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Posts by Nicholas Batzig

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Multidirectional, Participatory Worship

Worship

In my first foray into public ministry, I was met with what I deemed to be a highly unusual request. One of the elders of the church in which I was serving asked me to refer to the printed order of worship as a "playbill" rather than as a bulletin. This struck me as strange for a number of reasons--not least of which is that I couldn’t wrap my mind around how doing such ...

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The Most Thankful Person Who Ever Lived

Thankful

Believers often meditate on the love, the joy, and the peace of Jesus. However, most of us probably do not give enough attention to the thanksgiving of Jesus. One of the things that we can be certain of--concerning all of the sinless perfections of incarnate Son of God--is that Jesus expressed full and unceasing gratitude to His Father for every provision, every kindness, ...

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Satan, Sin, and Biblical Proportion

ScalesSinSatan

The more we understand the relationship between Satan and sin--keeping them in biblical perspective and viewing them in light of the person and work of Christ--the better equipped we will be to put sin to death and to avoid the temptations that so easily ensnare us. ...

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Why We Need a Priest

The entirety of the believer’s life can only be lived in light of the priesthood of Christ. As the Mediator of the new covenant, Jesus preeminently functions as the Great High Priest over the house of God. In the words of James Henley Thornwell, “Priesthood is the perfection of mediation,” and we have such a perfect Mediator in Jesus...

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Discernment Without and Within

Discernment Web

With the potential for the entire world to stream into our minds and hearts by means of the internet, it is safe to conclude that there has never been a time when Christians needed discernment so much as at present....

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When Satan is in the Church...

mask

I sometimes fear that there is a willful naïveté in the church with regard to the presence and power of Satan. One doesn't have to look far into the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, or the New Testament Epistles to discover the reality of the spiritual forces of darkness and to develop a theology of the assault tactics of the evil one. But it might surprise some to see...

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Of Priests, Pastors, and Prophets

With the five hundred and third anniversary of the inception of the Protestant Reformation upon us, it will do us good to remember that the Reformation was not simply a defense of sola Scriptura and the rediscovery of the doctrine of justification by faith alone–it was a reformation in worship and ecclesiology. Since Rome had rooted its sacerdotalism (i.e., priesthood) i...

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Pastor to Pastor

A man preparing for pastoral ministry needs not only the scientific tools to learn the multi-variegated aspects of theology--he also needs the skill of experienced men to teach him how to weave them into the fabric of his ministry to a congregation. It is one thing to know the doctrine of God with scholastic and categorical precision; it is quite another thing to know how ...

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Walking in God's Presence

We sometimes mistakenly think that those who lived in Jesus’s day had an easier time leaving behind everything they had known to follow Him. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, we see just how much the disciples left behind to follow the Savior. In Matthew 4:18...

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The Shoulders of Giants, the Counsel of the Wise

Giant Shoulder Standing

If the church is to be rooted in the timeless truths of God’s word, it needs leaders who are standing on the shoulders of giants in whom the Spirit of God was at work. If pastors are to navigate the overwhelming challenges of an increasingly secular and antagonistic society–not to mention the internal attacks from strong willed and self-seeking individuals within the c...

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One Greater Than the Temple

By entering into the world in the person of Jesus, God came to reestablish His presence with His people. Christ is greater than the tabernacle and temple. Because God dwelt fully in the Person of Christ, believers will dwell in His presence forever. By faith in Christ, we have direct access into the very presence of God....

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Cancelling the Weapons of "Cancel Culture"

Cancelled

In recent years, our society has rapidly embraced what has come to be known as the "cancel culture." If someone has said or done something--at any point in his or her life--that cuts across the grain of the suppose moral rectitude of society, he or she is swiftly excoriated to the point of irremediable social ostracization. An immediate sentence is determined by the masses...

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The Mystery of Godliness

Paul teaches that Jesus Christ is the source of all godliness. There is no godliness apart from Him. His Person and saving work is the singular and exclusive source of that godliness that God requires and provides. Our God gives what He requires of Himself by coming in the Person of Christ. ...

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The Rarest Commodity

Rarest

When we come to Christ, we learn to live in a way that is pleasing to God. We seek after His instruction and walk in His ways. Jesus is the rarest commodity–the eternal wisdom of God and sole source of righteousness and life. It is Him we must seek, find, and acquire more than any other commodities we may come to possess in life....

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Teaching a Barber to Pray

Peter the Barber is one of the most interesting figures in church history. He was not like so many othersof whom we have accounts in the annals of church historya theological giant. He did not start any charitable organization or initiate a movement to liberate an oppressed people. He was Martin Luther's barber (and, apparently was quit committed to the bowl cut!). In 1535...

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Augustine, Psalm 32, and the Grace of Justification

scales

Lately, as I have been reading through Augustine's Expositions of the Psalms, I have been struck afresh by how central God's free, unmerited, saving grace in Christ is throughout his theology. Though he is not always clear about justification being a legal act on the part of God, Augustine, nevertheless, makes numerous statements about the acceptance of a sinner before the...

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When Speaking About Jesus' Bride

It has become all too common for men and women to attack the church for all of the ways in which they believe that the church has failed. Almost every day professing believers rant online about the failures of "the evangelical church," "the Reformed church," "the Western church," etc. While recognizing that all of these categories are somewhat artificially manufactured, th...

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The Way of the Kingdom

I have always been astonished by the magnitude of Jesus' last miracle prior to His atoning death on the cross. As His attackers came to take Him by force, Simon Peter stood ready to defend His Master. With sword drawn, he struck the ear of Malcus, the servant of the High Priest. F.W. Krummacher notes the sense in which most professing believers would respond had they bee...

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More Than a Shibboleth

May we not fall into ritualistic, Christless, and imbalanced approaches to the means of grace in our churches. How we minister the means of grace in the context of public worship is more important than simply professing to be “an ordinary means of grace church.” May the ordinary means of grace be more than a Shibboleth to us....

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"...The One for Whom Christ Died"

BrethrenBlog

If we have discovered anything about Christians during this pandemic, it is that so many are ready to divide with other believers on the basis of their opinions over face coverings. The better part of ministers I have spoken with are exhaustednot simply from trying to lead a congregation through the challenges and logistics of when and how to gather for worship, but from d...

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The Peace of the Cross

A number of years ago, the church I planted decided to include a section for "prayer requests" on a visitor card that we handed to first-time visitors. Needless to say, after numerous visitors took a cue from the world of celebrity award shows and wrote "pray for world peace," we decided to discontinue that section of the card. It was obviously not because we did not des...

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Singing Down the Blessing of God

There is a clear pattern in Scripture of the way in which God uses the praises of His people for their future deliverances and the evangelization of the nations. May we enter into His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, knowing that our God is enthroned on the praises of His people. We need His deliverance and the watching nations need His salvation....

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The Self-Concealment and Self-Revelation of the Son of Man

By restraining wrong opinions about His person and work...

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Opportunistic Digital Hirelings

In John 10, Jesus contrasted two diametrically opposed religious leaders--the Good Shepherd and the hirelings. He was, of course, referring to Himself under the figure of the Good Shepherd and the Pharisees, Scribes, and Chief Priests under the figure of the hirelings. Using figurative speech, Jesus explained that the Good Shepherd calls His own by name (v. 3), goes befo...

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Scripture, Culture, and Convictions

We live in a culture in which there are two competing sources of authority vying for the minds and hearts of professing Christians–--the Bible and the media. Many Christians have not come to recognize that they are in a battle to maintain biblical convictions and practices. 36 years ago, Francis Schaeffer wrote The Great Evangelical Disaster--in which he offered an anal...

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Metaphors and the Mission of God

One of the remarkable features of Jesus' teaching is the way in which He drew simple analogies and metaphors from the world around Him in order to instruct His disciples about the most profound truths of the Kingdom of God. Jesus spent much time reading the book of nature. He could point to a simple flower in order to explain to His disciples the mystery of God's providen...

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Not Our Home

After a decade of church planting and pastoring in the beautiful Southern coastal city of Savannah, Ga., my family and I moved on to a new place to begin a new ministry and a new season of life. As our time in Savannah came to a close, my heart began to fill with sadness over the fact that we were leaving behind beloved friends, a house we loved, and a delightful city. At...

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What is a Good Work?

Believers rest assured that they will go to heaven when they die only because of the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. We joyfully sing, “Nothing in my hands I bring; simply to the cross I cling.” With the Apostle Paul, we say, we “put no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3)and “nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom. 7:18), while at the s...

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What is a Means of Grace?

A brief survey of the top fifty best-selling Christian books reveals what subjects are of the greatest and least interest to the majority of professing Christians. Books on purpose, finances, personality, self-esteem, love languages, and relational boundaries dominate the list. Books on the triune God, Christ, sin, the gospel, Scripture, preaching, the sacraments, prayer, ...

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The Tragedy of Wealth

When I was a boy, I loved to watch the popular television show, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. In each episode, host Robin Leach gave a virtual tour of mansions, properties, automobiles, and vacations. Focusing on all that the wealthy could afford in this life, the show held out the prospect of affluence and success. It would be interesting to interview people who were...

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Caution in God's Presence

Jesus always listened to His Father, spoke truth from the heart, and followed through on His vows. Jesus atoned for the sins of our mouths, by keeping the promise He made to the Father that He would lay down His life for His sheep. When we return to God in brokenness over the many ways we have been slow to listen, quick to speak, and unfaithful to our vows, we find Him to ...

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The Thing Itself

I was recently struck with our propensity for creature worship while watching the documentary, "The Last Dance." If anything reveals our desire to give undue homage to creation, it is in the way the world worshipped Michael Jordan throughout the 80's and 90's. If anything shows the willingness men have to be worshipped it is the fact that Jordan goes by the code name "Yah...

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What We Need Most at Present

Every morning, as I scroll through my social media feed, I see more and more articles, posts, videos, and comments in which individuals are trying to convince me of how I should be responding to our current situation, medical advice, economic impacts, and civil freedom. I am confronted with videos and posts about how I should be responding to a gut-wrenching shooting of a...

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Tabletalk on Covid-19

Over the past several months, Ligonier Ministries has been publishing articles at Tabletalk Magazine online with a specific focus on our current global health crisis. Each of these articles seeks to address interrelated matters with the goal of building up believers during this time. Here are the articles published to date: Working Remotely to the Glory of God Covi...

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A Spirit of Sonship

A prima faciareading of theScriptures seems to give us contradictory statements about the roll offearin the life of the believer. On the one hand we are called to fear the Lord (e.g. Lev. 25:17; Deut. 6:2; 1 Samuel 12:14; 2 Kings 17:39; Psalm 2:11; etc.) and on the other hand we are told, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves to...

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Productivity in a Pandemic

During this global COVID-19 pandemic, let’s commit to diligent and skillful labor in our homes. Let’s commit to prayerfully planning out the many tasks in which we may best invest our time. By so doing, we may look back on this season with gratitude...

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The Unchanging God

Anselm famously stated that God is "that being of which there is none greater." The members of the Westminster Assembly explained that God is "a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth." The living and true God is an infinite and eternal being. He is also a personal and communicative being. The Triune ...

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Loving the Church in Our Songs

Upon the news of a statewide "stay in place" order, our family started singing hymns in family worship that specifically focused on the church. Of course, we didn't stop singing hymns about Christ. After all, Jesus is our God and Savior, Redeemer, Deliverer, Prophet, Priest, King, Shepherd, Brother, and Friend; and, He is the Bridegroom of the Church--which He purchased w...

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Stern Things Without, Tender Things Within

Recently--while working through the books of Jeremiah and Lamentation--I have been struck with the picture Scripture gives us of the tender heart of the prophet. Jeremiah has not been called "the weeping prophet" in vain. He weeps with and for the people who are together suffering for the sins of Judah. The pain of exile weighs heavily on the heart of Jeremiah. However, G...

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The Vertical and Horizontal Dimensions of the Cross

A number of years ago, I wrote a short series for Tabletalk Magazine on all that Jesus accomplished when He hung on the cross. Here is a summary of the series from one of the posts: "The Scriptures give us a robust revelation about all that Jesus accomplished on the cross. As we go about seeking to categorize all of the various dimensions of the cross, we discover that...

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All in a Week

Last week proved to be quite frustrating. Challenges in scheduling, establishing routine, directing productivity, interacting with family, and going out in public started taking its toll. Rapid circumstantial change combined with a sense of previously unexperienced monotony brought me to a point of undue frustration. Change and uncertainty often serve as an impetus for st...

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The Church after the Coronavirus

The past three weeks have proved to be an unprecedented time of uncertainty for people throughout the world. Concern over the impact of the coronavirus has seized medical professionals, the elderly, those with weak immune systems, business owners, financial institutions, non-profit organizations, and—most significantly—local churches. This past Sunday, pastors and ...

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The Church After the Coronavirus

In light of our current circumstances, a number of important questions about the nature of the church have surfaced. For instance, what authority can the state exercise over the church? Is it appropriate for churches to voluntarily cancel in-person worship? What are the best ways for pastors to stay connected with and care for their members while they are sequestered in th...

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The Comfort of Justification by Faith Alone

John Owen--often regarded as the Prince of the Puritan theologians because of his prolific academic theological contributions--is best known for his works on The Glory of Christ, Communion with God, The Holy Spirit, The Mortification of Sin, Indwelling Sin, The Nature and Causes of Apostasy, and The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. However, among the many substantia...

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Pastoral Ministry and Pestilence

In the midst of the current worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, an account about the pastoral ministry of B.M. Palmer in the midst of a yellow fever epidemic came to mind. Yellow fever is extremely contagious and far more deadly than Covid-19; yet, Benjamin Morgan Palmer viewed the fulfillment of his pastoral ministry as of greater importance than his own safety. In The Life and...

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The World Attracted to the Church

Martyn Lloyd-Jones once notably explained, "When the church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first." Nothing is more important for Christian leaders to come to terms with in our day than this truth. History teaches us that when the church has sought to b...

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Hands Outstretched

One of my favorite things to do when leading a worship service is getting to pronounce the benediction over the congregation at the end of the service. A benediction is a divine blessing from Scripture pronounced by the minister in order to equip God's people as He sends them out into the world to live for Christ. The benediction is found throughout Scripture. Consider th...

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The Unique and the Normative in Acts

The book of Acts is the sequel to the record of the history of the earthly life and ministry of Jesus. Rather than recording what Jesus did and taught during His earthly ministry, Lukes gives us the record of the history of the ascended Jesus through His apostles for the advancement of the Kingdom in the fullness of redemptive history. Acts is, in short, the history of th...

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Count Your Blessings

If you grew up in a Christian home, you almost certainly sang a number of hymns as a child that have stuck with you (for good or ill) throughout your life. I distinctly remember singing the chorus to the hymn, “Count Your Blessings,” with my sister in the back of our parents’ car. The last two lines of the chorus seemed to play on repeat in my little mind: “Count ...

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God's Extraordinary Work in the Ordinary Family

Over the past decade, a barrage of articles and blog posts have been blanketed across the landscape of the internet--promoting and counteracting the idea of radical and extraordinary Christian service. Those who have emphasized radical Christian service have done so in an attempt to thwart the complacent, materialistic, self-focused, inhospitable, and unmerciful lifestyle...

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From the Books to the People

Like so many pastors I know, I have long had a love affair with books. Books are the best of friends, smiling down from where they sit on the shelf––urging you to come and spend time with them. "A good book," as one has put it, "is like a good friend. It will stay with you for the rest of your life. When you first get to know it, it will give you excitement and advent...

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What is the Chief End of Scripture?

I have sometimes heard well-meaning believers--who have recently come to a better grasp of God's sovereignty and the doctrines of grace--make inaccurate or disproportionate statements about God's end in redemption. Many years ago, I watched a man--who was preparing for ministry--go around telling other believers, "The gospel is not about you and your salvation; it's about...

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When Talking about Congregants...

A young church planter in a small town was getting his hair cut by a woman he knew. "You're not like the other pastor whose hair I cut," she said. He asked what she meant. She quickly replied, "You don't talk about your congregants negatively." Apparently, there was a minister who would come in and vent all of his frustrations about different people in his congregation to...

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Gracious Gospel Repentance

It is not uncommon to come across statements on repentance on social media. Most of these come in the form of atomistic sayings. Some of these statements--though well-meaning--are simply theologically inaccurate. Others lack biblical nuance. Many fail to connect repentance to the good news of the gospel. Still others gives the impression that repentance is a legal and pre...

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Un-Dragoned by the Lion

There is a beautiful picture, in C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader--where he portrays the transformation of a sinner by means of the figure of a dragon-like boy being descaled by Aslan. With this symbolism, Lewis depicts what Christ does in transforming those He has redeemed and called to Himself. This symbolic picture is set in the middle of a dialogue between E...

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The Eternally Wounded Christ

There is so much we do not know about the experience of believers in glory. The Scriptures give us just enough insight to stir up within us an anticipated longing to be in glory. "Being with Jesus" is the most common way in which Christ and the apostles spoke about the believer's eternal happiness. Jesus told His disciples, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will com...

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Healing His Patients Slowly

Though this may not solve all of the difficulties in our minds, it certainly offers a plausible explanation for the fact that God...

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Talking about the Church...

Talking about the Church is actually quite a difficult task, since Scripture speaks of the Church in a variety of ways. More often than not, individuals have failed to rightly distinguish between the different ways in which the biblical authors speak about the church. This, of course, raises the question, "What is the Church?" In order to give the most biblically robust a...

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The Affectionate Pastor

In serious-minded biblical churches, pastors rightly value theological rigor, biblical worship, exegetical preaching, corporate prayer, the right administration of the sacraments and the exercise of church discipline. However, one thing that does not seem to get the same emphasis in such circles is affectionate pastoral ministry. I'm not referring to the quasi-liberal so...

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Bringing our Children to the Table

Since the practice of the Lord's Supper has regained something of a focused treatment online in recent days, I thought it might be advantageous to focus on another important aspect of the Lord's Supper--namely, how and when should we bring our children to the Table. In doctrinally serious churches, welcoming the children of believers to the Lord's Supper is one of the mos...

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Communing with Christ in the Supper

Recently, a video of Francis Chan surfaced in which he tries to explain what he now believes about the real physical presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper. Without wishing to dissect the many erroneous arguments Chan made about the unity of the visible church throughout the first fifteen hundred years of church history and the role of preaching in the early church, I do...

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Old Testament Redemptive-Ethical Concessions

Recently, I preached on the devastating consequences of Jacob's polygamous and incestuous marriage to Leah and Rachel. This was not the first time the Old Testament confronts us with the sticky problem of polygamy. It first appears in the genealogical record of Cain's reprobate descendants, where we read of Lamech's polygamous marriage and subsequent boastful defense of h...

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Not as the Word of Men

Theologians have frequently appealed to the internal testimony of Scripture as a substantiating proof of its divine authorship. For instance, B.B. Warfield, in his article "'It says;' 'Scripture says;' 'God says,'" takes note of the divine authorship of Scripture from the consistent way in which the New Testament introduces its Old Testament citations. Others have pointed...

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2019 Writing in Review

2019 was the most transitional year we have had as a family, as I started a new job with Ligonier Ministries and a new pastorate at Wayside PCA on Signal Mountain, TN. The Lord was gracious to us each step of the way. I was able to write far more than I thought I would. As I like to offer a writing recap at the end of each year, here is a compilation of what I was able to...

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We Are Not Home Yet

In his book "The Problem of Pain," C.S. Lewis wrote, “The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. . . . Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”...

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In the Fulness of Time...

"When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son,bornof woman, bornunder the law" (Gal. 4:4). The Apostle Paul wrote this glorious statement in order to impress the idea that all of human history centers on the person and saving work of Christ. Time was made for Jesus Christ. "The fulness of time" also refers to the two ages--the present evil age of this fallen...

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Interrelated Revelation

In his Systematic Theology, Robert Letham explains the interrelationship between general and special revelation, when he writes, "We need special revelation, the Word of God, to understand general revelation properly. This was true before the fall, when Adam received verbal revelation from God as to the nature of his task. It is doubly so once sin entered, the human m...

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A House for the Son

By the time I turned forty, I had lived in twenty-five different houses in seven different states. Relocating became standard fare for me during what many call “the formative years.” By way of contrast, my wife lived in the same house until she left for college. For ten years, I pastored a church in a military town that has 400 percent turnover. I suppose that my upbr...

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While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks...

Imagine all the angels gathered before the throne of God when the Savior was born. The redemption that God had planned in eternity is now being accomplished in the fulness of time. Out of that vast host of angels, the Triune God chooses one from among these messengers who exist to do His will (Ps. 103:20: Heb. 1:7). He points to one of these angels in the midst of the myr...

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Self-Awareness, Love, and Overreaction

As a teenager, I longed to be whatever my father was not. If he wore a dress shirt and khakis, I sported a t-shirt and jeans. If he listened to classical music, I listened to jam bands. If he liked tea, I liked coffee. If he liked impressionism, I liked fauvism. This rejection of my father’s styles and preferences continued well into my 20’s. By God’s grace, I never...

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The Messianic Prophecies in the Book of Micah

The restoration that God promises through the eternal one to be born in the little town of Bethlehem, is the promise of a renewed dwelling place comparative to the Garden of Eden. Micah explains that in this cosmic renewal, every man will “sit under his vine and under his fig tree” (Mic. 4:4). Ultimately, the promised restoration was bound up with the provision for the...

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A Half-Learned Christ

In a day in which we are inundated with counterfeit gospels, counterfeit spirituality, counterfeit religions, and counterfeit devotional practices it is important for us to keep in mind that believers are ever in danger of falling into what older theologians called, "a half-learned Christ." Instead of keeping our eyes steadfastly fixed on the fullness of Christ, we are ev...

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Disassociating Paul from Jesus

By means of sophisticatedly crafted statements on social media, certain prominent voices in the evangelical wing of Christendom have revealed their penchant for pitting Jesus' ethical teaching against that of the Apostle Paul. To elevate what Jesus taught over against what His apostles taught reveals a fundamental deficiency with regard to the doctrine of biblical revelat...

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Who Delivered Up Jesus to Die?

Octavius Winslow once famously said, “Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy—but the Father for love.” 1 We could just as easily edit this statement in the following way: “Who put Jesus on the cross? Judas, for money; Pilate, for fear; the Jews, for envy; and you and me, for enmity.” ...

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A Biblical Theology of the Sacraments

Almost no aspect of biblical revelation has been so misunderstood and disagreed upon as that of the sacraments. Many of the heresies and error in the apostolic church centered on a misunderstanding of the role of the sacraments. Ecclesiastical traditions and theologians have long differed with one another on the legitimacy of the word sacrament, the nature of the sacramen...

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The Christ of the Proverbs

When we turn to the Proverbs--which are arguably some of the most neglected portions of Scriptures in the realm of redemptive-historical studies--we discover a series of additional challenges to a consistent biblical-theological interpretation. When we considered the Psalms, we saw something of the complex nature (i.e.the diversity of genre, structure, and historical plac...

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Self-Awareness, Love, and Overreaction

we need to learn to react to error in a way commensurate with the truth...

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A Redemptive-Historical Family Tree

God has woven some of the most glorious redemptive-historical details into Matthew's genealogy of Jesus Christ. It is fitting that, at the fulness of the time, we should see how all the things foretold by the prophets would be fulfilled in the person of Christ. Matthew introduces the genealogy by telling us that Jesus is the long awaited "son of Abraham" and the promised ...

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The Word and the Power

When we consider the miracles of Jesus, we do not fail to recognize a divine power at work in them to reverse the awful effects of the fall and restore the natural wholeness of a person. We understand that His miracles are Messianic markers--signs pointing beyond themselves to the Savior who came into the world to make all things new. We feel the need for such a Savior wh...

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A Second Adam to the Fight...

Last spring, a spider wove a cobweb across the entryway to our house. In the evening, it took the cobweb down and it spun a new one in the same spot the very next morning. This event recurred over a period of several weeks. At first, I simply sought to avoid the cobweb by sneaking under it whenever I came or went. (I’m sure that our neighbors thought I was practicing th...

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The Greatest Theology for the Smallest Problems

Throughout his New Testament epistles, the Apostle Paul models for us the way in which we ought to approach what may seem to be minor situations in the church by applying the greatest theology to the smallest of problems. Take, for instance, the great Christological hymn in Philippians 2:5-11. One might conclude that Paul was writing about the humiliation and exaltation o...

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The Reciprocity of Role Relations

One of the most glorious aspects of biblical truth is that God has purposed to reveal His manifold wisdom in giving us glimpses into the way in which He has ordered things and why He has ordered them in the specific way that He has. This is seen in everything from the creation of the stars “for signs” (see Gen. 1:14 and Matt. 2:2; 9) to the “trees” for a cross...

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Sanctified!

It was the late Professor John Murray who first articulated the doctrine of definitive sanctification. As he studied the exegetical statements of the New Testament that spoke of believershaving beensanctifiedthrough the death of Christ (e.g.1 Corinthians 1:2;6:11;Heb. 10:10, etc.), Murray suggested that "it is a fact too frequently overlooked that in the New Testament the...

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What is Evangelical Repentance?

Evangelical repentance is not a one-time experience in the life of those who come to Jesus Christ in faith. Rather, as those trusting in Christ, we will spend the rest of our lives repenting of indwelling sin (Rom. 7:15...

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Eight Types of Baptism

As I teach a short series on the sacraments at church, I recently happened across a fascinating historigraphical statement by Francis Turretin about the way in which certain theologians have calculated the numerous types of baptisms in the pages of Scripture. Setting out the various views, Turretin ultimately listed eight events or experiences that may properly be con...

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The Vertical and Horizontal Cross

The Scriptures give us a robust revelation about all that Jesus accomplished on the cross. As we go about seeking to categorize all of the various dimensions of the cross, we discover that there are bothverticalandhorizontaldimensions to Jesus’ work. Theverticaldimensions are foundational; thehorizontalare consequential. Theverticaldimensions include Jesus’ defeat of ...

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All We'll Ever Need

Our family has recently started working through the Sermon on the Mount during family worship. As we have moved through each section, I've experienced a renewed sense of astonishment at the countercultural nature of what Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount. In the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches that the way of the Kingdom of God is radically different from the way of the ...

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The Fight and the Faithful

Anyone who reads the Scriptures with any degree of honesty must immediately recognize that when Christ enlisted us into His everlasting Kingdom, He enlisted us into a spiritual battle in this fallen world. This means, of course, that our Christian lives will be fraught with trials and tribulation. Anyone who has sought to walk faithfully with the Lord for any length of...

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The Cross and the Atonement

During the first decade of the twenty-first century, a number of prominent leaders in the emerging church movement asserted that the doctrine of substitutionary atonement is tantamount to “cosmic child abuse.” At a time when men and women were finally starting to see the need to condemn every form of abuse that had been tolerated in our culture, the allegation seemed ...

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The Art of Spiritual War

Sun Tzu’sThe Art of Waris one of the most ancient and most revered military manuals in all of human history. In it, Sun Tzu set out what he believed to be the “essentials of military victory.” He wrote: “If you know the enemy and know yourself,you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourselfbut not the enemy, for every victory gained you wil...

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Were Not the Right Man on Our Side...

As a boy, I would sometimes slip into my dad’s dress shoes and put on a pair of his glasses when I found them lying around the house. Perhaps this was merely an act of admiration; however, I suspect that it was also an act of imitation, a longing to grow up to be like my father. Now, as a father of three boys, a subtle, sublime joy wells up in my heart when one of my so...

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For Still Our Ancient Foe...

What impact would it have had on the church in our late-modern, scientific day and age if the author(s) of the Apostles’ Creed had included a statement about the reality of angelic activity and spiritual warfare in the Christian life? I envision such a statement as reading like this: “I believe in principalities and powers, spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly pla...

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The Impact of 9/11

I vividly remember the morning of September 11. 2001. I was living in Flat Rock, NC, just south of Asheville. I remember hustling into the Country Club where I worked as a cook, trying not to lose my job because of my prodigal lifestyle. At some point, the head chef ran out and sat the staff down. We all huddled around a small, portable, black and white kitchen television...

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The Law-Fulfilling Jesus

So much about the truth of Christ in the Scriptures respects the obedience He rendered to His Father. Though He is God manifest in the flesh, Jesus lived a perfectly sinless life--as the last Adam--in order to merit righteousness for His people. Jesus kept the Ten Commandments perfectly as the representative of those He came into the world to redeem. Whereas, Adam sinned ...

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The Flesh/Spirit Distinction in Pauline Theology

One of the most important, and yet most difficult, elements of Pauline theology is the Apostle's use of the flesh/Spirit (σὰρξ/πνεῦμα) antithesis. The antithetical construct is preeminently found in Romans and Galatians, and can really only be understood in its fullest significance when viewed through the lens of both the Historia and the Ordo Salutis.Througho...

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Peripatetic Sermon Prep

Discussions about sermon preparation tend to gravitate towards subjects involved in the formal processes of moving from the text to the sermon. There is no shortage of books, chapters, or articles in which one will find the various exegetical, theological, practical and homiletical elements of preaching. Among those works from which I have most benefited over the years ar...

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Raised Through the Blood

What is the central message of Christianity? This is a subject of timeless importance in a day when many insist that the central message is kindness in interpersonal relations; or that it is justice in its variegated societal implementation. However compelling the case may be made for either of these, the Apostle Paul gave us the divinely inspired center of the Christian ...

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On Controversy and Rules of Persuasion

John Newton once wrote a letter on rules of controversy to a fellow minister who informed him of his intention to confront another minister about that minister's supposed unorthodox doctrine. In this letter, Newton warned the man to 1) consider his opponent, 2) consider the public, and 3) consider himself prior to entering into the fray of theological debate. This sage c...

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The Canaanites Within

The doctrine of indwelling sin is one of the most important doctrines a Christian can diligently study. If we are going to make progress in growth in grace, we must gain a right understanding of indwelling sin. If we are going to be resolved to fight against the remainder of sin in our flesh, until we are in glory, then we need a right assessment about the prevalence and ...

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The Transfiguration

A significant number of mountaintop experiences also structure the life and ministry of Jesus. At the outset of His ministry, the Savior went up on the Mount of Olives in order to give the divinely inspired exposition of the law of the Kingdom of God (Matt. 5-7). As he prepared to draw near to Jerusalem, Jesus revealed His own divine glory to his disciples in his transfigu...

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Van Mastricht, Edwards, and the Economic Trinity

In a letter to his disciple, Joseph Bellamy, Jonathan Edwards praised Petrus Van Mastrict's Theologia Theoretico-Practica as being "much better than...any other Book in the world, excepting the Bible, in my opinion."1 I have long wanted to compare Mastricht's theology with that of Edwards' in order to see where the scholastic theologian of the Great Awakening was influ...

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Don't Leave Those Kids Alone

On Saturday, February 17, 1739, George Whitefield resolved that he would commit himself to the task of evangelistic preaching to the coal miners in Kingswood. It was well known that the coal miners were uneducated and spiritually ignorant members of society. Nevertheless, stories of tears running down the coal-blackened faces of these men circulated quickly--peaking the i...

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Bored with the Gospel

Over the past decade a floodwater of cultural change in our country has occurred, leaving a massive impact on the church in America. 20 years ago, there was a push to address the issue of mercy ministry and evangelism in our churches. Much of this was, no doubt, a helpful corrective to a perceived deficiency in local churches. Today, the loudest voices speak incessantly a...

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The Cross After Jesus

Scripture is full of double-entendres. Often they are found in the historical details in the Gospels that serve to teach spiritual lessons. Perhaps the most vivid of these is the account of Simon the Cyrene bearing the cross after Jesus (Luke 23:26). The Savior, having been scourged and weakened by the abuse that he endured at the sinful, God-hating hands of men, was carr...

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Changing Tides and the Unchanging Savior

I have learned--both from personal experience and from pastoral ministry--that change can be among the most unsettling dynamics of life in this fallen world. We are a people of change living in a world subject to change. When we put our confidence in created things or set our hearts on circumstances, we make ourselves susceptible to disappointment and heartache. Marriages...

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Five Biblical Points of Dordrecht

Yesterday, my twitter feed was flooded with comments about a video floating around online in which Mark Driscoll said, "I don't hold to the five points of Calvinism. I think it's garbage...because it's not biblical." This statement came in the midst of a sociological rant in which the former pastor of Mars Hill Seattle was pontificating on how different groups view God in...

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Judah First

Of the multitude of Messianic prophecies that stand out in the book of Genesis, Gen. 3:15, 12:1-3 and Gen. 49:8-12 are arguably the most significant. After our first parents fell, the Lord promised to send a Redeemer into the world. This Redeemer would be the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham and the Lion of the tribe of Judah. As redemptive history was carried along...

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The Blessed Cursed Tree

An important biblical theological idea emerges out of Paul's use ofDeuteronomy 21:23 inGalatians 3:13. In the middle of the most polemical book in the New Testament, Paul made the astounding declaration: "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree')." The immediate context show...

