5 Reasons You Desperately Need Your Bible

Kristen Wetherell: Why is Bible reading important? Most Christians know they should read their Bibles. But often, our Bible reading can feel dry and insignificant. Why is it so important for us to read this book? What’s the urgency of it? Ruth and Naomi’s story in the Old Testament reveals some urgent truths through illustration about why we need our Bibles right now and every single day. We should not bypass these truths because they are the difference between spiritual life and death; between conviction and apathy; between joy, peace, and strength and discontentment, anxiety, and fear; between knowing some things about Jesus and knowing Jesus intimately. Here are five reasons that you desperately need the Bible, as illustrated in the book of Ruth. You need the Bible so your soul doesn’t starve. Threat of starvation loomed before Ruth and her mother-in-law. They moved back to Bethlehem after their husbands and sons died, leaving them without male protection or provision.

read more 5 Reasons You Desperately Need Your Bible

Regeneration and Conversion

By Archibald Alexander: The necessity of a change of moral character in man, arises from the fact, that by nature all men are “dead in trespasses and sins,” and, therefore, if any of the human race are ever saved, they must be regenerated ; for, even if a man could be justified and yet remain under the power of sin, he could not be happy, because sin contains in itself the seeds of misery, and such an one would certainly be incapable of participating in the joys of heaven, which require a holy nature to perceive or relish them. Therefore, our Lord said to Nicodemus, ” except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” It is not necessary to be very exact in distinguishing between regeneration and conversion, especially as the Scriptures appear to speak of both together. But, it may not be amiss to remark, that regeneration, which is the communication of spiritual life,

read more Regeneration and Conversion

How to tell a wolf or hireling from a shepherd of the sheep

By Mike Ratliff 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Matthew 7:15-18 (NASB)  Since God put me into this ministry back in 2006 the tragedy of the growing apostasy in the visible church seems to have only gotten worse. In discussions with friends about this some have lamented that at times it seems that there is no one who can be trusted anymore. My own perspective is that, yes, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to trust the fruit of those who minister for money or whose livelihood depended upon popularity. This is really nothing new. Our Lord, in

read more How to tell a wolf or hireling from a shepherd of the sheep

Yes, You Can Please Your Heavenly Father

Kevin DeYoung: Sometimes Christians can give the impression that pleasing God is a sub-biblical motivation. “We’re totally justified,” someone might say. “We’re totally accepted. If we tell our kids to please God, we are just giving them more law. We are training them to be little moralists. We’re discipling them to think of God as a kind of Santa Claus keeping a naughty-and-nice list.” Obviously (or maybe not so obviously), that’s not how God wants us to parent, because that’s not what God is like with his children. But don’t let the potential abuse of this “pleasing God” language lead you to suppress what Scripture clearly says. One of the principal motivations for holiness is the pleasure of God. Colossians 1:10: Those who bear fruit in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God are pleasing to God. Romans 12:1: Presenting your body as a living sacrifice pleases God. Romans 14:18: Looking out for your weaker brother pleases

read more Yes, You Can Please Your Heavenly Father

‘The Shack’ & the missing art of evangelical discernment

Al Mohler: The publishing world sees very few books reach blockbuster status, but William Paul Young’s “The Shack” has now exceeded even that. The book, originally self-published by Young and two friends, has now sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into over thirty languages. It is now one of the best-selling paperback books of all time, and its readers are enthusiastic. According to Young, the book was originally written for his own children. In essence, it can be described as a narrative theodicy — an attempt to answer the question of evil and the character of God by means of a story. In this story, the main character is grieving the brutal kidnapping and murder of his 7-year-old daughter when he receives what turns out to be a summons from God to meet him in the very shack where the man’s daughter had been murdered. In the shack, “Mack” meets the divine Trinity as “Papa,” an

