God Is the Prize of the Gospel – Explaining a Sixth Sola

John Piper: For five hundred years, Christians in the lineage of the Reformation — that is, Protestant Christians who love the Bible and are bent on seeing the gospel for all that it is — have described the gospel in terms of five solas, which is the Latin word for only or alone — like the English word solo. What I want to do is just put those five together in a gospel definition and add one, which is implicit in the other five. You can decide if it’s eccentric or not: As revealed with final authority in Scripture alone, the gospel is the good news that by faith alone, through grace alone, on the basis of Christ alone, for the glory of God alone, sinners are granted to enjoy God alone forever. Enjoying God alone is my own addition, but Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, Spurgeon — all this long line of Reformation lovers of the gospel would hear me say that and respond, Amen. Let me show you how

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What is the theology of the cross?

Here, Robert Kolb gives a brief description of the theology of the cross that Martin Luther developed through reading the first two chapters of 1 Corinthians. The theology of the cross directs us away from all attempts to speculate about God as he is hidden behind nature or the clouds of our imagination. The theology of the cross directs us to God in human flesh, God on the cross, God raised from the dead. To all the modern questions about what truth might be and what kind of claim truth might have on us, the God who is revealed in crib, cross, and crypt seizes us anew as we present him to those who have lost their way. We introduce our God on his cross. We witness to God revealed as Jesus, on the cross. For people who are dissatisfied with their old identity, the cross helps explain why they do not “feel good” about themselves. The theology of the

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Evangelism Starts With God

David Qaoud: One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in evangelism is telling people the good news without telling them the bad news. No wonder I’m met with blank stares or “That’s nice for you, but not for me.” When we don’t tell unbelievers about sin and wrath, they often think grace is irrelevant. They don’t see their need for a Savior. I know I’m not alone. Myself, I suspect I don’t like sharing the bad news because of fear of man. I don’t want to offend people or bring up words like hell and wrath and sin because then the conversation may get weird. I don’t like awkward moments. I want to seem cool. I want to win people to Christ simply by telling people only about Christ and avoiding all the difficult parts. DEFINING EVANGELISM But true evangelism requires more. As it’s been said, evangelism is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with an unbeliever with the aim

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Redemptive-Historical Typology

Dennis Johnson: Old Testament events, offices, and institutions (hereafter OTEOI) are invested by God with spiritual significance as integral steps in his history-long project to reverse sin and its effects… these OTEOI point beyond themselves, symbolizing the comprehensive, eschatological salvation that is God’s purpose for history and that has been inaugurated by Christ in his first coming and that will be consummated by Christ in his second coming. To understand how any OTEOI preaches Christ and finds its fulfillment in him, we first must grasp its symbolic depth in its own place in redemptive history. Then we need to consider how the OTEOI’s original symbolic depth (the aspect of redemption to which it pointed in shadow-form) finds final and complete fulfillment in Christ. Finally, we must identify and articulate how its message applies to ourselves and our listeners. The apostles’ proclamation of Christ as the fulfillment of all God’s promises provides abundant direction for the grateful outworking of this good

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Two Reasons the Trinity Matters

Justin Dillehay: How much does the Trinity matter to you? If you found out tomorrow that God is actually only one person instead of three, would your relationship with God feel any different? Would it require a drastic overhaul in the way you think or witness or pray? How much does the Trinity matter to you personally? How much does the Trinity matter to your church? If you found out tomorrow that your beloved youth pastor had become a staunch modalist—he now insists the Father, Son, and Spirit are actually one person in three manifestations instead of three distinct persons—would your church excommunicate him? Or would that seem like splitting hairs? Is the Athanasian Creed really right to say, “Whoever wishes to be saved must think thus of the Trinity. And whoever rejects this faith will perish everlastingly”? Or is that the overstatement of the millennium? Judging by the church’s historic creeds, Christians used to think the Trinity is really important. Judging

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Are You Too Earthly-Minded to Do Earthly Good?

  Kyle Strobel: We often think of heaven as something that affects us after we die, with little impact on our daily lives now. Heaven feels speculative, ethereal, and impractical; we’re better off spending our time dealing with down-to-earth things. But Jonathan Edwards believed that being “too heavenly minded for earthly good” is an impossibility. The only way to be of true earthly good is to be heavenly minded. Thinking about heaven doesn’t take our eyes off of the world; it allows us to live in the world according to the way of Christ. Knowing God To live a heavenly life now you must “set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). The “things that are above” don’t primarily reference a place, but the triune God. Heaven is only “heavenly” because God is there. He’s the spring of love that gives life and direction to that place. The life we know

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What Is the Bible, Anyway?

Tim Challies: We Christians spend a lot of time reading the Bible, hearing it preached, and meditating on its words. Why this commitment? We are committed to the Bible because of what it is and what it does. The Bible guides us to its purpose and power through the many metaphors it uses to describe itself. Here is a pretty good collection of them. Perhaps you’d do well to meditate on a few of them. The Bible is a lamp that illumines. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) The Bible is a light that shines. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) The Bible is medicine that heals. “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find

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Every Christian Must Be a Theologian

Jared Wilson: Every Christian must be a theologian. In a variety of ways, I used to tell this to my church often. And the looks I got from some surprised souls are the evidence that I had not yet adequately communicated that the purposeful theological study of God by laypeople is important. Many times the confused responses come from a misunderstanding of what is meant in this context by theology. So I tell my church what I don’t mean. When I say every Christian must be a theologian, I don’t mean that every Christian must be an academic or that every Christian must be a scholar or that every Christian must work hard at giving the impression of being a know-it-all. We all basically understand what is meant in the biblical warning that “knowledge puffs up” (1 Cor. 8:1). Nobody likes an egghead. But the answer to formal scholasticism or dry intellectualism is not a neglect of theological study. Laypeople have no biblical

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10 Things You Should Know about Suffering

Sam Storms: Suffering is an unpopular but essential topic for Christians to understand. And it is nowhere more clearly explained than in 1 Peter. So here are ten things we can learn about suffering from this letter. (1) In 2 Corinthians 6:10 Paul describes himself as “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”. And in Colossians 1:24 he again declares, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.” It should come as little surprise, then, that Peter would echo this sentiment when he says in 1 Peter 1:6 that we “rejoice” in spite of the fact that “now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials.” Suffering does not cancel out joy, but provides a platform for others to see that our satisfaction is in Christ and not in material or physical comfort. (2) Suffering for the sake of the gospel is God’s will for us. Peter makes it plain that Christian distress only happens if God wills it. For example, in 1 Peter 3:17 he

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Enjoying God Is a Command

Sinclair Ferguson: While shaking hands at the church door, ministers are sometimes greeted with a spontaneous, “I really enjoyed that!”—which is immediately followed by, “Oh! I shouldn’t really say that, should I?” I usually grip tighter, hold the handshake a little longer, and say with a smile, “Doesn’t the catechism’s first question encourage us to do that? If we are to enjoy Him forever, why not begin now?” Of course, we cannot enjoy God apart from glorifying Him. And the Westminster Shorter Catechism wisely goes on to ask, “What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?” But notice that Scripture contains the “rule” for enjoying God as well as glorifying Him. We know it abounds in instructions for glorifying Him, but how does it instruct us to “enjoy him”? Enjoying God is a command, not an optional extra: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). But how? We cannot “rejoice

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Affections and emotions: Are they the same?

Sam Storms: The word “affection” may be unfamiliar to many, except when used of romantic feelings that pass between a man and a woman. This is not the sense in which I use it here. Jonathan Edwards defined the affections as “the more vigorous and sensible exercises of the inclination and will of the soul.” So, are our “affections” the same as our “emotions” or “passions”? I don’t think so. Certainly, there is what may rightly be called an emotional dimension to affections. Affections, after all, are sensible and intense longings or aversions of the will. Perhaps it would be best to say that whereas affections are not less than emotions, they are surely more. Emotions can often be no more than physiologically heightened states of either euphoria or fear that are unrelated to what the mind perceives as true. Affections, on the other hand, are always the fruit or effect of what the mind understands and knows. The will

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The Message of the Bible

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: We are all aware of problems in this world. Everyone knows what it is to be weary, to be disappointed, and to struggle. And we have a feeling that we were not meant for this. We are all searching for some solution to the problems of life. The question is, why are you unhappy? Why do things go wrong? Why is there illness and sickness? Why should there be death? Those are the questions with which the Bible deals. The Bible talks to you about your unhappiness. Some insist that the Bible, far from being practical, is really very remote from life. But nothing in the world is as practical as the teaching of the Bible. In order to answer questions about you, the Bible starts in the most extraordinary way: “In the beginning God…” It starts with God. Before I begin to ask any questions about myself and my problems, I ought to ask questions like

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10 Things You Should Know about the New Heaven and New Earth

Sam Storms: Where will believers in Jesus spend eternity? It won’t be on a cloud or a star in some distant galaxy. It will be on the sanctified and redeemed soil of the new earth. Here are ten things you should about what eternal life will be like in the new heaven and new earth. (1) According to Revelation 21:1 this present earth and the heavens above will “pass away” when Jesus Christ returns to destroy his enemies and consummate his kingdom. But this present earth does not give way to a purely spiritual existence somewhere in the clouds above. The “first heaven and the first earth” give way to a new heaven and a new earth. The relationship between the former and the latter is ambiguous. Will the new heaven and earth replace the old or simply be a renewal of what we now experience? Certainly there are elements of continuity, even as there are between our present, corruptible bodies and

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The Purest Act of Pleasure

Tony Reinke: The Purest Act of Pleasure – Why God delights in election: Unconditional election is God’s decision to choose a people for himself, a bride, from out of all the God-ignoring sinners on earth. God will begin with a whore and make himself a splendid spouse. This bride is the object of his eternal love. She will be pulled from the brothel of sin. It’s all “unconditional” because it is not based on any positive condition in the bride. He cannot love this new bride for her beauty; only his unrelenting love will forge beauty in her. From among every ethnicity, God chooses men, women, children, ranchers, sailors, bankers, graphic designers, the disabled, poets, schoolteachers, merchants, athletes, and housewives. He even chooses murderers, prostitutes, blindly religious people, and tax collectors. He chooses the soft-spoken and the brash. He chooses some who are famous, some who are geniuses, and some who are wealthy. But mostly he chooses nobodies (1 Corinthians 1:18–31).

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The Joy of Not Sinning

Tim Challies: I think it is a question every Christian would all like to ask God, given the opportunity. It is an honest question. A humble one, I hope. If you have the ability to immediately destroy and remove all of a Christian’s sin the very moment he puts his faith in Jesus Christ, why don’t you? Why didn’t you? There is always a good bit of debate in the Christian world about exactly how God sanctifies us and how human effort relates to divine work. Whatever we believe about sanctification, we know it is a lifelong battle and we know it is a difficult one. The difficulty is related to the extent of our depravity, the fact that the effects of sin extend to our every part, to our minds, our hearts, our wills, even our bodies. We could give every moment of every day to the battle against sin and still die as deeply sinful people. Every Christian

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10 Things You Should Know about Forgiving Others

Sam Storms: Forgiving others is counter-intuitive to human nature. It rarely seems to make sense. Most often it grates on our souls like fingernails on a chalkboard. King Louis XII of France spoke for us all when he said, “Nothing smells so sweet as the dead body of your enemy!” If we were honest with each other we’d readily admit that we enjoy withholding forgiveness because it permits us to keep our enemies (and even some of our friends) under control. It gives us the opportunity to manipulate them into providing things we want from them. We use their offense against us as a rope to dangle them over the fires of vengeance. If we were to completely forgive them, we would lose our excuse for self-pity. And forgiveness would set them free from their obligation to us to “make good.” One thing I’ve learned over the years is that people typically refuse to forgive others or even to consider

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The Vertical Dimensions of the Cross

Nicolas T. Batzig: 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 both vertical and horizontal dimensions to Jesus’ work. The vertical dimensions are foundational; the horizontal are consequential. The vertical dimensions include Jesus’ defeat of Satan (Gen. 3:15; John 12:31; Col. 2:15), His propitiating the wrath of God (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 2:7; 1 John 2:2; 4:10), His atoning for our sin (Heb. 1:3; Rom. 4:7–8), His breaking the power of sin (Rom. 6:9–14), His securing the new heavens and new earth (Heb. 2:5–11), and His overcoming the world (John 12:31; 16:33). The horizontal dimensions include His becoming the example of self-sacrificial living (Rom. 15:2–3; 1 Peter 2:21) and His reconciling men to one another, thereby making peace for those who formerly lived in hostility with one another (Eph. 2:14). When men pervert or deny the biblical teaching concerning the vertical nature of the

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Justification and Assurance According to John Calvin

Tom Schreiner: Justification by Faith Alone Calvin, like Luther, stresses that justification is by faith alone. A right relationship to God can’t be gained by works since all people sin, thus the only pathway to salvation is faith. Calvin is careful to say, however, that faith shouldn’t be construed as a work, as if faith itself justifies us, for if such were the case, then faith would be a good work that makes us right with God. Instead, faith is the instrument or vessel that joins us to Christ, and ultimately believers are justified by Christ as the crucified and risen one. Faith itself, strictly speaking, doesn’t justify. Rather, faith justifies as an instrument, receiving Christ for righteousness and life. Indeed, faith is not something that originates with human beings. Yes, human beings believe the gospel and are saved, and so in that sense faith is exercised by human beings. At the same time, however, faith ultimately comes from the Holy Spirit

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Five Marks of Effective Prayer

H.B. Charles: And a leper came to Jesus, imploring him, and kneeling to him said, “If you will, you can make me clean.”– Mark 1:40 The last passage of chapter 1 (verses 40-45), records the miracle of Jesus cleansing a leper. It is also recorded in Matthew 8:1-4 and Luke 5:12-15. Leprosy was the most dreaded disease in the Bible. The term “leprosy” was used to describe anything from a skin rash to Hansen’s Disease (the modern name for leprosy). Luke 5:12 says this man who came to Jesus was “full of leprosy.” This was no skin rash. It was full-blown leprosy in its advanced stages. In his desperation, he came to Jesus for help. And Jesus made him clean (Mark 1:41-42). This story is about the miracle-working and divine authority of Jesus. This leper is only a trophy of amazing grace. The priority of this passage it what it teaches us about Jesus. But there is a lesson about

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