Dressed in His Righteousness Alone

What Is Justification by Faith? David Briones: I’ll never forget meeting up with a mentor of mine at Starbucks shortly after becoming a Christian. We regularly met there to read and study the Bible. One day, a person walked by and was elated to find Christians. But during our conversation, my mentor began asking some pretty forthright questions, and I couldn’t quite understand why. “Do you believe that a person is justified by faith alone?” he said. The stranger hesitantly responded, “No, I believe that a person is justified by faith and works.” My mentor graciously but strongly insisted, “Then you don’t have a biblical view of justification.” A lot of back-and-forths followed, but because I was a recent convert, I found it immensely difficult to understand what was going on. I barely understood what the term justification meant! Eventually, I discovered the importance of this vital doctrine. Martin Luther and other Reformers considered the doctrine of justification by faith alone the article on which the

read more Dressed in His Righteousness Alone

Four Core Truths about the Second Coming of Christ

Alistair Begg: The second coming of Jesus Christ is absolutely foundational to the Gospel, which concerns not only the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of God the Son but also His return. This event and the doctrines that surround it are integral to “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Though Christ’s return is both a main thing and a plain thing in Scripture, enough views on the second coming have circulated over the years to cause confusion and, indeed, to induce conflict among those who share convictions about Scripture’s inerrancy and the event’s imminency. This meditation is intended not to cut through that conflict and assess these various views but to point out what is irreducibly true about Christ’s promised return. Four Certainties Concerning the Second Coming For all the disparate viewpoints regarding Christ’s second coming, what does Scripture help us see clearly? 1. The day is secret. First and foremost, the day when

read more Four Core Truths about the Second Coming of Christ

What Does It Mean that Jesus Is Prophet, Priest, and King?

Jonty Rhodes: The Full Canvas We’ve all been there, whether as a preacher or listener. The drama of the story of Daniel in the lions’ den builds throughout the sermon. The conviction of sin as you walk through the Ten Commandments grows almost overwhelming. The depths of emotion expressed by the psalmist as he cries out for deliverance stirs and unsettles your soul. Where are we going? Will we leave inspired by the courage of Daniel, crushed by the law of God, disturbed by the misery of the psalm? But no—here it comes. Sound the klaxon: it’s time for “The Jesus bit.” We all knew it was coming. We knew we had to get there. Every bit as surprising as Tuesday following Monday, the final five minutes of the sermon remind us again of the penal-substitutionary death of Jesus. I’ve heard hundreds of sermons like this and preached nearly as many. And, frankly, thank God for each and every one

read more What Does It Mean that Jesus Is Prophet, Priest, and King?

Whatever Christ Commands He Gives

Matt Bradner: “Matt, would you grab the rest of the groceries from the trunk of the car?” The familiar words fell on me with greater irritation than normal because I was immersed in my favorite childhood hobby, sorting through my collection of sports cards. What I initially interpreted as a demand (and interruption!), however, was actually an expression of my father’s love for me, because his request was an invitation in disguise. After delaying for far too long, I finally dropped the cards and made my way to the trunk, expecting to find eggs, lettuce, and cereal. When I finally fulfilled my duty, I realized that I had been duped — in the best way possible. Sitting in the trunk was an unopened box of 1986 Fleer Basketball cards. This may not seem significant to you, but my adolescent brain instantly knew that I was moments away from adding a Michael Jordan rookie card to my collection. I grabbed the

read more Whatever Christ Commands He Gives

Our King-Servant-Anointed Conqueror: Jesus

Derek Thomas: Behold my servant, whom I uphold,my chosen, in whom my soul delights. (Isa. 42:1) For he grew up before him like a young plant,and like a root out of dry ground;he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,and no beauty that we should desire him.He was despised and rejected by men,a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;and as one from whom men hide their faceshe was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isa. 53:2–3) There is no peace… for the wicked. (Isa. 48:22) These startling words are not addressed to the heathen nations but to God’s covenant people. They describe the people’s condition after their return to the Promised Land from exile. They are a lament. The people have learned so little in their captivity. The reason for their exile is spelled out with a solemn indictment: they had sinned against the Lord, “in whose ways they would not walk, and whose law

read more Our King-Servant-Anointed Conqueror: Jesus

Omnipotence, Swaddled

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger” (Luke 2:7). Bernard N. Howard: Swaddling cloths are still in use today. With a few deft tucks, a pediatric nurse can swaddle a baby in seconds. It looks easy, but as overconfident new fathers soon find out, good swaddling technique takes a lot of practice. The objective is to surround the baby’s body with cloth, while leaving the head free. Doctors think this comforts the baby by recreating the sensation of being in the womb. Swaddling also restricts a baby’s startle reflex, which helps maintain unbroken sleep. Is there anything more vulnerable, more dependent, than a swaddled baby? The hospital nurse described our swaddled son as a “baby burrito.” The only things swaddled babies can do are rock a little from side to side, thump their feet a bit, and—as parents well know—cry loudly in the middle of the night.

read more Omnipotence, Swaddled

The Incarnation and Two Natures of Christ

By Stephen Wellum: DEFINITION Incarnation is the term that refers to the supernatural act of the triune God, whereby the eternal, divine Son, from the Father, by the agency of the Spirit, took into union with himself a complete human nature apart from sin. As a result, the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, now and forevermore exists as one person in two natures, our only Lord and Savior. SUMMARY This article will describe who Jesus is as God the Son incarnate in light of the Scriptural teaching and the Confessional orthodoxy of the Church. By developing five truths about the incarnation, starting with Jesus’ full deity as the eternal Son in relation to the Father and Spirit, and working from eternity to time, the identity of Christ and the nature of the incarnation will be described. To know Jesus rightly from Scripture, we must see who he is in relation to the doctrine of the Trinity, and the reason for the

read more The Incarnation and Two Natures of Christ

Look and Live: Christ as the True Bronze Serpent

Joel R. Beeke: In John 3:9–15, Nicodemus, a “master of Israel,” receives a remedy for his troubled soul from the Master Physician. The Son of God gives this night-disciple an eye to behold the Messiah lifted up on the cross of suffering and death. To do this, Jesus brings in vital imagery of the bronze serpent from Numbers 21:7–9 to reframe Nicodemus’s knowledge of the Torah. In so doing, he makes us lift up our heads as well. Jesus presents himself as the true Bronze Serpent who must be lifted up and looked on for us to truly live. What exactly did Nicodemus learn in these moments? And what can we learn from this intimate encounter with the Lord of life? Beholding the Bronze Serpent As we examine John 3:14–15, we must ask why Christ mentioned Moses. Why the allusion to Numbers 21:7–9? For Nicodemus, as for us, the law is given to convict him and drive him to the gospel. Here, for the first

read more Look and Live: Christ as the True Bronze Serpent

The Name God Gave His Son

David Mathis: Three Reasons We Call Him ‘Jesus’ What if the weight fell to you to name the Christ child at his birth? Not only would the boy’s name precede him, and stay with him, wherever he went in life, and follow him all his days, and long after, but this child, of all children, as the angel said to Mary, would be the “Anointed One” — the Messiah in Hebrew, Christ in Greek. For centuries, the nation had awaited his advent, and for thousands of years to come, millions upon millions would not only speak but sing of this “name as above all names” and “the sweetest name I know.” This one name would come to surpass, throughout the world and throughout history, even the covenantal name of God revealed to Moses at the bush (Philippians 2:9–11; Hebrews 1:4). How could any man, much less a craftsman from rural Galilee, stand beneath the weight of giving a name to this singular son? Name Above All

