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

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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

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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,

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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

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In the world, but not of it

  Taken from John Piper’s post on voting. I have reproduced the teaching from 1Corinthians only. You can read the whole post here, including his topical application. What kind of attitude we are to have as Christians, living in this world, because “the present form of this world is passing away” and, in God’s eyes, “the time has grown very short.” Here’s the way Paul puts it: The appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:29–31) 1. “Let those who have wives live as though they had none.” This doesn’t

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Fear Not, Little Flock

  Eric Raymond: I am thoroughly enjoying Michael Horton’s new book Ordinary. I hope to review it soon, but will doubtless be quoting from it for months. Here is a sample: I think that if Jesus were to return today, he might tell us to stop taking ourselves so seriously. “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18, italics added). The gates of hell are no small matter, at least for us. We’re quite anxious. We have to do something about this (this being whatever we’re shocked by at present). America is in moral free-fall. The media are persecuting us. Churches seem to be losing their way. Radical Islam is on the march–not to mention the perfect storm of AIDS, famine, and war that has taken millions of lives in Africa. Every time we turn on the news, our compassion or anger is aroused–to the point that we become numb to it. And people in the

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5 Easy Steps to a Shallow Christian Life

  By Josh Bount: Wait no longer! Write them on Post-It notes, cross-stitch them on your pillow, have Siri repeat them to you daily. 1. Don’t stop searching until you’ve found “The Secret to the Christian Life.” It’s out there! Don’t give up. It might be baptism in the Holy Spirit. It might be true surrender. It might be faith. It might be resting in what God’s already done. It might be…well, you go find it on your own. Don’t let the fact that two thousand years of Christian history has yet to produce the final solution to the perplexities of living as redeemed sinners in a fallen world stop you. Maybe the secret was just waiting for YOU to get out there and discover it… 2. In your advice to yourself and to other believers, use the word “just” regularly. This will be a lot easier after you’ve found the answer to #1. Then you can tell people, “Stop

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Sam Storms on J.I. Packer’s New Book

J. I. Packer. Weakness Is the Way: Life with Christ Our Strength. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 125 pp. Sam Storms: This comparatively short book with its strange title delivers a powerful blow to the rampant triumphalism that has infected much of the Bible-believing world. Using Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians as his principal resource, J. I. Packer has once again provided us with both the theological depth and practical wisdom necessary to live in a way that pleases and honors Christ. The reader should not draw false conclusions from the title. Whereas Packer advocates a form of “weakness” as the only way in which to live to the glory of God, he does not deny the proper place of spiritual strength. The subtitle reminds us that it is in and through our weakness that Christ’s powerful presence is made known. Packer’s decision “to take soundings in Second Corinthians” (p. 16) is a wise and helpful one, as it is in

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The Love of Jesus is Sacred

“I apologize for putting this so bluntly, but it’s in the Bible. We need to face it. How can we hope to be true to Christ if we look away from the Bible’s stark portrayal of our natural corruption? The Bible alerts us that a blasphemous attitude lurks in all our hearts. We tell ourselves: ‘What’s the big deal about this or that compromise? He’ll understand. He’s all about grace, right?’ But what man would say: ‘What’s the big deal about my wife’s adulteries? It’s only marriage. I understand. I’m all about grace’? In the same way, our divine Husband does not think, ‘Well, she’s brought another lover into our bed, but as long as they let me sleep, what’s the big deal?’ The thought is revolting. “The love of Jesus is sacred. He gives all, and he demands all, because he is a good Husband. Only an exclusive love is real love. Only a cleansing grace is real grace.

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The Empty Tomb

Paul Tripp: I love Easter. I love the celebratory music we sing at church. I love the passages of Scripture we read during worship. And most of all, I love the visual image of the empty tomb. I’m deeply persuaded that the empty tomb of the Lord Jesus Christ reveals three fundamental character qualities about God. 1. FAITHFUL The empty tomb reveals that God is faithful. Centuries earlier, after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, God promised that He would crush wrong once and for all. He sent his Son to defeat sin and death by his crucifixion and resurrection. For thousands of years, God neither forgot nor turned from His promise. He didn’t grow weary, nor would he be distracted. He made a promise, and he controlled the events of history (large and small) so that at just the right moment, Jesus Christ would come and fulfill what had been promised. 2. POWERFUL The empty tomb also reveals that

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Preach the Gospel to Yourself

  David Mathis: No one is more influential in your life than you are. Because no one talks to you more than you do. So observes Paul Tripp — and in doing so, he accents our need to daily preach the gospel to ourselves. In our sin, we constantly find our responses to life in our fallen world to be disconnected from the theology that we confess. Anger, fear, panic, discouragement stalk our hearts and whisper in our ears a false gospel that will lure our lives away from what we say we believe. The battleground, says Tripp, is meditation. What is it that is capturing your idle thoughts? What fear or frustration is filling your spare moments? Will you just listen to yourself, or will you start talking? No, preaching — not letting your concerns shape you, but forming your concerns by the gospel. Defensive and Offensive Preaching the gospel to ourselves is a spiritual discipline that is both

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How to Handle Your Sin

Kevin DeYoung: What do you do with your sin? You can explain it with science. You can minimize it with sophistication. You can swallow it up with self-talk. Or you can confess it to your Savior. There are the two radically different schools of thought when it comes to dealing with our imperfections. One message–the “good news” of the world–tells you: “You own yourself, you engineer yourself, you invent yourself, you discover yourself.” This message screams an absolutely diabolical falsehood. It will not give you the freedom you are looking for. It will not give you peace of mind. It will not give you a clean conscience. It will not give you eternal life. The second message–the good news of the cross–will give you real freedom. It confesses, “I am not my own. I was bought with a price. I am not in charge. I am not the purpose of my life. I will not find the “true” me. I

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Followers of Jesus should expect injustice and misrepresentation

Randy Alcorn: In an interview I was asked, What is your advice on how believers should deal with a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christianity? Jesus said, “No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). Followers of Jesus should expect injustice and misrepresentation. I’m grateful there are organizations working to protect the rights of Christians. But I’m concerned if we view ourselves as one more special interest group, clinging to entitlements and whining when people don’t like us. God’s people have a long history of not being liked. Of course, this does not mean being hateful or seeking to be hated. It’s important that we represent the Gospel well, and I am all for graciousness, kindness and servant-hearted love as we speak the truth. Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” But the fact is, while the gospel is good news, it is

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How to Count It All As Loss

John Piper: What does it mean to count everything as loss for the sake of Christ? What does it mean to renounce all that we have for Christ’s sake? Paul said he does this. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). And a few verses later he said, “Brothers, join in imitating me” (3:17). So this is commanded of all believers. This Is Basic Christianity This is what it means to be a Christian. It is not advanced discipleship; it is basic Christianity. This is confirmed in Jesus’s words, “Any one of you who does notrenounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). Renouncing all we have is the same as “counting everything as loss.” This is what happens in conversion. You can’t be a disciple without it. Jesus said this. He describes this conversion in a parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in

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An Interview with David Wells

Justin Taylor: I was recently able to sit down with David Wells to talk about his new book, God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World (Crossway, 2014). We talk about why this is the hardest book he has ever written, how it is different from what he’s written before, and why he spends so much of his time working with orphans in Africa.  

Crucifying Defensiveness

Jared Wilson: . . . Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? – 1 Corinthians 6:7 The biggest problem in my life and ministry is me. And the biggest problem among my many idiosyncratic problems is the impulse toward self-defense and self-justification. The Lord has been working well on me over the last several years in this area, and I do think, by his grace, I have gotten better at suppressing this impulse, denying it, even going into situations I know will include much criticism directed at myself having proactively crucified it for the moment. But my inner defense attorney (a voting partner in the ambulance-chasing firm of Flesh & Associates) is always there, crouching at my door, seeking to rule over everybody by arguing in my quote-unquote “favor.” Crucifying the defensive impulse is so difficult because it essentially means choosing to allow others to misunderstand you, misjudge you, and even malign you. (Of course, many times the painful things

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I press on, because . . .

Ray Ortlund: Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Philippians 3:12 The New Testament rings with two glorious themes.  One is the grace of Christ.  He has made us his own.  Think of the sweep of thought from election to predestination to creation to fall to promise to Old Covenant to New Covenant to atonement to resurrection to outpouring to conversion to growth to glorification.  When Christ Jesus makes us his own, he draws us into a massive reality. The other theme is how we respond to the magnitude of all that Christ brings to us.  We have not yet obtained the fullness of his grace.  We are not already perfect.  But we are pressing on.  We are not wallowing in defeatism and self-pity.  We are highly motivated for whatever next step the Lord is calling us to venture.  Why?  Because Christ Jesus

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Intellectual Discipleship? Faithful Thinking for Faithful Living

Albert Mohler: The biblical master narrative serves as a framework for the cognitive principles that allow the formation of an authentically Christian worldview. Many Christians rush to develop what they will call a “Christian worldview” by arranging isolated Christian truths, doctrines, and convictions in order to create formulas for Christian thinking. No doubt, this is a better approach than is found among so many believers who have very little concern for Christian thinking at all; but it is not enough. A robust and rich model of Christian thinking—the quality of thinking that culminates in a God-centered worldview—requires that we see all truth as interconnected. Ultimately, the systematic wholeness of truth can be traced to the fact that God is himself the author of all truth. Christianity is not a set of doctrines in the sense that a mechanic operates with a set of tools. Instead, Christianity is a comprehensive worldview and way of life that grows out of Christian reflection on the

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The key to the Christian life comes not from trying harder but from enjoying more

Sam Storms: I have a simple but profound philosophy when it comes to the Christian life. When it is fully understood it can be revolutionary. By that I mean it can take a self-absorbed, idolatrous rebel and empower him to pursue a life that truly honors God. It can take a hopelessly depressed, self-loathing woman and restore meaning and value and joy to her lowly life. I’ve said this before, so I doubt if it will strike you as novel or unique. But here it is again: The key to the Christian life comes not from trying harder but from enjoying more. Before you jump to the wrong conclusion, let me explain. I’m not saying you can experience success in Christian living without trying harder. I’m not at all suggesting that the Christian life isn’t hard work. It’s a war, a daily conflict, a moment-by-moment challenge that stretches us often beyond our limits. What I am saying is that pleasure

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Expelling Worldliness with a New Affection

Sinclair Ferguson: Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) was one of the most remarkable men of his time—a mathematician, evangelical theologian, economist, ecclesiastical, political, and social reformer all in one.  His most famous sermon was published under the unlikely title: “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” In it he expounded an insight of permanent importance for Christian living: you cannot destroy love for the world merely by showing its emptiness. Even if we could do so, that would lead only to despair. The first world–centered love of our hearts can be expelled only by a new love and affection—for God and from God. The love of the world and the love of the Father cannot dwell together in the same heart. But the love of the world can be driven out only by the love of the Father. Hence Chalmers’ sermon title. True Christian living, holy and right living, requires a new affection for the Father as its dynamic. Such new affection

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