Sinclair Ferguson: At a PGA Tour tournament in October 2015, Ben Crane disqualified himself after completing his second round. He did so at considerable financial cost. No matter—Crane believed the personal cost of not doing it would be greater (encouraged by a devotional article he had read that morning by Davis Love III, the distinguished former Ryder Cup captain). Crane realized he had broken one of the more recondite rules of golf. If I followed the story rightly, while in a hazard looking for his ball, he leaned his club on a stone. He abandoned the ball, took the requisite penalty for doing so, played on, and finished his round. He would have made the Friday night cut comfortably; a very successful weekend financially beckoned. Then Ben Crane thought: “Should I have included a penalty for grounding my club in a hazard?” Sure enough (Rule 13.4a). So he disqualified himself. (Got it? Hopefully, no readers will lie awake tonight now knowing the trophy was won illegally.) Crane
Marshall Segal: We discover where we really find our strength not when we feel strong, but when we feel weak. Exhaustion and frustration have a way of blowing away the fog, revealing what’s really happening inside of us: Have we been leaning on God for all that we need, or have we made his help, his strength, his guidance a kind of last resort? Many of us are more self-reliant than we would admit, and self-reliance is far more dangerous than it sounds. The widespread delusion, especially among more secular people, is that I can do anything, if I am willing to work hard. I am stronger than I think, strong enough to do anything I want to do in the world. The reality, however, is that the vast majority of us are weaker than we realize — and yet love to think ourselves strong. And that false sense of strength not only intensifies our arrogance and our ineffectiveness, but it also offends our God. His
John Piper: So the challenge of the Christian life — and at 66, I am deeply desirous to learn how to do this. Paul did say, “I’ve learned the secret” as though it took some time (see Philippians 4:12 NASB). How many times do I come to the end of a day and I shake my head and say, “It’s been eight hours since I thought about trusting a promise.” I haven’t even thought about it. But do you know what else I’ve had in those eight hours? Anxiety. Murmuring. Where do they come from? Not trusting promises. This takes some of us a lifetime to learn. O you young people, get this now. That’s why I prayed at the beginning, “O God, build habits into our lives.” Habits of trusting promises, habits of hourly going to the Lord and saying, “I need you. I need you. I need you.” And then don’t just go away saying, “Yeah, I need him,” and feeling
Tony Reinke: The Purest Act of Pleasure – Why God delights in election: Unconditional election is God’s decision to choose a people for himself, a bride, from out of all the God-ignoring sinners on earth. God will begin with a whore and make himself a splendid spouse. This bride is the object of his eternal love. She will be pulled from the brothel of sin. It’s all “unconditional” because it is not based on any positive condition in the bride. He cannot love this new bride for her beauty; only his unrelenting love will forge beauty in her. From among every ethnicity, God chooses men, women, children, ranchers, sailors, bankers, graphic designers, the disabled, poets, schoolteachers, merchants, athletes, and housewives. He even chooses murderers, prostitutes, blindly religious people, and tax collectors. He chooses the soft-spoken and the brash. He chooses some who are famous, some who are geniuses, and some who are wealthy. But mostly he chooses nobodies (1 Corinthians 1:18–31).
