Web Excursions (January 3rd, 2017) January 3, 2017.

~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.

A Simple Way To Pray by Martin Luther

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.

Web Excursions (April 6th, 2016) April 6, 2016.

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."

Take Heed What You Read (and Hear)

Web Excursions (September 1st, 2015) September 1, 2015.

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.”

Web Excursions (July 20th, 2015) July 20, 2015.

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!

Web Excursions (April 2nd, 2015) April 2, 2015.

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.

Web Excursions (October 27th, 2014) October 27, 2014.

Is It Christians’ Job to “Reclaim the Culture for Christ”? – It is not the job of Christians to "reclaim" this present world's cultures. Christianity is the culture of a people who are no longer at home in this present evil world destined for destruction. They are citizens of the world to come.

Why Christians Need Confessions – Despite claims to the contrary, the Christian world is not divided between those who have creeds and confessions and those who just have the Bible. It is actually divided between those who have creeds and confessions and write them down in a public form, open to public scrutiny and correction, and those who have them and do not write them down. The reason is simple: every church (and indeed every Christian) believes the Bible means something, and what it thinks the Bible means is its creed and confession, whether it chooses to write its beliefs down or not.

Christianity Is a Religion (Thank God!) – We don’t need less religion; we need more! We need a religion that affirms that all people stand condemned before the holy bar of God’s justice, and that all believers stand justified in God’s gracious presence. And we need a religion that stimulates rescued sinners to devote their entire lives to the praise of their rescuer. This religion will compel men and women to do good and resist sin.

A Defense Of Halloween – It has become routine in October for some Christian schools to send out letters warning parents about the evils of Halloween, and it has become equally routine for me to be asked questions about this matter.

The General Equity Of The Law – The general equity was the moral law that the judicial laws, unique to Israel, were based on. Thus it is the moral law that continues to be of use. The judicial laws *only* help provide us with specific examples of how the moral law was applied to Israel

Web Excursions (October 5th, 2014) October 5, 2014.

Nobody Is Going To Get Left Behind (Because There Will Be No Rapture) – Are we living in the last days? Absolutely, but we have been ever since Jesus walked out of the tomb on Easter morning.

5 Ways To Lose the Battle Against Sin – The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. One of the ways such deceit manifests itself is through convincing us that we have battled a sin and put that sin to death when really we have done nothing of the sort.

Why ‘Left Behind’ should be… left behind – To put it bluntly, and perhaps to the chagrin of some readers, the idea of a “rapture” is simply not biblically based (and that's where I've lost a third of you!) It represents, instead, a theology based on escapism and in the process does damage to what the Bible really do

When A Brother Or Sister Is Ensnared In Sin – What To Do (And Not Do) – God’s word says that if anyone is caught in ANY transgression we should restore them with gentleness. ANY transgression – believers fall hard at times. Believers get ensnared in bad things. Sin is deceptive and very often believers fall prey to its wiles. Although it’s disappointing and sad and at times shocking when a fellow believer confesses falling into a serious sin, we must be careful in the way we react to them.

Help for those who feel “Disconnected” at Church – What follows is a list, some help for those who are aiming to feel connected at church.

Web Excursions (September 1st, 2014) September 1, 2014.

The Ordinary Christian Life – Ordinary does not mean mediocre. Athletes, architects, humanitarians, and artists can vouch for the importance of everyday faithfulness to mundane tasks that lead to excellence.

Semper Reformanda by Michael Horton – What does "Semper Reformanda" mean?

Justification by Death? by R.C. Sproul – It is an implicit universalism that assumes everyone goes to heaven when he or she dies.

Setting Priorities For The Congregation – Why are we here (as a local congregation)? To preach the Word, administer the sacraments and discipline. To worship God according to his Word. To reach the lost with the law and the gospel. To catechize covenant youth and converts. To nurture communicants. To visit the ill and infirm. To relieve suffering in the congregation.

He Is The Savior And We Are The Saved (1) – “Too many Christians think they are a little Jesus’. They aren’t. They are Christians.” – Christians are often tempted to try to do the work that only Jesus can do.

Web Excursions (July 31st, 2014) July 31, 2014.

A Biblical Theology of Sleep – We all want the sleep of Proverbs 3:20, “If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” But often we experience the tossing and turning of Job 7:4, “When I lie down I say, 'When shall I arise?' But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn.”

Westside Reformed Church » Why is worship such a “one-man show”? – One common misconception is that “different means unequal.”  In other words, people think that giving a minister a different function means that he is given a greater importance before God.  This is not true, though

The Best Kind of Church Members? The normal ones. – Lord, please send us some normal church members. Please send us some families that attend regularly, listen to the sermons, participate in church life, and don’t have any axes to grind.

Insider Movements: Why Should I Care? – An excellent layman’s guide to understanding the Insider Movements theology and methods.

Is The Christian Life More Like Colorado Or Nebraska? – For many Christians the Christian life is the quest for intense, mountain-top emotional experiences. The assumption is that these sublime experiences are the norm and that those less exciting periods of life are abnormal, inferior, disappointing, and perhaps a sign of some spiritual failure.

Web Excursions (July 8th, 2014) July 8, 2014.

It All Leads Straight to the Cross – Everything that God had revealed needed to be understood in light of Jesus' redeeming work on the cross and in the resurrection. If we read the Bible incorrectly, we'll congratulate ourselves for what we don't find there. As Machen said: "Without the cross the Sermon on the Mount would be an intolerable burden; with the cross it becomes the guide to a way of life. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus held up an unattainable ideal, he has revealed the depths of human guilt, he has made demands far too lofty for human strength. But thank God, he has revealed guilt only to wash it away, and with his demands he has given strength to fulfill them. It is a sadly superficial view of the sermon on the mount which substitutes it for the story of the cross. A deeper understanding of it leads straight to Calvary."

A Review of Jesus Calling – You want to hear Jesus speak to you personally, you'll only find it in the Bible. If you go looking for Christ outside the Bible, you won't find him. Same with God. If you go looking for him outside of Christ, you'll only find the devil.

Jesus and the Church – Jesus only mentions the church twice in the gospels. But, instead of looking at simply at the number of times they are mentioned, we must look at their weight.

“Truly Reformed in a Great Measure”: a Brief Defense of the English Separatist Origins of Modern Baptists (PDF) – Where do reformed baptists come from?

You’ve Been Invited To A [Fill In The Blank]: Should You Go? (1) – How should we respond? There are two things that we must do: communicate our genuine love for those involved and our resolute commitment to honor Christ and his Word in every circumstance Let’s start with the latter. How do we honor Christ in a difficult circumstance, when by saying “No” we may seem to be unloving and thus perhaps judgmental, uncharitable, and even unchristian?

The Mystery of the Trinity Teaching Series by Dr. R.C. Sproul from Ligonier Ministries – Many of us, when asked about the Trinity, unknowingly offer heretical answers. Yet a proper understanding of this doctrine is essential to the health and welfare of the church. In this series, Dr. R.C. Sproul gives a sweeping overview of this important doctrine, explaining difficult concepts, exploring biblical teaching, and defining what the term mystery means.

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