The Gospel and the Christian Life

Dousing the Fire

We all carry something around with us; it lurks in our hearts and follows us closer than our shadows. It is hungry and wants to devour our lives, consuming everything good and leaving nothing behind but destruction. There can only be one thing that matches this...

Cosmic Redemption

Romans 8:19-22, “19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage...

The Beauty of Divine Simplicity in Cultural Complexity

While “it’s complicated” may sum up your relational status, it also sums up your cultural moment. The current waves of cultural conflict come from every direction: health pandemics and systemic racism, and political unrest and calls for social reform and space...

The Glory To Be Revealed

Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with...

The Spirit’s Internal Witness

The Spirit’s Internal Witness

Romans 8:16-17, “16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” We become God’s...

Debtors to the Spirit

Debtors to the Spirit

Romans 8:12-15, “12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the...

The Life-Giving Spirit

The Life-Giving Spirit

Romans 8:10-11, “10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to...

The Indwelling Spirit of God

The Indwelling Spirit of God

Romans 8:9, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” Paul is a complex thinker, and his arguments often hold together several complementary...

Comfort in the Storms of Life: The Lord Is My Shepherd

Comfort in the Storms of Life: The Lord Is My Shepherd

Are you under a dark providence? Do you feel alone? In the 19th century, George Matheson penned these beautiful words that are full of hope: “I trace the rainbow through the rain And feel the promise is not in vain That morn shall tearless be.” Right this moment, you...

The Mind Set on the Flesh

The Mind Set on the Flesh

Romans 8:7-8, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Paul’s focus in Romans 8 can be summed up as “life in the Spirit,” as the chapter...

Setting One’s Mind on the Spirit

Setting One’s Mind on the Spirit

Romans 8:4-6, “4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live...

Justice Satisfied in Another

Justice Satisfied in Another

Romans 8:3-4, “3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who...

No Condemnation In Christ

No Condemnation In Christ

Romans 8:1-2, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1 marks another significant turning point in Paul’s magisterial...

Trusting the Christ Captain of Our Souls

Trusting the Christ Captain of Our Souls

Throughout Romans 7, Paul has dealt with an important problem relevant to all Christians: why do I keep sinning if I am saved? Why, even though I love God’s Word and God’s law, do I keep on sinning even when I know I must not? Our passage summarizes Paul’s...

Evil Lurking Close at Hand

Evil Lurking Close at Hand

Romans 7:21, “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” “The devil made me do it” may be a popular way of using humor to excuse sin, but we should never use this rationalization. Indeed, sin is not funny in the least, but remains...

Help for a Habit of Prayer

Help for a Habit of Prayer

If you have been a Christian long enough, you know about habits for growing in faith. Of all the habits, prayer may be the most critical. It gives life to all other habits because we seek the Holy Spirit primarily in prayer. One of my favorite Puritan writers, Richard...

Our True Identity

Our True Identity

Romans 7:18-20, “18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do...

The Believer’s Struggle

The Believer’s Struggle

Romans 7:14-17, “ For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is...

Sinful Beyond Measure

Sinful Beyond Measure

Romans 7:13, “Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.” Moving forward in our study...

The Law in the Life of an Unbeliever

The Law in the Life of an Unbeliever

Romans 7:12, “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” Interpreters have long struggled to square Paul’s teaching on the law of God—particularly its revelation in the Mosaic law—with Old Testament texts that praise this law (for...

David and Mephibosheth

David and Mephibosheth

The New Testament has plenty of instances in which Jesus interacts with those with a disability, but what about in the Old Testament? There are still some great examples of how to treat someone with a disability, and one of the best is David’s example in the way he...

Sin’s Perversion of the Law

Sin’s Perversion of the Law

Romans 7:8-11, “8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very...

Solomon’s Secret

Solomon’s Secret

If you were to scour the less-than-famous books of the Old Testament, you would discover a peculiar statement in a peculiar book penned by a peculiar old man: “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all...

An Attitude of Contentment

An Attitude of Contentment

Romans 7:7-8, “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity...

Belonging and Bearing Fruit

Belonging and Bearing Fruit

Across the table from me, a young man, maybe fifteen years old, was pouring out his heart. While we ate our burgers and fries, he shared how he loved the Lord but struggled to apply the gospel daily. His friends were regularly doing things that he, as a Christian,...

Freed from the Law

Freed from the Law

Romans 7:1-3, “Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the...

The Wages of Sin vs. the Gift of Life

The Wages of Sin vs. the Gift of Life

Romans 6:22-23, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We...

