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Archive | Scripture

The Woman in the Parable of the Lost Coin

Last night our congregation held the second of three evangelistic services we are calling “Stories of Hope.”  I preached on the Parable of the Lost Coin from Luke 15:8-10.

Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

I made it clear that as we hear this parable, we are not to identify with the woman but the coin.  For the lost coin represents a sinner, and the theme I developed in the message was “A valuable item lost from its owner becomes worthless, but when restored the joy is multiplied.”

So though we are to see ourselves as not the woman but the coin, the question remains: “What does the woman represent?”  Some commentators think she represents the Holy Spirit, for her searching with her light is like the Spirit illuminating hearts with truth.  Others develop the […]

The RPTJ is Now Available!

Recently the faculty of the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary published the first edition of a new journal. The Reformed Presbyterian Theological Journal will be an online publication in order to make it more readily available.  The plan is to publish two issues per year, and will be found on the resource page of the seminary’s website.

For a further explanation, read the opening column of the journal entitled “From Rutherford Hall” by our president.

As I write this column, I am sitting in my office in Rutherford Hall, the grand, former Horne Mansion situated on the small campus of the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS) in the East End of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. By God’s grace, the Seminary has a long and noble history like the building itself, dating back to its establishment in 1810. Given Rutherford Hall is the location where so much of the life of RPTS takes place – classes, chapel services, conferences, meals, fellowship – that is the name given to this column. We anticipate this feature being a regular part of this new journal being launched by RPTS. The journal, to no one’s surprise, will be called the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Journal.

I believe you will find the Reformed Presbyterian Theological […]

The Day God Spoke to Katy Perry

While many Christians were in their local church hearing God speak in the reading, singing, and preaching of his Word, Katy Perry was preparing for the half-time performance of Super Bowl XLIX. I suppose for any artist this is a once in a life time chance and is probably the biggest venue they will ever play. According to recent ratings, Katy’s performance was the most-watched halftime show in history, with 118.5 million viewers. To whom does she attribute the success? Well, in her own words, to God. “It’s funny, I was praying and I got a word from God and He says, ‘You got this and I got you.’”

Not surprisingly her comment caused a flurry of responses. Some people find it impossible that God would speak to her. Though raised in a Pentecostal home Katy no longer identifies herself as a Christian, she publicly promotes movements that are contrary to the Bible, and one would need to do gymnastics to find redemptive quality in her music. Others are suggesting this as her “burning bush” or “Damascus road” experience–God confirming his wayward daughter that he hasn’t let her go.

There’s probably been enough commentary on all of this to make most people […]

Elon’s (and Your) Historical Record: Date. Dash. Date.

As the ancient church historian was writing the book of Judges, he must have asked himself, “What do I know about Elon?” (Judges 12:11-12) The other historians around him must have scratched their heads, much like you may be doing as you secretly ask, “Who is Elon?” As the ancient historian summed up the whole life of a political and spiritual leader in ancient Israel, he came to the conclusion that not much was known about Judge Elon. His answer was that Elon lived. Elon worked. Elon died.

“After him Elon the Zebulunite judged Israel, and he judged Israel ten years. Then Elon the Zebulunite died and was buried at Aijalon in the land of Zebulun.”

We might hope that an ancient historian would record more for us, but the fact is that every life on this earth will be summed up as Elon’s life is here summed. You live. You work. You die.

Our Father’s Likeness

What is your gut reaction, honestly, when you hear the phrase: “Obedience to God’s law”?  Do you smile, or do you cringe?  And why?

In the previous entry on this subject, we considered our tendency to think of the Lord Jesus in terms more appropriate to Superman than to the Savior.  We appreciate that he’s saved us from God’s wrath against us as sinners, but we struggle to surrender the autonomy which is the essence of our sinfulness.  We want rescue more than we want redemption.  Yet Scripture teaches us that salvation in Christ is about far more than being rescued from the consequences of our sin.  Salvation has to do not only with what we’re saved from, but what we’re saved for: a life lived more and more in keeping with God’s moral law.

