Results tagged “Christward Collective” from Reformation21 Blog

Sometimes it's difficult to teach our children the more raw parts in scripture. Pastor Nick Batzig covers this sensitive topic in his latest article at The Christward Collective.  

One of the things that I realized the first time that I taught through the book of Genesis is that the patriarchal narratives look far more like something that you would see on Showtime than something that you would hear on Focus on the Family. Whether it is the record of Cain murdering his brother, the sexual sin of the men of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham's sin with Hagar, Judah's sin with his prostitute-pretending daughter-in-law, Simeon and Levi's cruel treatment of the men of Shechem, the betrayal of Josephs' brothers or the attempt of Potiphar's wife to lure Joseph into her bed, you don't have to move out of the first book of the Bible to come across what I like to call the "raw parts of Scripture."

As a pastor, I sometimes have parents express concern about that to which their young children are being exposed in church. Whether it is a reference to the Old Covenant sign of circumcision going on the male reproductive organ or some part of a biblical story being discussed in Sunday School--there is no way to avoid exposing our children to the raw portions of Scripture in a biblically faithful church. In fact, I would suggest that we are called to expose them to the reality of these things in the right way. The Bible is far more raw throughout than many of us wish to admit. In the words of Rich Mullins: 

The Bible is not a book for the faint of heart -- it is a book full of all the greed and glory and violence and tenderness and sex and betrayal that benefits mankind. It is not the collection of pretty little anecdotes mouthed by pious little church mice -- it does not so much nibble at our shoe leather as it cuts to the heart and splits the marrow from the bone. It does not give us answers fitted to our small-minded questions, but truth that goes beyond what we even know to ask.1

In fact, the central message of the Bible is the most raw--namely, the murder of the Son of God, who was torturously beaten, scourged and nailed to a tree by men in order to bleed to death for the raw sins of His people. Surely, we are to teach our children that raw truth from their earliest days!  As we consider this extremely difficult (and widely debated) subject, here are three reasons to teach your kids about the depravity of men as it is revealed in Scripture:

1. God Commands it. The Lord commanded the Israelites to diligently teach all of His word to their children. In Deuteronomy 11:18-21 we read:

Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.

Certainly this command, in the last book of the Law (i.e. Deuteronomy), includes teaching our children those raw portions of the first book of the Law (i.e. Genesis). Additionally, it includes teaching them those extremely specific laws against sexual sin (e.g. Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 18:6-18; 23; 20:13, 15-16, 17). This does not mean that we need to go into great detail with our very young children. Surely, the better part of wisdom is to teach them the whole counsel by reading through books of the Bible and wait until they ask particular questions about things that they hear. Even though the Bible is raw in its content, there is a measure of discretion in the way in which it speaks about sexual sin. For instance, it uses the euphemism "uncovering the nakedness" as code language for sexual intercourse. It uses the phrase, "He knew her," to describe a husband's sexual intimacy with his wife. Nevertheless, we must come to terms with the fact that God told the Old Covenant church members that they were not allowed to "mate with an animal" (Lev. 18:23). They were to teach their children this as well. 

By never talking about the raw parts of Scripture with our children, we inadvertently suggest that God shouldn't have included it in Scripture. We do not want to fall into the trap of being "more decent" than God. That will only harm our children's faith when they do finally come across these portions of Scripture about which we never had the courage to teach them. When they are faced with these things in the world, they will either not know how to engage sexually perverse unbelievers for the sake of the Gospel (1 Cor. 5:10) or they will be drawn into the perversity of their sin (Lev. 18:24). Ironically, many who think that they are sanctifying their children by not exposing them to the raw portions of Scripture are actually failing to make use of what God has given for our sanctification. God commands us to diligently teach our children the Scripture--including the raw parts--because they are a means to our sanctification (John 17:17) when taught in light of the Gospel. 