The Kindness of God and the Fear of Judgment

The Kindness of God and the Fear of Judgment

In John 9:1-41, we read of Jesus’ interaction with a blind man at the pool of Siloam. Jesus frequently interacts with the blind or with people with various infirmities and disabilities. Because of that, His encounter with this blind man is not altogether unusual for...

Slavery to Sin and Its Fruit

Slavery to Sin and Its Fruit

Romans 6:20-21, “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.” As we look at all religions besides...

Slaves to Righteousness

Slaves to Righteousness

Romans 6:15-19, “15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of...

Paralyzing Accusations: Satan’s Ploy to Debilitate Believers

Paralyzing Accusations: Satan’s Ploy to Debilitate Believers

Still half-asleep, I stumble to the kitchen to turn on the Keurig. I hear the boys’ bedroom door open, followed by a miniature stampede of pattering feet running in my direction. The two youngest stop and look at me, but I’m not prepared for anything but coffee....

Jesus Heals Blind Man

Jesus Heals Blind Man

In the pages of the Bible, and especially in the Gospels, Jesus interacts with people with disabilities and infirmities frequently. One such instance is contained in Luke 18:35-43. In this portion of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus encounters a blind man on the road near...

Living Under Grace

Living Under Grace

Romans 6:14, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” Legal righteousness—a standing before God that says we have kept His covenant—is granted to us when we believe the gospel, when we trust in Jesus alone for salvation...

The Death of a Spouse

The Death of a Spouse

This is my first piece since the passing of my dear wife, Heidi M. Ruiz. She passed away on 3/28/2021 at Cornell medical hospital after a roller coaster of a day of sudden medical complications. If you’re inclined to hear my recounting of the day, please feel free to...

Instruments of Righteousness

Instruments of Righteousness

Romans 6:12-13, “12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your...

Considering Ourselves Properly

Considering Ourselves Properly

Romans 6:11, “11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Growth in holiness—our sanctification—does not constitute an optional addendum to the gospel; rather, it is a necessary fruit of the gospel. Indeed, properly...

Help! I’m Feeling Anxious about Everything

Help! I’m Feeling Anxious about Everything

Universal Worry Let’s be honest. We’re all worried, aren’t we? Some of us are worried about catching COVID-19 or spreading it. Some of us are worried about the impact of emergency laws upon civil liberties. Some of us are worried about the economy and the impact on...

Living to God

Living to God

Romans 6:8–10, “8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but...

Four Ways to Look for the Good in Others

Four Ways to Look for the Good in Others

Invite Conversation As a general rule, we will not be able to have growing relationships in which we help other people unless we see the good in them, and they know we see good in them. Would you listen to someone who helps you merely out of duty rather than love?...

United to Christ

United to Christ

Romans 6:5-7, “5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we...

Ten Reasons Why Christianity and New Age Cannot Blend

Ten Reasons Why Christianity and New Age Cannot Blend

I tried to blend New Age and Christianity for many years. Here are just 10 of the many reasons why Christianity and the new age are opposites that can never be blended: 1. New Age glorifies the self; Christianity glories God. 2. New Age says: “Follow your heart, and...

Baptized into Christ

Baptized into Christ

Romans 6:3-4, “3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too...

Dead to Sin

Dead to Sin

Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Without a doubt, Paul is used to fielding objections to the Gospel, especially those having to do with the law of God....

The Obedience Of One

The Obedience Of One

Romans 5:18-21, “18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be...

More Sin, More Grace

More Sin, More Grace

Romans 5:20, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” Already in Romans on more than one occasion we have seen Paul anticipating objections having to do with the law of God. Here, it seems, he foresees...

The “More Sure” Word of God

The “More Sure” Word of God

God’s Voice Heard What a glorious moment the transfiguration was in Christ’s ministry. It takes place in Matthew 17. At this point, Jesus had twelve disciples, and much had already taken place since he had called them to himself: sermons, teachings, and parables;...

Constituting Us Righteous

Constituting Us Righteous

Romans 5:18-19, “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through...

The Gospel Beginning in Proverbs

The Gospel Beginning in Proverbs

The Gospel Beginning in Proverbs We can summarize the good news of salvation in four words: God, Man, Christ, Response. God is holy and Creator of all (Isa 6:3; Rev 4:11). Man is sinful and deserving of God’s judgment (Rom 6:23a). God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to be...

The Justice of God’s Choice

The Justice of God’s Choice

Romans 5:15-17, “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that...

An Inexpressible Gift

An Inexpressible Gift

Occasionally, I have reflected that I have spent many Sundays in the pulpit trying to articulate the gospel, through the Scriptures, in such a way to all who are listening, "so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in...

Saved By the Life of God’s Son

Saved By the Life of God’s Son

Romans 5:10–11, “10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now...

