The Mystery of the Gospel

This is a mystery that was hidden by God until it could be publicly revealed in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, in His death, burial, and resurrection.

All around Asia Minor and the ancient world at this time, there were mystery religions and mystery cults, and there were some who thought, especially from the Roman perspective, that Christianity was just another one of them. After all, it had its mystery.   The essential content of Christian preaching, Paul says, is the mystery... Continue Reading

Who Are the “Broken Wolves” in the Evangelical Community Today?

“Broken Wolves” are those “who use their own authenticity, pain, and brokenness to attract believers who are also suffering and broken.”

There are quite a few people out there who talk about the personal difficulties they’ve experienced in life, including abuse, often abuse at the hands of church people. They tend to look at certain doctrines of the faith with great suspicion or even abhorrence.   In his groundbreaking article I shared on my blog earlier this... Continue Reading

The (Other) Lord of Martin Luther’s Life

What we know—and what we can guess—about the reformer’s wife, Katharina von Bora.

The Reformation’s 500th anniversary has brought renewed attention to its most significant players, and “Katie” Luther is no exception. Hence, we have a new biography by Ruth Tucker, Katie Luther, First Lady of the Reformation: The Unconventional Life of Katharina von Bora.   How do you write a book about a woman whose life story is... Continue Reading

Judge Gives FEMA 3 Weeks to Change Policy Banning Churches From Receiving Disaster Relief

If FEMA fails to change the policy within the deadline, the judge said he would issue a ruling.

Since the devastation by Hurricane Harvey in late August, FEMA has denied houses of worship access to federal disaster aid grants due to their religious status while allowing other nonprofits and businesses to apply, but Judge Keith Ellison has given the agency until Dec. 1 to change that policy.   A Houston federal judge has... Continue Reading

Don’t Leave Your Husband for Her

A Letter to a Would-Be Adultress

A mixed-orientation marriage combines one spouse who “is” gay and the other who “is” straight. This new language for sexuality and humanity has become our post-Christian world’s reigning (and godless) logic. Gay may be how someone feels, but it can never be who someone inherently is. Because all human beings are made in God’s image, we are... Continue Reading

When Everything Is Missions

The old slogan “every member a missionary” is not really accurate.

The theme of the book is simple and provocative: we are not all missionaries and not everything is missions, and if we don’t get these definitions correct we will not be effective in carrying out the mission Christ gave to the church.   Pastors, mission committees, mission agencies, and church leaders would do well to... Continue Reading

Augustine, Happiness, and a Birthday Cake

There was, of course, a cake – a healthy delight made with spelt flour, almonds, and honey.

Characteristically for Augustine, the cake prompted a three-day discussion. The subject was happiness – one of his favorite themes – a universal instinct which is meant to lead us to true happiness in God. The treatise De Beata Vita(On the Blessed Life) was the happy result. For Augustine, happiness is enjoying God forever.   If Augustine... Continue Reading

Joyfully Lifting Malformed Hands in Worship

"How do we lift our hands to worship the God who sovereignly brings pain into our lives?"

“Please pray that our little son will someday joyfully lift his hands, formed and malformed, in heartfelt worship to the King who in love and mysterious providence saw fit to have him walk this path—even when he can’t know exactly why it had to be so.”   There are many reasons I love being a... Continue Reading

Understanding Free Will

Martin Luther struggled greatly with the relationship of God’s sovereignty to human free will and sin.

When Luther discussed this, he observed that when the Bible says that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, God did not create fresh evil in the heart of an innocent man. Luther said that God didn’t harden people by putting evil in their hearts. All that God must do to harden anyone’s heart is to... Continue Reading

Top Ten Reasons You Just Might Be a Hyper-Protestant

You might be a hyper-Protestant if….

It is not enough to affirm that justification is forensic and synthetic (a justification of the ungodly that involves the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of the merits of Christ) and received by faith as the instrument that unites us to Christ who is our wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.  Rather, if... Continue Reading

Welcome to the Sexual Counter-Reformation

The false apostles of the sexual revolution sold a lie: it was not a time of sexual bliss but one of confusion, abuse, slavery, sexual diseases, infanticide and abortion, immorality.