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A Better Vine

Of the Gospels,none is as full of Old Testament typology as the Gospel of John. The apostle John had a keen interest in the types, shadows, symbols, metaphors, and elusive allusions the Savior employed during his earthly ministry in order to set forth his own divine glory (John 1:14). Most of the types in the Fourth Gospel are rooted in Israel’s exodus and wilderness ex...

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A Mantle of Love for the Weak

On the night I proposed to Anna 15 years ago, she gave me a gift--an antiquarian edition of Thomas Brooks The Unsearchable Riches of Christ. It is a work to which I returned many times over the past 15 years. The section on the riches and excellencies of Christ, by itself, makes this work a must read. The opening section on humility and gifts is one of the most soul streng...

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Three Family Graces

My parents frequently quoted Scripture to my sister and me when they overheard us fighting with one another as children. Ephesians 4:32 had to be the most cited. While writing the church in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul urged the members, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." It should strike us as strange that professin...

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Worship the Man

The Holy Spirit gives us ample amounts of proofs of the deity of Christ in Scripture. The fact that Jesus received worship from men and women--during his earthly ministry--has to be among the most marvelous of these proofs. Four times in Matthew's Gospel we read, "they...worshiped him" (Matt. 2:11; 14:33; 28:9; and 28:17). First, when the magi presented their gifts to...

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The Grace of Waiting

"Faster internet!" "Buy it now!" "Get what you've always wanted when you want it." These are only a few of the seemingly ubiquitous advertising slogans of our culture. No sooner have we begun to entertain them that we have met the dilemma of progress. The more things progress, the more we desire. The more we desire, the more we expect. The more we expect, the less we are ...

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The Most Difficult Verse in the Bible?

I've always found it to be a thing of comfort to know that one Apostle found another Apostle's writing to include things that are "hard to understand" (2 Pet. 3:15-16), while honoring him for being used by God to reveal the most comforting spiritual truths. I have often wrestled with many of the things that the Apostle Paul wrote--trying to understand how they fit into th...

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A Vision of the Glory

The Puritan Thomas Adams once wrote, “Christ is the sum of the whole Bible, prophesied, typified, prefigured, exhibited, demonstrated, to be found in every leaf, almost in every line, the Scriptures being but as it were the swaddling bands of the child Jesus.” Many have, by God's grace, been enabled to see the glory of Christ when they open the Scriptures. Nevertheles...

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Praise Her in the Gates

My mother went to be with the Lord almost five years ago. I wish that I could pick up a phone and tell her how much I love her. I wish I could tell her how thankful I am for her godly, gentle and wise spirit. I wish I could let her know that one of the greatest privileges that God has given me in life was such a devoted, selfless and enduringly patient mother. I wish that...

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The True Vine

Most of the types in the Fourth Gospel are rooted in Israel’s exodus and wilderness experience. Whether it was the incarnation of the Son of God typified in the tabernacle in the wilderness (John 1:14), Jesus’ miracle of turning water to wine (John 2:1...

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The Ascending Christ, The Descending Spirit

I well remember many discussion with friends, as a young Christian, about the precise relationship between the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament era and the work of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament era. Many have suggested that only prophets, priests and kings received the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament economy. Some have gone so far as to suggest that th...

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He Stayed for Forty Days

One of the great mysteries of Scripture is that which concerns the forty days between Jesus' resurrection and ascension. What was Jesus doing on earth for forty days after His resurrection? Why did He stay here? What was the purpose of the forty day period? Does the Scripture answer any of these questions for us? Simply put, Scripture teaches us that Jesus remained with H...

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The Resurrection and the Glory

There is almost no more exciting biblical-theological truth with which we can occupy our minds as we come to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday as that which we find in the Gospel of John about the Angels inside the empty tomb. What transpired on that first day of the week on which the Savior ushered in the new creation was nothing less than the fulfillm...

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The Cross and the Angels

As we come this week to celebrate afresh, in a focused way, the death and resurrection of Jesus, it will benefit us to consider the way in which the Savior's death effected much more than simply the forgiveness of our sins. Though that is certainly foremost among the benefits that we received from the Lord Jesus Christ, the cross brings about a cosmic reconciliation of th...

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What Ever Happened to the "S" Word?

“The word ‘sin,’ which seems to have disappeared, was a proud word. It was once a strong word, an ominous and serious word. It described a central point in every civilized human being’s life plan and life style. But the word went away. It has almost disappeared—the word, along with the notion. Why? Doesn’t anyone sin anymore? Doesn’t anyone believe in sin?...

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A Two-Fold Forgiveness

Chief among those questions that plague Christians the most in this life are those that concern the forgiveness of sins. Many Christians have asked the following out of a sincere sense of spiritual desperation: If God has forgiven all of my sins in the death of Jesus, why do I need to continually confess my sins? What if I die with unconfessed sins, will the death of Jesus...

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The Analogy of Faith

Almost nothing is as important as it is for the minister of the word of God to give the people of God the right meaning of whatever portion of Scripture he is preaching. R.L. Dabney, in his Sacred Rhetoric, explained what a minister is doing if he does not rightly divide the word of God in his preaching. He wrote, "The falsehood of that man is full of impiety, who, avow...

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The Worst Sort of Pride

One of the greatest snares to the souls of men is the snare of measuring ourselves by ourselves and comparing ourselves among ourselves (2 Cor. 10:12). When we allow pride to fester and take root in our hearts, we begin to think, act and speak as if we are more holy than others. When we do so, we make that at which we think we excel our standard of holiness, rather than Go...

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Tassels of Grace

Among the many seemingly confusing commands that God gave to Israel in redemptive history is the statute concerning the tassels and the violet thread in Numbers 15:37-41. After giving the people of God the distinction between unintentional and high-handed sins, the Lord commanded them to sew tassels with blue (lit. violet) thread on the corners of their garments. The Lord ...

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Why Not All at Once?

Though it has been a matter of no small debate in recent decades, it is right for us to say that all the saving benefits of what Christ has accomplished for us by his death and resurrection become ours "distinctly, inseparably and simultaneously" when we are united to Jesus by faith. Nevertheless, there is still a logical order by which the benefits of redemption are appli...

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The Redeeming Depression of Jesus

The prophet Elijah was raised up by God to be singularly used in taking on one of the most wicked kings in the history of Israel, by withholding rain for 3 1/2 years, by confronting 400 of the prophets of Baal, by calling fire down from heaven and by turning the people of Israel back from their idolatrous worship to the worship of the true and living God. Yet, he was afrai...

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The Cost of Christians in the Court

Among the litany of important and under-treated subjects that the Apostle Paul touches upon in his first letter to the Corinthians, John Calvin reflected on those concerning one believer taking another believer to court over personal or public injuries (1 Cor. 6:1-8). ...

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The Favorite 500

In light of the recent discussions about the role of bloggers on social media, I've compiled a list of blog posts and articles that I've most enjoyed writing--either for this blog or for other online publications--over the past 8 years. I started blogging 12 years ago; and, have written somewhere around 2000 posts or articles over that time. As the years have progressed, I...

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The Seed of Scripture

Genesis 3:15 is the single most important verse in the Bible. We cannot understand the overarching meta-narrative of the Bible until we come to understand the protoevangelium (i.e. the first preaching of the Gospel). This first of God's promises in human history contains the entire biblical teaching on the conflict, conquest, redemption, restoration and salvation of God'...

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Two Went Up to Pray

The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector is the most theological of all Jesus' parables. It is the most theological because it deals with the subject that is of most importance to the life of the Christian--namely, how a man or woman, boy or girl is accepted before God. The irony of this parable is that both of these men were going to the Temple to pray. On face ...

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Love and Anger at the Cross

t is right for us to both affirm that the Father never stopped loving the Son when he hung on the cross and that the Father was justly angry with the Son "because of the sins themselves which he took upon him, and because of the persons of sinners whom he sustained." It would be unorthodox to insist that within the Godhead, the love of the Father for the Son was ever dimin...

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The Resolved Parent

When we make New Year resolutions, we generally fixate on areas of our personal lives in which we would like to grow. We want to have a better body, a better bank account and a better Bible reading plan. We tend to be quite inward focused with regard to regrets and resolutions; and, that is not an altogether bad thing. This year, however, I want to think about areas in whi...

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Best Face Off

I recently finished watching AE's The Clinton Affair. I was 20 years old when the Clinton-Lewinsky affair broke. Everyone was glued to the television as details about the numerous scandals surrounding President Bill Clinton came to light. Related to the Clinton scandals were the scandals involving numerous Republican senators and representatives who were calling for Clin...

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To Whom Should We Pray?

As a young Christian, I would often go to a weekly prayer meeting at the local church I attended. It was there that I first noticed how many people began their prayers by addressing God as, "Lord Jesus" or "Jesus" or "Christ," rather than by addressing Him as "Our Father" or "Our God." I wasn't sure whether or not it was right for us to pray directly to the Son and Spirit ...

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In All Circumstances?

Often, the most basic of God's commands are the hardest for us to obey. We may ask ourselves whether or not we would have the faith to offer up a child to God--as Abraham did when he was called to offer up Isaac--while never really stopping to ask ourselves whether or not we have the faith to obey the most basic New Covenant commands. Take, for instance, Paul's statement...

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Retribution and Redemption

Last month, Pope Francis expressed his opinion that the death penalty is unacceptable in all cases. At the same time as he took his public stand, a series of popular opinions circulated online about whether or not the death penalty was to be viewed as valid as a Christian position. The better part of those who were vocal on the Twittersphere, also rushed to state unequivoc...

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Content to Know Enough

When addressing the subject of the inerrancy of Scripture in light of difficulties with which we are confronted in Scripture, E.J. Young would teach his students the following truth: "The believer," he said "will labor to reconcile seemingly contradictory details we encounter in various portions of Scripture. The unbeliever automatically insists that they are errors." Youn...

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The Redemptive-Historical End Zone Verse

Legion have been the proposed explanations of John 3:16--what we may nostalgically call, "the end-zone verse." It is safe to conclude that the better part of professing Christians in the Western world have consciously or unconsciously aligned themselves with the Arminian camp--insisting that this much beloved verse teaches us that God loves each and every individual; and, ...

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Understanding Opponents

Of the numerous regrets I have in life, not having been more understanding of others ranks high on the list. I have, many times, drawn hasty conclusions about others without having considered all that may factor into their lives. Many times, I have been critical of others when I should have erred on the side of seeking to understand more about their personality, background...

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The Doctrine of the Standing or Falling Soul

"Justification is still the article of the standing or falling church." So were the words of the late professor John Murray. Of course, Murray was playing off of Luther's famous words, "If this article stands, the church stands; if this article collapses, the church collapses." While seeking to explain the way in which this doctrine is perverted, Murray explained, "If ju...

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Crossing the Finish Line

In High School, I ran track. I struggled with endurance, as I was born with athletically induced asthma. There were times when the asthma seemed to go away. However, it always seemed to worsen when I competed. On one occasion, in the middle of a 5000m race, my lungs felt like they were going to collapse. I stopped, put my hands on my knees and tried to catch my breath. I w...

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The Household Baptist

I was baptized in the Reformed Episcopal church. I grew up in Reformed and Presbyterian churches. My father diligently taught my sister and I the distinctives of a Reformed covenant theology from our earliest days. He repeatedly reminded us that God had promised to be a covenant God to us and to our descendants after us. I believe those promises now for my own ch...

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Everyone Packages Knowledge

I have several friends who share the same anecdote with meover and over again. Sometimes, I lovingly remind them that they have already told me whatever it is they've shared ten times. Sometimes I just listen to them so as not to take away the joy they seem to be experiencing when conveying the story to me for the tenth time. I am sure that I too have repeated the same sto...

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The Hope of Forgiveness

I recently asked a group of church members if they had ever struggled with assurance of salvation. There was an overwhelming affirmation that all had struggled in the quest for that sweet subjective assurance for which believers often long in their souls. This is not at all a strange thing in the history of the church. Many of the Reformers, Puritans and other Reformed the...

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The Role of the Spirit in Current Trinitarian Controversies

The defense of historic doctrinal formulations regarding the Triune God, the Person of Christ, inner-Trinitarian relations and the implications of those relations for gender roles are among the more substantial issues at stake in the debate. The interconnectedness of the matters involved in the controversy makes just about any attempt to distill the essence of the debate i...

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Imagine There's No Hell?

At the Desiring God 1990 Pastor's Conference, Sinclair Ferguson gave a talk titled, "The Biblical Basis for the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment." It is, without doubt, one of the most significant treatments of the doctrine of hell that I have ever heard. At the outset of that lecture, Ferguson told the following story: "A number of years ago, certainly within the lifetim...

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God's Metrics

God's metrics are not our metrics. The way in which we seek to measure fruitfulness and faithfulness is often quite skewed. No one understood the issue of faithfulness and fruitfulness so well as the great Apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians 3, he first explained the nature of a fruitful Gospel ministry by drawing off of the farming metaphor: "I planted, Apollos watered, but G...

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When Your Spouse Won't Join a Solid Church

Among the many grievous situations in which a believer may find himself or herself, having a spouse who is either unbelieving or unwilling to join a biblical church can be one of the most burdensome. The Scriptures teach us the importance of belonging to a local congregation, being under the oversight of godly elders and living out the Christian life among the members of t...

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It Only Takes One

Sometimes believers mistakenly conclude that God is stricter and more swift to bring judgment in the Old Testament era than He is in the New. This is, in part, an understandable conclusion. There is a sense in which God's judgments seem to be suspended on account of the atoning death of Jesus. One might even go so far as to make the argument that common grace flows globall...

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The Glory of the Son

Jonathan Edwards, in Notes on Scripture, left us with one of the most penetrating meditations on the glory of the Son of God at the transfiguration. He wrote: “'But were eyewitnesses of his majesty,' etc. They, the apostles, had not only 'heard' him say that he would come in his kingdom in power and great glory, but they were in a sort eyewitnesses of it, in that they...

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From the Sea to the Conquest

There may not be any better theologian who masters the art of viewing the overarching biblical story of redemption than that of G.K. Beale. Every time I read his New Testament Biblical Theology, my mind is filled with renewed astonishment at the way in which Jesus came to fulfill everything that was preparatory and anticipatory in the Old Testament. When he comes to deal ...

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Little Eternal Beings

When God gives us children, He entrusts to our care little eternal beings. Each one of them will spend eternity in either heaven or in hell. There is an unparalleled sobriety that rightly accompanies such delegated responsibility. We often fail to properly prioritize our responsibilities. Our jobs are not eternal; our houses are not eternal; our cars are not eternal; our b...

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Planning, Planting and Pastoral Ministry

My dad carried a little note pad with him throughout the entirety of my childhood. I watched him write down what he had to accomplish and then observed him systematically doing all that he had planned to do. I never asked where he learned to do this. He would often tell me that so much of life was "praying, planning and doing." I cared very little about learning this impo...

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Which World View?

Many have written books, essays, articles and posts about the role that Christians are to play in the transformation of the current world with its politics, literature, art, music, education, etc. The variation of opinions leaves many believers confused as to where they are to place the better part of their prayers, time, energy and resources. Despite a multitude of insist...

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Calmer Than You Are

The Bible everywhere commends patience, gentleness, quietness and kindness. Though Jesus overthrew tables in the Temple, in righteous anger--and drove out the moneylenders with a whip--Scripture primarily characterizes him as being "gentle and lowly in heart" (Matt. 11:29). Scripture teaches us that those who are united to Christ by faith are being conformed to his image. ...

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Keeping the Cross in Focus

John Calvin, in his commentary on Galatians, wrote, "Let those who would discharge aright the ministry of the gospel learn, not merely to speak and declaim, but to penetrate into the consciences of men, to make them see Christ crucified, and feel the shedding of his blood."1 What Calvin stated so forthrightly is in keeping with the apostolic example and admonitions. For...

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The Mechanistic Church

Many wrongly view the local church as a social society that exists to meet their needs or desires. On the contrary, the church exists to bring glory to God, to spread and defend the Gospel, to build up and equip the saints unto mutual edification in love and to carry out the good works for which Christ has redeemed a people (Eph. 2:10; 4:11-16). To this end, the Christian ...

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Faith to Dry Up Puddles?

In his autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, John Bunyan recalled a time in his life when he sought to test whether or not he had true faith. He stood in front of a puddle to see whether or not he could perform a miracle and make the puddle dry up. As he stood there, he thought to himself that he should pray prior to attempting this miracle. He then reas...

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The Doubting Believer

Fifteen to twenty years ago, prominent figures in the missional movement began saying things like, "Our churches have to be safe places for doubters," or "You should feel like you can come to our church with all of your doubts." I always felt somewhat uncomfortable whenever I heard these statements--not because I think that our churches shouldn't be safe place for people t...

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Are Some Sins Worse Than Others

One of my close friends was telling me about a recent interaction he had at a Reformed seminary with a student who was preparing to go into college ministry. In the course of their conversation, my friend and this seminarian entered in on the subject of sexual sin. This young man insisted that there is no sexual sin that is more heinous than another. My friend push...

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The John Murray Collection

The older I get, the more I realize how much I especially owe to the work of the late Professor John Murray. Murray served as the professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary from 1930-1966. ...

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The Church Jesus Attends

Jesus Christ is the King and the only head of the church. He mediates the presence of God to his people when he stands in the midst of the people of God who are gathered together to worship the living God. Jesus acts as the worship leader of the people of God (Heb. 2:12). He stands as the great High Priest of the Church, making the worship, prayers and praises of his peopl...

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Why We Love New Beginnings

We all love new beginnings. When we enter a new year, most of us tend to think back on the past year--we look back at the accomplishments and failures and wonder if the forthcoming year will yield more progress and a better sense of achievement. When we make New Year's resolutions, we are reacting to regrets that we have had over the past year's activities and events. Usua...

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The Genesis of Theology

For those who have decided to go back to Genesis at the beginning of 2018 as you restart your Bible reading plan, here are a few theological themes that emerge when we meditate on the opening two chapters of the Bible in light of the fullness of biblical revelation: A Theology of Creation and New Creation "The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Th...

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The Unique Church

Too often, ministers foolishly embrace the ecclesiastical advice of those who know absolutely nothing about the specific arrangement of the local church they pastor. A pastor is animated by an article in which today's latest "church expert" insists that he or she has the corner on what should be done in every church. All the while, he forgets that that those writ...

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The Pastoral Year in Review

At the end of each year, I draft a summary of all of the preaching, teaching, visitation, writing, counseling, speaking, church outreach, ecclesiastical meetings and other labors in which I have been pastorally engaged in over the course of the year. This summary then goes out to our congregants at our new year meeting. We do this for several reasons. First, I personally ...

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The Grace of Confessing Sin

"He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy" (Prov 28:13). The Scriptures explicitly teach that the confession of sin is one of the most important aspects of the Christian life. Nevertheless, in our day, it is often one of the most misunderstood and overly neglected aspects of the process of growth in grace. Whatev...

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Creation, Incarnation, and the Immutability of God

The late professor John Murray captured the essence of the incarnation when he said, "The Son of God became in time what He eternally was not. He did not cease to be what He eternally was, but He began to be what He was not."1 On a prima faciereading of this statement, one might be tempted to draw the faulty conclusion that a change occurred in God when the secon...

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On Being a Lifelong Learner

Over the years, I have heard many professing Christians say that they don't read very much. This has to be one of the most discouraging things that a pastor can hear a Christian admit. It may only be more disheartening to hear young men complain about how much they have to study in seminary. It is a privilege of the highest degree to get to give yourself to a diligent stud...

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The Judgment-Mercy of God

Whenever some particular natural disaster occurs--e.g. an earthquake, hurricane, Tsunami, etc.--a segment of Christians vocalize their opinion that the particular disaster was God's specific judgment on a specific people for a specifically egregious sin. As soon as these opinions air they are jettisoned by a floodwater of retaliatory and equally impetuous statements of a...

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Redeeming Thanksgiving

A number of years ago, I concluded that it is officially an American tradition to have stressful interactions with parents, in-laws, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins on Thanksgiving Day. I have experienced some extremely relationally tense times with family members on Thanksgiving Day. I have a suspicion that I am not alone. Recently, a member of our congr...

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The Social Media Echo Chamber

Social media parlance and procedure are constantly evolving. Phraseology and expectations are mysteriously codified into the minds of the masses. In the social media echo chamber, parameters develop progressively and often imperceptibly. Paranoia and subtweets, expectations and ultimatums, flattery and bullying abound in the social media echo chamber. It is a messy world ...

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James, Justification, and the Human Court

I have often taken comfort in the fact that the Apostle Peter said that Apostle Paul wrote "some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstablepeopletwist to their own destruction, asthey doalso the rest of the Scriptures" (2 Peter3:15-16). I don't take comfort in this as a license for misinterpreting Scripture; rather, I take comfort in the fact that an Apostle di...

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The Prophets and the Prophet

In Miscellanies 1044, Jonathan Edwards made the following profound observation about the contrast between the mediated authority with which the Old Testament prophets spoke the word of God and the immediate authority with which Christ spoke the word of God: "The ancient prophets, when they uttered their predictions, were wont to introduce them after this manner, “Hear y...

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Criticizing Our Camp

As we make our way through the Gospel records, we find that Jesus frequently warned and criticized both his opponents and his disciples. This is a point of no small significance for those of us who live in a time when, at every level of society, men tend to focus exclusively on the error of their categorical opponents rather than on the errors of those with whom they are a...

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Doctrine, Denominations and Division

The 20th Century will be likely be remembered as the Century of ecclesiastical ecumenism. The 21st Century is shaping up to follow suit--not simply because of a widespread desire for co-belligerency, but on account of a doctrinal reductionism that seeks to dilute Christianity down to the most basic creedal statements of the early church. One of the driving forces behind th...

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The Last Cry of Dereliction

Many believers throughout the history of the church have experienced the ups and downs of the experiential assurance of salvation. There have been times when I have been overwhelmed by the nearness of God--when there were sweet "times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19-20) and there have been quite a number of times when I have felt far from God--whe...

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Gospel Poetry at the Table

Celebrating the Lord's Supper on a weekly basis poses quite a few challenges for the minister of the Gospel. Foremost among these challenges is that of keeping the meditations close to the message of the passage upon which you have just finished preaching. Additionally, the minister must strive to keep the observation of the Supper fresh for those who are in regular attend...

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The Unhypocritical Jesus

Jesus constantly warned about hypocrisy throughout his earthly ministry. Whether it was the institutionalized hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; 15:7; 16:3; 22:18; 23:13-15, 23-29), or the leavening effects that such hypocrisy on professing believers (Luke 12:1), Jesus recurrently emphasized that we are ever in danger of falling into hypocrisy. Since such hypocr...

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What Are You Waiting For?

One of the downsides of living in the technological age is that we are constantly overwhelmed with what we allow to stream into our minds and hearts from our newsfeeds, social media debates, conversations about world affairs, social agendas, personal opinions and every sort of religious and political ideology. All of this, in turn, has the propensity to animate a...

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The Ministerial Decrease

"He must increase; I must decrease" (John 3:30). Appropriating this truth into our thoughts, hearts and actions is one of the greatest challenges every believer faces in life. No sooner does it start to sink into our minds that our lives begin to reveal--in a multitude of ways--that we must relearn it all over again. These are, after all, the most significant words a man o...

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Closely Connected Care

With each cultural crisis or natural disaster, our minds are freshly flooded with a litany of images and calls to come to the aid of our neighbors who have been the victims of an injustice or who have suffered loss. One of the downsides of living in a media-connected age is that we can't escape the constant barrage of information about all of the miseries of this life. Add...

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The Sitting Christ

Every week at New Covenant, we confess one of the ancient creeds of the Church (i.e the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed). I especially love confessing the biblical truth that Jesus is "seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty," for the simple reason that Scripture places emphasis on this most precious truth (Psalm 110:1; Matt. 22:44; 26:64; Ephesians 1:20;...

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Nothing to Complain About

Of all the sins that are grievous to the Lord (and there are plenty of them in our hearts and lives), I have recently been sensitive to the fact that we are all quick to gloss over two of the most serious--namely, ingratitude and complaining. It was these sins in particular that marked Israel's sojourning through the wilderness. Moses tells us, in Numbers 11:1, "The people...

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Diagnostic Decision Making

Not being sure how to decide between two or more legitimate life options is a common human experience. It is part of what it means to be a finite creature in a finite world mysteriously governed by the infinite God. Whether it is a student trying to discern what college to attend, a young man trying to know which girl to pursue for marriage, an adult who has been presented...

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Identifying Elders And Deacons

Identifying, training and installing church officers (i.e. elders and deacons) is one of the most important and difficult tasks with which God has tasked those pastors He has placed in full time Gospel ministry. The health of the church is dependent on the spiritual health and giftedness of the men who hold office in a given local church. If men who are biblically qualifie...

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When the Preaching is Bad

What are we to do when we find the preaching to be deficient in the local church to which we belong? For some church members, that is a relatively easy question to answer--just leave! After all, many people will leave churches for all sorts of other illegitimate reasons: musical preference, children's ministry, social expectations, etc. For others, this is an exceedingly d...

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Reading God's Providence

God's providence is among the most mysterious and perplexing realities in the Universe. Ironically, many pass themselves off as being quite proficient in reading God's works of providence in their lives and in the lives of others. When something difficult, unexpected or surprising happens, we all sometimes ask ourselves, "Why did God allow this to happen? Or, what is God t...

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Destroying the Good for the Better

A friend of mine, who has pastored the same church for 35 years, has made the observation that much division, discontentment and discord in the local church comes when people allow what they perceive to be "the better" destroy their contentment with "the good." Instead of being thankful for the many ways in which God has blessed a particular local church, individuals be...

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The Greatest Book Never!

Over the years I've developed something of a preoccupation with theological compilation volumes. Though such volumes generally only undergo a single printing (only to be forever lost in the annals of publishing), they contain some of the richest and most focused theological articles and essays on a variety of theological subjects. Perhaps, another reason for my penchan...

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Discovering Christ in the Psalms

Athanasius once made the following statement about the book of Psalms: "While the entire Holy Scripture is a teacher of virtues and of the truths of faith, the book of Psalms possesses somehow the perfect image for the soul's course of life." The Psalter has a unique place in Old Testament revelation in that it really is a sort of miniature Bible. Every systematic and bibl...

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A Spiritual Inheritance

When I was a teenager, I had a conversation with my mom about parents leaving their children an inheritance. At some point in that conversation, my mom said, "Nick, there are different kinds of inheritances that parents can leave their children. Most limit their understanding of an inheritance to the financial realm, while the Scriptures predominantly emphasize the impor...

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The Digital Sermon

Over the years, thoughtful pastors and teachers have raised a litany of warnings about the dangers of making the online ministries of preachers a replacement for--or the standard by which we judge--local church pastors. Additionally, many have rightly noted the impropriety of replacing the real presence of the preacher with the streamed in digital pastor. Martyn Lloyd-Jone...

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The Weight of the Church

The local church is the sphere of God's promised spiritual blessing--the place where Christ shepherds His people through His word, sacraments and discipline. It is through the ministry of the visible church that God has determined to make known His "manifold wisdom...to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places" (Eph. 3:10). If that is true--and it most certainly ...

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Old Man, New Man; Dead Man, True Man

The question concerning the relationship between the believer and indwelling sin is one of the most theologically difficult to navigate. On one end of the spectrum, there are those who insist that the believer is a new creature with a new nature and ought not talk about the reality of indwelling sin in his or her heart. Such teaching results in either doctrinal or functi...

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The Roller Coaster Effect of Ministry

I recently listened to one of the fathers of our denomination speak about the "ups and downs" that he was experiencing in ministry. This man had planted a church in the PCA (which he subsequently pastored for many decades), oversaw quite a number of church plants out of that congregation and is currently planting a new church. What he said triggered painful memories of ...

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Being Professional in Ministry?

John Piper's Brothers, We Are Not Professionals is one of the books that pastors in the Western world would do well to read annually. In that work, Piper puts his finger on the gaping wound of a corporate mindset that has plagued the church in North America for far too long. At the outset Piper explains why we should reject the professionalizing of ministry: "We pastors...

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The Reach of the Gospel

Dr. John H. Skilton, professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, used to remind believers, "You have the unique opportunity of reaching men and women in your community with the Gospel in a way that minister may never have, precisely because you have access to many whom he otherwise might never meet." This is a vital concept that we mu...

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A Biblical Theology of Glory

We rarely use the word glory in any knowledgeable sense in our culture. Sometimes we employ it in its adjectival form (i.e. glorious) when speaking of a sunset or some particularly unique accomplishment (usually that which is instrumental, athletic or theatric in nature). It's my assumption that most of us use the word glory and its derivations for emphasis without bei...

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Of Ministers and Marriages

I have something of a confession to make. I really do not enjoy officiating weddings. When I tell other ministers, they inevitably seek to chide me in less than subtle, hyper-spiritual, passive agressive kinds of ways--giving me a list of all the reasons why they love officiating weddings. "Aw, come on! It's such a beautiful picture of Christ and the Church," one will s...

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Interpretive Indecisiveness

Doctrinal indecision is not a virtue. It is often the consequence of our sinful hearts and intellects. However, it may also simply be the inevitable consequence of the intellectual and spiritual progress that believers must make in their Christian lives. For instance, many new believers have not come to a settled position on the interpretation of Revelation 20:1-6--whic...

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The Ecclesiastical Pendulum Swing

Find a church that is faithful to expositional, Christ-centered preaching of Scripture, regular Lord's Day observation of the means of grace (i.e. word, sacraments, prayer), the practice of church discipline and the loving fellowship of the saints. Exchange the quest for both spiritual and liturgical retreatism for biblical, Gospel-driven experimentalism and worship. Value...

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Redemptive History, Union with Christ, and the Liturgical Calendar

many have suggested that the Liturgical Calendar offers a recognition of the organic unity of Scripture centered on the redemptive-historical nature of Christ's saving work and participated in through the corporate worship of God's people. But is this actually the case? Does the Liturgical Calendar enhance or undermine the redemptive historical nature of Christ's saving wo...

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When Christians Hurt You

As the culture war rages on, there is another battle raging to which we must turn our attention. When I was a boy, my dad would sometimes tell me, "No one will hurt you so much as others in the church." In my lifetime, this has generally proven to be true. Believers sometimes experience the greatest hurt in their relationships with other professing believers in the chur...

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Gospel Motivations for Gospel Ministry

Competitiveness is the companion of quality, right? After all, that seems to be true of the role of competition in health care, technology, transportation, sports, restaurants, design and construction. In all forms of production, men constantly seek to surpass their neighbor's productivity in quality and quantity. Solomon once declared, "I saw that all toil and all sk...

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Teachability

One of the great goals, to which each of us should aspire in our short lives, is that of becoming a teachable person. That statement sounds, at one and the same time, both noble and straightforward. However, a careful consideration of this subject leads us to conclude that it is commonly mischaracterized and misunderstood. Many have wrongly implied that teachability is a...

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Jesus Loves the Rich

Many people have a conception of Jesus that is--to put it as bluntly as possible--substantively deficient. Many envision Jesus as the prototypical religious leader who only cared for the outcast, the socially marginalized, the sick and the poor. A Marxist, revolutionary Jesus is the inevitable production of such a truncated conception. The Scriptures undoubtedly set fort...

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Did God Ordain Evil?

Throughout human history, men have wrestled with the problem of evil. The question, "How can a good and holy God allow evil to exist in the world that He created," is one that demands an answer. Or, to ask the question more pointedly, "How can the good and holy God be sovereign over all things including evil?" In his 85th entry of the Miscellanies, Jonathan Edwards gave...

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When They Walk Away

I recently had a friend tell me how distraught she was over the fact that someone she had been discipling wanted to be left alone. My friend was expressing the pain that she felt over this experience. She had poured so many hours into pursuing another with the Gospel and with Scriptural counsel, only to watch her walk away. The reality is that, at times in their Christian ...

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Picking Up Sticks in the Service of Jesus

One of the perennial problems of the fallen human condition is that men and women love to serve when there is respect, reputation and remuneration involved, and not serve when it involves what they perceive to be a menial task done out of the sight of the prying and praising eyes of others. This is no less true of members and leaders in the church as it is among the people...

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7 Ways to Care for Your Wife

In that extremely complex and, at times, hard to understand section of the Apostle Paul's letter to the Corinthians, we come across the comparison between the married and the unmarried (1 Cor. 7). In short, the Apostle insists that marriage is good (and the norm) but that it brings with it a division of attention. Those who are married have a preoccupation with their s...

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Singing the Mediatorial Praise of Jesus

"What sort of God must He be who commands His people to sing joyfully to Him from the heart?" That was the thought that struck me one day during one of our worship services. He is no evil or austere God who commands His people to sing with joy and grace in their hearts for all of His divine perfections and saving benefits. He is a God who loves to communicate His joy to...

