From the Resurrection to His Return: Living Faithfully in the Last Days
Reflections on living in light of the last days
When Christians think of the end times, they usually look up. ChristÃ¢ÂÂs imminent return and Ã¢ÂÂbeing left behindÃ¢ÂÂ come to mind, as do signs of the times, beasts, antichrists, and Armageddon. And whatÃ¢ÂÂs more, there are endless debates over millennial positions, and whether the rapture is pre-wrath, or pre-, mid-, or post-trib. And with such a focus, we tend to miss the main point of Scripture when it focuses on the end times.
D.A. Carson in a short little book from Christian Focus Publications, sets our sights on whatÃ¢ÂÂs most important when it comes to the end times. In From The Resurrection to His Return: Living Faithfully in the Last Days, he argues that Christians since PaulÃ¢ÂÂs time down to today have been living in the age of the end times. And this reality, he argues, should impact how we live and think. In this book he takes us through 2 Timothy 3 and 4, and offers practical reflections on how to orient ourselves in these last days.
The chapters are short, but the points made are profound. Carson writes with a refined style thatÃ¢ÂÂs been sharpened through his many years of waging scholarly battles for truth, while at the same time basking in the Gospel. He is a rare blend of scholasticism and heart, intellect and emotion, humility and widespread renown. He shares a good many gems of wisdom in the pages of this book, which make it well worth picking up (or downloading to your e-reader).
Sometimes the simple truths are the hardest to see and live out. So what Carson offers us in this devotional study is as helpful as when he gives us 400 more pages with hundreds of footnotes (in one of his commentaries, perhaps). He presses home the importance of mentoring, of speaking the Word to others, and the dangers of false teaching. He shares poignant insights as in his contention that when Paul refers to evil men waxing Ã¢ÂÂworse and worseÃ¢ÂÂ, that he does not mean that each generation gets worse. Rather it is that Ã¢ÂÂevil people get worse and worseÃ¢ÂÂ. I donÃ¢ÂÂt want to steal CarsonÃ¢ÂÂs thunder in rehashing all the best parts of his book, but I do want to provide an excerpt to give you a feel for his style and to encourage you to pick up this little book.
"Some who go by the name of 'Evangelical' view the Bible in such scrappy atomistic bits that they can find moralising lessons here and there, but cannot see how the Bible gives us the gospel of Jesus Christ. But the Bible is not a magic book, as in: 'A verse a day keeps the devil away'. It is a book that points us to Jesus, and this Jesus saves and transformsÃ¢ÂÂ¦. These Scriptures make you 'wise for salvation'."
With the bookÃ¢ÂÂs catchy cover, the author (and his appeal), together with the subject matter (the end times), I have to admit that I was hoping for more. But even with the shorter length of this work (60 pages), there is much value. Hopefully for some, it will introduce them to D.A. Carson and make them want more. For others, it will provide a helpful reminder of the main point concerning the BibleÃ¢ÂÂs end-times teaching. And for all who pick up this book, it will be both an encouragement and a challenge. May Christ come quickly, and find his people Ã¢ÂÂliving faithfully in the end timesÃ¢ÂÂ.
Disclaimer: This book (the Kindle e-book version) was provided by Christian Focus Publications. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
March 16, 2012
Theologically & Pastorally Straightforward
Eschatology is the formal theological term for the study of last things. It is the study of things relating to the return of Christ and the consummation of his kingdom. Very often when the Ã¢ÂÂlast daysÃ¢ÂÂ or things pertaining to the return of Christ are discussed, many get bogged down with the if, when, and how of the rapture, the nature of the millennium, the meaning of the tribulation, the figure of Antichrist, and these difficult matters of interpretation often cloud out the import of the gospel and its bearing on how believers are to live lives to the glory of God in the last days. While there certainly is a place for the careful study of Scripture as it pertains to the various elements of eschatology listed above, believers must not forget the importance of living faithfully in these, the last days. The question is, Ã¢ÂÂhow, exactly, may believers live faithful lives in an unfaithful world.Ã¢ÂÂ
Don Carson, research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has done believers a great service in his exposition-turned-eBook entitled From the Resurrection to His Return: Living Faithfully in the Last Days (also available in paperback from Christian Focus Publishers). Carson plainly works through 2 Timothy 3:1 Ã¢ÂÂ 4:8, providing timely, challenging, and altogether helpful instruction to believers at all stages of maturity in Christ.
