Sam Storms on….

Check out three great current series from Sam Storms on: What it means to be Reformed Some peculiarities of Revival, and Spiritual Gifts in church history Access Sam’s blog, and many other helpful resources HERE. Justin Taylor also points us to Sam Storms’ new book called Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions. Here they are: 1 Is the Bible Inerrant? 2 What Is Open Theism? 3 Does God Ever Change His Mind? 4 Could Jesus Have Sinned? 5 What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, “Judge Not, that You Be Not Judged”? 6 What Is Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? 7 Does the Bible Teach the Doctrine of Original Sin? 8 Are Those Who Die in Infancy Saved? 9 Will People Be Condemned for Not Believing in Jesus though They’ve Never Heard His Name? 10 What Can We Know about Angels? 11 What Can We Know about Satan? 12 What Can We Know about Demons? 13 Can a Christian Be

read more Sam Storms on….

14 Characteristics of Theological Legalism

By C. Michael Patton: […] Here are some ways to know if you are a theological legalist: You don’t think there are “minor theological issues” You always define yourself with the word “true” in front of it (e.g. “I am a ‘true’ Calvinist,” “I am a ‘true’ Baptist,” “I am a ‘true’ Christian). Your statement of faith or catechism is so detailed that no one but your particular tradition can sign it. Your passions focus on the small issues and this finds expression in your personality. Most of your theological writing and/or discussion focuses on where other Christians have gone wrong. You have a bulldog mentality with regard to your “pet” issues; you cannot let things go emotionally. You have to leave the room. When one disagrees with you they are forever defined by that disagreement (“There goes Joe the Arminian” or “I would like to introduce you to Katie the complementarian.” You think belief is either black or white, you

read more 14 Characteristics of Theological Legalism

Gospel doctrine, gospel culture

Ray Ortlund: Gospel doctrine creates a gospel culture.  The doctrines of grace create a culture of grace, as Jesus himself touches us through his truths.  Without the doctrines, the culture alone is fragile.  Without the culture, the doctrines alone appear pointless.  For example: The doctrine of regeneration creates a culture of humility (Ephesians 2:1-9). The doctrine of justification creates a culture of inclusion (Galatians 2:11-16). The doctrine of reconciliation creates a culture of peace (Ephesians 2:14-16). The doctrine of sanctification creates a culture of life (Romans 6:20-23). The doctrine of glorification creates a culture of hope (Romans 5:2). The doctrine of God creates a culture of honesty (1 John 1:5-10).  And what could be more basic than that? If we want this culture to thrive, we can’t take doctrinal short cuts.  If we want this doctrine to be credible, we can’t disregard the culture.  But churches where the doctrine and culture converge bear living witness to the power of Jesus.

read more Gospel doctrine, gospel culture

Holy vs. Holier Than Thou

Jared Wilson: How do we become holy without becoming ‘holier than thou’? By actually becoming actually holy. Holiness and holier-than-thou-ness aren’t parallel phenomena. They run on different tracks. If someone is growing in arrogance, pride, and self-righteousness, by definition they are not growing in holiness. The problem arises in equating holiness with religious behavior. Holy people do obey God, of course. But the character of holiness, in which the Spirit does his progressive sanctifying work in our hearts (and therefore in our thoughts, speech, and actions), produces qualities of humility, gentleness, kindness, and self-control. Any arrogant fool can abstain from certain sins or give to charity and what-not. The Pharisees certainly did that, and all our legalistic contemporaries do too. But that is not real holiness. That is moralistic separatism or some such thing. Therefore, it is impossible to become both holy and holier-than-thou. To grow in one, is to atrophy in the other. But I am grateful that while

