On Consenting to Others’ Sins
Augustine and fellowship with sinners.
For Augustine, it is consenting to sin that is corrupting. What does this mean? Well, we could think of it in basic terms through the contemporary language of “complicity.” Augustine uses the example of criminals, and we could again think of thieves. Even if we do not walk into the bank and hold up the... Continue Reading
A Crisis of Leadership and the Elder Solution (Part 1): Theology Is Upstream
We need a return to the biblical doctrine of eldership.
We don’t muddle through life trying to make the best of things without a robust dependence on the Word of God as it proclaims the lordship of Christ, only at the end to say, “Oh yes, and one more thing, this is how you can be saved.” The grand redemptive narrative of our Trinitarian God,... Continue Reading
Mary’s Son, the Genius
When we think of great geniuses in history, Jesus’ name may not immediately come to mind. A new book insists it should.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is striking in how it exemplifies Jesus’ overall mission and message. For Williams, Jesus was more than a religious talent and literary master. His teaching was part of a messianic career, climaxing in his death and resurrection, a career that was part of the story of God’s plan to... Continue Reading
What Is Typology?
People and events in Israel’s history offered prophetic glimpses of the coming Savior and His work, reassuring them of the promise of His coming.
The study of Old Testament types is not an end unto itself. It achieves its purpose, and we receive its benefit, only if the Lord Jesus Christ is exalted as He should be. The purpose of biblical typology may be discerned from two different outlooks—namely, from old covenant and new covenant vantage points. From the... Continue Reading
The Comfort of Conforming to Christ
We look beyond ourselves to the Christ for our true identity, His indwelling Spirit comforts us by assuring us of God’s steadfast love.
Why is it comforting that we have a new identity in Jesus Christ? The phrasing of the question shows that Gordon is making an appeal against the expressive individuals that we all are. We almost impulsively reject the notion that anything outside of ourselves could define our identity and that we would find that comforting.... Continue Reading
When you wear clothes of mixed fibres, you’re saying something about yourself, about the nature of creation, and about the God who meets man.
The two fibres in question are linen and wool, and they are mixed on two occasions: in the High Priest’s ephod (Exodus 28 & 39) and in the tabernacle’s curtain (Exodus 26)—which are the same thing, because the High Priest’s outfit marks him out as a walking, talking tabernacle. You can’t mix because mixing is... Continue Reading
David Bahnsen Challenges Our View of Work and Retirement
A review of “Full-Time: Work and The Meaning of Life”
God created man to first work, not to worship. Work was the beginning of his worship. Work must not be viewed as a utilitarian instrument (for example, a means to give more to the church), but work itself is a holy ministry toward others in that work is producing goods and services that provide for... Continue Reading
What Is Social Media Good For?
With wisdom and intentionality, we can live our lives online in ways that are good and enjoy the benefits of the technology we now live with every day.
What we see on social media cannot be construed as what is broadly true, sociologically speaking. However, social media can be incredibly insightful, as it allows us to encounter people who are different than us and challenge our preconceived notions about a people, group, or subject. It enables us to connect with people we normally... Continue Reading
3 Limits to Christian Liberty
If we decide we should not do something permissible, it applies only to us, and we should allow other Christians to make their own decision based on their circumstances.
Paul says, “All things are lawful, but not all things build up” (1 Corinthians 10:23b). Unlike the first limitation we covered, this is not asking whether or not it will build us up. Instead, it focuses on those around us. We know this because of the following verse, which says, “Let no one seek his... Continue Reading
God’s Faithful Providences in Arkansas: An Addendum to the “Jonesboro 7” Series
Seven men disagreed with their Session on the selection of a pastor. The Session indicted and censured them, the MNA Committee tried to close the church. But God preserved a witness in Jonesboro.
Covenant Presbytery took up the Jonesboro matter again; this time with the hope of reconciliation between members of the Jonesboro congregation and the original Session. This is very good news. It would be a wonderful testimony if the Presbytery not only reconciled with the Jonesboro 7, but also with those who left the visible church... Continue Reading
We give thanks to the Lord for this verdict and His sustaining grace for Tommy and Emory.
I’ve reflected on my first words after being shot and not being able to talk for 2 months. These words seem very appropriate now, “Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus, sweet sweet Jesus.” While the road to recovery continues, today’s verdict gives us a sense of peace. We have found solace in God’s faithfulness and His mercies which... Continue Reading
Does Hell Have Various Degrees of Punishment?
The teachings of the New Testament point to hell’s severity, but also of the different degrees of punishment that will be measured out by the sovereign judge of all mankind.
According to Christ, every word will be judged, which reveals that there will be a greater condemnation for some people than for others. In Luke 12:47-48, Jesus contrasts two servants who were given a command to follow, and one received a “severe beating” while another received a “light beating.” This too illustrates a difference in punishment... Continue Reading
Review: ‘Following God Fully: An Introduction to the Puritans’
If you want to enjoy a taste of the Puritans’ wisdom, start here.
The best part of the book is that, like Puritan theology itself, ‘Following God Fully’ is not purely academic, but encourages reflection and action. Coming to the end of the book, I gained a refreshed wonder at the power of God’s Word to bring light and love into whole swaths of society. I am also... Continue Reading
Hope for Hard Marriages
If you’re in a hard marriage, even if you chose it through your own sin or foolishness, God does not say, “You did that to yourself, so don’t talk to me about it.”
Please hear: I’m not trying to downplay the real difficulty and suffering experienced by those married to an unbeliever. But is it possible to see God’s grace even in the pain? Is it possible to see in your situation a reminder that marriage is not our ultimate purpose in life, and was never meant to... Continue Reading
The Revelation Is the Grand Finale of All Scripture, and Why That’s Important to Know
Is it likely that just a few measures prior to its end (i.e., in chapter 20), God would suddenly introduce a completely new eschatological theme (i.e., a future 1000-year earthly reign of Christ)?
