What Does It Mean to Pray “Your Kingdom Come”?

Kevin DeYoung: The Kingdom of God What is meant by God’s kingdom and by God’s will in the Lord’s prayer? Let’s start with the word kingdom. The Greek word for kingdom (basileia) occurs 162 times in the New Testament, so clearly this is an important biblical term. Although the Lord’s Prayer uses the word kingdom as a stand-alone term, it is obviously a reference to God’s kingdom. Any correct understanding of kingdom in the New Testament must emphasize that it is the kingdom of God. Matthew’s Gospel often calls it the “kingdom of heaven,” but that is simply a Jewish way of referring to the kingdom that belongs to the God who dwells in heaven. A simple definition is to think of the kingdom of God as his reign and rule. Another way to think of the kingdom is as God’s redemptive presence coming down from heaven to earth. It is important to say something here about the relationship between the

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Why Gentleness in Ministry Matters More Than You Think

Michael J. Kruger: Well it’s that time of year. This Friday we will graduate another class of seminary students at RTS Charlotte, sending them off to serve the Lord in a variety of ways.  And during each of these graduations, I have an opportunity to give a final “charge” as the president of the campus. This year, I have been reflecting on RTS’s motto: “A mind for truth, and a heart for God.”  At RTS, we care very much about the mind—we value rigorous scholarship combined with a commitment to the historic truths of Reformed theology. But that is not all that matters to us. We also care about our students’ hearts; what kind of person they are, and where their affections lie. In other words, preparation for ministry involves more than intellectual-doctrinal development. It also involves the development of one’s character. Now, there’s lots that can be said about what should mark a person’s heart, but I think we can

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What Is Christ to Us If He Is Not Our All-Satisfying Treasure?

John Piper: The King of the Kingdom Is the Treasure Jesus said in Matthew 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Clearly, the treasure in this parable is identified as the “kingdom”—the rule of Christ, both in future glory and in the King’s present power and fellowship (“Behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you,” Luke 17:21). “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field.” It does not say, “Jesus is the treasure.” But as Jesus and the writers of the New Testament unfold the meaning of the kingdom, it becomes plain that the value of the kingdom derives from the value of Christ himself (the King!), and is inseparable from him. When we “enter the kingdom” (Matt. 5:20), whose reign do we enter? When we “receive

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The Divine Word of God

Matt Foreman: In the book, “Taking God At His Word”, Kevin DeYoung writes, “Scripture, because it is the breathed out word of God, possesses the same authority as the God-man Jesus Christ. Submission to the Scriptures is submission to God.”[1] Over the last 200 years, many critics have disputed such a claim. They have accused Christians of worshiping the Bible and not making necessary distinctions between the Bible and God. Some have said that we need to see the truths behind the Bible, and not worry so much about the Bible itself. However, the Bible itself actually supports DeYoung’s claim, and often deliberately blurs any distinction between God and the Scriptures. Hebrews 4:12-13 is one of the most famous statements in the Bible about the Bible: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the

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The Bible’s Not an Instruction Manual

Jared Wilson: “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” Ever heard the Bible explained that way? It’s a handy mnemonic device that certainly has some truth to it. But does it get at the heart of what the Bible really is? The way so many of us treat the Scriptures—as God’s “how to” book—doesn’t seem quite right when we carefully look at what its own pages say. And I fear that the way we use the Bible in this way actually accomplishes the opposite of what we intended. If the Bible is not essentially an instruction manual for practical application, then, what is it? If it’s not mainly about what we need to do, what is it about? If it’s not about us, who is it about? The Bible Is about Jesus About Jesus? Well, duh,” you’re thinking right now. That goes without saying. And I agree. It has been going without saying. But we need to keep saying it. We don’t “go”

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Anticipating Easter in the Old Testament

Davy Ellison: Imagine you live in first-century Jerusalem. A year has passed since the Messiah left an empty grave in his wake. Shortly after, you heard Peter preach on the Day of Pentecost, and you repented, believed, were baptized, and joined the church (Acts 2:41). Today, you look forward to gathering with fellow members of “the Way” (Acts 9:2). What passage of Scripture do you think would be preached to mark the occasion? If I had the pastor’s ear, I might have encouraged him to trace the theme of resurrection through the pages of the Hebrew Bible—the Scriptures of the earliest Christians. Let me offer a five-part homiletical outline. 1. Resurrection Power The first port of call is the Bible’s beginning: creation. Resurrection, after all, is predicated on a God who has the power to resurrect. And God showed resurrection-like power when he spoke the world into being. Throughout Genesis 1, God speaks—and heaven, light, sky, land, living creatures, and humanity come into

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One of the Most Overlooked Arguments for the Resurrection

