The Baffling Call of God

The gospel allows us to move ahead without having all the answers, without knowing perfectly the purposes of God.

Confident of God’s call on my parents to serve Him in Africa, I was baffled by what they were enduring for the sake of the needy there. Furthermore, as I dealt with my own weary and broken heart, I was baffled at what God was doing in my own life. None of it made sense.... Continue Reading

God Works Through His Appointed Means

"Yes, it is far better that he comes through the gospel than that he would now enter in through the door; for you would not even know him even though he came in."

The Christian must give priority to the outward institutions of the Word, both in preaching and in the sacraments. As God came to us in the incarnation, so He continues to come through outward means to accomplish His purpose. They are the means that God has appointed and through which He works by His Spirit.  ... Continue Reading

Does John Piper Believe in Salvation by Works?

The issue is: “Does Piper reject Reformed orthodoxy regarding salvation by faith alone?”

Reformed confessions’ teaching on salvation by faith alone, if Piper answered these questions: 1. Does justification received now in this world by faith declare not only God’s present verdict but what shall be his final verdict regarding his people? 2. Can justification, once declared, be revoked? 3. Will any who are justified in this age... Continue Reading

The Old Perspective on the Works of the Law

The Reformers understanding of Paul's argument radically impacted later Protestant formulations on the doctrine of justification.

According to proponents of the New Perspective(s) on Paul, justification does not–as the Reformed have always maintained–involve the imputation of Christ’s righteousness by faith alone. The crux of the argument has to do with how one defines the phrase “works of the Law” (and its various related forms in Pauline literature).   Biblical studies have... Continue Reading

The First Lady in France

For Marie Dentière, the astonishing news of saving grace and the powerful message of equality before God were truths that had been suppressed by the Catholic Church and needed to be shouted from the housetops by anyone who had seen them for themselves in God’s word.

Far more than a historian, Marie Dentière was an articulate (if inflammatory) evangelist. She loved and revered the Bible, was distressed that the Catholic Church had withheld so much of it from the people, and preached that every person, including women, should be able to read God’s precious and glorious words for themselves.   Born... Continue Reading

College Professors Aren’t Killing Religion

But college degrees certainly aren’t helping.

A bevy of recent academic work casts doubt on the idea that college experience directly undermines religious identity (even if the studies do not all come to precisely the same conclusion). A pair of University of Texas sociologists argue that “the religious belief systems of most students go largely untouched for the duration of their education.” They... Continue Reading

In By Grace, Stay In By Faithfulness?

Everyone must say with David: “Lord, do not enter into judgment with your servants, for before you no living person shall be justified.”

“Men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for... Continue Reading

Laughing with Luther

Who are we to tell God who and what He must be?

Humor, of course, has numerous functions. It is in part a survival mechanism. Mocking danger and laughing in the face of tragedy are proven ways of coping with hard and difficult situations. Undoubtedly, this played a significant role in Luther’s own penchant for poking fun. Yet I think there is probably a theological reason for... Continue Reading

What the Church Can Learn from Weinsteingate

As church history makes clear, especially recent church history, many churches have their own Harvey Weinsteins, and we haven’t covered ourselves in glory in dealing with them.

A person’s gifts and usefulness should never be used to cover or balance out evil. Just as, “But he makes great films,” and, “But he makes us lots of money,” were used for decades to excuse Weinstein’s abuse, so “But he preaches great sermons” and “But he brings in lots of people/money/publicity” can also excuse... Continue Reading

We Are Equally Sinful. We Are Not All Equally Broken or Toxic.

There is a tendency to assume that biblical principles like those found in I Corinthians 10:13 mean that all our struggles carry the same weight.

 As I am using these terms, “broken” would refer to things for which we do not bear moral responsibility but create unique challenges for us, and “toxic” would refer to persistent patterns of sin that not only harm others but we punish others if/when they bring them to our attention. From the opening paragraph, the... Continue Reading

What Do Manuscripts Tell Us About the Origins of the NT Canon? A Response to John Meade

Just because the quantity of manuscripts doesn’t tell us everything about the canon, does not mean it tells us nothing about the canon.

