What We Mean by the Phrase “Word of God”

Wayne Grudem: What is the Word of God? The Word of God actually refers to several different things in the Bible. Sometimes the phrase “the Word of God” refers to the person of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John, we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We find out later in the chapter that John is referring to Jesus Christ as the Word of God. There’s also a portion of Revelation 19 that refers to Jesus as the Word of God. You may have found that when you talk about the Word of God as the Bible, people object: Wait a minute—we don’t want to spend as much time talking about the Bible as the Word of God. We’d rather talk about Jesus as the Word of God. A couple things can be said in answer to that. First, we don’t know about Jesus except by reading what’s in the Bible. It’s

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10 Things You Should Know about Definite Atonement

By Jonathan Gibson, coeditor of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective. 1. Definite atonement is a way of speaking about the intent and nature of Christ’s death. The doctrine of definite atonement states that, in the death of Jesus Christ, the triune God intended to achieve the redemption of every person given to the Son by the Father in eternity past, and to apply the accomplishments of his sacrifice to each of them by the Spirit. In a nutshell: the death of Christ was intended to win the salvation of God’s people alone; and not only was it intended to do that but it effectively achieved it as well. Jesus will be true to his name: he will save his people from their sins. In this regard, the adjective ‘definite’ does double duty: Christ’s death was definite in its intent—he died to save a particular people; and it was definite

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10 Things You should Know about Female Submission

Sam Storms: In an earlier post we looked at 10 things all should know about male headship as it is found in Scripture. Today we look at female submission. (1) Submission (Gk., hupotasso) carries the implication of voluntary yieldedness to a recognized authority. Biblical submission is appropriate in several relational spheres: the wife to her husband (Eph. 5:22-24); children to their parents (Eph. 6:1); believers to the elders of the church (Heb. 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:12); citizens to the state (Rom. 13); servants (employees) to their masters (employers) (1 Pt. 2:18); and each believer to every other believer in humble service (Eph. 5:21). (2) Submission is not grounded in any supposed superiority of the husband or inferiority of the wife (see Gal. 3:28; 1 Pet. 3:7). The concept of the wife being the “helper” (Gen. 2:18-22) of the husband in no way implies her inferiority. In fact, the Hebrew word translated “helper” is often used in the OT to refer

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Treasure God’s Ordinary Grace

Ryan Griffith: In a Christian subculture that often privileges the extraordinary, a real temptation exists to discount the mundane — and perhaps rarely more so than at the end of summer. Summer can throw us off-kilter. “Mountaintop experiences” — whether through mission trips, summer camps, or periods of spiritually-intense isolation in natural beauty — can give us an extraordinary sense of God’s presence — and an unusual sense of power, clarity, and courage. These moments, of course, are important. But privileging them may contribute to our discouragement when the power seems to fade. When we return to the mundane world of everyday challenge, we can become disheartened. This is because we fundamentally tend to undervalue the power of ordinary spiritual life. We fail to grasp the reality that the ordinary Christian life is the result of the uncommon working of God’s Spirit. We need to eclipse the relatively rare mountaintop experience with a clearer vision of the vital, gracious, and personal

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Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism, and World Missions

This post is adapted from Andrew Fuller: Holy Faith, Worthy Gospel, World Mission by John Piper. Natural Inability and Moral Inability In his most famous work, The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, Andrew Fuller piles text upon text in which unbelievers are addressed with the duty to believe.[1] These are his final court of appeal against the High Calvinists, who use their professed logic to move from biblical premises to unbiblical conclusions. But he finds Jonathan Edwards very helpful in answering the High Calvinist objection on another level. Remember, the objection is that “it is absurd and cruel to require of any man what is beyond his power to perform.” In other words, a man’s inability to believe removes his responsibility to believe (and our duty to command people to believe). In response to this objection, Fuller brings forward the distinction between moral inability and natural inability. This was the key insight which he learned from Jonathan Edwards, and he

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The Cross Stands at the Centre of Ministry

Darryl Dash: 1 Peter 5 is a goldmine for pastors. I’m intrigued by how Peter introduces himself: “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ…” (1 Peter 5:1) Not only is Peter a fellow elder, but he’s also a witness of the sufferings of Christ. Why does Peter write about the sufferings of Christ as he begins to address elders? Two reasons. The Cross Is All We Have In the ministry of pastors, the cross is all we have. Without the cross, we have no message, no power, no confidence, and no hope. Peter heads to the cross because it’s impossible for him to imagine ministry without it. Peter heard Jesus predict his sufferings. He heard Jesus’ family call him crazy. He saw Jesus become popular, and he saw the crowds turn against him. He sat at Jesus’ last Passover meal, and he watched Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, and trial.

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7 Truths About Hell

J.D. Greear: Concerning hell, C. S. Lewis once wrote, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power.” In many ways, I agree with him. No one, Christians included, should like the idea of hell. Those of us who believe in hell aren’t sadists who enjoy the idea of eternal suffering. In fact, the thought of people I know who are outside of Christ spending eternity in hell is heartbreaking. As a young Christian, when I began to learn about hell and its implications, I almost lost my faith. It was that disturbing. Hell is a difficult reality, but it is something that the Bible teaches, and we can’t fully understand God and his world unless we grapple with it. These seven truths should frame our discussion of hell. 1. Hell is what hell is because God is who God is. People speak glibly about “seeing God,” as if seeing God face-to-face would be a warm and fuzzy

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10 Things You Should Know About Male Headship

Sam Storms: In the on-going dialogue (debate!) between complementarians and egalitarians, there is considerable confusion about the meaning of male headship. So today we look at 10 things we should know about headship. (1) “Headship” (Gk: kephale) has three meanings in Scripture: first, a physical head (1 Cor. 11:7); second, source or origin (Col. 1:18); and third, a person with authority (Eph. 1:22). (2) Among the many misconceptions about male headship in Scripture I mention these. First, husbands are never commanded to rule their wives, but to love them. The Bible never says, “Husbands, take steps to insure that your wives submit to you.” Nor does it say, “Husbands, exercise headship and authority over your wives.” Rather, the principle of male headship is either asserted or assumed and men are commanded to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Headship is never portrayed in Scripture as a means for self-satisfaction or self-exaltation. Headship is always other-oriented. I can’t think

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Can We Be Saved Without the Church?

. Andrew Wilson: . Extra ecclesiam nulla salus, said Cyprian of Carthage: “Outside of the Church, there is no salvation.” Even more provocatively: “he cannot have God as Father who doesn’t have the Church as Mother.” Emphatic stuff. I’ve just finished Marcus Peter Johnson’s One With Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation, and somewhat surprisingly (and refreshingly) he concludes his survey with a chapter on the church, probing exactly this issue. Was Cyprian right? Can we be saved without the Church? No. Johnson says this for three reasons: The first reason … is that the proclamation of the gospel, the good news of salvation, is intimately bound up with the proclamation of the church. To proclaim the mystery of Christ includes the proclamation of the mystery of the church [he then cites and summarises Gal 3:26-28; Eph 3:1-12; 5:31-32; 1 Cor 6:15]. Our union with Christ provides a second reason … It is important to point out that the Protestant

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3 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Church

. Steve Timmis: Joining a church is a big deal. By joining, I don’t mean just going to a regular meeting once or twice a week. I don’t even mean simply getting your name on the membership roll. I mean committing yourself to a covenantal relationship with a group of Christians who are your family and with whom you share life-in-Christ together. That’s how big a deal it is. So if you’ve relocated and need to find a church, then make sure you ask the right questions before joining. Though these questions aren’t the only ones to ask, they are important. None of them stands alone, but together they create a crucial decision-making framework. . 1. What do they believe? The idea of becoming part of a church that doesn’t love, preach, and teach the gospel is absurd. Far too much is at stake. But in order to make that judgment, we need to have some idea of what the