2. Culture Necessitates it. A friend and mentor recently said to me, "With the increased accessibility to, and acceptance of, pornography we will see an increase in perverse sexual sin in the church." Sadly--though I don't want it to be--I know that this is true. Far from isolating the Old Covenant church from knowing about gross immorality, the Lord instructed them concerning these things on account of the exposure that they would have to them by virtue of their nearness to pagan nations around them. God told Israel that they needed to avoid these things "for by all these the nations are defiled" (Lev. 18:24). It was precisely because of the actions of those around them that the Lord commanded Israel not to practice these things. So too, in our day--with the culture glorying in sexual immorality--it is incumbent on us to instruct our children about what they are to avoid. Ironically, when parents fail to do so, the result is often the opposite of that which they had intended. Many times, children--who have been isolated from the truth of the depravity in the world and of their own hearts--end up running headlong into the perversion of the world when they reach adulthood. Isolating our children from these things does not change their hearts. Their hearts will only be changed by the truth of the Gospel and the sovereign working of the Holy Spirit to regenerate them. 

Additionally, culture necessitates that we instruct our children for the sake of the defense of the faith. It will severely hurt our effectiveness in witness if we are not conversant with and able to explain the raw portions of Scripture. I have many times been challenged by an unbeliever regarding such things as herem warfare. It is important for us to explain to our children why it was that God commanded Israel to eradicate all the inhabitants (men, women and children) of the Promised Land. Of course, we need to know more than simply that He commanded it--we also need to know why He commanded it, in order to explain it. (Here is my attempt to bring in the importance of the redemptive-historical element). We need to be able to teach our children how to distinguish between the those ceremonial laws in the Old Testament--that were only for Israel until Christ came and fulfilled them in redemptive-history--and the moral laws against sexual sin found in the same books. In his article, "Old Testament Law and the Charge of Inconsistency," Tim Keller has done an excellent job of helping us defend our faith in this regard. Our children need to grow up learning about all that God has revealed in Scripture and how to defend the faith in relation to it. 

3. Our Hearts Need It. I sometimes wonder whether those who are overly cautious and overly zealous to protect their children from being exposed to the truth of depravity in the world--as it is revealed in Scripture--are simply not wanting to face up to and confess their own depravity. Allow me to explain. In legalistic, fundamentalist homes, there is often an attempt to isolate from the knowledge of the depravity of world in the name of holiness, while not owning up to the fact that we cannot isolate from the depravity of our own hearts. The self-righteous heart wants to acknowledge depravity "out there"--and insist that contamination merely comes from nurture--rather than pointing the finger "within"--and insisting that depravity is in all of us on account of the sin nature that we have all inherited from Adam. Without doubt, we want to guard our sinful hearts--and the sinful hearts of our children--from an unnecessary contamination of the depravity "without' (by what we perceive to be an overexposure to it)--but we don't do so by not talking about it. We do so by acknowledging that we have the same nature as those who practice such things, and that our God has taught us about the evil of these things so that we may--by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel--avoid them. 

That being said, I do believe that there is a right way to expose our children to these things. There can be an inappropriate crassness with which these things can be presented to children. In some homes, the pendulum swings the other way. Immature parents (and, yes, there are immature parents in any given church) who joke about perverted things can--and most certainly will--do irreparable harm to their children. Additionally--as I have already noted--when the Bible warns against sexually perverse sin, it does so in very specific ways--but it does so with a measure of verbal propriety. Thankfully, there are many other things in the Bible than these raw parts. This means that our children should be getting a healthy diet of all the different parts of Scripture and truths taught in the Scriptures. The raw parts are necessary parts, but they are not the only parts. They should be taught in proportion to the other truths of Scripture. When we are committed to reading through books of the Bible with our children, this will work itself out for us.  

When a pastor is about to preach through a book of the Bible that contains raw parts (e.g. Genesis, Leviticus or Judges), it would be a good thing for him to help prepare the parents for what their children are about to hear. If a minister is about to preach on Judges 19, it might be wise for him to give the parents of young children some notice--not so that the parents will keep the children out of the service that Sunday, but that they would be prepared to talk with their children about these things if their children ask them questions after the service. As a pastor of a congregation with many young children, I personally do not dwell at length on the raw parts of a text; however, I do not, skip over them since I am obligated by God to diligently teach the whole counsel. By giving the parents a "heads-up" regarding an intensely raw portion of Scripture, a pastor is really coming alongside the parents as they instruct their children in the home. 

