What Does It Really Mean to Be the Salt of the Earth?

Andrew Wilson: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” (Matt. 5:13) Few things in creation are more ordinary than salt. Most of us have interacted with it in the last couple of hours, whether we realize it or not. We use it to make leather, pottery, soap, detergents, rubber, clothes, paper, cleaning products, glass, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. It sits largely unnoticed on hundreds of millions of café and restaurant tables around the world. Unlike pepper, which is often sitting next to it, salt is essential for our health and has always been eaten by human beings wherever we have settled. We add it to so much of our food that many languages simply distinguish between sweet and salty flavors. We spread it across roads when it snows. More than half

read more What Does It Really Mean to Be the Salt of the Earth?

Three principles of the Christian life

Sam Storms: One of my spiritual and theological mentors was Russ McKnight. Not many will have heard of that name, but Russ’s influence on me and numerous others, including a dozen or more men now in full time ministry, was monumental. Russ was a layman who served as an Elder at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. I first met Russ in 1969 on the campus of the University of Oklahoma. Russ was teaching a Bible study on Romans every Saturday morning in the Student Union building. Russ was the first man who taught me about the doctrines of sovereign grace, or what is more commonly known as Calvinism. I was a thoroughly convinced Arminian at the time, and Russ’s love, patience, and remarkable gift at unpacking the truths of the Bible eventually led to my embracing the doctrines of grace. Russ sold his business in the late 1970’s and moved to Dallas where he studied for his master’s degree

read more Three principles of the Christian life

You Have Need of Endurance

Jon Bloom: A few months ago, I met a friend for breakfast. When I asked him how he was doing, he answered, “I’m enduring.” If his response doesn’t sound remarkable, it’s only because you don’t know the howling spiritual storm that had raged in his soul over the past year, and the relentless questions and doubts that pressed on him. He was wrestling “spiritual forces of evil” (Ephesians 6:12) in a fierce, disorienting fight for faith (1 Timothy 6:12), all while faithfully leading a young, growing family, helping to (bi-vocationally) lead a young, growing church, and helping to (vocationally) lead a young, growing, increasingly visible ministry. And on top of that were the taxing stresses of normal life. Few knew the fortitude this season required of him. He was enduring, and it was remarkable. When we observe those like my friend enduring such a difficult struggle, we often feel the merciful impulse to try to relieve their anguish. This can be

read more You Have Need of Endurance

Hermeneutics: Knowing and Living the Text

By David E. Briones: I teach biblical hermeneutics—how to study the Bible—at Reformation Bible College. I enjoy teaching all of the subjects assigned to me, but hermeneutics is certainly one of my favorites. I especially enjoy the first couple of class sessions. We spend significant time thinking about what constitutes a good and faithful hermeneutical method—a good, explicitly Christian way of interpreting Scripture. To set the context for that discussion, I read a quote to the class that comes from Augustine’s On Christian Teaching: “So anyone who thinks that he has understood the divine scriptures or any part of them, but cannot by his understanding build up this double love of God and neighbor, has not yet succeeded in understanding them” (27). This quote challenges every interpreter of Scripture—professor and student alike—not only to know the text but also (and especially) to live out the text. Putting the text into practice is absolutely essential to knowing Scripture truly. A person successfully attains knowledge

read more Hermeneutics: Knowing and Living the Text

We’re in a War, Folks!

Sam Storms: The Apostle Peter tells us that “the passions of the flesh” are waging “war against” our “souls” (1 Peter 2:11). Don’t underestimate the significance of this daily battle for our souls. So, how are we to fight? With what weapons do we wage this war? Peter says we do so “as (or because we are) sojourners and exiles” (v. 11a; see 1 Peter 1:1,17). His point is that we should draw strength to say No to fleshly passions because they belong to this world and we don’t! We are citizens of a heavenly kingdom that operates under the Lordship of Christ. The culture of heaven is governed by a different ethic, a different spirit, a different morality. So remind yourself often of where you belong. We belong to the Lord Jesus, not to this world, so take your cues from him, not it. John Piper put it best when he said that “we must cultivate the mindset of exiles.” This truth is designed

read more We’re in a War, Folks!

Saint or Sinner? Rethinking the Language of Our Christian Identity

Michael J. Kruger: Throughout the letters of the New Testament, the people of God are called lots of things. They are the “elect” (1 Pet 1:1), “faithful brothers” (Col 1:2), “beloved” (1 John 2:7), “children of God” (1 John 3:2), a “holy nation” (1 Pet 2:9), and most of all they are called “saints.” Conspicuously absent from this list is the term “sinners.”  There is no place I am aware of where the church, the people of God, are collectively called “sinners.”  Moreover, an argument can be made that there is no instance in the New Testament where a believer is referred to as a “sinner.”  The closest is Paul’s well-known reference to himself as the “foremost” (or “chief”) of sinners in 1 Tim 1:15.  But, the context makes it plain that Paul is using this terminology to refer to his old life as a persecutor of the church.  He says, “formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent” (1:13). Now, of course, this does not