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Reestablishing Ministry Goals

The longer I have been in ministry, the more I have found the ancient Latin proverb to be true: Repetitio mater studiorum est (i.e. repetition is the mother of all learning). Or, as Samuel Johnson, so helpfully noted: “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed." This is no less true for a local church that is collectively seeking to fulf...

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2016 Writing in Review

A number of years ago, I started cataloguing all that I have written over the course of the year. I decided to do this mainly for the congregation that the Lord has called me to pastor. However, I also do it for those who read my blog on a regular basis. To that end, it is my sincere desire that a compilation of what I wrote in 2016 will, in some small way, serve as a ben...

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The Future of Emptiness

2016 has come and gone. As the Steve Miller Band so mesmerizingly reminded us in 1976, "Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the future." We are, in many respects, now living in George and Judy's world. What was once considered impossible (or, was only dreamed of as being possible) is now part of the very fabric of the everyday experience of those living in th...

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The Minister's Grit

You discovered his music years before any of your friends or the mainstream media had ever heard of him. You saw him perform in a venue that held 50-100 people. You were excited the first time you heard one of his songs playing on a commercial or being covered by someone on a national performance show. Then he sold out. The gritty voice, guitar playing and lyrics slow...

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Sinful Anger: Its Cause and Cure

Pride fuels self-righteousness, self-righteousness fuels sinful anger and sinful anger fuels destructive thoughts, words and actions. Who among us has not known what it is to have sinful anger in our hearts? Who among us has not harbored a sinful longing for ill-will or revenge toward one who has hurt us--even if only momentarily? This sinful desire for retaliation is o...

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Joseph Did You Know?

I recently spent some time driving around our community in order to see the way in which Joseph was portrayed in the various nativity scenes that people set up in their front yards. There was everything from cartoon bug eyed Joseph to haloed Joseph to--and this was most interesting--a nativity scene in which Joseph was noticeably absent. The reason why the latter capture...

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Keeping Our Church Vows

When we examine and receive members in our local churches in the Presbyterian Church in America, we ask those coming for membership to take five vows: 1. Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save in His sovereign mercy? 2. Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of ...

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Low Expectations...

"I really like the music;" "the community is wonderful;" "there are so many ways to get involved;" "their children's ministry is great;" "God really seems to be moving here." These are among the most common reasons that I hear when people explain why they have joined a particular church. In fact, I have rarely heard people say, "We joined our church because it had the most...

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The Kinsman Redeemer

In the Law, God made a provision for his people to experience something of a typical redemption--through a close relative--from the burden of sin and misery. The story of Ruth is the well known story of redemption by the kinsman redeemer. In his excellent commentary on Ruth, Iain D. Campbell explains how there were three circumstances during the Old Covenant era in which G...

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A Year-End Self-Examination

As we approach the end of another year, it would do us good to step back and engage in a bit of self-examination. To borrow and adapt a saying of Socrates, "The unexamined life is not worth living." The Apostle Paul, charged believers with the following admonitions to self-examination: "Let a man examine himself" (1 Cor. 11:28), "examine yourselves whether you are in ...

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Life Changing Sermons

Many of those who have been born of God's Spirit can testify to the reality of having been regenerated upon hearing a particular sermon. Some, upon hearing a sermon for the first time, were converted--immediately brought from death to life. Others, after sitting under the preaching of God's word for many years, finally experience the remarkable work of God in their sou...

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Uncommon and Courageous Conviction

My dad is one of the most gifted individuals that I have every met. He played major division soccer in Philadelphia, put himself through The Wharton School of Business, attended the Reformed Episcopal Seminary and ended up as both the Branch and Division Chief of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). Additionally, he is one of the most gifted pianists I know...

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Time to Change Your Church!

I recently heard about a family in our denomination who drove nearly an hour to church every Lord's Day for a number of years. Because of where they happened to live, there was no closer likeminded local church for them to attend. This family knew that committing to that long drive meant that they would not have the fellowship that they might have had otherwise. They di...

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Laying R.I.P. to Rest

I've noticed something of a concerning trend over the past several years. It is the way in which believers speak about culture-impacting individuals at their deaths. Instead of simply expressing appreciation for their life and achievements, it has become commonplace for Christians to use the shorthand R.I.P. ("rest in peace") on social media when speaking of individuals--i...

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When Jesus Comes Again

A great deal of the New Testament is taken up with the doctrine of the second coming of Christ. The substance of all of God's revelation is summed up in the book of Hebrews where we read, "It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment; so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, ap...

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Fostering Relationships Between Church Leaders

Training officers (i.e. elders and deacons) is one of the most important things that pastors can do for the well-being of the local church. Keeping up healthy personal and spiritual relationships between officers is an equally important--yet often neglected--aspect of ministry. Too often, relationships between the pastor(s) and elders--as well as between the elders and d...

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When the Saints Go Marching In

In light of the news about the Roman Catholic canonization of two Popes and the canonization of Mother Teresa, it is vital for Christians to understand what the Scriptures teach about sainthood. There are certain topics that I am reticent to write about—sainthood is not one of them. This is not because I believe that I’ve attained some level of holiness more t...

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The Little City Delivered: Christ in Ecclesiastes

Keeping the wisdom literature in its canonical and redemptive-historical setting is one of the more difficult challenges for the student of Scripture. Many have interpreted the Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes atomistically under the guise of faithful commitment to a grammatical-historical reading of Scripture. However, this is not how Jesus and the A...

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18 Marks of Gospel-Produced Humility

On December 24, 2004, I proposed to my wife. That same night, she gave me a small, antiquarian book that she had bought for me from a bookseller in England. I'm pretty sure it's the only book that she ever bought me (since I did such a fine job of spending all of our money on a theological library)! The little book that she gave me that night is Thomas Brooks' Unsearchab...

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A Christward Anniversary

Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of the The Christward Collective. Over the past three years I've counted myself to have been blessed to serve as the editor, and to be a contributor, for a site that has a great lineup of men and women. Here is a catalogue of the posts that I have written there since August 14, 2013: "We See Jesus: New Testament Use Of The Old In H...

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As Seemed Best to Them...

My parents sought to bring my sister and me up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord. While I despised the discipline of my father as a child, I came to look back on it with enormous gratitude after I was converted. If you asked my dad about the way in which he disciplined us, he would be the first to tell you that he failed in many ways and at many times. As my wi...

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Why Do I Write What I Write?

The other day, our summer intern at New Covenant asked me why I write on the things on which I write. Since I've been asked this question on a recurrent basis in recent years, I thought it might be helpful to write about it! Having written articles, essays and blog posts for nearly a decade now, I have had sufficient time to reflect on the reasons for and the crite...

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A Biblical Theology of Oil

Until the resurgence of interest in therapeutic oils, most in our day have been far removed from understanding the important role that oils played throughout human history. Oils played a important role in health care as many had potent medicinal value. While much may be appreciated about the medicinal value of therapeutic oils, the theological and symbolic importance of ...

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You'll Meet Them All

One of the striking features of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress--perhaps most striking of all--is the way in which Bunyan so accurately portrayed the various characters that his protagonist, Christian, met with on his spiritual journey to the celestial city. Whether it was Evangelist, Obstinate, Pliable, Help, Worldly Wiseman, Mr. Legality, Formalist, Hypocrisy, Discr...

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The Family Idols

One of the more important aspects of the book of Genesis is the way in which the Holy Spirit lays bare the inner motives and desires that drive the actions of the members of the patriarchal family. The cameos of the men and women of the covenant family set out, in stark contrast, the antithesis between living life in the flesh and living life in the Spirit, by human effor...

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Pierced Hands of Blessing

I’ve always loved worshipping at churches in which the congregants hold out their hands, at the end of the service, to symbolize their expectant reception of the blessing of God when the minister lifts his hands to pronounce the benediction. I suppose I first came to love this aspect of worship when I realized that it was the last thing Jesus did during His earthly minis...

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The Least Attended Church Gathering

Last night, we had a sweet time of singing God's praises and praying together as a church--prior to eating a meal. We do this once a month at New Covenant. This gathering serves as a monthly prayer meeting. The other times of prayer in the life of our church occur in our morning worship service and during our weekly/bi-weekly small groups. Most of the time, our monthly pra...

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Holy Preaching Voice

I've noticed a disturbing trend in more serious-minded, biblical churches--namely, the trend of preaching and praying...how do I say this...in a weird "holy preaching voice" under the guise of being reverent. The supposed logic runs thus: Because God is holy, and His word is to be preached by holy men with reverence, we should read and preach His word in a reverent voice...

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The Spirit of Singing

Having just returned from T4G, and having had time to reflect on the events of the week, I would have to agree with those who say that the best part of T4G is the singing. Being gathered together with 10,000 brothers and sisters in Christ to sing the praises of the Redeemer was simply...powerful! I suppose it's fair to say that part of the experience is driven by the feeli...

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Saying and Doing Hard Things in Ministry

It was John Lydgate (followed by Abraham Lincoln and Bob Marley) who said something that all ministers must understand and take to heart: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time." Ministers are called to say and do hard things that will most certainly ...

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A Redemptive Historical Lamb

As various aspects of the Person, saving work and fruit of the Lord Jesus unfolded throughout Old Testament redemptive history, one truth that continually rose to the forefront was the need for an atoning sacrifice. Sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins is as old as our first parents. God came and clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of an animal (i.e. presumably a lamb...

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5 Rules of Social Media Engagement

Those of us who are active to any extent on social media have, no doubt, written or said something that we wish we could retract. All of us have, at times, forgotten that there are divinely given rules of engagement for the social media realm--even as there are rules of engagement in the day in and day out personal interactions we have. It is all the more important for us...

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An Ides of March for Every Caesar

Yesterday, I had the great honor and privilege of preaching before the Georgia State Senate. Given the fact that the State of Georgia has recently been in the news on account of Governor Nathan Deal's opposition to bill HB 757--a religious liberty bill that would protect religious organizations and ministers from unlawful discrimination lawsuits--I had to prayerfully figh...

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The Spirit in the Old and New Testament

One of the great questions that has plagued theologians throughout church history is that which concerns the role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament by way of contrast with His work in the New Testament. The Scriptures clearly teach that Spirit effects salvation in the lives of believers in both eras; however, it also seems to suggest that there is a significant di...

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Giving and Receiving Criticism in Ministry

Giving or receiving criticism is one of the most painful yet most necessary parts of a believer's life in a fallen world. It is one of the difficult aspects of Gospel-ministry. No one likes to be criticized--and most of us do not enjoy having to confront others. If we were honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we would rather criticize others by means of si...

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Church Planting Mathematics: 10 x 100 > 1 x 1000?

I'm not shy about the fact that math is not my strong suit. I barely made it through algebra 1 in the formative years of my education. However, I have an important mathematical equation that may be of help to the church planting movement. Several years ago, one of my mentors noted that it may, in fact, be more advantageous for a church or Presbytery to call godly and fai...

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Leadership Principles and Pastoral Ministry

In recent decades, there has been an influx of leadership journals, websites, blog posts, videos, etc. in which those whose churches have thrived numerically or programmatically offer help for measurable success to those ministering in mediocrity. Some of these resources are full of helpful counsel. As a younger pastor, I certainly longed to grow in my ability to lead ...

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When the Father Sacrificed the Son

The biblical account of Abraham offering up Isaac (Gen. 22) is full ofredemptive-historical, typological and experiential riches. As we read through the history of God's dealing with Abraham, we get the sense that everything is moving to that moment when the Father offered up his only begotten son. The sacrificeof Isaac wastheclimax of God's covenantal arrangement with Abr...

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Not-So-Great Expectations

Whenever I carry out pre-marital counseling with a young couple, I dedicate an entire session to the subject of expectations and communication. I do so, because of the way in which this prevalent and recurring issue lays at ground zero of many hurting and broken marriages. Relationships are strained or decimated by unspoken or unrealistic expectations. This is no less tru...

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Deacons and the Poor in the Church

Currently, we are in the process of training and electing our first deacons at New Covenant. Consequently, I've had the privilege of studying, in a focused way, the nature and function of this important office. I have found careful biblical and historical research on this branch of ecclesiology to be exceedingly beneficial. Somewhat surprisingly, however, the office o...

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Plagiarizing and Quoting in Preaching

Many years ago, on a phone call with the legendary Scottish minister, Eric Alexander, I had one of the most meaningful conversations that I've ever had on the subject of preaching. In the course of that conversation, we began to discuss the requirement of the minister to give proper attribution to things borrowed from the minds of other pastors and theologians. I ask...

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2015 Writing in Review

At the end of each year, I like to compile--for the members of the congregation that I pastor--a list of the number of sermons that I preached, conference lectures that I delivered, published articles and blog posts that I wrote, session meetings that I moderated, Presbytery meetings that I attended, Presbytery committees on which I served, General Assembly activity, commi...

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Jesus' Star in the East?

One of the more difficult questions for any serious student of Scripture to answer is, "How did the Magi know that a star would appear in the east to lead them to the Christ?" In Matthew's Gospel, we read of the Magi coming to Herod and asking, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him" (Matt. 2:2)....

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An Angel's View of Christmas

One of the things that I love most about Christmas is getting to meditate anew on the role that Angels played in the proclamation of the coming of the Son of God into the world. Throughout the centuries, artists have tried to capture a sense of the glory of the Angel appearing to the Shepherds, who were out in the fields keeping watch over their sheep on a cold Palest...

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God Has Spoken

The Divine authorship of Scripture is a subject to which we should constantly return and one that should recurrently fill the minds of the people of God. That God has spoken in the Scriptures and that He speaks today in the Old and New Testament is of supreme importance to the life of faith of a believer. No one captures this truth so much as does the writer of the lette...

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Communicating and Connecting in Ministry

Communicating with congregants and connecting ministries are two of the greatest challenges a church planter faces in the early years of ministry. In fact, these continue to be two of the greatest areas of focus a pastor ought to focus on as he seeks to lead a healthily growing church. Two of the greatest needs of any growing church are to communicate clearly with congr...

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Sin, Self, State, and Savior

23 years ago David Wells wrote No Place for Truth, in which he suggested that individuals in a society that self-consciously suppresses the truth about the depravity of human nature will inevitably either move toward Statism, in some form or fashion, or the quest for absolute self-realization and self-fulfillment. He writes: "If the genius of modern individualism lies in ...

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Our Shield and Reward

There are so many places in the Old Testament where we find hints about the Person and work of Christ; it would be impossible to exhaust all of them. After all, the Apostle Paul tells us that "all the promises of God are 'Yes' and 'Amen' in Him to the glory of God" (2 Cor. 1:20). However, sometimes we stumble across one of those promises and see it with new eyes in the li...

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Grace is a Gift

In the first post in this short series, we began to consider the idea that grace is a person--the Lord Jesus Christ. Before moving on to consider other aspects of grace, it will help us to revisit what we have said and to bolster it by a brief consideration of God's relationship to His attributes. Jonathan Edwards once explained that "the Holy Ghost is Himself the love a...

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...And Everything Else Will Follow

J.I. Packer once made the astute observation that "false proportions in our doctrine are the beginning of false doctrine itself." If anything, this is a reminder for us to carefully weigh the emphasis that each of gives to the various doctrines of the Christian faith. When I was in seminary, I began to see that different groups in the church--who all cared deeply ab...

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Christ, the Tree of Life

One of the first types that we encounter in the pages of Scripture is the Tree of Life. Being one of the two sacramental (not magical) trees in the Garden, the Tree of Life symbolized that eternal life which Adam would have obtained if he had obeyed God's command in the Covenant of Works concerning the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The punishment which God infl...

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The Heart of the Reformation

Saturday, October 31, 2015 marks the 498th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of the Schlosskirche (Castle Church) in Wittenberg. Having set in motion the greatest movement since the days of the apostles, Luther--together with the other magisterial Reformers--would go on to write some of the most foundational systematic doctrinal fo...

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Particle Board Preaching

I sometimes put myself through the extremely painful experience of sitting down and listening to the sermons of pastors outside of my own ecclesiastical circle in order to hear what is being taught in growing churches--both in surrounding areas and abroad. More often than not, what I hear is not Christian preaching. Rather, what I hear is moral advice, life management coac...

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Jesus: The Measure of a Man

If asked what it means to be a man, many would naturally point to the MMA fighter, to one of the grizzly members of the show "Deadliest Catch" or to some extraordinarily gifted athlete. Others would unhesitatingly appeal to the studious and successful man--the doctor, the lawyer, the CEO or the engineer. The more machismo, the more man. The more money, the more matur...

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Grown-Up Churches in an Age of Adolescence

Outside the walls of the church, companies constantly placard plastic surgery and age-defying creams before our eyes, in magazines and on commercials, to convince us that they will make us look at least as attractive as we did when we were in our early 20s. Bank commercials tell us that if we just make the right retirement decisions we will be climbing mountains and surfi...

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Overcoming Discouragement in Ministry

Once a month, I have the great privilege of meeting with a number of extremely wise and godly ministers alongside of whom I minister in the PCA. We either discuss a topic or share with one another certain things that are going on in life or ministry. Recently, we shared with one another the ways in which we have learned to deal with discouragement in ministry. Here are a ...

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Grace is a Person

There has been no small debate in recent years over the nature of saving grace and the role that it plays in the believer's life--both in the role that it plays when individual Christians fall and fail as well as in what role it plays in motivating and animating the Christian's obedience. I have found so much of what has been written to be extremely confusing at best and d...

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The First Great Request

If you could ask God for anything--and you knew that He would grant that for which you asked--what would it be? Money, power, security, long life, influence, etc.? If we're honest, that's what most of us are inclined to ask for. However, when God came to Solomon and told him to ask for whatever he wished and it would be granted to him, Solomon asked for the most precious ...

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Vos on Old Testament Theophanies

In his short but profound work, Eschatology of the Old Testament, Geerhardus Vos set out to answer various questions about the Old Testament theophanies and their meaning. What is a theophany? Why did God act in such a way as to reveal himself in human and/or angelic form to specific individuals? Why did the theophanies occur at the particular times at which they did in t...

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Preaching the Proverbs

I have seriously been considering the prospect of preaching a sermon series through the book of Proverbs at New Covenant. However, every time I've mentioned this to close friends in ministry, I've received the same discouraging response: "I don't know if I'd do that. I think that it might be too hard to preach a series on Proverbs." I certainly agree that it would be ha...

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Handling Contentions in the Church

Most of the New Testament was written with a view to dealing with sin and controversy in the church. I have often taken comfort from the fact that the churches planted by the Apostles were fraught with contentions and controversy--it is a reminder that such challenges and controversies are not necessarily on account of poor leadership. We can be sure of one thing--if contr...

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Four Gospels?

God doesn't do anything arbitrarily. We may not be able to grasp His intentions in full or even in part, but we can be sure that everything that He does is full of eternal purpose and Divine wisdom. The secret things may belong to God, but those that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever (Deut. 29:29). Those revealed things have to do with all that God has...

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The Fourth Person of the Trinity?

When I was an intern preparing for ministry at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, I asked Dr. Paul Tripp, "If you could give any one piece of advice to young men preparing for ministry, what would it be?" Speaking from years of pastoral experience, Paul responded, "Don't become the fourth person of the Trinity for people." What he obviously meant was, "Don't try to...

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Social Sin, Social Media and Social Interaction

Over the past 5–7 years, the internet has been ablaze with reaction to scandalous news, sensational stories and societal injustices. In those moments when the desensitization—that we all experience as culture pulls us away from heavenly mindedness--wears off, my heart starts to—once again—experience something of what the Apostle Paul experienced when "his spir...

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6 Principles for Small Group Facilitating

Facilitating a church small group is sometimes far more challenging than one might imagine. There are, what sometimes feels like, set patterns that frustrate the outcome. Add to this the fact that there are unique challenges with which you will be faced when you are at the helm of guiding discussion among a group of individuals with different backgrounds and beliefs. Gre...

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A Tribute to R.C. Sproul

When I was a young boy, I distinctly remember sitting in the living rooms of various families of the churches we attended--watching VHS tapes of Dr. R.C. Sproul. At this time, that was an innovative way to be fed spiritually--to say the least. To have one of the great theologians of the 20th Century on your television in  your living room was a big deal back then. Dr. Spr...

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Ecumenical Fences

Questions concerning ecumenical affiliations are among the most difficult for any minister to answer. There is a spectrum along which every minister falls regarding their involvement and interaction with ministers of other ecclesiastical fellowships. On one side of the spectrum, there are ministerial fellowships--in any given town--in which clergy of every group that coul...

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Extemporaneous Preaching

When first preparing for ministry, I would sometimes try to envision the Apostles standing before a great crowd of people about to preach one of the sermons that we find recorded in the book of Acts. Peter would subtly slip his hand into his pocket, pull out a sheet of paper, unfold it and begin to preach from it. This scenario seemed absolutely implausible and ridicu...

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Redeeming our Reading

Dr. Joel Beeke once said, "Before I read anything, I pray that the Lord would give me the grace to discern whether or not I should spend time reading this particular book. My life is too short to read things that will not maximally help me grow as a Christian and as a pastor." By way of contrast, others have suggested that we should read everything we can get our hands ...

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A Sense of the Love of Christ

Many years ago, while reading through J. I. Packer's profoundly important book, The Quest for Godliness, I happened across a reference to Sinclair Ferguson's 1979 Banner of Truth article "John Owen on Christian Piety (Part 2)." This little known article is important for a quite a few reasons. First, it gives us insight into Ferguson's own thoughts about the question of...

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4 Kinds of Pastors

About five years into the pastorate--trying to discern my own weaknesses and deficiencies--I started to realize that there are essentially four kinds of men (the lazy pastor aside) who labor in pastoral ministry--"the Idealist," "the Visionary," "the Worker Bee" and "the Connector." While these categories are somewhat over-generalized and a bit artificial (since we are ...

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The Church in the Community

There has been no shortage of writing over the past decade about what role any given local church should have in the community. There is, of course, in--solidly biblical and evangelical churches--a spectrum along which different ministers fall with regard to their own personal biblically formed convictions about this subject. On the one end of the spectrum are those who ...

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Guardian Angels?

"You must have a guardian Angel watching over you!" You've either heard it said or have said it to someone after their life took an unexpected and much needed turn for the better. It might seem like an irrelevant question in our post-modern, technological, post-enlightenment, scientific world; but, I care deeply about whether or not there are such things as guardian Angels...

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Sophisticated Temples of Modern Idolatry

For decades, the consumeristic and narcissistic culture in which we live has served the unsuspecting and unconscious worshippers of North America with extravagant buildings in which to showcase the idols of a sophisticatedly synchronistic and paganistic society. In his profoundly insightful and influential 1989 article, "Mall Culture," Steven L. Shepherd writes: The malls...

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Baptized with the Transgressors

The baptism of Jesus is one of the most significant redemptive-historical events in the Scripture; yet one the is so often greatly misunderstood.There is a scene on the show Lost in which Mr. Eko--the Nigerian Drug Lord turned Priest--makes an outrageously blasphemous statement about the Savior. While baptizing Clair and her baby, Eko tells her, "It is said that when Jo...

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How Martyn Lloyd-Jones Helped Start the PCA

By the turn of the 20th Century, the greater part of the masses in the Western world had been stripped of any sense of biblical Christianity by the liberalism and pragmatism that had so infected the churches in England and North America. It is a sad fact that, in our day, those who attend so-called evangelical "churches"--spread out throughout the various parts of the W...

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Learning to Think for Yourself

There is one characteristic (common to all great theologians and pastors throughout church history) that young ministers, especially those in seminary, must learn to cultivate--namely, the ability to think for themselves. It is far too easy for young men to slide into the intellectually lazy mode of simply parroting what some revered pastor or theologian has said or wri...

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What Should We Do When They Stray?

Of all the painful experiences that I have had to face through nearly a decade in ministry--the death of a mother, couples enduring the heartbreak of miscarriage, strife, abuse, divorce, scandal, etc.--having to walk with a godly father and mother through the dark shadows of having a child rebel is among the most difficult. There are many difficult and painful exper...

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7 Areas of Unbiblical Conscience Binding

In what is one of the most beloved statements penned in all of church history, the Westminster Divines explained that "God alone is Lord of the conscience, and has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word; or beside it, if matters of faith, or worship" (WCF 20.2). Few things can be so damaging to the church as...

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On Fencing the Lord's Table

Of all the phraseology that we used in Reformed churches, among the most misunderstood is that of "fencing the table." You will most certainly hear this phrase in those churches that take the Word and sacraments with the utmost seriousness--churches with leadership that deeply desire to obey Jesus' instructions concerning church discipline (Matt. 18:15-20). There is, howe...

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Trusting Christ to Provide

One of my sinful shortcomings is that I love to take matters into my own hands. I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not alone in this. Whenever I sense that things around me are less than secure, I tend to allow myself to be consumed with brainstorming, seeking counsel and devising plans to "fix the problem." However, I often fail to stop and pray on the front end of w...

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The Symbolism of the Rainbow

Yesterday one of my sons asked me why there were so many rainbows on the television and internet. Most of us have have seen them on children's books and clothing from our earliest days--and in recent years placarded on the television and internet--yet many have never stopped to ask the question, "What symbolism did God invest the rainbow with from the the day in which ...

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Nothing Should Surprise Us

Something of a naive optimism manifests itself in the thinking of many Christians in North America. Maybe this has always been the case and I've just begun taking note; or, maybe it's something unique to people who live in a society that paints itself as being far more virtuous than it actually is. Frequently this optimism is defended under the notion of  "love bel...

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A Multiplicity of Mentors

Having returned from the 43rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the enormous blessing--not only of being with the many dear brothers with whom I have formed strong friendships over the past decade, but also of being with a number of theological, spiritual and leadership mentors whom the Lord has placed in m...

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Marks of Orthodoxy?

I must have heard the words "orthodox" and "orthodoxy" in my home hundreds--if not thousands--of times as a boy. For whatever reason, I never cared to ask my father what they meant until I was almost in my 20's. It is anything but uncommon to hear them used if you move within any serious ecclesiastical circle--especially in Reformed and Presbyterian churches. In fact, o...

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The Complexity of Pastoral Care

Pastoral care is exceedingly complex. In seminary, our professors taught us to labor to become discriminating preachers--that is, men who preach to different categories of hearers in the congregation. In any assembly it is fairly certain that there will be present hard-hearted hearers, spiritually mature believers, believers with wounded consciences, etc. Additionally, t...

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The Pastor and Social Media

A number of years ago, I was having a conversation with a friend who has a fairly substantial public ministry. We were discussing the issue of motives in ministry and the perception of opportunism among ministers. Knowing my own sinful heart and mixed motives within, I said to him, "I suppose it would simply be better not to use social media or to speak on conference cir...

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Pastoral Ministry and Spiritual Warfare

Pastoral ministry is unrelenting spiritual warfare. There was a time in Protestant history when an emphasis on spiritual warfare in the Christian life and in pastoral ministry was standard fare. Such works as Richard Gilpin's Daemonolgia Sacra, Thomas Brooks' Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, William Gurnall's The Christian in Complete Armor, John Bunyan's The ...

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The God of Typological Recapitulation

The Scriptures are full of typological recapitulations to help us better grasp the Person and work of Christ. The principle of theological recapitulation occurs by a series of creation-fall-redemption events. Many of these are set out in the first two books of the Bible to help lay the foundation for what would follow. It's only as we begin to understand how these ta...

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Jonathan Edwards' Preferred Method of Delivery In Preaching

If you have spent any amount of time reading books or articles, or listening to lectures, about the ministry of the great Jonathan Edwards, you have, no doubt, come across the idea that he unswervingly stuck to reading a manuscript when he preached and that he kept his eyes fixed on the back wall of the worship room whenever he might take them off of the manuscript. T...

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The Real Miracle

A friend recently said to me, "I don't deserve the life I have. Years ago I was wandering from God out in the far country and He saved me; He gave me a wife that I don't deserve, children that I don't deserve, a biblically faithful church and is now giving me opportunities to be used in His church. People are always talking about miracles, but this is the real miracl...

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Dividends and Drawbacks of Small Groups

The term "small group" (or its many variations) carries almost as much baggage as the word "missional." It means many different things to different people. Some envision small groups to be places of meals, sharing and service, while others see them as places of discipleship and spiritual growth. In his book, Outgrowing the Ingrown Church, Jack Miller explained that ther...

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Ministering to the Mobile

If you had told me 8 years ago that I would parachute plant a church in a small waterfront peninsula in Savannah, GA with a 40-70% military officer ratio at any given period, I would have thought you were crazy. I had no desire to plant a church--let alone one in a military community. I simply wanted to pastor an established church. When we finally began to gather a fe...

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Echoes of the Glory of Christ

When we think of the humiliation and exaltation of Christ we tend to do so in terms of the two stages of His incarnate existence--namely, His incarnation/death and His resurrection/ascension. However, there are echoes of the exalted glory of Christ scattered throughout the Gospel records. In his extraordinary sermon, "Glorying in the Cross of Christ," John Maclaurin--o...

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The Insatiable Quest for Greatness

Not that long ago, a friend of mine who is planting a church in a major city in the U.S. told me that one of the ministers in the church planting network to which he belongs told him, "You have to position yourself around guys who are excelling and who are well connected in order to get ahead in the church." The minister was not saying this with any degree of criticism. I ...

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The Most Neglected Part of Christ's Saving Work

In recent years, it has become more commonplace to hear certain theologians emphasize that the ascension and present reign of Christ are the most neglected aspects of His work of redemption; and, while there is great merit in highlighting the consequences of such a neglect of these precious truths, I have come to believe that the most neglected part of Christ's saving work...

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The Crown of Thorns

The crown of thorns was the symbol of the cursed ground out of which man was taken. When Adam rebelled, he rejected God's reign and crowned himself king. God pronounced the curse over the very place that had formerly been the source of blessing and goodness. Because the ground rebelled against its maker, the ground would no longer easily yield its fruit for man. In order...

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The Spiritual Stages of a Believer's Life

1 John 2:12-14 gives us one of the most wonderful prose-like theological structures in Scripture. The Apostle, writing about the benefits that believers have in Christ casts it under the figure of little children, young men and fathers. His intention was to explain the benefits that believers possess in Christ by means of the Scriptures--i.e. the forgiveness of sins, k...

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Sing Your Heart Out

Many years ago, I had an employer who was intent on trying to provoke me with a variety of sacrilegious jokes and statements. Having just come back from visiting her parents over one Easter weekend, she told me how she had visited their church that Easter Sunday. What she said next left an indelible mark on my thinking about congregational singing for many years. She ...

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Jesus and the Flaming Sword at the East Gate

There is absolutely nothing arbitrary about the details pertaining to the great works of God recorded in Scripture. From the earliest recorded revelationin thehistory of redemption, the Lord gave tiny details that were meant to serve as "time-bombs" planted into the field of redemptive history. After one detail was firmly fixed in the mind of the reader, it was meant to tr...

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The Curse Reversed

One of the great keys to understanding the nature of Jesus' saving work is to understand the nature of the curse pronounced by God on His rebellious image bearers. No sooner did Adam sin against God, bringing guilt and corruption to the who human race, that God came with the covenant curses commensurate with the actions of His creatures. He first pronounces the curse on th...

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A Biblical Theology of the Trees of the Garden

At the outset of the biblical record, two trees stood at the center of God's covenantal dealing with man--the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. Far from being mythological concepts, these trees were--in a very real sense--just like any other trees in the Garden. God did not invest these trees with magical power to confer something out of their o...

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A Match Made in Heaven

Genesis 2:18-25 is one of the most wonderful--as well as most neglected--portions of Scripture. It contains the first recorded human words spoken: "This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman for she was taken out of man" (Gen. 2:23). No doubt modern ideas about feminist egalitarianism and misogynistic abuse have stolen something of the glo...

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6 Thoughts on Sacred Space

When God created Adam, he set apart sacred space in which he would enter into fellowship with his newly created image bearer. Just as He had created time and space (Gen. 1:1-2), setting apart a portion of that time to be sacred unto Him, so the Lord set apart a portion of sacred space in which man would worship Him. While the story arc of Scripture is that of man's fall ...

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7 Thoughts on Sacred Time

Among the diverse and manifold truths revealed in the Genesis account of Creation, we discover that God set apart two spheres of worship--sacred time and sacred space. Since all that God created was created in time and space, it should stand out to us as a matter of supreme importance that He then set apart a certain portion of that time and space in which man might wor...

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Imagining the Image of God

There is a speech in the 2nd act of Shakespeare's Hamlet in which Shakespeare puts into the mouth of Hamlet a description of man that is matched in greatness only by the words of Psalm 8. He asked: What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like...

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A Divine Division

The God who divided the light from darkness, evening from the morning, the waters under the heavens from those above, the dry land from the sea, different kinds of fish, birds and animals from one another and the animals from man at creation is the God who separated the Jews from the Gentiles in the typical new creation of Old Testament redemptive history. All of this, i...

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Did Jesus Descend Into Hell?

One question that has long plagued Christians about the nature of Jesus' saving work is that which concerns the meaning of the phrase, "He descended into hell"--as found in the Apostle's Creed. Are we to understand this phrase to mean that the Scriptures teaches us that Jesus actually descended into hell after his death to proclaim His victory over unbelievers or demons...

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The New Creation Spirit of Christmas

Everybody knows that virgins don't conceive! Mary certainly knew that. After all, she asked the Angel Gabriel at the announcement that she would conceive and bear a Son, "How can this be, since I do not know a man" (Luke 1:34)? The answer is, of course, the same as that which is given to the question surrounding the mysterious miracle working of God at creation. Here, it i...

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Rick Phillips on Jesus in the Old Testament

Over at Reformation 21, Rick Phillips has been busy posting a short series of edifying posts on "Jesus in the Old Testament." These would serve as great meditations to read to your family during this Christmas season. You can find all of the current posts in the series below: Jesus and Adam Jesus and Abraham Jesus and Moses Jesus and Joshua Jesus and Jacob Jesus a...

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A Law-Keeping Redeemer is Born

One of the most important of all the statements about the birth of Jesus is that He was "born under the Law" (Gal. 4:4). The one who gave the Law on Sinai was, "in the fulness of time," born under the Law. Of course, in making this declaration the question is raised, "Why was the One who gave the Law born under the Law?" After all, there was no Divine necessity for God to ...

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Losing Loved Ones and Having Regrets

My mom had a sudden and massive heart attack last week. I never got to say goodbye. I never had the chance to tell her I loved her and to ask her to forgive me for all the times that I didn't love her as I ought to have loved her. It was an extremely painful experience. Yet, in the face of extreme sorrow, the Lord graciously filled my mind with thoughts of eternity that ...

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The Internet: The Great Evangelical Op-Ed Tabloid

There were two things that always confused me as a boy--the existence of the op-ed and of the popularity of Tabloid Magazines. Herbert Swope, the innovator of the op-ed, suggested that its purpose was to "print opinions, ignoring facts." The op-ed gives anyone a voice, no matter how unfounded the things they say may be. The purpose of the Tabloid Magazine is to "print go...

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A Romantic View of Ministry

Without wishing to demean or diminish the value of the plethora of lawful and necessary vocations in the world, I would insist that being called into pastoral ministry is the highest calling a man may receive in this life. To be called by God to spend a life laboring to see Christ formed in His people, pouring yourself out to see lives transformed by the Gospel and par...

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The Great, Redemptive Multi-Tasker

Meditating on all that the Scriptures teach about what Jesus accomplished on the cross leads us to conclude that Jesus was the great, redemptive multi-tasker. On the cross, Jesus conquered Satan (Gen. 3:15; John 12:31 and Col. 2:15) , atoned for our sin (Heb. 1:3 and Rom. 4:7-8), overcame the world (John 12:31 and 16:33), propitiated the wrath of God (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 2:...

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The Sorrow and Joy of Imputation

One of the questions that has not often been asked or answered in all the discussion about imputation over the past several decades is that which concerns the impact that imputation has on an individual. Throughout the centuries, Reformed theologians have been clear that imputation is merely a legal (i.e. forensic) act, by which God counts our sins against Christ and c...

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The Race is Not to the Swift

One of the most important verses in all of Scripture regarding the uncertainty of human success and achievement is Ecclesiastes 9:11. There we read, “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.” This verse has become almost th...

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7 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Pastoral Ideologue

Every pastor has an ideology. We all have preconceived notions about how pastoral ministry is to be carried out in the day in and day out activities of our lives. In fact, it is probably safe to say that every pastor has an ideology about how the lives of their congregants are to function on a daily and weekly basis. To admit this is not quite the same as saying that we a...

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7 Wrong Reasons to Join a Church

Committing yourself and your family to a local church is one of the most important decisions you will ever make this side of eternity; and yet, for all the weightiness of it, it is a decision to which the larger part of church attenders have given little to no thought. Over the past three decades, I have witnessed multitudes of individuals and families choose to join c...

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Jonathan Edwards on Adam and the Tree of Life

There is no small disagreement among theologians over the issue of Adam and the Tree of Life. Some have supposed that Adam was eating from the Tree of Life prior to his disobedience in relation to the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. For instance, John Calvin held the view that God gave the Tree of Life to Adam and Eve "as an earnest of immortality, ...

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Working on Learning to Rest

If you're anything like me, you know that you have to be intentional about learning how to rest. It's hard for some of us to downshift. Some have a bent toward laziness and others a tendency to overwork. Phil Ryken has made the helpful observation that busyness stems from the same sinful root as laziness. Both are sinful manifestations of an idol of control. When we overw...

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A Biblical Theology of the Wilderness

In elementary school, one of my teachers gave our class a mnemonic device to help us remember that "desert" is spelled with one "s" and "dessert" is spelled with two. She said, "Two people would rather eat "dessert" than live in a "desert." Lost as her attempt may have been on some, in this case her method worked for me. To this day, anytime I have to write the words ...

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The Importance of Being a Pastor/Theologian

I have a theory about why God seems to use pastor/theologians in the ways in which He does in the world. I have come to believe that God blesses the labors of pastor/theologians who give themselves to him and the work of the church in a way that He often does not do so with other believers actively engaged in helpful para-church ministries. Last May, while I was in Durham...

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A Church's Coming of Age

When I tell people in our community that I am a church planter, I sometimes get the response, “A church what-er?” or “What’s a church plant?” The  analogy, so familiar to those in the church, is often lost on those outside. There are other fitting analogies to describe the nature of a new church, and it would serve those in the church well to consider their use...

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Loving the Place to Which You're Called?

In recent years, I've noticed something of a trend among men looking for a call to a pastorate. As I've talked with several friends about open pulpits in cities that I would gladly serve in if the Lord called me to a work there, I've often gotten the response, "Well, my wife and I really feel like we're called to such or such a city." It is obvious why they want to be in s...

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The 6 Ingredients of Jesus' Bitter Cup

When we think of the cup that was placed before Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, we tend to think of it merely in terms of the wrath of God--since that is what the cup most clearly symbolizes in the writings of the OT prophets. While we would never dare reduce it to something less than this, there is certainly more intended by the sight of the cross. When Jesus looked ...

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The Christology of Genesis 3:15

In similar fashion to that of Stuart Robinson, Geerhardus Vos, explained the meaning of Genesis 3:15 in redemptive-history--tracing the various parts of the promise in order to show the Christological nature of it--when he wrote: 40. Where is the covenant of grace first revealed? In the mother promise, Gen 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and this woman, and between...

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The Theological Significance of the Eighth Day

In recent decades, the "eighth day" has been taken up by American pop-culture as something of a rhetorical literary device. When I was in high school there was a somewhat annoyingly catchy song about God making sweat tea on the eighth day. Then there was the Superbowl commercial about how God supposedly made farmers on the eighth day. While these attempts to employ the ...

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The Righteous One of Psalm One

In recent years there has been pushback on the idea that every Psalm is Messianic. Perhaps it is born out of a failure to understand the typological nature of the Old Testament saints and their experiences (e.g. that of David), or perhaps it is for fear of undermining the experiential value of the Psalms or the call to holiness for believers contained in them under an a...

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The Covenant of Works, the Law and the Mosaic Covenant

With so much confusion floating around at present about the precise relationship between the Covenant of Works, the Law and the Mosaic Covenant, I thought that it might be helpful to set out what Geerhardus Vos wrote about some of the related issues in his Reformed Dogmatics and in Grace and Glory. In his section in Reformed Dogmatics on "The Covenant of Grace," Vos g...

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10 Must-Read Pre-Reformation Works

If there is one area in which  young Reformed men preparing for seminary have generally failed to give adequate attention it is to the writings of the period from the Apostles to the Reformation. There are obvious reasons for this. For one, we live on this side of the Reformation where so much theological refinement has occurred. Many newer converts who have just begun to...

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Mansions in Glory?

If you were really into Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in the 80's, or like to get your theology from Elvis Presley, then you've probably joyfully engaged conversation with other Christians over the mansion that Jesus has waiting for you in glory. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufaRsFKy6kI Actually, it's not so much Elvis' fault as it is the fault of the translat...

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7 Characteristics of Spiritually Beneficial Friendships

Since the earliest days of my Christian experience, I've had the privilege of forming friendships with brothers and fathers who are wiser, more mature, more spiritually minded, more experienced, more humble and more loving than myself. The benefits that have accrued from the seemingly innumerable conversations that I've had with such brothers and fathers in the faith is ...

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The Sin-Bearing, Curse-Removing True Israel

There are two theological truths that structure the entirety of the biblical storyline. The first is that Jesus is the second and last Adam. The second is that Jesus is the true and greater Israel.* The totality of the biblical narrative can be understood in light of these two theological categories. Additionally, the whole of the Gospel is structured by these two great tr...

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Preach the Gospel to Yourself?

10 or so years ago, it was exceedingly common to hear people in the broader Reformed and Evangelical circles saying things like, "You've got to learn to preach the Gospel to yourself!" Usually it came in the context of one friend counseling another during a period of struggle with sin, or during a period of painful trial. Occasionally you would hear the phrase surface in...

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Time for a Spirit Check

One of the things that disturbs me most in life is having to drive down a backwood road in Southeast Georgia behind a truck (and it's always a truck!) going 20 miles under the speed limit with black smoke pouring out of the tail pipe. It's not simply the fact that I know that the carbon monoxide is knocking a few hours or days off my life. Neither is it merely the fact th...

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The Sin-Bearing, Curse-Removing Second Adam (Part 1)

When Paul says of Christ, in Galatians 3:13, that He "became a curse for us," this carries with it a world of biblical and theological meaning. Surely, the Apostle had the curse of the Mosaic Covenant in mind--as the context indicates; but what lay behind the covenant curses of the Mosaic Law was the curse of the broken Covenant of Works stretching all the way ba...

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Mini Sermons For the Soul to Sing

I've come to enjoy thinking of the great hymns of the church as "mini sermons for the soul to sing." This is one of the main reasons why we should study, cherish and preserve hymn-singing in our churches. It's not that hymns are inspired by God--as are the songs of Scripture (e.g. the Song of Moses, Deborah, Hannah, the Psalms, Song of Songs, Habakkuk, the Magnificat, etc...

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Spurgeon on Expositional Reading and Teaching in the Worship Service?

I've often wondered if C.H. Spurgeon's style of preaching (i.e. the practice of taking a single verse and then constantly repeating it throughout the sermon, while making doctrinal and applicatory expositions of it) was the product of his own conversion experience at age 15. In his Autobiography, Spurgeon explained the nature of that particular experience when he wrote:...

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The Dangers and Duty of Confessing Sin to One Another

"Open Confession is good for the soul," or so the maxim goes. Perhaps it might also be said, "Open Confession is good for your relationship with God and men." While Scripture supports both of these statements, there is something of a haze that lays across the surface of the meaning of such statements in Scripture as, "Confess your sins to one another and pray for one anoth...

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It All Leads Straight to the Cross

In seminary, a friend of mine would often challenge me on my insistence that whatever portion of Scripture we preach, we ought to get our hearers to the cross. Whether we are preaching glorious cross-centered texts like Galatians 2:20-3:1 or Romans 5:6-11 or whether we are preaching any given part of the Sermon on the Mount, the minster must get his hearers to th...

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Geerhardus Vos on Supra- and Infra- Lapsarianism

I generally wouldn't dream of writing a post on the surpa- vs. infra- lapsarian debate, for the very reason that I don't believe that it bears much fruit at all in the spiritual life of believers. That being said, it is a matter of theological importance--as it holds a place of significance in the history of the exegesis of Romans 9:6-22, among many other places in Scrip...

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Jesus: The Breath of Life

There is a fascinating biblical-theological development from creation to new creation having to do with "the breath of life." Moving from Creation to Redemption, the teaching of Scripture on the "breath of life" is meant to teach us that physical and spiritual life are found exclusively in the Creator and Redeemer--Jesus Christ. So how does this unfold in redemptive-his...

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A Biblical Theology of Burial

Over the years, numerous people have asked me what the Scriptures teach about burial versus cremation. Yesterday, I happened to be speaking with the owner of a funeral home who said, "People just aren't dying like they used to." Immediately thinking, "He can't mean that people aren't dying at the same rate as they used to, " I thought, "he must mean that they are opting fo...

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A Biblical Theology of Burial

Recently, I have had an extraordinarily high number of people ask me what the Scriptures teach about burial versus cremation. Not being the sharpest tool in the shed, I did not put together that this is most likely on account of the economy. Yesterday, I happened to be speaking with the owner of a funeral home who said, "People just aren't dying like they used to...

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In Plenty and/or Want...

Having grown up in Reformed and Presbyterian churches, I was protected from the toxic influences of such things as the "word of faith" movement and other forms of "health-wealth-prosperity" false gospels. While I have not written much on this subject, I have formed quite a number of significant friendships over the years with individuals who were subject to this sort of fa...

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Are Some Parts of Scripture Greater Than Others?

Sometimes in the name of zeal for biblical fidelity we can inadvertently correct others where no correction is needed. I've had the infelicitous experience of being corrected, on numerous occasions, for something for which I ought not to have been corrected. I have also been the culprit of such uncharitable action. I have, at times, made assertions about certain ...

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Geerhardus Vos on the Mosaic Covenant and the Covenant of Grace

One is hard pressed today to find a short, and yet, careful and thorough explanation about the place and function of the Mosaic Covenant in the Covenant of Grace in redemptive history. The more that seems to be written on it, the more confusion ensues. It is for this reason that I was again delighted--as I work through Geerhardus Vos' Reformed Dogmatics--to  find, what I...

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Geerhardus Vos on Sides, Administrations and Conditionality in the Covenant of Grace

One of the most difficult, and yet, at the same time, most important aspects of Covenant Theology is the relationship between the elect and the non-elect in the Covenant of Grace. The multitude of various definitions proposed by theologians concerning the biblical idea of covenant have certainly contributed to this difficulty. One cannot read any portion of the Old Te...

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Lord, Should I Forgive My Brother This One Time?

Recently, I was watching a show in which a young apprentice to a very powerful man had made several very serious mistakes that had affected his boss' business. When the young man appeared before his boss he said, "Am I not allowed to make a mistake?" To which his boss replied, "You're allowed one mistake and you've already made it." This, I fear, is the mentality of many...

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Ezra and Nehemiah: Types of Christ

I had a friend who used to point out the typological relationship between the Old Covenantal types and Christ almost every time we got together. One with which I was fascinated most was the typological parallel he drew out between Nehemiah and Jesus. Understanding the typological significance of Jerusalem, the Temple and the walls of the city (i.e. their spiritual parall...

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What Was Jesus Praying in the Garden?

When I was a young Christian, I used to struggle with how to understand our Lord's prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane where he prayed, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” A number of years ago I came across two ways that help us understand why our Lord Jesus prayed what He prayed. One of the explanati...

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How God Even Works Sin Together for the Believer's Good

The Apostle Paul's statement in Romans 8:28 is one of the most cherished verses in all of Scripture. "All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." The context demands that we understand the words to be referring to the suffering of believers in the period of groaning and turmoil as we await the full reali...

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The Justification of the Good Works of the Justified

One of the most important theological subjects is that which deals with how we are to view good works in the life a believer. The Apostle Paul, everywhere, explains that good works do not, in any sense, play into our justification (i.e. our right standing) before God (Rom. 4:1-8; Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 3:7-9; and Titus 3:4-7). However, the Scripture also speaks of believers h...

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Dangers of Theological Controversy

Debate in theological matters is necessary in a fallen world. God commands believers to "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). We are to be zealous for the defense and propagation of the whole counsel of God for His own glory and the building up of His people. Ministers and local church members, in many Reformed churches, take vows to "stu...

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The End in the Beginning: A Biblical-Theological Catechism (Genesis)

In December 2013, Kerux published James Dennison's very useful biblical-theological catechism of the theology of Genesis in their journal. In it, Dennison teaches us, in 100 Q A's, how to read the Genesis  narrative eschatologically in  light of the full redemptive revelation of Christ. You can find a PDF of the journal here, or read the catechism below: Q. 1. What d...

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A Tale of Two Trees

When I was a new convert--having been brought from spiritual death to spiritual life--one of the things that I distinctly remember seeing with new eyes were trees. This was, in large part, because the Lord was enabling me to understand in all the Scriptures the redemptive-historical nature of trees from the Garden to the cross to the new creation. Little did I know then th...

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The True and Greater Sweet-Psalmist of Israel

Almost every page of Frederick Krummacher's The Suffering Savior is dripping with profound meditations about the events of the final days of our Lord Jesus leading to His death on the cross. It is one of those rare works that you can read repeatedly and continue to glean theological riches that you somehow missed when you read it before. As I've started reading throu...

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Jesus: The Wisdom of God

In his Unpublished Essay on the Trinity Jonathan Edwards gives one of the strongest arguments for the idea that Christ is the very "wisdom of God." He wrote: But that the Son of God is God's own eternal and perfect idea is a thing we have yet much more expressly revealed in God's Word. First, in that Christ is called "the wisdom of God." If we are taught in the Scripture...

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The Death of Jesus, An Act of Worship

Dr. C.N. Willborn recently pointed out this very powerful meditation by James Henley Thornwell on how the death of Jesus was an act of supreme worship. Thornwell explained: The moral grandeur of the death of Jesus is not a  little enhanced when it is apprehended in its distinctive character as an act of worship. If we consider it exclusively in the light of a judicial s...

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Dr. John H. Skilton's Funeral Sermon For Rena VanTil--Wife of Cornelius VanTil

Many of the readers of this blog will know something of my gratitude to God for having grown up around Dr. John H. Skilton and Dr. Cornelius VanTil. Drs. Skilton and VanTil were best friends, who, after the death of Dr. VanTil's wife, Rena, labored together in evangelistic and mercy ministry work in the Vietnamese section of Philadelphia--among other places. I was going t...

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The Person, Work and Reward of the Redeemer

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of delivering a lecture at the Rhymes Reformation Conference here in Savannah, GA. I was asked to speak on the subject of Redemption Appointed. Knowing that the greatest teaching in Scripture on this subject comes from our Lord Jesus' own testimony concerning His inter-Trinitarian relationship with His Father and the Holy Spirit, I s...

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John Piper’s 10 Reasons Why Romans 7:14-25 Is About The Christian’s Experience

One of the most widely debated portions of Scripture in the history of biblical interpretation is, no doubt, that portion of Romans 7 in which Paul speaks of what has been commonly called "indwelling sin" in the life of a believer (Rom. 7:14-25). Many commentators have suggested, in light of what Paul said in chapter 6 and what he says in chapter 8, that Romans 7 cannot be...

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How Jesus Read the Old Testament (Part 2)

In my last TCC post, I sought to introduce a subject that I realized would be entirely new to some. Knowing this, I thought that it might be beneficial to give a few more examples of how Jesus would have read the Old Testament as the Covenant revelation of God written to Him. Many have come to the right understanding that the Old Testament isabout Christ, but have perhaps ...

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The Third Use of the Law and the Finished Work of Christ

While there has been much debate over the precise nuances of the relationship between justification and sanctification, I thought that it might be helpful to set down what we can all be most certainly agreed upon with regard to the statements of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Larger Catechism regarding what has been commonly called, "the third use of the Law." Las...

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The Greatest Explanation Of What Happens In Conversion

Many of the readers of this blog will be familiar with Jonathan Edwards' well-known sermon A Divine and Supernatural Light, in which Edwards explains the biblical and theological idea of regeneration. It is arguably the greatest theological explanation of regeneration in all of church history. Just a few decades prior to Edwards' preaching A Divine and Supernatural Ligh...

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How Did Jesus Read the Old Testament (Part 1)

There has been something of a biblical-theological revolution over the past several decades. It is not a revolution in which new doctrines are being uncovered so much as it is one by which our understanding of a Christ-centered and redemptive-historical interpretation of Scripture is being refined. Many in Reformed and Calvinistic churches have welcomed this deve...

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How Did Jesus Read the Old Testament?

There has been something of a biblical-theological revolution over the past several decades. It is not a revolution in which new doctrines are being uncovered so much as it is one by which our understanding of a Christ-centered and redemptive-historical interpretation of Scripture is being refined. Many in Reformed and Calvinistic churches have welcomed this development ...

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The Christward Collective

You may have noticed that content on this blog has slowed down a bit. Part of the reason for this is the schedule that I have as a husband, father, church planter, writer, speaker, etc. Additionally, last August I took on the responsibility of helping start and become the editor of the Christward Collective--a new Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals' blog. The idea behin...

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Jonathan Edwards Christology of the Song of Songs

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of giving a lecture on "Jonathan Edwards' Christology of the Song of Songs" at the Jonathan Edwards for the Church Conference at Durham University. The lectures given at this Conference will be published in a volume by EP in the near future. For now, you find the audio and video of the talk here. You can also find some of the material i...

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The Most Important Overlooked Doctrine (Part 2)

In the previous post we briefly considered the biblical teaching on what is commonly called definitive sanctification. In this post we want to briefly consider yet another aspect of the biblical teaching on sanctification which has been equally overlooked or downplayed--namely, positional sanctification. The idea of positional sanctification has sometimes been co...

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The Most Important Overlooked Doctrine (Part 2)

In the previous post we briefly considered the biblical teaching on what is commonly called definitive sanctification. In this post we want to briefly consider yet another aspect of the biblical teaching on sanctification which has been equally overlooked or downplayed--namely, positional sanctification. The idea of positional sanctification has sometimes been consi...

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Jonathan Edwards on David as a Type of Christ

From my earliest days as a believer I have had a fascination with the biblical and typological parallels between King David and Jesus. Much has been written on this subject, but recently I stumbled across Jonathan Edwards' excellent exposition of David as a type of Christ in "Types of the Messiah" in his volume on Typology. Here are the historico-typological parallels from...

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The Most Important Overlooked Doctrine (Part 1)

What is the most important overlooked biblical doctrine? Without hesitation, I would suggest that it is the doctrine ofdefinitive sanctification.1 It was the late Professor John Murray who first articulated and popularized this doctrine. As he studied the exegetical statements of the New Testament that spoke of believershaving beensanctifiedthrough the death of Christ (e.g...

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The Most Important Overlooked Doctrine?

What is the most important overlooked biblical doctrine? Without hesitation, I would suggest that it is the doctrine of definitive sanctification.1 It was the late Professor John Murray who first articulated and popularized this doctrine. As he studied the exegetical statements of the New Testament that spoke of believers having been sanctified through the death of Ch...

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Pitfalls of Parachurch

I want to be as clear as possible at the outset. I, in no way, want this post to be received as a vitriolic rant against parachurch ministries. Rather, it is my hope that it will be received with pastoral sensitivity and concern. I actually have great appreciation for many parachurch ministries, and am personally involved with several different parachurch ministries.1 Whe...

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Geerhardus Vos on the Covenant of Works

With Logos' release of each translated volume of Vos' Reformed Dogmatics we become the grateful beneficiaries of some of the church's greatest theological treasures. In his second volume, on Anthropology, Vos taught by way of catechetical method what he deemed to be the important facets of a biblical anthropology. As usual, Vos' theological precision and genius shine. H...

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Reading and Preaching the Text in Context

Everyone has their favorite preachers. For some, delivery is most appealing; for others, it is giftedness in thought and creativity; still for others, it is the gentleness, joy or boldness with which one preaches. While all these things have their place--and while God uses different personalities and gifts to impact different people--my favorite preachers are those who mos...

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Death and Resurrection: The Key to the Old Testament

Why does so much of the Old Testament seem so foreign and irrelevant to those living in the New Covenant era today? Why do we so often struggle to understand how the events in the Old Testament apply to us today? How can we make sense of what seems to be disconnected biographies of saints in the Old Testament? How do events like Israel's exile into Babylon and pr...

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A Biblical Theology of the Good Shepherd

As we consider the many biblical theological themes that are unfolded throughout the Scriptures, our minds ought to be drawn to many of the passages in the Prophets in which we discover a synthesis of typological imagery brought under the light of prophetical fulfillment. Ezekiel 37:24-27 is one such passage. There, we find the Lord promising to raise up a Shepherd-King--u...

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The Silence of Jesus in Judgment

As a young Christian, there was a period of time when I would read the records of Christ's sufferings in the Gospels and wonder, "Why do the Gospel writers note that Jesus 'answered nothing' (Matt. 27:12), 'answered not one word (27:13)' and 'kept silent and answered nothing' (Mark 14:61) when He stood before earthly judges?" After all, Jesus was sinless and absolutely bla...

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Lloyd-Jones on The Gospel and the Charge of Antinomianism

A professor in seminary first directed me to Martyn Lloyd-Jones' well-known statements--at the beginning of his commentary on Romans 6:1--about the true preaching of the Gospel always being liable to the charge of Antinomianism. The relationship between Romans 5:21 and 6:1 made this idea all the more convincing to me. This was not, however, true for all who were introduced...

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A God-Determined Progress to a God-Determined End

In his outstanding work The Plan of Salvation, B.B. Warfield brought his consideration of Calvinism to a glorious conclusion by describing how far reaching God's grace in Christ is in regard to the ordering of all things in the cosmos for the salvation of His people. He wrote: The goal to which the race is advancing is set by God: it is salvation. And every stage in the ...

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Ray Ortlund's Isaiah Sermon Series

From 2002 to 2004, Dr. Ray Ortlund preached a sermon series on the book of Isaiah at First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, GA. I was only there to hear one of those sermons during that time. I distinctly remember thinking two things while I listened to Ray preach "God's Way to Revival" on Isaiah 43:22-44:23. First, I thought about how difficult it must be to preach throu...

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Learning to be a Grateful Critic

"What do you think about the whole Mark Driscoll fiasco?" "Did you know Tim Keller believes in _____ ?" "What do you think about John Piper inviting ______ to his Conference?" Over the past decade, I've been asked these and other related questions too many times to recall. This is not always a bad thing. Caring about what happens in the wider church is something that we s...

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Vos on the Historicity and Interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2

In addition to the works of Herman Bavinck and several other prominent Dutch theologians at the end of the 19th Century, the historical development of various interpretations of Genesis 1-2 in the Reformed church, in many respects, finds its origin within the walls of Princeton Theological Seminary at the end of the 19th Century. This was due, in large part, to the accomp...

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John Calvin on the Great Exchange

In his Preface to the Geneva Bible of 1550, titled Christ the End of the Law, John Calvin gave one of the most succinct and powerful explanations of the great exchange that occurs in the Gospel because of what Christ has done for believers. He wrote: He humbled Himself, to exalt us; He made Himself a servant, to set us free; He became poor, to enrich us; He was sold, t...

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The Theological Greatness of Jonathan Edwards

I started reading Jonathan Edwards almost immediately after I was converted. I remember the first time I opened the massive two volume, small print Hickman edition of his works and began to scan the what seemed to be 2 pt. font to find out what was the big deal about this man who has been called "the greatest mind America ever produced." As I read, I understood that ther...

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6 Subtle Ways to Hold on to Self-Righteousness

In his volume of printed sermon on Romans: Chapters 2:1-3:20,  Martyn Lloyd-Jones pointed out that there are 6 ways that we, like the unbelieving Jews of Paul’s day, can subtly hold onto a supposed self-righteousness. Reflecting on the teaching of Romans 2:1-11 Lloyd-Jones wrote: (1) “Sin introduces, or can introduce, a prejudice into our listening to the Gospel, or...

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Paul, the Law and Eschatological Justification: Three Views of Romans 2:13

One of the most important and most hotly debated exegetical and biblical-theological issues in our day is that concerning the words of Paul in Romans 2:13, "The doers of the Law shall be justified" (οι ποιηται νομου δικαιωθησονται). What does the Apostle Paul mean by this statement? Is it a perfect obedience that Paul has in view? Is he merely...

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Does God the Father Love You Because of Jesus?

One of the more spiritually edifying questions that I remember debating with several brothers in seminary (and there were certainly plenty of spiritually unedifying ones!) was, "Does God the Father love us because of Jesus?" It might not seem like an obviously difficult question on the surface. The instinctive answer would seem to be, "Absolutely!" After all, when I think ...

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The Anatomy of Saving Faith

In his sermon on Justification from Romans 5:1, J.C. Ryle powerfully explained the nature of saving faith under the following figure: Saving faith is the hand of the soul. The sinner is like a drowning man at the point of sinking. He sees the Lord Jesus Christ holding out help to him. He grasps it and is saved. This is faith. (Heb. 6:18.) Saving faith is the eye of th...

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A Crisis In the Divine Government

As I work through a sermon series on the book of Romans at New Covenant I remembered a quote I had stumbled across many years ago by James Henley Thornwell that captures what is really the theological backbone of Paul's argument from Romans 1:16-3:31. In his sermon "The Gospel, God's Power and Wisdom," James Henley Thornwell made the shocking statement that God's "entert...

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Individual Personalities and the Gospel

One of the aspects of biblical revelation that has received quit a bit of attention in the Reformed church during the last Century and a half is that of God's use of human personalities, languages and contexts in the inspiration of Scripture.1 There is, in this human element, a beautiful diversity found within the unity of the Divine revelation of the whole of the Scriptur...

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The Strongest Evidence for the Deity of the Son

We ask every man coming before our Presbytery committee for ordination to give some biblical proofs of the deity of Christ. Without fail, each appeals to either John 1:1 or John 8:58. Some will go to Hebrews 1:1-4. Those who have evidently sharpened up on their biblical knowledge may give us Colossians 1:16 and 2:9. But in all the exams that I have been a part of, I have y...

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Make It Your Own!

Many years ago I read through J.W. Alexander's Thoughts on Preaching and found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences I've had in preparation for Gospel ministry. Recently, I revisited it in order to reinforce what I then considered to be some of Alexander's more potent meditations. One such idea that impacted my own thinking has to do with making things that y...

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The Parable of the Three Sons

I am the prodigal son. I ran as far and as fast away from my heavenly Father as I could until He, by His utterly undeserved and lavish grace, drew me back to Himself. Not long after I was converted, many would tell me how my life was a beautiful picture of what Jesus had spoken about in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-31). It wasn't until years later that I cam...

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9 Traces of the Doctrine of the Trinity in the Old Testament

In chapter 3 of his Reformed Dogmatics (vol. 1), Geerhardus Vos set out 9 "traces of the doctrine of the Trinity...in the Old Testament." Among the most noteworthy observations are those concerning the "Angel of the LORD" and the personification of Wisdom in the Proverbs: 1. The distinction between the names Elohim and Yahweh. Elohim is God as He works among both Israel a...

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20 Things Jesus Does As The Great Shepherd

In his Commentary on the Whole Epistle to the Hebrews, William Gouge set out 20 things Scripture teaches us that Jesus does as the great Shepherd of His sheep: 1. A true shepherd enters in by the door, John x. 2—that is, he is lawfully called and appointed by God; so was our Lord Jesus, Heb. 5:5. 'The porter opens to the shepherd, John 10:3 ; so the ministers of the c...

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Four Things To Keep In Mind For Your "Last Sermon"

Sinclair Ferguson, in his chapter "I Shall Not Want" in the Richard Allen Bodey ed. If I Had Only One Sermon to Preach, set out four principles that he believes should govern a "last sermon." I suppose it would be right to say to these principle should be the guiding principles for any sermon that we preach. Ferguson' four points are as follows: 1. It should point the hea...

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What Would Jesus Drink?

If you were hoping to read a post about the temperance movement, wineries, micro-brews or an illegitimate use of the Bible to fuel the health food revolution (or perhaps I should have said, "health food religion") then you could very well be disappointed. If, however, you are looking for an explanation about what the Scriptures tell us that Jesus drank when He spoke of "th...

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The Grace of Remembering

Forgetting something important is one of the most frustrating experiences in life. If we forget an appointment, a birthday or directions we become painfully aware of how damaging  to relationships forgetting can be. The act of remembering is vital to our making progress in life. In the same way, so much of our Christian life is stunted by the act of forgetting and is fu...

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Stuart Robinson's 8 Point Interpretation of Genesis 3:15

Stuart Robinson, one of the leading Southern Presbyterian theologians of the 19th Century, set down 8 points of interpretion of Genesis 3:15 in his biblical-theological masterpiece Discourses of Redemption. In short, Robinson was seeking to highlight what our first parents could have known from the first preaching of the Gospel (what he called "the Gospel creed") when h...

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Suffering, Chastisement and the Fatherly Love of God

I was blessed to have grown up in a home in which I had a father who both taught me about, and who modeled, loving discipline. He faithfully taught me God's word and trained me in the nurture of the Lord. When I was rebelling, he would use appropriate measures of chastening. Of course, if I'm honest, it's not something that I was particularly fond of as a boy (and certainl...

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Baptism in the Reformed Tradition (Resources)

A few weeks ago our Presbytery hosted our first ever Minister's Conference. The title of the Conference was “Today’s Elders and Deacons—Ancient Offices for Today’s Church," and was held at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Statesboro, GA. Dr. Derek Thomas was the keynote speaker. Dr. Thomas gave two lectures: “Shepherd or CEO: Which Model Are We to Employ for Eld...

