Living Water

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on John 4:56: Possibly one of the most devastating things that can happen to us as Christians is that we cease to expect anything to happen. I am not sure but that this is not one of our greatest troubles today. We come to our services and they are orderly, they are nice ‒ we come, we go ‒ and sometimes they are timed almost to the minute, and there it is. But that is not Christianity, my friend. Where is the Lord of glory? Where is the one sitting by the well? Are we expecting him? Do we anticipate this? Are we open to it? Are we aware that we are ever facing this glorious possibility of having the greatest surprise of our life? Or let me put it like this. You may feel and say ‒ as many do ‒ ‘I was converted and became a Christian. I’ve grown ‒ yes, I’ve grown in knowledge, I’ve

read more Living Water

For Whom Did Christ Die?

Jarvis Williams: When you hear the question, “For whom did Jesus die?” what do you think? The answer may seem obvious: for the world. After all, John 1:29 says that Jesus is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. And John 3:16 declares that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” As a result, many interpreters assert that Jesus died for the entire world, and not for a predestined number of people. But what does the term “world” mean when used in association with Jesus’s death? Does it refer to everyone without distinction or to everyone without exception? There is a difference. Everyone without distinction would mean that Jesus died for all kinds of people from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation. Everyone without exception would mean that he died for every single individual person without any exception. This

read more For Whom Did Christ Die?

Making Jesus in our own image

Sinclair Ferguson: Many years ago now there was a scholarly movement that became known as “The Quest for the Historical Jesus.” Scholars said “Let’s try to get behind the Gospels to find out who Jesus really was, and what he was really like.” So they took bits and pieces of the Gospel testimony and made a picture of Christ. One of the shrewdest things that was said about this movement was that these scholars were like people looking down a well to find Jesus, but didn’t realize that the “Jesus” they saw was really just a reflection of themselves from the water at the bottom of the well! Sometimes I feel this is actually what has happened in popular evangelicalism. Our “Jesus” is actually a reflection of ourselves. This is the constant danger when we don’t simply open the Scriptures and listen to their testimony about Jesus: we make a Jesus in our own image, usually domesticated. Sadly, much that dominates

read more Making Jesus in our own image

You’re ‘More than a Conquerer’—But What Does that Mean?

Justin Holcomb: Because of Jesus’s resurrection, all threats against you are tamed. Jesus conquered death, so death and evil aren’t the end of the story. You can have hope. In Revelation, one of the key themes is conquering through suffering. The number of occurrences of the verb “to conquer” illustrates this (it appears 17 times). John describes amazing promises, addressing them specifically to those who “conquer”: “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (2:7) “The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death” (2:11) “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it” (2:17) “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations” (2:26) “The one

read more You’re ‘More than a Conquerer’—But What Does that Mean?

Raised for us and our salvation

  Matthew Barrett: Too often in our churches the resurrection of Christ is a doctrine of secondary importance. It is neglected and forgotten until Easter comes around each year. The same disregard for the resurrection is seen in how we share the gospel. Christians can tend to share the gospel as if Jesus died on the cross and that is the end of the story. We make a zip line from the crucifixion to “repent and believe,” contrary to the example Peter sets for us in Acts 2:22-24 and 4:26. As central as the cross is to our salvation (and it is absolutely central!), what was accomplished at the cross is truly incomplete if the tomb is not found empty on Sunday morning. Therefore, the resurrection of Christ is, to utilize the language of the Nicene Creed, absolutely vital “for us and our salvation.”  But how exactly? Our Regeneration is Grounded in the Resurrection of Christ Have you ever read

read more Raised for us and our salvation

The Lion is also the Lamb: A Reflection on what makes Jesus so Irresistibly Attractive

Sam Storms: What is it about Jesus that makes him worthy of your adoration and praise? What is it about Jesus that makes him irresistibly attractive? Why is he alone worthy of your whole-hearted allegiance and love? Consider one answer from the portrait of Jesus in Revelation 5. In Revelation 5:5 he is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” but in Revelation 5:6 is also portrayed as the “Lamb” who had been slain, though now standing, because alive. So, which is he? Both! Jesus is both Lion and Lamb. And it is in this glorious juxtaposition of what appear to be two contrasting images that we find the answer to our question. Think about this for a moment: The Lion in whom we find unimpeachable authority is also the Lamb who embodies humility and meekness in the highest degree. The Lion who wields power and strength that none can resist is also the Lamb who walked this earth

read more The Lion is also the Lamb: A Reflection on what makes Jesus so Irresistibly Attractive

Do Not Weep for Jesus

Kevin DeYoung: There were a lot of shocking things said and done on Good Friday. This paragraph describes one you may not have considered before. And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. And there followed him a great multitude of people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:26-31).

