Sam Storms: Many of you are already well on your way to reading through the Bible in 2021. Like every other year, you’ve heard the call: “Let’s read through the Bible together this year.” Sadly, though, the resolve to read lasts for about a month or two. Then life’s demands and the pressures of each day suppress the commitment we earlier made. How can we not let that happen again this year? I want to suggest that our failure to maintain our pledge to read Scripture consistently is largely due to a misunderstanding of what we think we’ll find in reading God’s written Word. What I want to suggest is that we recognize that in reading Scripture we encounter the resplendent glory of Jesus Christ himself. Here at Bridgeway, in 2021, we are reading through the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, together with the book of Acts. Not just once, but repeatedly. Why? I love the way John
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
“Even when we pray for the blessing of God’s own glory to rest upon us, we find the fulfillment not by thinking about ourselves but by looking to Jesus. Likeness to God’s beauty comes by reflection. We are conformed to his image as we look at the original. It is the Spirit-given vision of the beauty of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ that transforms us to share in thatbeauty.” — Edmund P. Clowney Christian Meditation (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2002), 88 (HT: Of First Importance)
From a fantastic little book, The Bookends of the Christian Life, by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington: [A] little-known seventeenth-century Puritan, Thomas Wilcox . . . wroteHoney Out of the Rock, one of the most helpful essays we’ve found on dealing with persistent guilt. We’ve updated into modern language a series of Wilcox’s instructions for dealing with persistent guilt: – Shift your focus away from your sin and onto Christ: don’t persist in looking upon sin; look upon Christ instead, and don’t look away from him for a moment. When we see our guilt, if we don’t see Christ in the scene, away with it! In all our storms of conscience, we must look at Christ exclusively and continually. – Shift your focus to Christ, our mediator. If we’re so discouraged we cannot pray, then we must see Christ praying for us (Romans 8:34), using his influence with the Father on our behalf. What better news could we ever want than to know
Praying “in Jesus’ name” is more than attaching the phrase to the end of each prayer. So what types of prayers are prayed “in Jesus’ name”? In this three-minute clip from his latest sermon, Pastor John says it has more to do with our prayer’s content than in its closing. He provides us with four prayer-filters. (HT: Tony Reinke)
John Piper: The gospel is not just a sequence of steps (say, the “Four Laws” of Campus Crusade or the “Six Biblical Truths” of Quest for Joy ).Those are essential. But what makes the gospel “good news” is that it connects a person with the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” There is nothing in itself that makes “forgiveness of sins” good news. Whether being forgiven is good news depends on what it leads to. You could walk out of a courtroom innocent of a crime and get killed on the street. Forgiveness may or may not lead to joy. Even escaping hell is not in itself the good news we long for – not if we find heaven to be massively boring. Nor is justification in itself good news. Where does it lead? That is the question. Whether justification will be good news, depends on the award we receive because of our imputed righteousness. What do we receive because we are counted righteous
From Sam Storms’ – To the One Who Conquers: 50 Daily Meditations on the Seven Letters of Revelation 2-3 (Crossway) (used with permission) Chapter 50 – Enthroned! (Revelation 3:21-22) “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” No matter how many times I read this promise, I struggle to believe it. That’s not because I doubt its inspiration or accuracy. Jesus meant what he said and I embrace it. But to think of myself enthroned with Christ is simply more than I can fathom. Others of you may have a better grip on this than I do, but it strikes me as so utterly outlandish, not to mention presumptuous and prideful, that I blink at the words and have to pause simply to catch my breath.
Off to speak at the FEBV (Fellowship for Evangelising Britain’s Villages) annual conference. This year it is being held at Kings Park, Northampton. I shall be speaking on the ‘Goal of the Gospel.’ This evening we’ll be looking at the ‘Essential Elements of the Gospel’ from Galatians 1:3-5. Tomorrow, I shall present Jesus as the ‘Goal’ of the gospel. In other words, Jesus saves us for Jesus. We’ll also see how we can behold him now, full of grace and truth. Yes, you’ve guessed it, we behold him supremely in the gospel itself. Sunday I’ll be expounding Psalm 73, because heaven and earth has nothing we should desire besides him. Monday? I’m off to Africa!
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” Galatians 3:13 “To the Jews, this was absolute blasphemy: a cursed Messiah on a cursed cross. No wonder the cross was such a stumbling block to them! To put it in the most shocking and yet perhaps the most accurate way, the apostolic message was about a God-damned Messiah.” Philip Graham Ryken, Galatians (Phillipsburg, 2005), page 115. (HT: Ray Ortlund)
“In order for the Christian gospel to be good news it must provide an all-satisfying and eternal gift that undeserving sinners can receive and enjoy. For that to be true, the gift must be three things. First, the gift must be purchased by the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Our sins must be covered, and the wrath of God against us must be removed, and Christ’s righteousness must be imputed to us. Second, the gift must be free and not earned. There would be no good news if we had to merit the gift of the gospel. Third, the gift must be God himself, above all his other gifts.” – John Piper, God is the Gospel (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2005), 14. (HT: Of First Importance)
By Chris Tomlinson: Is it possible to talk too much about the cross? I ask this question only because some preachers and writers and teachers seem to talk about the cross a lot. Some do so almost continually. We can understand why they might carry on in this way because we know the primacy and weight of Calvary. But there are still times this thought crosses many of our minds: “Great, so I understand the cross is important. But can’t we move on to the next topic?” We say this sort of thing when we feel our faith is about more than Jesus. And in one sense, we can say this is true. Our faith is about God’s glory, and our joy, and loving others, and meeting the needs of the oppressed, and being made holy, and sojourning through life, and laying up treasures in heaven, and all sorts of other things. In this way, we are saying the expression
The reason our affections are so chilled and cold in religion—is that we do not warm them with thoughts of God. Hold a magnifying glass to the sun, and the glass burns that which is near to it. So when our thoughts are lifted up to Christ, the Sun of righteousness, our affections are set on fire. No sooner had the spouse been thinking upon her Savior’s beauty—but she fell into love-sickness. (Song of Sol. 5:8). O saints, do but let your thoughts dwell upon the love of Christ, who passed by angels and thought of you; who was wounded that, out of his wounds, the balm of Gilead might come to heal you; who leaped into the sea of his Father’s wrath, to save you from drowning in the lake of fire! Think of this unparalleled love, which sets the angels wondering—and see if it will not affect your hearts and cause tears to flow forth! — Thomas Watson
This is very helpful from Juan Sanchez, at the Gospel Coalition Blog: For some the doctrine of election (God’s free and sovereign decision to choose a people for salvation from the foundation of the world-Ephesians 1:3-6) is an abominable thought that produces great fear and concern. However, I propose that a clear understanding of this doctrine should instead produce hope and assurance. Allow me to share some of the reasons why the doctrine of election is so precious to me. The doctrine of election is precious to me because it is biblical. In a display of the Father’s love for the Son, He gives a specific people to the Son (John 6:37). This truth is evident in the testimony of the book of Revelation when it declares that the only ones entering the eternal heaven are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:27). John further testifies in Revelation 13:8, that these names were written in this book
Justin Childers posts this succinct and helpful reminder: The gospel message itself contains the most powerful reasons why we need to constantly remind ourselves of it. 1. The gospel reveals the Glory of God. 2. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. 3. The gospel protects us from Satan. 4. The gospel sanctifies us. 5. The gospel enables us to obey God rightly. 6. The gospel enables us to love others. 7. The gospel cultivates humility. 8. The gospel frees me from condemnation. 9. The gospel liberates me from legalism. 10. The gospel smashes our idols.
Here is John Piper’s message, from the Desiring God Conference, September 27, 2009 where he shows how Jesus Christ relates to the ultimate purpose of God in creating the universe as the theatre of God: