Book Review: “The New Testament in Seven Sentences” by Gary M. Burge

frkmtsd

I’m so pumped up this set of new books by IVP that I never think twice of getting this book and Write Better by Andrew T. Le Peau. I think I’ve  been reading and reviewing books that are either about salvation or Christian living that I long to read something about the Bible. This new book by Gary M. Burge really rewarded me of that craving.

The New Testament in Seven Sentences tackles the major themes of the Bible and not just the New Testament as the title may suggest. These themes helps us better understand the Bible and it’s message. Further it helps us focus on what God’s sovereign plan through Jesus from here and eternity. Burge crafted this book that as you read, you’ll find the Old and New are inseparable and indispensible. Burge is absolutely good in this part stitching both OT and NT together, that you’ll get glued in reading this book. He imparts his skill to provide a solid read that requires less illustration that won’t overwhelm or bored you to death. I was hooked that I read a big chunk of it the moment I started reading it. And I hope you’ll find that enthusiasm over connecting youself with the topic of this book.

The seven sentences in the title are seven verses in the New Testament that presents the seven themes. They are Matthew 16: 16, fulfillment;  Mark 1: 15, kingdom; Luke 9: 22, cross; 1 Peter 2: 9, covenant; Romans 8: 9, spirit; and Revelation 21:1, completion. Some of these verses are familiar and you might know what they convey.  You might dismissed this as another one of the books that will have the same content discussing themes of the Bible. Think again! Burge breaks the familiarity and brings insights that you might have missed as he digs deeper to the OT to bring light to these themes.

My favorite chapter of the book is Burge tackling grace. Burge excellently delivers the the familiar mash up with insights that will further elavate the familiar and illuminate insights you might not heard of. The well balanced blend in the book is a delight for the readers.

The New Testament in Seven Sentences is an engaging book that supersedes its intention as an introduction for the major theme of the Bible. It’s not an introductory book that you will feel hurried or summarized that will leave you wanting but gives you a satisfying read. Please don’t supplement it for something less or it might steal the other book’s thunder. In fact, you might just need this one to do the job in understanding the crucial themes in the Scriptures. Highly recommend!

My verdict:

5 out of 5

(InterVarsity Press provided the digital copy for this review)

8 Favorite Quotes From the Book “The New Testament in Seven Sentences” by Gary M. Burge

gulprcq

I always look forward for October because it’s our cottage prayer meeting at our house. Our cottage prayer meeting consist of having our church members come to our home, have a 30 minute devotion led by our pastor and the rest is  fellowship over a meal. October is also the birth month of my father in law, sister in law, wife and our daughter. So it’s fitting to celebrate the birthdays by having a cottage prayer meeting. This year will be held at my parents house. Aside from the birthdays it will be a thankagiving celebration because of how God sustains my father in law through his dialysis. Please consider praying for us specially that the gospel may be preach and God may open my relatives heart as they hear the message.

Anyways, here’s some quotes from book by Gary M. Burge, The New Testament in Seven Sentences, published by 10 of Inter Varsity Press. If you like these quotes, please get yourself a copy of this book by ordering at IVP.

“This is the mission of the church. This is the task of God’s people who have followed Jesus since his resurrection and ascension. We don’t simply equip people to go to heaven; we invest in kingdom building here on the earth.”

“…the Hebrew experience of God’s kingly rule had two dimensions. God ruled the present—sustaining nature and guaranteeing Israel’s present experiences in history. And God ruled the future—promising that his vision could see what was to come and his power could bring about his will. God ruled the future, and this meant he would decide how the future would unfold and how human history would end.”

“There is a difference between the experience of grace and recognizing it as a primary Christian (or Jewish) doctrine. The New Testament—from Jesus to Paul—wants to press us to return to first principles: that God has been working on our behalf throughout history and that this has been seen with pristine clarity in the arrival of Jesus.”

“The church that we know so well is thus not simply a collection of believers who have faith in Jesus. It is a community of men and women who are living out the mission given to Abraham four thousand years ago. The church is thus the “tribe of Abraham” now joined to a messianic mission that began with Jesus.”

Your identity was not exclusively anchored to what you believed intellectually about Jesus (though this was important). It was also anchored to a dynamic experience of God that could be quantified only with difficulty. As in Nicodemus’s conversation with Jesus (John 3), the Spirit is like the wind, which blows unpredictably. No one doubts its reality, but no one can calculate its movements.”

“The church in the New Testament is called the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), which means not simply that the church belongs to Christ but that he indwells the church and gives the church its life. His Spirit indwells its members and equips them to sustain Jesus’ work so that it is not a cliché when we say that we are Jesus’ hands and feet in the world.”

“These Gospel writers believed that a colossal shift had taken place in Judaism—and in the world—and they are about to tell us what it is. And they knew it was going to be controversial. The Gospel writers do not shy away from the fact that whenever this story is told in full by Jesus, crowds are either won over or they are resistant and disturbed.”

“For the New Testament, the death of Christ was a turning point in history. God had shown his righteousness by achieving in Jesus our righteousness through a dramatic act of forgiveness on the cross.”

Precious Gems Found in the Book of Hebrews

n1r46dl

A few days ago I was checking old blog post that I would be considering to update and re-post over my social media accounts. As I’m searching my blog, I stumble upon a blog series that I almost forgot. I think it will benefit my readers as I benefited in meditating the Word of God. So to make the long story short, Ive decided to revive and continue it. So I’m bring back Precious Gems Found. Aside from posting the verses, I’ll include some sub-titles so you’ll know what these verses are about. Plus I’ll add some of my insights reading books of the Bible.

Of course there are lots of lessons you can derive from this book and in any books of the Bible.  I’m highlighting a few of them here and hoping that, as you study this you’ll find more.  Also we should remember that although these are great verses, they are meant to be read in context to get the full meaning and impact. Lastly, have a desire to read God’s Word daily.

The Deity of Jesus Christ

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
HEBREWS 1:3

And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him .” And of the angels He says, “Who makes His angels winds , And His ministers a flame of fire .” But of the Son He says, “Your throne , O God , is forever and ever , And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom . You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness ; Therefore God , Your God , has anointed You With the oil of gladness above Your companions .”
HEBREWS 1:6‭-‬9 

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
HEBREWS 2:10

Importance of Faith

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
HEBREWS 11:1 

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. HEBREWS 11:3

And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
HEBREWS 11:39‭-‬40

The Death of Christ

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
HEBREWS 9:14

so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
HEBREWS 9:28

nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
HEBREWS 9:25‭-‬26

Christian Maturity

For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.
HEBREWS 5:13 

Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.
HEBREWS 13:9 

But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
HEBREWS 5:14

Beyond Connecting to This Generation

7svkxtyAs I was sitting during the forum on the controversial Pinoy Version translation of the New Testament, my mind started to wander. I began to imagine that the new translation of the Bible is like a pastor who wants to reachout millenials. So the pastor thought of two thinks he can do to do this.

The first one, the pastor decided to do some shopping for clothes millenials wear and then visited his barber. He asked his barber to cut his hair like those of teens. After this, he came to church to meet the youth group that will come with him in the outreach. The youth group was surprise to see their pastor sporting a millenial look. And to top it all, their pastor started using millenial words as he speaks to them which they find cringe worthy. Well it would be nice to see their pastor cool and connect to teenagers but in that very moment,its seems very awkward. They wish their pastor will go back to his usual look. Anyway, they went off  to check the teens in their community. Not long they meet some youth at the community park. The pastor talk to these teens and invited them to church on Sunday. They felt a bit weird on how the pastor looks and talks but they agreed to come to the Sunday. Well Sunday came and some of the invited youth came and some profess their faith in Christ. Mission accomplished!

