A Peculiar Glory

John Frame’s commendation of John Piper’s latest book, ‘A Peculiar Glory – How the Christian Scriptures reveal their complete truthfulness’: A Peculiar Glory is a solid theological and exegetical treatment of biblical authority, but much more. Besides the standard arguments, Piper has developed (with the help of Jonathan Edwards) a profoundly original yet biblical approach to the question. It raises the traditional arguments to an exponential level of cogency. Piper says that our most definitive persuasion comes from actually seeing the glory of God in his Word. Theologians have traditionally called this the ‘internal testimony of the Holy Spirit,’ but that theological label does little justice to the experience, the awareness of the glory of God as we meet Jesus in Scripture. That really happens. It is astonishing and powerful. And it explains the difference between an observer’s merely theoretical faith and a true disciple’s delighted embrace of Christ. This doctrine of Scripture is worthy of the overall emphasis of

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The Priority of Preaching the Word

Steven Lawson: Understanding the fiery preaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones requires an apprehension of the exceedingly high view he possessed of preaching. He believed that the chief business of the church is what Paul charged Timothy with his dying words, to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2). Preaching must come first in the life of the church before anything else can find its rightful place. With compelling clarity, he stated, “The primary task of the Church and of the Christian minister is the preaching of the Word of God.” Nothing, he maintained, must ever supplant the primacy of biblical preaching in the pulpit. The Doctor believed everything in the life of the church is defined and directed by the proclamation of the Scripture. Through the many challenges Lloyd-Jones faced, the public exposition of Scripture consistently occupied the central place in his ministry in Wales and London. In his estimation, the pulpit held the chief place in his ministry, and it was here

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What Does it Mean to Abide in Christ?

Sinclair Ferguson: The exhortation to “abide” has been frequently misunderstood, as though it were a special, mystical, and indefinable experience. But Jesus makes clear that it actually involves a number of concrete realities. First, union with our Lord depends on His grace. Of course we are actively and personally united to Christ by faith (John 14:12). But faith itself is rooted in the activity of God. It is the Father who, as the divine Gardener, has grafted us into Christ. It is Christ, by His Word, who has cleansed us to fit us for union with Himself (15:3). All is sovereign, all is of grace. Second, union with Christ means being obedient to Him. Abiding involves our response to the teaching of Jesus: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you …” (John 15:7a). Paul echoes this idea in Colossians 3:16, where he writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” a statement closely related to his

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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

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What the greatest preachers recognize

“Throughout the history of the church the greatest preachers have been those who have recognized that they have no authority in themselves and have seen their task as being to explain the words of Scripture and apply them clearly to the lives of their hearers. Their preaching has drawn its power not from the proclamation of their own Christian experiences or the experiences of others, nor from their own opinions, creative ideas, or rhetorical skills, but from God’s powerful word. Essentially they stood in the pulpit, pointed to the biblical text, and said in effect to the congregation, “This is what this verse means. Do you see that meaning here as well? Then you must believe it and obey it with all your heart, for God himself, your Creator and your Lord, is saying this to you today!” Only the written words of Scripture can give this kind of authority to preaching.” — Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (p. 82). (HT:

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4 Ways to Pray

  Tim Challies: I’m sure you are familiar with the powerful words of Philippians 4:6-7: “[D]o not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” In his book Mindscape, Timothy Witmer explains that there are 4 ways in which these words call us to pray. Pray specifically. Paul uses different words for “prayer” in verse 6. The first is a general word for prayer, but the second word, “supplication,” refers to an urgent specific plea. This is reinforced when he adds, “let your requests be made known to God.” I’ve heard some folks say that when they pray they don’t ask for anything for themselves. This might sound very selfless and holy, but it is wrong! The prayer Jesus taught his own disciples includes specific personal requests. It begins with praise to our Father in heaven and ends with his kingdom and power and glory; but in the

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God Issued the Prohibition, Not the Church

Jim Hamilton: In his book God and the Gay Christian, Matthew Vines assumes that he is correct to call sin righteous, slanders the Bride of Christ, and speaks as though sin produces lasting joy when he writes, “the church’s condemnation of same-sex relationships seemed to be harmful to the long-term wellbeing of most gay people. . . . Same-sex relationships, however, did seem to be creating long-term fulfillment for gay people. By condemning homosexuality, the church seemed to be shutting off a primary avenue for relational joy and companionship in gay people’s lives” (13, emphasis his). Let’s work through the assertions in this statement: First, the church has not issued this condemnation. God did that by inspiring the biblical authors to write what they did. The church is not at fault for holding to what the Bible says. Second, the concern expressed here for “long-term fulfillment” is not long-term enough. Vines wants a committed same-sex relationship that, if he lived

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Take God at His Word: Kevin DeYoung on the Character of Scripture

Matt Smethurst: Your Bible is evidence that the Maker of the universe is a God who initiates, who reveals, who talks. There are, after all, only two options when it comes to knowledge of one’s Creator: revelation or speculation. Either he speaks, or we guess. And he has spoken. The Lord of heaven and earth has “forfeited his own personal privacy” to disclose himself to us—to befriend us—through a book. Scripture is like an all-access pass into the revealed mind and will of God. By virtually any account the Bible is the most influential book of all time. No shortage of ink has been spilled on writings about it. But what does Scripture say about itself? In his new book, Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me (Crossway) [20 quotes], Kevin DeYoung cuts through the fog of contemporary confusion to offer a readable and constructive defense

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Believer, Become What You Are

John Piper: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1–2) Believer, you died and the new you is alive, and you are God’s. The whole of our Christian life is learning to become — by God’s Spirit — what we already are in Christ. These verses show us how this newness in us comes to life in our everyday choices. In this four-minute video, John Piper explains how the Spirit within and the word of God without work together to make us new.

The Importance of Being in the Word

Colin Smith: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” Colossians 3:16 People sometimes say to me, “Pastor, I’ve been in church my whole life and I know how important being in the Word is, but I’m really struggling.  Where do I start?”  Or they’ll say, “I’m a Christian, but I’m really struggling to know the love of God.  Can you help me?” A great place to start “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s patience…” 2 Thessalonians 2:5 A great place to start is with a passage of Scripture like the one above.  Here are three simple observations from this one verse: 1. I need love and patience when I’m tired of the battle, 2. God can give me the love and patience I need, and 3. I can ask God to give me what I do not have. You can do a simple meditation like this for yourself as you read a few verses of

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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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John Calvin – The Undoubted Power and Majesty of God’s Word

John Calvin: Let this point therefore stand: that those whom the Holy Spirit has inwardly taught truly rest upon Scripture, and that Scripture indeed is self-authenticated; hence, it is not right to subject it to proof and reasoning. And the certainty it deserves with us, it attains by the testimony of the Spirit. For even if it wins reverence for itself by its own majesty, it seriously affects us only when it is sealed upon our hearts through the Spirit. Therefore, illumined by his power, we believe neither by our own nor by anyone else’s judgment that Scripture is from God; but above human judgment we affirm with utter certainty (just as if we were gazing upon the majesty of God himself) that it has flowed to us from the very mouth of God by the ministry of men. We seek no proofs, no marks of genuineness upon which our judgment may lean; but we subject our judgment and wit

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What about those who have never heard?

Todd Pruitt: It is a vexing question for many: “What about those who have never heard?” How can God hold accountable for believing the gospel those who have never heard the gospel? Certainly God cannot send a man to Hell for not believing when he never even had the opportunity to reject the gospel in the first place. The very idea flies in the face of all our notions of justice. But the question itself is fatally flawed. Are we condemned for rejecting the gospel? Or are we condemned because we are sinners? The following is a helpful thought experiment from Francis Schaeffer: If every little baby that was ever born anywhere in the world had a tape recorder hung about its neck, and if this tape recorder only recorded the moral judgments with which this child as he grew bound other men, the moral precepts might be much lower than the biblical law, but they would still be moral

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What is Your Most Prized Possession?

Erik Raymond: What is your most prized possession? To find out we would only have to look at what you give your time, attention, and resources to. For the Christian, what should be the most prized possession? Everyone including the First Grade Sunday School Class just rightly answered, “Bible.” Very good; but, why? The reason why is because the Bible is rock of revelation that our faith is built upon. How do you know God? You know him from his word. There is a sense in which God’s character is revealed in creation (Ps. 19) and even to a degree within us as image bearers (Rom. 1). However, our view of this revelation is strained and the revelation itself is inferior. It is strained by virtue of our sin and the revelation is inferior to the Scriptures. The knowledge of God is chiefly given through the revelation of God by means of the word written and incarnate (Heb. 1:1-3; John 14:9; 2

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Seven Qualities of Expository Preaching

By Wayne McDill: Among evangelicals, the term expository preaching has come to stand for authentic biblical preaching. However, exactly what constitutes expository preaching varies from writer to writer and preacher to preacher. I have talked with preachers who described themselves as “expositors,” and I believed them until I heard them preach. For many, exposition seems to mean taking a text and preaching on the subject the passage seems to address. For others exposition means defining some of the words in the text. For others expository preaching seems to mean giving a history lesson on a text with most of the sermon in the past tense. The word exposition is from the Latin, expositio, meaning “a setting forth, narration, or display.” As applied to preaching, the word has come to mean the setting forth or explanation of the message of the biblical text. In expository preaching the sermon is designed to communicate what the text says, including its meaning for the contemporary

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5 Things Christians Should Stop Saying

Jason Johnson: We mean well, don’t we? But sometimes our attempts to say something spiritual actually come out unbiblical, or at a minimum, not very helpful. Here’s the 5 I hear the most… 1. “It was a God thing.” We say this to give God credit for something He has done and to deflect any attention from ourselves. The problem, however, is that biblically no single event is ever a “God thing”. Rather, all things are by Him, through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:15-20). To say something was a “God thing” seems to draw lines of distinction between what God is and is not involved in that Scripture itself does not draw. I rarely hear anyone use this phrase when speaking of a particularly difficult or trying or devastating circumstance. We generally apply it only to the victories. The truth is, all of those are His things. 2. “God showed up in the end.” We say this to put the power of God on display

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A Deeper Look at What the Bible Says About the Bible

By Matt Smethurst: The Bible makes many claims about itself within its text. What does it say? Click here to download a hard copy of this article. There are only two options when it comes to knowledge of a divine creator: revelation or speculation. Either he speaks, or we guess. Christians believe that, thankfully, he has spoken. The God of heaven and earth has “forfeited his own personal privacy” to reveal himself to us—to befriend us—through a book.1Scripture is like an all-access pass into the revealed mind and will of God. By virtually any account the Bible is the most influential book of all time. No shortage of ink has been spilled on writings about it, against it, and in favor of it. But what does the Bible say about itself? The Bible Is Inspired When people claim the Bible is “inspired,” what do they really mean? Are they just saying it’s inspiring? Well, not quite. Sure, the Bible may inspire some of its readers,

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Three Surprising Ways to Grieve the Holy Spirit

Kevin DeYoung: The Holy Spirit is often described as light. He shines into the dark places of the heart and convicts us of sin (John 16:7-11). He is a lamp to illumine God’s word, teaching what is true and showing the truth to be precious (1 Cor. 2:6-16). And the Spirit throws a spotlight on Christ so that we can see his glory and be changed (John 16:14). That’s why 2 Corinthians 3:18speaks of becoming more like Christ by beholding the glory of Christ. Just as Moses had his face transfigured when he saw the Lord’s glory on Mount Sinai (Ex. 34:29; 2 Cor. 3:7), so will we be transformed when, by the Spirit, we behold God’s glory in the face of Christ. The Spirit, then, is a light to us in three ways: by exposing our guilt, by illuminating the word of God, and by showing us Christ. Or to put it another way, as Divine Light, the Holy Spirit works

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Preaching with Authority: Three Characteristics of Expository Preaching

Al Mohler: Authentic expository preaching is marked by three distinct characteristics: authority, reverence, and centrality. Expository preaching is authoritative because it stands upon the very authority of the Bible as the word of God. Such preaching requires and reinforces a sense of reverent expectation on the part of God’s people. Finally, expository preaching demands the central place in Christian worship and is respected as the event through which the living God speaks to his people. A keen analysis of our contemporary age comes from sociologist Richard Sennett of New York University. Sennett notes that in times past a major anxiety of most persons was loss of governing authority. Now, the tables have been turned, and modern persons are anxious about any authority over them: “We have come to fear the influence of authority as a threat to our liberties, in the family and in society at large.” If previous generations feared the absence of authority, today we see “a fear

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Preaching today? Listening to preaching today?

Encouragement from Darryl Dash: Pastors can always use encouragement. If you’re a pastor (or even if you’re not), here are some truths that you might find encouraging today. God promises to use his Word (Isaiah 55:11). When God speaks, things happen. No matter how feebly preached, God honors the proclamation of his Word. Our weakness displays God’s glory (2 Corinthians 4:7). Our weakness doesn’t diminish God’s glory. It provides greater contrast between us and the surpassing power of the God we serve. God uses the “things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are” (1 Corinthians 1:28). If you and your church don’t look like much, you are just the type that God loves to use. Your position is secure (Romans 8). There is no sermon that you could preach that would make you more acceptable to God. There is no sermon, however bad, that can remove you from the love of God. Our imperfect churches display the

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