There is always a spectrum regarding when--as well as to how much or how little--we expose our young children to biblical teaching on sexual sin, violence, etc. I lean to the side of exposing them for the sake of the reasons set out about. Others, however lean to the side of protecting their minds and hearts from what they deem to be unnecessary exposure. I am certainly not insisting that I have it all figured out. There is an inescapable uncomfortableness in talking about these things because of the shame of sin. I am not suggesting that we should have the "Rated-R Children's Story Bible," but I am suggesting that we do our children a disservice by skipping over the raw parts of the Bible in most of our children's story bibles. After all, we do have to ask the question, 'Where's Drunk, Naked Noah on the Sunday School Felt Board?" Teaching our children the raw portions of the Bible--as challenging as it may be--is a necessary part of the sanctification process for them. May God give us wisdom to do so for the good of their souls. 

To read this article online visit The

1. An excerpt from Rich Mullin's booklet, The World As Best As I Remember It.

The Christward Collective is an attempt to help introduce the reader to various aspects of theology, together with the experiential benefits that ought to flow from them. Whether systematic, biblical, exegetical, historical, or pastoral theology, we seek to help further equip believers for growth in their relationship with Christ and other believers. We hope you enjoy these highlights from

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Many of us have heard the Lord's prayer, but have you heard Jesus' other prayer? The Christward Collective contributor, Tim Brister, writes about Jesus' prayer on the behalf of His disciples. This prayer is commonly called His High Priestly Prayer. This prayer teaches us how Christians are supposed to walk in this world. Continue Reading...

The "Again" of Freedom in Christ, by Joe Holland
The luxury of the unexamined life is never the luxury of the Christian. Self-examination and preaching of the Gospel to your own heart is the duty of every Christian-always. The times during which Christians find themselves in most trouble are the times when they think that they have arrived at a new plateau of spiritual maturity--where self-examination is no longer necessary (or at least is not viewed as something as necessary as it had been in times past). Continue Reading... 

Forgiveness and the Christian's Piety, by Donny Friederichsen 
Before I was a pastor I served with the college ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. During my New Staff Training, we had the opportunity to hear from Bill Bright, the founder of Crusade. Our new staff class was actually the last class to be addressed by him before he died. by this time Dr. Bright was suffering from significant respiratory problems and was on oxygen and in a wheelchair. Continue Reading...

Your prayer-life is a measure of your spiritual maturity. Just about any decent book on prayer will tell you so. Your prayer lives exposes you to the reality that what is nearest and dearest to your hearts are those things for which you pray the most. It's an inescapable rule. In this respect, your prayer life may betray the public image which you, in turn, portrayed to others. Continue Reading...

Recommended resource on prayer: Matthew Henry, Method for Prayer. This is the collection par excellence of biblical passages that may rightly be used in prayer. The book covers every conceivable item of prayer and is of profound use to the Christian.

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​"​Jesus is still on His throne. Jesus still hears the earnest prayers of His church. Whether in death or deliverance. Jesus will be glorified as sovereign King of a people who gladly put His worth on display through suffering for the sake of His name. Indeed, we have a King like no other...​" The Christward Collecttive contributor, Tim Brister, covers the sovereignty of Christ. He sits on the thrones, He hears us, and He answers us.

Also new from

The Hardest Week - Nick Batzig​ ​talks about Christ's hardest week and how He pressed through it for our redemption.​

The Second Commandment, Westminster and Images of Jesus - Brian Cosby​ covers the controversial issue of images of Jesus​.

Every Pastor Needs a Theology Coach - Joe Thorn​ ​shares how every pastor still needs "coaching."

