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.
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?
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, […]
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 […]
If I’m honest, I think one of the downsides of being a pastor is that I don’t often get to sit in the pews. I know pews aren’t always the most comfortable and the sweat stains on the back of ours may cause some people to wonder why sitting in them would be such a blessing. But there’s something about standing side-by-side with the people of God as they worship. There’s a certain connection that can seem lacking when you’re standing alone at the pulpit.
I was thinking of this when I attended a funeral at our church a couple of weeks ago. I was able to sit in the pews; something I hadn’t done since becoming pastor. And it was a blessing. But what really left an indelible impression on me was the singing of the Psalms. The Apostle Paul said, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16). The Puritan Thomas Manton observed that we sing Psalms primarily to glorify God, but also to mutually edify one another. He wrote, “It is not meant of teaching from the psalms, but teaching […]
This past Lord’s Day I preached from Psalm 51 on the subject of confession. The message was based on Psalm 51:16, “The sacrifices of God are a broken heart, a broken and contrite spirit, O God, you will not despise.” My emphasis was how the Lord wants us to offer our broken hearts and sin to him as we worship, not as a precondition to worship.
Toward the end of the message, I was calling the congregation to look afresh at Christ’s work on the cross. I urged them to see his love and mercy for them, and seek the deep heart washing David yearns for in the psalm. At that moment I mentioned doing this with “besetting sins.”
Afterward, in the customary handshaking after the service, a wise, older gentleman greeted me. He then expressed respectfully to me a desire. He said he wished that I would have gone on to address the question as to what those with ongoing struggles with besetting sins should do. My message could have been interpreted that there is an easy fix to a deeply-rooted problem.
I have been meditating on that wish further, as it was a good question. How would I encourage the believer with a besetting sin? Since I […]
Oh how I love your law, it is my meditation all the day!
Let’s admit together that this isn’t easy. We are born with a predisposition against God’s law. To the natural man or woman, God’s law is like the brightness of the sun to eyes that have gotten used to the dark. We avoid it. Really, we hate it.
But it should be different now, right? For those who have been brought to new life through the Spirit of Christ, our attitude toward God’s law should be better than hatred and rebellion. And a lot of times it is: when we’re on top of our spiritual game, we really do love God’s law. But when we begin to slip in our spiritual disciplines, or when discouragement and depression come creeping, or when we refuse to deal forthrightly with our sins, or when we listen too much to the world’s hatred of God’s standard – this is when our love for God’s law wanes.
So here’s some help. Here are a couple more reasons to love God’s law that you might not think about all the time, a couple more arrows for your spiritual battle to hold onto that love.
Another post today to give you yet another conference series! Listening to the messages in both of these posts could keep you busy for quite a while!
The Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary hosted its eleventh annual Westminster Confession Conference this past weekend. The subject this year was “The Law of God and Its Uses.” The packed chapel at RPTS revealed a great deal of interest in this subject.
Below are the links to the messages. Each session had a short question & answer period, so that link is included as well.
1. Conference Introduction by Jerry O’Neill
2. Not Under Law – Really? The Law and Its Uses by Jack Kineer. Q&A session.
3. The Law Leads Us to Christ: The Law and Its First Use by Barry York. Q&A session.
4. The Law Restrains Evil: The Law and Its Second Use by Richard Gamble. Q&A session.
5. The Law Guides Us in Gratitude: The Law and Its Third Use by John Tweeddale. Q&A session.
6. The Heart of the Matter: Avoiding Legalism by C.J. Williams. Q&A session.
Do you ever avoid certain passages of Scripture because they remind you so vividly of past sin? You’ve confessed your sin, and you trust that God is faithful and just to forgive you of that sin and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). But still, certain Scriptures or sermons based upon them seem to reopen old wounds and to remind you anew of an old and deep pain.
We see something similar happening to Peter as he talks with Jesus following Christ’s resurrection. Just prior to Jesus’s crucifixion, Peter faced three questions about his relationship to Jesus and he denied three times that he was the Lord’s disciple. Jesus predicted that three-fold betrayal (Luke 22:34), and upon Peter’s final denial of his relationship to Jesus, the Lord looked at him knowingly (verse 61). Peter saw the Savior’s stare and broke down, going out and weeping bitterly.
In John 21, the risen Jesus asks Peter his own series of questions about Peter’s relationship to him. Several times in slightly nuanced ways, Jesus asks: “…do you love me?” Though interesting, the questions’ nuances are not as important as their number: three. Clearly, Jesus wants Peter to recall his three failures to […]