Bible Reading That Satan Leaves Alone

This post is adapted from Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture by John Piper. The Blinding Enemy Outside Satan is real. His main identity is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). His way of lying is more by deception than bold-face falsehoods. He “is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). Therefore, he hates “the Spirit of truth” (John 15:26). He hates God the Father from whom the Spirit proceeds (John 15:26). He hates the Son of God, who is truth (John 14:6). And he hates the word of God because God’s “word is truth” (John 17:17). Therefore, he will do his best to take away the word, if he can, and twist it, if he can’t—the way he did in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1) and in the temptations of Jesus (Matt. 4:6). Jesus described how Satan takes away the word: “When anyone

read more Bible Reading That Satan Leaves Alone

Do Paul and James Disagree on Justification by Faith Alone?

Tom Schreiner: Critics of the slogan “faith alone” often point out that Scripture only speaks once about whether we are justified by faith alone—and that text denies it: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24, CSB). What does James mean in saying we are justified by works? I won’t defend the truth of justification by faith alone in detail, but it’s clearly taught, for example, in Romans 3:28: “A person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” Or, as Paul teaches inRomans 4:5, “God justifies the ungodly.” Both Abraham and David were justified by faith and not by works (Rom. 4:1–8; Gal. 3:6–9). Salvation, as Paul elsewhere demonstrates, is “by grace” and “through faith” (Eph. 2:8–9). Works are excluded as the basis of salvation—otherwise people could boast about what they have done. Salvation by grace through faith highlights the amazing and comforting truth that salvation is the Lord’s work, not ours. But does

read more Do Paul and James Disagree on Justification by Faith Alone?

The Expulsive Power of a New Affection

Thomas Chalmers: “The love of the world cannot be expunged by a mere demonstration of the world’s worthlessness. But may it not be supplanted by the love of that which is more worthy than itself? The heart cannot be prevailed upon to part with the world, by a simple act of resignation. But may not the heart be prevailed upon to admit into its preference another, who shall subordinate the world, and bring it down from its wonted ascendancy? “If the throne which is placed there must have an occupier, and the tyrant that now reigns has occupied it wrongfully, he may not leave a bosom which would rather detain him than be left in desolation. But may he not give way to the lawful sovereign, appearing with every charm that can secure His willing admittance, and taking unto himself His great power to subdue the moral nature of man, and to reign over it? “In a word, if the

read more The Expulsive Power of a New Affection

Stop Doubting God

Silverio Gonzalez: Behind the smiling faces at church, the bombastic claims shouted from pulpits, and the religious zeal for a political ideology masked as “the Christian worldview,” lurks doubt. Doubt plagues even people who seem most confident. Doubt captures minds that dare to think. Doubt destroys hearts that fear reason. Everyone doubts, but the worse doubt—the doubt that really messes with your head, the doubt that really hurts, the doubt that makes you feel like a complete fraud—questions God’s goodness. This is the original form of doubt, the kind that first captured Adam’s and Eve’s hearts in Genesis 3:4–5. Doubt Entered Adam and Eve were the first people. God created them good. He set them in a beautiful garden of royal proportions, and gave them simple commands: “Tend to this garden. Keep watch over it. Guard it. Enjoy its fruit. Just don’t eat of the fruit in the center of the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and

read more Stop Doubting God

Of First Importance: The Priority of the Cross and the Empty Tomb

Al Mohler: The Christian faith is not a mere collection of doctrines — a bag of truths. Christianity is a comprehensive truth claim that encompasses every aspect of revealed doctrine, but is centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, as the apostolic preaching makes clear, the gospel is the priority. The Apostle Paul affirms this priority when he writes to the Christians in Corinth. In the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul sets out his case: Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the

read more Of First Importance: The Priority of the Cross and the Empty Tomb

What is expository preaching?

Erik Raymond: I can think of five different but equally interesting conversations over the last couple of years where I’ve discussed expository preaching. They were interesting because those I talked with had such different understanding of what exposition is. This is one of the byproducts stemming from the rise in the popularity of exposition; people hear a lot about it but don’t necessarily know a lot about it. For example, people characterize expository preaching as a running commentary. Others label it out-of-touch doctrinal preaching fit for the ivory tower. Still others think of it as a launching point for systematic theology (whether or not it’s in the text). So, what exactly is expository preaching? I have culled a sampling of definitions from some prominent authors who define exposition in their books on preaching. Although the list has a variety of definitions, I trust you will see many common themes emphasized here. John MacArthur: The message finds its sole source in Scripture.

read more What is expository preaching?