R.C. Sproul: One word that crystallizes the essence of the Christian faith is the word grace. One of the great mottos of the Protestant Reformation was the Latin phrase sola gratia—by grace alone. This phrase wasn’t invented by the sixteenth-century Reformers. Its roots are in the theology of Augustine of Hippo, who used it to call attention to the central concept of Christianity, that our redemption is by grace alone, that the only way a human being can ever find himself reconciled to God is by grace. That concept is so central to the teaching of Scripture that to even mention it seems like an insult to people’s intelligence; yet, if there is a dimension of Christian theology that has become obscured in the last few generations, it is grace. Two things that every human being absolutely must come to understand are the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. These topics are difficult for people to face. And they go
Sinclair Ferguson: “What is the opposite of antinomianism?” Would it be fair to assume that the instinctive response … would be “Legalism”? It might be the right answer at the level of common usage, but it would be unsatisfactory from the standpoint of theology, for antinomianism and legalism are not so much antithetical to each other as they are both antithetical to grace. This is why the scripture never prescribes one as the antidote for the other. Rather grace, God’s grace in Christ in our union with Christ, is the antidote to both. The wholesale removal of the law seems to provide a refuge [for the antinomian]. But the problem is not with the law, but with the heart – and this remains unchanged. Thinking that his perspective is now the antithesis of legalism, the antinomian has written an inappropriate spiritual prescription. His sickness is not fully cured. Indeed the root cause of his disease has been masked rather than
By Paul David Tripp. Adapted from New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional: TWO VERY DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO SIN Since sin is deeper than bad behavior, trying to do better isn’t a solution. Only grace that changes the heart can rescue us. There is a difference between a person in whom disappointment leads to self-reformation and someone in whom grief leads to heartfelt confession. I think that we often confuse the two. The first person believes in personal strength and the possibility of self-rescue, while the second has given up on his own righteousness and cries out for the help of another. One gets up in the morning and tells himself that he’ll do better today, but the other starts the day with a plea for grace. One targets a change in behavior, and the other confesses to a wandering heart. One assesses that he has the power for personal change, while the other knows that he needs to be given
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
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
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
Justin Dillehay: It’s safe to assume that if you’re a Christian, you love the gospel. For that reason, it’s safe to assume that if something were diminishing the gospel, you’d want to know what it was. That’s why Wayne Grudem’s new book, “Free Grace” Theology: Five Ways It Diminishes the Gospel, is relevant for you. It’s relevant even if you’ve never heard of the “Lordship salvation” controversy. And it’s relevant because it deals with an issue at the heart of the gospel: the nature of saving faith. How does saving faith relate to repentance? Does it always produce good works? Should we ever doubt our faith is genuine? And what does it mean to say we’re justified by faith alone? These are the sorts of vital questions Grudem tackles in this book. What’s ‘Free Grace’ Theology? In case you were worried, Grudem—author of numerous books including the widely read Systematic Theology—hasn’t suddenly turned against the doctrine of free grace. Look closely at the book’s title.
Same Storms: (1) Let’s begin with a definition. Herman Bavinck defined the saving grace of God as “his voluntary, unrestrained, unmerited favor toward guilty sinners, granting them justification and life instead of the penalty of death, which they deserved” (The Doctrine of God, 208). Louis Berkhof defined it as “the free bestowal of kindness on one who has no claim to it” (Systematic Theology, 71). J. I. Packer put it this way: “The grace of God is love freely shown towards guilty sinners, contrary to their merit and indeed in defiance of their demerit. It is God showing goodness to persons who deserve only severity, and had no reason to expect anything but severity” (Knowing God, 120). (2) Grace is not the same as mercy. Whereas grace is God’s goodness toward sinners, mercy is God’s goodness toward sufferers. As a result, mercy does not appear to be as free as grace. “When we show mercy,” says John Piper, “it looks
Jason Helopoulos: Every Christian sins. Every child of light stumbles into momentary darkness. Every prince or princess acts like a rebel at times. As Christians in this world, we are sinners and saints. Redeemed, yet still needing to repent. Forgiven, yet still needing to forsake. Confessing Christ, yet still needing to confess sin. This reality of our lives is not easy. In fact, few moments in life pain or discourage the Christian more than the instant we become conscious of having committed yet another sin against our heavenly Father. Surely, it grieves us. And at times, it can lead to anxiety, guilt, melancholy, embarrassment, and even depression for many Christians. In the midst of such struggle, the Christian does well to remind themselves of the gospel comforts of Scripture. There is peace to be had and love to enjoy. Our Heavenly Father ever extends His grace to us. The Christian also does well to take to heart gospel encouragements.
Ray Ortlund: The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty. Exodus 34:6-7 “Well, you say, but though God is able to help me, I fear that God is not willing to help me, and therefore I am discouraged. But be of good comfort, says the Lord, for my name is Merciful, and therefore I am willing to help you. But you say, though the Lord is willing to help me, yet I am a poor unworthy creature and have nothing at all to move God to help me. Yet be of good comfort, for the Lord says again, My name is Gracious. I do not show mercy because you are good, but because I am good. Oh, you say, but I have been sinning a long time, ten,