“It’s All About Jesus” or “Union with Christ” or “Identity in Jesus”: What Do These Mean?

The good news of the gospel—of Christianity as a whole—is that we can be linked with him. We’re in him.

This, in a nutshell, is an explanation of our union with Christ. The Christian’s identity is about Jesus. What happened to him identifies and defines us. What’s true of him becomes true of us. So Christians, let’s make it crystal clear: The reason you and I are forgiven is not just that God forgives. It’s because... Continue Reading

Humble Confidence, Not Self-Love

It is only when we are self-forgetful that we can possess the right kind of courageous confidence we need to face the challenges of life.

Paul warns about a forthcoming time of godlessness and argues that its chief characteristic will be that men will be “lovers of self” (2 Tim. 3:2). When one’s center of gravity shifts from God and others to self, it serves as fertilizer for the cultivation of a variety of other sins. One might well ask... Continue Reading

Our Identity Is Not in Their Performance

I just had to be faithful in loving Jesus through loving people and proclaiming truth. I am not in charge of how you respond.

My identity is firmly fixed in Christ and it is not wrapped up in my performance. As Bunyan said so many years before, “my righteousness is in heaven and it’s not dependent upon my good frames or my bad frames”. My standing with the Father is already settled. My record is established. I am in... Continue Reading

Your True Retirement Plan

Remember that you have an inheritance that is coming.

While it has been given to you by grace alone in Christ alone, remember that God is working in you both to will and to do those things that are in a response to His grace. You have a path to walk in this life, it is a path of trust and obedience. Your rest... Continue Reading

Walk with Me Through a Midlife Crisis

Perhaps the reason the crisis comes at midlife is to show us, at the cresting of our natural powers, who is truly sovereign. And merciful.

Perhaps you will not be surprised, then, that 26 years later, as my ministry at Bethlehem was coming to a close, the message I chose to give at Together for the Gospel celebrated the sovereign keeping power of God over my life. “Now to him who is able to keep you . . .” (Jude 24). I suppose I could look... Continue Reading

Tried with Fire: When Pain is Personal

Peter clearly states that Christians are called to suffer (1 Pet 2:20-21).

I am not much interested in responding to theoretical questions posed by philosophers and theologians (though I am one of them). My concern is with Christ’s lambs who find themselves staggering under the weight of affliction. If God has any purpose in allowing His people to suffer, then I want to find it. If Scripture... Continue Reading

The Mod: Don’t Be Deceived By Experiences

By the Holy Spirit opening our eyes in faith we can see past the temporal and into the spiritual.

Jesus is telling us that the only way to build our life in a way that the storms we experience around us won’t bring the house down is to build the house on the rock of ages himself. Jesus Christ is the truth (Jn. 14:6), and our lives need to be built within sanctifying design... Continue Reading

Money Matters

On judgment day, it won’t matter how much you possessed on earth but Whom you possessed.

Jesus didn’t mince words when He asked, “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25). You can have all this world but still not have the One who holds the world. Building bigger barns and fattening your soul with the comforts of this fleeting... Continue Reading

An Overview of the Nineteenth Century

One of the more poignant lessons of church history is that it rarely enables us to foretell how future history will unfold.

The Reformed tradition in many ways enjoyed a golden age in nineteenth-century America. The list of notable American Reformed theologians and scholars includes Charles Hodge (1797–1878) and his son Archibald Alexander Hodge (1823–86), William G.T. Shedd (1820–94), Robert Lewis Dabney (1820–98), James Henley Thornwell (1812–62), Benjamin Morgan Palmer (1818–1902), John Girardeau (1825–98), John B. Adger... Continue Reading

Three Biblical Signs of Spiritual Immaturity

Like any kind of growth, Christian maturity happens slowly over time.

As we mature in faith, certain perspectives we had about God often do develop, but the spiritually immature are marked by instability. With each new book or blog post they read, they change their views whichever way the wind is blowing. As we grow up in that gospel, the waves and winds of weird doctrines... Continue Reading

This is Your Time (God Has a Plan and Purpose to Every Season of Your Life Under Heaven)

Learn to apply Psalm 31:15 in tranquility: My times are in thy hand.

