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Theology Of Glory Vs.Theology Of The Cross

Tullian Tchividjian:

It is not exactly breaking news to say that our culture has an aversion to suffering, regardless of how inescapable it may be. This is because we—you and me—have an aversion to suffering. Who wants to suffer? But the conscious avoidance of pain is one thing; the complete intolerance, or outright denial of it, is another.

The Torching of Earthen Vessels: A Reply to Frank Turk

Matt Anderson:

It’s oddly fitting that while we were examining whether and how patriotism is compatible with Christianity on the Fourth of July, Frank Turk of the Pyromaniacs was torching my book.

“Torching,” for those who are keeping score at home, is a figure of speech. At least I am pretty sure it is. Judging by the review itself, I wouldn’t be half surprised to learn he actually pulled out the gas and matches. In short, he really did not like it.

Making Sense of Scripture’s ‘Inconsistency’

Tim Keller:

I find it frustrating when I read or hear columnists, pundits, or journalists dismiss Christians as inconsistent because “they pick and choose which of the rules in the Bible to obey.” Most often I hear, “Christians ignore lots of Old Testament texts—about not eating raw meat or pork or shellfish, not executing people for breaking the Sabbath, not wearing garments woven with two kinds of material and so on. Then they condemn homosexuality. Aren’t you just picking and choosing what you want to believe from the Bible?”

Asking the Wrong Question in Salvation

Dan Darling:

“So you mean I can do whatever I want and still be a Christian?” I’ve been asked that question numerous times when sharing the gospel. It’s a hard question to answer and mostly, up until recently, I would answer with a “Yes, but.” sort of vague statement. Yes, technically, grace covers all of your sins, post salvation. But you shouldn’t think this way because you should live for Jesus out of appreciation for what He did for you.

But I’m finding that’s a terrible response to an even more terrible question.

Book Review: Called to the Ministry by Edmund Clowney

called-to-the-ministry-clowney

I’ve heard there’s an unwritten rule that at one time or another, nearly every Christian man asks the question, “Am I called to the ministry?” Some guys see what their pastors do on Sundays and think it looks easy (pastors reading this, you can laugh now), but others just feel this compulsion to preach the Word of God and see people grow in their faith.

But whether we’re asking legitimately or not, we should seek out the answer—what does it mean to be called to the ministry, and how do I know if I am? One of the best resources I’ve found for this question is Edmund Clowney’s Called to the Ministry. In 90 pages, Clowney examines the call—but not simply the call to ministry, but the call from which it precedes.

Your Call is a Call to Christ

Clowney argues that before we start asking questions about a call to ministry, we must first understand our fundamental calling as Christians. Whether or not there’s a desire for a particular expression of Christian ministry, we have to recognize that it’s not separate from our identity in Christ.

“There is no call to the ministry that is not first a call to Christ,” he writes. “You dare not lift your hands to place God’s name in blessing on his people until you have first clasped them in penitent petition for his saving grace. Until you have done that the issue you face is not really your call to the ministry. It is your call to Christ” (p. 5).

While it might seem obvious that someone desiring to be a pastor ought to be a Christian, it’s certainly not always the case. One only has to look at the example of Simon the Magician in Acts 8:9-25, who is said to have believed and been baptized, but when he sees the Holy Spirit given by the laying on of hands, he offered money for the ability to do the same.

Additionally, Clowney reminds us our personal calling as Christians is one of service in the likeness of Christ. This does not mean, obviously, that we suffer to bear the sins of others—something that is impossible for anyone but Christ—but “we must suffer for the sake of others, for all those who will form the church of Christ, his body” (p. 17). It means using the gifts and opportunities that God has given you in his service, even when it costs you. [Read more…]

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Reformed and Baptist: the third wave

Jeremy Walker:

In the discussion of what it means to be Reformed, and in the consideration of what it means to be a Reformed Baptist (or whatever else you wish to call us), I generally find that there is a gap on the spectrum that is overlooked or quickly dismissed, the gap that tends to be brushed over with the suggestion that there are Reformed Baptists who are not quite (or at all) Pipettes or a certain brand of Southern Baptists or Acts 29 types or SGM guys, but who actually – to use Carl’s words – “hold to more traditional forms of worship and polity.”