read more ‘The Shack’ & the missing art of evangelical discernment

Three Reasons to Include a Concise Summary of the Gospel in Every Sermon

Timothy Raymond: Among conservative evangelicals, there’s a longstanding, friendly debate over whether or not every sermon should include a concise summary of the gospel message. By this I’m not talking about the use of a gospel-centered hermeneutic which connects every passage of Scripture to the person and work of Jesus, say, the approach to Bible interpretation taught by Graeme Goldsworthy or Edmund Clowney. Instead, I’m talking about inserting, somewhere in your sermon, hopefully in a natural way that connects to the rest of the message, a short explanation of the main truths about who Jesus is and what he has done (in perhaps 2-6 minutes), along with an exhortation to repent and believe. While this approach is admittedly not followed by every conservative, evangelical preacher, perhaps the best-known proponent and model of including a gospel summary in (nearly) every sermon is Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. For a wonderful example of what I’m talking about, consider

read more Three Reasons to Include a Concise Summary of the Gospel in Every Sermon

What Constitutes a Pastoral Approach?

Kevin DeYoung: What does it mean to be “pastoral”? I’m a pastor. Have been for almost 15 years. I love my job. I get to serve the God I love and work with the things our God loves most deeply: his word and his church. As a local church pastor, I am 100% in favor of being “pastoral.” So long as the word means what the Bible means for it to mean. When I see the adjective “pastoral” placed in front of a noun it seems to me the word is almost always meant to convey, in contemporary parlance, a truncated set of virtues. A “pastoral approach” implies gentleness, patience, and a lot of listening. If someone is “pastoral” he is good with people, sensitive, and a calming influence. “Pastoral care” means comforting the sick, visiting widows, and lending a shoulder to cry on. These are all good examples of being a good pastor. Seriously. I am all for all

read more What Constitutes a Pastoral Approach?

Why every preacher needs “The Doctor”

Darryl Dash: When I taught preaching, I’d assign Preaching and Preachers by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (“The Doctor”). I also assigned a weekly reading report. The reactions were priceless. What could this opinionated old preacher have to teach us today? As it turns out, a lot. Lloyd-Jones does have his opinionated moments. “I believe in wearing a gown in the pulpit,” he writes — advice I’ve never taken. But he expresses many views that I have adopted, and he expresses them strongly. For instance: The work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called. If you want something in addition to that I would say without any hesitation that the most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching; and as it is the greatest and the most urgent need in the Church, it is obviously the greatest need of the world also. Every time I pick

read more Why every preacher needs “The Doctor”

The Key to Spiritual Breakthrough

Jon Bloom: “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2). How much enjoyment of God’s presence and experience of his power for mission are we missing out on because we do not ask God for them? Jesus also says we do not have because we ask with such little faith (Matthew 17:19–20). How much enjoyment of God’s presence and experience of his power for mission are we missing out on because our expectation is so small that prayer will result in anything? Jesus also says we do not have, because we do not ask long enough (Luke 11:5–13). All over the Bible we see, not in great detail but in sufficient detail, that we are involved in a great cosmic battle and that the prayers of the saints are crucial to the advancement of the kingdom of God (see Daniel 10:12–14 and Ephesians 6:18). We don’t need to know how it all works; we just need to know it

read more The Key to Spiritual Breakthrough

Billy Graham’s ministry in four words

J.D. Greear: My wife, kids, and I recently had the chance to visit the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC. We’ve long been impressed with Graham’s life and ministry, and this trip only increased our appreciation for Graham. As I reflect on Billy Graham’s six decades of ministry, four words stand out: 1. Conviction As we looked over various exhibits and heard stories about Graham’s life, Veronica commented to me, “He wasn’t complex, and not usually ‘profound.’ But you can tell that he really believed what he was saying.” And it’s true: Billy Graham had struggled with the hard questions, so when he spoke with assurance, it wasn’t the naïve assurance of a neophyte. It was the absolute assurance of someone who has wrestled with questions of faith. During the beginning of Graham’s ministry, theological liberalism was on the rise in mainline denominations, and Graham’s faith was shaken. He often told the story of a moment when, in the height

