Despair at Work

While resting transparently in God, our creator and redeemer, is the only way to overcome spiritual despair, many despairing people take offense in the moment of self-disclosure and react in despair rather than in faith.

Despair, in other words, is only remedied through faith in Jesus Christ, "through whom we have now received reconciliation" with God (Rom 5:11). Even those united to Christ through faith continue to struggle with despair--to live and act as though the grace of God is not enough--insofar as their faith remains imperfect in this life. For this reason, despair is as universal as sin (see part 1 of this series) and not to be reduced to or confused with mere consciousness of despair, since the consciousness of despair may be absent or superficial or even be false (see part 2 of this series).

WCF 15: Repentance Unto Life

Faith and repentance can be thought of as two sides of the same coin in conversion.

Concerning how we understand repentance, Bible-believing Christians should be wary of at least three major errors. First, the Roman Catholic Church has turned repentance into a sacrament, where in the sacrament of penance, it is believed that penance is actually a meritorious work by which sinners make real satisfaction for their sin (add to the work of Christ). Second, and similarly, Arminianism believe that repentance is a work on the part of the individual that is a necessary precursor to regeneration. Third, and very different from the first two errors, there are some who speak of repentance as a ‘dead work’ and therefore unnecessary.

How to Read John Owen: Part 1

It is well-known that Owen has a reputation for being hard to read

In order to answer the question where to start reading Owen, it is helpful to ask first why his writings are difficult to read. Some have blamed Owen’s difficult style on his Latinized grammar. This is plausible, since he spent all of his education and a large part of his adult life speaking, teaching, and writing in Latin, which was virtually his first language. A proposed remedy to this problem has been to read Owen out loud. This is good advice, and it does help readers’ comprehension by increasing their concentration and keeping them moving through the text. However, there are other reasons Owen’s works are hard to read, and why some of his books are harder to read than others.

How Should We Remember?

We will want to become lifelong learners of God’s grace to us in Christ.

If we are to “remember Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:8) and daily experience the grace and power that come from the Holy Spirit from doing so, it is vital to seize upon the opportunity to saturate our lives with the words of life in the Bible. This will mean cultivating habits of regular Bible reading, study, and meditation, but especially hearing the Word preached regularly in corporate worship. It can also mean making the most of other avenues for hearing God’s voice in the Scriptures, whether through reading Christian publications, conversing with fellow believers about matters of substance, or even the intentional use of podcasts, social media, and articles online. As we witness and partake in the sacraments also, we experience God’s Word as it is made visible to us.

Saying Yes To God’s Unexpected Plan

Mary’s acceptance of God’s surprising plan for her life didn’t come all at once.

Mary hears from the Lord, and she accepts his surprising plan for her life: Let it be to me according to your word. Mary’s humility is what I long to see in my own heart. She’s a servant of the Lord, willing to do whatever he asks of her. She entrusts herself to fully to God. Mary’s... Continue Reading

Christmas Is About Satan, Not Santa

Jesus appeared to take away sins and to destroy the works of the devil.

The hold of your enemy is broken by Him who came as your substitute to destroy his works. By faith in Jesus you are freed from sin’s guilt, freed from sin’s power, and freed from sin’s penalty. Your Adversary has been disarmed, defeated, and will one day be destroyed.   We find a number of... Continue Reading

No Gullible Bumpkins Here: Christmas and the Virgin Birth

There are two kinds of women who never, ever give birth: very old ladies and virgins.

On the surface, that might sound reasonable. But if you look closely, you will see that it does not really do justice to Luke’s narrative. Mary and Zechariah and Elizabeth were not gullible bumpkins who didn’t know how babies were made and believed fantastical stories (nor, for that matter, were Luke and his original readers).... Continue Reading

Magi, Wise Men, or Kings? It’s Complicated.

Christian tradition finds meaning in each of these mysterious monikers.

Call them Magi. Call them wise men. You can even call them kings if you’d like! When it comes to Matthew’s Christmas narrative, the more the merrier. Each label shines a light on a different facet of the story. Whatever you choose to call them this holiday season, these men are the first in the... Continue Reading

The Myth of the Pagan Origins of Christmas

Extensive research shows that the December 25th date arose entirely from the efforts of early Latin Christians to determine the historical date of Christ’s death.

Of course, to Christians, it really doesn’t matter that much whether or not they co-opted December 25thfrom the pagans, or vice versa. The Christian faith doesn’t stand or fall on that detail. But it’s nevertheless valuable for all of us to give closer scrutiny to shibboleths—such as that of the pagan origins of Christmas—which are continually repeated... Continue Reading

When God Changes Your Plans

God is weaving the details of your life into something beautiful, with Jesus at the center

“Isn’t it possible that when God does something unexpected in your life today, it may not mean that he has forgotten you or neglected you? Could it be that he’s working on a better, grander plan that you don’t see yet?”   There is an art to writing a résumé, where you find a way... Continue Reading