Love Finds a Way

Love Finds a Way

Romans 5:9, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” Reformed theology rightly stresses the forensic aspects of salvation. It affirms that in order for God to be just in the redemption of...

God’s Display of His Love

God’s Display of His Love

Romans 5:6-8, “6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still...

A New View of Suffering

A New View of Suffering

Romans 5:3-5, “3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts...

Fearing God Is a Matter of the Heart

Fearing God Is a Matter of the Heart

The Heart’s Inclinations The fear of God is not a state of mind you can guarantee with five easy steps. It is not something that can be acquired with simple self-effort. The fear of God is a matter of the heart. How easily we can mistake the reality of the fear of God...

The Peace that Brings Access

The Peace that Brings Access

Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” In justification,...

For Abraham’s Sake and Ours

For Abraham’s Sake and Ours

Romans 4:22-25, “22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,...

Spiritual DNA

Spiritual DNA

Not long ago, DNA self-testing kits were all the rage. Our daughter received one as a gift and delighted in reporting to us what she’d learned about our family heritage. Other fads may have since surpassed the popularity of the kits, but the questions that motivated...

What Is Divine Providence?

What Is Divine Providence?

Purposeful Action The term sovereignty does not contain the idea of purposeful action, but the term providence does. Sovereignty focuses on God’s right and power to do all that he wills, but in itself, it does not express any design or goal. Of course, God’s...

The Assurance of Faith

The Assurance of Faith

Romans 4:16-17, “16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is...

How to Pray When You’re Tempted by Anger

How to Pray When You’re Tempted by Anger

Five Things to Pray I do not know if you, who are reading this, are struggling with anger. If you are, I do not know what is making you angry. It may be something very deeply distressing. I cannot, therefore, write to you as a pastor could speak, having listened to...

Becoming Heirs of the Kingdom

Becoming Heirs of the Kingdom

Romans 4:13–15, “13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is...

Not by Any of Our Works

Not by Any of Our Works

Romans 4:9-12, “9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but...

The Non-Imputation of Sin

The Non-Imputation of Sin

Romans 4:6–8, “just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his...

Counting Faith as Righteousness

Counting Faith as Righteousness

Romans 4:4–5, “4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in[a] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,” Continuing our study of Romans 4, which is a...

Is Abraham’s Boast Works or Faith?

Is Abraham’s Boast Works or Faith?

Illustrations are living examples of abstract truths. They plant the truth in the soil of real life. Even the strongest argument needs a living example to be persuasive. Jesus constantly uses illustrations. He helps listeners see by clothing spiritual truth in their...

Upholding the Law by Faith

Upholding the Law by Faith

Romans 3:29–31, “29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no...

No Room for Boasting

No Room for Boasting

Romans 3:27-28, “27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” In a human manner of speaking, God must overcome a...

Just and Justifier

Just and Justifier

Romans 3:25–26, “25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that...

God’s Legal Declaration

God’s Legal Declaration

Romans 3:23–24, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Last week we observed that when James speaks of justification, he uses the term to mean...

Spurgeon, Conversion, and Soul Winning

Spurgeon, Conversion, and Soul Winning

A non-witnessing Christian is an oxymoron. In one way or another, Christians are called by their risen Lord to testify to the glorious Gospel. Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said that “soul winning is the chief business of the Christian minister; [and] indeed, it should...

The Righteousness of God Manifested

The Righteousness of God Manifested

Romans 3:21-22, “21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction.” Romans...

The Law and Accountability

The Law and Accountability

Romans 3:19–20, “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being[a] will be justified in his sight, since...

No Fear of God

No Fear of God

Romans 3:18, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” In the opening chapters of Romans, Paul has been methodically building his case that all mankind in Adam is without the righteousness that allows us to stand unafraid before God Almighty. The Gentiles who do...

You Live in a God-Entranced World

You Live in a God-Entranced World

An Invitation Jesus said to look at the birds because God feeds them (Matt. 6:26) and to consider the lilies because God clothes them (Matt. 6:28–30). Jesus’s aim was not aesthetic. His aim was to free his people from anxiety. He really considered it a valid argument...

Ruin, Misery, and Bloodshed

Ruin, Misery, and Bloodshed

Romans 3:15–17, “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16     in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” Head to toe, there is no part of us that is not affected by sin. Outside of Christ, we are under the dominion of sin, and it...

The Mouths of Sinners

The Mouths of Sinners

Romans 3:12–14. “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14     “Their mouth is full of curses and...

4 Reasons Christians Should Use Their Minds

4 Reasons Christians Should Use Their Minds

A Christian Mind In the early 1960s, John Stott was asked by James Houston to speak at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada. Stott returned to Regent on a number of occasions and was impressed by its attempts to develop a distinctive Christian approach to a range of...