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A Biblical Theology of Darkness and Light

An interesting series of biblical-theological allusions to light and darkness emerge in the Gospel of John. In the first 14 verses of chapter 1, the apostle John takes his readers from the preexistence of Christ through the creation of the world by Christ to the incarnation of Christ. In between declaring that "all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was ...

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A Faith That Triumphs And Suffers

There is a fascinating observation, made at the end of Hebrews 11, regarding the outcome of saving faith in the "here and now" of the life of believers. The writer, having gone through redemptive-history in order to present his readers with a great Hall of Faith, now brings this section of his letter to a conclusion by reminding his readers that faith sometimes triumphs a...

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The Apostolic "We" Passages

One of the marked features of the ministry of the Apostles was that they modeled what it means for ministry to be about Christ and not about us. When the apostle Paul declared,  "we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake," he was speaking on behalf of the other apostles--and was summing up what the apos...

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A Biblical Theology of Exile/Restoration in the OT Prophets

Just as Adam was exiled from Eden and promised restoration through the redemptive work of the promised Messiah (Gen. 3:15), so Israel served to typify judgment and salvation in their experience of exile and restoration from Babylon. What Israel experienced in the exile is nothing short of "covenant reversal." God had called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans. In the exil...

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C.S. Lewis on the Right of Private Judgment

In his Preface to Paradise Lost, C.S.Lewis masterfully challenged T.S. Eliot's position that "the best contemporary practicing poets are the only 'jury of judgment' whose verdict on his own views of Paradise Lost he will accept." Lewis pulled on Eliot's thread of logical fallacy in what is one of his most beautiful polemics. One of the fascinating thin...

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No Greeting From the Holy Spirit?

I've always been intrigued by the way in which God greets His church in so many of the Epistles. Whether it is Paul, Peter, James, John or Jude, there is a standard format by which the church receives introductory blessing from God. One of the remarkable features of these greetings is that they uniformly come from two of the three Persons of the Godhead. This forces us to ...

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Because There Was No Sun...

It has become increasingly popular for theologians to appeal to Meredith Kline's 1958 "groundbreaking" article, "Because It Had Not Rained..." in order to propagate a dechronologization of Genesis 1. The principle argument behind the formulation of the Framework Hypothesis is that God--from the beginning--used natural processes in the preservation and cultivation of botan...

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Old Testament Personal Types and Shadows of Christ

There is, perhaps nothing so faith-building in the OT--apart from the explicit Messianic prophecies--as God's covenantal structuring of history that gave us people, places, and events to prefigure the coming Messiah. In their chapter on "God's Covenant with Man," the Westminster Divines explained the richness of the Old Testament revelation as it regards types and ordinanc...

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A Bad Court In Which To Be Tried

If there is one thing that those who know me well can agree upon it’s the fact that it’s not hard to fish an opinion out of me. I am all too painfully aware that sometimes this can be a strength and, more often than not, a weakness. The Scriptures speak of the strength of sharing strong, informed and wise convictions at the right times and the right places (Prov. 10:13...

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The Wisdom of the Son (Law and Gospel in the Proverbs)

In an earlier post, "The Songs of the Son (Seeing Christ in the Psalms)," we gave consideration to the fact that--although there is a rise of interest in Christ-centered biblical interpretation of the OT--"one of the areas of redemptive-history that desperately needs a renewed focus is that of Christ in the Psalms and OT wisdom literature." It was suggested, in that post, ...

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The Emmaus Sessions: Christ and Redemptive History

Last year we started "The Emmaus Sessions" at New Covenant Presbyterian Church. The series is designed to focus on the hermeneutics of Christ in the Old Testament by touching on the major points of redemptive history. We plan on continuing this series sometime in the summer and fall. For now, you can find all the current audio and video of the lectures below: The Em...

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Tolerance that Parodies Love

It shouldn't surprise us--but we all too often find ourselves wondering at the relevance with which an author of a bygone generation speaks into the atmosphere of our contemporary culture. Such has frequently been the case for me when I have read J. Gresham Machen's Christianity and Liberalism and his What is Faith? Such also has been true for me when I read many C. ...

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C.S. Lewis on Beauty and Idolatry

In his inimitable sermon, "The Weight of Glory," C. S. Lewis made one of the most significant observations about the reality of beauty and idolatry. Building on the idea that the beauty and joy we find in created things and experiences is merely a reflection of the beauty and joy of God, Lewis explained that making those created things ultimate things for the beauty seen i...

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John's Use of the Song of Songs in the Book of Revelation

In recent years the book of Revelation has been subject to new investigation into the role that earlier portions of the canon played in its composition—particularly respecting Old Testament revelation in the form of quotes and allusions.[1] With the release of his monumental commentary on the Apocalypse, G.K. Beale has given New Testament scholars a substantial treatme...

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Book of Hebrews Resources

Here are some of the resources that I have found most useful for sermon preparation for preaching through the book of Hebrews. Below is a list of the sermons, articles, commentaries and other theological volumes from which I've most benefited: SERMONS (Audio) William Still Hebrews Sermon Series Martyn Lloyd-Jones Hebrews Sermon Series Eric Alexander Hebrews Sermon Serie...

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Jonathan Edwards on Christ and the Song of Songs

While preparing a lecture on "Jonathan Edwards' Christology of the Song of Songs" for the Jonathan Edwards for the Church Conference, I happened across a fascinating historical and theological discovery. Having begun his Notes on Scripture very early in his ministry (1724),  Edwards wrote the final entry #507 in 1756--just two years before he died. This entry is a com...

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Sinclair Ferguson, William Still and Eric Alexander Crieff Fellowship Lectures (1979-2007)

My introduction to Sinclair Ferguson led, in turn, to my grateful discovery of William Still and Eric Alexander. I can honestly say that having listening to and read everything I could find by these men for well over a decade now, I have not been influenced more by any three preachers and theologians in the 20th Century. William Still, who is responsible for mentoring sev...

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Jesus on the Inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture

In his chapter, "The Attestation of Scripture," in the  The Infallible Word, the late professor John Murray made one of the most profound and significant observations about the inerrancy and infallibility of the Old Testament from Jesus' use of one single word out of Psalm 82. In his disputation with the Jews, Jesus proved and defended the truth of His own Deity (which ...

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5 Reasons to Join (or Not Join) a Church Plant

The books and blog posts which have been written for church planters today are legion. You can scarcely visit a Christian blog or website without stumbling upon someone's thoughts about church planting--its dynamics, difficulties, benefits and/or pitfalls. When we moved to Savannah, GA in 2009 to plant New Covenant Presbyterian Church, I tried to gather as many resources a...

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The Songs of the Son (Seeing Christ in the Psalms)

With a resurgence of interest in Christ-centered biblical interpretation and preaching, one of the areas of redemptive-history that desperately needs a renewed focus is that of Christ in the Psalms and OT wisdom literature. Among some of the more helpful works on these books are Nancy Guthrie's The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Literature, Ray...

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No More Consciousness of Sin?

There is a very wonderful verse in the book of Hebrews that I have been thinking about for years now. After the writer sets out the theology of Christ as the better Priest and the better sacrifice of a better Covenant, he contrasts the Old Covenant sacrifices (which were continually offered) with the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. Then he draws this conclusion: "For the ...

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A Pastor's Love for Christ

The following is an article I wrote for the May 2013 edition of Tabletalk Magazine. It is a memorial for a man who exemplified more than any I have ever met what it meant to be motivated by and to exhibit the love of Christ in Christian ministry: Dr. John H. Skilton was professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia for almost fifty-eight...

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Why We Fear Grace

I love John Owen. I don't know if there is a Puritan I would rather spend the rest of my life studying. I love his writings for their intellectual depth, rich Christological and Gospel-centered content and the fact that he did not blindly follow traditional interpretations of Scripture (he thought through the Scriptures for himself). So, you can imagine my deep surprise wh...

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Why Was Christ Veiled in the Law?

In his commentary on the book of Hebrews, John Owen makes an important observation about the Old Covenant Law and why God gave something that was so burdensome to Israel--something that veiled Christ--if it was meant to point to Christ. Owen noted: Because these institutions were to be so glorious, that they might be shadows of heavenly things, and the people unto whom th...

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Proud vs. Broken People

Most of the Christian books, sermons and theological material that my father gave me as a boy failed to catch my attention; but, for some reason, I've never forgotten Nancy Demoss' chart contrasting proud/broken people. I need this more today as a husband, father, pastor and friend than when I was young: Proud, Unbroken People Broken People 1. Focus on the failu...

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When God Swears to God

Many years ago I came across--what I continue to consider to this day to be--the most interesting tract I've seen. Taking first place in the evangelistic tract category is actually not all that difficult since most tracts are horribly predictably and uncreative.  If ever believers have ignored the admonition of our Lord Jesus to "be wise as serpents" it is in the tract-wr...

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Taking Up the Hammer and the Nails (A Theology of Apostasy)

There is remarkably sobering picture in John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress where Christian, as he makes his way toward the celestial city, comes to the house of a man named Interpreter. Now this interpreter is clearly the apostle Paul by the description made of him; and interpreter shows Christian seven different scenes in this house that highlight various aspects of the Ch...

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On Getting As Little Truth As Possible

For several years now I have tried to find a statement, made by J. Gresham Machen, that I read as a young Christian about the importance of  growing deeply in our study of Scripture and theology. Machen sought to challenge the common attitude of men who, "devote most of their energies to the task of seeing just how little of Christian truth they can get along with." In ...

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Jesus' Compassion for Sinners

As I work through an exposition of the letter to the Hebrews at New Covenant I've been struck afresh by the greatness of the compassion of Jesus, our great High Priest. So often we hear people say--when they are going through some difficult trial or temptation--something along the lines of, "I just want to talk to someone who has been through this." This is entirely unde...

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The Difference Between a Prophet and a Priest

In his outstanding article "The Priesthood of Christ in the Epistle of Hebrews," Geerhardus Vos explained the chief difference between the office of prophet and priest--specifically as it relates to the fulfillment of both offices in Christ: The first and most general element entering into the author’s conception of a priest is that of  leadership based on identificatio...

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The Holy Spirit Says...

In Hebrews 3:7, the writer introduces one of the many  Old Testament citations found in this letter with the words, “As the Holy Spirit says…” In setting up Psalm 95:7-9 in the manner in which he did (with the Holy Spirit presently speaking in the OT text), the writer intended to draw attention to the fact that God is the living speaker in all of the Scriptures. Scr...

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John Newton's Olney Hymn of Gospel Types

If you've never read through the Olney Hymns you are missing out on a great blessing. Chances are good that you've sung one if you worship in a church that holds a high view of historic hymnody. Two of the more memorable hymns in the project were "There is a Fountain Filled with Blood" and "God Moves in a Mysterious Way." John Newton, the great slave-trader turned slave ...

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The Importance of Time Management

If there is one area of life I imagine most of us wish we could improve upon it would be, without a doubt, that of time management. It's not simply those who foolishy squander time who need to grow in this respect--it's anyone trying to balance the responsibilities of family, work, church and personal care. Everything that fills our schedules falls under one or more of ...

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Jesus and the General and Special Revelation of God

One of the most important subjects to which we can give our thoughts is that of the relationship between general and special revelation. These two categories of God's self-revelation are often approached as if they were two planets orbiting in concentric circles yet never touching one another. Such an approach misunderstands God's original intention for these two forms o...

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Sinclair Ferguson Sermon Series Collective

We have John Hendryx to thank for making so many of Sincliar Ferguson's sermon series audio available at Monergism. Below you will find all of the Ferguson series that John has gathered from Tapes from Scotland, First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC and various other places: Old Testament: Genesis Joshua Ruth 1 Kings 2 Kings Nehemiah Psalms Daniel Joel Jonah Haggai Ze...

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Warfield, Biblical Doctrines and Confessionalism

B.B. Warfield, in his article on "The Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity," made a significant observation regarding the Scripturally accurate formulation and articulation of biblical doctrines. The locus classicus, and test case for Warfield, was the doctrine of the Trinity. He explained that the historical doctrine of the Trinity "can be spoken of as a Biblical doctrine......

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"Textual, Expository, Redemptive-Historical, Applicatory" Preaching?

Let's be honest. None of us has the handle on preaching and no two ministers preach the same. John Chrysostym, Augustine of Hippo, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Davies, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield, John Wesley, Archibald Alexander, Martyn Lloyd-Jones and James Boice were some of the model preachers in the history of the church and they all had unique appro...

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The God Who Loves Finished Work

Every now and then you come across something in your reading that seems to nearly stop you in your tracks and forces you to meditate, almost unconsciously, on the greatness of the truths with which you are presented. When this happens, you know that moving past them too hastily would be an enormous mistake. Such was the case for me when I first read the following words abo...

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Jesus and the World to Come

The writer of Hebrews is much loved for well worded one liners. Whoever the human author of this theological masterpiece was we owe him a great deal for coining phrases such as, "We See Jesus," "Jesus, the Captain of our salvation," "Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith," "looking unto Jesus" etc. There is one phrase in particular--found at the beginning of the lett...

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East of Eden (Episode 12): Jesus Christ, the Same Yesterday, Today and Forever

The most recent episode of "East of Eden" The Biblical and Systematic Theology of Jonathan Edwards" is now online. The panelists came together to consider Edwards' sermon, "Jesus Christ, the Same Yesterday, Today and Forever." Here is a brief description of the sermon: Originally preached in April 1738, Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Jesus Christ: The Same Yesterday, To-day...

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Top 10 (or 11) Volumes on the Suffering and Glory of Christ

A friend recently asked me to give what I consider to be the three most heart-stirring volumes on Christ and the Gospel. Anyone who knows me knows that it's impossible for me to stay within such small confines, so instead I want to point you to my top 10 (ok, 11!) volumes on Jesus and His sufferings. While many others could be added to this list (Please don't leave a comme...

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Eric Alexander Sermons

John Hendrix, over at Monergism.com, has been consistently chipping away at all of the audio on the Tapes From Scotland website. He has mined the following audio from Eric Alexander preached during his days at St. George's Tron. Old Testament: Genesis Exodus Joshua Nehemiah Job Ecclesiastes Isaiah Daniel Hosea Amos Jonah Micah Zechariah Malachi New Testament...

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Edwards on Intellectual vs. Spiritual Understanding

It is not always easy to distinguish between a rational and a spiritual understanding of Scripture. A man may come to the right interpretation of a portion of Scripture without having saving faith and the inner illumination of the Holy Spirit. He can have knowledge and assent without trust. This is a sobering and sometimes frightening fact with which we are faced. We are c...

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John Owen on the Apostles' Christological Interpretation of Psalm 2

In his Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, John Owen gave consideration to the hermenutical principles underlying the way in which Psalm 2 is cited in the New Testament. Owen suggested that the fact that Psalm 2 is exclusively quoted in regard to its ultimate fulfillment in Christ shows that it was never intended to be about David in any absolute sense--even if there...

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"We See Jesus" Sermon Series

Today we began a sermon series on the book of Hebrews at New Covenant PCA. The title of the series is "We See Jesus." In the weeks and months ahead I plan on posting all the audio and video here at Feeding on Christ. You can find current audio and video below: AUDIO AND VIDEO Jesus: God's Final Revelation (Heb. 1:1-3) Jesus: Better Than the Angels (Hebrews 1:4-14)...

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Symbols of Christ in the Wilderness

Among the abundance of redemptive types that God gave Israel throughout the exodus experience, wilderness pilgrimage and the conquest of Canaan, I find none so fascinating as the Gospel-symbols that God gave them in the wilderness. In addition to the Tabernacle, the sacrificial system and the priesthood, the Lord intervened at specific points in time to bring about super...

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The Parable of Three Lost Sons

Over the past two decades, our understanding of the fullness of what Jesus was teaching in the parable of Luke 15:11-32 has been helpfully deepened by the writing and preaching of a number of theologians. With what has been indelibly labeled, "The Parable of the Prodigal Son," Christians have, for far too long, focused their attention almost exclusively in on the younger s...

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The Glory of Man at Creation and in Redemption

In his theological masterpiece Human Nature in Its Fourfold State, Thomas Boston explained what he believed the radiance and glory of unfallen Adam in the Garden before the fall would have been like. He wrote: Man was then a very glorious creature. We have reason, to suppose, that as Moses' face shone when he came down from the mount, so man had a very lightsome and pleas...

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Jesus: The Omega of the Old Testament

The way in which the Old Testament revelation comes to a close ought to be a matter of supreme interest to believers. After thousands of years of God revealing His plan of redemption through His prophets, He spoke one final word of revelation through the Old Testament prophet Malach prior to the 400 year period of inter-testamental silence. The book of Malachi has certain...

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7 Years of the 9Marks Journal

Mark Dever and the Staff at 9Marks has been publishing materials for the well-being of the church. In addition to all the audio and video resources you will find at the 9Marks site--as well as the multitude of interviews that Mark has done with other theologians--for the past seven years the staff has been publishing an online journal which deals with various aspects of ...

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The Aroma of Christ

There are an abundance of ways by which God describes the glory and beauty of Christ in the Scriptures. One of the most delightful is that of a "sweet smelling aroma" (Eph. 5:2). Throughout redemptive history, there are a variety of allusions (sometimes explicit and sometimes elusive) meant to prepare us for the spiritual allurement of Christ. It will be a great benefit t...

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East of Eden: The Biblical and Systematic Theology of Jonathan Edwards

Every week Jeff Waddington, Dave Filson and I come together to record an episode of "East of Eden," in which we discuss the biblical and systematic theology of Jonathan Edwards. We come together to give consideration of one of Edwards' sermons or discourses--specifically as it relates to the history, structure and theology of that particular work. We also invite to th...

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The "Signs" of Tongues and Prophecy in 1 Cor. 14:20-25

Whatever position one takes with regard to the cessation or continuation of the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit mentioned throughout the pages of the New Testament, there is one thing we can all be sure of--1 Corinthians 14:1-25 (see esp. vv. 20-25) is an incredibly difficult portion of Scripture to interpret. In addition to the question of what "tongues" (glossolalia) ...

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A Divinely Inspired Anachronism of Eschatological Hope (or 'How God Enabled Abraham to Long for Heav

In his sermon "Heavenly-Mindedness," Geerhardus Vos explained how the partriarchs could be said to be "waiting for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10), "seeking a homeland" (Heb. 11:14) and "desiring a better, that is, a heavenly country" (Heb. 11:16) when in fact they had not received an explicit word from God about a heavenl...

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Death and Resurrection: The Typlogical Structure of Old Testament Redemptive History

Throughout redemptive history a number of typological death and resurrection acts were revealed in Scripture to prepare us for the ultimate death and resurrection of the coming Redeemer. For instance, in the lives of covenantal figures, the life of Joseph is marked by two death and resurrection experiences: first when his brothers throw him in the well and then sell him to...

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When Christ Orchestrates a Prison Break

Normally, I'm the guy in the room who was redeemed out of the most extreme, outwardly rebellious lifestyle. That's one of the reasons why I love hearing the testimony of God's grace in Christ to other believers who were redeemed out of deep and dark rebellion. The grace of God in the Gospel is magnified in the lives of such wayward men and women (1 Tim. 1:15-16). Lowell Iv...

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Jesus Runs the Church

On October 7, 2012, Rev. Roland Barnes--of Trinity PCA in Statesboro, GA--came to New Covenant PCA to do a seminar on the government of the church and the future selection of officers for the establishment of a church plant. The sermon, lectures and Q A deal with the various aspects of choosing elders and the inner workings of a local church session. I especially recomm...

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Christ and the Tent in the Wilderness

In recent years a number of volumes have been written which seek to deal with the biblical theology of the Tabernacle in the wilderness. This subject is important because the Tabernacle was, in a very real sense, the first stepping stone to the restoration of the dwelling of God with man which Adam forfeited in the Garden-Temple of Eden. The Tabernacle (which was in a very...

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Jonathan Edwards on Righteous and Sinful Anger

I know that when the Bible says, "Be anger and do not sin" it is clearly teaching us that there is such a thing as righteous anger. It is referring to that just angry which is a response to the evil of sin in relationship to the holiness of God. I doubt very much that any of us have experienced any act of undiluted righteous anger. In the heart of the godliest saint there...

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The Man Behind Monergism

It might sounds strange to hear someone speak of "the man behind monergism," since the word monergism--in theological parlance--is used to denote the singular working of God in Christ in the regeneration and justification of sinners. In that sense, you would be right to assume that I am referring to Jesus Christ, who is Himself the God-Man. However, I'm actually refer...

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The Clean for the Unclean

I have always been amazed at the way in which the healing accounts in the Gospels reflect something of the compassion and the power of Jesus; but even more than that, I have often wondered at the fact that it actually cost Jesus so much more than we realize at first in order for Him to make ceremonially unclean individuals clean again. As the Son of God, Jesus lacked no po...

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The Christology of Deut. 30:11-14

In his outstanding chapter "The Quest for Wisdom," in Resurrection and Eschatology, Vern Poythress explains the redemptive historical fulfillment of what is one of the most interesting examples of the apostolic Christological interpretation of an Old Testament passage. Deuteronomy 30:11-14 reads: For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neith...

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East of Eden (Episode 7) - Christian Knowledge

The seventh episode of East of Eden: The Biblical and Systematic Theology of Jonathan Edwards is out. This time we considered Edwards' 1739 "The Importance and Advantage of a Thorough Knowledge of Divine Truth." Here's the description of the sermon from from the Reformed Forum website: In 1739, at the brink of the Great Awakening in Northampton, Jonathan Edwards pre...

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Christ's Gifts of the Spirit

While there has been enormous debate over the issue of whether the charismatic gifts--(i.e. the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit) that we read about in the book of Acts and in 1 Corinthians 12-14--continue to function in the church today or not, there is an important aspect of these gifts that is often overlooked, namely, the significance of them being powerfully active ...

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"Precious" New Puritan Press

With the recent controversy fueled by Propoganda's  new song "Precious Puritans" (see this, this, this and this), I thought I'd take the extremely unpopular and countercultural route of seizing the opportunity to promote a welcomed new resource in Puritan publishing. Jim O'Brien has recently launched New Puritan Press, an ebook publishing house devoted to modernizi...

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On Headship, Hats, Hair and Historical Context

There might not be a more difficult exegetical onion in all of the Scriptures than 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. Throughout the centuries many commentators and theologians have scratched their heads (no pun intended) as they sought to understand the historical situation, the flow of Paul's argumentation and what should be the application of the text to the church of their day. As...

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Sinclair Ferguson on the New Perspective

Back in 2005, Sinclair Ferguson gave a lecture on the New Perspective on Paul at Bethel Church PCA in Dallas, TX. The audio has not been available for about a year now. Because we believe that this is one of the most important critiques in the history of the debate, we're making the lecture available here....

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The Emmaus Sessions: The Mosaic Covenant and Christ (Part 2)

Every other week I meet with a group of men and women at New Covenant's Study Center to consider various aspects of Biblical Theology. We have considered such topics as "Adam, Covenant and Christ," "A Tale of Two Seeds," "The Noahic Covenant and Christ" and "Jesus as True Israel." The next meeting will be Tuesday October 16, 2012 at 6:30 PM. If you would like to attend p...

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East of Eden (Episode 4): Dr. Ken Minkema & the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale

The fourth episode of "East of Eden" is out. This time the panelists are joined by Dr. Ken Minkema, the executive editor at the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, in order to discuss the formation of the Center and the resources available there. We also briefly spoke with Dr. Minkema about his doctoral dissertation on the history of the Edwards’ family, The E...

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Sinclair Ferguson on Preaching Poetry

Since the very first time I heard him preach, I've had an enormous admiration for--and have been fascinated by--the preaching of Sinclair Ferguson. The creativity which he exhibits in the pulpit makes his sermons seem more like spiritual and intellectual works of art than mere logical and informative lectures. Some of that creativity obviously has to do with personality, ...

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The Emmaus Sessions: The Mosaic Covenant and Christ (Part 1)

Last week we met at New Covenant Presbyterian Church's study center for the 12th installment of "The Emmaus Sessions." We began to give consideration to the Mosaic Covenant and Christ. The lecture was divided into four sections: (1) The Law in redemptive history; (2) The tripartite division of the Law; (3) The fulfillment of the Law in Christ; and (4) the three uses of the...

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Jonathan Edwards on the Typology of the Showbread and Lampstand in the Temple

In his 475th entry in Notes on Scripture, Jonathan Edwards expounded Exodus 25:23–40 with regard to the Christological typology of the showbread and the lampstand in the holy place of the Temple. He wrote: These both were to stand continually in the holy place before the veil of the holy of holies, one on the north side and the other on the south. Each of these seems t...

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Samuel Miller Publications Online

The second Professor at the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church at Princeton, NJ (now Princeton Theological Seminary) was the Rev. Dr. Samuel Miller. As the lone colleague of Archibald Alexander during the first few years of the seminary, Miller is well remembered for his voluminous catalogue of writings on ecclesiology, Christian ministry and theological tr...

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East of Eden (Episode 3): The Most High, A Prayer Hearing God

The most recent episode of "East of Eden: The Biblical and Systematic Theology of Jonathan Edwards" is now out. You can find it here. Originally preached in Northampton in 1735, and then preached again in 1752, The Most High, a Prayer Hearing God was preached on a fast appointed on the account of epidemical sickness at the eastward of Boston. In this sermon, Edwards foc...

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How Redemptive History and Example Meet in the Book of Hebrews

I must have read Hebrews once a week as a young Christian. Nothing thrilled my heart more than seeing the One by whom I had been redeemed being exalted to the place of highest honor when the writer contrasted Christ with His forerunners in redemptive-history. I fell in love with biblical theology by sitting at the feet of the writer of Hebrews. The Scriptures made sense. R...

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East of Eden: God Glorified in Man's Dependence (Episode 2)

The second episode of "East of Eden: The Biblical and Systematic Theology of Jonathan Edwards" is out. This time Craig Beihl, Dave Filson, Jeff Waddington and I sit down to discuss Edwards' first published sermon, "God Glorified in Man's Dependence." You can listen to or download the episode over at the Reformed Forum. Here is a summary of the episode:  Originally preach...

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East of Eden: The Biblical and Systematic Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Episode 1)

The first episode of "East of Eden: The Biblical and Systematic Theology of Jonathan Edwards" is now online. You can listen to it here. The following is a brief description of the first episode: "East of Eden: The Biblical and Systematic Theology of Jonathan Edwards inaugurates the series with a close reading of the sermon “East of Eden” which Edwards preached in the ...

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The Theological Driver's Seat and a M16

"Is the Gospel the only truth worth defending?" Odd as it may seem, this has become the stance of many Christians in our day. Surely “Gospel-centrality” is heartily welcomed, since the Gospel is the doctrine of first importance (1 Cor. 1:17; 15:3-4). Those who have had their sins forgiven and have been transformed by the power of the Gospel scarcely need to be told tha...

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Sinclair Ferguson Sermons from His Scotland Days

John Hendrix, over at Monergism, has done us a great service by organizing and posting a large amount of Sinclair Ferguson sermons from the days when Sinclair was ministering in Scotland. You can download and listen to the series he has posted below: The Book of Ruth Ruth 1 (Mp3) Ruth 2 (Mp3) Ruth 3 (Mp3) Ruth 3, Part II (Mp3) Ruth 4 (MP3) Exposition of 1 Kings (m...

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Archibald Alexander Publications Online

Of the plethora of American theologians almost none are as interesting to study about as the Rev. Dr. Archibald Alexander. Alexander was the first professor at Princeton Seminary and a powerful evangelist and preacher. In addition to his multi-variegated ministry, he was a prolific theological writer. A fairly comprehensive list of his published works were listed in his ...

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Vos on the Typical Role of Moses and the Exodus (Part 1)

Geerhardus Vos in his well-known work, Biblical Theology, made several extremely important observations about the typical role of Moses and the Exodus (see p. 100 ff.). Vos explained that Moses was the typical "redeemer of the Old Covenant," and that the bondage Israel experienced in Egypt, and the deliverance they experienced in the Exodus, were types of our bondage to ...

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John Gerstner Lectures

If you've never listened to the later Dr. John H. Gerstner you are neglecting a benefit for your soul from one of God's wonderful gifts to the church. Dr. Gerstner (1914-1996) was "Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and Knox Theological Seminary. He was an authority on the life and theology of Jonathan Edwards. Gerstner counted among his stude...

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On the Sabbath, Ceremonial Sabbaths, the Lord's Day and the Day of the LORD

Dr. Benjamin Shaw, Associate Professor of OT at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, has written some very helpful blog posts regarding the continuation/cessation of the Sabbath from the oft cited passage in Colossians 2:16. You can read the first post here, the second here, and the final post here. I will be the first to grant that the Fourth Commandment is not...

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Christ: The End of the Law for Justification and Sanctification

In his sermon on John 19:30, the 19th Century Southern Presbyterian theologian, Rev. Thomas Peck, explained how Jesus is the "end of the Law" for both justification and for sanctification when he wrote: Christ is the end of the law for legal or justifying righteousness (Rom. x. 4, where the term "end" is the noun of the verb in the text). Show how he is so. (Gal. iii. 10...

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Jonathan Edwards' Seven Steps for Growth in Divine Knowledge

In his sermon The Importance and Advantage of a Thorough Knowledge of Divine Truth Jonathan Edwards gave seven applications to the exposition that he made on Heb. 5:12. These seven applications are meant to encourage believers to grow deeply and experientially in their knowledge of Divine truth. We would all do well to put these applications into practice. Edwards exh...

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Christological Principles of Typology

I've often been asked to explain how we can know whether the typology we are doing is a biblically warranted, covenantal typology over against the fanciful typology so frequently employed in Dispensationalism. This is not an easy question to answer. There are so many theological principles that undergird a biblical approach to typology. Two of the greatest hinderances to c...

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The Emmaus Sessions: Christ and Redemptive History

So far we have met at New Covenant Presbyterian Church's Study Center for seven installments of "The Emmaus Sessions." "The Emmaus Sessions" are a series of talks on various important aspects of Biblical Theology. We meet every other Tuesday evening at the church office (10747 Ford Ave., Richmond Hill, GA). The next meeting will be Tuesday July 10, 2012 at 6:30 PM. If y...

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Adolphe Monod on Jesus, the Mystery of Godliness

The apostle Paul adopts what appears to have been a 1st Century Christian creed or hymn in 1 Timothy 3:16--in which he introduces a six line refrain about Christ with the prologue, "Great is the mystery of godliness:" "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the ...

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The "Not I, but the Lord...I say, Not the Lord" Sayings of Paul

John Murray, Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminister Theological Seminary in Philadelphia from 1930-1966, wrote what I believe to be the single most helpful chapter on the internal testimony of Scripture. In "The Attestation of Scripture," in the Westminster Seminary faculty symposium volume The Infallible Word, Murray handles objections raised against the idea ...

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Jonathan Edwards on Self-Righteousness in Believers

Jonathan Edwards, in his sermon Bringing the Ark to Zion a Second Time, noted the great danger of falling into the sin of self-righteousness as a believer. He explained: And let particular persons strictly examine themselves whether they hadn’t been lifted up with their particular experiences. I think, according to what observations I have made—as I have had [more] ...

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The Emmaus Sessions: The Abrahamic Covenant and Christ

This past Tuesday we met at New Covenant's study center for the sixth installment of "The Emmaus Sessions." This time we met to consider the Abrahamic Covenant in redemptive history. This is the first part of several forthcoming meetings on the Abrahamic Covenant. You can find all of the previous Emmaus Sessions' audio and video here. You can find the most recent audio her...

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Christ Crucified: the Center of Gravity in Preaching

In his sermon "The Gracious Provision," Geerhardus Vos made some outstanding--and much needed--observations and instructions about keeping Christ crucified for sinners at the center of all our preaching. Note the way that Vos tied together the focus of preaching and the focus of the Lord's Supper when he wrote: I sometimes feel as if what we need most is a sense of proport...

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William Still Sermons

Over the years I have gathered several mp3 sermon series by the late Rev. William Still. The lives of some of the most influential pastors and theologians such as Sinclair Ferguson, Eric Alexander, Phil Ryken and Ian Hamilton have been greatly impacted by the life and ministry of Rev. Still. I too have greatly benefited from listening to Still's sermons and reading his...

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Noah, Jesus and Preaching to Spirits

As a young Christian, longing to grow in my knowledge of the exegetically difficult portions of Scripture, I came across John Skilton's WTJ 58:1 (Spr 96) article, "A Glance At Some Old Problems in 1 Peter." It was this article that helped me come to a settled position on what Peter meant when he said that Christ "went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly w...

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Teaching One Another In...

I have always been a part of churches that have sung the rich hymnody of Christendom in the worship services (specifically those hymns that were the fruit of the theology of the Reformation). I have only been in one church that regularly sang Psalms. I am not an exclusive Psalmists, but  believe that we should all be inclusive Psalm singers (i.e. include them in our publi...