And recent winners of Alliance drawings include:

William H, Ft Worth TX
Eric C, Bloomington IN
Claudie S, El Paso TX
Tianna M, Oostburg WI
Carolyn T, Richfield MN
Joy J, Evansville IN
Cindy C, Leawood KS

Jeff C, Blaine WA
Charles B, Baltimore MD
Bob P, Stowe PA
George W, Greenwood MS
Robert P, Norwood MA

​Text Links:​

Joy Beyond Agony -

Happy Christian -
The Alliance has a growing list of scholars and contributors leading our efforts to proclaim historic confessional doctrine for a modern reformation. One of those contributors is Dr. Scott Redd on

In order to keep you in the loop about what our contributors are doing, we alert you to an exciting conference next week in DC. Reformed Theological Seminary, where Redd is President, invites you to join the third annual ReForum: Confessing Christianity: Yesterday's Reformation for Today's Public Life.

The event will include a message from Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn, followed by a panel discussion with Scott Redd and other faculty members. Dr. Van Dixhoorn's recently published Confessing the Faith: A Reader's Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith will be the springboard for discussion.

The event is Thursday, November 13, 2014, 7pm-9pm at Foley & Lardner LLP, located at 3000 K Street, N.W., Suite 600 Washington, D.C. 20007. If you would like to attend, RSVP to This is not an Alliance event, so be sure to interact with RTS.

And if you attend, be sure to stop Scott and let him know you heard about this from the Alliance!

The Visible Word

Jason Helopoulos
Christward Collective

I was visiting a church once and heard an exchange between a pastor and one of his congregants that has stayed with me ever since. A woman asked the pastor before the service, "Is the video this morning going to make me laugh or cry? It always does one or the other." The pastor was quick to respond that he thought this one would make her cry. Apparently, immediately following the sermon in their worship services, this church showed a video every week. It set the tone for the closing song and the end of the service. It wasn't shown for mere entertainment, but was used to press home the truth the pastor had just preached from the Scriptures. Now, I want to be clear. This man was and is a brother in Christ and this particular church loved the Lord. It was my honor to worship with them. They were seeking to serve God, were obviously delighting in Him, and were desiring to give Him praise. Furthermore, I have no doubt that the pastor's heart was in the right place as he sought to show a video each week to his congregation. I am not doubting his love for God or his people, though I do doubt the wisdom of his approach.

Continue to Christward Collective.

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Jesus, the True and Greater Gardener - from Nick Batzig

The Scriptures tell us that the Son of God began His sufferings in a Garden and brought them to a close in a Garden. That is an absolutely amazing display of God's wisdom. After all, Jesus is the second Adam undoing what Adam did and dong what Adam failed to do (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:47-49). He is the Heavenly Bridegroom, entering into His sufferings in a Garden for the redemption of His bride, the Church (. He is the Heavenly Gardener, giving Himself to the cultivation of the souls of His people through His atoning sacrifice and continual intercession. When He hung on the cross, He spoke of Glory under the name of "Paradise"--an evident allusion to the paradise in which our first parents dwelt and the paradise from which they fell. He is the second Adam who, by the shedding of His blood, secured the New Creation. As we consider the double entendres of the fourth Gospel, we come to those specifically concerning the biblical theology of the second Adam in the Garden. Consider the theological significance of the following two Garden settings in which Christ carried out the work of redemption:

Continue on Christward Collective.

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6 Ways to Benefit from Reading Genealogies, by Matthew Holst

Most Christians inwardly, if not outwardly, groan when they arrive at a genealogy in their Bible reading. This is a shame. The genealogies are wonderful and I love studying (not just reading) and preaching them.  They are compressed histories of God's faithful and loving dealings with his children, and, of his war against Satan. The genealogies in Scripture are so important that it may rightly be said that we cannot fully see the glory of the metanarrative (i.e. the storyline) of the Bible without them. Here are six tips for reading genealogies that I think will benefit the diligent reader...

Continue on Christward Collective.

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The idea of Christian unity has been so perverted over the years by liberal Christianity that there is considerable confusion about what it means, both inside and outside the church.