Michael J. Kruger: Well, soon it will be Easter. That wonderful time of the year when we remember (and celebrate) the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. But, not all will be celebrating. There are many that find Easter to be a senseless holiday—apart from, perhaps, the joys of Sunday brunch or chocolate eggs. After all, it is argued, we all know that people don’t rise from the dead. And there are no reasons to think it happened in the case of Jesus of Nazareth. In response to such skepticism, apologists have been making their best arguments for the resurrection.  There’s the empty tomb. There’s the fact that women were the first eyewitnesses which was unlikely to be invented. And there’s the larger appearance to the 500 witnesses. But, of course, each of these claims has been contested. As for the empty tomb, scholars have argued that standard Roman practice was to put crucified criminals in a common grave, not

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Jesus, the Bread of Life

Jared C. Wilson: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). John 6 details a fascinating episode in the ministry of Jesus. It is a long chapter and a complex one, beginning with the miraculous feeding of the five thousand. As with all miracles, we are meant to see them as pointers to the signified, Christ himself and his kingdom. Like the parables, the miracles are windows into the life of the in-breaking kingdom of God. But many wanted Jesus to be their performing magician, like a trained miracle monkey or some such blasphemy. The Pharisees often sought signs from him this way, as later did Herod (Luke 23:8). The average Joes of Jesus’ day were rather a mixed bag. It is difficult to know if even all he physically healed were born again. Certainly many were gifted faith and therefore had the eyes to

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Should the Church Really Be Always Reforming?

Kevin DeYoung: The Church doesn’t get everything right. Anyone who knows church history will admit that Christians have been wrong before, and they will be wrong again. And yet, to confess our interpretive imperfection is not to open the door to every interpretive innovation. Change is not always good and drifting with the winds of the world is always bad. Whenever there is a push to alter the church’s historic understanding of the faith — regarding sexuality or biblical authority or the historicity of Adam and Eve or whatever — you are bound to hear someone appeal to the Reformation slogan semper reformanda. We are told that the Spirit reveals new truths for a new day, that Jesus is pouring old wine into new wineskins, that the church must be “always reforming.” While it’s true that we all see through a glass dimly and must be open to changing our minds, the Latin phrase semper reformanda was not about reforming the church’s confessions

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5 Reasons to Love Repentance

Will Anderson: The imperative—“Repent!”—assaults modern sensibilities like nails on a chalkboard. Repentance is often dismissed as the sadistic mantra of self-loathers; or worse, dreaded as a pistol drawn in pulpits to scare sinners into submission. But repentance—the act of turning from sin and toward God—pervades the biblical story as a life preserver for God’s people, not a cruel waterboarding tactic. Strikingly, Jesus’s main message is summarized in the Gospels as: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 5:32). If repentance is so central in Jesus’s teaching, why is it so peripheral (or nonexistent) in ours? Repentance, Where Art Thou? Different tribes give different responses. Progressives tend to deny repentance altogether, rejecting it as fundamentalist fodder. I recently met with a local progressive church leader who feels this way, and during our charitable yet lively conversation, she remarked: “I never address sin from the pulpit. I don’t think it’s helpful to tell people how bad they are all the time.” While

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How to Help Those Who Believe the Prosperity Gospel

By Sean DeMars Explain the True Gospel How do we help our family members, friends, coworkers, or even fellow church members who are swept up in the prosperity gospel? Here are a few simple ideas as you prayerfully engage their error. The most important way to help is to teach them a right understanding of the gospel. According to Scripture, the gospel says we were dead in sin (Eph. 2:1), separated from God, and destined for his holy wrath (Isa. 59:2). But even when we were dead in our sins, God loved us and sent his Son to die for us (Rom. 5:8). Through Jesus’s death and resurrection, God has reconciled us to himself (2 Cor. 5:18). The benefits of Christ’s work are applied to us personally when we recognize this message to be true and respond by repenting of our sin and trusting in Christ alone, joyfully recognizing Jesus’s lordship over our lives (Mark 1:15; Rom. 10:9; 1 John 5:3). This

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J. I. Packer on the Surprise Blessing of Trials

Jeremy Linneman: I remember where I was when I read these words by the late theologian J. I. Packer: “A certain type of ministry of the gospel is cruel. It doesn’t mean to be, but it is.” What is the cruel sort of ministry Packer had in mind? His answer would haunt me. I was going through a particularly hard season of depression and had been suffering from chronic illness. It was a season of trial and discouragement that had lasted far too long—or so I thought. I’d prayed. I’d talked with wise counselors. I’d prayed more. But this difficult season was unrelenting, and my spirit wasn’t lifting. Then my friend recommended Packer’s Knowing God. I’d read it before, but he pointed me to a chapter late in the book called “These Inward Trials.” I reopened the classic, found the chapter, and began to read. That very night, my whole mindset toward pain and suffering began to change. (Some lessons can’t be

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Knowing God – A Reader’s Guide to a Christian Classic

Article by Sam Storms: Theocentricity is a big and imposing word that simply means “God-centered.” To be theocentric means that God himself is the core of all you believe, and the governing, gravitational force of all you do. And in my judgment, no one in recent memory more readily embodied this perspective on life more than the late J.I. Packer (1926–2020), especially in his classic work, Knowing God. James Inell Packer is justifiably known for much. His rigorous, thoroughly biblical articulation of penal substitutionary atonement, his unwavering defense of biblical inerrancy, and his penetrating insights into the contribution of the Puritans are just a few of the many qualities for which he is remembered. But when he himself was asked, “What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment than anything else?” he did not hesitate to answer: the knowledge of God (33). Pigmy Christianity Packer had little patience for those who would speak of the Christian

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God’s Sovereignty and Glory

Derek Thomas: God is sovereign in creation, providence, redemption, and judgment. That is a central assertion of Christian belief and especially in Reformed theology. God is King and Lord of all. To put this another way: nothing happens without God’s willing it to happen, willing it to happen before it happens, and willing it to happen in the way that it happens. Put this way, it seems to say something that is expressly Reformed in doctrine. But at its heart, it is saying nothing different from the assertion of the Nicene Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty.” To say that God is sovereign is to express His almightiness in every area. God is sovereign in creation. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Apart from God, there was nothing. And then there was something: matter, space, time, energy. And these came into being ex nihilo—out of nothing. The will to create was entirely

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The bride of Christ and the hope of the world

Why Christians must love the church By Kevin DeYoung: Not many of us are suffering from overexposure to optimism and hope. In her famous Sonnet 43, Elizabeth Barrett Browning asked, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” In today’s world of doomscrolling and digital overload, we are trained to ask a different question, “How have you failed me? Let me count the ways.” It’s not hard to be angry at our politicians, frustrated with our elites, and disappointed in the church. In fact, it’s hard not to count the ways that leaders and institutions have let us down. Just think about the top news stories from the past twelve months: the election and its aftermath, the handling of the pandemic, and the withdrawal from Afghanistan. No matter what you think should have happened in each case, no one would mistake these events for encouraging moments in our national mood and psyche. And then there is the church. I can’t

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What is “Progressive” Christianity?

Michael J. Kruger: One of the benefits of studying church history is that you realize that Solomon was right: “There is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl 1:9). This proverb has certainly been proven true when it comes to different “versions” of Christianity that have popped up throughout the life of the church. In every generation it seems there’s a new group that comes along insisting that their new and improved Christianity beats all predecessors hands down. But, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that this new version isn’t new at all. It’s simply a microwaved version of some other alternate brand of Christianity that the church has faced (and rejected) before. This is not to suggest, of course, that the modern church has no room for change or growth. Just like individuals need sanctification, so does the institutional church. Christ wants to purify his bride, and so we should expect that, this side of glory, there will always be

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How Did the Cross Disarm the Devil?

John Piper: Colossians 2:15 tells us our Savior Jesus Christ ‘disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them.’ Great text! But what is here meant by ‘disarmed’? Was there something they were wielding then that they do not wield now? If so, what is the weapon Paul speaks of here in this text?” I love this question because I love the glorious truth, not only of Colossians 2:15, but the way verses 13 and 14 prepare for it and put a massive foundation under it. So let’s read the whole unit, and then I’ll give a couple answers to the question, In what sense did the death of Christ strip Satan and his demons of their weapons? Here are the verses: You, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him [Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses [how?] by canceling the record of debt that

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What Is the Difference between Union and Communion with Christ?

Sam Storms: An important distinction that a lot of Christians misunderstand is between the eternal union we have with God and the experiential communion that we have on a daily basis. By eternal union, I mean the fact that we are in Christ and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8). Scripture gives us all these potential threats. We think Well, if I don’t respond well to this or if I don’t say the right thing in this current context, I’m going to be cut off from Christ eternally. No. Once we are in Jesus by faith, we are in an eternal bond, union, covenant relationship that cannot be broken, cannot be undermined, cannot be shattered—even in the midst of our sin. But, on the other hand, we have what I call experiential communion. The word experiential is to be contrasted with eternal. Eternal happens all the time. It’s unchangeable, unbreakable. Experiential is what

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What Does a Committed Church Member Look Like?

Thabiti Anyabwile: The Essence of Membership Is Committed Love Our Lord Jesus specified one defining mark for his disciples. Of course, there are many marks of true discipleship, but one mark is singled out as signifying to the watching world that we belong to Christ: A new commandment I give you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34–35) The mark of Christian discipleship is love—love of the kind that Jesus exercised toward his followers, love visible enough that men will recognize it as belonging to those people who follow Jesus. Not surprisingly, then, a healthy Christian is one who is committed to expressing this kind of love toward other Christians. And the best place for Christians to love this way is in the assembly of God’s people called the

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