No One Is Righteous

No One Is Righteous

Romans 3:10–11, “None is righteous, no, not one; 11     no one understands; no one seeks for God.” For the first-century Jew who prided himself on being a part of God’s chosen people unlike the unclean, pagan Gentiles, the notion that even the Jews were not inherently...

Singing Psalms Blesses Families

Singing Psalms Blesses Families

Most evenings, when we tuck our three-year-old son into bed, he requests that my wife and I sing “O Greatly Blessed” to him. Now, if you are scratching your head trying to remember a hymn or song entitled “O Greatly Blessed,” you are probably not alone, even though...

Objective and Subjective Guilt

Objective and Subjective Guilt

Romans 3:9, “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,” In washing the feet of His disciples, Jesus made it clear that those who follow Him need both the definitive cleansing from...

That Good May Come

That Good May Come

Romans 3:8, “And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.” Because of his charge that first-century Jews had not kept God’s law with the perfection necessary to be declared righteous before Him...

Is God Unrighteous?

Is God Unrighteous?

Romans 3:5-7, “5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God's truth...

Gender Revolution and the Woman’s Role in Ministry

Gender Revolution and the Woman’s Role in Ministry

One of the most significant changes in human history has occurred in the past 40-50 years-the gender revolution or the blending of gender distinctions. In the words of historian William Manchester, “The erasure of distinction between the sexes is not only the most...

The Faithfulness of God

The Faithfulness of God

Romans 3:3-4, “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” At the...

Getting God’s Word Deep In Us

Getting God’s Word Deep In Us

God’s word feeds and fuels us. Jesus says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). As diet is critical for a healthy body, spiritual health is impossible without the nutrition of God’s Word. A regular diet of...

The True Advantage of the Jew

The True Advantage of the Jew

Romans 3:1–2, “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.” Paul will not countenance the idea that merely being a Jew and having some external obedience to...

The Place of Circumcision

The Place of Circumcision

Romans 2:26-27, “26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but...

The Value of Circumcision

The Value of Circumcision

Romans 2:25, “For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.” Lest anyone think that Paul pulls any punches in his argument that his Jewish contemporaries had no advantage before God because...

Blaspheming God’s Name

Blaspheming God’s Name

Romans 2:24, “For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” Judaism in the first century was a complex religion wherein each different subgroup had its own perspective on what the true expression of God’s covenant with Moses...

The Jews’ Failure to Keep the Law

The Jews’ Failure to Keep the Law

Romans 2:21b–23, “21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law...

In With the Old, In With the New

In With the Old, In With the New

If you’re anything like me, and you happen to wear glasses or contacts, or both, then I know you remember the day you got your first pair. Inside, a teacher’s whiteboard became immediately readable; outside, leaves and flowers were clothed with a whole new kind of...

Teaching Oneself

Teaching Oneself

Romans 2:17-21, “17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who...

The Work of the Law on the Heart

The Work of the Law on the Heart

Romans 2:14–16, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears...

Is Possessing the Law Enough?

Is Possessing the Law Enough?

Romans 2:12–13, “12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be...

God’s Impartiality

God’s Impartiality

Romans 2:11, “For God shows no partiality.” Among other things, the Protestant Reformation was sparked by the desire to get the order of salvation correct. Reformers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin were reacting against the confusion of justification and...

The Sequence of Salvation

The Sequence of Salvation

Romans 2:9–10, “9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.” Christians have pored over Scripture for two...

Counsel from the Prophets

Counsel from the Prophets

If anyone ever needed counseling, it was the Old Testament prophets who often spoke and acted strangely. Isaiah walked about town barefoot and naked (Isa 20:1-6), while Jeremiah strapped a wooden yoke around his neck (Jer 27). Ezekiel chopped his hair and scattered it...

Be Careful Little Tongue What You Say

Be Careful Little Tongue What You Say

All it takes is the pastor teaching on one doctrine that someone doesn’t personally like, or the leadership making a decision that a member thinks is wrong, for it to become fodder for divisive tongues to start wagging and assault the unity of the Spirit in the local...

Weighing Our Works

Weighing Our Works

Romans 2:6–8, “6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness,...

The Object and Methods of True Worship

The Object and Methods of True Worship

Many people think it is enough to make the true God the object of our affections and worship, and then all will be well. Modes and methods, often, are not considered at all in this discussion. For example, most music issues within worship services are centered around...

Presuming upon God’s Kindness

Presuming upon God’s Kindness

Romans 2:3–5, “Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is...

Without Excuse

Without Excuse

Romans 2:1–2, “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such...

