The Essential Marks of a Preacher

Discerning between being called of men and called of God is urgently important.

Before a church evaluates a pastoral candidate’s gifting or talent, it must first evaluate his character. To be sure, for a man aspiring to ministry, it may help to be winsome, to be eloquent, or to possess a magnetic personality. Yet, before one looks for these secondary—and tertiary—strengths, one must first meet the qualifications of... Continue Reading

5 Ways to Pray for Your Church Family in 2020

A church that is growing in the gospel is filled with people who are joyfully loving, serving, and sacrificing for one another as they demonstrate the gospel.

We want to see churches enveloped by a real joy in God because of what He has done for us in Christ. You see this in Colossians 1 as Paul, himself in prison, prays for a church full of people whom he has never met—that they would understand the greatness of God and joyfully respond... Continue Reading

The Epiphany

Calvin called the Magi “the first-fruits of the Gentiles” who would come to God’s Son.

Scripture presents the gift of God’s Son as a historic fact that demands a response. The coming of the Magi fulfilled ancient prophesies: “The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Is. 60:3).  Matthew’s record of their interaction with Herod the Great roots the birth narrative in secular... Continue Reading

Hiding Behind Christ: Humility in Practice

What would it look like if we kept that desire and effort to hide behind Christ daily?

When we are called to Christ through the effectual work of the Holy Spirit, we no longer desire to be seen. Our belief in Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf and our profession of faith in Him is essentially saying that we want to hide behind Him. We don’t want the world and... Continue Reading

Solitude Improved

Ranew goes on to provide a general overview of meditation, highlighting key Scripture passages and employing a series of analogies

Pious meditation is the duty of every Christian; or, It is the high institution of Christ, and greatly incumbent duty of Christians, to exercise themselves much in holy meditation. A rare and soul-enriching way; none know the sweetness and blessings of it, but such as exercise themselves in it.   Nathanael Ranew died in 1677,... Continue Reading

Learning from the Methodists

The Methodists far more effectively summoned and encouraged young men into gospel ministry.

What can we learn from the Methodists of two centuries ago? I am staunchly Presbyterian and am not arguing that we should change our standards, but we can surely learn from history. Omitting a number of critiques we might explore, two positive lessons stand out.   Learning from the Methodists What can we learn from... Continue Reading

What Difference Will Prayer Make?

Why the sovereignty of God brings us to our knees.

“Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance,” says Martin Luther, “but laying hold of his willingness.” When we pray, we do not change the mind of God as if he might have chosen wrongly. We act out the infinite wisdom of God, in the midst of all the brokenness in front of us, and welcome the... Continue Reading

There Is Another Way: A Response To Francis Chan

There are alternatives to the reigning Evangelical Zwinglianism, against which Chan seems to be reacting.

Some evangelical traditions more or less ignore church history. They are perhaps the most vulnerable to anachronistic stories about the ancient church. Chan’s rhetoric about who held to a “literal” view of the supper and when suggests that he belongs to that group of evangelicals who have not seriously engaged with the past but who... Continue Reading

Access to God (Romans 5:2)

Peace with God creates access to God, so that we can stand before him fearlessly.

At great cost to himself, God removed our sin and guilt and made peace with us, so that we have access to him. Hebrews 4:16 states the application: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We... Continue Reading

Recognizing Critical Theory

By subverting the true Law and true Gospel in favor of Marxist categories, the Christian form of Critical Theory endangers the soul.

Of course, not all those who use the language of CT fully embrace its tenets or understand the paradigm underlying the language they use. Its subtlety is part of its great strength. Many continue to hold an orthodox understanding of the Gospel while using CT as an “analytical tool.” But there are some, and their... Continue Reading

Can the Unconverted Rightly Interpret Scripture?

Because of the effects of the Fall on the entire being, the unregenerate man is both morally biased against the plain meaning of the text and intellectually incapable of embracing its message.

Ultimately, any thorough treatment of the topic of Bible interpretation must grapple with the implications of 1 Corinthians 2:14. If we take the Bible seriously and confess sola Scriptura, we cannot pretend Paul’s description of the unconverted is merely hypothetical, or assume it applies only to the illiterate or unscholarly. Paul’s statement—given by the inspiration... Continue Reading

Carve Your Eyeball Out of Its Socket

Free porn will cost you more than you really want to give.

If you think cutting off an arm or plucking out an eye seems harsh, consider what Christ says about daily following him: “You must take up your cross.” He’s talking about nothing less than death. To experience life in Christ we are to die to ourselves.   If the title makes you uncomfortable, now you... Continue Reading

God’s Ordinary Means of Grace are All You Need

One of the often under-discussed principles of the Reformation was that of simplicity.

Tragic things happen when we exchange God’s means of grace for our own—or when we misuse his means. Just ask Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu. While handling the sacred things in the worship of God, they rebelliously offered strange fire on the altar of God—a means of worship the Lord did not command. The result?... Continue Reading

Pete Buttigieg puts his faith in abortion.

In his stump speech, Buttigieg describes abortion as “reproductive healthcare” and refers to legal abortion as a crucial “freedom.”

Buttigieg doesn’t speak like someone who believes abortion is even bad, let alone a necessary evil. No national Democrat can believe such a thing; that would entail believing that Planned Parenthood, which performs hundreds of thousands of abortions per year and also spends tens of millions of dollars to elect Democrats, is engaged in evil.... Continue Reading

“Not Simple or Absolute”

God decreed, and the incarnation followed.

Calvin affirms quite a few times the idea that God could have incarnated his Son without himself yielding to death for us, but God did not have done so because that would have been inferior to what in fact occurred. God would be free to, but this course would have been an impossible way to... Continue Reading

Foundations of Worship

God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden—the perfect sanctuary of God—to literally “worship and obey.”

Creation is the very basis of and foundation for worship. The central principle of biblical worship is the fact that it is God-initiated and based upon his self-revelation. God’s speaking the world into existence was in its very essence an act to create worship. God created the universe ex nihilo through his spoken word for the... Continue Reading

Quoting Scripture Contrary to Its Purpose is Devilish

Using tools or utensils for unintended purposes just doesn’t work.

We can learn through both positive and negative examples. So today, we’ll look at a Bible quotation used out of context. And we won’t just look at any example, we’ll look in the Bible itself at an example of the misuse of Scripture.   Have you ever tried to hammer a nail with a hand saw?... Continue Reading

We Are Not Home Yet

Jesus came to make us heirs of the world to come.

Jesus is the heavenly Sojourner, traveling through the foreign land of this fallen world to the eternal inheritance He came to possess by way of the cross. He came to inherit the world by passing through the world and finishing the work of redemption.   After a decade of church planting and pastoring in the... Continue Reading

A Response to “We Must Help the Oppressed – Even In Marriage”

A response to Todd Bordow’s article on marriage and divorce.

His central assertion is that “It is time we add another category to what we normally consider divorce exceptions for Christians, one we might call intolerable conditions, or cruelty.”  Essential to his contention is that the normal restrictions, outlined in Scripture and our Confession, restricting divorce only in the cases of adultery (Matthew 19:9) or... Continue Reading

Are We Meant to Enjoy Our Work?

Hamilton explores the theme of work throughout the whole Bible—its original purpose, how it was affected by the fall, and how we should think about it today.

In the Bible, the land of promise is not the place sought by freeloaders and slackers who long for an El Dorado where theft is easy, the hills are made of sugar, work is abolished, and handouts are freely distributed to tramps and bums who have neither responsibilities nor families. The Bible’s songs are rooted... Continue Reading

Climate Change: A Biblical Perspective

A brief biblical perspective on climate change.