So it’s simple. The Church should do in the 21st century, what it did in the 1st. Preach the Gospel, care for the poor, avoid all sexual immorality, live in a community of love and fellowship and keep ourselves from being tainted by the world. The Church failed many times (look at the Corinthian church for... Continue Reading

What is the Mission of the Church?

Should the term “mission” be used exclusively to refer to the task of evangelism and disciple-making, or can it be broadened to include socially-oriented activities?

Justification by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is, as the Reformers believed, the fundamental truth of the Christian gospel. It’s the essence of our good-news message for the nations. As such, nothing could be more helpful for defining our mission and for keeping us on mission for our King.   Over the past several... Continue Reading

3 Lessons I’ve Learned from the Reformation

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg Cathedral door, an act that ignited the most revolutionary movement in the history of Christianity since Pentecost.

National gospel awakenings only come through robust God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Spirit-filled, prayer-empowered, and gospel-saturated churches. This needed revival awaits a reformation among pastors—one that will provide the church with ministers committed to the mission, message, and means of ministry prayerfully focused on God’s unstoppable Word.   On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg... Continue Reading

The Nashville “Megachurch” That Embraced Gay Marriage Two Years Ago Has Cratered

Two years ago TIME magazine highlighted an evangelical “megachurch” whose pastor had led the congregation to affirm gay marriage and to welcome LGBT persons as full members of the church.

This is a sad but predictable result of a pastor who leads a church to apostatize from the Christian faith. Walking away from Jesus is not a catalyst for church growth. On the contrary, it is the catalyst for church death. Believers in such churches will eventually leave, and those that remain to embrace the... Continue Reading

Preaching and the Mission of the Trinity

Every divine work reflects God's Triunity. This means that if we want to understand what God is doing in our lives we must begin with who God is.

The gospel is trinitarian because what God does reflects who God is (Eph. 1:3-14). Preaching must reflect the missionary goal of the Father. Do we seek worshipers through preaching sermons and do we seek to worship when hearing them? Preaching must promote dependence on the Spirit to produce sincere worshipers. Do we acknowledge the necessity... Continue Reading

Eric Liddell in China: A Review of “On Wings of Eagles”

Powerful film takes up the Olympic champion's life in World War II China.

Starring Joseph Fiennes as Liddell, the new film is a fine tribute to Liddell’s life. After being captured by the Japanese, Liddell and his companions face the dual challenges of surviving and maintaining their faith and integrity. Liddell, specifically, has opportunities to leave China altogether and reunite with his family. He decides not to each... Continue Reading

Grace Knows No Human Contribution (Murray)

Grace alone means exactly that: salvation is all, only, and exclusively of grace – grace alone!

“In reality we deny the truth here asserted when we introduce at any point in the whole span and process of salvation a decisive autonomy on the part of man.  If salvation at any point is contingent upon some contribution which man himself makes, then at that point it is of ourselves, and to that... Continue Reading

Inside America’s Largest Religious Revival You Know Nothing About

For decades, demographic studies have indicated the steady decline of religion in America, but new measures suggest at least one religion in America is alive and well.

Whereas in traditional American Christianity followers would regularly meet together once or twice a week (a timetable most now find unduly onerous), members of Athletica gather four, five, six, or even seven days a week. Despite the significant time demands, the families of adherents dutifully and unflinchingly keep these meeting commitments and accept as normal... Continue Reading

Can My Son Be Friends With White People?

Some thoughts spurred by Professor Ekow N. Yankah's recent article

While I would like to free my son from every single potential relational heartache that exists, I have even more of responsibility to equip my son to be a beacon of Gospel hope in the world that we live in (Matthew 28:16-20). I have a responsibility to teach him that those transcendent truths have equipped... Continue Reading

Sexual Abuse Isn’t Just Hollywood’s Problem

Whether you know it or not, there are people in your church who have been sexually abused.

