~THE GORDIAN KNOT~: The Gospel of the Synagogue Versus the Gospel of the Son of God – What makes Christian sermons distinctively Christian? What damage could be done in the life of the Christian church if our sermons lose their distinctively Christian character?
Biblical-Theological Exposition and Hermeneutics – The Reformed orthodox were exegetically driven and their hermeneutic was a whole-Bible hermeneutic, evidenced in such concepts as their highly nuanced view of sensus literalis (literal sense), analogia Scripturae (analogy of Scripture), analogia fidei (analogy of faith), and scopus Scripturae (scope of Scripture).1 It is of vital importance to understand the nuances involved with these concepts in order to properly understand how our Confession comes to the conclusions it does and, more importantly, to interpret the Bible properly.
The State of Theology – What do Americans believe about God, salvation, ethics, and the Bible?
Why Legalistic Preaching Doesn’t Work | For The Church – Legalism is the pursuit of good works abstracted from faith in an effort to garner God’s favor and blessing. Moralism is the attempt to obey or impose the ethical commands of the Bible abstracted from the gospel of Jesus Christ. Much preaching in Christian churches is simply a collection of legalistic moralisms.
Why Don’t Reformed Churches Rebaptize People? « The Reformed Reader – If a person was baptized in a Methodist, Brethren, or Baptist church, he or she would likely not have to be baptized again to join a Reformed baptist church.
Legalism is, by definition, an attempt to add anything to the finished work of Christ. It is to trust in anything other than Christ and His finished work for one’s standing before God. The New Testament refutation of legalism is primarily a response to perversions of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. The majority of the Savior’s opponets were those who believed that they were righteous in and of themselves and commitment to the law of God. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes exemplified, by their words and deeds, doctrinal legalism in the days of Christ and the Apostles. While they made occasional appeals to grace, they self-righteously truncated and twisted the Scriptural meaning of grace.
Office Hours: The Holy Spirit In Paul’s Epistles – When Reformed and Presbyterian Christians think of Paul we might think first of Paul as the New Testament theologian of grace, of salvation, of unconditional election but he might just easily be called the theologian of the Holy Spirit.
Calvin: Jesus Preached The Law To Teach Us Our Need For A Savior – The reason why we are freely justified by God is, that we have no righteousness of our own.
Biblical Support for Creeds, Confessions, and Statements of Faith – Having a confession of faith helps clarify what interpretations of scripture are valid and invalid based on the collected wisdom found in church history. Having creeds and confessions also follows several examples that we see found in scripture. Confessions enable congregations to catechize their congregations while at the same time provide an apologetic against false teachings.
A Defense of (Reformed) Amillennialism – Reformed amillennialism teaches the church, that is, us who believe and our children, to expect increasing lawlessness in the world, apostasy from the truth in the churches, the establishment of the kingdom of Antichrist over the entire world, and great tribulation for all those who fear God and keep His commandments. To such a world, thus fully developed in sin, will Christ return.
Enemies Within the Church – "One of the biggest surprises in my ministry was the opposition to the gospel that arose within my own church. I always assumed there would be opposition to the gospel from outside the church, from the unbelieving world."
Contrary to what you may have been taught, the world was made to be known and you were made to know it. Contrary to what you may have been told, the world around you, though corrupted by sin, is not an illusion and evil is not winning. Believe your eyes and ears but do not believe everything you read and hear. You can and should, however, trust that God’s Word is reliable and true, that Christ is the Saviour, that he really came, that he was really raised, and that he is really coming again to make all things right again. Until that time you and I have a great calling to trust Christ with all our heart and out of that confidence to serve him in this world by loving God and our neighbour. Find a true church where the gospel is purely preached, where the sacraments are purely administered, and where they love the people enough to practice loving, gracious discipline.
The Importance of What We Do in Secret by Derek Thomas | Ligonier Ministries Blog – According to Jesus, it is what we do in secret that matters most. Jesus is not suggesting that the outward is unimportant—far from it. “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14).
Heidelberg Catechism 122: What It Means To Say “Hallowed Be Your Name” – Our familiarity with the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13) might give us the impression that it is rudimentary. It is not. Right at the outset we are confronted with a challenge. The first petition is not quite what we might think. There is depth and complexity to the first petition that we might miss.
Teaching Our Children the Raw Parts of Scripture – As a pastor, I sometimes have parents express concern about that to which their young children are being exposed in church. Whether it is a reference to the Old Covenant sign of circumcision going on the male reproductive organ or some part of a biblical story being discussed in Sunday School–there is no way to avoid exposing our children to the raw portions of Scripture in a biblically faithful church.
