The Cure for a Lack of Fruit in Our Christian Lives

As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you

“While the certainty of salvation is grounded upon the (objective) work of Christ, the certainty of assurance is grounded upon the (objective) promises God gives us and the (subjective) discovery of those promises at work in us. And it is this latter consideration that gives rise to one or two problems.”   The Westminster Confession of... Continue Reading

Is Genesis History? The Scientists say “Yes”

Over 143,000 people attended the premier showing of “Is Genesis History” on February 23rd (largest grossing movie of the day); encore presentations will be shown March 2 and March 7.

The production is high quality and moves quickly. Seven or eight top scientists in various disciplines are interviewed and provide expert testimony. This was genuinely informative to me. If you’re a pastor like me who may not be strong in scientific particulars, it is refreshing to have such strong reinforcement from well-credentialed and knowledgeable professionals.... Continue Reading

Ash Wednesday: Picking and Choosing our Piety

The rise of Lent in non-Roman, Orthodox or Anglican circles is a fascinating phenomenon.

When Presbyterians and Baptists and free church evangelicals start attending Ash Wednesday services and observing Lent, one can only conclude that they have either been poorly instructed in the theology or the history of their own traditions, or that they have no theology and history. Or maybe they are simply exhibiting the attitude of the... Continue Reading

Christ’s Amazing Transition

Christ’s resurrection was His appointment as the Son of God-in-power

“It is only if the Son of God amazingly transitions from humiliation to exaltation that we can graciously transition from God’s just and holy wrath on us for our sin to his love toward us as his adopted children. In other words, we are sons of God by grace whereas Christ is God’s Son by... Continue Reading

Forty Three Years Of Federal Vision Theology

Federal Vision theology is Norman Shepherd’s theology

“The controversy simmered below the surface until the late 90s, when he retired from the ministry and began speaking at conferences on covenant and justification, where he advanced the same views that he had argued in the first phase of the controversy. In 2000 he published The Call of Grace (see this review and response)... Continue Reading

To Give a Good Answer, Sometimes You Have to Change the Question

As Christians representing God’s Word, we have to be able to explain the bigger picture

“In the case of homosexuality, pornography, and sex outside of marriage, we need to explain what God’s plan is for human sexuality. The reason there are negatives in the Bible is to protect the positives. God says no to certain sexual behavior because He has a beautiful plan for sexuality He wants us to protect.”... Continue Reading

The Typographical Reformation

One of the leaders of the church who recognized the importance of printing right from the start was the scholar-bishop Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, who in 1458 became Pope Pius II

“The printing press was an amazing ditto device that seemed to work like magic. Printing by woodcuts was known before the time of Gutenberg. This was a laborious process that involved carving letters or pictures onto a block of wood, inking the finished product, and pressing it onto vellum (a surface made from calfskin) or... Continue Reading

Are You Suffocating Your Creativity?

In recent years I’ve observed the drag upon my creativity

“I try to have a period of time between 30 and 60 minutes per day to let my mind latch onto concepts, ideas, or dreams. Often I do this while walking the dog in the morning or during my lunch break. This morning I wrestled through the introduction to my sermon and gleaned a half-dozen... Continue Reading

Tim Keller Stepping Down as Redeemer Senior Pastor

The influential Reformed leader is moving away from his NYC pulpit as his church becomes three.

Keller, 66, announced at all eight Sunday services that he will be stepping down from the pulpit corresponding with a decades-long plan to transition the single Presbyterian Church in America congregation—which has grown to 5,000 members since it began 28 years ago—to three particular churches.   Later this year, Redeemer Presbyterian will no longer be... Continue Reading

Repent of Lent: How Spiritual Disciplines Can Be Bad for Your Soul

Christ fasted for forty days in the wilderness on our behalf, so we wouldn’t have to; not as a model, but as a substitute

His passion was not a discipline that made his heart pure in its love for his Father, it was the price to be paid for our sins, and he paid it in full. Christians are called to suffer as Christ suffered, that is, with the same purpose. We are called to suffer not for ourselves, but for others. When we engage in fasting in his image, but for the purpose of purifying ourselves, we invert that image. Such penitence is ultimately focused on self, not on the other.

A Great Teacher Can Simplify Without Distortion

Once the teacher has mastered his material, how does he transmit it to his students?