read more Holy vs. Holier Than Thou

Preach the Old Testament as if Jesus Is Risen

By Mitch Chase: Have you ever explored underground caverns? The natural light is dim, so limited sight is a problem, if you can see at all. The more openings you go through and the deeper you descend, the greater the probability you’ll be confused, turned around, and lost. Even when your eyes adjust to the darkness, you may still not see the intricate beauty of the natural architecture. Some Christians read the Old Testament only in dim light. They enter one chapter after another like exploring a cavern, yet they squint and strain their eyes to answer questions. Why is this episode here? Why has the narrator told the scene from this angle? Where is this storyline heading? Why should I care about this long genealogy? How does this prophecy reach fulfilment  How do this character’s actions contribute to the plot, to the book, to the canon? Is this text built on earlier ones? Such interpretive questions (and more) arise for

read more Preach the Old Testament as if Jesus Is Risen

Possessing all things in Christ

Jonathan Edwards: By virtue of the believer’s union with Christ, he doth really possess all things. That we know plainly from Scripture. But it may be asked, how doth he possess all things? What is he the better for it? How is a true Christian so much richer than other men? To answer this, I’ll tell you what I mean by “possessing all things.” I mean that God three in one, all that he is, and all that he has, and all that he does, all that he has made or done–the whole universe, bodies and spirits, earth and heaven, angels, men and devils, sun, moon and stars, land and sea, fish and fowls, all the silver and gold, kings and potentates as well as mean men–are as much the Christian’s as the money in his pocket, the clothes he wears, the house he dwells in, or the victuals he eats; yea more properly his, more advantageously his, than if

read more Possessing all things in Christ

Effectual Calling and Regeneration

“So, then, what is this effectual, internal call that we are speaking about? Well, the most we can say about it is — and this must of necessity be true in the light of these scriptures — that it is the exercise of the power of the Holy Spirit in the soul. It is a direct operation of the Holy Spirit within us. It is immediate, it is spiritual, it is supernatural, miraculous. And what it does is to make a new mode of spiritual activity possible within us. Without this operation we are incapable of any true spiritual activity but as the result of this operation of the Holy Spirit upon us, we are rendered capable, for the first time, of spiritual activity and that is how this call now becomes effectual, that is what enables us to receive it. “Now this is very important and I want to emphasise the immediacy, the direct action. You see, what happens

read more Effectual Calling and Regeneration

Kingdom Come by Sam Storms

Coming soon (excuse the pun!) from Christian Focus, my good friend Sam Storms’ latest book; perhaps the benchmark text on eschatology and amillennialism: Featured Review “…the most helpful book on the various millennial views I have seen since W. J. Grier’s The Momentous Event. His work is marked by careful exegesis of pertinent texts, and ranges widely and deeply in all of the relevant Scriptural passages dealing with the end of the age.” Douglas F. Kelly ~ Richard Jordan Professor of Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina Description The second coming of Christ is a matter of sharp disagreement amongst Christians. Many hold to premillennialism: that Christ’s return will be followed by 1,000 years before the final judgement, a belief popularised in the popular Left Behind novels. However, premillennialism is not the only option for Christians. In this important new book, Sam Storms provides a biblical rationale for amillennialism; the belief that 1,000 years mentioned in the book of Revelation

read more Kingdom Come by Sam Storms

United to the Resurrected Christ

Richard Gaffin: What characterizes the redemption of Christ holds true for the redemption of the believer. As the justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification of the former take place by and at his resurrection, so the justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification of the latter take place in his having been raised with Christ, that is, in his having been united to Christ as resurrected. This means, then, that despite a surface appearance to the contrary, Paul does not view the justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification of the believer as separate, distinct acts but as different facets or aspects of the one act of incorporation with the resurrected Christ. –Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Resurrection and Redemption: A Study in Paul’s Soteriology (P&R, 1987), 130-31 (HT: Dane Ortlund)

The goal of theology

Jonathan Parnell: The Bible is amazing. God has spoken to us in a book — a glorious story about his glory and grace centered on the God-man, Jesus Christ. But the life he saves us to — our life in Christ — plays out in this world beyond the pages of his word. What we learn about him is meant to serve how we live for him. And Paul Tripp says this is dangerous for pastors and Christian leaders. The temptation is, as Tripp aptly describes it, “to become more excited about the world of ideas [in the Bible] … than the loving worship of Almighty God and self-sacrificing love for the people of his church.” Are you all about studying, but not serving? All lesson and no love? Paul Tripp helps us:

Jellyfish Christianity

Tim Challies: Some words are written down and are here for a day and then gone. Other words are so pointed, so perfect, that they stand for many years. J.C. Ryle is a man who wrote many books and pamphlets and sermons that are as powerful and relevant today as they were in the 19th century. His description of jellyfish Christianity could as easily have been written here in the 21st century. “[Dislike of dogma] is an epidemic which is just now doing great harm, and specially among young people. It produces what I must venture to call a “jelly-fish” Christianity in the land: that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power. A jelly-fish is a pretty and graceful object when it floats in the sea, contracting and expanding like a little, delicate, transparent umbrella. Yet the same jelly-fish, when cast on the shore, is a mere helpless lump, without capacity for movement, self-defence, or self-preservation. Alas! It is a vivid

read more Jellyfish Christianity

The Truly Evangelical Type of Piety

Geerhardus Vos: To join the outcry against dogma and fact means to lower the ideal of what the Christian consciousness ought normally to be to the level of the spiritual depression of our own day and generation. How much better that we should all strive to raise our drooping faith and to re-enrich our depleted experience up to the standard of those blessed periods in the life of the Church when the belief in Bible history and the religion of the heart went hand in hand and kept equal pace, when people were ready to lay down their lives for facts and doctrines, because facts and doctrine formed the daily spiritual nourishment of the souls. May God by his Spirit maintain among us, and through our instrumentality revive around us, that truly evangelical type of piety which not merely tolerates facts and doctrines, but draws from them its strength and inspiration in life and service, its only comfort and hope

read more The Truly Evangelical Type of Piety

Adoption in Context

This is not for the theologically faint-of-heart! Essentially, we are to see Jesus, in his eternal sonship, as the ultimate expression of relating to God, both as its perfect template (for creation) and practical example (in incarnation). Through union with him we share in that ideal filial relationship. Wonderful! Tony Reinke posts: J. I. Packer rather famously wrote, “were I asked to focus the New Testament message in three words, my proposal would be adoption through propitiation, and I do not expect ever to meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that” (Knowing God, 214). Adoption is precious, and that line from Packer is worth memorizing. But there’s a much broader historical-redemptive context for understanding our adoption as David B. Garner explains in his excellent chapter, “The First and Last Son: Christology and Sonship in Pauline Soteriology,” published in Resurrection and Eschatology (P&R, 2008). Here is Garner’s thick-and-rich-like-dark-chocolate conclusion. Best enjoyed in small bites: Behind the creation of the

read more Adoption in Context

Jesus’ non-grasping attitude

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:5-7 ESV) Bruce Ware:  …he cannot mean that Christ gave up equality with God or that he ceased being fully God. Since he is fully God he cannot cease to be fully God. God is eternal, self-existent, immortal, and immutable, and thus he cannot cease to exist as God, nor can he fail to be fully God. Surely what Paul means is this: Christ being fully God, possessing the very nature of God and being fully equal to God in every respect, did not thereby insist on holding onto all the privileges and benefits of his position of equality with God (the Father) and thereby refuse to accept coming as a man.

read more Jesus’ non-grasping attitude

Why I Changed My Mind About the Millennium

From The Gospel Coalition: Editor’s Note: What doctrine or issue have you changed your mind about? TGC posed that question to several pastors, theologians, and other thinkers in order to gain a better understanding of what leads to shifts along the theological spectrum. Sam Storms launches this new series with an explanation of how he changed his views on the millennium. Although I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and was regularly exposed to Scripture, I can’t recall ever hearing anything about a “millennial” kingdom, much less the variety of theories regarding its meaning and relationship to the second coming of Christ. Like many of my generation, my initial exposure to biblical eschatology was in reading Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth during the summer of 1970. Not long thereafter I purchased a Scofield Reference Bible and began to devour its notes and underline them more passionately than I did the biblical text on which they commented. No one, as I recall,