Faith and Mental Illness – "Mind over matter" betrays a pagan rather than biblical view of human beings. We've all heard stories of the Christian Science or neo-Pentecostal family that fatally withheld medical treatment from a child in expectation of a miraculous recovery. As much as we—that is, more traditional Christians—shake our heads at such folly, much of evangelical Christianity differs only in degree. It's amazing that at a time when many churches, including evangelical ones, turn the gospel into a form of personal therapy, psychiatry itself is seen as somewhat threatening.
1689 Confession & Theonomy – Is our confession of faith compatible with theonomy? Nope.
On Fencing the Lord’s Table – Of all the phraseology that we used in Reformed churches, among the most misunderstood is that of “fencing the table.”
The Gospel Is Not Social – "Every culture and generation has been tempted to capture Jesus for their own agenda." You can't.
7 Areas of Unbiblical Conscience Binding – Feeding on Christ – To be sure, we should all be zealous to teach and exemplify every principle of holiness taught in Scripture; but more often than not, individuals who are most zealous for holiness fall into the trap of teaching their personal applications of a biblical–or a supposedly biblical–principle of holiness rather than simply teaching the principle.
Of Virtues True And False: Niceness v Christian Virtue – "Niceness," as nice as it is, is not a Christian virtue.
The Two Parts of the Christian Life – This is why the catechism asks about the nature of true repentance or true conversion. Since the so-called Second Great Awakening of the 19th century, American Christians have tended to talk about a “conversion” experience. In that context Christians might speak of responding to an altar call or something of that sort. When the Reformed speak about “conversion,” however, they are speaking not of a single decisive event (e.g., an altar call) but rather of the daily dying to sin and living to Christ. Paul describes the Christian life in terms of a baptism, an identification with Christ’s death:
I’ll Cry on Saturday, but I’ll Laugh on Sunday – Out of the Horse’s Mouth – Saturday is a day for lamenting the loss of the culture war, but Sunday is a day for praise, because Christ is risen!
Via 1517 The Legacy Project, who add:
If the Ten Commandments were not impossible enough, the preaching of Christian behavior, of Christian ethics, of Christian living, can drive a Christian into despairing unbelief. Not happy unbelief. Tragic, despairing, sad unbelief. (It is not unlike the [unhappy] Christian equivalent of “Jack Mormons” – those who finally admit to themselves and others that they can’t live up to the demands of this non-Christian cult’s laws, and excuse themselves from the whole sheebang.) A diet of this stuff from pulpit, from curriculum, from a Christian reading list, can do a work on a Christian that is (at least over the long haul) “faith destroying.”
The blessing of the Christian life is Christ. Everything else is hogwash.
For all of you who have been given morality lessons instead of the Gospel, hear how Dr. Rod Rosenbladt succinctly presents Christianity as first and foremost a genuine truth claim about Christ as our righteous substitute, instead of a never ending list of popular religious recipes for personal success.
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee…”
(Luke 24:1-6 ESV)
Ligonier 2015 Regional Conference: Audio and Video – The audio and video from the conference we attended last month is now online. The conference's theme was "Pilgrims in Progress."
The Law/Gospel Rant – I want to talk about a specific problem in preaching and teaching: the problem of preferring law over Gospel.
What does a modern day Judaizer look like? – So the error of the Judaizers is a very modern error indeed, as well as a very ancient error. It is found in the modern church wherever men seek salvation by “surrender” instead of by faith, or by their own character instead of by the imputed righteousness of Christ, or by “making Christ master in the life” instead of by trusting in His redeeming blood. In particular, it is found wherever men say that “the real essentials” of Christianity are love, justice, mercy, and other virtues, as contrasted with the great doctrines of God’s word. These are all just different ways of exalting the merit of man over against the cross of Christ; they are all of them attacks upon the very heart and core of the Christian religion.
Why “Let Go and Let God” Is a Bad Idea – Keswick theology is appealing because Christians struggle with sin and want to be victorious in that struggle now. Keswick theology offers a quick fix, and its shortcut to instant victory appeals to genuine longings for holiness, however it is not biblically sound.
What Is Divine Impassibility? – A standard definition of the doctrine of divine impassibility (DDI) asserts that God does not experience emotional changes either from within or effected by his relationship to creation.
The fall 2014 ARBCA Update newsletter is out.