A great teacher can simplify without distortion. This is the supreme test of understanding. If I truly understand something, I ought to be able to communicate it to others. There is a vast chasm that separates the simple from the simplistic. Jesus, the greatest teacher ever, taught in simple terms. But He was never simplistic. To oversimplify is to distort the truth. The great teacher can express the profound by the simple, without distortion. To do that requires a deep level of understanding. The great teacher imparts understanding, not merely information. To do that the teacher must understand the material being taught.

“Economic” Subordination of the Son? Part 1: Theologia and Oikonomia

There are three major use classes of “economy” at play in the current debate, and it is of utmost importance to discuss them separately and on their own terms as they relate to ESS

The problem, as I stated in the last post, is that there are too many definitions and variant uses of “ontological” and “economic” at play for a statement such as Ligonier’s to constitutively rule out the supposed Subordination of the Son that has been called into question. This has lead each participant to see His position as orthodox, with lofty origin in the Fathers, and yet all still disagreeing on what is and isn’t biblical and orthodox subordination of the Son.

The Body of Evidence

Bad as it is, the madness that is currently the only politically acceptable approach to gender is surely doomed.

Transgenderism, rather like abortion, puts the law in a contradictory position on the nature of personhood in our contemporary world. Just as Scott Peterson can be charged with murdering the unborn baby his wife could legally have aborted, so Desiree could be charged with David’s crime. As long as a change in self-identification is no defense at law regarding pre-transition crimes, then civilization may survive—but only at the cost of contradicting itself. And if ever it does become a valid defense, then the rule of law will be at an end. There is a lesson there somewhere.

How Not to Help a Sufferer

Think of these as four ways we, like Job’s friends, can pour burning coals on the heads of those already sitting in ashes.

Minimize the wrongdoing that caused the suffering. I’m not sure why we tend to do this, but we do. It’s that karma instinct. We say things like “I’m sure they meant well,” or “It can’t be that bad,” or “Well, in every conflict the blame is on both sides.” But the truth is we don’t know that someone meant well. Maybe they didn’t. We don’t know that it wasn’t that bad. Maybe it was. And blame is not always 50/50. Sometimes it’s 80/20. Sometimes it’s even 100/0. That seems to be God’s verdict on Job and his friends (Job 42:7). When you’re sitting with a sufferer, don’t minimize the sin that has contributed to their suffering.

When Storm Clouds Swirl Around You

Whatever our God does is only loving and kind and good, even when he brings fearful judgments on the earth or visits trials on our lives.

Because our God is infinite in his righteousness, almighty in power, infinite in his wisdom and love, we can absolutely trust him that every single thing he does in our lives or takes us through is completely under his control, the most righteous, wise, and loving thing he could do for us. Let us trust him with all our hearts.

Jesus Feminists & Forbidden Discourse

From a feminist standpoint, Jesus Feminists should listen to the very women—whether they be conservative or liberal—they claim to represent and defend.

How heartbreaking to watch Christian feminists churn out the bigotry accusations aimed at conservative Christians with little thoughtfulness and wisdom. Perhaps it’s just easier for Christian feminists to follow along with the popular progressive narrative than to weigh the fears of little girls’ parents, sexual assault victims, and rape survivors. But I guess the broader feminist movement isn’t paying attention to these women either.

Quantum Leap Into the Paranormal

Invitations to "nature spirituality" are becoming more openly and boldly paranormal.

In 1995, Jean Houston claimed that the ancient Egyptian myth of Isis (the occult goddess of the underworld) is the only way to save our declining Western culture. Her terminology has become more “hip” and more deliberately [?] obscure, but the message is the same–only direct connection with the powers of nature and with the... Continue Reading

3 Things We Must Believe about God’s Word

In Psalm 119 we see at least three essential, irreducible characteristics we should believe about God’s word.

And yet, we should go one step further and learn to see the goodness and rightness in all that God commands. We should love what God loves and delight in whatever he says. God does not lay down arbitrary rules. He does not give orders so that we might be restricted and miserable. He never... Continue Reading

Reading the Bible as a Coherent Story, but Not Too Much

Most heresies arise from someone “reading the Bible alone in his closet.”

It is important to read the Bible as a coherent story–but not too much. We must allow its continuities and its discontinuities to press themselves into those parts of our understanding where we are immature, where we are easily deceived, and where we have cultural and sinful blind spots.   Growing up as a new... Continue Reading

U.S. House Votes To Overturn Obama’s Planned Parenthood Edict

The U. S. House passed a resolution 230-188 on Feb. 16 to reverse a last-minute Obama administration order to protect some of Planned Parenthood’s funding.