Whatever the case, recognize the season and that it is God’s appointed time for you.  Resolve to live within it and live it with purpose and peace.  And realize that just like America’s winter is Brazil’s summer so your seasons of life overlap with others but do not always correspond. One man’s spring blossoms during... Continue Reading

Where Do the Prayers of a Mom Go?

No role, no gift was greater than the imprint she left of Jesus.

It may be true, there is no rest for the weary. For every moment is sacred. The impact today on a little child’s life tomorrow has no measuring tape long enough. In eternity’s light, it streams on and on, beyond what we can see, touching who we can’t know. May our razor thin space mark... Continue Reading

The God Who Disturbs Our Consciences

He brings uncomfortable truths back into the light—so that we can find cleansing and redemption.

I was preaching from the story of Joseph in Genesis 42. It might be ancient history, but we were drawing lessons for today—for God still works in similar ways. He often pokes at our consciences, or uses circumstances and trials to bring our guilt before our own eyes. Or sometimes He even uses the unsuspecting... Continue Reading

Every Pastor’s Greatest Desire

He does not serve for a salary but “eagerly” for an eternal reward (1 Pet 5:2, 4).

The verb “aspires” (oregō) is used elsewhere to speak negatively of a false teacher’s “craving” for money (1 Tim 6:10) and positively of the faithful’s “desire” for a heavenly city (Heb 11:16). In both instances, there is an aspiration for something that drives the whole of one’s life, for better or worse. To aspire to... Continue Reading

Depravity Unleashed

What we see unleashed in our society today is not the product of an enlightened mind, but rather a willing descent into the darkness of sin.

To protect a child from the foolishness bound up in the heart is to exercise love, as is direction in the way of righteousness. Just as God has given parental authority to safeguard children, so He has given governmental authority to safeguard citizens. Societal structures represent common grace to restrain evil, to keep people from self-destructive... Continue Reading

Worth a Thousand Years of Waiting

The Staggering Rise of the Church in Iran.

The rise of persecution against Christians in Iran has served both as a sign of the rapid growth of Christianity within the country and as fuel for further growth. In the 1990s, several key leaders of the church in Iran were killed. One of the most famous martyrs, Mehdi Dibaj, gave a defense before the... Continue Reading

Is Same-Sex Attraction the Only Unchangeable Sin?

There are no sins, no matter how defined, that are outside of the Spirit’s transforming power and grace to overcome.

Christ commissioned the church to take his good news to every part of the world, to every type of people, who are held captive to every type of sin, to point them to Christ as the only bondage breaker, so that they will be rescued from the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom... Continue Reading

Cultural and Theological Stockholm Syndrome

With each small compromise we drift further from biblical reasoning.

Cultural and theological Stockholm syndrome is, in biblical terms, “friendship with the world” (Js. 4:4). We must remain vigilant to remain faithful to our redeeming, ransoming, and returning king. Like King David, we must express our love and loyalty for God in the celebration, joy, and privilege of receiving and obeying his word (see Psalm... Continue Reading

Five Reasons Pastors Should Not Allow the Psalms to Be Sung in Church

If you opt for the novelty of singing the Psalms, you are abandoning the proven track-record of modern worship music.

You have worked hard at truncating Christianity into an individual, pietistic, “feel-good” religion. If you allow the Psalms to be sung, you are going to have to recalibrate your theology.   Navigating pastoral ministry is tricky business. One of the most challenging aspects may be deciding on the songs to sing every Sunday morning. A... Continue Reading

Is Hope a Blessing or a Curse?

It was believed by the Greeks that hope was the most pernicious of all evils because it prevented people from accepting their fate.

Hope isn’t an evil to be caged; it is a boon and blessing for citizens of heaven. Hope is the home language of the Christian, and we need to stay fluent if we want to be useful to the Lord in this life.   According to Greek mythology, all evil is the fault of one... Continue Reading

Seven Letters Seven Dangers: Pride

Sinful pride shows itself in many ways.

