None Can Stay His Hand – The Certain Triumph of the Gospel

David Mathis: I was a freshman in college when I first heard a preacher named John Piper. I was piled into a van with some older students who had recruited me to go to a weekend men’s retreat with a college ministry. One of the guys played for us a message called “Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain.” The reason I mention it is because that message was the first thing to come to mind when I received this topic for our few minutes together: “The Certain Triumph of the Gospel.” I had grown up in church, but up to that point, Matthew 24:14 had never really landed on me. It was the first verse that Piper quoted in that missions message. These are the words of Jesus: This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14) As a 19-year-old, who wanted my little life

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Power of the Gospel

Darin Smith: Where is the power for the church today? Clearly, if this month proves anything, it proves that it does not find its power in politics. We must discard the budding belief that power politics are what it is all about.  I’ve been reminded lately that politics and political parties aren’t where Christ-followers look for hope. Instead, I am thankful that we have an all-sovereign, all-powerful King to find hope in times such as these. Romans 1:16 says that “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Practically, in today’s modern church landscape, what does this means for us if politics aren’t the answer? Here are nine brief reminders for us: 1. We need to stop trying to make the Gospel relevant—it’s always relevant. To center on and proclaim the Gospel is to be as relevant and powerful as the apostolic early church (Rom. 1:4). The Gospel doesn’t need you. The Gospel doesn’t need bright

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It is a power

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: What is the gospel? Well, you remember the answer of the Apostle Paul, ‘It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth’ (Rom. 1.16). How easy it is to forget that. How easy to preach it as a system, to preach it as a collection of ideas, or just to preach it as a truth. Ah, but you can do that without power. There are people, say the Apostle Paul, who ‘have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof’ (2 Tim. 3.5). Christianity is primarily a life. It is a power. It is a manifestation of energy. –Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival (Crossway, 1987), 123 (HT: Dane Ortlund)

Monergistic Regeneration

From John Hendryx: Since faith is infinitely beyond all the power of our unregenerated human nature, it is only God who can give the spiritual ears to hear and eyes to see the beauty of Christ in the gospel. God alone disarms the hostility of the sinner turning his heart of stone to a heart of flesh. It is God, the Holy Spirit, alone who gives illumination and understanding of His word that we might believe; It is God who raises us from the death of sin, who circumcises the heart; unplugs our ears; It is God alone who can give us a new sense, a spiritual capacity to behold the beauty and unsurpassed excellency of Jesus Christ. The apostle John recorded Jesus saying to Nicodemus that we naturally love darkness, hate the light and WILL NOT come into the light (John 3:19, 20). And since our hardened resistance to God is thus seated in our affections, only God, by

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Hope when Praying for a Lost Family Member

John Newton to William Cowper, February 22, 1770 “I am willing to hope that you will be made a messenger of light and peace to his soul. The Lord’s hand is not shortened that he cannot save. He can do great things in a small time, as you know from your own experience. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, he can command light to shine out of darkness. If he speaks, it is done… One glimpse of the worth of the soul, the evil of sin, and the importance of eternity, will effect that which hath been in vain attempted by repeated arguments.” [Cowper’s brother, John, converted on his deathbed a few days later] (HT: Reformed Voices)

Everything flowing from the cross

“Christ is the glory of God. His blood-soaked cross is the blazing center of that glory. By it He bought for us every blessing–temporal and eternal. And we don’t deserve any. He bought them all. Because of Christ’s cross, God’s elect are destined to be sons of God. Because of His cross all guilt is removed, and sins are forgiven, and perfect righteousness is imputed to us, and the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are being conformed to the image of Christ. Therefore, every enjoyment in this life and the next that is not idolatry is a tribute to the infinite value of the cross of Christ–the burning center of the glory of God. And thus a cross-centered, cross-exalting, cross-saturated life is a God-glorifying life–the only God-glorifying life. All others are wasted.” – John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 59. (HT: Of First Importance)

The Main Thing to Rejoice About in Ministry

By Bill Walsh at Desiring God: Praise God for the times of effective ministry that he allows us to experience. If you’re like me you get excited when you see the fruitfulness of any ministry that God calls you to do. It is a thrill to see him at work, putting to use the gifts and callings that he has granted to us for the cause of the Kingdom. But in Luke 10 Christ challenges us to test our own hearts, by examining what we rejoice in most. The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven…. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10: 17-20) We easily slip into over-emphasizing results rather than rejoicing most in our redemption. According to the Lord,

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Gospel Motivation & Real Change

“All change comes from deepening your understanding of the salvation of Christ and living out of the changes that understanding creates in your heart. Faith in the gospel re-structures our motivations, our self-understanding, our identity, and our view of the world. Behavioral compliance to rules without heart-change will be superficial and fleeting.” – Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God (new York, NY: Dutton, 2008), 121. (HT: Of First Importance)

Feeding on the gospel for change

“We habitually and instinctively look to other things besides God and his grace as our justification, hope, significance, and security. We believe the gospel at one level, but at deeper levels we do not. Human approval, professional success, power and influence, family and clan identity- all of these things serve as our heart’s ‘functional trust’ rather than what Christ has done, and as a result we continue to be driven to a great degree by fear, anger, and a lack of self-control. You cannot change such things through mere willpower, through learning Biblical principles and trying to carry them out. We can only change permanently as we take the gospel more deeply into our understanding and into our hearts. We must feed on the gospel, as it were, digesting it and making it part of ourselves. That is how we grow.” Tim Keller, The Prodigal God, p. 115 (HT: John Fonville)

Becoming what we behold

I love this from Jimmy Davis: We become what we behold. We are to become conformed to the image of Christ, being transformed from one degree of glory to the next as we behold the glory of the Lord (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18).  We are to point the camera lens of our hearts toward Jesus as He is offered in the gospel, and let His glory shine in, burning His image on our souls and developing Christlikeness in our lives (Galatians 4:19; 1 John 3:2-3). Where shall we find that glory most brightly displayed so that we may behold it and be gloriously transformed? “…much of the glory of God appears in the works of creation and providence, but much more in the gospel, where it shines in the face of Jesus Christ.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, vol. 6, “1 Timothy,” p. 651 [HT for this quote: Gospel-Driven Blog] If I were to illustrate creation’s display

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T. David Gordon on Moralistic vs. Christological Preaching

I’m grateful to David Wayne, AKA the Jolly Blogger, for this piece. I think T. David Gordon’s book is going to be a classic. More than that, it’s going to help preachers apply the gospel by preaching Christ. I have committed myself to Christological preaching, but one of the pushbacks on Christological preaching, at least as I practice it, is that it is not practical enough.  The standard preaching advice for many has been that each sermon should include or conclude with practical applications of the text. I agree with this in a sense, but “practical” often takes the form of a “to-do” list, a series of actions we must take to “apply” the text.  The problem with this is that it seems to me to render the gospel null and void.  Our response to the gospel is always that of repentance and faith, not action.  We do not “do” something to apply the gospel, the gospel “does” something to

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Nothing in the Universe is More Relevant

From Missions Mandate: Extended quotation from Michael Horton’s book Christless Christianity*. “Where the gospel is not taken for granted, it is often a means to an end, like personal or social transformation, love and service to our neighbors, and other things that in themselves are marvelous effects of the gospel. However, the Good News concerning Christ is not a stepping-stone to something greater and more relevant. Whether we realize it or not, there is nothing in the universe more relevant to us as guilty image-bearers of God than the news that he has found a way to be ‘just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus’ (Rom. 3:26). It is ‘the power of God for salvation’ (Rom. 1:16), not only for the beginning, but for the middle and end as well – the only thing that creates the kind of new world to which our new obedience corresponds as a reasonable response.” This is a great

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