read more The Name God Gave His Son

What the Name “Jesus” Means for Believers

Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley: In His Human Name: Jesus Our Lord bears the human name Jesus (Greek Iēsous). Joseph and Mary did not choose this name; it was commanded from heaven (Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31). That is not to say that the name was unique, for there were other men named “Jesus” (Col. 4:11). It was a common name among Jews through the beginning of the second century AD.1 For this reason, people spoke of “Jesus of Nazareth” in order to distinguish him from others with the same name.2 Therefore, the name “Jesus” testifies to Christ’s humanity—it is the name of a man. Why did God ordain through angels that this name would be given to his incarnate Son? The answer to this question comes from both the name’s historical background and its etymological meaning. Historically, “Jesus” was the Greek form of “Joshua” (Hebrew Yehoshu‘a),3 as appears from the use of “Jesus” in the Septuagint and New Testament for that great Israelite leader Joshua, the son

read more What the Name “Jesus” Means for Believers

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

Burk Parsons: The twentieth-century British pastor D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “If we only spent more of our time in looking at Christ we should soon forget ourselves.” Fixing our eyes on Christ is the first step and the entire path of the Christian life. We don’t look to Christ in faith to be saved and then look to ourselves to persevere. We trust Christ alone as our Savior and look to Christ alone and follow Him as our Lord. In order to look to Christ as our Savior and Lord, we need new eyes and a new heart. We are born spiritually dead and blind in sin, with our eyes fixed on ourselves and our own glory, but God the Holy Spirit strips the inherited blindfolds from our eyes and graciously rips out our hard hearts and gives us new hearts that love Him and new eyes that see Him. Yet even as Christians who have been declared righteous by

read more Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

The Christian Faith Is Not Based on the Evidence for the Resurrection

William Lane Craig: In considering the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, it is important to avoid giving the impression that the Christian faith is based on the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. The Christian faith is based on the event of the resurrection. It is not based on the evidence for the resurrection. This distinction is crucial. The Christian faith stands or falls on the event of the resurrection. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christian is a myth, and we may as well forget it. But the Christian faith does not stand or fall on the evidence for the resurrection. There are many real events in history for which the historical evidence is slim or nonexistent (in fact, when you think about it, most events in history are of this character). But they did actually happen. We just have no way of proving that they happened. Thus, it is entirely conceivable that the resurrection of Jesus was a real

read more The Christian Faith Is Not Based on the Evidence for the Resurrection

2 Reasons Jesus Died on the Cross

Brian Rosner: Why did Jesus die? Historically, from a human perspective, the answer is straightforward enough. The Jewish leaders plotted against him, Judas betrayed him, Herod and Pilate tried him, and the Roman soldiers executed him. A number of individuals and groups were responsible for his death. As Luke puts it, “Wicked men put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:23). But there’s another angle to consider. As Acts 2:23 also says, Jesus was “handed over by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge.” To get to the heart of the question of why Jesus died, we have to think from God’s point of view. Theologically, from God’s perspective, we may mention two main reasons. 1. Jesus Died to Bring Us Near to God Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. (1 Pet. 3:18) The purpose of bringing us to God implies that, prior to Jesus dying, we were far

read more 2 Reasons Jesus Died on the Cross

How Jesus Read the Scriptures

Nicholas T. Batzig: B.B. Warfield once summarized the mystery surrounding the two natures of Christ when he wrote, “Because he is man he is capable of growth in wisdom, and because he is God he is from the beginning Wisdom Itself.” The Scriptures, at one and the same time, insist that Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, and forever, and that He “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Believers profess to understand what it means that Jesus never changes inasmuch as He is God, but they have a harder time understanding what it means that Jesus grew in wisdom as a true man. The explanation that we discover by means of scriptural allusions might surprise many Christians. In short, as a man, Jesus needed to learn the Scriptures. Jesus had to grow in His capacity for sinless human development to the extent that one can grow at each age and at each

read more How Jesus Read the Scriptures

Why Did Jesus Sleep During the Storm?