It is not the purpose of a grand finale to introduce new themes; its purpose is to creatively recapitulate the old. And when we examine the Revelation, we find that this is indeed the case. Here there is nothing new, nothing other than what Christ and the apostles have already taught us in the New... Continue Reading
What’s the Impact of Asbury’s Outpouring? John the Baptist Offers 3 Lessons
How the prophet’s ministry helps us understand what may come next a year after revival broke out.
John the Baptist was always clear that his role was to point to the one coming after him: “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). He was also keenly aware that his ministry was a preparation for a movement that would follow. In the same way, Asbury kept Jesus at the forefront... Continue Reading
Empowered Witness Foreword
With admirable skill, Alan shows how the spirituality of the church has been used (and abused) throughout history. But more than that, he also makes a compelling case for employing the doctrine in the church today.
Through most of Reformed history, the spirituality of the church has not entailed a silence on all political matters but rather a commitment to the uniqueness of the church’s mission and a principled conviction that the eternal concerns of the church should not be swallowed up by the temporal concerns of the state. For all... Continue Reading
The Bond of Love
Communion with Christ, however, cannot be separated from the communion of the saints.
When we come together to worship, we worship with hurting people. Some are sick. Some are grieving. Some are struggling to support their families. Some have no family. But too often, we take no notice of these things. We are too worried about our own problems to concern ourselves with the problems of others. Calvin... Continue Reading
Fighting my Sin of Least Resistance
For Those Searching for Supernatural Self-Control
If you’re struggling with sin that you feel cannot be excoriated, you have two options: Struggle alone, without the Spirit’s help, and out of the sight of others, or, bring it into the light, trust God to change you above and beyond your own weak strength, and allow others to bear fruit that will nourish... Continue Reading
How to Love Our Friends in Truth— Even When It Stings
We love one another with knowledge of the truth.
While friends do (and should) encourage and uplift us, they should also create edifying wounds. These wounds aren’t meant to break or destroy us but, through their pain, lead us to growth. Like a vinedresser cutting away the dead vines or the sculptor carving away imperfections, our friendships should sharpen us—but such sharpening isn’t always... Continue Reading
Test the Spirits
John is particularly concerned that we be guarded from false teaching about Jesus.
He lays out a litmus test for our discernment: “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God” (4:2-3). The key phrase... Continue Reading
Peace in the Midst of Pain
Psalms 88 and 89, teach us that the way through pain is prayer and praise.
Let Psalms 88-89 encourage you. Remember, when our peace is in jeopardy and pain threatens our joy, the way forward is through prayer and praise. It is Christ, our good Shepherd, who gives us joy and peace in the midst of our pain. Have there been times in your life when you wanted to sing... Continue Reading
Why Those Who Seem Most Likely to Come, Never Come at All
How often is it that those who were expected to be the first to welcome this salvation are the very last to do so, if ever they do so at all!
They are too busy with other pursuits; the farm and the family take up all their time and thoughts. In all such cases, ‘I cannot come’ is the alleged reason, but ‘I will not come’ is the real one; for when the heart is true the duties of the farm never interfere with the privileges... Continue Reading
Two Ways to Use the Plunder
You can’t be both a living stone in the house of our God, and a part of the tower of Babel reconstruction project.
Two diametrically opposed purposes. One for the exaltation of man and his vanity, lusts, and pride; the other for the service and magnification of God Almighty. As we gather around the Lord’s Table this is a needful reminder. The same hands which receive the blood of Christ must not be hands which shed innocent blood.... Continue Reading
3 ways to live your life in a culture that doesn't care about you.
Augustine wrote in his Confessions, “It is a disease of the mind, which does not wholly rise to the heights where it is lifted by the truth, because it is weighed down by habit.” In other words, it doesn’t matter how much we believe the truth if we don’t get the truth into our bodies through our... Continue Reading
3 Things Proverbs Teaches Us About the Nature of Wisdom
Wisdom is about reality. It’s about real-life decision-making in real-life situations. And that is, indeed, a powerful thing.
If we want to really know anything, if we want to possess any amount of wisdom about how to live, then the foundation of it all is fear. It’s fear of the Lord. But fearing the Lord is not the same thing as being afraid; to “fear the Lord” is to live with a holy... Continue Reading
Thinking about Plagues
The plagues are a tight literary unit, that is trying to express the mastery of Yahweh over the world and over the powers.
As is always the way when Yahweh fights the gods, there’s not any combat, the actions of the Lord simply show them to be impotent before him. The first three plagues fit in a pattern of water, earth, and sky (nile → frogs → gnats), which is the biblical layering of the cosmos (waters below, earth,... Continue Reading
The Very Worst Thing We Can do to a Person
One of Jesus’ big concerns in Matthew 23 is that the Pharisees are leading people to Hell.
Hypocrisy is telling other people how to live when you are unwilling to do the same things. This was what the Pharisees were doing. Hypocrisy is telling people that we are all sinners in the same boat, who all need to repent of many different things, but then making out that we have no need... Continue Reading
Even Believers Need to Be Warned
How Hell Motivates Holiness
Why, ultimately, did Paul warn of hell? Because Jesus was too wonderful, too marvelous not to use every righteous means available to “present everyone mature in Christ,” to win people to him and keep people near him. Others needed to know the danger of hell because they needed to know the danger of missing eternal... Continue Reading
Who is the Hero?
We have a hero complex.
We’re so tied to that hero complex that we react badly when something or someone challenges it. When we can’t do something or fail to achieve what we set out to, or even just don’t do something very well, we can’t handle our hero narrative being challenged so we excuse it – it was someone else’s... Continue Reading