God is on the side of the oppressed, not the oppressors. Are we defending the vulnerable or those who have power? One of two great evils has occurred any time an allegation of abuse is made: either the person has indeed been abused, or an innocent person has been falsely accused. I am not saying... Continue Reading

The Ugly Triplet Chain of Fear, Worry, and Anxiety

Without my eyes on the rock of his promises, my thoughts wander. I begin to think of the future and the “what if’s” of our circumstances.

Evil sees its way in, and I begin to hear lies telling me God can’t be trusted—that it’s up to me to figure it out. This is EXACTLY the opposite of what I’m called to in scripture! I’m called to a dependence and obedience I can’t muster up on my own—dependence and obedience I can’t... Continue Reading

Review: Irenaeus of Lyon

Simonetta Carr has written another biography in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series.

With a desire to strengthen the church in biblical truth, Irenaeus began his work Against Heresies, which is still read today. He set about refuting the claims of the gnostic sects and Marcion, a popular false teacher. The gnostics taught there was a special level of spirituality that could only be achieved by new revelation... Continue Reading

How to Be Busy But in Balance

Work is good; too much good can be bad.

My experience is that we can find ways to maximize work, so we can balance it with the priorities of life. From the outside, it looks like I work all the time (and people often ask me how I get so much done). I don’t work all the time— and I have a great team... Continue Reading

Assurance and the Westminster Confession of Faith

Assurance of salvation is one of the most precious fruits of the Reformation.

As believers who truly love Christ and who seek to serve Him, we can be assured of our salvation. The Spirit is our “earnest” or pledge and as such is the promise that we are sealed in Him. We cannot be lost. Our feelings may wax and wane, but the security we have in Christ... Continue Reading

Rely on God’s Word, Not on Techniques

If a church is to be revitalized, it will only happen through the Word of God alone.

Revitalization is nothing less than the transformation of individual human hearts—by either conversion or sanctification—on a church-wide scale. This work of comprehensive salvation comes only through faith in Jesus Christ, and Romans 10:17 says saving faith comes by hearing the Word. It doesn’t matter what other things happen in your church; if the Word of... Continue Reading

Why Shouldn’t We Trust the Non-Canonical Gospels Attributed to Matthias?

History records at least one ancient text attributed to Matthias, but is this non-biblical text reliable?

The ancient texts attributed to Matthias were written too late in history to have been written by the man we know as Matthias, and like other late non-canonical texts, these errant document were rejected by the leaders in the early Church. In spite of this, the manuscripts we are about to examine still contain small nuggets... Continue Reading

The End of Forgiveness

Sometimes it’s simply about not trying to exact our own justice.

When we speak of “the end” of something, we are sometimes referring to its goal, or purpose. “The chief end of man,” the Westminster Shorter Catechism informs us, “is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” That is the goal and purpose God had in mind when he created us. Likewise, the goal and... Continue Reading

Sipping Saltwater

Idolatry is the subject of a new book by Steve Hoppe.

A shipwrecked sailor can float in an ocean filled with trillions of gallons of water but never quench his thirst because he is afloat in saltwater. In the same way, none of the pleasures in this world can ultimately satisfy us without God. Hoppe says, “In our nagging state of thirst for paradise lost, what... Continue Reading

7 Ways to Prepare Your Church Against Violence

Over the past few years, church shootings like the one this week in Texas have captured our attention.

We live in a world under God’s providential control. We must be cautious, but not fearful. We can’t shut our doors to those who need to hear the gospel because of our anxiety about violence. As Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let... Continue Reading

Wanted: Good Assistant Pastors

He not only serves the congregation, but also the Senior Pastor.

Whatever his “job description” may entail, he understands that he is assisting. His ministry is tied to the Senior Pastor’s ministry. In fact, it proves helpful if the Assistant Pastor understands his ministry as an extension of the Senior Pastor’s ministry. He may supplement gifts that are lacking in the Senior Pastor or possess similar... Continue Reading