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The Temple and the Tabernacle

Tim Challies: If you are a committed reader, you know what it’s like when you get swept away by a book—where hours pass in what feels like minutes. You know the sheer pleasure of being drawn into a book that is unexpectedly interesting and intriguing. This was the case for me this weekend when I began to read The Temple and the Tabernacle: A Study of God’s Dwelling Places from Genesis to Revelation. Hidden behind that title is a brilliant and fascinating work that offers something to every Christian. This book, as the title suggests, is a study of the Old Testament temple and tabernacle. Yet it is much more than that. So central are these buildings to Old Testament worship and New Testament symbolism that understanding them, understanding the roles they played, understanding the way they were made, understanding their function to Old Testament worship, and understanding the key differences between them illumines so much of the Christian faith. We

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The Bible and the Religions of the World

This post is an excerpt written by Harold A. Netland for the ESV Study Bible. The Intersection of the Bible and Other Religions Although the Bible nowhere discusses “other religions” as such, much in it is relevant to the subject. The OT includes repeated references to the deities and religious practices of the Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, and Babylonians. The NT world was populated with “many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’” (1 Cor. 8:5) and characterized by religious syncretism. But the religions of the ancient world have been replaced today by the so-called major world religions. Biblical Themes and Other Religions Even a cursory survey indicates that there are some similarities between Christian faith and other religions. Islam and Christianity, e.g., both believe in an eternal Creator God and a judgment to come after death. Both Jesus and Confucius taught a version of the Golden Rule, and both Christianity and Confucianism teach respect for one’s parents. Such similarities are not surprising and

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Two Wills, One Outcome

Sam Storms: In his book, What About Free Will? (Presbyterian & Reformed, 2016), Scott Christensen seeks to articulate the significance of what is known as compatibilism. On pp. 77-78 he says this: “Biblical compatibilism seeks to demonstrate one simple reality. Every human action in the course of history has a dual explanation, one divine and one human. In this model of “double agency,” the human side of the explanation is the more tangible, visible and familiar side. The divine side is largely intangible, invisible and less familiar. This juxtaposition is expressed simply and clearly by Solomon: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9; cf. Prov. 19:21; 20:24). The vast throngs of earth’s inhabitants contemplate, deliberate and articulate their plans to pursue the paths that define their lives. Then they act upon those plans. Yet, God secretly stands behind them all directing each set of footsteps along the specific course he designed. His

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10 Things You Should Know about Union with Christ

  Marcus Johnson: 1. The Bible contains an astonishing number of terms, expressions and images that bear witness to the reality of our being made one with Christ Jesus. In the Newer Testament we find literally hundreds of references to the believer’s union with Christ. To cite merely a few examples, believers are created in Christ (Eph. 2:10), crucified with him (Gal. 2:20), buried with him (Col. 2:12), baptized into Christ and his death (Rom. 6:3), united with him in his resurrection (Rom. 6:5), and seated with him in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6); Christ is formed in believers (Gal. 4:19) and dwells in our hearts (Eph. 3:17); the church is the body of Christ (1 Cor. 6:15; 12:27); Christ is in us (2 Cor. 13:5) and we are in him (1 Cor. 1:30); the church is one flesh with Christ (Eph. 5:31–32); believers gain Christ and are found in him (Phil. 3:8–9). Furthermore, in Christ we are justified (Rom.

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God Remembers You

Erik Raymond: In recent years there has been a renewed emphasis upon remembering the gospel. This is so healthy for our souls. So often we are beset with gospel amnesia, and we forget the rich truths of all that God has done for us in Christ. And when we remember the gospel we can’t help but remember God. At the foot of the cross we are taught theology and able to, with tears of joy, see God’s simultaneous display of love, righteousness, holiness, mercy, wisdom, and faithfulness. It is so very good for us to remember. But there is another angle to this that we sometimes forget. It is so simple that it’s often elusive. God remembers us. This is such good news to us. If we are honest we will admit that we do a poor job of remembering the gospel and remembering who God is. We are most often walking out of a theological fog distracted by commercials

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Lord, Enlarge My Love for You

Jon Bloom: It all begins with delight. The Christian life the New Testament describes simply cannot be lived if our hearts do not love and treasure God. No one sells all they own for a field, unless it holds a much more valuable treasure (Matthew 13:44). No one forsakes sin to trust and obey Jesus, unless his salvation holds out far more pleasure than sin (Luke 19:8–10). No one will — and no one can — draw near to God without believing he richly rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6). No one counts their own righteousness as loss, unless they believe Jesus’s righteousness is the only thing that grants him the inexpressible joy of knowing the Father (Philippians 3:9–10). No one leaves “houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands” for Jesus’s sake without the incentive of a far greater reward (Matthew 19:29). No one willingly suffers for Jesus’s sake, unless he believes his

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When God’s Timing Is Not Our Own

    Sam Storms: The God of the Unlikely Time Often our schedule and God’s seem out of sync. He acts earlier than we had expected, or later than we had hoped, or when it seems most awkward and inconvenient. The result is that sometimes we are impatient with God or choose to act impetuously, while on other occasions we are lazy and inactive. I suspect that’s how the Israelites must have felt as they stood on the banks of the Jordan River, prepared to enter the Promised Land of Canaan. They learned a lesson there that all of us must learn sooner or later. The lesson is simply that the God we love and serve is often the God of the unlikely time. When the two spies returned from Jericho, Joshua received the news he had been waiting for: “And they said to Joshua, ‘Truly the LORD has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the

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4 Ways Confrontation Must Happen in Christian Community

Eric Geiger: We need confrontation. In Christian community, we live and labor alongside broken and struggling brothers and sisters. We ourselves, no matter how long we have walked with the Lord, are broken and struggling with our own issues. All of us are prone to wander and fall, so we need people around us who “if they see something, say something,” who care when something in our lives is left “unattended.” We need people around us who are loving enough to confront us when our hearts are unattended by His truth, when our marriages are unattended by our affections, when our relationships are unattended by forgiveness, and when our decisions are unattended by His agenda. We need to confront. If sin goes un-confronted, the community can self-destruct because the community loses the commitment to the values and beliefs that make her distinct. If you are in Christian community and you see something in a brother or sister’s life, if you

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What Does it Mean to Pray in the Name of Jesus?

Sam Storms: Can we really believe the words of Jesus in John 14:14 when he declares: “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it”? Twice in vv. 13-14 Jesus says you must pray “in my name”. What does that mean? Is Jesus telling us that all we have to do is attach the words, “In Christ’s name” at the end of each prayer and we will be guaranteed a positive answer? If that were the case, the words “in Christ’s name” or “in the name of Jesus” would function much like a magical incantation, no different from what a magician would do when he says “Abracadabra” or what the owner of a magic lamp would do to evoke the presence of a genie who would then grant him three wishes. It’s important to note that one need not even repeat the words “in Christ’s name” to pray “in Christ’s name.” The perfect inflection of the word

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How to pray for God’s favour

Denny Burk: This morning, I’ve been pondering and praying the words of Moses in Exodus 33:13: “If I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight.” –Exodus 33:13 Notice three crucial things about this prayer, each of which illuminate how we ought to pray as well. 1. The Basis: Even though the sentence begins with “If I have found favor,” God’s favor toward Moses is not in question. We know that because God has already told Moses that his favor rests on him (v. 12), and God will tell him again “you have found favor in my sight” (v. 17). God’s gracious disposition toward Moses is not in question, and so the basis for Moses’ request is God’s free grace. 2. The Request: Moses asks to know God’s “ways.” God’s “ways” refer to God’s behavior and manner of conduct. It is God’s behavior

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