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν/ amen legō humin) (5:18, 6:2, 5, 16, 25, 29) and “But I say to you” (ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν) (5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 42) – Jesus’s use of these two phrases demonstrates how he took a posture of unique and divine authority. The latter phrase, “but I say to you,” appears six times as noted and is used in each case to clarify the meaning of the law and to show how the scribes and Pharisees had missed the heart of the matter. Recognizing Christ’s bold assertion of his authority allows us to dispense with any nonsense that Jesus was merely a great moral teacher.[8]
  2. Jesus insisted on a radical internalization of biblical principles. Whereas the scribes focused on behaviors, Jesus focused on the heart: (Matthew 12:33-37/Tree and Its Fruit, Overflow of Heart, 19:16-22/Rich Young Ruler).
  3. Jesus applied truth in fresh ways that made sense in contrast with the arbitrary standards of the scribes. One example would be the matter of healing on the Sabbath and the Pharisees failure to give priority to the weightier matter of mercy (Matt 12:1-14). It’s like NFL rules where they are so caught up in defining a “catch” that it no longer describes a catch. Jesus said “I am the rule” – – not the NFL and I tell you the heart of the matter.

The emphasis on Jesus’s authority continues to the end of the Gospel.[9] In Matthew 8 Jesus authority is referenced in both his exchange with the centurion and his rebuke of the storm. Even the wind and the waves obeyed him (Matt 8:27)!

In Matthew 9:8, the crowds are amazed that such authority was given to men.

By Matthew 10:1, Christ begins to share authority with the disciples.

Matthew argues for the authority of Christ by emphasizing the phrase “something greater.”[10]

In Matthew 12:3-4, Matthew implicitly says that Christ is greater than David.

In Matthew 12:5-6, Matthew says that Christ is greater than the Temple.

In Matthew 12:42, Matthew says that something greater than Jonah is here.

In Matthew 12:43, Matthew says that something greater than Solomon is here.

Matthew 21:23 demonstrates that the issue of authority continues to be central in the Gospel of Matthew:

And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’”

Finally, Matthew concludes his gospel with Jesus’s assuring his disciples that all authority has been given to him and that he charges them to go into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).

See William Barclay’s chapter on the Authority of Jesus. I have not yet interacted with it extensively.[11]

One of the challenges are day is that Christians too easily accept the authoritative presuppositions of the academy without evaluating them. We need to be unapologetic in saying that we accept Christ’s authoritative Word. For more on this subject, see Alvin Plantinga’s essay, Advice to Christian Philosophers.[12] That essay concludes:

 Christian philosophers must be wary about assimilating or accepting presently popular philosophical ideas and procedures; for many of these have roots that are deeply anti-Christian. And finally the Christian philosophical community has a right to its own perspectives; it is under no obligation first to show that this perspective is plausible with respect to what is taken for granted by all philosopher, or most philosophers, or the leading philosophers of our day. . . In sum, we who are Christians and propose to be philosophers must not rest content with being philosophers who happen, incidentally, to be Christians; we must strive to be Christian philosophers. We must therefore pursue our projects with integrity, independence, and Christian boldness.[13]


[1] A common word, “ἐξουσία/authority” is found 102 times in the Greek New Testament.

[2] The word for astonished is “ἐκπλήσσομαι/ekplēssōmai”: “to be so amazed as to be practically overwhelmed” (Louw and Nida). It is found thirteen times in the Greek New Testament (Matt 7:28, 13:54, 19:25, 22:33; Mark 1:22, 6:2, 7:37, 10:26, 11:18, Luke 2:48, 4:32, 9:43; Acts 13:12).

[3] R.T. France, Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989), 168.

[4] See “Fulfill” on page 5.

[5] France, Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher, 187.

[6] Ibid., 18; W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew: In Three Volumes, International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1988), 23–93.

[7] Regarding the beginning of the sermon, Bonhoeffer made an incredible observation in a footnote – that the warrant for his exposition is the phrase, “he opened his mouth.” Bonhoeffer wrote, “Even in the early Church this point was emphasized. Before Jesus speaks there is a pause – – all is silent for a moment or two.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, ed. Irmgard Booth (New York: Macmillan, 1963), 118, fn 1 .

[8] John R.W. Stott, The Message on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7): Christian Counter Culture, ed. John R.W. Stott, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1978), 212–215.

[9] Occurrences of ἐξουσία/exousia in Matthew are found in 7:28, 8:9, 9:6, 9:8, 10:1, 21:23, 21:24, 21:27, 28:18.

[10] France, Matthew: Evangelist and Teacher, 189.

[11] William Barclay, By What Authority? (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1974), 78–110.

[12] Alvin Plantinga, “Advice to Christian Philosophers (With a Special Preface for Christian Thinkers From Different Disciplines),” n.d.,

[13] Ibid.