Approving Evil

Approving Evil

Romans 1:32, “Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Can human beings do anything more evil than what we read in Romans 1:18–31? Is there...

Rejecting God and Ruining Ourselves

Rejecting God and Ruining Ourselves

Many good, church-going Christians probably know someone who needs to hear Romans 1:29-31 but think it has no bearing on them. Who wants to find themselves in the greatest hits of a debased mind? (Romans 1:28) These verses are not the type of normal morning quiet time...

Humanity’s Debased Mind

Humanity’s Debased Mind

Romans 1:28, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” Homosexual behavior, in particular, demonstrates the exchange of what is good and natural according to God’s created order for that...

Giving up What Is Natural

Giving up What Is Natural

Romans 1:26–27, “26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one...

Worshiping the Creature

Worshiping the Creature

Romans 1:22–25, “22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the...

Radical Corruption

Radical Corruption

Romans 1:21–23, “21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal...

The Primal Sin of Humanity

The Primal Sin of Humanity

Romans 1:19–21, “19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that...

The Suppression of Truth

The Suppression of Truth

Romans 1:19-21, “19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[a] in the things...

An Invitation to Like-Minded Community

An Invitation to Like-Minded Community

Like-minded: the very word conjures warmth and welcome. Like-minded people are those who understand us, who “get” what animates us.  The term surfaces often these days in both Christian and non-Christian contexts: we’re advised to look for “like-minded” partners in...

The Righteousness of God in Christ

The Righteousness of God in Christ

Romans 1:16–17, “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous...

Paul, The Soul Winner

Paul, The Soul Winner

Each local church plays a vital role in the great commission. If we desire to see the expanse of the gospel in our nation and the world, there must be evangelists in local churches who keep the fires burning. The Church today needs ministers of the gospel who emulate...

The Church’s Mere Identity

The Church’s Mere Identity

Mere Identity The early church’s creeds offer the following affirmations: Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in the holy catholic church.” Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed: “We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” Importantly, both creeds confessed their...

Paul’s Intent to Visit Rome

Paul’s Intent to Visit Rome

Romans 1:8–12, “8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers,...

Giving Kids Hope in Hardship

Giving Kids Hope in Hardship

“How has the pandemic affected your kids?” I asked this question to a mom of three children. Right away she listed some of the meaningful activities her kids have lost: play dates with friends; music lessons; in-classroom school; sports practice; youth group; ‘normal’...

The Church in Rome

The Church in Rome

Romans 1:5–7, “ through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called...

Lessons from a Wineless Wedding

Lessons from a Wineless Wedding

A restless stirring buzzed among the wedding guests. Their cups still held a pink tinge, a monument to once-brimming wine, but some time had passed since the attendants had been around with refills. The rumblings throughout the celebration, however, did not compare to...

The Gospel of God in History

The Gospel of God in History

Romans 1:2-4, “2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David[a] according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his...

Paul’s Magnum Opus

Paul’s Magnum Opus

Romans 1:1, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,” For centuries, the faithful descendants of Abraham according to the flesh—the Jews— looked forward to God’s decisive intervention to restore the nation of Israel...

Final Words to Colossae

Final Words to Colossae

Colossians 4:16-18, “And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”...

Epaphras and Luke

Epaphras and Luke

Colossians 4:12-15, “12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you...

Gracious Speech

Gracious Speech

Colossians 4:5-6, “5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Mahatma Gandhi was the leader who secured India’s independence...

Serving the Lord Jesus, in All of Life, for His Glory

Serving the Lord Jesus, in All of Life, for His Glory

Colossians 3:18-25, “18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they...

Is This Why Birds Sing?

Is This Why Birds Sing?

Is This Why Birds Sing? The return of springtime means many of us will hear birds singing! After winter—and migration—birds return and grace our days with their chirping and singing. Birds fly. Birds build nests. And birds sing! Singing birds are one of the joys of...

The Word of Christ

The Word of Christ

Colossians 3:1-17, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden...

God-Given Growth in Christ

God-Given Growth in Christ

Colossians 2:16-19, “16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you,...

God in Christ

God in Christ

Colossians 2:8-10, “8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you...

A Perfect, Eternal Union

A Perfect, Eternal Union

Colossians 2:9, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,” How is Christ, after His ascension, localized in heaven and yet with His people no matter where we are (Matt. 28:18–20; Acts 1:6–11)? According to His humanity, Jesus is not on earth, but...

Wisdom Loves Company

Wisdom Loves Company

Twenty-one years ago, The Discovery Channel followed a group of sailors in their quest to become US Navy SEALs. The program, known as Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, is one of the most physically and mentally challenging endeavors in the world. One...