Days before leaving office, President Barack Obama issued a directive barring conservative states from blocking Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from Title X funding. The resolution seeks to give states the option to direct Title X grant money to any kind of health center they wish. Direct taxpayer funding of abortion is still a... Continue Reading

Seven Costs of Disciple-Making

We could list dozens of costs, no doubt, but here let’s limit it to seven

“Perhaps what might help us over our hurdles is not to hide how costly disciple-making is, but to be utterly honest and explicit about the costs, and hold them out in the light for us to see, and then find whether something in us might just rise to the peculiar glory of it all.”  ... Continue Reading

Psalm 143 as a Template for Prayer in Temptation’s Hour

The Psalms are wonderful guides for our prayer.

You close with a declaration of faith.  You are confident God’s love will prevail.  God is with you.  You will overcome because Christ overcame for you.  You are His.  He is the Good Shepherd who sought you, keeps you and guards you.  He will not lose you.  A new start. A first step.  With your... Continue Reading

Indian Christian Couple Refusing To Deny Jesus Forced To Stand In Freezing Pond For 17 Hours

A 50-year-old Christian convert in India died after he and his wife were reportedly forced to stand in a freezing pond for 17 hours because of their faith.

Bartu Urawn, GCN reported, was attacked by villagers for the past three years because of his faith. It reached a boiling point last year, when a group abducted him and forced him to attend one of their tribal worship services. During the service, an animal was sacrificed and the villagers forced Bartu Urawn to eat... Continue Reading

Swedish Midwife Still Fighting Employer’s Abortion Mandate

A third court in late January heard the case of a Christian Swedish midwife denied employment because of her pro-life convictions.

In 2014 Grimmark filed a religious discrimination complaint after a women’s center in Jönköping, Sweden, withdrew a job offer because she said she could not perform abortions. Two other medical clinics denied her employment on the same grounds. A court ruled in favor of the women’s center, saying the job offer was rescinded “not because... Continue Reading

Is Christ Enough?

By daily communion with Christ through the means of grace, we find full satisfaction for all our needs

The central argument of Paul in the letter is that in Jesus Christ, Christians already have everything that the sect falsely offered: wholeness, fullness, perfection, and satisfaction in God. In other words, Paul responds to false teachers by presenting the sufficiency of Christ.   In the letter he wrote to the Colossians, Paul had to deal... Continue Reading

What the Transgender Debate Means for the Church

The cultural conversation on gender identity issues requires more than good policy. It demands a gospel-centered response from the church.

We must also resist the temptation to buy into the Sexual Revolution’s narrative. I don’t just mean that we accommodate ourselves to the sins and heresies of the movement, although that’s always a danger too. I mean the danger is that we assume that the Sexual Revolution will always be triumphant, progressing upward and onward.... Continue Reading

Spreading the Faith: Lessons from US History

Writers rarely pay attention to an era of US history that is today more relevant than ever

“At the time of the American Revolution, Catholics made up less than one percent of the nation’s population, but that rose to five percent in 1850, twelve percent in 1890, and seventeen percent by 1906. The modern proportion has usually fluctuated around a quarter.”   We hear a lot today about the effects of immigrants... Continue Reading

Why Joel Osteen, “The Smiling Preacher,” Is So Darn Appealing

It’s hard to quantify charisma, but by any measure Joel Osteen has some pretty impressive stats

“By studying well-known charismatics and replicating their actions in the lab, Antonakis has identified a series of what he calls Charismatic Leadership Tactics (CLTs), which range from the use of metaphors and storytelling, to nonverbal methods of communication like open posture and animated gestures at key moments.”   It’s hard to quantify charisma, but by... Continue Reading

Ye Of Brittle Faith

Why all the hysteria among atheist elites over this little book?

After the publication of the book, Religion News Service tweeted this misleading headline: “A controversial new book claims a dying Christopher Hitchens accepted God.” RNS subsequently retracted the headline, but it was too late. Christopher Hitchens’s agent, Steve Wasserman, vociferously denounced the book.   On December 15, 2011, Christopher Hitchens died of esophageal cancer. Some... Continue Reading

Like Scales and Jazz: How to Preach Christ from Psalms

How should contemporary Christ followers and Christian pastors continue walking the Emmaus Road, seeing and preaching Christ throughout the Psalms?

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Jesus came as heir not only of David’s throne but also of David’s prayers—from his distress to his deliverance, from his laments to his praises. Since God’s people in every generation will walk the same path—cross before crown—Christian pastors are wise to preach the Psalms in all... Continue Reading