At the end of Meade’s piece, he sums up his main complaint: “But my critique is that [Kruger] and others should describe what early Christians actually thought about these books according to their clearest statements on the subject before turning to material evidence, which is not self-interpreting.” In other words, I should have covered patristic... Continue Reading

The Freedom Of The Christian Man

The sole, unique authority of the Bible, God’s inerrant, infallible Word is provides and guards our liberty against the tyranny of human opinion

As recipients of such rich and richly undeserved favor freely given we are free. Because it was freely given it was not earned. Because it was not earned it cannot be kept. We do not “keep” it. Grace keeps us.  In that case, we are free from the tyranny of human expectations at least when... Continue Reading

Protestantism Is Over and the Radicals Won

Many today who claim the Reformation as their heritage are more likely heirs of the Radical Anabaptists.

I’m not talking about Amish communities in rural Pennsylvania. In fact, I don’t have in mind specific offshoots, like Arminian Baptists, as such. I’m thinking more of the Radical Anabaptists, especially the early ones, who were more an eruption of late medieval revolutionary mysticism than an offshoot of the Reformation. I have in mind a utopian,... Continue Reading

Rachel Miller Contra Mundum? The 5 Solas and John Piper, Part 2: “Salvation”

Faith is the instrumental cause of not only our Justification, but our complete and final Salvation.

This is what is truly precious about the doctrine of Justification: it is not just the first step from which one moves on into the rest of the benefits of saving Union with Christ. It is the declaration at the beginning of what will be at the end. Justification is the definitive, present, juridical, and... Continue Reading

What Does “The Empty Hand of Faith” Mean? (Boston)

"Upon the whole we may see that the gospel teaches us to come empty-handed to the market of free grace for remission of sins and God’s favor."

So what does “the empty hand of faith” mean?  It means coming to Christ empty-handed simply to receive the free, gracious gift of full forgiveness.  When we come to Jesus for pardon and justification, we don’t need to bring Him anything in exchange; we don’t need to clean up our act, put nice clothes on,... Continue Reading

What About the Pedophiles?

The rumors about pedophiles and child abusers in Hollywood have been louder and more consistent for longer than those about Weinstein.

If there is any rumor that has bubbled up more than the stuff on Weinstein, it is the rumors of pedophilia and child sexual abuse in Hollywood. These rumors have been persistent. Several former child stars have come forward to discuss the drugs, alcohol, and abuse inflicted on them as children. Almost all have a... Continue Reading

Faith Doesn’t Save Anyone

By itself, faith is a meaningless word. Faith means to believe in…something

“What becomes a problem is when we believe that faith is what saves us. If we take just a second to examine ourselves, some questions come up. How much faith do I need? What do I believe in, then? Am I having faith in faith? But that seems a bit odd. How do I believe... Continue Reading

Weapons in the Fight Against Anxiety and Fear

We serve a God who reigns over all. He can be trusted; He can be relied upon.

“The desire to know why things are happening in our life and even more so to control things in our life is one of the greatest killers of contentment. It also proves to be one of the greatest engines of anxiety.”   A two-year-old will never obsess about world economies. A three-year-old will never ask... Continue Reading

When Rejoicing With Others Is Hard

Sometimes joy for another is hard, especially when the blessing in his or her life reminds us of a blessing missing in our own

“There are countless scenarios in which fellow Christians are blessed and we struggle to rejoice. Sure, we may attend the celebrations, sign the birthday or anniversary cards, or smile at their good news. But inside, in the depths of our heart, we shout, It’s not fair!”   Welcoming smiles. Homemade desserts. Fresh flowers. Laughter. Don’t you just love... Continue Reading

The Transgender Matrix: It’s Time to Choose the Red Pill

In the 1999 sci-fi movie The Matrix, the hero, Neo, is given a choice of two colored pills: red or blue

“But a funny thing happened. After about eight years, I gradually awoke. I realized the simple biological truth: I was still a man, had always been a man, and always would be a man. In terms of The Matrix, I took the red pill.”   In the 1999 sci-fi movie The Matrix, the hero, Neo, is... Continue Reading

A Healthy Church: A Disciplined People

All who claim the Lord Jesus as their Savior from sin are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ and to submit to the discipline of God’s word

“The discipline of the Christian faith and life means all God’s people work out their salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God who is at work in his people both to will and work for his good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13). It means that those who claim to have new life in Christ will... Continue Reading

What’s the Purpose of … Pastors?