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Jesus Christ: Savior or Example?

There has been no small debate over the latter part of the 20th Century, and the first decade of the 21st Century, as to whether Christ is to be viewed as Savior or Example. Theologians have lined up in ranks to defend one or the other of these biblical views of our Lord. It is evident from the New Testament that Christ is both Savior and examplar, but it is not an easy ta...

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The Emmaus Sessions: Adam, Covenant and Christ

A few weeks ago we met for the fourth meeting of "The Emmaus Sessions" at New Covenant's Study Center. We considered the theology of Adam and the Covenant of Works. You can find all of the audio/video from the previous Emmaus Sessions here. You can listen to the audio from the "Adam, Covenant and Christ" talk here. You can watch the video below: http://vimeo.com/418505...

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Three Ways the New Testament Writers Quote the Old Testament

Dr. Robert K. Rudolph, Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church in Philadelphia from 1932-1981, wrote something of a short introduction to systematic theology for one of his sons. As a young believer I was privileged to read them. You can find a PDF version of them here. In this work Rudolph highlig...

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Four Points about the Noahic Covenant and Redemptive History

The Noahic Covenant was the first covenantal administration after God's initial covenant promise to redeem and restore humanity (Gen. 3:15). It is also the first time that the word בְּרִית (Berith) is used in the canon. What has not been frequently observed, however, is the way in which the Noahic Covenant falls squarely in the realm of redemptive history. Consid...

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"Confessing Our Faith in a Non-Confessing World" Conference (AK)

Tomorrow Burk Parsons and I fly out to Anchorage, AK to speak at a Spring Theology Conference (May 11-13) at Faith PCA (the only PCA church in Alaska). The title of the Conference is "Confessing Our Faith in a Non-Confessing World." As the title intimates, we plan on talking about a variety of issues concerning the nature of a Confessed faith, and Confessional theology. I...

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Vern Poythress on the Different Approaches to Scripture

In his book God-Centered Biblical Interpretation, Vern Poythress gives a helpful and humorous scripting of the different sort of approaches people make with regard to understanding the Scriptures. The conversation unravels as follows: Herman Hermeneut: Can we come up with a “how-to” list for interpreting the Bible? Dottie Doctrinalist: That’s definitely useful, provi...

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The Emmaus Sessions: A Tale of Two Seeds

This past Tuesday, we held the third of "The Emmaus Sessions" at New Covenant Presbyterian Church. Knowing the importance of Genesis 3:15 in the history of redemption, we met to consider the biblical-theological development of this verse in the progress of revelation. Sinclair Ferguson once said of this verse that the rest of the Bible is merely a footnote to Gen. 3:15. ...

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The Emmaus Sessions: The Church as the True Israel

We recently held the second of "The Emmaus Sessions" at New Covenant Presbyterian Church's study center, in which we considered the subject of "The Church as True Israel." This is an extremely important biblical-theological subject because it involves the inclusion of Gentiles into the covenant community in the New Covenant era by virtue of their union with Christ, who is...

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Spurgeon on the Amusement-Driven Church

As a young Christian I remember stumbling across this statement by Charles Spurgeon on how entertainment and amusement are not part of the tools of Christ's mission for the Church in the world. The 21st Century church in America desperately needs to hear this. Spurgeon wrote: An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsigh...

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The Sermon on the Mount and the Savior on the Mount

It is one of the hardest--and yet most necessary--tasks of the exegete to deal carefully with a particular text in the Bible while not forgetting it's redemptive-historical context. Forgetting this all-important principle will inevitably lead a man to misinterpret the text, and so to potentially do much harm to his hearers. One of the areas in which this principle must be ...

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The Emmaus Sessions - Jesus: True Israel

Last week I met with a group of zealous, young Christian men in the Savannah, GA area for a series of talks on biblical theology. For lack of a planned title for our meetings, I have simple called the talks "The Emmaus Sessions." At the first meeting we met to discuss the extremely important--yet often overlooked--subject of Jesus as true Israel. You can find the video fro...

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The Justification of Imputation

Throughout the history of Protestantism, myriads of books have been written to highlight and explain the intricacies of the biblical doctrine of justification. With the rise of the New Perspective(s) on Paul the doctrine of justification has received aresurgenceof interest throughout the past decade. As a result, some very useful volumes have been published. Some of the mo...

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The Gracious Judgment of Charity

The issue of warnings, hypocrisy and apostasy is one of exceedingly great importance, precisely because we find in the New Testament (not to mention everywhere throughout the Old) many examples of those who make "shipwreck of the faith" (1 tim. 1:19), who "depart, having loved this present world" (2 Tim. 4:10), and who "fall away" (Heb. 6:6). It is, however, exceedingly im...

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A Dialogue to Die For

In his sermon "Constraining Love" (2 Cor. 5:14-15), J. Gresham Machen set out a dialogue between the Law of God and the sinner who has died with Christ in the Savior's death on the cross. It has enormous spiritual value for the believer. Machen wrote: We may imagine a dialogue between the law of God and a sinful man. "Man," says the law of God, "have you obeyed my command...

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Feeding on Christ - 2012 Giveaway

Feeding on Christ and New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Richmond Hill, Ga. are hosting a Spring 2012 giveaway. We are giving away a rare 1788 edition (1st edition) of Jonathan Edwards' Practical Sermons. How to enter: 1. Visit New Covenant Presbyterian Church's website, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the "like" button for our Facebook page. 2. Follo...

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A Biblical Theology of Food and Drink

I love food. I could never begin to imagine a world without it. Prior to entering the ministry a large amount of my time was spent working with and preparing food for others to enjoy. Food is one of those great blessings of God that we enjoy in community with one another. So much of our social interaction is built around meals. It’s no surprise, then, that there are a ev...

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Gospel Justice

In the Old Covenant era the civil law required restitution and retribution for certain cases of theft. A thief had to pay back sometimes two, sometimes four and sometimes five of whatever he had stolen (Exodus 22:1-15). These case laws had a prospective Gospel principle embedded into them. Jesus kept the law (restitution) that we had broken and took the punishment (retribu...

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"Filling the Shepherd's Fold" Seminar

This upcoming weekend (Feb. 17-19) I am scheduled to be speaking about church planting/gathering at Reedy River PCA church in Conestee, SC. The theme of the seminar talks is  "Filling the Shepherd's Fold: Theological, Practical and Methodological Insights on Outreach." Some of the topics that will be addressed are: I. Being Attractional The Biblical mandate, technique...

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A Picture Worth 66 Books

Scotty Smith, Founding Pastor of Christ Community Church in Nashville, TN, recently shared a picture of a painting, by Nashville artist David Arms, that hanging in Christ Community's worship center. It is a symbolic representation of what Thomas Boston called Human Nature in its Fourfold State. Under the figure of a tree before the fall, after the fall, in light of th...

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A Cheap and Easy Way to Support a Church Plant

Perhaps you've wanted to support a church plant, but don't have anymore time or money to give. Consider the following incredibly cheap and easy way to support a Gospel-centered church plant!: People often ask me, "How did you gather people into the church plant?" There's obviously not a single answer to that question. Sometimes, it is not always clear how the gathering h...

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How Jesus Confronted and Corrected Others

A fellow minister in our Presbytery recently preached a sermon series called, "Things Jesus Should Not Have (I Wish He Hadn't) Said!" The crux of the series was that Jesus said many hard sayings that--if we are honest--we would have to admit we find uncomfortable. The fact of the matter is that so much of what Jesus said makes people uncomfortable. In a day when the "cult ...

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Free Martyn Lloyd-Jones Ephesians Sermon Series

One Place.com is working together with the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Trust to release the Doctor's full sermon series on the book of Ephesians. Dr. M. Lloyd-Jones preached these sermons at Westminster Chapel in 1954. One Place.com will post one message a week for free download. The first sermon, "Introduction to Ephesians," is available for download this week. You can find and d...

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Paradise Restored Series

A few months ago I began a series of Sunday School messages on the NT use of the OT in regard to God's plan to restore and secure what Adam lost in the fall through the saving work of the Second Adam, Jesus Christ. On January 1, 2012 I preached a sermon at New Covenant on Revelation 21:1-27. The focus of this sermon is the Scriptures teaching on the saving work of Christ ...

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"For Unto Us" Sermon Series

We recently finished a short sermon series of three Christmas sermons at New Covenant Presbyterian Church. The series was titled, "For Unto Us." The first sermon in the series was "For Unto Us: A Warrior is Promised" (Genesis 3:14-19); The second, "For Unto Us: A Savior is Named" (Isaiah 9:1-7); and the third, "For Unto Us: A King is Born" (Matthew 2:1-23). You can listen ...

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M.I.C. iPhone/iPad Accessories

The M.I.C. store has some of the most interesting accessories for iPhone and iPad 2 that I've come across. If you haven't perused their site yet, you can do so here. Some of their more popular items are currently out of stock, but you can sign up for notifications as to when they will be available. You can see a video about my personal favorite below: http://vimeo.com/259...

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The Magi and the Scriptures

One of the questions surrounding the birth narratives of our Lord is the questions concerning the Magi and the Scriptures. Who were the Magi? How many travelled to see the new-born King of Israel? If they were not Jewish (as seems abundantly evident from the reference to the "East") how did they know the Scriptural prophecies concerning the Messiah? While there has been, a...

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Seeing the Savior in a Poor, Beggar Baby

In his sermon on Luke 2:22-32, Martin Luther made the profound observation that by faith Simeon saw in Mary's poor, beggar baby the King of Kings, and Savior of the world. He wrote: Simeon has a very penetrating eye. In this child this is no kingly mien or royal garb to see, merely the form of a poor beggar. The mother is poor, with hardly five pennies in her purse to rede...

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Isaiah an OT Paul and Paul a NT Isaiah

No one who has earnestly read through the Scriptures can miss the unique role that the prophet Isaiah played in the unfolding of redemption in the Old Covenant revelation. There are no Messianic heights that take us so high in the Old Testament as those found in the book of Isaiah (cf. Is. chapters 4, 7, 9, 11, 40-45, 50-54, and 40-60). The exceedingly great judgments that...

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Sinclair Ferguson Christmas Sermons 2005-2012

Over the past 7 years Sinclair Ferguson has preached a combined 40 Christmas messages at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC. I sometimes think that Dr. Ferguson's Christmas messages are his best sermons. You can find all of them by date below: 2012 The Night Before Christmas The Incarnate Word (John 1:14) Led by Another Way (Matt. 2:1-12) The Rejected Word (John 10:...

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Take Heed (December 2011 Tabletalk Article)

Bernard of Clairvaux once mentioned an old man who—upon hearing about any professing Christian who fell into sin—would say to himself, “He fell today; I may fall tomorrow.” The apostle Paul commended the same mindset when he wrote, “let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). There is great wisdom in not trusting our own ...

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Identifying the Colossian Heresy

One of the more difficult aspects of biblical interpretation is identifying the precise historical background of the book or letter being read. In the NT epistles there are almost always enough internal clues for the interpreter to come to a settled understanding of what error, if any, is being confronted. Of all the polemical letters (which would include almost every book...

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Reading the Gospels in Light of the Gospel

Last year I wrote a post titled "Preaching Christ from the Gospels," in which I sought to introduce and address the issue of the our need to set all of the teaching of the Gospels in the context of the Person and saving work of Christ. With the rise of biblical theology and its application to the OT narrative, the importance of  BT to the Gospels has often been overlooked...

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Sermon Preparation Resources

While it is not characteristic for me to post an unfinshed blog post, I thought that I would do a post-in-progress for those who are interested in finding very specific resources for sermon preparation. I generally read every Reformed sermon I can find in church history, and listen to every sermon I can find by Sinclair Ferguson, Eric Alexander, Derek Thomas and Ian Hamilt...

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Sermon Preparation Resources

Sermon Indexes Nicholas T. Batzig Library Index PCA Historical Center Reformed Sermon Index Jonathan Edwards Yale University Sermon Index _______________________________________________ Resources by Book of the Bible Genesis Gospel of John Acts of the Apostles Colossians Hebrews Revelation _______________________________________________ Audio Resources Sinclair ...

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How to Handle Criticism

One area of Christian living that has received little to no attention (outside of the book of Proverbs) is that of how to receive and give criticism. With the exception of a few chapters written here or there, there is a surprising absence of material on this important subject. A few years ago Joel Beeke gave a PCRT lecture on how ministers ought to approach criticism. I h...

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Sinclair Ferguson Lectures on Marriage and Parenting

In 2006, Sinclair Ferguson gave two lectures in Greenville, SC on the subject of parenting. I happened to be in attendance with my wife. We were expecting our first child at the time and I found the lectures to be challenging and thought-provoking. They set the tone for a biblical approach to marriage and parenting. In each, Dr. Ferguson seeks to stir up our confidence in ...

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The Marrow of Modern of Divinity

I've come to believe that one of the  most significant theological controversies the modern church must acquaint itself with is the controversy surrounding the Marrow of Modern Divinity. The issues concerning Law and Gospel, legal and evangelical repentance, and the free offer of the Gospel to the unconverted are all bound up with the Marrow Controversy. Thomas Boston, an...

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The Most Jesus-centered Devotional in Church History!

I was exceedingly blessed to have grown up in a home where family worship was practiced. My father faithfully read God's word to my sister and I nearly every day. We most frequently used Samuel Bagster's Daily Light on the Daily Path as a devotional. This devotional is unique in that it strings together a series of verses without any explicit human commentary. Samuel Bagst...

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The Peril of Wandering (November 2011 Tabletalk Article)

The summer after graduating high school, I headed out with a friend to cruise the Okefenokee Swamp of Southeast Georgia. We had a map—outlining all the places we should expect to find alligators—and a very small amount of water—to keep us hydrated in the agonizing heat and humidity. When we rented our boat (which sat frightfully low on the murky brown, alligator-infe...

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Preaching Christ in the Proverbs (Video and Audio)

My good friend Matt Holst, minister of Geneva OPC in Woodstock, GA, recently delivered a lecture titled “Preaching Christ in the Proverbs” at the Reformation Worship Conference at Midway Presbyterian Church in Powder Springs, GA. You can see a brief outline for Matt’s lecture here.  You can find the audio here. You can watch the video below. This is a challenging su...

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Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University Resources

If you've not yet made the website for the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University one of your principle places of research and theological growth, you are missing out on a great blessing. The WJE Online is one of the most profitable sources of all things Edwards. I frequently use the sermon index to reference sermons in my own sermon preparation. The site's searchabil...

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New Keith and Kristyn Getty Christmas Album

Keith and Kristyn Getty continue to bless the church with new modern hymnody. Their latest release is a Christmas album titled, "Joy: An Irish Christmas." You can listen to parts of the songs on their website. There are some previously released songs on this album, as well as several new ones! You can watch a short video clip of Keith playing a segment of "Joy Has Dawned" ...

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Preaching Christ from the Proverbs (Lecture)

With the resurgence of interest in biblical theology and redemptive-historical hermeneutics I expect that we'll see more work being done to promote a consistent covenantal and canonical approach to preaching various portions of Scripture in a Christological way. This is especially necessary with regard to those portions of the OT that have largely been misunderstood or mis...

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The Obedience of the Second Adam and True Israel

There are several defining moments in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ that deserve the deepest and most serious consideration. His baptism at the Jordan, His temptation in the wilderness, His transfiguration, His agony in Gethsemane and His sufferings on the cross are the most significant points in Jesus' earthly ministry. The baptism and temptation are singular in their...

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A Biblical Theology of Locusts

There is a fascinating biblical theological development in the Scriptures with regard to locusts and the judgment of God. This horned grasshopper--that eats all vegetation in its path (and up to its own body weight in food every day!) moves in large swarms of other locusts at the same speed as the wind. Swarms of locust consume entire fields of vegetation--leaving a barren...

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The Inner Ring (October 2011 Tabletalk Devotional)

Standing before the student body of King’s College, University of London, in 1944, C. S. Lewis delivered one of his most profound speeches. Intent on calling his listeners to give serious consideration to the dangers of what he called, “The Inner Ring,” Lewis explained that at every social level are certain “inner rings” of fellowship. Upon discovering them, the ...

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The Double Crucifixion

William Still explained--in the most vivid way--the reality of the double crucifixion spoken of in Gal. 6:14. There, Paul wrote about the division God sets between redeemed man and the fallen world on account of the crucifixion of Christ. He wrote: We like to think of the double crucifixion, envisaged here, in theatrical terms. There stand the world, and there stand I, and...

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The Dangers of Seeking to Restore

It is the responsibility of every Christian to seek to restore a fallen brother or sister; howoever, there are very real dangers involved in seeking to live out this reality in the covenant community. In Galatians 6:1, the apostle Paul writes, "If any man is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest ...

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Sinclair Ferguson 2004-2011 Tabletalk Articles

I--together with so many others that I know--owe a great debt of gratitude to Dr. Sinclair Ferguson for the influence of his writing and preaching. There is almost no one who brings out the depth and and riches of the Scriptures and the Gospel in the way that he does. It is a joy to know that Ligonier Ministries has had Dr. Ferguson write so often over the past three decad...

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Don't Waste Your Grill or Boat

As a church planter in North America, I am constantly forced to consider the most advantageous ways of reaching our community with the Gospel. While missionaries and pastors in third world countries, and the 10/40 window, have many difficulties and challenges that I may never know personally, I have been called by God to spread the Gospel throughout the Southeast region of...

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The Astonishment of Jesus

It is not often that we think about the way in which the sinless God-Man--living in the world that He and His Father had created, and yet, living among fallen mankind--was affected by His surroundings. The Scriptures speak of Christ's astonishment at the unbelief and the faith of the men He had made--in response to His claims about Himself. William Law, in his though-provo...

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Luther and Calvin on Galatians 5:6

When he comes to the fifth chapter  in his Commentary on Galatians (i.e. the imperatival section of the book), Martin Luther carefully explained the language of "faith working through love"--as it is found in Galatians 5:6. Note how carefully Luther defines the relationship between faith that justifies apart from anything we do, and how that faith then goes on to work t...

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One Thing Leads to Another

J.W. Alexander, in Thoughts on Preaching, raises the following sober--yet much needed--warning for ministers of the Gospel to be on guard against spiritual declension: You will be called, as a minister, to spend much time in laborious study, the tendency of which is to draw the mind off from spiritual concerns; and sometimes in the perusal of erroneous, heretical, an...

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Free Martyn Lloyd-Jones Sermons

The Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recording Trust have recently made the messages that Dr. Lloyd-Jones preached at the Hawethorne Bible Church in 1963 available for free download. Here is their summary of the history of these messages: Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached these at the Summer Bible Conference held at Hawthorne Gospel Church, New Jersey, USA, in 1963; the week before he attend...

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The Secret of Sanctification

One of the most beneficial things I learned from my professors during my seminary days was that ministers must continually preach the message of the cross to the people of God for their growth in grace. One professor in particular constantly exhorted us to preach Christ “for pardon and power.” The longer I have been a Christian, the more I see the wisdom of this counse...

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New James M. Boice Daily Devotional

Rev. Marion Clark, executive minister at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, has selected portions of many of Dr. James Montgomery Boice's writings and brought them together into a daily devotional. The title of the work is Come to the Waters: Daily Bible Devotions for Spiritual Refreshment. The content of the volume is as follows: Covering the full span of Boice's ...

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Second Annual Reformation Worship Conference (Oct. 20-23)

Last year Midway Presbyterian Church in Powder Springs, Ga hosted the first Reformation Worship Conference. The second annual conference will be held at Midway Presbyterian Church on October 20-23. The speakers will again include Hughes Oliphant Old, Terry Johnson, John Payne, David Hall, Mark Ross, T. David Gordon and Paul Jones. In addition, Steve Lawson and Robert God...

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The World Redeemed From Within

The redemptive-historical steps from John 1:1 to 1:12 are some of the most remarkable in all the Scriptures. The eternal God (John 1:1-3) became man to enter the world that He had created (v.10)--a world that had rebellion against Him (v. 10). He came to the nation He had created for Himself (v. 11)--a nation that rejected Him (v. 11). In that rejection He redeemed out of ...

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The Spiritual Decline of Once-Healthy Churches

One of the greatest warnings we find in the Bible we find in the epistle to the Galatians. It concerns the very real danger of spiritual decline in once healthy churches. It is the same danger found in several of the churches addressed in the book of Revelation (Rev. 2-3). The churches of Galatia had been planted by the Apostle Paul. They had "received him as an angel of G...

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The Hardships of Christian Ministry

The president of the seminary I attended often said, to the men preparing for ministry, "Your hardest day in seminary will be easier than your easiest day in the ministry." While this may not be true without exception, it is certainly the case generally speaking. The apostle Paul told young Timothy-as he began his ministry--that he would have to "endure hardship as a good ...

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Purposes and Preaching of Parables

Tonight we will begin a mid-week series on the parable of our Lord Jesus Christ at New Covenant. When I was young, I was--like so many--taught that a parable is simply "an earthly story with a heavenly meaning." This is a fair definition, so far as it goes; however, I was also told that Jesus spoke in parables so that the common and ignorant person could understand the dee...

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Let Him Who Thinks He Stands...

Bernard of Clairvaux once told the story of an old man, who, whenever he heard of some professing Christian falling into sin, would say to himself, "It happened to him today, it may happen to me tomorrow." May we never say--when we hear of someone falling into grievous sin--"I'd never do that." "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:13). We must r...

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Holy War: Jesus Style

While it may not appear evident at first glance, the Holy War in which Israel was engaged in the Old Covenant (Ex. 34:11-16) and the Holy War in which Christians are engaged in the New Covenant (Eph. 6:10-19) are directly related to the saving work of Christ. A biblical theology of the Land and Temple enables us to make sense of Holy War in the Old and New Testament, by g...

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PrCRT 2011 Conference - Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is hosting the 2011Princeton Regional Conference on Reformed Theology  on November 4-5, 2011 at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, NJ. The speakers are D.A. Carson and Ligon Duncan. The theme of the conference is, "Suffering, Scripture and the Grace of God." Several of us from the Reformed Forum will be covering the conferen...

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The Elemental Principles of World

Throughout his epistles the apostle Paul employs very specific phraseology to explain the weakness of false religion. The difficulty of explaining the phrase he uses--in its various contexts--is that he uses it with regard to two seemingly opposed worldviews. In Col. 2:8 the phrase "κατὰ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου" ("according to the elementary p...

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The Spirit's First Word

William Still, in his Notes on Galatians, drew out a most interesting parallel between the coming of the Son into the world and the coming of the Spirit into our heart (Gal. 4:4-6). Just as the Son came as a babe, so the Spirit's first word is "Abba" (Da-da). Still wrote: “What is the effect of the Spirit of the Son in our hearts? This is most intriguing of all. He comes...

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Making Much of God as Father

J.I. Packer, in his masterpiece Knowing God, noted the importance of the place of the doctrine of adoption in the Christian experience. He writes: You sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of bein...

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Vern Poythress Redeeming Sociology Interview

Over at Christ the Center, we recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Vern Poythress to talk about his recent work, Redeeming Sociology. Dr. Poythress has written an outstanding volume that helps introduce the reader to the subject of sociology and the need to approach it through a Reformed worldview. If you have some time to listen to this interview, I know tha...

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Paradise Restored (Video Series)

Recently I began a series at New Covenant Presbyterian Church on the use of certain Old Testament passages in the New Testament--specifically those having to do with the work of Christ and the new creation. The title of the series is "Paradise Restored." You can watch the second video in the series below. The text was Psalm 110, and the title "The Everlasting Prophet, Prie...

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Christ is the Wisdom of God

In his Unpublished Essay on the Trinity, Jonathan Edwards explained why Jesus Christ must be understood to be the wisdom of God. Consider carefully the Scripture proofs to which he appeals, and then compare them to what Paul says in Colossians 2:2-3: Christ is called "the wisdom of God." If we are taught in the Scripture that Christ is the same with God's wisdom or knowled...

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The Revelation of the Father and the Son

Among the plethora of references to the Deity of Christ recorded in Scripture (Isaiah 9:6-7; Micah 5:2; John 12:36-41; Hebrews 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-21; Philippians 2:5-11; Rom. 9:5; 1 Tim. 3:16, etc.) none are quite as profound as that found in the oft overlooked prayer of Jesus recorded in Matthew 11:27. One might expect such an intimate discussion between the Son and t...

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Jonathan Edwards on the Demand and Curse of the Law

Jonathan Edwards, in his Miscellanies, noted that God's demand for perfect obedience to the law (with its subsequent curse on any and all disobedience) spanned from the time of Adam throughout redemptive history. He wrote: "That saying in Deuteronomy 27:26, "Cursed is everyone that continues [not] in all things contained in the law to do them," was in force before it was w...

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The Cursed Christ

In his commentary on Galatians 3:13, John Calvin made the follow observations about Christ being a curse for us: "Christ hung upon the cross, therefore he fell under that curse. But it is certain that he did not suffer that punishment on his own account. It follows, therefore, either that he was crucified in vain, or that our curse was laid upon him, in order that we might...

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Christ, The Savior of Biblical Interpretation?

In 1988 Vern Poythress wrote an intriguing article for the Westminster Theological Journal titled, "Christ the Only Savior of Interpretation." Poythress' point in the article is to highlight our need for the saving work of Jesus to free us from faulty biblical interpretation. Jesus is center of revalti0n and Savior of faulty interpretation. Summing up his argument with the...

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Calvin on Legal Righteousness

Over the past three decades there have been a litany of attempts--within Reformed and evangelical circles--to refine our understanding of the believer's relationship to the Law of God for justification before God. It would do us a world of good to dig deeply into the writings of the Reformers themselves to see how they unpacked the teaching of Scripture in light of their o...

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Machen on 'Do This and Live'

"'The law is not of faith (does not partake of the nature of faith), but as Scripture says, 'He who does them shall live in (or by) them.' Paul means to say, "describing the nature of the law, it requires doing something. But faith is the opposite of doing. So when the Scripture says that a man is justified by faith, that involves saying that he is not justified by anythin...

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Forthcoming Reformed Commentary Series

Dr. Jon Payne, pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Douglasville, GA, is currently editing The Lectio Continua--a forthcoming series of Reformed expository commentaries. The list of contributors include Sinclair Ferguson, Derek Thomas, Ian Hamilton, Edward Donnelly, Joel Beeke, etc. John Fesko's commentary on Galatians is set to be released in Feb. 2012. This series look...

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R. A. Finlayson on the Sufferings of the Second Adam

There are so many profound meditations about the sufferings of our Savior in R. A. Finlayson's masterpiece The Cross in the Experience of our Lord that it is would be unfair to pull one and set it over against another. That being said, the following is a particularly moving statement about Christ's work on the cross: “The blow that struck Him reached Him as He stood in...

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Vern Poythress on Redeeming Sociology

Dr. Vern Poythress has written another useful book for the church, Redeeming Sociology: A God-Centered Approach. With the rise of interest in sociology as a science--and the implications of adapting these sociological principles into our hermenuetical process--Dr. Poythress considers the way in which Christians are to think about this largely misunderstood, and frequently ...

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Propaganda 4 min. Gospel Video

This is a powerful Gospel presentation by Blaze speaking artist, Propaganda. I especially love the part about the God who gave all men breath Himself giving it up to redeem us. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gb7n9B_8m8feature=player_embedded#at=283...

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William Still On Christ Within

The apostle Paul teaches some of the most wonderful truths in Galatians 1:15-16, when he writes of his own conversion and calling: "But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusal...

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Selected Articles and Posts

May 2011 Tabletlak Weekend Devotional - The Deep things of Christ 2010 Tabletalk Pastoral Perspective: The Fine Line – This article, written for Table Talk magazine, gives consideration to the issue of ministerial authority in matters of faith and worship are considered. It appeared in the July 2010 edition. 2011 Tabletalk Weekend Devotionals: A Life of Blessing an...

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The Deep Things of Christ

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity.” (Heb. 6:1)* I recently spoke with a good friend, and fellow minister (who is laboring in a spiritually barren part of the country), about how things were going in ministry. In the course of our conversation, he mentioned that he had been meeting with the pastor of another church in town ...

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Galatians Sermon Series

Last Sunday morning we began a new sermon series at New Covenant Presbyterian Church on Paul's letter to the Galatians. The series is titled, "Galatians: No Other Gospel." You can find the audio from the first sermon, "The 'Not-From-Men' Gospel" (Gal. 1:1-12) here. You can watch the video below: http://vimeo.com/25325853...

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American Presbyterian Father of the Faith: Rev. Samuel Blair

There are few men in the history of the Christian church who have so influenced a generation of great preachers as much as the Rev. Samuel Blair. Samuel Blair was the principal theological instructor of Samuel Davies, the Presbyterian "Apostle to Virginia." Martyn Lloyd-Jones is quoted as saying that Samuel Davies was "the greatest preacher you have ever produced in this c...

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Isaac Watts' Absurdity of Infidelity

Isaac Watts, the greatest of all Western hymn-writers, wrote many great hymns that did not make it into many of our hymnals. One such hymn is his "Absurdity of Infidelity." Watts sets the idea of intellectual unbelief, moral rebellion, and fearfulness against the greatness of God's promises to those who trust in Christ. It is a magnificent example of theological depth and ...

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The Symbolism of the Ark of the Covenant

It seems that every year a new children’s story Bible comes out. The captivating artwork often makes the biblical stories come alive. There is one picture, in a particular story Bibles our family has, that my two and a half-year old, Elijah, loves more than others. It is a picture of a flame coming down on the prophet Elijah’s altar. There was a time when my son refuse...

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A Biblical Theology of Time

I often wish I had more time to accomplish all things things I would like to do. I wonder if men really believe that "time is on our side"--as one of our own poets has expressed; or, as another one of our poets has said, that it just "keeps on slippin'...into the future." We all feel the pressures of life because of the pressures of time limitations. Not least among the mo...

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Hymns of the Christian Faith Series

Beginning June 19th, New Covenant Presbyterian Church will begin a Sunday School series on the hymns of the faith, "Tell Me the Old, Old Story: A History of the Hymns and Hymn Writers of the Christian Faith." Following the example of Ligon Duncan and Derek Thomas, we will consider the history, theology and arrangements of some of the most well known hymns in the Christian ...

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Church Planting in the Most Dangerous City in the USA

My friend Doug Logan is planting a church in Camden, NJ. I have driven through Camden on several occasions--only to be deeply saddened by the utter desolation of sin and depravity. It is one of the most spiritual dark and impoverished cities in our country. There is nothing glamorous about ministry in Camden. Pray for Doug and the team that the Lord has raised up to plant ...

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The Lord our Righteousness

Jeremiah 23:5-6 and Jeremiah 33:14-16, taken together, form one of the most wonderful Messianic meditations in all the Scriptures. In chapter 23 Jeremiah writes, "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days ...

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The Baptizer and the Betrayer in the Old Testament

One of the remarkable features of the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament is that some of them were directly about individuals who played a  crucial role in the life of the Messiah. Such is the case with John the Baptist (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1), the forerunner of the Messiah--who prepared the way of the LORD by pointing men to Him at the beginning of His ministry...

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Implications of Trusting in Something

Everyone trusts in something or someone. Either we trust in our own accomplishments, or we trust in the accomplishments of another. A Christian is characteristically someone who trusts in Jesus Christ, and in all that He is in Himself and for us. Man, as descended from Adam, inevitably trusts in his own righteousness (works) until Christ redeems him and enables him to "see...

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The Converting Light of the Gospel

Many who have been converted out of great darkness have experienced an experience similar to that of Thomas Halyburton. In his Memoirs, Halyburton left a record of the nature of his conversion experience when he wrote: The promises and truths of the word, in great abundance and variety, were brought to remembrance, and the wonders contained in them were set before mine eye...

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The Allurement of Christ

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15)* Thomas Chalmers’ sermon The Expulsive Power of a New Affection has proven to be extremely helpful to Christians who are eager to overcome sinful desires. In it, Chalmers suggested that all men live in a state of constant desire. We all de...

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PCRT 2011 Children of God Conference and Live Webstream

If you live anywhere near the Philadelphia area I want to remind you that that the Philadelphia Conference of Reformed Theology (PCRT) is going on right now (April 29-May 1). The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is hosting their annual conference at Tenth Presbyterian Church. Joel Beeke, Rick Phillips, David Wells and Steve Lawson will be speaking on various subjects re...

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Eric Alexander on the Cup of Bitterness and Cup of Blessing

In 1958, Rev. Eric J. Alexander delivered a lecture at the Keswick Convention in which he pointed out one of the most wonderful parallels in the Bible. Drawing attention to the fact that God the Father placed  a cup of cursing and bitterness before Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, he noted that Jesus had another cup on that same night--a cup of blessing--that He set...

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Rejoice in the Murder of Jesus!