read more Why I Changed My Mind About the Millennium

Not just badness but blindness…

“We need to make plain that total depravity is not just badness, but blindness to beauty and deadness to joy; and unconditional election means that the completeness of our joy in Jesus was planned for us before we ever existed; and that limited atonement is the assurance that indestructible joy in God is infallibly secured for us by the blood of the covenant; and irresistible grace is the commitment and power of God’s love to make sure we don’t hold on to suicidal pleasures, and to set us free by the sovereign power of superior delights; and that the perseverance of the saints is the almighty work of God to keep us, through all affliction and suffering, for an inheritance of pleasures at God’s right hand forever.” – John Piper, The Legacy of Sovereign Joy: God’s Triumphant Grace in the Lives of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, p. 73. (HT: Reformation Theology)

5 Encouragements from the Doctrine of Predestination

By BJ Stackman: Often predestination and election get treated as something meant for controversy and debate or as a mystery to be pretty much left alone and avoided. This is a sad, and, in my opinion, weakens the church because of the tendency to either dodge or debate this glorious aspect of its identity. I’m convinced that if you ignore or just argue about the doctrine of predestination you will miss out on one of God’s ways of blessing you (Eph. 1:3). The first several verses of Ephesians 1 unpack predestination in order to show that it is a part of the multifaceted ways that God has blessed you in Jesus Christ. Therefore predestination should enhance your joy not disturb it. What follows are a few of the many encouragements for Christians to draw from the reality that God predestines: 1. God chose you because he loved you. Ephesians 1:4-5, in the ESV translation, says, “in love God predestined”. Therefore predestination is motivated by

read more 5 Encouragements from the Doctrine of Predestination

Election: Handle with Care

David Mathis: I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. –2 Timothy 2:10 The doctrine of election is a sharp scalpel. It can be wielded with care and skill, and taken up to give life and heal. Or, in the hands of an untrained fanatic or detractor, it can be used to harm, to sever vital arteries and mutilate hurting people by spinning out untrue implications. In this five-minute clip of his most recent sermon, John Piper encourages us to follow the apostle Paul’s powerful example in 2 Timothy 2:10 and wield the dear doctrine of election with gospel care. .

Why Do We Draw the Line?

By Carl Trueman: In recent years, talk of uniting around the center has been very popular in conservative evangelical quarters. One obvious reason for this is that many regard such a center as reflecting the fact that there is a solid core of key doctrines on which evangelicals agree, even though there are areas of disagreement. Thus, many consider Trinitarianism, penal substitution, and justification by grace alone through faith alone to be central points of agreement. At the same time, these same people would regard the subjects and mode of baptism or the details of church polity to be areas of disagreement. Yet, by seeing the former as more important, they regard diversity on the latter as not of truly fundamental significance. A second reason for emphasizing talk about the center is, perhaps, more problematic. Frequently, those who talk of the center as all-important contrast themselves favorably with those they see as emphasizing boundaries. Boundaries are much more problematic in our

read more Why Do We Draw the Line?

The One Point of Calvinistic Soteriology

Tim Brister: J.I. Packer, in his introduction to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, makes the following argument about the “one point of Calvinistic soteriology” – namely the conviction that God saves sinners. “For to Calvinism there is really only one point to be made in the field of soteriology: the point that God saves sinners. God—the Triune Jehovah, Father, Son and Spirit; three Persons working together in sovereign wisdom, power and love to achieve the salvation of a chosen people, the Father electing, the Son fulfilling the Father’s will by redeeming, the Spirit executing the purpose of Father and Son by renewing. Saves—does everything, first to last, that is involved in bringing man from death in sin to life in glory: plans, achieves and communicates redemption, calls and keeps, justifies, sanctifies, glorifies. Sinners—men as God finds them, guilty, vile, helpless, powerless, unable to lift a finger to do God’s will or better their spiritual lot. God saves sinners—and the force of this

read more The One Point of Calvinistic Soteriology