read more Billy Graham’s ministry in four words

Content in His Providence

R.C. Sproul: Blaise Pascal, the famous French philosopher and mathematician, noted that human beings are creatures of profound paradox. We’re capable of both deep misery and tremendous grandeur, often at the same time. All we have to do is scan the headlines to see that this is the case. How often do celebrities who have done great good through philanthropy get caught up in scandals? Human grandeur is found in part in our ability to contemplate ourselves, to reflect upon our origins, our destiny, and our place in the universe. Yet, such contemplation has a negative side, and that is its potential to bring us pain. We may find ourselves miserable when we think of a life that is better than that which we enjoy now and recognize that we are incapable of achieving it. Perhaps we think of a life free of illness and pain, yet we know that physical agony and death are certain. Rich and poor alike know

read more Content in His Providence

Glorification Never Ends!

Sam Storms: When we refer to the believer’s ultimate “glorification” we are speaking of the transformation of our whole being: body, soul, spirit, will, mind, and affections, in which sin is eradicated and we are made like Jesus (see Phil. 3:20-21; 1 John 3:1-3). What I want to suggest is that there is a very real and important sense in which this glorification of all believers never ends. I don’t mean that our glorification will never be reversed, although that’s true. There will never be the slightest diminishing or regression or reversal or loss of the purity and holiness and likeness unto Jesus that we gain at the resurrection of our bodies. What I mean is that although glorification will happen in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, it will also eternally grow and expand. The condition of our body, soul, and spirit, although entirely free from sin as a result of the event of glorification, is not the

read more Glorification Never Ends!

3 Things We Must Believe about God’s Word

Kevin DeYoung: Essentials In Psalm 119 we see at least three essential, irreducible characteristics we should believe about God’s word. 1. God’s Word says what is true. Like the psalmist, we can trust in the word (v. 42), knowing that it is altogether true (v. 142). We can’t trust everything we read on the Internet. We can’t trust everything we hear from our professors. We certainly can’t trust all the facts given by our politicians. We can’t even trust the fact-checkers who check those facts! Statistics can be manipulated. Photographs can be faked. Magazine covers can be airbrushed. Our teachers, our friends, our science, our studies, even our eyes can deceive us. But the word of God is entirely true and always true: God’s word is firmly fixed in the heavens (v. 89); it doesn’t change. There is no limit to its perfection (v. 96); it contains nothing corrupt. All God’s righteous rules endure forever (v. 160); they never get

read more 3 Things We Must Believe about God’s Word

10 Things You Should Know about Biblical Theology

Chris Bruno: 1. Biblical theology is different than systematic and historical theology. When some hear “biblical theology,” they might assume that I’m talking about theology that is faithful to the Bible. While its goal is certainly to reflect biblical truth, the discipline of biblical theology is different from other theological methods. For example, the goal of systematic theology is to gather everything the Bible teaches about a particular topic or issue. For example, studying everything the Bible teaches about God or salvation would be doing systematic theology. When we are doing historical theology, our goal will be to understand how Christians throughout the centuries understood the Bible and theology. So we might study John Calvin’s doctrine of Christ. While both systematic and historical theology are important ways to study theology, biblical theology is a different and complementary theological discipline. 2. Biblical theology emphasizes God’s progressive revelation. Rather than gathering everything the Bible says about a particular topic, the goal of

read more 10 Things You Should Know about Biblical Theology

Defending the gospel in the right spirit

Ray Ortlund: When you must step forward and defend the gospel against poisonous teachers, defend it with all the grace that inheres within the gospel itself.  We must do the Lord’s work the Lord’s way. It is not enough for us to identify a misleading voice, and then just do or say whatever feels right. As Jonathan Edwards warned us, “There is nothing that belongs to Christian experience more liable to a corrupt mixture than zeal.” Peter illustrates the folly of misplaced zeal. When the enemies of Jesus attacked, the apostle rose up in defense. His heart was doubtless in the right place. But what did he actually do? He drew his sword, proving not how brave he was but only how foolish (John 18:10–11). Francis Schaeffer used to say that, after debating with a liberal theologian, he hoped the liberal would walk away with two equally clear impressions: one, Francis Schaeffer really disagreed with him; two, Francis Schaeffer really cared about