The Bible assures us that pastors exist to shepherd God’s people in local churches until Christ returns

The calling of the pastor is inextricably tied to the biblical metaphor of a shepherd tending to his flock of sheep. Alexander Strauch says, “If we want to understand Christian elders and their work, we must understand the biblical imagery of shepherding. As keepers of sheep, New Testament elders are to protect, feed, lead, and... Continue Reading

5 Very Real Tensions Every Small to Mid-Sized Church Leader Feels

If you lead a small to mid-sized church, you face struggles leaders of large churches don’t

“It’s critical that as church leaders we both understand and address the tensions we’re facing. In the same way that diagnosing that pain under your kneecap when you’re trying to run a race is helpful, diagnosing what you sense in the congregation can be critical to taking your next step forward.”   If you lead... Continue Reading

Being Bored at Work Is Actually a Good Thing, Research Says

You need alone or quiet time, and when we carry our offices in our pockets, that becomes all but impossible

Most workplaces these days don’t exactly encourage quiet reflection, but they should if they want to get the most out of their employees. Kaufman and Gregoire offered some tips for managers to help their teams “reclaim solitude and improve their ability to think creatively—without diminishing collaboration.”   Artists have always understood that solitude—boredom, even—is essential... Continue Reading

Did Martin Luther Invent “Justification” 500 Years Ago?

The Reformation put the puzzle pieces in place, but the pieces were there all along

The doctrine of justification doesn’t rest simply on a verb here or there. It is the whole teaching of the Scriptures that God will provide the sacrificial skins to cover our nakedness (Gen. 3:21). The whole sacrificial system of the Old Testament pointed forward to “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of... Continue Reading

Discerning the Devil

Against Satan’s deceptions, we must stand in the Holy Scriptures

“In his second letter to the Corinthians included in the canon of Scripture, Paul revisits many of the same problems he addressed in his first letter. Only this time, he brings another consideration to bear, that of enemy opposition and spiritual combat.”   The children’s Sunday School class could no longer use the room. The... Continue Reading

10 Things You Should Know About Systematic Theology

Systematic theology is a way of studying the Bible that attends to the full scope of biblical teaching

The only way the church truly submits to the Bible’s doctrinal and moral teaching is by submitting to the full scope of the Bible’s doctrinal and moral teaching. Failure to attend to the whole counsel of God “leads to one-sidedness and error in theology and pathology in the religious life” (Herman Bavinck).   1. Systematic... Continue Reading

10 Indicators You’ve Stopped Growing as a Leader

See if your life reflects any of these indications that you’ve stopped growing as a leader

“You no longer seek mentors. Mentors challenge us, stretch us, push us, mold us. Leaders who don’t have mentors often have little accountability for growth—and thus less reason to grow.”   Leaders who stop growing lose their edge as a leader. They become stale, even if others may not readily recognize it. See if your... Continue Reading

The “Watchmaker Argument”

Two hundred years ago a bishop, by the name of William Paley, wrote a book in which he used a watch to illustrate how clear it was that God is real.

The woodpecker, is a marvelous bird and far from ordinary. Take his bill, for example. Isn’t it amazing how he can ram it into a tree thousands of times a minute without having to replace it or getting a terrific headache? Well, his head is equipped with shock absorbers. And these shock absorbers cushion the... Continue Reading

The Trauma of Holiness

This holy God inspires far greater trauma in those whom He encounters than any natural disaster

“Martin Luther and the other Reformers understood the holy character of this God. For them, the recovery of the gospel was such good news because they knew the trauma of holiness and that the only way to endure the presence of this holy God’s judgment is to be covered in the holiness and righteousness of... Continue Reading