After a brief introductory chapter called Ã¢ÂÂLiving in the last daysÃ¢ÂÂ, Carson draws out 4 more principles for living from PaulÃ¢ÂÂs instruction to Timothy as it pertains to living faithfully in the difficult and evil days leading up to ChristÃ¢ÂÂs return (cf. 2 Tim. 3:13). The remaining four chapters bear the title of the principle Carson exegetically unpacks. They are as follows:
Hold the right mentors in high regard
Hold few illusions about the world
Hold on to the Bible
Hold out the Bible to others
Though the book is brief, able to be read from cover to cover in about an hour (or less), it largely surpasses its size in impact. Theologically straightforward and plainly spoken, Carson speaks with pastoral wisdom and sensitivity as one who has lived to see the vitality and importance of being faithful to the Scriptures and the gospel declared therein. There is nothing incredibly intricate here, but that is to the bookÃ¢ÂÂs credit! Read and be encouraged!
*As a part of the From the Resurrection to His Return Blog Tour, the publisher, at no charge, for the purpose of review, provided a copy of this eBook. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.
March 15, 2012
Compact yet comprehensive and practical
D. A. Carson is an author who has a history writing books that are small in page count yet large in impact. His Exegetical Fallacies is an oft-recommended book that does not include more than 150 pages. Similarily, The Cross and Christian Ministry is another Carson classic with fewer pages than the aforementioned book. In the newly released From the Resurrection to His Return: Living Faithfully in the Last Days, Carson has provided another compact volume that should not be disregarded. Carson, research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a founding member of The Gospel Coalition, is a scholar with solid reputation and his latest book is further proof of his ability to communicate Scriptural truths to the Body of Christ. From the Resurrection to His Return is a helpful book that exposits 2 Timothy 3 thoroughly and practically in a manner in which the authorÃ¢ÂÂs voice is apparent.
Despite its small size, this book provides a detailed account of the second epistle from Paul to Timothy. Carson works his way through letter, sometimes focusing on the entire letter, sometimes large sections, sometimes on smaller passages, and sometimes on individual words. This ability to present Scripture in small detail, such as when he writes Ã¢ÂÂThe crucial word that shows the flow of thought is the initial Ã¢ÂÂhoweverÃ¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÂ (22), as well as having a penchant for delivering large ideas, such as when he divides the book he has written into 5 main sections, are some of the skills that Carson demonstrates in this volume that I have come to appreciate. The 5 major sections, corresponding with the 5 chapters in this book, are as follows: Living in the Last Days, Hold the Right Mentors in High Regard, Hold Few Illusions about the World, Hold On to the Bible, and Hold Out the Bible to Others. The chapter titles accurately indicate that this book focuses on both what the epistle actually says as well as how we should respond to it.
From the Resurrection to His Return: Living Faithfully in the Last Days is a very practical book. Despite the occurrence of the term Ã¢ÂÂlast daysÃ¢ÂÂ in the title, this book is not a treatise on one particular eschatalogical view. Carson does not deal with the much argued specifics about how and when Christ will come. Rather, in light of ChristÃ¢ÂÂs return which is sure and imminent, Carson discusses how we should live. If ChristÃ¢ÂÂs return inevitable, and it is, and Scripture bids us to face this return expectantly, and it does, then the way we act in light of this impending event is crucial. Carson puts the somewhat intangible idea of the last days into our context of life in the here and now. These practical insights can help us choose our mentors and reject the world. They can inform us on the necessity of grasping the Word and at the same time sowing it to others. I found that CarsonÃ¢ÂÂs practical and applicable instruction from 2 Timothy 3:1-4:8 to be the most helpful aspect of this work.
I have heard D. A. Carson preach on this passage of Scripture both in person and through various recordings. I, for one, enjoy his style and find his delivery edifying. I appreciated the fact that CarsonÃ¢ÂÂs voice can be heard in the reading of this book. Whether the book came first and was used for preaching or this book was birthed from sermons delivered, IÃ¢ÂÂm not sure. But I found that I could almost hear CarsonÃ¢ÂÂs voice as I read certain phrases on even paragraphs. And since I enjoying CarsonÃ¢ÂÂs preaching, it makes sense that I would enjoy the tone and style of this writing as well.
In From the Resurrection to His Return, Carson delivers a book that is both practical and thorough in its dealing with 2 Timothy 3:1-4:8 in a style that reflects the manner in which he preaches. This is a book that steers clear of controversy surrounding the Ã¢ÂÂlast daysÃ¢ÂÂ by focusing on the Biblical meaning of that term and emphasizing the practical insights that Paul offers to Timothy in light of ChristÃ¢ÂÂs glorious return. It is a book that should not be ignored due to its size, but should be encountered as the compact yet powerful work that it is.
I received a copy of this book from Christian Focus for the purpose of review.
March 12, 2012