The gospel is…the word about Jesus Christ and what he did for us in order to restore us to a right relationship with God. – Graeme Goldsworthy

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Assurance of Salvation and The Word of God

I read the following story recently. It’s from Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ book Joy Unspeakable: Power and Renewal in the Holy Spirit. If you struggle with assurance of your salvation, you may find it helpful – as MLJ explains that one of the signs of a true believer is an understanding and love for the Word of God.

“Do you know the story about William Wilberforce and his close friend, William Pitt the Younger, one of the great Prime Ministers of this country? Wilberforce was a very fine Christian man and he was deeply concerned about his friend William Pitt, who was a nominal Christian, but no more. Wilberforce was always trying to speak to him about these things. He was particularly anxious that Pitt should go with him to listen to a famous evangelical preacher, called Richard Cecil. So Wilberforce worked on Pitt for weeks and months. At last Pitt promised that the next Sunday morning he would go with him to listen to this preacher, so Wilberforce was praying, full of anticipation, and they went to the service and sat together. Richard Cecil preached and expounded the glories of the kingdom of God and the relationship of the child of God to the Father, and Wilberforce was in ecstasy, rejoicing, reveling in this glorious truth, and he was wondering what happened to Pitt.

“Now Pitt was, I suppose, an abler man than William Wilberforce – he was the Prime Minister. At the end of the service they walked out and Wilberforce wondered what this had all meant to Pitt. He did not have long to wait. Just as they got outside the vestibule, Pitt turned to Wilberforce – who had been so ravished by the exposition of the truth of God – and said, ‘I didn’t understand a word of what that man was talking about, what was it?’

Now that is how we get assurance, is it not? If these things move you and ravish your heart it is because you are a child of God. You have a nature than can receive ‘the sincere milk of the word’ and it gives you assurance.”

Friday, January 16, 2015

Why Reformed Theology Is The Most Reasonable System of Thought

“Reformed theology claims that Christianity is reasonable. To make good its claim it shows that reason itself must be interpreted in terms of the truths of Scripture about it. It is reasonable for a creature of God to believe in God. It is unreasonable for a creature of God to set up itself as God requiring a system of interpretation in which man stands as the ultimate point of reference. Not having a system of theology and philosophy in which reason itself is interpreted in term of exclusively biblical principles, [Roman Catholicism] and Arminianism cannot effectively challenge the reason of the natural man.” Cornelius Van Til, “Introduction,” The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible by B.B.Warfield (49)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The New Year's Eve Routine of John Piper

The following is an excerpt from John Piper’s daily devotional Solid Joys. It is taken from today’s entry, December 31st. May it cause you to ponder the inevitable – death – and the gravity of coming face-to-face with the triune God. May that thought alone cause you to be gripped by the gospel – not only today, but throughout 2015.

Thou dost sweep men away; they are like a dream, like grass which is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and withers. So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:5–6, 12).

For me, the end of a year is like the end of my life. And 11:59 pm on December 31 is like the moment of my death.

The 365 days of the year are like a miniature lifetime. And these final hours are like the last days in the hospital after the doctor has told me that the end is very near. And in these last hours, the lifetime of this year passes before my eyes, and I face the inevitable question: Did I live it well? Will Jesus Christ, the righteous judge, say “Well done, good and faithful servant”?

I feel very fortunate that this is the way my year ends. And I pray that the year’s end might have the same significance for you.

The reason I feel fortunate is that it is a great advantage to have a trial run at my own dying. It is a great benefit to rehearse once a year in preparation for the last scene of your life. It is a great benefit because the morning of January 1 will find most of us alive, at the brink of a whole new lifetime, able to start fresh all over again.
The great thing about rehearsals is that they show you where your weaknesses are, where your preparation was faulty; and they leave you time to change before the real play.
I suppose for some of you the thought of dying is so morbid, so gloomy, so fraught with grief and pain that you do your best to keep it out of your minds, especially during holidays. I think that is unwise and that you do yourself a great disservice. For I have found that there are few things more revolutionizing for my life than a periodic pondering of my own death.

How do you get a heart of wisdom so as to know how best to live? The psalmist answers:
Thou dost sweep men away; they are like a dream, like grass which is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and withers. So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:5, 6, 12).

Numbering your days simply means remembering that your life is short and your dying will be soon. Great wisdom — great, life-revolutionizing wisdom — comes from periodically pondering these things.

The criterion of success that Paul used to measure his life was whether he had kept the faith. This is what I want us to focus on.

And if we discover that we did not keep the faith this past year, then we can be glad, as I am, that this year-end death is (we hope) only a rehearsal, and a whole life of potential faith-keeping lies before us in the next year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rosaria Butterfield has much to teach us...

At the end of my sermon Sunday, I read extensively from a book by Rosaria Butterfield entitled The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into Christian Faith. My purpose was to illustrate what Paul does in Acts 22.1-5. He does not condescendingly address the murderously hostile Jewish audience; rather, he lovingly refutes their erroneous accusation that he’s an enemy of Judaism (cf. Acts 21.28). He does this not only by explaining his loyalty to Judaism (ultimately due to his saving encounter with Judaism’s Savior: Acts 22.6-16) – but also by relating that he also once walked in their shoes.

Rosaria was once a liberal, feminist, lesbian professor in the English Department of Syracuse University. In the early 90s she set out study the rise of the Religious Right in America and its “hermeneutic of hatred” against individuals like her. Ironically and providentially, that became the catalyst of a "train wreck conversion," as she puts it, resulting in her placing trust in the gospel of Jesus Christ and repenting of her life of sin. She has much to teach us if we will listen.

The following is an interview conducted by one of my theological mentors, Russell Moore – the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (or ERLC) – at ERLC’s 2014 National Conference, which addressed “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage.” Over the next forty minutes, you will hear Dr. Moore and Rosaria converse about the following topics:

Øthe importance of creating a church community that values repentance
Øbuilding gospel bridges with your lost neighbors (whom God has providentially given to you as a “mission field”)
Øthe necessity of brokenness in our walk with God (and why it’s vital to our Christian witness/evangelism)
Øthe individual God used to bring her to Christ
Øher passion for small church ministry
Øher “church stalking” habit (before becoming a Christian)
Øwhy church membership is vital to our Christianity in a “Jesus & me” culture
Øthe gospel and sexuality (about which she says, “The gospel’s understanding of sexuality is the best-kept secret on the planet.”)

I would encourage you to watch this when you have a free evening. It will edify your soul, challenge your heart, and equip you to be a better minister of Jesus Christ in the 21st century.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Atheist Kid's Songs

For all of you with children, this will make you laugh. For those who teach children about God and His gospel on Sunday mornings, you might even laugh harder. Without further ado, the always creative and hilarious Tim Hawkins…