The Fearful Pastor

Paul Tripp:

Perhaps this is an infrequently shared secret of pastoral ministry; that is, how much of it is driven not by faith in the truths of the Gospel and in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, but driven by fear. It is very tempting for the pastor to load the welfare of the church on his shoulders and when he does, he ends up being burdened and motivated by an endless and every-changing catalog of “what ifs.” This never leads to a restful and joyful life of ministry, but rather to a ministry debilitated by unrealistic and unmet goals, a personal sense of failure and dread.

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Twelve Challenges Churches Face by Mark Dever – $3.99

Identity by Eric Geiger – $2.99

The Ever-Loving Truth: Can Faith Thrive in a Post-Christian Culture? by Voddie Baucham Jr. – $2.99

Preaching for God’s Glory by Alistair Begg – 99¢

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever – $3.99

iFaith: Connecting With God in the 21st Century by Daniel Darling – $2.99

Preach The Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes by Leland Ryken & various – $3.99

The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Tim Keller – 97¢

Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree – $2.97

Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care by Tony Merida – $2.99

Compelled: Living the Mission of God by Ed Stetzer and Philip Nation – $2.99

Vintage Church: Timeless Truths and Timely Methods by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears – $3.99

4 Sources of Christian Encouragement

Tim Challies:

When you come across the word encourage in Scripture, the sense is make strong, usually in regards to strengthening a person’s resolve so that he will press on in following the Lord. When you understand that meaning, you see that every Christian needs continual encouragement as he lives this Christian life. It is helpful to look at the things the Bible points to as sources of encouragement. Here are four that are drawn from the New Testament.

Questions to Ask When Studying The Bible

One of the things I love about the Puritans is their commitment to the study of Scripture. When you read the works of the Puritans (and those heavily influenced by them), like Richard Baxter, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards and so many others, it’s clear that they thought deeply about the Scriptures and their application in a way that many of us—even the most committed—struggle to in the same fashion. According to Allan Harman in Matthew Henry – His Life and Influence, their approach basically took into consideration the following questions (I’ve included my own commentary with each):

What do these words actually mean?

This might seem incredibly obvious, but it’s worth noting that in periods prior to the Reformation, many Christian teachers interpreted Scripture allegorically (which is fine to do when the Scriptures themselves give you the freedom to do so). But one problem with this approach is that it can quickly lead to the obscuring of the author’s intended message. Whatever conclusions we come to about a text, we have to start with what the author originally intended his audience to hear.

What light do other Scriptures throw on this text?

No passage of Scripture should be interpreted in a vacuum. Doing so rarely leads to a right conclusion about the author’s intent in writing it and the passage’s application for us today. When we come across texts that seem to conflict with one another (say, for example, John 1:1 and Deut. 6:4), we need to remember that if the Bible is truly inspired by God, if God is its ultimate source, then, generally speaking, there is no apparent conflict that can’t be explained without jumping through too many hoops (even if it’s simply acknowledging the truth of Deut 29:29).

Where and how does it fit into the total biblical revelation?

Just as a passage of Scripture should be interpreted in light of the author’s original intent and other relevant passages of Scripture, we also have to be careful to make sure we’re clear on how it fits into the “big story” of the Bible.

What truths does it teach about God, and about man in relation to God?

This is a wonderful diagnostic question for us because, just like the ones prior, it leads us closer to the point of all Scripture. This is where so much of our interpretation falls short today, where we put ourselves as the primary object of every text, where the Bible always and consistently puts God as primary and truths we learn about ourselves in the process are always in light of our understanding of God. If our understanding of a text isn’t first and foremost leading us to a greater understanding of the God who inspired it to be written, then we’re probably off in our interpretation.  [Read more…]

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What Would I Do If My Daughter Told Me She Was Gay?