Do you see, Theophilus, how pride can find its way into all manner of churches? And to what does this pride lead but divisions between those who ought to be united and to an ugliness that cannot attract unbelievers to Christ.   Dear Theophilus, Greetings in Jesus’ name!  May his grace abound to you through... Continue Reading

Worship in Spirit and Truth—Not Spirit or Truth

The truth we know and believe about God stands at the very heart of worship and separates the true and living God from worthless idols.

Just as the heart is engaged in worship, so must the mind be engaged. More than an intellectual comprehension of the truth about God, the mind is engaged in the worship of who God is, how God saved us, and why our lives should be consistently reflecting the glory of God.   When Jesus passed... Continue Reading

You Don’t Know How You’ll Influence Someone

We can be unknown heroes, unsung influencers, for the glory of God.

We don’t know the myriads of causes and effects that will come from what we say and do. We don’t know the chains we’re linking in others. And even for us personally, we don’t know how our actions are forming ourselves to be different people a decade from now.   Johann von Staupitz. Have you... Continue Reading

Canons Of Dort (29): The Reality Of Sin And Grace In The Christian Life

Even the elect are utterly dependent upon the grace of Christ (sola gratia) for our perseverance and for our preservation.

Our sins never turn the covenant of grace into a covenant of works. This is perhaps the greatest truth to learn here because this is the very lie that The Accuser uses to try to trap us in our sins, to try to convince us that God cannot and will not save such great sinners.... Continue Reading

Update on Charges Against Dr. K. Scott Oliphint

The Presbytery of the Southwest of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) voted to dismiss all four charges that had been filed against the Rev. Dr. K. Scott Oliphint.

The presbytery then immediately determined not to institute judicial process on all four charges, since all four charges relied on essentially the same documentary evidence. A vote was held, and the presbytery passed the ultimate motion to dismiss all four charges.   On Friday, May 3, 2019, the Presbytery of the Southwest of the Orthodox... Continue Reading

I Am Not an Accident – The Best Birthday Note Ever

‎My heart has been made glad and God has reminded me that I am not here by accident but by Divine appointment and foreordination.

Thanks, Mom! Thanks for the reminder that I am no accident but that I have been fashioned and formed with a purpose. Thanks for your sacrifice in carrying me to term, a sacrifice which was a major means in bringing me to that purpose, and thanks for praying that I would come to know the... Continue Reading

The Color of Incomplete History: A Review Article

The story of the American church’s struggle with racism is a multi-faceted painful story and it needs to be told in its fullness as much as possible.

A critical part of writing sound history is citing evidence of contrary perspectives from the era under review for an objective telling of the story. A complete history will acknowledge both the evil and the good. Historian Douglas Sweeney offers a balanced appraisal of evangelical history on race relations: “… despite such undeniable moral failure,... Continue Reading

Dr. Robert Stout Rayburn Retires after 41+ years at Faith Presbyterian Church: A Reflection

Robert Stout Rayburn is retiring from the RPC,ES/PCA ministry after 41 plus years of pulpit ministry at Faith Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, Washington.

During his tenure at Faith Presbyterian, Dr. Rayburn preached three times each Lord’s Day with two different sermons. Then there was the Wednesday night sermonette before Prayer Meeting. In addition to the preparation of multiple sermons each week, he mentored the numerous church officers, taught Latin at the church’s high school, Covenant High School, wrote... Continue Reading

Humble Confidence, Not Self-Love

Self-love over the love of God and neighbor is the problem both Moses and Jesus were correcting.

God’s love for us, and our reciprocal love for Him, should produce humble confidence in our lives. True humility produces security and courage, not insecurity and fearfulness. The preoccupation of self-love is a problem, not a solution. The solution is to humbly focus on loving God and neighbor, knowing you can do so because God... Continue Reading

The Faithfulness of God in Science

Modern deistic views differ radically from what the Bible depicts about God’s involvement.

Deism is built into the implicit framework that people assume and use when thinking about science. They interpret the process of causation as self-sufficient, ignoring the presence of God working all things according to his will (Eph. 1:11). They assume self-sufficiency rather than demonstrate it. By contrast, the person who genuinely believes that God is... Continue Reading