The second one, the pastor decided to go to their outreach program with the usual clothes he wear. Casual but not like he’s going to a mall to hang out. He brought his Bible and head on to the church where the youth group is waiting for him. As he approaches the church, some of the youth had a certain excitement in their heart. Having their pastor do outreach with them is such an honor. Their confidence level was boosted. After praying they go out to the community. Not long they came to a basketball court were some teens are taking a rest after the game. Seeing that a pastor coming to them, the teens stood up and shook the pastors hand. The pastor talk to the teens. After that the youth group gave some invitation card for the youth program on Sunday. Sunday came and some of the invited teens showed up. And when the gospel was preach some profess their faith in Christ. Mission accomplished!

We can’t ignore that fact that the Pinoy Version can connect to the present generation and in God’s mercy get people saved by reading the gospel in that translation. There are lots of good reasons that proponents of this translation that are valid. However, for me I’m more concern on the reverence, respect, dignity and encouragement that seems to me the Pinoy Version can’t live up with. The unbelievers knows what the Bible is and its use at church. They know its holy and it demands reverence. A Bible in the vernacular language wont deliver that.  However I’m not closing the door for this version. I think there are rooms for improvement and I hope they do it soon. But for now its a NO for me. I’m not stopping anyone to read it. I might even buy one. But to recommend it to be use in churches and even in outreaches, I strong discourage it.

I know that the Philippine Bible Society are doing their part in promoting Bible reading. I think its better that they stick with it for now and further strengthen it, rather than produce a new translation. Get some social media mileage and think of better Bible reading programs. I’m praying that they will.

On the other hand, we shouldn’t consume ourselves with this new translation. I think we had enough of it over Facebook. We have heard both sides and we already spoken out our opinions.  But in the midst of it, we forgot something else. We should ask ourselves if we are evangelizing to our neighbors. Its easy to complain for things we cant control but how about the things we can change with ourselves and our churches? How’s our sharing of the gospel?

I think its much better to consume our time to reach out the lost than to criticize the Pinoy Version. Lets have a mindset that we can outlast any controversy whether it be a new translation or a cultic group with our zeal and love to evangelize our community.  Of course, errors should be exposed but let us expose the love of God more. That’s our main missions as God’s chosen people.

J.B. Phillips on God for a “Privileged Class”

J.B. Phillips, the Anglican minister best known as a Bible translator, writes in his famous book “Your God is Too Small” a misconception about God:

 

It is characteristic of human beings to create and revere a ‘privileged class,” and some modern Christians regard the mystic as being somehow spiritually a cut above his fellows. Ordinary forms of worship and prayer may suffice for the ordinary man, but for the one who has direct apprehension of God—he is literally in a class by himself. You cannot expect a man to attend Evensong in his parish church when there are visions waiting for him in his study!

 

                The New Testament does not subscribe to this flattering view of those with a gift for mystic vision. It is always downright and practical. It is by their fruits that men shall be known: God is no respecter of persons: true religion is expressed by such humdrum things as visiting those in trouble and steadfastly maintaining faith despite exterior circumstances. It is not, of course, that the New Testament considers it a bad thing for a man to have a vision of God, but there is a wholesome insistence on such a vision being worked out in love and service.

 

                It should be noted, at least by those who accept Christ claim to be God that he by no means fits into the picture of the “mystic saint.” Those who are fascinated by the supposed superiority of the mystic soul might profitably compile a list of its characteristics and place them side by side with those of Christ. The result would probably expose a surprising conclusion.

 

                There is, in fact, no provision for a “privileged class” in genuine Christianity. “It shall not be so among you,” said Christ to his early followers,” all ye are brethren.”

 

(Your God is Too Small by J.B. Phillips, pp.56-57, Macmillan Paperback Edition 1961)

 

What are some misconceptions of God you have in mind? Please share it in the comment.