The Mystery of Mercy

The Mystery of Mercy

Getting young kids ready for school in the morning is memorable. One morning, I told my two-year-old to leave his book and put his boots on because it was time to leave. He shut his eyes, whined a little, and then walked right into a door. At that point, he turned to...

Human Philosophies

Human Philosophies

Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ.” Despite the fact that the Christians in Colossae were standing in...

Walking in Christ Jesus

Walking in Christ Jesus

Colossians 2:6-7, “6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Practically speaking, that which is principally required of us when...

Paul’s Presence in Colossae

Paul’s Presence in Colossae

Colossians 2:4-5, “I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. 5 For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.” Satan is called the master deceiver...

Christ Our Wisdom

Christ Our Wisdom

Colossians 2:3, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” As we begin our study today, again note that the historical background of Colossians is essential to understanding Paul’s purposes in writing as well as applying his teaching rightly....

Of Biblical Proportions: Habits of Thought We Need in Troubled Times

Of Biblical Proportions: Habits of Thought We Need in Troubled Times

I was looking at a child’s drawing the other day, amused that the dog in the picture was as big as the house, the people’s ears as big as their hands. One sign of an immature artist is a lack of proportion.  A sure sense of proportion is needed for biblical wisdom....

Love and Assurance

Love and Assurance

Colossians 2:1-2, “For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of...

Spurgeon and Calvinism: Recovering Our Evangelistic Fervor

Spurgeon and Calvinism: Recovering Our Evangelistic Fervor

To be an effective evangelist, you must be sound a theologian. For many, the word “Calvinism” has the connotation of dead and dry orthodoxy. Calvinism, however, is evangelistic by nature and demands evangelistic practice within the life of the church. In the...

Miracle of Forgiveness

Miracle of Forgiveness

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I haven’t seen a miracle in a long while.  Don’t get me wrong.  I know full well that this feeling is not because God isn’t performing miracles and transforming lives.  Instead, it is mostly because I often fail to “Lift my eyes...

Proclaiming Christ

Proclaiming Christ

Colossians 1:28-29, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” Addressing a congregation that...

What Does the Gospel Have to Say About Everyday Life

What Does the Gospel Have to Say About Everyday Life

What Does the Gospel Have to Say About Everyday Life? Thirteen men were gathered together in an upstairs room, enjoying a meal of celebration. They had traveled far and long; finally, their journey was at an end. Partway through the meal, the leader rose from the...

The Riches of God’s Mystery

The Riches of God’s Mystery

Colossians 1:27, “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” As noted yesterday, Paul uses the term mystery to refer to a truth that was partially and dimly...

A Mystery Now Revealed

A Mystery Now Revealed

Colossians 1:25-26, “of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.” Mystery religions that promised...

Filling Up Christ’s Afflictions

Filling Up Christ’s Afflictions

Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,” Questions about the sufficiency of Christ due to false teaching that emphasized...

Persevering in Gospel Hope

Persevering in Gospel Hope

Colossians 1:23, “if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation[a] under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” Perseverance of the saints is the...

More Thinking and Less Amusement in Worship Music

More Thinking and Less Amusement in Worship Music

Many Musical Expressions Food is wonderous. I resonate with author and speaker Paul David Tripp when he says, “For me, I love how much of the glory of God is edible!” I agree with every word of Tripp’s good confession. Bread, fruit, ice cream, chocolate, and beef-...

The Goal of Reconciliation

The Goal of Reconciliation

Colossians 1:21-22, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” Having spoken of the majesty and...

Cosmic Reconciliation

Cosmic Reconciliation

Colossians 1:15-23, 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him...

From Darkness to Light

From Darkness to Light

Colossians 1:9-14 “9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him:...

Proper Christian Growth

Proper Christian Growth

Colossians 1:9-10, "9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him:...

Her March Isn’t Over: Supporting Single Moms Who Choose Life

Her March Isn’t Over: Supporting Single Moms Who Choose Life

Her March Isn't Over: Supporting Single Moms Who Choose Life Another January has come to an end, and another March for Life is in the books. This year was unlike any other in the past due to social distancing, but the goal was the same, and the passion has not waned....

The Fruit of the Gospel

The Fruit of the Gospel

Colossians 1:5b-8, “5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day...

Risk-Taking and Trusting God

Risk-Taking and Trusting God

Risk-Taking and Trusting God I never anticipated having church members tell me that going to church is too risky. COVID-19 has melded together, going to church and risk-taking. I am asking questions now that I have never asked before in ministry. Is it worth the...

The Grounding of Hope

The Grounding of Hope

Colossians 1:3-5a, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard...