read more Defending the gospel in the right spirit

Why We Should Not Fear Satan and Demons

From Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue: Are Demons in the World Today? Why do demons sometimes receive so much attention from the media? Are the reports biblically correct, or are they just the musings of uninformed people who see a demon behind every bush and under every rock? Has demon activity accelerated in the world? How can one know which concepts are biblically accurate and which are not? This subject deserves a full-length book, but it will only be summarized here. Consider several preliminary, general observations: We affirm the historical reality of Satan and demons, both in the past and in the present, as verified by the Bible. We affirm that the Bible admonishes Christians to expect Satan and demons to operate now much as they did in both Old Testament and New Testament times (1 Pet. 5:6–11). We affirm that the Bible teaches that, in living out the Christian life,

read more Why We Should Not Fear Satan and Demons

Lord, Fill Me with Your Spirit

John Bloom: “The kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). If we are not disillusioned with how much we have allowed our talk to pass for our walk, discontented with the sparse amount of spiritual fruit we are truly bearing, and disappointed by the impotence of our own efforts, we will never be distressed enough to really plead with God to fill us with the Holy Spirit. If we’re not disturbed by how little we can do in our own power, we’ll never be desperate enough to ask God for his. What Is the Filling of the Holy Spirit? But when we pray for this, what are we asking God for? In the words of Wayne Grudem, we are asking God for “an event subsequent to conversion in which a believer experiences a fresh infilling with the Holy Spirit that may result in a variety of consequences, including greater love for God, greater

read more Lord, Fill Me with Your Spirit

The Essential Marks of a Preacher

Jason K. Allen: “How shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14). With airtight logic, the Apostle Paul sets forth the indispensable human link in fulfilling the Great Commission—the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In so doing, he instructs us in the way of the kingdom, that in every generation God is calling out preachers to serve His church. Paul’s timeless question is especially relevant for the twenty-first-century church. Evangelical churches are in the midst of a massive generational transition, with vacant pastorates and empty pulpits dotting the landscape. Vacant pulpits ought not induce the wringing of hands. Christ is building His church. He does not hope for ministerial volunteers; He sovereignly sets apart pastors to serve His church and preach His gospel. Nonetheless, the church is to call out the called, and every qualified man of God should consider if God is calling him to pastoral ministry. How might one know if God is calling him to the ministry? There are

read more The Essential Marks of a Preacher

God Hates Pride

Tim Challies: Is there any trait more deceptive? Is there any vice easier to see in others, but harder to see in ourselves? We despise its presence in them, but defend its presence in us. It is the ugly trait of pride, one of a number of traits for which God has a special disgust. In this series, we are looking at things God says he hates, he despises, or he considers an abomination. We have already seen that God hates idolatry, sexual immorality, injustice, hypocrisy, and deceit. Today we will look at God’s hatred for pride. God Hates Pride “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him.” So says wise old Solomon. And heading up the list of these seven deadly sins is “haughty eyes” (Proverbs 6:16-17). Haughty eyes are an arrogant man’s windows to the world. From the lofty perch of his own superiority, he uses them to look down upon

read more God Hates Pride

Eight Terrible Consequences of False Doctrine

Tim Challies: The Christian’s responsibility is clear: We are to learn God’s truth by searching God’s Word. We must carefully evaluate every teaching according to God’s unfailing standard. What passes the test is sound doctrine, and what fails the test is false doctrine. False doctrine confuses truth and error, while sound doctrine distinguishes truth and error. False doctrine fails to distinguish between what God has revealed in his Word and what has been fabricated by men or demons. In the book of Hebrews, we see a church that has backslidden, that has reverted to ungodly behavior. They have done so because of their failure to heed sound doctrine. Their pastor writes this: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food … solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by

read more Eight Terrible Consequences of False Doctrine