Sadly, however, when so many Christians hear the word “law” in a discussion about God, they bristle.  In our contemporary Christian culture, the word has become synonymous with legalism.  Legalism, however, is an abuse of God’s law resulting from its being redacted or reduced (Deuteronomy 4:1-2; Matthew 5:19.)  Abusing God’s word is inevitably abusive to God’s people.

Relationally cold, unnecessarily strict homes and churches are spiritual dungeons in […]

My Eyes Flow With Tears

A few years ago a little book caught my attention. Though I had read it before I noticed, for the first time, that it was unlike most books I had ever read. It was poetic. It was tragic and sorrowful. It was graphic and stirring. It was intense and emotional. Most fascinating, however, is that it was a book that profoundly reflected the heart of Jesus. Not Jesus as we sometimes think of him–confident as he calmed the storm, bold as he preached the kingdom, jealous as he overturned tables, or silent as he faced his oppressors. But Jesus as he stood by the grave of Lazarus and wept (Jn 11:35). Jesus as he approached Jerusalem weeping over it (Lk 19:41). Jesus as he offered up prayers with tears (Heb 5:7). It was the book of Lamentations.

I’m going to guess that Lamentations isn’t a book most of us are familiar with. In it, the Prophet Jeremiah is heartbroken and stunned at the destruction of Jerusalem, “How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations!” While the fall of Jerusalem is described in a purely historical […]

Russell Moore Interview of Rosaria Butterfield

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Church held their national conference at the end of October on the topic of “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage.”  Russell Moore interviewed Rosaria Butterfield, author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.  You can watch this fascinating interview below.

The First Word of God to His Church

Have you ever noticed that almost every letter in the New Testament–James, Hebrews, and 3 John excepted–opens with the words “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” or a close approximate? Its’ easy, isn’t it, to just pass by those words. After all, sometimes we view them as being a mere formality, equivalent to our own modern, “I hope you are well.” Who cares about mere pleasantries when the body of the letter is what contains the “good stuff.”

Well, it’s true that the Apostles borrowed from the common practice of their own day when they wrote letters. After all, letter writing isn’t a unique Christian endeavor. But it’s far from the truth to think of these greeting only as a matter of custom. Rather, as a part of God’s Word, they’re transformed and given significance. Here’s two ways to think about these greetings—“grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

First, we need to remember that this is an inspired greeting. Though the Apostles wrote the letters, they did so as those who were inspired. Their letters, to be sure, bear their trademarks—their personality and characteristics. The letters […]

Will all my sins be seen on the last day?

Will all my sins be seen on the last day?

A friend recently asked me this question. More than that, this question has been asked me of me several times in recent months. Christians, with good reason, want to know what we can expect on the last day. Several have asked me point blank, “When Jesus returns and judges everyone, will all of my sins be broadcast up on a cosmic-sized movie screen for God – and everyone else – to see?”

Some passages in Scripture seem to point this way. Revelation 20:12 speaks about the dead on the day of judgment being “judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” And Romans 2:6 promises that God “will render to each one according to his works…” Verses like these give many the impression that each and every human will have the same experience on the day of judgment: having their every sin brought out into the light, to be seen for what they’ve truly done and who they truly are.

But is that what Scripture really teaches? Is that what believers in Jesus can expect? While there are many Biblical scholars who might disagree, […]

STAR Bible Reading Program

Over the years I have used a number of Bible reading programs.  From choosing different books of interest to McCheyne’s classic plan to a consecutive Genesis-through-Revelation-in-a-year approach, when it comes to Bible reading plans I have either tried them or discussed them at length with those who have.

One of the struggles I have always had with reading programs is the guilty feeling that comes when inevitably a reading is missed.  Usually the first few times I try to make it up, but get distracted from enjoying the reading because I “have to” get caught up.  As my own personal reading rhythm is more inclined toward pausing and meditating on certain passages when I am touched by a truth, the need to check off a completed reading usually ends up frustrating me. Why does one of the sweetest means of grace have to have built-in legalism battles?

This struggle became especially acute a few years ago when I tried the 3650 Challenge (also known as Professor Horner’s Bible Reading Program).  This method has you read ten chapters from different places in the Bible per day (the 3650 obviously coming from the multiplication of the number of days in a year by ten).  At first I enjoyed reading from ten different places in the […]