Prayers in Ruth

Prayers in Ruth

Prayers in Ruth One of the best ways to learn how to pray is by listening to the prayers of others. Children learn from the prayers of godly parents and older saints in the church. New believers are both encouraged and exhorted in prayer meetings with the fellowship...

To the Saints in Colossae

To the Saints in Colossae

Colossians 1:1-2, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brothers[a] in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” As we learned in last year’s study of the new covenant’s...

A Final Appeal

A Final Appeal

A Final Appeal (Hebrews 13:22-23) I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. After the beautiful benediction...

How to Learn How to Make Your Spouse Feel Loved

How to Learn How to Make Your Spouse Feel Loved

Perhaps at church, you’ve seen a couple and wondered, “What makes their Christian marriage distinct?” Maybe you’ve noticed that they communicate well together or they complement one another well, or they seem to do all of those things and are better together? Over the...

God’s Equipping

God’s Equipping

God’s Equipping (Hebrews 13:21) Hebrews 13:21, “equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Equipping with Everything Good As the author...

The God of Peace

The God of Peace

The God of Peace (Hebrews 13:20) Hebrews 13:20, “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant.” Who God is As Hebrews ends, we find a beautiful benediction in 13:20-21....

Pray for Us

Pray for Us

Pray for Us (Hebrews 13:18-19) Hebrews 13:18-19, “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.” A Prayer Request In...

The Christian Life and Singing

The Christian Life and Singing

Here in Colossians 3:15-17, Paul is talking all about the Christian life. He goes into great detail in explaining how Christians are to live saying we are to have compassionate hearts, with love for one another, in submission to God, in thankfulness to the Father. But...

Obey and Submit to Your Leaders

Obey and Submit to Your Leaders

Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Obey and Submit Church leaders,...

Dark Hour, Bright Promises: Praying The Promises of God

Dark Hour, Bright Promises: Praying The Promises of God

Have you been discouraged as of late? For most of us, this past year has been overwhelming. If we are being quite honest, this past year has taken its toll on many of us. Is there any encouragement in the Word of God for us today? When all around us seems so dark and...

Share What You Have

Share What You Have

Hebrews 13:16, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” The awesome and merciful once-for-all sacrifice of Christ demands that we look only to Him and cling to Him by faith for our salvation (Heb. 12:1–2). The...

Should We Pursue Unity At All Costs?

Should We Pursue Unity At All Costs?

Should We Pursue Unity At All Costs? In John 17, Jesus prays, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the...

A Sacrifice of Praise

A Sacrifice of Praise

Hebrews 13:15, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” We concluded last week by examining once again how we are better off under the new covenant than believers were under the...

Inside or Outside?

Inside or Outside?

Let me tell you why I love Hebrews and why you should, too. This epistle confirms for us that the pictures and shadows of the Old Testament point to the superiority of Christ, his sacrifice of obedience in life and death, and the new covenant. Hebrew believers were...

Lament: A Faith-Filled Response to Calamity

Lament: A Faith-Filled Response to Calamity

Suffering is a reality of this broken world. Harold Senkbeil says, “God’s pristine creation—with no suffering, no death, and no destruction—is now long gone. This earth is still a delightful place to live. But everywhere we look, our beautiful world is filled with...

We Have an Altar

We Have an Altar

Hebrews 13:10–11, “10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent[a] have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp.” From the earliest...

Forever the Same

Forever the Same

Hebrews 13:8–9, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.” Over the past...

Remember Your Leaders

Remember Your Leaders

Hebrews 13:7, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” Throughout the Bible, we find that remembering people and events from the past helps to further our sanctification. The...

Stand Strong for Christ

Stand Strong for Christ

We are living through one of the most tumultuous times in American history. It seems like every day, a new challenge surfaces. We face trials, temptations, suffering, and grief. We hear rumors about the fate of our Republic. Conspiracy theories are at a fevered pitch....

Be Content

Be Content

Hebrews 13:5–6, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Over the centuries,...

How Can I Know God’s Will?

How Can I Know God’s Will?

How Can I Know God’s Will? All throughout our lives, we are faced with decisions, and, as believers, we have a desire to make these decisions according to God's Word. However, how do we know? It’s not always easy to know exactly what God wants us to do. A new...

Called to Suffer

Called to Suffer

The “health and wealth” gospel continues to wield a powerful influence on many people around the world. This movement is fraught with theological danger and should be resisted and opposed by thoughtful Christians. Al Mohler addresses this troubling trend: Prosperity...

Honorable Marriage

Honorable Marriage

Hebrews 13:4, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” Over and over again, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews emphasizes the vast superiority of the person and work...

Those in Prison

Those in Prison

Hebrews 13:3, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” When we come to the New Testament we often find that the authors of the epistles divide their letters into two sections. The...