5 Reasons You Should Delight in Theology

Brandon D. Smith: Robert Jenson once observed that theology is “a sort of grammar. The church, we must say, is the community that speaks Christianese, and theology formulates the syntax and semantics of this language.” The word theology, made up of the words theos (God) and logos (word), literally means “words about God” or “God talk.” Talking about God is doing theology, and theology is a multi-faceted discipline that describes who God is and what he does. When we say “God is love” or “Jesus is Lord” or “We need a Savior,” we’re doing theology, because we’re talking about God. We’re describing him in some way, whether it’s a direct attribute (God is good) or something he says about us (we’re not good). Theology is the language of Christianity. We of all people should be consistent, contagious God-talkers. Yet many act as though theology is alien to the nature and works of God. Loving God isn’t about a set of doctrines, they say—it’s about a relationship. For them, theology is just an academic sport

read more 5 Reasons You Should Delight in Theology

10 Things You Should Know about the Resurrection

By Adrian Warnock, author of Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything. 1. The resurrection is the core of the Christian message and should never be neglected or assumed. Sometimes today, when we hear the gospel preached, the focus is on the cross. The resurrection is often ignored, assumed, or mentioned only in passing. In contrast, the preaching recorded in the book of Acts emphasized the resurrection of Jesus, and barely mentioned his death. The apostles were preoccupied with the resurrection and emphasized it much more than the cross. Sadly, the church only seems to get excited about the resurrection once a year at Easter time. In reality, every Sunday should be Resurrection Sunday. The reason why the early church began to meet on the first day of the week was to celebrate Jesus’s defeat of death. Imagine what church would be like if we consciously gathered every week to celebrate the resurrection? 2. Belief in Jesus’s physical resurrection

read more 10 Things You Should Know about the Resurrection

What Do Expiation and Propitiation Mean?

R.C. Sproul: When we talk about the vicarious aspect of the atonement, two rather technical words come up again and again: expiation and propitiation. These words spark all kinds of arguments about which one should be used to translate a particular Greek word, and some versions of the Bible will use one of these words and some will use the other one. I’m often asked to explain the difference between propitiation and expiation. The difficulty is that even though these words are in the Bible, we don’t use them as part of our day-to-day vocabulary, so we aren’t sure exactly what they are communicating in Scripture. We lack reference points in relation to these words. Expiation and Propitiation Let’s think about what these words mean, then, beginning with the word expiation. The prefix ex means “out of” or “from,” so expiation has to do with removing something or taking something away. In biblical terms, it has to do with taking away guilt

read more What Do Expiation and Propitiation Mean?

The Crucifixion and Old Testament Prophecy

R.C. Sproul: If we look at the intricacy of the drama of the events of Jesus’ crucifixion, we see that some amazing things took place so that Old Testament prophetic utterances were fulfilled to the minutest detail. In the first instance, the Old Testament said that the Messiah would be delivered to the Gentiles (“dogs” or “congregation of the wicked”) for judgment (Ps. 22:16). It just so happened in the course of history that Jesus was put on trial during a time of Roman occupation of Palestine. The Romans allowed a certain amount of home rule by their conquered vassals, but they did not permit the death penalty to be imposed by the local rulers, so the Jews did not have the authority to put Christ to death. The only thing they could do was to meet in council and take Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, asking him to carry out the execution. So Jesus was delivered from

read more The Crucifixion and Old Testament Prophecy

What’s so ‘good’ about Good Friday?

Bruce Ashford: On a dark Friday two thousand years ago, Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. Powerful members of the religious, political, and military communities colluded to strip him naked, mock him publicly, and crucify him. Yet two millennia later, Christians—who believe that Jesus is the Son of God—celebrate that dark day by calling it Good Friday. Why on earth would Christians refer to this day as “good” Friday? It’s called Good Friday because even while powerful men were conspiring to kill the Son of God, God himself was acting to save the world from itself, once and for all. Even while the world’s authorities were conspiring to perpetrate history’s greatest evil, God was working to bring about history’s greatest good. It didn’t have to be this way. After all, God created the world as his good kingdom in which humans could flourish, and in which they would never have to experience evil. Yet, the very first couple, Adam and Eve,

read more What’s so ‘good’ about Good Friday?

Confusing the Gospel with the Fruit of the Gospel

Graeme Goldsworthy: It cannot be stressed too much that to confuse the gospel with certain important things that go hand in hand with it is to invite theological, hermeneutical and spiritual confusion.  Such ingredients of preaching and teaching that we might want to link with the gospel would include the need for the gospel (sin and judgment), the means of receiving the benefits of the gospel (faith and repentance), the results or fruit of the gospel (regeneration, conversion, sanctification, glorification) and the results of rejecting it (wrath, judgment, hell).  These, however we define and proclaim them, are not in themselves the gospel. if something is not what God did in and through the historical Jesus two thousand years ago, it is not the gospel. Thus Christians cannot ‘live the gospel’, as they are often exhorted to do.  They can only believe it, proclaim it and seek to live consistently with it.  Only Jesus lived (and died) the gospel.  It is

read more Confusing the Gospel with the Fruit of the Gospel

The Affection of Christ Alone

Tim Keller: Luther says that if we obey God’s law without a belief that we are already accepted and loved in Christ, then in all our good deeds we are really looking to something more than Jesus to be the real source of our meaning and happiness. We may be trusting in our good parenting or moral uprightness or spiritual performance or acts of service to be our real and functional “saviors.” If we aren’t already sure God loves us in Christ, we will be looking to something else for our foundational significance and self-worth. This is why Luther says we are committing idolatry if we don’t trust in Christ alone for our approval. The first commandment is foundational to all the other commandments. We will not break commandments two through ten unless we are in some way breaking the first one by serving something or someone other than God. Every sin is rooted in the inordinate lust for something