If Jesus died merely to set an example, what example would that be? If His death was some kind of humanitarian lesson, what was that lesson? He was murdered. Executed. His death was a death of capital punishment. He died the death of traitors, murderers and robbers. Why wouldn't we be angry that an innocent man died such an unjust death? If that was all it amounted to...

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Lloyd-Jones on Preaching and the Use of Media

Here is recent post that Tim Keller wrote with regard to Martyn Lloyd-Jones' statements about the primacy of preaching. In the course of the post, Keller mentions the Doctor's warnings about the use of recorded sermons. I remember hearing Lloyd-Jones' strong warnings against the use of audio recordings, while listening (the irony of it all) to his Preachers and Preaching l...

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Twelve Years of GPTS Conference Audio Online

Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary has put their Spring Theological Conference audio from 1998-2010 online. The themes of the conference span such subjects as covenant, sanctification, Scripture, eschatology, John Calvin, Southern Presbyterianism, Reformed spirituality, the Church, missions, and worship. You can find all the audio here....

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Edwards on Spiritual Pride and Self-Righteousness

If the heart of man is, as Jeremiah wrote, "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked," then we must vigorously guard against the most deceptive forms of sin. One of the most subtle and oftentimes seemingly implacable sins is spiritual pride and self-righteousness. Jonathan Edwards noted this when he wrote: He that is under the prevalence of this distemper, is apt ...

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Simeon and Levi: Destroying with the Gospel

There are several difficult portions of Scripture throughout the pages of the Old Testament that can only be properly interpreted in light of the covenant promise. Some of the more difficult texts in the Bible are actually found in the book of Genesis--the foundational book of the Covenant of Grace. God is a God of Covenant. He immediately entered into a Covenant of Grace ...

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Spurgeon on the Church Planting Magnet

Thanks to Joe Holland for pointing out this devotional by Spurgeon titled The Mighty Magnet: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” John 12:32 Come, ye workers, be encouraged. You fear that you cannot draw a congregation. Try the preaching of a crucified, risen, and ascended Saviour; for this is the greatest “draw” that was ever yet m...

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Too Busy for the Son of God

In preparation for tomorrow morning's sermon, I happened upon a very affecting quote by Martyn Lloyd-Jones--from his sermon on Acts 23:5-6. The apostle Paul, having stood in the midst of an angry mob of Pharisees and Saducees, divides them over their belief, or lack thereof, in the doctrine of a bodily resurrection. Lloyd-Jones made the following masterful observation and ...

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Darrin Patrick Audio from the Sovereign Grace PLANT Conference

Sovereign Grace Ministries has been been planting churches for nearly 30 years. They currently have 95 local churches throughout 21 countries. SGM has initiated a cooperative effort to advocate church planting discussions among their own organization, the PCA, ACTS 29, IX Marks, and the Southern Baptist Convention. The Conference they recently held in the Philadelphia area...

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Derek Thomas Called as Associate Minister of First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC.

In light of First Presbyterian Church's recent decision to call Dr. Derek Thomas to be their Associate Minister, I want to encourage you to listen to the message that Dr. Thomas preached at the installation of Dr. Ferguson there 6 years ago. It is one of the most masterful installation messages, and all the more fitting as Derek goes to minister the Gospel in that historic...

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Rare Antiquarian Theological Book Sale

I just started relisting antiquarian theological works on Ebay today. I have put some of the nicer works I am selling on first. I plan on listing many other rare Puritan, Reformed, Presbyterian, Baptist and Conregational works in the days/weeks ahead. Among the finest books I have listed is a beautifully bound 1778 edition of Jonathan Edwards' History of the Work of Redemp...

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David, Goliath and Representative Warfare

It never ceases to amaze me how the various accounts of David's life stand in a typical relationship to that of Christ, the Son of David--and the greater David. While the Bible explicitly draws out some of the ways that David typified Jesus (e.g. Matt. 12:3), the details of the life of David unfolded in covenantal history reveal it magnificently. One such account is the ...

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A Sinless Life

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:8)* I have long wished that, in Heaven, I might get to see the entire history of Christ’s earthly life, from His birth to His ascension—viewing each and every act of obedience. The reason is simple. Jesus lived a representa...

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GPTS Conference Live Webcast

GPTS begins its Spring Theology Conference on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit today. You can live stream Ian Hamilton's message on Regeneration and Conversion tonight at 7 pm EST. You can listen to the other messages throughout the days ahead....

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Mercy Triumphs Through Judgment

Mercy Triumphs Through Judgment* “Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” (Exodus 6:6) Jonathan Edwards, in his six part sermon series The Wisdom of God Displayed in the Way of...

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Rowland Ward on the Covenant of Works

There are certain theologians that I especially look forward to interviewing on Christ the Center. One such figure is Dr. Rowland Ward. The panel invited Dr. Ward to speak about his outstanding book God and Adam. You can read the details of the episode here. You can download the interview here. This is a great introduction to his book and a discussion of the Covenant of Wo...

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The Blood of Jesus Shed for Angels?

It might appear self-evident that the Scriptures do not teach that Christ died for angels; after all, Hebrews 2:16 explicitly declares that Jesus took upon Himself flesh and blood so that He might help the “seed of Abraham,” and not angels: “For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.” But it is possible to look at the subj...

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On Church Membership and Fencing the Lord's Table

The following is the concluding paragraph of a position paper--from the 18th General Assembly of the PCA--on the issue of how ministers ought to fence the Lord's Table. You can read the entire paper here: "...the clear evidence of Scripture is that the church should keep a roll of members. The supreme model for our membership roll is the membership roll of heaven (Exodus 3...

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The Idol-Crushing King

Little children keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:21)* If the heart of man is, as John Calvin described it, "an idol making factor," then the way in which those idols are destroyed should be of utmost importance to us. The Bible is replete with references to idolatry because it was written with the purpose of confronting and providing the remedy for it. The idolatry of...

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The Resurrection Power of Jesus

Abraham Kuyper, in his masterful Work of the Holy Spirit, made a fascinating observation about the power that Jesus had over the dead in the three resurrection accounts listed in the Gospels. He wrote: There is, in the miracles of Christ, in raising the dead, a perceptible increase of power: first, the raising up of one just dead (the daughter of Jairus), then, of one abo...

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Ligonier Academy Bible College: An Interview with Michael Morales

Michael Morales serves as Dean of Admissions and Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Great Works in the Undergraduate Program and Certificate Program at Ligonier Academy. Some of our readers may not be familiar with Michael's work, so we thought we would take a moment to introduce him and his work at Ligonier Academy to you. Michael Dewalt has recently interviewed Mic...

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Which Systematic Theology is Best?

I have often been asked the question, "What Systematic Theology (ST) do you find most helpful?" Over the past decade I have recommended, among others the works of Calvin, Turretin, Bavinck, Hodge, Berkof, and Grudem. More recently I have come to the conviction that there are two volumes of Systematic Theology that stand head and shoulders above the rest--but not for their ...

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The Church: Organism or Organization

One of the questions that desperately needs to be answered in our day is whether we should view the Church as an organism or as an organization. The answer to this question has enormous implications for how the church functions in the world. If we were to poll church attendees in America it goes without saying that the majority would insist that the church is an organism, ...

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A Life of Blessing and Rest

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles" (Gal. 3:13-14). I distinctly remember hearing an unbelieving co-worker at a restaurant in which I worked many years ago say to customers as they left: "Have a bless...

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The Firstborn, the Levites, Substitution and the Redemption Money

Lately, I've been overwhelmed by the shear brilliance of the typological pictures of redemption that God gave Israel. For instance, in the first chapter of the book of Numbers the Lord told Moses and Aaron to number all the men who were able to go to war, according to their tribe, from twenty years old and older. The only tribe that was not to be numbered was the tribe of ...

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Highland Theological College Lectures

Over the past three decades Highland Theological College, in Inverness, Scotland, has had numerous outstanding preachers and theologians deliver addresses at their various convocations and graduations. Among them have been, Sinclair Ferguson, Eric Alexander, Edward Donnelly, Ian D. Campbell, Richard Gaffin, Paul Helm and Doug Kelly. I would highly recommend that every semi...

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Liam Goligher Called to Tenth Presbyterian

Rev. Marion Clark announced that the congregation of Tenth Presbyterian Church has called Dr. Liam Goligher to be their senior minister. You can read Marion's thoughts below: "I am pleased to announce that today the congregation of Tenth Presbyterian Church has voted to call Dr. Liam Goligher to be our next Senior Minister. Dr. Goligher is scheduled to take the pulpit May ...

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Liam Goligher Candidating at Tenth Presbyterian

Tenth Presbyterian Church is planning on presenting Dr. Liam Goligher to the congregation as a candidate for the Senior Minister position. Dr. Goligher is currently the Senior Minister of Duke Street Church, Richmond upon Thames. He has written several books, including Joseph: The Hidden Hand of God, and The Jesus Gospel. He is also a regular contributor to Reformation 21....

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Modern Judaizers?

It appears that, more than ever before, we desperately need to answer the question, "What does Modern Judaizing look like?" The Judaizers were, of course, those false brethren who secretly came into the newly found church to spy out the freedom that Christians had in Christ. We don't have people creeping into our churches insisting that we need Christ plus circumcision to ...

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The Christ of the Nunc Dimmitis

The sermon audio from this past Sunday morning service at New Covenant Presbyterian Church is now online. You can listen to it here. The text was Luke 2:22-40, and the title, "The Christ of the Nunc Dimmitis."...

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The Humiliated and Poverty-Stricken Savior

The audio and video from this past Sunday morning service at New Covenant is now online. The text was Luke 2:1-24 and the title, "The Humiliated and Poverty-Stricken Savior." You can listen to the audio here. You can watch the video below: http://vimeo.com/18025427...

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Derek Thomas & Ligon Duncan Lectures on the Songs of Christmas

One of the burdens of a minister's heart is to bring his people to a place of thinking about the theology of what they are singing, and to sing them with a mind and heart, filled with grace, to the Lord. In 2004, Derek Thomas and Ligon Duncan gave several lectures on various, well-known Christmas hymns, at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS. These lectures are quit...

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Jesus: True Israel of the First Gospel

If you suggested to most evangelicals that Jesus is the second Adam (a fact explicitly stated in Scripture--Romans 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22; 45) you might find that some of them will acknowledge it--and may even appreciate the theological implications; but, if you suggested to the same group of Christians that He is true Israel you would probably get a mixture of facial respo...

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Eric Alexander on Living "Life in the Flesh"

Over the past year I have been editing material for a forthcoming Eric Alexander book. I continue to come across sections with which I resonate with regard to thoughts I have had about Scripture or the reality of the Christian's experience. I came across one such section today in a lecture Rev. Alexander gave at a Keswick conference many years ago. Expounding on Paul's phr...

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"Westminster Confession for Today" Conference Audio

A few years ago RTS began hosting a series of conferences on the theology of the Westminster Confession of Faith. The speakers included such men as Sinclair Ferguson, Derek Thomas, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, John Fesko, Phil Ryken, Chad Van Dixhoorn, Carl Trueman, Sean Lucas, Doug Kelly, etc. These messages were given at various PCA General Assemblies, and are now available...

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An Unexpected Announcement (Luke 1:26-38)

The sermon audio and video from the past Sunday morning at New Covenant is now online. The text was Luke 1:26-38 and the title, "An Unexpected Announcement." You can download the audio here. You can watch the video below: http://vimeo.com/17761609...

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New Dale Ralph Davis Book on Psalms 1-12

Christian Focus has recently released a new work by Dale Ralph Davis. The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life is something of a "Psalm Sampler," covering the first twelve Psalms. The chapters are edited versions of sermons preached on Sunday evenings at Woodland Presbyterian Church, where Dr. Davis is pastor. Many will know that Dr. Davis is one of the PCA's most reco...

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T. Desmond Alexander Audio Lectures and Sermons

T. Desmond (Desi) Alexander is one of my favorite theologians. I have greatly benefited from his books and articles. His most recently released From Eden to the New Jerusalem should be required reading for every ministerial student and pastor. Dr. Alexander's forthcoming book  Discovering Jesus: Why Four Gospels looks like it will be a great help to those  who wish to ...

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New William Still Republications

The Lord has raised up certain men to leave an indelible mark on future ministers of the Gospel. One such man was the Rev. William Still. The lives of some of the most influential pastors and theologians (e.g. Sinclair Ferguson, Phil Ryken, Ian Hamilton, etc.) were impacted by the life and ministry of Rev. Still. I have greatly benefited from listening to his sermons and r...

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Sinclair Ferguson Basics Conference Videos on Union with Christ

The following videos are from the 2010 Basic Conference at Parkside Church. You can find the audio form the Conference here. http://vimeo.com/11680149 Sinclair Ferguson - Paul on Union With Christ (Main Session - Video) from Parkside Church http://vimeo.com/11652580 Union With Christ in Christian Living - Main Session 2 from Parkside Church http://vimeo.com/11699941 ...

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Elisabeth Elliot on Hymnody

I happened across one of Elisabeth Elliot's newsletters, from 1999, in which she wrote an article titled, "Whatever Happened to Hymns?" In this short piece, she expressed some of her concerns about the modern church's abandonment of the use of ancient hymnody in worship. It was especially moving to hear Elliot recounted how she laid in bed singing "How Firm a Foundation" ...

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Pray for Martin Downes' Daughter

Our dear brother in Christ, Martin Downes, has requested prayer for his 9 year old daughter Kezia who was just diagnosed as having a brain tumor. Martin wrote: "Yesterday our youngest daughter Kezia (9) went for an MRI scan.  The doctors discovered a large brain tumor, which is pressing on the pituitary gland.  Kezia is currently in hospital in Wrexham and will be tr...

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Forthcoming Jonathan Edwards and Scotland Volume

Dunedin Press is set to release the Jonathan Edwards and Scotland volume. The chapters were lectures given at the March 2009 University of Glasgow and Yale University sponsored Jonathan Edwards and Scotland Conference (University of Glasgow). Among the noteworthy contributions were Adrian Neale's "Petrus Van Masstricht: Exchanges in Scotland, the Netherlands, and America,"...

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Sinclair Ferguson on the Apostle Paul, Patrick Hamilton and the Voice of the Gospel

You must listen to this sermon by Sinclair Ferguson. It was preached this past Reformation Sunday at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA. At one point in the sermon Ferguson quotes Patrick Hamilton on the difference between the voice of the Law and voice of the Gospel. The quote is priceless: The Law saith to the sinner, 'Pay thy debt.' The Gospel saith, 'Chris...

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Sinclair Ferguson on the Westminster Assembly and Baptism

In 2004, Sinclair Ferguson gave one of the finest lectures on the history of the Westminster Assembly and Baptism. The talk was given at the first annual Westminster Confession into the 21st Century Conference, hosted by RPTS. The title of the lecture was "The Westminster Doctrine Of Baptism And Current Reformed Trajectories." You can purchase an audio copy of it here. You...

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Mark Dever and the "Reading Richard Sibbes Aloud Project" (MP3 Series)

I remember how excited I was when I first discovered that different individuals had recorded their readings of the sermons of Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, John Flavel and John Bunyan. I then remember the overwhelming disappointment I experienced when I realized that they were read without any inflection or variation in the readers' intonation. The reason for this mo...

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Free DeGraaf and Ridderbos PDFs from Paideia Press!

Paideia Press has been reprinting and publishing Dutch Reformed works for the past 40 years. Recently they have made PDFs of most of their publications available for download. You can find the complete list, with links, here. These include some of the most helpful biblical theological works from DeGraaf and Ridderbos, as well as many of the works of Kuyper and Bavinck. The...

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Pray for Edward Donnelly

Edward Donnelly is one of the greatest blessings to the church in our day. He is a model of godly humility and pastoral wisdom. He is also one of the finest preachers I have heard. You can listen to his sermons here. The following is an except from a letter written to a friend of mine regarding an urgent prayer need for Rev. Donnelly. He has suffered a severe disability fr...

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Kim Riddlebarger Amillennialism Interview

Over at Christ the Center, we recently interviewed Dr. Kim Riddlebarger with regard to his book A Case for Amillennialism. Dr. Riddlebarger is senior pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim, California (www.christreformed.org), visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California, and co-host of The White Horse Inn. Kim has done a tremendous job...

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The Faith of the Centurion

Luke 7:1-10 is one of the greatest accounts of faith in action in all the Scripture. It is the record of the Centurion who told Jesus to speak a word and his servant would be healed. Here was a man of extreme influence and power. He was captain over hundreds of soldiers. He could charge elders of the Jews to go to Jesus asking for His help and they did so without hesitatio...

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Pray for Our Persecuted Sister in Pakistan

Please pray for our sister in Christ, Asia Bibi, as she faces the death sentence in Pakistan for breaking an Islamic "blasphemy law." This 45 year old mother of five is sentenced to die for her faith in Christ. Pray that the Lord would intervene in a powerful way to release her. Pray also that Sharia law would be removed from the Middle East. Remember Asia as if you were c...

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Rowland Ward on God's Covenant Unfolded: Creation to New Creation

This is an outstanding digestion of the biblical-theology of creation/new creation. Rowland Ward weaves together the various themes of priesthood, kingdom, and land to the covenantal Adam-Israel-Christ development. I heartily recommend taking a few minutes to read it....

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A Divine Dialogue

Hebrews chapters 1 and 2 contain a most fascinating Divine dialogue. In chapter 1, God the Father declares facts about the nature of God the Son to the Son Himself. In Hebrews 1:5, God the Father speaks to the Son from Psalm 2:7 where He says, "You are My Son; Today I have begotten You." Then, in Hebrews 1:8-9, we find the Father saying to the Son in Psalm 45:6-7, "Your th...

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Lectures from the Heidelberg Conference on Reformed Theology

The lectures from the first Heidelberg Conference on Reformed Theology are now online. Our friends Derek Thomas, Carl Trueman, Jon Payne and Sebastian Heck spoke about building word-centered and confessionally Reformed churches. You will find the audio here....

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Next Conference 2011

This looks like it will be a great conference. With D.A. Carson, R.C. Sproul, Scott Oliphint and Vern Poythress coming to Orlando, you won't want to miss it!...

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Of Time and Eternity

Among the most profound and perplexing questions the human mind can entertain are the questions concerning the nature of time and eternity. What is time?  Why did God create time? Why did God created with time (cum tempore)? What is eternity? Is there such a thing as eternity past? Will we speak, in the hereafter, of eternity future? Many such questions arise when we st...

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Exile and Restoration in the Death and Resurrection of Christ

I wonder if many find their reading of the Old Testament hindered, in part, because they have not adequately come to understand that the judgment/salvation scheme of the Old Testament (consisting in typical judgments and typical restorations) were pictures of what Christ would experience for His people in His death, and of the typical restorations that served as pictures o...

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Law/Gospel Distinction in Calvin

I spent time reading through the Institutes yesterday, looking for Calvin's teaching on typology. In the process, I discovered an entire chapter on Calvin's view of the relationship between the Two Testaments--and between the Law and the Gospel. I either never focused on what I was reading when I read the Institutes in seminary, or I simply skipped over it. Whatever the ca...

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Houston Chronicle on the Resurgence of Calvinism in America

The Houston Chronicle has an interesting article on the resurgence and spread of Calvinism in America. I found this piece to be particularly helpful, as the author paints the landscape of the various influences quite accurately. You can read it here....

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How the Actions of One Man Can Affect the World

The Scriptures are clear that the actions of One unique individual affected His people for time and eternity. The writer of Hebrews tells us that  Christ, "by Himself, made purification for our sins," through the one offering up of Himself on the cross.  But, the Bible is equally clear about how the actions of his people can have a ripple out effect on the lives of t...

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The Ark of the Covenant and the Empty Tomb

One of the most amazing biblical-theological developments in Scripture has to do with the anti-typical fulfillment of the symbolism of the ark of the covenant. The ark was a box, overlaid with gold, that remained in the Most Holy place. It consisted of three levels. The lower lever was the inside of the box--in which was Aaron's rod that blossomed, the Ten Commandments and...

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The Last of the Levites

Someone recently asked me what details the Scriptures give into the transition of the priesthood from Levi to Judah. It is abundantly clear from the book of Hebrews that there was such a transition; and on account of it Christ is now the eternal Priest who came with the once-for-all sacrifice. The writer of Hebrews expressly stated the transition when he wrote: Therefore, ...

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Preaching that Paints the Shedding of Christ's Blood

It is all too common for ministers to step into pulpits Sunday after Sunday and never really preach the Gospel to the consciences of the people to whom they are called to preach. We often speak about the Gospel, and may even mention Christ by name, without actually bring people to Calvary, in our preaching, to see the wounds and bruises that Christ took for us. I am as gui...

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John Fesko Interview on Baptism

Over at Christ the Center, we recently interviewed Dr. John Fesko with regard to his latest book Word, Water and Spirit:A Reformed Perspective on Baptism. Dr. Fesko presents one of the finest examples of a biblical theological approach to the sacrament of baptism. This is certainly worth listening to whether you adhere to a "believers' baptist only" position or to the "cov...

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The Unimportance of what God's People Think About Him

I am sure that all of us have heard many professing Christians say something like, "I like to think of God as being like this or that..." or "I don't think God would do this or that..." In his article The God of Israel, B.B. Warfield, explained the significance of the fact that in both the Old and the New Testament we find an absence of statements about what the covenant p...

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Sinclair Ferguson on the Trinity in the Upper Room

In the introduction to his  unparalleled work, The Holy Trinity: In Scripture, History, Theology and Worship, Robert Letham includes a quote from an email correspondence with Sinclair Ferguson. In a straightforward fashion, Ferguson defended the absolute necessity of preaching the doctrine of the Trinity from Christ's teaching in the Upper Room when he wrote: “Iâ...

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Is the Fourth Commandment Still Required for Christians?

The other day Justin Taylor took the opportunity to post a segment of Tom Schreiner's new book Forty Questions About the Christian and Biblical Law in order to highlight his view that the fourth commandment was only of Israel. Because of the controversy surrounding this issue, I thought I would take the opportunity to post Francis Turretin's marvelous exposition of that c...

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Dr. Dennis Prutow Interview

The panel of Christ the Center recently interviewed Dr. Dennis Prutow, Professor of Homiletics and Pastoral Theology at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary to speak about his book So Pastor, What’s Your Point? This was an outstanding episode for men actively engaged in preaching and the ministry of the Gospel. You can listen here....

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The Letter of the Gospel (Acts 15:12-41)

The audio and video from the Sunday morning worship service at New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Richmond Hill, Ga is now online. The text was Acts 15:12-41, and the title, "The Letter of the Gospel." You can listen to the audio here. You can watch the video below: http://vimeo.com/15529972 ...

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The Exodus Motif in Luke-Acts

Luke and Acts are two of the most magnificent theological compositions in the canon of Holy Scripture. Every book of the Bible is theologically rich, but these two books (which are meant to be read together) yield some of the richest theological treasures. Viewing these books together enables the reader to better understand the purpose of the individual accounts recorded i...

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Expositor's Conference Live Feed

The Expositor's Conference is being broadcast live today. Dr. Steve Lawson and Dr. R.C. Sproul are lecturing on the holiness, grace. wrath and immutability of God. You can tune it here....

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The Biblical Theology of the Pilgrim's Progress

The panel of Christ the Center recently interviewed Dr. Barry Horner with regard to the history and theology of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. As a lover of Bunyan's works, I have to admit that this was one of my favorite interviews. I learned quite a bit about the interpretation of Pilgrim's Progress from Dr. Horner (Horner did a doctorate on the theology of Pilgrim's ...

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The Circumcision of Christ in Redemptive-History

Circumcision is not something you'll find most Christians talking about around the dinner table--and that's understandable. In addition to the societal awkwardness involved with speaking about cutting away the flesh from the male reproductive organ, there are several reasons why circumcision does not enter into many of our theological conversations. The first is the fact t...

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Exodus: Symbols of Redemption

The audio from New Covenant's first three studies in the Book of Exodus are now online. ...

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Full Confidence Conference Live on ReformedForum.TV

Reformed Forum is pleased to be livestreaming Westminster Theological Seminary’s Full Confidence Conference Friday and Saturday from Church of the Saviour in Wayne, PA. The conference is focused on the doctrine of Scripture, and speakers include Carl Trueman, Lane Tipton, and Dave Garner. Details for tuning in to the stream are available at http://reformedforum.tv...

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Listen Up! $1

This Wednesday (9/22) wtsbooks.com will be launching a 48-hour sale on an important booklet. Christopher Ash, the Director of the Cornhill Training Course in London, England, has written Listen Up!--a short (only 31 pages), accessible, pamphlet that addresses the way in which the people of God can gain the maximum benefit from listening to sermons. Mark Dever gives Listen...

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The Son of Man in the Midst of the Lampstands (Rev. 1:9-20)

The audio and video from New Covenant's Sunday school series on the Book of Revelation is now online. The text was Revelation 1:9-20, and the title, "The Son of Man in the Midst of the Lampstands." You can listen here. You can watch below: http://vimeo.com/15129820...

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Driscoll on Tithing

While I wish that he had explained the distinction between the tithe and the offering (one obligatory, one voluntary), nevertheless, in the video below Mark Driscoll gives one of the most helpful presentations on biblical giving: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4oOkezxKuIfeature=player_embedded#!...

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David Gooding: A Theologian Worth Knowing About

When I first came to Savannah, Ga to plant New Covenant, I was introduced to the theological writings of Dr. David Gooding. A local pastor here mentioned that he had learned of Gooding from a reference made in Alec Motyer's commentary on Isaiah. Goodings' books are available for free in PDF format online. His True to the Faith is one of the best theological works I have co...

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Phil Ryken Installed at Wheaton

Today, Dr. Philip Graham Ryken was installed as the eighth President of Wheaton College, in Wheaton, IL. Dr. Ryken served as the senior minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA for the past 10 years. Here is what Donald Meyer, a trustee and co-chairman of the Presidential Selection Committee, had to say about the prospect of Phil's ministry at Wheaton: â...

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Stipulations for Mercy Ministry?

Having had the privilege of growing up around such men as Dr. John H. Skilton, the late professor of New Testament at Westminster Theological seminary,--who selflessly opened his home in the Vietnamese section of Philadelphia to minister to missionaries, homeless and social outcasts--mercy ministry has been something exemplified and deeply impressed into my thinking from m...

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The Mark of Real Gospel Preaching

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, at the beginning of his commentary on Romans 6, made the most profound and important statement about the true preaching of the Gospel. The grace of God is so free, and so abundant, that it brings salvation to the ungodly apart from anything we do. It is not our "works of righteousness that we have done" that brings about this salvation.  It is the gr...

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Cleansed By Christ Alone (John 13:1-20)

The sermon audio and video from the Sunday morning service at New Covenant Presbyterian Church is now available online. I deviated from our regular series through the book of Acts, on account of it being a baptism service, to preach a sermon on John 13:1-20. The title was, "Cleansed by Christ Alone." You can listen to the audio here. You can watch the video below: http:...

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The Impact of 9/11

I vividly remember the morning of September 11. 2001. I was living in Flat Rock, NC, just south of Asheville. I remember hustling into the Country Club where I worked as a cook, trying not to lose my job because of my prodigal lifestyle. At some point, the head chef ran out and sat the staff down. We all huddled around a small, portable, black and white television and list...

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Promises, Promises

The audio and video of the sermon from the Sunday morning worship service at New Covenant Presbyterian Church is now online. The text was Acts 13:13-52, and the title, "Promises, Promises." You can listen to the audio here. You can watch the video below: http://vimeo.com/14740517...

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The Transmission and Identification of the Inerrant Text of Scripture

I was very blessed to have grown up around such men as Cornelius Van Til, John H. Skilton, Theophilus Herter and Milton Fisher. The Lord shaped my thinking on what Scripture is, and how God preserved it, from my earliest days. After I was converted, I began to diligently study the doctrine of inerrancy, the canon, and the apocryphal books. I had many questions, and was det...

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Expository Preaching- Youth Ministry Style

Jon Nielson has an excellent post, over at the Gospel Coalition Blog, about the benefits of modeling an expository ministry to the youth in the church. You can read it here. I could not agree more....

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The Mission of God is the God of Missions

The audio and video from the Sunday Morning Worship Service at New Covenant Presbyterian Church is now online. The text was Acts 12:25-13:12, and the title, "The Mission of God is the God of Missions." You can listen to the audio here. You can watch the video below: http://vimeo.com/14550461...

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Contentment in the Ministry

There is a disastrous discontentment that permeates the very fabric of our being. This can be seen throughout the many and varied experiences of our lives. Solomon spoke of it in Ecclesiastes 1:8, "The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. " Paul learned how to be content in all things, but he had to learn it. Contentment is not a natural incli...

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The Bible Is Not About You

Well, that is only partly true. The Bible actually has a lot to say about you, to you and for you; but, the Bible is fundamentally about "Jesus Christ and Him crucified." How then can we understand the substance of the Scriptures as God understands it? Tim Keller does a good job of briefly explaining what the Bible is about in the video below: http://www.youtube.com/watch...

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Toxic Tribalism

Tullian Tchividjian has a helpful post over at his blog, On Earth As It Is In Heaven titled "We are One." In it, Tullian takes an opportunity to teach a valuable lesson based on the recent development in his church.  Coral Ridge has recently combined two worship services separated by distinctive, generational music styles. I was most impacted by Tullian's warning agains...

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Dr. C.N. Willborn Sermons and Lectures

I have been extremely blessed to have studied theology under some outstanding theologians. One of those professors was Dr. Nick Willborn. Now serving as minister of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Oak Ridge, TN. you listen to his sermons here. You can find several of his lectures here....

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The Kind of People We Can Learn From

There is tendency to think we can only learn from the smartest, most gifted, most successful, and most popular Christians. We must be ready to learn from all kinds of people, from a variety of backgrounds (young and old, weak and strong, well known and obscure), because they fear the Lord. Consider a few of the people the Lord uses to teach us: Mary the Mother of Jesus (a ...

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He Sets the Prisoner Free (Acts 12:1-24)

The audio and video from the Sunday morning service at New Covenant Presbyterian Church is now available online. The text was Acts 12:1-24 and the title, "He Sets the Prisoner Free." You can listen to the audio here. You can watch the video below: http://vimeo.com/14346903...

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Revelation Resources

While there have been endless volumes written on the book of Revelation--and, it seems as many interpretations as there are books--the following are some of the ones I have profited from most.  I would especially recommend the sermon series by Sinclair Ferguson, Eric Alexander and Brian Vos. B.B. Warfield's short article below is probably the most helpful three page pie...

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PCA Position Papers

I, for one, am thankful to be a part of a denomination that has many godly and knowledgeable men who care deeply about important theological and social issues. Many times when an issue is raised in the evangelical world, one or another theologian is appealed to for conclusive answers.  This can be helpful, but it lacks the collective wisdom of a unified body of biblical...

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What's in a Name?

The most recent sermon audio and video from New Covenant Presbyterian Church is now available online. The text was Acts 11:19-12:2, and the title, "What's in a Name?" You can listen to the audio here. You can watch the video below: http://vimeo.com/14183248...

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A Christian By Any Other Name...

Acts 11:26 is one of those verses that can easily be read over without giving due consideration to its significance. There we find Luke making the point, almost in passing,  that it was "at Antioch the disciples were first called Christians." This is the first time the title is used in the Scriptures, and it establishes for us the historical setting in which the nicknam...

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The Acts of the Apostles

Back in February I recommended several volumes the deal with the theology of the Acts of the Apostles. That was at the beginning of a sermon series I started at New Covenant Presbyterian Church. Now that I am just about half way through I would like to expand that list and offer some further suggestions. I have provided links for each title, many of which link to Google Bo...

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The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards

Over at Christ the Center, we recently talked with Dr. Steve Lawson, senior pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama, about his book The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards. You can listen to the interview here. Dr. Lawson is the author of several books including Famine in the Land, Foundations of Grace, and The Expository Genius of John...

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Pentecost 2: No Partiality (Acts 10:24-11:19)

The sermon video from the Sunday morning worship service at New Covenant is now available online. The text was Acts 10:24-11:18, and the title, "Pentecost 2: No Partiality."  You can watch the video below: Pentecost 2: No Partiality (Acts 10:24-11:18)...

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Was Cornelius Regenerate Prior to Peter's Preaching Christ to Him?

The thorny question of whether or not Cornelius--the Italian centurion officer to whom God appeared in a vision--was a regenerate believer prior to Peter's preaching Jesus to him has proven to be quite challenging for me as I prepare to preach the second part of the narrative (Acts 10:23-11:19). In the opening verses of chapter 10 we are told that Cornelius was "a devout m...

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Bringing Home the Bacon (Acts 10:1-23)

The audio and video from last week's Sunday morning worship service at New Covenant is now online. The text was Acts 10:1-23, and the title, "Bringing Home the Bacon." You can listen to it here. You can watch the video here....

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Chad Van Dixhoorn & The Westminster Assembly Project

We recently had the opportunity to interview Chad Van Dixhoorn, on Christ the Center, with regard to his work on The Westminster Assembly Project. Anyone interested in the development of Reformed and Confessional Theology will certainly want to listen to this interview. You can find it  here....

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Boaz: The Law-Keeping/Debt-Paying Redeemer

Many theologians have acknowledged the typological role that Boaz played in redemptive History. He descended from the tribe of Judah, comes out of Bethlehem to bless his people, grandfather of David, the one to whom the promise of Messiah was given, and was therefore in the genealogical line of the Christ. He owned a field into which he sent His laborers. He receives a Gen...

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Card's Biblical Lyricism

One cannot help but admire the biblical lyricism of Michael Card. He redefined biblical compositions at a time when the Christian music world was suffering from creative and theological anemia. Card's Things We Leave Behind and God's Own Fool are two of the best examples of his creativity and theological substance....

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WWSJ - (We Would See Jesus)

I am grateful when I am reminded of the urgent need to preach Christ for pardon and power--for justification and sanctification--and to continually look to Him for grace and mercy. It is far too easy to be moved away from Him into some sphere of self-reliance or self-renovation. When we do we inevitable fall into the trap of failure and condemnation or pride and self-right...

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A Brief Redemptive-History of Animals

Acts 10:1-23 puts a very specific focus on Peter's vision which leads to the conversion of the Roman Centurion Cornelius. While Peter was praying he got hungry. The Lord then caused him to fall into a trance, in which Peter saw a sheet with four corners full of clean and unclean animals. The four corners of the sheet probably refer to the same thing as the "four corners of...

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He Must Increase...

It seems altogether probable that the apostle John refers to himself as "the disciples whom Jesus loved" and "another disciple" for two reasons. In the first place, the fourth Gospel is focused on love as the motivation of Christ in the work of redemption. In other words, John is insistent on centering on the theme of the love of Christ for His people. This is why he says ...

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B.B. Warfield's Confession of Faith

B.B. Wafield, the great Princeton theologian of the late 19th and early 20th Century, wrote and published a small pamphlet titled A Brief and Untechnical Statement of the Reformed Faith, in which he set down--in 13 points--the central truths of the system of doctrine known as "Reformed Theology." Perhaps this pamphlet will again be a helpful guide, as the nomenclature is b...

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Jesus Lives, and So Shall I

The most recent audio and video from New Covenant Presbyterian's Sunday service  is now online. You can listen to and download the audio here. You can watch the video here. Jesus Lives, and So Shall I (Acts 9:32-43) ...

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Reasons to Leave a Church

Jason Helopoulas has an outstanding post on reasons why people should and should not leave a church. I would only add to his list one more reason people have a legitimate reason to leave: "If the minister is unwilling to work hard to feed the sheep with the pure milk and the meat of the word. If the sheep are not being fed through solid, textual, Gospel-centered preaching-...

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Gabriel Fluhrer Farewell Sermon

My good friend Gabe Fluhrer is leaving Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC to head to WTS in Philadelphia to begin his Ph.D. studies. Gabe is an outstanding example of a Reformed, Gospel-centered, expositional preacher. You can listen to his farewell sermon here. You can listen to other messages he has preached at Second Pres. here. We wish him the richest b...

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Octavius Winslow Daily Readings

Matthew Blair has set up a daily email devotional from Octavius Winslow's Morning Thoughts and Evening Thoughts. If you have not read any Winslow you will be greatly blessed by his Christ-centered, rich, devotional meditations. You can learn more about this project and sign up for these free email devotionals here....

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Holy War: Jesus Style

Last week marked the beginning of a 6 part series on "Defending the Faith" for the midweek study at New Covenant Presbyterian Church. While it is somewhat unconventional to deal with the issue of jihad and the Christian in a series on apologetics, I wanted to tie the reality of the herem warfare of the Old Testament to the Holy War in which the Christian is continually eng...

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Anthony Selvaggio on Redemptive-Historical-Applicatory Preaching?

We recently interviewed Anthony Selvaggio on Christ the Center with regard to Redemptive-historical and Applicatory Preaching. The interview contains many helpful thoughts with regard to hermeneutical principles, preparation and plagiarism. You can listen to the episode here. The interview began with a discussion of Anthony's Reformation 21 article Preaching to People?...

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Andrew Cherry and RUF at Georgia Southern Univeristy

My friend Andrew Cherry is planning on being an RUF intern at Georgia Southern University. He will be working along side of Rev. Sammy Rhodes. Andrew is an exceptionally gifted artist who is leaving a substantial job in Los Angeles to serve the Lord in Statesboro, GA. If you can give him any financial support, I assure you that it will be used for the advancement of the Ki...

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Phil Ryken's Final Service at Tenth Presbyterian Church

Phil Ryken preached his farewell sermon at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia this past Sunday. You can watch the video of the entire service below. You can listen to his final sermon at Tenth here. Dr. Ryken's last Sunday Worship Service as Sr. Minister of Tenth from Tenth Presbyterian Church on Vimeo....

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On Being Shrewd

Jesus told his disciples that the sons of this world are more shrewd than the sons of light (Luke 16:8). I don't know whether this guy is a son of this world or a son of light, but he certainly exemplifies ingenuity. HT: Nan Whitney (my ingenious sister)...

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Writings

Nicholas T. Batzig Books Batzig, Nicholas T., "Edwards, Maclaurin and the Transatlantic Concert of Prayer" in Minkema, Neale, and Van Andel ed. Jonathan Edwards and Scotland 2010 Tabletalk Pastoral Perspective: The Fine Line – This article, written for Table Talk magazine, gives consideration to the issue of ministerial authority in matters of faith and worship are cons...

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Keller on the Duty, Delight and Danger of Being Doctrinal

Tim Keller has a very useful post, over at the Redeemer City to City Blog, in which he pulls a number of Lloyd-Jones quotes expressing the necessity and danger of being intentionally doctrinal. You can read it here....

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Church Planting Dynamics: Gathering the Churched, De-Churched and Un-Churched

When I began the work of church planting I had absolutely no idea what to expect. We had no core group, and I only knew one person in the town to which we were called. It's all too common to read church planting blogs, manuals and articles, in which the authors speak of the pressing need to reach the "un-churched" in your community with the Gospel. This is something we see...

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The Presence of God Promised & Typified in the Death of Jacob and Joseph

Jonathan Edwards, in one of his most interesting entries in his Notes on Scripture, drew a typological connection between the actions and words of Jacob and Joseph, in their deaths, and the promise of Jesus immediately prior to His death. He wrote: Genesis 48:21 "And Israel said to Joseph, 'Behold, I die, but God shall be with you.'" So Joseph, when he was near his death, ...

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2010 Ligonier National Conference Videos

The videos from the 2010 Ligonier National Conference are now available online for streaming. The title of this year's conference was "Tough Questions Christians Ask." You can find the index of all the videos here. I would especially recommend the following talks: Derek Thomas If God is Good, How Could He Command Holy War? Derek Thomas How Do We Know Which Interpretation i...

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Koester on Revelation

Over at Bring the Books, Adam Parker has a series of posts in which he reviews Craig Koester's Revelation and the End of All Things. Koetser is Professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. You can find a list of the books that Dr. Koester has written, together with audio resources here. What makes Revelation and the End of All Things unique is the fact th...

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Ligonier's "Bits, Bytes, Blogs & Bibles" Pre-Conference Videos

This year's pre-conference for Ligonier Ministries' National Conference centered on the biblical approach to social media. Overall it was a very beneficial conference. Ed Stetzer, Al Mohler, Burk Parsons, and Tim Challies did a good job of helping people think through how the church can best use technology for the advancement of Christ's kingdom. You can watch the videos h...

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Was Adam a Servant or a Son Before the Fall?

One important questions in theology is whether or not Adam was in a state of sonship prior to the fall. The answer to this question has direct implications on our understanding of God, the covenant of works, and the nature of soteriological blessings. Sinclair Ferguson has an exceedingly helpful article titled, "The Reformed Doctrine of Sonship" in Pulpit People: Essays i...

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Spurgeon, Driscoll and Tickling the Oyster

I wish I had a better sense of humor--and ability to use it in the pulpit--for the purpose of grabbing people's attention. Can a minister go too far in this? Absolutely; but there is an effective and, I believe, beneficial use of humor in the pulpit that often gets dismissed out of hand. Having listened to Mark Driscoll's sermons on the life of Jacob and Joseph, I have to ...

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The Glorious Conquest (Acts 9:1-22)

The audio and video from the June 20, 2010 worship service at New Covenant Presbyterian Church is now online. The text was Acts 9:1-22 and the title, "The Glorious Conquest." You can download and listen to the audio here. You can watch the video below: The Glorious Conquest...

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The Patriarchal Revelation of Job

The book of Job gives us a glimpse of the majesty of God and His works in a manner unsurpassed among the patriarchal revelation. Reformed theologians, throughout the history of the church, have drawn the conclusion that the revelation of God, recorded in the book of Job, comes from an era immediately prior to the days of Abraham. C. C. Jones, in his magnificent biblical th...

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Improving Your Conversations

It was said of Thomas Halyburton, the great Scottish theologian of the late seventeenth century, that "he abhorred that unedifying converse that is spent in frequent and unseasonable jesting...so common with many, though he was abundantly facetious [humorous] in company, when and where he saw it expedient; and this way sometimes he has dropped what tended to edify. Those w...

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The Three Days of Jonah, Jesus and Paul

There seems to be a connection between Jonah and Saul of Tarsus. Both were nationalistic zealots. Both thought they deserved the grace of God. Both were called to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles; and both had to be dealt with in an extraordinary manner. Jonah was three days and three nights in the heart of the earth prior to being sent to the Gentiles. Saul of Tarsus was...

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Tolle Lege: Take Up and Read (Acts 8:26-40)

The most recent sermon audio and video from New Covenant Presbyterian Church is now online. The text was Acts 8:26-40 and the title was "Tolle Tege: Take Up and Read." You can listen to the audio here. You can watch the video below: Keep Reading

Ligonier Ministry National Conference Live Stream

As the 2010 Ligonier National Conference approaches you might be interested in knowing that they will again be live streaming the conference. You can watch it here. This year's conference title is, "Tough Questions Christians Face." You can see the schedule of (including the line up for the pre-conference, "Bits, Bytes, Blogs and Bibles") here....

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W.G.T. Shedd on the Genius of Augustine

Apart from the writings of Jonathan Edwards, no other theological writings have had such an impact on the development of my own thinking as much as those of Augustine. If you have never read The Confessions--Augustine's autobiography--you are missing out on an intellectual and devotional masterpiece. There is certainly much to be criticized in the early writings of Augusti...

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Tullian Tchividjian on the Nature of God-Centered Worship

Tullian Tchividjian has a great post on the nature of God-centered worship. You can read it here. You might want to read Isaiah 6 while you're at it!...

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Alistair Begg "For the Sake of the Gospel" Audio

The Gospel Coalition had its first Greater Columbus Gospel Coalition Conference at Grace Bible Church in Winchester, OH. Alistair Begg was the speaker. The topic was "For the Sake of the Gospel." You can download the talks below: 1) “What is the Gospel? How does it impact Ecclesiology, Philosophy, Teaching, and Discipleship?†2) “Communicating the Exclusi...

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Reformation Worship Conference

New Covenant Presbyterian Church is participating in a Reformed Worship project in conjunction with the Reformed Worship Association. We have already begun a 12-month commitment in which we will commit ourselves to lectio continua preaching, a psalm in either morning or evening worship, 4 of the liturgies from Calvin 500, and a 6-week class, explaining the distinctives o...

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Keller on Gospel-Ecosystems

Scott Clark has posted a transcription of Tim Keller's recent lecture on creating and nurturing ecumenical "Gospel eco-systems." I encourage you to read it together with the comments at the bottom of the page. You can find it here....

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John Gerstner on Roman Catholicism

Over at the Ligonier Ministry blog you will find a series of posts from portions of John Gerstner's primer on Roman Catholicism. In a day of doctrinal reductionism and willful naivete' in regard to false teaching, many in protestant churches do not know what the Roman Catholic church teaches. It is incumbent upon us to be a people who search diligently for truth and know h...

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Can't Buy Me Life

The sermon audio and video from the June 6, 2010 Sunday Morning Worship Service at New Covenant Presbyterian Church is now available online. The text was Acts 8:4-25 and the title, "Can't Buy Me Life." You can download the audio here. You can watch the video below: Keep Reading

Jay Harvey on Augustine

My friend Jay Harvey  has an article over at Reformation 21 on the priority of pastoral ministry in the life of Augustine. You can read it here....

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What Made Paul So Great

A friend of mine from the UK recently pointed out how people in the American church are so quick to put their stamp of approval upon a man or women regardless of their belief system. You've probably heard this come in the form of the following statements: "He's such a great guy," or "She's a really great person," or "I just love so-and-so." And, if you listen carefully, wh...

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The Errors of an Inerrant Church

Time Magazine has a cover article, in the June 7, 2010 edition, on the situation that the Roman Catholic Church finds itself in with regard to the pedophilia-priest scandals. The title of the article is "Why Being Pope Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry." It is interesting to see how the watching world perceives the weaknesses and inconsistencies of the dogma of Rome. ...

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On Dying Well

The dying words of many of the Scottish Covenanters are recorded in James Thomson's A Cloud of Witnesses. One such record is that of the dying words of James Renwick (pronounced "Renick"). Renwick was the last of the Covenanter martyrs.  The old Methodist ministers were fond of saying, "He who would die well must live well." Renwick is an example of one who died well be...

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To Die Is Gain (Acts 7:54-8:5)

The newest sermon audio from New Covenant Presbyterian Church is now online. The text was Acts 7:54-8:5 and the title, "To Die is Gain." You can listen to and download it here....

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Australia's Sons of Korah

My wife and I love the music of the Sons of Korah, the Australian band which has set many of the Psalms to modern tunes. What do they sound like? Think of an Australian version of Shane Shane with more lyrics, more harmonization and more of a 70's rock influence. You can listen to some of their music here and here. I especially like the album Redemption Songs. The band ha...

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Eric Alexander on Stephen's Martyrdom

In his 1981 address at Urbana, Eric Alexander made the following observations about Stephen's martyrdom and the fruit it bore: We see that Stephen's death was for the glory of God. There are clearly two sides to the fact of Stephen's death. There is on the one hand the wrath and hatred of the people as they gnashed their teeth against him (v. 54). That, I suppose,...

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D.A. Carson's Advice to Pastors on Marriage Situations

Back in December, the Gospel Coalition posted a helpful summary of D.A. Carson's advice to church planters with regard to difficult questions about marriage. You can read it here....

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A Biblical Stategy for Church Growth

One of my mentors and friends, Rev. Roland Barnes, has written a very helpful pamphlet for the Savannah River Presbytery (PCA) on biblical church growth. I would encourage every minister and seminarian to read it. You can download it here. Roland notes the two indispensable keys to growing churches: There are two major or fundamental elements of ministry upon which the Ch...

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Phil Ryken's Final Series at Tenth

As the time approaches for Phil Ryken to close one chapter of his life and start another, our readers might want to download the audio from his final sermon series preached at Tenth Presbyterian Church. What more fitting way to end a fruitful pastorate than by preaching on one of the most spiritually rich chapters in the Bible--Romans 8? These sermons will only be availabl...

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A Defense To Die For (Acts 7:1-60)

The latest audio and video from New Covenant Presbyterian Church is now online. The sermon text was Acts 7:1-30 and the title was "A Defense to Die For." You can find the audio here. You can watch the video below. Keep Reading

The Continuing Acts of Jesus

The audio and video for the first six chapters of New Covenant Presbyterian Church's sermon series "The Continuing Acts of Jesus" are online....

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Theocratic Case Laws and the New Covenant Era

The issue of theonomy and the application of theocratic case laws in the New Covenant era has recently come up in several discussions I have had, so I thought I would make some resources available to those interested in learning more about a redemptive-historical approach to understanding the role of the theocratic sanctions given to Old Covenant Israel. The follow books g...

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The Apostolic Hermenuetic: Preaching Christ From All The Scriptures

I am becoming more and more convinced that Dennis Johnson's book Him We Proclaim ought to be required reading in every seminary, bible school and elder training program. Whether it is understanding the preservation of the covenantal line, the principle of typology or the redemptive-historical purpose of the ceremonial and civil laws, there is no single volume that gives m...

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Britain's First Pro-Abortion Television Ad

Here is an excellent article by Ed West, a journalist for the Telegraph, offering a critique of Britain's first pro-abortion television advertisement. HT: Martin Downes...

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Beck, Lillback, Mohler and DeYoung on Social Justice

I am not a huge fan of melodramatic, Mormon political analysts talking about God and country. But I was interested to see that yesterday Peter Lillback, President of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, was on Glen Beck to talk about the difference between the Gospel and the implications of the Gospel in light of current discussions on social justice. You can ...

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Octavius Winslow Book Giveaway

Matthew Blair, over at the Octavius Winslow website, is giveaway a copy of Winslow's Heaven Opened.. You can learn more here....

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Why Did God Live in a Tent?

This is a particularly thought provoking sermon, by David Murray, on the significance of God's dwelling in the tabernacle. The Lord dwelt in the tent of meeting because His people dwelt in tents. He had promised to be their God. He had promised to dwell with His people. In order to do this, God became like His people. Israel dwelt in tents, so God dwelt in a tent. This is,...

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A Day in the Life of an Extraordinary Man

The audio and video from the most recent sermon preached at New Covenant Presbyterian Church is now online. The text was Acts 6:8-15 and the title was "A Day in the Life of an Extraordinary Man." You can find the audio here. You can watch the video below: Keep Reading

R.C. Sproul on the Importance of Tithing

Here is an outstanding article on the biblical mandate for tithing by R.C. Sproul. I wish every Christian would read this....

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Tim Keller on Contentment

A much needed reminder from Tim Keller on contentment. We desperately need to be reminded, time and time again, of the words of David from Psalm 131, and the theology of contentment: My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child w...

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Jim Elliot Sermons

Because I had planned on opening my sermon tomorrow morning with a brief recount of the life, ministry and death of Jim Elliot, I decided to review the historical accounts of Elliot's missionary endeavors up to the point when his life was taken by the Auca Indians to whom he was laboring to bring the Gospel. I was somewhat surprised to find two sermons that Elliot preached...

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Pipa Lecture on William Perkins

Some time ago I posted a link to the interview we had with Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, on Christ the Center, regarding the preaching of William Perkins. You can listen to it here. Dr. Pipa wrote his doctoral dissertation on the preaching of Perkins. He recently gave a lecture on the life of Perkins at the 2010 Whiteabbey Congregational Church Puritan Conference. You can listen to ...

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Godly Men: The Divine Methodology

E.M. Bounds, in his book The Power of Prayer, made the astute observation that humanly devised methods can never replace the working of God in the man of God. He wrote: God's plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else, because men are God's method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. The Holy Ghost ...

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On Earth As It Is In Heaven - Tullian Tchividjian's Blog

I have really been enjoying Tullian Tchividjian's blog over at the Gospel Coalition website. If you have not visited it, I would heartily recommend it to you as a worthwhile resource for Gospel-centered and theological insights....

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R.C. Sproul and the Ligonier Teaching Fellows

Here is an interesting panel discussion with Dr. R.C. Sproul and the four Ligonier Academy Teaching Fellows. Dr. Ferguson's opening remarks are sobering for any pastor. The people who sit under preaching will inevitably read their Bibles in the manner in which they are taught the Bible....

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Acceptance and Persecution

Growing up, I spent my time and energy seeking acceptance. No one wants to be left out. C.S. Lewis, in his masterful lecture, The Inner Ring, explained the nature of this futile desire to be on the inside. This deep seated, sinful desire was what led  me to seek acceptance by means of sports in High School. When I wasn't able to fulfill my desires there, I turned to sex...

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R.C. Sproul's Successor(s)

One of the big questions floating around the Reformed world has been, "Who will replace R.C. Sproul when he retires from his leadership role at Ligonier Ministries?" Sproul has been the face of Ligonier for nearly 40 years (since 1971). On account of the fact that Dr. Sproul is one of the brightest and most articulate men of our times, finding one individual to carry on th...

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Choosing Seven Servants (Acts 6:1-7)

The most recent audio and video from New Covenant Presbyterian Church is now online. You can listen to and download the audio here. You can watch the video below: Keep Reading

Michael Reeves on Adam and Eve

Here is a phenomenal article by Mike Reeves on the necessity of the historicity of Adam and Eve. It it taken from the forthcoming book Should Christians Embrace Evolution? edited by Norman Nevin (IVP-UK, PR). I have not read a theological defense as good as this that actually interacts with the more nuanced expressions of theistic evolution....

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On Not Being Good Enough for the Gospel

Erol Bortucene posted a great quote in which Martyn Lloyd-Jones explained that when people say they are not good enough for the Gospel, they are actually denying the Gospel: To make it quite practical I have a very simple test. After I have explained the way of Christ to somebody I say “Now, are you ready to say that you are a Christian?†And they hesitate. And t...

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Discrimination and the Seven Servants

William Still, in his sermon on Acts 6:1-7, mentioned that the problem of the discrimination against the Greek speaking Jewish widows by the Hebrew speaking Jewish widows was met by the choosing of the seven wise men, all of whom had names with Greek etymological derivations. He made the fascinating observation: The seven may have been the most spiritual men in the fellows...

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The Imperative of the Indicative: Preaching Christ from the Gospels

It may seem strange to hear someone say that ministers need to learn how to preach Christ from the Gospels; but in light of the failure, in this regard, of so many when dealing with the commands of Christ (case in point), there is perhaps no greater need for minsters of the Gospel at present than to learn this principle and etch it into their minds and hearts. I had a frie...

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Separated at Birth?

Every time I see a picture of Robert Gibbs, the current White House Press Secretary, I wonder if he and Phil Ryken were somehow separated at birth. I at least think the comparison is as good as some of the ones you will find here. ...

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Advice on Reading Noteworthy Theological Chapters, Articles and Sermons

If you are anything like me, you know that having multiple interests makes reading books--cover to cover--an extremely difficult task. There was a time when I was determined to read through each and every book I started. Needless to say, this inevitably proved to be a hopeless effort. I do read entire books when I am teaching a particular subject, writing a review or wanti...

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The Family Tree of Reformed Biblical Theology

All I can say is, "this book looks amazing!" If only it were written by a Presbyterian! ...

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Above All Earthly Powers

The most recent sermon audio and video from New Covenant Presbyterian Church is online. The text from this past Sunday morning was Acts 5:12-42 and the title was "Above All Earthly Powers." And, yes, the title was ripped off from a sermon by Phil Ryken, who borrowed the words from Luther's hymn A Mighty Fortress is our God. You can listen to Phil's sermon here. It was prea...

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Tim Keller on Proverbs, Community and Culture

Here is a really outstanding post by Tim Keller on how to read and benefit from the Proverbs. What Keller says in this article is absolutely necessary for a right understanding of individual Proverbs. I would only add (as I assume Keller would) that the Proverbs need to be read in their redemptive-historical context, namely, how Christ realizes in Himself and exemplifies t...

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Roy Taylor's Presentation of the PCA Strategic Plan

Here is the link to Roy Taylor's presentation of the proposed PCA strategic plan....

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Christ and Culture: Common Grace, Natural Law and Eschatology

Part four of Christ the Center's series on Christ and Culture is now available online. You can listen here. In this episode Dennison, Hart, Kloosterman and Wilson present their various views on common grace, natural law and eschatology....

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The Donkey Driven Church

I've met plenty of dog lovers, cat lovers, horse lovers and even reptile lovers, but I have never met a donkey lover. Donkeys are not highly sought after animals. They rate low on the totem pole of animal desirability. They are the Datsun or the Hyundai of animals. You never hear someone saying, "I really want a donkey for Christmas." And yet, it was a donkey that our Lord...

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The Love is in the Small Things

Last year Jeff Waddington wrote a post in which he had taken a picture of B.B. Warfield's handwritten manuscript of the farewell address that he gave to graduating students from PTS in 1914. Jim O'Brien, in his own peculiarly observant manner, noticed something in the picture that may be more impressive than the handwritten manuscripts. Jim wrote, "What struck me more th...

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The Connected Kingdom Podcast

My professor and friend Dr. David Murray is now co-hosting a podcast with Tim Challies called "The Connected Kingdom." You can currently listen to Episode 1, Episode 2 and Episode 3. It looks like it will be an interesting and informative podcast (though it should never be viewed as a replacement for Christ the Center)! If you are a Facebook junkie, there is a Connected Ki...

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Sinclair Ferguson on the Nature of Grace

Grace is not a "thing," it is a "Person," as Sinclair Ferguson notes: It is legitimate to speak of “receiving grace,†and sometimes (although I am somewhat cautious about the possibility of misusing this language) we speak of the preaching of the Word, prayer, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper as “means of grace.†That is fine, so long as we remembe...

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Uncovering Noah's Ark?

Here is a video in which evangelical archeologists in Turkey are shown discovering what they believe to be Noah's Ark 13,000 feet up Mt. Ararat. For decades pictures have been taken, as peopl...

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T4G Videos

Here....

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Martin Downes on the Heidelcast

Here is the link to Martin Downes recent appearance on the Heidelcast. Martin brings a sober and balanced emphasis on the imperative need for ministers to guard the people of God from destructive false doctrines....

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PCRT Live Feed April 30-May 2, 2010

This weekend, D.A. Carson, Sinclair Ferguson, Michael Horton, Richard Phillips, Philip Ryken and Cornel Venema will be speaking at the PCRT in Philadelphia, PA. This event will be available online via live feed. The webcast will start Friday, April 30, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. and will run through Saturday evening, May 1, 2010. Visit AllianceLive.org to register and watch the...

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Poythress on the Role of the Presence of God in Exegesis

Here is one of the best articles I have come across on the importance of having our grammatical-historical interpretation method guided by the theological significance of the text. Poythress' argument is the foundation for my work on the Song of Songs. Every serious student of Scripture should read this article. In order to better understand the process of departure from t...

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The Devil's in the Resales

The audio and video from the Sunday morning service at New Covenant Presbyterian Church is now online. The text was Acts 5:1-11 and the title was "The Devil's in the Resales." You can listen to the audio here. You can watch the video below: Keep Reading

"Me-Monsters" and Social Media

Thanks to John Starke for posting what is my favorite stand-up comedy act and making it relevant with regard to the way in which people use social media these days. What Starke notes is an ever present danger in a day of instantaneous publishing. You can read the post and watch the video here....

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Alexander Brown Called as Pastor of Golden Isles PCA

The church I grew up in on St. Simons Island, Ga. has recently called my friend Alexander Brown to be their minister. Alex is originally from Dundee Scotland. During his university days he was a member of St. Peter's Free Church where Robert Murray McCheyne once ministered, and where David Robertson is currently pastor. Pray for Alex as he labors to grow and shepherd a chu...

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The Proposed PCA Strategic Plan

If you are a minister or member of the PCA, or a sister NAPRC denomination, you have most likely heard about the proposed strategic plan. The plan was drafted by a members on the Strategic Planning Committee of the PCA, and was presented by Dr. Bryan Chapell. You can watch the the videos of the entire presentation here. Roy Taylor, the stated clerk of the General Assembly ...

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N.T. Wright's Redeemer Prebyterian Church Lecture

Kenneth Kang-Hui, a ruling elder in the PCA in New York City, has given us a very helpful analysis of N.T. Wright's recent lecture at Redeemer Presbyterian Church's Center for Faith and Work. Here is the full review: "N.T. Wright made a splash Tuesday night in New York City as the guest lecturer at an event sponsored by the Center for Faith and Work (CFW), the marketplace ...

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Ligonier National Conference Ticket Giveaway

David Wheaton, over at The Christian Worldview, is giving away 10 tickets to this year's Ligonier National Conference. You can read the details and enter the contest here....

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Burk Parsons on the Wisdom of Listening

This is a very thoughtful and needful post by Burk Parsons on the need we have to ask for and listen to wise counsel. It is essentially a practical application of what the Proverbs have to say on this matter specifically tailored for ministers....

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...So Could I!

If Abraham could hand his wife over to other men--two times!; if Isaac could show partiality to Esau; if Jacob could deceive his brother and steal the birthright; if Gideon, Barak, and Jephthah could doubt the promises of God; If Samson could give his strength to pagan women--twice!; if David could commit adultery and premeditated murder, and in pride count the number of I...

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Meditations on Isaiah 53 (Part 3)

In the previous meditation we considered the lack of outward beauty found in the Lord Jesus Christ. He had nothing externally attractive--either in His Person or social status--that we should desire Him. Now the prophet shifts gears to explain what is the most attractive thing about Him: "But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the cha...

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2010 Greenville PCRT - Joel Beeke on "The Age of the Spirit"

How many confusing ideas surround the theme of the age of the Spirit. Even among the best theologians there is a sort of vague understanding of the age of the Spirit. How did the Spirit work in the Old Testament era? When does the age of the Spirit actually begin? How do we define revival? How do we understand Pentecost? Should we expect it to happen again? What are the ma...

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2010 Greenville PCRT - Michael Horton "This Present Evil Age"

The first talk on Saturday morning at the Greenville PCRT Conference was given by Dr. Michael Horton. In keeping with the theme of eschatology the title of the talk was "This Present Evil Age." If an individual's view of the end times is not focused on Jesus Christ, His Person and work, we ought to become suspicious of that approach. One of the questions that arises today ...

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2010 T4G Audio

Here is the audio from the 2010 Together for the Gospel Conference....

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Christ and Capitol Hill

Christ the Center has posted the second part of the four views on Christ and Culture series. This week Dennison, Hart, Kloosterman and Wilson present and debate their respective views on "Christ and Politics." You can listen here. Below is the discription of this series from the Reformed Forum: This is part two of our series entitled Christ and Culture.  Four men par...

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Meditations on Isaiah 53 (Part 2)

There is a tendency in our day--even in the most biblical churches--to focus on the external attractions of the church. We hire graphic designers, interior decorators and web consultants to improve the physical and technological dimensions of our churches. On one hand there is nothing wrong with maximizing our resources. But we must not forget the nature of the message of ...

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PCRT Greenville Pre-Conference #2 - Cornel Venema on "The Olivet Discourse"

The second pre-Conference talk at the Greenville PCRT Conference was given by Dr. Cornel Venema. The text was Matthew 24 and the title was "The Olivet Discourse." Dr. Venema opened by suggesting that we must exercise a measure of modesty and reserve when we approach the subject of eschatology. Geerhardus Vos once make the point that exegesis of many of the disputed texts c...

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PRCT Greenville Pre-Conference #1 - Rick Phillips on "What Cannot Be Shaken"

The 2010 Greenville PCRT Conference opened with a talk by Rev. Richard D. Phillip on Hebrews 12:25-29, titled "What Cannot Be Shaken." See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promis...

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Martin Downes "Heresy Never Dies" Twin Lakes Fellowship 2010

Last week Martin Downes delivered a great message at the Twin Lakes Fellowship on the nature of heresy, specifically with regard to the link between Socinianism and Open Theism. You can access the audio here. You can watch the video below: Keep Reading

Lex et Euangelium

Steven Carr has graciously asked me to contribute, from time to time, on a new blog--Lex et Euangelium. Check it out and let me know what you think. It looks like it will be a theologically rich blog....

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Meditations on Isaiah 53 (Part 1)

Isaiah 53, the fourth Servant song in Isaiah's prophecy, is arguably the most powerful Old Testament prophecy. Written nearly 800 years prior to the birth of Christ, it is undoubtedly the clearest representation of His substitutionary sufferings and subsequent glories. In the weeks ahead, consideration will be given to some of the spiritual riches of this magnificent chapt...

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Your Name in a Book

Do you long to see your name mentioned in a book, or on the cover? This is something that many pastors have hidden deep within in their hearts. It is a subtle desire that creeps in ever so slowly in circles where authors and Conference speakers are seen as "those who have made it," or have finally achieved some sort of success in Christian ministry. There is a desire for f...

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Steps to Legalism

Mark Driscoll has a nice step by step approach to determining whether you are living in legalism or not: 1. Make rules outside the Bible 2. Push yourself to try and keep your rules 3. Castigate yourself when you don't keep your rules 4. Become proud when you don't keep your rules 5. Appoint yourself as judge over other people 6. Get angry with people who break your rules o...

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PRTS "The Beauty and Glory of Christ" Conference

Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary will be having their annual Fall Conference on August 26-28, 2010. The theme of the Conference is "The Beauty and Glory of Christ." You can see who is speaking there and find out more details here....

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Edward Donnelly Sermons on Preaching the Word

Edward Donnelly recently delivered two messages in a series called 'Preach the Word' (Part 1 and Part 2) at Second Presbyterian Church's Pastors and Seminary Students Conference. These messages are a good reminder of the centrality of preaching the word of God in a day when many have itching ears, and do not want to hear that word. Rev. Donnelly also preached a sermon the...

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