Stephen Altrogge:

My oldest daughter, Charis, is four, so hopefully we’re a little while away from having any sort of sex talk. But at some point in the future I’m sure I’ll be talking to Charis, along with the rest of my kids, about sexuality, and there’s the possibility that one of my kids will experience homosexual attraction.

What would I do if Charis told me that she was experiencing homosexual attractions?

The End of eBooks

Porter Anderson:

Why is there a widely perceived assumption that more important work goes into books? Why are only “ego noise” and other less worthy writings considered right for the Net?

Embracing a Pastoral Approach

Kevin DeYoung:

I’m a pastor. Have been for ten years. Best job I can imagine. I get to serve the God I love and work with the things our God loves most deeply: his word and his church. As the Senior Pastor of University Reformed Church I am 100% in favor of being “pastoral.”

So long as the word means what the Bible means for it to mean.

What is Evangelistic Preaching?

David Murray:

There has been a welcome resurgence of expository preaching in the Reformed church over the last 20-30 years, and especially of “consecutive expository preaching” – preaching through books of the Bible, verse-by-verse and chapter-by-chapter. But together with that resurgence of consecutive expository preaching, there has also come a decline in what I would call “converting evangelistic preaching.”

Complementarianism for Dummies

Mary Kassian:

I’ve read several posts on the internet lately from people who misunderstand and/or misrepresent the complementarian view.  I was at the meeting, 25 years ago, where the word “complementarian” was chosen.  So I think I have a good grasp on the word’s definition.

Not Above or Below, But From the Side

holding-hands-small

Adam lost a rib, but he got a better thing out of it, even a help meet for him. Thus God uses [is accustomed] to deal with his children: they lose sometimes some of their creature-comforts; but then perhaps they get more of the Creator’s comforts, and that’s a blessed exchange. This bone was taken out of Adam’s side, fitly noting the woman’s place; not out of his head, to be above him; not out of his feet, to be trampled on by him; nor from before him, as his better; nor from behind him, as his servant;—but out of his side, to be equal with him; near his heart, for he owes her love; under his arm, for he owes her protection. Surely they forget from whence the woman was taken, that carry themselves haughtily and abusively towards their wives.

Philip Henry, as published in Matthew Henry – His Life and Influence by Allan Harman (Kindle Edition)

The Beginning of Backsliding

praying

It is a miserable thing to be a backslider. Of all unhappy things that can befall a person, I suppose that it is the worst. A stranded ship, a broken-winged eagle, a garden overrun with weeds, a harp without strings, a church in ruins, all these are sad sights — but a backslider is a sadder sight still. A wounded conscience — a mind sick of itself — a memory full of self-reproach — a heart pierced through with the Lord’s arrows — a spirit broken with the inward accusation — all this is ataste of Hell. It is Hell on earth.

Truly that saying of the wise man is solemn and weighty, “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.” Proverbs 14:14. Now what is the cause of most backslidings? I believe, as a general rule, one of the chief causes is neglected private prayer. Of course the secret history of falls will not be know until the last day. I can only give my opinion as a minister of Christ, and a student of the heart. That opinion is, I repeat distinctly — that backsliding generally first begins with neglect of private prayer.

Adapted from J.C. Ryle, A Call to Prayer

What is Apostasy?

I don’t remember the first time I heard someone use the term apostasy (in fact, probably the first time I remember reading it was during my first trek through the Bible when I hit Jeremiah 2:19 and Hosea 14:4). But from the moment I first heard the term, I was curious about what it really meant and what could drive a professing believer to commit this act.

In his recently release book, The Work of Christ: What the Events of Jesus’ Life Mean for YouR.C. Sproul offers a very careful explanation of apostasy. He writes:

Apostasy is not the same as paganism. Pagans are people who have never professed faith in Christ. Apostates are people who have made a profession of faith in Christ, but who have fallen away from the truth of the gospel. Churches can become apostate, going from a confession of faith that is godly, biblical, and true to an embrace of pagan concepts and behavioral patterns. When a church repudiates its confession in this way, it is not a valid church anymore. It is apostate. Likewise, people in the visible church who have made a public profession of faith, only to deny it later, are apostate. (Kindle location 2708)

At its most basic level, apostasy is the denial of the one to whom we owe allegiance. When we deny or neglect the work of Christ on our behalf, and instead pursue and embrace concepts, beliefs and behavior that are utterly contrary to the gospel, we are guilty of apostasy. This is no small thing. Indeed, it should cause us to consider what it is we really believe.

If we profess to trust in the finished work of Christ, and yet we continually and unrelentingly pursue self-justification and self-glorification, what is that if not apostasy? If we profess to believe that Christ’s righteousness is sufficient to cover all our sin and yet live in a state of fear that God’s out to “get us” if we’re not good enough, no matter how many times God Himself encourages us to believe contrary in His word (cf. Rom. 8:1), what is that if not apostasy?

And yet, there is hope for those tempted by the shiny exterior of apostasy and the practical denial of the gospel. And it’s found in a simple line in Jude’s epistle:

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy… (Jude 24)

This is what I love about the gospel and Jude’s application of it in this verse. When we realize the implications of such things as apostasy, and worse when we see others falling under its power, we are right to tremble. Yet we know that for those who are truly His, there is will be no final apostasy, no matter how enticing the folly may be for a season. Jesus is able to keep us from stumbling—and more than that, He will do it, just as He will “present [us] blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.”

That is good news, isn’t it?

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Start Doing Stuff

Barnabas Piper:

What makes creativity creative is uniqueness and personality. Are you expressing those ideas and expressions that are yours with a voice that is yours? . . . Here’s my answer: Just do stuff.

$5 Friday at Ligonier

This week’s selections includes Dr. Sproul’s Themes from Hebrews, and Moses and the Burning Bush teaching series (download), and Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God (hardcover), among many other items. Sale ends at midnight (Eastern Time).

No “Next big thing”?—Bad conclusion!

Dr. Peter Jones:

The brilliant religion commentator for the New York Times, Ross Douthat, in Bad Religion(2012) concludes that while postmodernism has produced an exhausting “relativism and rootlessness that has weakened the church,” a revival of Christianity can be envisaged. Reviewer Tim Keller states that Douthat sees no “next big thing” on the horizon to oppose Christianity. I must differ from Douthat and with all who fail to see the power of the contemporary revival of apostate “Christian” liberalism, revitalized by a natural alliance with the progressive spiritual neo-paganism now dominating our culture.

Has God Called You? The Calling of the Christian Minister

Albert Mohler:

Has God called you to ministry? Though all Christians are called to serve the cause of Christ, God calls certain persons to serve the Church as pastors and other ministers. Writing to young Timothy, the Apostle Paul confirmed that if a man aspires to be a pastor, “it is a fine work he aspires to do.” [I Timothy 3:1, NASB] Likewise, it is a high honor to be called of God into the ministry of the Church. How do you know if God is calling you?

Book Review: Matthew Henry – His Life and Influence by Allan Harman

matthew-henry-harman

The first commentary I ever purchased was Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. I had no idea who Matthew Henry was (in all honesty, I wasn’t sure if it was a good commentary or not—all I knew was it was cheap), but after I brought it home, I was so thankful I did. It was one of the most helpful commentaries I’ve used and continues to be a go-to resource to this day.

But one thing that using Henry’s commentary has made me realize is that I want to know more about him. So when I learned of Allan Harman’s new book, Matthew Henry – His Life and InfluenceI was really excited to read it. When I was finished, though, I was left somewhat wanting. Let me explain.

Harman sets himself up with a tremendous task in this book—to not only offer insights into Henry’s life, but to explain some of the reasons for his enduring influence. And by and large he succeeds in his task, as he provides readers a helpful sketch of Henry’s early years through his death in 1714 (actually going beyond them into an overview of the Puritan period in which he was born).