Another sad consequence is that those who are orthodox have overreacted to these abuses by rarely speaking about it, except to criticize it, and we even more rarely work for it. However, we must not let the precious vocabulary and principals of Christian unity fall into neglect or be stolen from us by those who have deliberately twisted and misused them.

A bright light in the midst of this confusion is the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals that runs this "ecumenical" blog, The Christward Collective, and strives to build wider Christian unity on a biblical basis.

I want to encourage more of this biblical ecumenicity; but to do so, we must first of all distinguish six different types of Christian unity. Continue reading on
I mean, once Trueman refused to give up the black shoes and socks when at the beach of Harvey Cedars NJ, it was clear some things were settled! But there is still hope... is the flagship of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals online flotilla. It is joined by which offers biblical theology with a large dose of exegete and parsing out solid biblical doctrine from younger contributors not afraid to stand on the theological shoulders of the Reformers. These great resources are central to the Alliance's mission of proclaiming biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today's Church.

So it would be very hard to improve those things. But we did improve some of the technical aspects of the site (with a view to rebuild it entirely in early 2015). So look around, try them out, and let us know what you think of:

- Printable pages on the articles, blog posts, and reviews. No longer will those pesky (but I advocate interesting) side bars be printed with the content you are wanting to share.
- Social sharing buttons have long been needed. Now you can share a post with friends through social media or email it to your 'socially challenged' Uncle Bob!
- Better contributor access can be found on the contributor page. This will allow you to fit any and all contributors to r21, and find all of their submissions as well.
- A lot of clean up of those aforementioned side bars. There we removed some dated sections and incorporated it right into the blog. We also right sorted the previous devotions so you can start reading and using them from the top down.
- And we improved the navigation. You can move back and forth between pages in any section easier (who thought a list of prior years and months was a helpful system?). And you can also find across the top common navigation across the entire Alliance, moving from one site to another, and back again.

So, while it's the reformation21 you have trusted and used for years, I hope these small changes will increase its function and encourage its use. And should you have other ideas or needs, we would love to hear from you. Please email me at and share your ideas and I would also love to hear how r21 has been helpful for you and your Church too!
When I was a new convert--have been brought from spiritual death to spiritual life--one of the things that I distinctly remember seeing with new eyes were the trees that were all around me. This was, in large part, because the Lord was enabling me to understand the redemptive-historical nature of trees from the Garden to the cross to the new creation as I read the Scriptures. Little did I know then the depths of the theological significance of the two Adams (i.e. Adam and Christ) and the two trees (i.e. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Cross), that the Lord had embedded in the pages of Scripture for our redemption.

Continue on
John Knox called Calvin's Geneva "the most perfect school of Christ that ever was in the earth since the days of the Apostles." Calvin's ministry was marked by a commitment to wed deep theological study to an all-of-life experiential godliness. He longed to see sound doctrine established in the hearts of the people, seeking to faithfully carry out the Apostle Paul's charge to Timothy: "Take heed to yourself and to your doctrine" (1 Tim. 4:16).

In keeping with this exhortation and example, Christward Collective will introduce the reader to theology, together with the experiential benefits that flows from it, being a place where "doctrine and life meet." Whether systematic, biblical, exegetical, historical, or pastoral theology, this resource will equip believers for growth in their relationship with Christ and other believers. In short, it's built to encourage all believers to care deeply about theology, to see the "cash value" of diligently pursuing such study.

The term "Christward" reflects both the object and goal of theological study. Jesus Christ is the center, source, and end of all sound doctrine. Conformity to His image is the goal of all Christian living. "Collective" reflects the group of pastors and theologians coming together for the common cause of edifying the Church. This project will be a blessing to all who are moving Christward in their knowledge of and in conformity unto His image.

Christward Collective is an exciting addition to the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. The Alliance is a coalition of confessional pastors, scholars, and churchmen proclaiming biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today's Church. Christward Collective serves as a place where "doctrine and life meet," and is one way to foster such an awakening.

Christward Collective site:
Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals site: