The Gospel is for the Evangelisation and Salvation of the Nations

Sam Storms: In Romans 16:26 Paul explicitly declares that it is the “command of the eternal God” (v. 26) that we take the glorious, good news of the gospel to every tribe and tongue and people and nation. In other words, evangelism and mission are not optional! If you wonder why here at Bridgeway we have devoted at least 12% of our income to missions, both local and global, both to church plants and ministries that make the gospel known around the world, here is the answer. Why do we care about what our missionaries and church planters are doing in Japan and in the Czech Republic and in Turkey and in India and in England and in Slovenia and in Germany and even here in the ever-increasingly pagan United States of America? It is because this is the “command” of our eternal God! And how do we do this? It isn’t only by contributing financial support. It is primarily through “the preaching

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What Does It Mean to Abide in Christ?

Sinclair Ferguson: The exhortation to “abide” has been frequently misunderstood, as though it were a special, mystical, and indefinable experience. But Jesus makes clear that it actually involves a number of concrete realities. First, union with our Lord depends on His grace. Of course we are actively and personally united to Christ by faith (John 14:12). But faith itself is rooted in the activity of God. It is the Father who, as the divine Gardener, has grafted us into Christ. It is Christ, by His Word, who has cleansed us to fit us for union with Himself (John 15:3). All is sovereign, all is of grace. Second, union with Christ means being obedient to Him. Abiding involves our response to the teaching of Jesus, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you” (John 15:7). Paul echoes this idea in Colossians 3:16, where he writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” a statement closely related to

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The Gospel is the Source of Strength for Weak People

Sam Storms: I fear we often have an unrealistic image of the Apostle Paul. We tend to think of him as if he were some combination of a Navy Seal and a Super-Hero. And yet, Paul knew what it was like to experience human weakness. When he described his ministry in the city of Corinth he said that he was with them “in weakness and in fear and in much trembling” (1 Cor. 2:3). I don’t need to tell any of you what it is like to feel weak and inadequate and overwhelmed. But here is the good news: The gospel can strengthen you! The gospel can empower you! The gospel can supply you with whatever you need to remain faithful to the Lord and to accomplish whatever he’s called you to do. How, you ask? I’ve got a lot of answers! Consider your suffering. The only way you can suffer unjustly without growing bitter and resentful is tied directly to

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Carl Trueman: The death of Queen Elizabeth II marks a watershed for Britain and for those of us who have never known any other head of our state—as is true for any lifelong British citizen under the age of seventy. Remarkably, she began her reign while Winston Churchill was prime minister and then lived to see a further fourteen individuals hold that high office. Without question she saw more change in British society than any of her predecessors, and throughout it all she remained a calm and steadfast figurehead for the nation. Growing up, I never had much time for the monarchy. With the exception of the Silver Jubilee in 1977, marked as it was by street parties and celebration, the monarchy rarely touched my life in any real way. Furthermore, as a lower-middle-class schoolboy, I possessed all the usual insecurities: a fear of the working class and a resentment of the nobility. But over the years my respect for


To Be God Is to Be Happy

Fred Sanders: Enjoying Divine Blessedness When Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us,” he uses the same word twice: blessed (Ephesians 1:3). A moment’s thought, however, shows that God blesses us altogether differently than how we bless God. When God blesses us, he takes the initiative, doing the kind of mighty acts that Paul recites in the next dozen verses: electing, redeeming, forgiving, adopting, sealing, and lavishing grace on us. When we bless God, we praise him in response. It’s a beautifully appropriate response, but just because it’s the same verb doesn’t make it the same act. The deep reason that we can never bless God the way he blesses us is that God is already blessed. God is blessed with perfect, plenary, personal blessedness. The blessedness of God is a classic Christian doctrine, and one that we could stand to hear more about in our time. It gives us big thoughts

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What Is Distinct about the Theology of Ephesians?

Benjamin Merkle: The Theology of Ephesians In one sense, there is nothing distinct about the theology of Ephesians. It is a New Testament letter written by the apostle Paul that conforms to the message of the rest of the Bible—a message about how the God of the universe rescues sinners through the work of his Son, Jesus Christ. And yet, the book of Ephesians adds unique tones to the symphony of music that sounds forth from Scripture. For its size (six chapters and 155 verses), Ephesians has had a profound impact on the life and theology of the church. Harold Hoehner declares, “The Letter to the Ephesians is one of the most influential documents in the Christian church.”1 But why has this small letter had such a big impact on the church? The answer, at least in part, is due to the depth and diversity of topics emphasized in the letter. Paul addresses topics such as the plan of God in

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The Christian Life Is Church-Shaped

Thom S. Rainer: I am a Christian. Four life-defining words. Christ died for me, rose for me, redeemed me. If you can say, “I am a Christian,” these truths apply to you as well. Sometimes, though, when we memorize Scripture, we end at Ephesians 2:8–9 (“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.“). But there is much, much more: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph. 2:10, NLT). Don’t miss it. We were saved not by our good works, but to do the good works God has planned. And there’s more—a further point that’s often overlooked. Yes, we’re saved by grace through faith. Yes, we’re saved to do good works. But we’re saved to do those good works in the context and under the accountability of a church. In the book of Ephesians, Paul

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Why Do We Need to Keep Praying “Forgive Us Our Debts”?

Kevin DeYoung: An Essential Truth I remember hearing a pastor say years ago that you could give the secret to a good marriage in just one word. The word he gave was not money or sex or communication or even love. The word was forgive. Forgiveness is the key ingredient not only in marriage but in any relationship involving sinners. If your friends are going to stick around, if you are going to see your relatives more than once a year, if you plan to work in the same place with the same people for any length of time, if you want to be happy in the church (or simply not give up on the church), you need to learn forgiveness. You need to grant it, and you need to receive it. What’s true in our horizontal relationships is also true in our vertical relationship. Of course, God is not a sinner. He never needs to be forgiven. But if

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The Lord’s Prayer Is Meant to Be Lived

Jeremy Linneman: Jesus’s disciples asked a lot of bad questions during their tenure with him: “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:54). But they occasionally got it right: “Teach us to pray,” they asked (Luke 11:1). Our Lord must have beamed with joy at the opportunity to teach his beloved friends how to enjoy fellowship with the Father. So, with his disciples and an eager crowd gathered on the mountainside one afternoon, Jesus taught them to pray. The words that followed in Luke 11:2–4 are among the most famous ever spoken: “Our Father who art in heaven . . .” The words are brief and recited easily by a child, but let’s not be misled by the prayer’s brevity or familiarity. The Lord’s Prayer is rightly understood to be the most important prayer for Christians, but it’s more than that. J. I. Packer cites Tertullian, who called it a “summary of the gospel,”

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Evidences of Assurance

Derek Thomas: The Westminster Confession of Faith insists that Christians may be “certainly assured that they are in the state of grace” (18:1) and goes on to assert that this “infallible assurance of faith” is “founded upon” three considerations: “the divine truth of the promises of salvation” “the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made” “the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are children of God” (18:2). The possibility of “certain” and “infallible” assurance is set against the backdrop of medieval and post-Reformation Roman Catholic views that paralyzed the church with an “assurance” that was at best “conjectural” (wishful thinking), based as it was on rigorous participation in a sacramental treadmill. Few epitomized the contrast more starkly than Cardinal Bellarmine (1542–1621), the personal theologian to Pope Clement VIII and ablest leader of the Counter-Reformation, who called the Protestant doctrine of assurance “the greatest of all heresies.” What, after all, could

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The Transgender Fantasy

Article by Andrew T. WalkerProfessor, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Pastors have no shortage of issues that they are called up to address in their ministries. The pressure to be an expert on every new issue can be daunting when thinking about everything else on the pastor’s plate. Most pastors need fewer burdens, not more. But when issues of what it means to be human surface — and this is at the center of the debate over transgenderism — it’s important that pastors seek to bring the full counsel of God’s word to bear on the issue at hand. Having written a book on transgenderism, my purpose here is to simplify for pastors what I think are the absolute essentials for them to consider when addressing their congregations and counselees on the challenge of transgenderism. Necessity of Nature What is a man? What is a woman? Until just a few years ago, these questions would have hardly been controversial. But

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Delighting in the Trinity

Mike Reeves: “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Those three words could hardly be more bouncy. They seem lively, lovely, and as warming as a crackling fire. But “God is Trinity”? No, hardly the same effect: that just sounds cold and stodgy. All quite understandable, but Christians must see the reality behind what can be off-putting language. Yes, the Trinity can be presented as a fusty and irrelevant dogma, but the truth is that God is love because God is a Trinity. To dive into the Trinity is a chance to taste and see that the Lord is good, to have your heart won and your self refreshed. For it is only when you grasp what it means for God to be a Trinity that you really sense the beauty, the overflowing kindness, the heart-grabbing loveliness of God. If the Trinity were something we could shave off of God, we would not be relieving Him of some irksome weight; we would

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10 Attributes of God Viewed through the Lens of Truth

Vern S. Poythress: Who God Is Let’s explore how various attributes of God are displayed in his truthfulness. “Attributes” of God are terms describing who he is. He is eternal, infinite, transcendent, good, loving, and so on. When we consider God’s truthfulness, we can see that it goes together with many other attributes. His attributes are on display in his truthfulness. There is an underlying general principle here, related to simplicity. As we have seen, divine simplicity means that God cannot be divided up. Subordinately, it implies that his attributes cannot be divided up, so that we could place distinct attributes into neatly separated bins. We cannot cut out one attribute at a time, and consider it in isolation from everything else that God is. In fact, each attribute describes the whole of God, not just a part of him. If so, it also describes every other attribute, because all the attributes belong to who God is. Truth is one attribute of God. So in this attribute it ought

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A Simple Formula for Effective Preaching

Jonathon Woodyard: It is an amazing thing that the God who spoke the world into existence has spoken to his people in a book. Think about that. The invisible God has revealed himself through the writings of men who were moved along by the Spirit (2 Peter 1:19–21). What grace! If you are not astonished by this, please do not become a preacher. A riveting conviction that the Bible is God’s direct, personal communication to his people is the fountainhead of effective preaching. Indeed, the man who answers a call to preach undertakes a massive responsibility that should be laced with holy fear. It’s not something we should go into casually. This Is Not a Game I did some amateur boxing when I was in my twenties. The gym where I trained was on a university campus, and with each new school year a parade of fresh young faces would come through the door eager to “give this sport a

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12 Marks of Excellent Pastoral Ministry

Tim Challies: John MacArthur has had a long, faithful, fruitful ministry unblemished by great scandal. For decades he has maintained a tight focus on teaching the Bible verse by verse and book by book. In 2006 he taught through 1 Timothy 4 and there he saw Paul providing his young protégé with “a rich summary of all of the apostle’s inspired instruction for those who serve the church as ministers, as pastors. And it all begins with the statement, a noble minister, an excellent minister, a good servant of Christ Jesus.” What are the marks of such a man? MacArthur reveals twelve of them. An excellent minister warns people of error. Paul urges Timothy to “instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines… rather than furthering the administration and stewardship of God” (verse 3). The same instructions are given two chapters later and in 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and 1 Thessalonians 5. An excellent minister “understands the devastating potential of

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The Good News of Limited Atonement