I was surprised to learn, for example, that he really ought to have died well before he actually did. Henry was sickly from his youth and that continued through his adulthood when he developed diabetes and finally died of a stroke. Although this may be a tad morbid, seeing this side of his life served as a reminder of God’s sovereignty over our days and that until the task to which He has set us is complete, we will remain on this earth. [Read more…]

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Two-ism and the Doctrine of the Incarnation

Watch Dennis Johnson’s lecture from the 2012 Truth Xchange Think Tank:

[tentblogger-vimeo 44969003]

New Title for Logos: Millard J. Erickson Collection (7 Vols.)

Logos is introducing a new seven-volume collection of some of the best of Millard Erickson’s work.

…this collection examines such oft-debated subjects as eschatology, conservative evangelicalism, the doctrine of God, the Trinity, postmodernism, and Christology. For each topic, each volume includes an overview, a history, a critique, and an evaluation—presenting both positive and negative views from various contemporary scholars.

Included in this series are:

  • A Basic Guide to Eschatology: Making Sense of the Millennium
  • The Evangelical Left: Encountering Postconservative Evangelical Theology
  • God the Father Almighty: A Contemporary Exploration of the Divine Attributes
  • God in Three Persons: A Contemporary Interpretation of the Trinity
  • Making Sense of the Trinity: Three Crucial Questions
  • Postmodernizing the Faith
  • The Word Became Flesh: A Contemporary Incarnational Christology

You can pre-order the collection for $99.95.

Preaching with people you have differences with

Steven Kryger:

After a couple of days at the Hillsong conference, I asked the question on Twitter:

Would you share the platform at a conference with someone you didn’t theologically agree with?

…Obviously, we want to agree on the foundational truths of the Christian faith, but what if we feel there is an unhelpful distortion, emphasis, or lack of emphasis?

The Idea of America

Kevin DeYoung:

It has often been said that America was founded upon an idea. The country was not formed mainly for power or privilege but in adherence to a set of principles. Granted, these ideals have been, at various times in our history, less than ideally maintained. But the ideals remain. The idea persists.

What Does it Mean to Be Meek?

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“Blessed are the meek,” Jesus tells us in the Beatitudes. But what does that mean? Depending on who you talk to, the answer varies—and many of them are devastating to the Christian life. But of all the helpful explanations I’ve read, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ in Studies in the Sermon on the Mount is among the most helpful. There, Lloyd-Jones writes:

Meekness does not mean indolence. There are people who appear to be meek in a natural sense; but they are not meek at all, they are indolent. That is not the quality of which the Bible is speaking. Nor does it mean flabbiness-I use the term advisedly. There are people who are easy-going, and you tend to say how meek they are. But it is not meekness; it is flabbiness. Nor does it mean niceness. There are people who seem to be born naturally nice. That is not what the Lord means when He says, `Blessed are the meek.’ That is something purely biological, the kind of thing you get in animals. One dog is nicer than another, one cat is nicer than another. That is not meekness. So it does not mean to be naturally nice or easy to get on with. Nor does it mean weakness in personality or character. Still less does it mean a spirit of compromise or `peace at any price’. How often are these things mistaken. How often is the man regarded as meek who says, `Anything rather than have a disagreement. Let’s agree, let’s try to break down these distinctions and divisions; let’s smooth over these little things that divide; let’s all be nice and joyful and happy.’

No, no, it is not that. Meekness is compatible with great strength. Meekness is compatible with great authority and power. These people we have looked at have been great defenders of the truth. The meek man is one who may so believe in standing for the truth that he will die for it if necessary. The martyrs were meek, but they were never weak; strong men, yet meek men. . . . [Meekness] is true Christianity; it is the thing for which we are called and for which we are meant. . . . [It] is essentially a true view of oneself, expressing itself in attitude and conduct with respect to others. It is therefore two things. It is my attitude towards myself, and it is an expression of that in my relationship to others. . . .