Scott Redd: The story of the sea storm in the Gospel of Mark picks up right after Jesus has given a series of sermons. He’s preached to a crowd so large that he had to speak from a boat pushed a short distance into the water. Mark 4:35–41 tells the story of Jesus calming the storm—but, curiously, we find the Lord asleep as the chaos breaks out around him: And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. (Mark 4:37–39) Why was Jesus asleep in the boat? There are a few possible explanations. Mark, as well as most

read more Why Did Jesus Sleep During the Storm?

What Does ‘This Rock’ Refer to in Matthew 16:18?

Gregg R. Allison: Few verses have caused more controversy than Matthew 16:18, where Jesus says, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” It has led to disagreement over the proper type of church government, the role of the pope (along with papal infallibility), apostolic succession, and more. In context, Jesus probes his disciples for what the general public thinks about the identity of “the Son of Man” (v. 13). Their response indicates the breadth of the popular understanding of Jesus: he is John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or another prophet (v. 14). So Jesus redirects his probe: “But who do you [plural = the disciples] say I am?” (v. 15). Peter responds for the Twelve: Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, God the Son incarnate (v. 16). Jesus approves Peter for rightly identifying him, underscoring that his disciple didn’t humanly figure out this

read more What Does ‘This Rock’ Refer to in Matthew 16:18?

The Incarnation: Its Relevance

William Boekestein: To call the incarnation “relevant” almost sounds patronizing. But we need to recognize the intimate connection between this important doctrine and personal piety. It Opens Up Scripture Until we grasp that Christ is God-in-flesh, the Old Testament will remain a collection of stories about how men and women struggled with the call to faith. The incarnation helps us to see that the Old Testament sets the stage for God to once again live with man as He did in Eden. On every Old Testament page, God promises a human deliverer who is also stronger than Satan (Gen. 3:15); both a suffering servant and an anointed king. The reality of God-with-us is explained and applied throughout the rest of Scripture starting with Matthew. The New Testament is not simply a collection of ethical instruction, or even a commentary on the life of a certain Nazarene. It is the real-life story of what happened when God came to men that they might belong

read more The Incarnation: Its Relevance

Why Was Jesus Born of a Virgin?

Wyatt Graham: Everyone knows the story. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary. He tells her that she will have a child who will save his people and establish his kingdom. But there is a problem. As Mary asks, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). The angel Gabriel explains, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Instead of doubt, Mary believes. She confesses: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). She believed and did not waver.  Why did God decide that Jesus would be born in this particular way? Why did God use a virgin birth to bring Jesus into the world? There are at least three answers.  To fulfill prophecy First, the prophet Isaiah prophesied that the coming one

read more Why Was Jesus Born of a Virgin?

Greatest Good of the Gospel

John Piper: What was the most loving thing Jesus could do for us? What was the endpoint, the highest good, of the gospel? Redemption? Forgiveness? Justification? Reconciliation? Sanctification? Adoption? Are not all of these great wonders simply means to something greater? Something final? Something that Jesus asked his Father to give us? “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me” (John 17:24). The Christian gospel is “the gospel of the glory of Christ” because its final aim is that we would see and savor and show the glory of Christ. For this is none other than the glory of God. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). “He is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). When the light of the gospel shines in our hearts, it is “the light of

read more Greatest Good of the Gospel

10 Things You Should Know About the Incarnation

Stephen Wellum: At the heart of Christianity and the gospel is the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from the “Word becoming flesh” (John 1:14) and the incarnate Son of God living and dying in our place as our Savior, there is no salvation. Apart from the coming of the eternal Son, his taking on human nature and acting as our covenant representative, there is no hope for the world. It is appropriate at Christmas to think more deeply about the incarnation. Here are 10 things we should grasp. 1. The person or active subject of the incarnation is the eternal Son. John 1:14 is clear: “The Word became flesh.” In other words, it was the Son from eternity who became incarnate, not the divine nature. The Son, who is in eternal relation to the Father and Spirit, willingly humbled himself and chose to assume a human nature in obedience to his Father and for our salvation (Phil. 2:6–8). 2. As the eternal Son, the second

read more 10 Things You Should Know About the Incarnation