Kevin DeYoung: The doctrine of limited atonement — the L in TULIP — teaches that Christ effectively redeems from every people “only those who were chosen from eternity to salvation” (Canons of Dort, II.8). As Ursinus explains in his commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, Christ’s death was for everyone “as it respects the sufficiency of satisfaction which he made, but not as it respects the application thereof.” In other words, the death of Christ was sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world, but it was God’s will that it should effectively redeem those and only those who were chosen from eternity and given to Christ by the Father. Particular redemption is often considered a more favorable term, because the point of the doctrine is not to limit the mercy of God, but to make clear that Jesus did not die in the place of every sinner on the earth, but for his particular people. This is why John

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5 Ways to Pursue Holiness

Josh Moody: In the early 19th century, a group of evangelical ministers gathered regularly to discuss how to grow in holiness. Over the course of their meetings, the Eclectic Society included famous ministers such as John Newton and Charles Simeon. The group discussed a wide range of topics, including “What is the nature, evil, and remedy of schism?” and “What can be done at the present moment to counteract the designs of infidels against Christianity?” On June 22, 1812, the group posed the question, “What is Scripture’s view of growth in grace?” Rev. C. R. Pritchett answered, 1. It is entirely of God. 2. It arises from an intimate and vital union with Christ. 3. It is produced and carried on by the constant and immediate agency of the Holy Spirit. When was the last time we had a similar conversation about holiness? When was the last time our churches heard an exhortation to holiness akin to William Law’s Serious Call? We’ve

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Does It Really Matter Whether Adam Was the First Man?

Mike Reeves: Evangelical Christians have generally resisted the demythologization of the Gospels whereby, for example, the resurrection of Jesus is interpreted as a mythical portrayal of the principle of new life. Indeed, they have argued strongly that it’s the very historicity of the resurrection that is so vital. However, when it regards the biblical figures of Adam and Eve, there has been a far greater willingness to interpret them as mythical or symbolic. The simple aim of this article is to show that, far from being a peripheral matter for fussy literalists, it is biblically and theologically necessary for Christians to believe in Adam as a historical person who fathered the entire human race. Adam Was a Historical Person Textual Evidence The early chapters of Genesis sometimes use the word ’ādām to mean “humankind” (e.g., Gen. 1:26–27), and since there is clearly a literary structure to those chapters, some have seen the figure of Adam as a literary device, rather than a historical

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How Pastors Should Answer the Hardest Leadership Question

Sam Rainer: It’s the most challenging leadership question to answer: Am I humble? Humility is the most difficult leadership trait to determine about ourselves. Pride is the most dangerous leadership trait. Arrogance is the root leadership problem. Our sinful nature propels us to an excessive and unhealthy focus on ourselves. It’s the quintessential leadership struggle. We stand on a sliding scale somewhere between healthy humility and unhealthy pride. Even at our best, determining where we are on this scale is tricky. We almost always believe we are more humble than we are. Unfortunately, we rarely recognize our pride until it’s too late. Fortunately, there are three key questions to ask to reduce the potential for pride to puff up. Are you capable, and are you striving to learn more? This question involves competence. Quite frankly, do you know what you’re doing? Too many leaders fake it. Too many leaders do not want to swallow pride and ask for help. Too many leaders fear looking small by

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Pentecost Was a Reversal

Andrew Wilson: What goes up must come down. The earthly ministry of Jesus culminates in his going up: up to Jerusalem, up to Skull Hill, up onto the cross, up from death to life, up to the Mount of Olives, and finally up into heaven. But the story of the gospel, Luke explains, is only what Jesus began to do and teach (Acts 1:1). The next part of his activity on earth, which Luke focuses on in Acts, takes place through the church. And it involves a coming down. Pentecost and Babel The gift of the Spirit at Pentecost is often associated with Babel, and with good reason. People are not scattering, God comes down and works a miracle of language, people scatter throughout the world, and the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham begins. At Babel, this scattering was an act of judgment in response to disobedience, bringing incomprehension and fracture. At Pentecost, it’s an act of blessing in response to obedience,

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