read more The Affection of Christ Alone

How to mortify sin

Sinclair Ferguson: The aftermath of a conversation can change the way we later think of its significance. My friend — a younger minister — sat down with me at the end of a conference in his church and said: “Before we retire tonight, just take me through the steps that are involved in helping someone mortify sin.” We sat talking about this for a little longer and then went to bed, hopefully he was feeling as blessed as I did by our conversation. I still wonder whether he was asking his question as a pastor or simply for himself — or both. How would you best answer his question? The first thing to do is: Turn to the Scriptures. Yes, turn to John Owen (never a bad idea!), or to some other counselor dead or alive. But remember that we have not been left only to good human resources in this area. We need to be taught from “the mouth of God”

read more How to mortify sin

Our Whole Salvation Comprehended in Christ

John Calvin at his God-glorifying best: We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is “of him.” If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects that he might learn to feel our pain. If we see redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness

read more Our Whole Salvation Comprehended in Christ

What is the opposite of antinomianism?

Sinclair Ferguson: “What is the opposite of antinomianism?” Would it be fair to assume that the instinctive response … would be “Legalism”? It might be the right answer at the level of common usage, but it would be unsatisfactory from the standpoint of theology, for antinomianism and legalism are not so much antithetical to each other as they are both antithetical to grace. This is why the scripture never prescribes one as the antidote for the other. Rather grace, God’s grace in Christ in our union with Christ, is the antidote to both. The wholesale removal of the law seems to provide a refuge [for the antinomian]. But the problem is not with the law, but with the heart – and this remains unchanged. Thinking that his perspective is now the antithesis of legalism, the antinomian has written an inappropriate spiritual prescription. His sickness is not fully cured. Indeed the root cause of his disease has been masked rather than

read more What is the opposite of antinomianism?

Why There Is No Righteousness Like Christian Righteousness

This Crossway post is adapted from Galatians by Martin Luther. Many Kinds of Righteousness St. Paul sets about establishing the doctrine of faith, grace, forgiveness of sins, or Christian righteousness. His purpose is that we may understand exactly the nature of Christian righteousness and its difference from all other kinds of righteousness, for there are various sorts of righteousness. There is a political or civil righteousness, which emperors, princes of the world, philosophers, and lawyers deal with. There is also a ceremonial righteousness, which human traditions teach. This righteousness may be taught without danger by parents and schoolteachers because they do not attribute to it any power to satisfy for sin, to please God, or to deserve grace; but they teach such ceremonies as are necessary simply for the correction of manners and certain observations concerning this life. Besides these, there is another righteousness, called the righteousness of the law or of the Ten Commandments, which Moses teaches. We too

read more Why There Is No Righteousness Like Christian Righteousness

7 Gospel Promises To Embrace Today

Paul Tripp: You may have heard me say this before, but it’s worth repeating again: I’m deeply persuaded that many Christians, myself included, have a big gap in the middle of our gospel theology. Let me break it down and then apply it in a fresh way: I think we have a strong understanding of the theology of gospel past – meaning, we trust deeply in the historical sacrifice of Jesus which paid the penalty for our sins. I also think that we have a strong understanding of the theology of gospel future – meaning, we trust eagerly in the eternal promise of heaven that’s coming. But there’s something missing in the middle. We either don’t understand, or fail to embrace, the theology of the “now-ism” of the gospel. In other words, we don’t take full advantage of all the benefits of the work of Christ today. In this post, I want to briefly outline 7 gospel promises that are

read more 7 Gospel Promises To Embrace Today

A Case for Covenant Membership in the Local Church

Sam Storms: Does the New Testament explicitly mention or describe formal church membership? No, it does not. However, there are numerous truths and responsibilities in the NT which would be minimized or denied if there were no definable local church membership. In other words, the fact that membership is not explicitly mentioned does not mean it didn’t exist. Those things which are explicitly mentioned necessarily assume that covenant membership existed. Therefore, if we conclude that covenant membership is necessarily entailed by the Bible’s commands for the church and the description of its life, we are morally obligated to pursue it in our churches today. If we conclude that it is not, we are free to regard local church membership as a matter of prudence which we may disregard if we think it not to be helpful in fulfilling our calling as the body of Christ. As I read the New Testament, I can see several truths or responsibilities that, in

read more A Case for Covenant Membership in the Local Church

Five Marks of a Servant Leader

Jon Bloom: All professing Christians agree that a Christian leader should be a servant leader. Jesus couldn’t be clearer: “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.” (Luke 22:25–26) Where there’s not always agreement is how servant leadership should look in a given situation. Sometimes servant leaders wash others’ feet, so to speak (John 13:1–17), but other times they rebuke (Matthew 16:23), and even discipline (Matthew 18:15–20). Sometimes they serve at their own expense (1 Corinthians 9:7), but other times they issue strong imperatives (1 Corinthians 5:2; 11:16). Wading into Muddy Waters Other factors muddy the waters even more for us. To begin with, all Christian leaders have indwelling sin, which means even at the height of their maturity, they will still be defective servants. Add to this

read more Five Marks of a Servant Leader