read more Do Not Weep for Jesus

Enjoying His Fullness

John Piper: From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:16) Just before the service last Sunday, the little band of praying saints was hard at work fighting for the faith of our people and for the churches of the Twin Cities and for the nations as they prayed. At one point one man prayed the words of John 1:14–16: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. It was one of those epiphany moments for me. God granted in that moment that the word “fullness” — from his fullness — carry a fullness that was extraordinary in its effect on me. I felt some measure of what the word really carries — the fullness of Christ. I felt some of the

read more Enjoying His Fullness

Yes and Amen in Christ

  Kevin DeYoung: God has promised us everything in Christ. Abraham knew the Lord as a promise-maker, Moses knew him as a promise-keeper, but we know the one in whom all the promises are yes and Amen. In Christ, there is now no condemnation for us (Rom. 8:1) In Christ we did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but a spirit of adoption by which we cry out, “Abba, Father!” (Rom. 8:16) In Christ the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed (Rom. 8:18). In Christ we know that he who did not spare his own son, but freely gave him up for us all, will also with him freely give us all things (Rom. 8:32). In Christ there is nothing in all creation—neither life nor death, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor

read more Yes and Amen in Christ

How Can Jesus Be Our Everlasting Father?

  David Sunday: Few words in any language evoke the kind of feelings we have when we hear the word father. Some of us will feel a sense of loss this Christmas season, either because we had fathers who were wonderful but are no longer with us, or because we have unfulfilled longings for the kind of father we’ve never had. How comforting, then, to read of the birth of a child whose name shall be called “Everlasting Father” (Isa. 9:6). Under his care, his protection, and his provision, we are safe and will be satisfied for all eternity. Of all the names attributed to Jesus in Isaiah 9:6, Everlasting Father intrigues me the most because it’s the one I understand the least. How can Jesus the Messiah, the second person of the Godhead, be called Everlasting Father? 1. Isaiah is not confusing Jesus the Messiah with the first person of the Trinity.  Isaiah isn’t teaching us that God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, is

read more How Can Jesus Be Our Everlasting Father?

What Child Is This?

  David Mathis: As a child, I was not impressed with a Christmas song that asked a question everyone already knew the answer to. What child is this? Really? It’s Jesus, of course. We all know that — even the kids know that. What I didn’t yet understand is that questions aren’t just for solving problems and requesting new information. Sometimes questions make a point. We call those “rhetorical questions.” Other times the form of a question expresses awe and wonder about something we know to be true, but find almost too good to be true. It’s too good to simply say it directly like we say everything else. When the disciples found themselves in a great windstorm, with waves breaking into the boat, and Jesus calmed the storm, they said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41). They knew the answer from Scripture. Only God himself can still

read more What Child Is This?

All are welcome here

“The cross of Jesus displays the most awful exhibition of God’s hatred of sin and at the same time the most august manifestation of his readiness to pardon it.  Pardon, full and free, is written out in every drop of blood that is seen, is proclaimed in every groan that is heard, and shines in the very prodigy of mercy that closes the solemn scene upon the cross.  O blessed door of return, open and never shut, to the wanderer from God!  How glorious, how free, how accessible!  Here the sinful, the vile, the guilty, the unworthy, the poor, the penniless, may come.  Here too the weary spirit may bring its burden, the broken spirit its sorrow, the guilty spirit its sin, the backsliding spirit its wandering.  All are welcome here. The death of Jesus was the opening and the emptying of the full heart of God; it was the outgushing of that ocean of infinite mercy that heaved and

read more All are welcome here

Why is Monogamous, Heterosexual Marriage so Important to Evangelical Christians?

Sam Storms: Why do we who identify as conservative evangelicals put so much emphasis on the importance of heterosexual monogamy as the only morally acceptable option? Two reasons may be cited. Of course, I could mention historical, social, and cultural arguments, even psychological arguments for the benefits and blessings of heterosexual marriage. But let me mention two biblical arguments, both of which were recently discussed by my friend Ray Ortlund. First, this is God’s will for all mankind! Moses said it clearly: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). In a world where the primary human relationship was of a child and his parents, this was a stunning statement. We are being told that nothing trumps the one-flesh relationship between a man and his wife. A person’s deepest and most abiding loyalty is to his/her spouse. A man is to “hold fast” or

read more Why is Monogamous, Heterosexual Marriage so Important to Evangelical Christians?

Are we preaching Christ or preaching about Christ?

Ray Ortlund: “My wife always says the most important thing about the man as a preacher was, you didn’t notice him.  He came quietly into the pulpit, started quietly, and then something seemed to happen, and then you became absorbed in what he was saying. . . . ‘We beseech you, in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God’ (2 Corinthians 5:20).  Spirit-filled preaching — the preacher is in the background.  And something happens.  The worshiper, by the grace of God, is being spoken to by God and by the Word of God.  So Lloyd-Jones would often say, the difference between talking about Christ and preaching Christ, or talking about the gospel and actually preaching the gospel.  It’s a comparatively easy thing to talk about the gospel, but to really preach it is another thing. . . . So many preachers have to start their sermon with a nice little anecdote or something interesting, to catch people’s attention.  That is

read more Are we preaching Christ or preaching about Christ?