The meek man is not proud of himself, he does not in any sense glory in himself. He feels that there is nothing in himself of which he can boast. It also means that he does not assert himself. You see, it is a negation of the popular psychology of the day which says ‘assert yourself’, ‘express your personality’. The man who is meek does not want to do so; he is so ashamed of it. The meek man likewise does not demand anything for himself. He does not take all his rights as claims. He does not make demands for his position, his privileges, his possessions, his status in life. No, he is like the man depicted by Paul in Philippians ii. ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.’ Christ did not assert that right to equality with God; He deliberately did not. And that is the point to which you and I have come.

Meekness isn’t niceness, laziness, of having a spirit of “peace at any price.” It is the mindset of thinking of others more significant than yourself. Meekness, simply, is true humility.

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5 Questions To Ask of a Book

Tim Challies:

A reader of this site recently asked me to explain how I determine whether a book is good and worthy of recommendation or whether it is not. That is a fair question and I was surprised to find that I had not addressed it in the past. I will take on that challenge today. It will be helpful to assume that the book in question is meant to address the Christian life, falling under the broad categories of Christian Living or Spiritual Growth or something similar (I would have very different questions to ask of a general market book or of a Christian biography). Here are five questions, plus a bonus, that I ask myself as I read.

Anything can be justified, if we are the justifiers

Udo Middelmann, via Ray Ortlund:

The Enlightenment brought to the discussion of life the proposition that the human being has matured to the point that he must become independent of any outside information about life. . . . Independence from church and state eventually led to independence from God and creation as well….

Escaping to Confront Reality

John Johnson:

…knowing that it is important to occasionally decompress and unwind, I have found Hawaii (second time here) to be the ideal place. There is something about palm trees and aqua blue water, swimming with sea turtles in Waimea Bay and drinking guava nectar that rejuvenates me. Along with light reading. Last time I came, I worked through Eric Mataxes’ amazing biography of Bonhoeffer. This time I decided to do something lighter, so I made the mistake of throwing in Brueggemann’s Like Fire in the Bones–Listening for the Prophetic Word in Jeremiah.

Chesterton on Patriotism, with an Application to U.S. Elections

Thabiti Anyabwile:

I’m really writing because Chesterton has me thinking about the nature of true optimism, pessimism, and patriotism.  That seems appropriate given that yesterday was Constitution Day in the Cayman Islands and we’re coming up on Independence Day tomorrow.  And all of that during a presidential election, which only adds to the delicious irony of learning about American independence and patriotism from a Brit!

Book Review: Real by Daniel Darling

real

“JESUS! GOD! DA BIBLE!”

Whenever we start question time during family devotions, our middle daughter, Hannah, immediately starts shouting these answers while wearing the biggest smile you’ve ever seen. She’s just thrilled to offer up what must be the right answer (she’s paid enough attention to know that if she answers with “Jesus” she’s going to be right at least 30-50 percent of the time).

While it’s super-cute and warms my heart, it also makes me a little nervous.

Emily and I are first generation Christians. We came to faith as adults and, as parents, we are raising our kids in a home where Jesus is worshipped and the Bible is read and taught. While we understand that we can’t parent our kids into being Christians, we desperately want to see them “own” their faith (should they ever profess faith).

Daniel Darling’s been there—not as a first generation Christian, but as the child of. As such, he understands an important truth: that faith isn’t automatic—if the second generation is going to continue a legacy of faith, they can’t be satisfied with second-hand experiences. And that’s what I so appreciate about his new book, Real: Owning Your Christian Faith. In this book, Darling addresses the unique challenges the second generation faces and offers great encouragement and occasionally some necessary correction to those seeking to raise their kids in the faith.

Second Generation Christians Are Sinners Still

Reading the book, right away a couple of common themes popped out. First, it seems that there’s an assumption that second generation kids don’t struggle with sin—as though, because their parents were saved and are super passionate about their faith, they’re somehow immune to original sin. But, Darling writes, “Good Christian kids who grow up with good Christian parents in good gospel-preaching churches still struggle with sin.” There’s no “get-out-of-being-a-sinner” card for these kids. While this should not be a shocking revelation, it seems that many kids raised in the faith are burdened with this idea that they shouldn’t have any struggles with sin. Darling writes: [Read more…]