read more Saint or Sinner? Rethinking the Language of Our Christian Identity

The Gospel Is Not Just for Unbelievers, but Also for Believers

D.A. Carson: The gospel is not a minor theme that deals with the point of entry into the Christian way, to be followed by a lot of material that actually brings about the life transformation. Very large swaths of evangelicalism simply presuppose that this is the case. Preaching the gospel, it is argued, is announcing how to be saved from God’s condemnation; believing the gospel guarantees you won’t go to hell. But for actual transformation to take place, you need to take a lot of discipleship courses, spiritual enrichment courses, “Go deep” spiritual disciplines courses, and the like. You need to learn journaling, or asceticism, or the simple lifestyle, or Scripture memorization; you need to join a small group, an accountability group, or a women’s Bible study. Not for a moment would I speak against the potential for good of all of these steps; rather, I am speaking against the tendency to treat these as postgospel disciplines, disciplines divorced from

read more The Gospel Is Not Just for Unbelievers, but Also for Believers

There Are No Shortcuts to Growth

R.C. Sproul: I’m still amazed whenever I see the bumper sticker that reads, “Visualize world peace.” The idea is that if I, and enough other people, create the right mental picture of peace, it will soon come to pass. It’s astounding that some people actually believe that silly technique will bring about such a desirable goal. Then, there’s the popular “Coexist” bumper sticker. You may have seen it, the one spelled out with the symbols of different religions—the Islamic crescent forming the C, the Christian cross forming the T, and so on. The idea seems to be that if we religious people would just stop focusing on our differences, we could achieve world harmony. If we understood that our beliefs are all ultimately the same, all of the problems of war and strife would go away. The funny thing is, we’ll reject such sentiments when they appear on a bumper sticker, but we’ll accept them elsewhere. How many business seminars promise increased

read more There Are No Shortcuts to Growth

Kiss the Wave

Tim Challies: None of us makes it through life without suffering. None of us escapes physical pain, emotional distress, or spiritual agony. At some times and in some ways, we all suffer. No wonder, then, that so many authors have turned to the subject. As Christians, we are well-served with books to help us suffer well and books that help us grapple with the deeper theological questions that inevitably arise in the midst of our darkness. New to the market is Dave Furman’s Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials. The title is drawn from a quote generally attributed to Charles Spurgeon: “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” Furman explains, “When I am in the midst of suffering, I am doing my best just to keep my head above water as the stormy waves of suffering crash over me. I have often longed to be lifted out of the rough and

read more Kiss the Wave

10 Things You Should Know about Suffering

Dave Furman: 1. Suffering is a result of the fall. God warned Adam that eating the forbidden fruit would result in death (Gen 2). Romans 5:12 confirms that this happened after Adam’s fall, “Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Death (and the accompanying pain and suffering) came as a result of that first sin and our continued sin. Pain, suffering, and death—in and of themselves—are not good. 2. God uses suffering for good. Thankfully, Romans 8 tells us “That for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” God never tells us our pain is good, but he uses pain to work for our good in his miraculous and mysterious way. One of the ways God uses pain is to wake us up and bring up to himself. Our tendency in

read more 10 Things You Should Know about Suffering

The Cure for a Superficial Faith

    Sam Storms: I’ve been a subscriber to World magazine for as long as I can remember. Some have referred to it as the Christian version of Time magazine. Actually, it’s a lot better than Time ever was and not simply because it is faith-based. But I’m not here to praise World. I’m here to draw attention to two things that I noted in its most recent, August 5, 2017, issue. In an article on the church in China titled “More Growing Pains, More Great Gains,” June Cheng reports on the struggles of believers in that communist country. This article is a follow-up on an earlier piece in which she profiled three groups of Christians “working to help mature the burgeoning Chinese church” (43). One of those on whom she focused is a pastor from Singapore “whose online sermons led to church plants throughout China” (43). When Cheng last saw this man, Joseph Su (whose name has been changed for safety reasons), he was actively involved

read more The Cure for a Superficial Faith

Passive Christianity Is Dead Christianity

Jon Bloom: What do you want? What do you desire? What is your ambition? Do you really want to know? Look at your behavior. You do what you want. This is a devastatingly simple psychology of motivation. But it’s what the Bible teaches: James: Faith without works is dead. Don’t tell me you have faith if the way you live doesn’t back up what you say. (James 2:17–18) John: Love without deeds is dead. Don’t tell me you love if the way you live doesn’t back up what you say. (1 John 3:17–18) Paul: Grace without holiness is dead. Don’t tell me you revel in God’s grace if the way you live doesn’t back up what you say. (Romans 6:12–14) Jesus: Discipleship without obedience is dead. Don’t tell me I’m your Lord if the way you live doesn’t back up what you say. (Matthew 7:21) We may say what sounds orthodox, but we do what we really believe. We may

read more Passive Christianity Is Dead Christianity

The Christian Life is not the Bargain Bin

Erik Raymond: The Christian life is difficult. It’s not quite spitting into the wind hard, but it’s still tough. But there is a difference between it being hard and being lousy. Christians are often portrayed in print and film as joyless prigs who have settled for a flavorless life. Sadly, many believers can fall into this same line of thinking. Being shaped by the world around us and some degree of truncated biblical application, we can buy the lie that the abundant life is out of reach. We think that we’ve settled for less. I was reminded of this on a recent visit to the store to pick up a couple of things for my wife. Walking through the supermarket I noticed a discount bin. In this section of the cooler there was discounted meat that was nearing its expiration. Nearby there was a shelf with damaged boxes. Things were discounted because they were not as good as the other

read more The Christian Life is not the Bargain Bin

The Key to Contentment

From New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional by Paul David Tripp: Stop Living for the Moment There is no doubt about it—the Bible is a big-picture book that calls us to big-picture living. It stretches the elasticity of your mind as it calls you to think about things before the world began and thousands of years into eternity. The Bible simply does not permit you to live for the moment. It doesn’t give you room to shrink your thoughts, desires, words, and actions down to whatever spontaneous thought, emotion, or need grips you at any given time. In a moment, your thoughts can seem more important than they actually are. In a moment, your emotions can seem more reliable than they really are. In a moment, your needs can seem more essential than they truly are. We are meant to live lives that are connected to beginnings and to endings. And we are meant to live this way because

read more The Key to Contentment

6 Truths that Will Lead You to True Joy

This post is adapted from Quest for Joy, a short-form tract by John Piper: 1. God created us for his glory. Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth . . . whom I created for my glory. (Isaiah 43:6-7) God made us to magnify his greatness—the way telescopes magnify stars. He created us to put his goodness and truth and beauty and wisdom and justice on display. The greatest display of God’s glory comes from deep delight in all that he is. This means that God gets the praise and we get the pleasure. God created us so that he is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. 2. Every human should live for God’s glory. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31) If God made us for his glory, clearly we should live for his

read more 6 Truths that Will Lead You to True Joy

You Are Not Enslaved to Your Past

John Piper: Christianity means change is possible. Deep, fundamental change. It is possible to become tender-hearted when once you were callous and insensitive. It is possible to stop being dominated by bitterness and anger. It is possible to become a loving person no matter what your background has been. The Bible assumes that God is the decisive factor in making us what we should be. With wonderful bluntness the Bible says, “Put away malice and be tenderhearted.” It does not say, “If you can . . . ” Or: “If your parents were tender-hearted to you . . . ” Or: “If you weren’t terribly wronged or abused . . . ” It says, “Be tender-hearted.” This is wonderfully freeing. It frees us from the terrible fatalism that says change is impossible. It frees us from mechanistic views that make our backgrounds our destinies. If I were in prison and Jesus walked into my cell and said, “Leave this place

read more You Are Not Enslaved to Your Past

Why Obey?

Paul Tripp: There’s simply nothing you can do to gain God’s favor. You have to accept this and remember it: you will never be righteous enough for long enough to satisfy God’s holy requirements. Your thoughts will never be pure enough. Your desires will never be holy enough. Your words will never be clean enough. Your choices and actions will never be honoring enough. The bar is simply set too high for us to ever reach. We all live under the same weight of the law, crippled by the inability of sin. We’re better at rebelling than submitting, more inclined to arrogance than humility, more skilled at making war with our neighbors than loving them. We leave a trail of evidence every hour that we’ve fallen short of the glory of God one more time. So what’s the point of obedience in the Christian life? Well, this hard-to-swallow pill of bad news is actually the doorway to eternal hope and

read more Why Obey?

Redeeming culture, building the Kingdom – Really?

  Some helpful insight from Kevin DeYoung: We need to be careful about our language. I think I know what people mean when they talk about redeeming the culture or partnering with God in His redemption of the world, but we should really pick another word. Redemption has already been accomplished on the cross. We are not co-redeemers of anything. We are called to serve, bear witness, proclaim, love, do good to everyone, and adorn the gospel with good deeds, but we are not partners in God’s work of redemption. Similarly, there is no language in Scripture about Christians building the kingdom. The New Testament, in talking about the kingdom, uses words like enter, seek, announce, see, receive, look, come into, and inherit. Do a word search and see for yourself. We are given the kingdom and brought into the kingdom. We testify about it, pray for it to come, and by faith, it belongs to us. But in the New Testament,

read more Redeeming culture, building the Kingdom – Really?

Five things Jonathan Edwards teaches us about the Christian life

  Dane Ortlund: For many of us, Jonathan Edwards is a skinny white guy who never smiled, except when talking about hell. If we know anything more, it’s: that he wrote a lot of really dense books that he talked a lot about the glory of God that he was part of the Great Awakening that John Piper likes him a lot. And that’s about it. But there are riches to be mined in Jonathan Edwards far beyond what you may have been exposed to. Reading Jonathan Edwards is not for historians and professors mainly, but for the rest of us. Here are five things Edwards teaches us about the Christian life—your Christian life. 1. If you’re a Christian, you don’t realize how radically different and freshly empowered you now are. When sinners repent and believe for the first time, it often feels as if nothing much has happened, and it often looks as if nothing much has happened. Our

read more Five things Jonathan Edwards teaches us about the Christian life