Unless God Gives You God

John Piper: I am not completely sure why the glory of God began to be so central for me. The roots probably go back farther than I think. My mother and my father quoted 1 Corinthians 10:31 to me as often as any other text, “Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” So I grew up thinking everything in life from eating pizza to drinking Coke is supposed to somehow glorify — make God look glorious. And so it felt early on primarily like a duty. That is what you are supposed to do. But the Bible reveals things about the glory of God that make that little duty in 1 Corinthians 10:31explosive with significance. Can You Define Glory? We use the term “glory of God” so often that we seldom pause to define it. It’s like trying to define beauty. So let me make a stab at

read more Unless God Gives You God

Having Jesus

Having Jesus, what has the believer more? He possesses a righteousness in which God views him complete and accepted, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Is not this a comfort? To stand “complete in Him”—in the midst of many and conscious imperfections, infirmities, flaws, and proneness to wander, yet for the sorrowing and trembling heart to turn and take up its rest in this truth, “that he that believes is justified from all things,” and stands accepted in the Beloved, to the praise of the glory of Divine grace, what a comfort! That God beholds him in Jesus without a spot, because He beholds His Son, in whom He is well pleased, and viewing the believing soul in Him can say, “You are all fair, my love; there is no spot in you”! The blessed Comforter conveys this truth to the troubled soul, brings it to take up its rest in it; and, as

read more Having Jesus

Never Offer the Benefits of the Gospel Without the Benefactor Himself

Sinclair Ferguson, in Feed My Sheep: There is a center to the Bible and its message of grace. It is found in Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected. Grace, therefore, must be preached in a way that is centered and focused on Jesus Christ Himself. We must never offer the benefits of the gospel without the Benefactor Himself. For many preachers, however, it is much easier to deal with the pragmatic things, to answer “how to” questions, and even to expose and denounce sin than it is to give an adequate explanation of the source of the forgiveness, acceptance, and power we need. It is a disheartening fact that evangelical Christians, who write vast numbers of Christian books, preach abundant sermons, sponsor numerous conferences and seminars, and broadcast myriad TV and radio programs actually write few books, preach few sermons, sponsor few conferences or seminars, and devote few programs to the theme of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We give our best and

read more Never Offer the Benefits of the Gospel Without the Benefactor Himself

The war between the serpent and the seed

The war between the serpent and the seed of the woman looms large across Jesus’ whole life and ministry, as he casts out demons, heals the sick, reconciles outcasts to himself, and announces the arrival of the kingdom. The real conquest is underway. What Adam and Israel failed to do — namely, drive the serpent from God’s holy garden and extend his reign to the ends of the earth — the Last Adam and True Israel will accomplish once and for all. The serpent’s head is crushed and the powers of evil are disarmed (Ro. 16:20; Col. 2:14–15). Death and hell no longer have the last word. Oppressors and those who perpetrate violence, injustice, and suffering throughout the earth have been delivered their own death warrant. In the meantime, it is a time of grace — when enemies are reconciled and even Satan’s coconspirators can be forgiven, justified, and renewed as part of God’s new creation. — Michael Horton The Christian

read more The war between the serpent and the seed

What does it mean to “accept Jesus”?

Ray Ortlund: “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”  1 Thessalonians 1:9 You and I are not integrated, unified, whole persons.  Our hearts are multi-divided.  There is something like a board room in every heart.  Big table.  Leather chairs.  Coffee.  Bottled water.  Whiteboard.  A committee sits around the table.  There is the social self, the private self, the work self, the sexual self, the recreational self, the religious self, the childhood memories self, and many others.  The committee is arguing and debating and voting.  Constantly agitated and upset.  Rarely can they come to a unanimous, wholehearted decision. We are like that.  We tell ourselves it’s because we are so busy, with so many responsibilities.  The truth is, we are just indecisive.  We are held back by small thoughts of Jesus. A person in this condition can “accept Jesus” in either of two ways.  One way is to invite him onto the committee.  Give Jesus

read more What does it mean to “accept Jesus”?

The Unchanging Truth about Jesus and the Danger of Following Fads

Sam Storms: There is an interesting connection between Hebrews 13:8 and 13:9 that is not immediately evident. There are no explicit words that connect the two: no “therefore” or “in order that” or “because of.” So let’s look briefly at the two verses to see how they relate and what we can learn from them. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them” (Hebrews 13:8-9). You may recall that earlier in Hebrews 5:11-14 the author of this epistle rebuked his audience for their immaturity in matters of Christian doctrine. Hebrews 13:9 is yet additional evidence that doctrinal instability was a disheartening reality among these believers. Hence the admonition that they put an end to the influence of false teaching. Literally he says, “do not go on

read more The Unchanging Truth about Jesus and the Danger of Following Fads