A naturalistic worldview dominates public policy on climate change in California and elsewhere. Naturalism posits that the universe evolved through random physical processes. This entails that our earth is extremely fragile, and that man, who is often viewed as a clumsy Johnny-come-lately, could completely destroy it…A biblical worldview posits that God is the creator, sustainer,... Continue Reading

How to Read Isaiah Theologically: Part Two

Isaiah pronounces judgment oracles to the people who have not been practicing righteousness and justice.

In light of the fact that someday in the future the nations will stream up to a new Jerusalem with a new temple, hear the word of the Lord, and leave, hammering their swords into ploughs, and their spears into hoes, and learning war no more, the people of Judah are called to walk in... Continue Reading

Roots of Evangelical Worship: The Oxford Movement

The movement had a significant effect upon Anglicanism.

Come to be known as the “Oxford Movement,” due to its beginnings at Oxford University, theologians such as John Keble (1792–1866), John Henry Newman (1801–1890), John Mason Neale (1818–1866), and Frederich Faber (1814–1863) sought to forge a middle way between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism.   Over the past month I have been exploring the various... Continue Reading

The Messianic Prophecies in the Book of Daniel

God sent his Son, eternal and uncreated like a stone not cut by human hands, into the world, and all earthly kings and kingdoms were rattled by his birth.

The book of Daniel proves two things: God provides and God saves. He not only takes care of his people in their present affliction, but is bringing an everlasting kingdom of peace, which was only prophesied in Daniel’s day, but finds its fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah.   Jerusalem is under attack. Israel, its sister... Continue Reading

The Struggle to Find God’s Will

We are called to trust God as we take uncertain steps.

The struggle to find God’s will is a struggle with certainty. We naturally seek as much certainty as possible in regard to decisions. Certainty helps us feel more in control, and when we feel in control, we feel safe.   “What does God want me to do?” Have you ever asked yourself that question? I... Continue Reading

United Methodists Propose a Plan to Split Their Denomination

While the UMC is the latest—and largest—modern religious institution to split because it cannot reconcile the demands of Scripture and secular-infused individualism, it likely won’t be the last.

If the delegates at the 2020 General Conference adopt the protocol, UMC churches that want to form a new Methodist denomination will register their intention by May 15, 2021. Local churches and conferences will then be able to vote to align with any of the newly established Methodist denominations that derive from the post-separation UMC.... Continue Reading

Communing with Christ in the Supper

The Westminster Confession of Faith teaches that believers really and truly feed on Christ by faith as He is spiritually present in the Supper.

Explanations about the presence of Christ in the Supper have been vast and nuanced throughout church history. However, the fact that Evangelicalism (broadly defined) has failed to acknowledge the real spiritual presence of Christ in the Supper is the bad fruit of nineteenth century Revivalism—rather than the careful exegetical labors of sixteenth century Reformation.  ... Continue Reading

Packer’s Dusty Puritan Discovery Still Guides and Helps

The evangelical world has not been the same since.

Packer would spend a lifetime underscoring how the Puritans of the past can help Evangelicals of the present. As one example, Packer explains how reading the Puritans can correct the hyper-individualism and anti-thinking perspective that pervades Evangelicalism.   During J. I. Packer’s second year of undergraduate studies at Oxford, he was invited to serve as... Continue Reading

Recovering the Song of Songs as a Christian Text

The Song of Songs challenges us to seek more in our personal relationship with Christ, to love him more, to know him better, to sound the depths of what has been revealed of him.

The Song of Songs, because it is Scripture, intends to bring us to this saving knowledge of God. Up until the middle of the nineteenth century, it was treated as a book of theological and spiritual knowledge pointing us to God. In fact, one writer calls it a sacramental word that uses visible and tangible... Continue Reading

What John 1 Taught Me about Who Jesus Is

The apostle John's introduction to Jesus.

John says that Jesus is the “true light” and that He “gives light to everyone.” In other words, if we can see, know, or understand truth, it is because He has given light to us. Jesus is not only the truth but also the way to know the truth.   The college I attended offered... Continue Reading