Faithfulness in Waiting

Faithfulness in Waiting

Nobody likes to wait. Even the most patient person has moments where they find themselves tapping their foot or checking their watch. It could be as small as waiting for a package to arrive or as big as a possible job prospect, we have all spent time in expectancy....

Let Love Continue

Let Love Continue

Hebrews 13:1–2, “Let brotherly love continue. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” This month we will conclude our study of Hebrews as we examine chapter 13. You may remember that the Jewish Christians...

An Unshakable Kingdom

An Unshakable Kingdom

Hebrews 12:28–29, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.” Lest there be any lingering doubts as to the superiority of the...

9 Principles for Navigating Anxiety and Depression

9 Principles for Navigating Anxiety and Depression

9 Principles What are the general principles to bear in mind as you begin to work with your teen through anxiety and depression? 1. Understanding Getting an understanding of these disorders is half the battle. Knowledge and understanding is 50 percent of your task. If...

What Remains After Life is Shaken

What Remains After Life is Shaken

Hebrews 12:26-27, “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been...

Refuse Him Not

Refuse Him Not

Hebrews 12:25, “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.” Until the return of Christ, one of the realities that we must...

My Speed Governor (How the Father Enforces My Sabbath-Rest)

My Speed Governor (How the Father Enforces My Sabbath-Rest)

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” (Mark 2:27; 6:31) If you’ve ever driven a go-cart, you’ll know that the buggy will only go so fast. It’s frustrating for Jimmy Johnson wannabes,...

A Better Word

A Better Word

Hebrews 12:24, “and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” In the beginning, Adam and Eve enjoyed fellowship with God and His creation. They delighted in each other and in the wonderful...

Planted With the Light of His Face

Planted With the Light of His Face

"With your hand you…planted our ancestors...and made them flourish.  It was not by their sword that they won the land...It was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them."  (Psalm 44:2-3) Anticipating Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, this...

To Mount Zion

To Mount Zion

Hebrews 12:22–23, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the...

They Could Not Endure

They Could Not Endure

Hebrews 12:20–21, “For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” One of the prevalent themes of the epistle to the Hebrews...

What May Be Touched

What May Be Touched

Hebrews 12:18–19, “For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.” In the verses preceding today’s...

Ruth in the Context of God’s Covenants

Ruth in the Context of God’s Covenants

Ruth in the Context of God’s Covenants As with all of Scripture, the book of Ruth was written in the context of the biblical covenants. Therefore, we cannot grasp God’s romance of redemption apart from a knowledge of his covenantal love. The Noahic Covenant God shows...

No Chance to Repent

No Chance to Repent

Hebrews 12:17, “For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.” In many places, the author of Hebrews uses the Old Testament to warn us about remaining faithful....

24-Hour Increments (How Day by Day Grace Is the Only Way)

24-Hour Increments (How Day by Day Grace Is the Only Way)

Psalm 68:19, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.” As we turn the corner into a new year, emerging out of an old year that tested us at many levels, the question of faithfulness comes to the fore. What does steady—shall we call it...

Not Like Esau

Not Like Esau

Hebrews 12:16, “ that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.” As we have seen in our study of Hebrews 12, the Christian life is like a race. All of the blessings of God will come only to those who finish the race in...

No Root of Bitterness

No Root of Bitterness

Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; Again and again, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews makes it clear that those who live after the...

Peace and Holiness

Peace and Holiness

Hebrews 12:14, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Yesterday, we examined Hebrews 12:12–13 and looked briefly at the call for us to keep on the straight path so that we might run the race of faith. This...

Make Straight Paths

Make Straight Paths

Hebrews 12:12–13, “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” All Christians learn quickly that living a life of faithfulness is...

The Fruit of Discipline

The Fruit of Discipline

Hebrews 12:11, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” In our sinful condition, we hate to be disciplined. We do not like to be punished or submit...

Common Barriers to Family Worship

Common Barriers to Family Worship

Common Barriers to Family Worship from Crossway on Vimeo. God Will Bless His Word The most common barriers to family worship are not fully understanding the why. Why am I doing this? Another is not planning properly so that it takes place at all different times of the...

For Our Good

For Our Good

Hebrews 12:9–10, “Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for...

Illegitimate Children

Illegitimate Children

Hebrews 12:8, “If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” Over the last couple of days we have been examining the idea that God disciplines His children. The original audience of the epistle to...

Rest Assured: The Destiny of the Human Soul

Rest Assured: The Destiny of the Human Soul

The question, “What happens when I die?” is one of the great existential questions of life. These questions are universal, not limited by cultural context, age, or any other variable. It is truly a universal question. Of course, the answers differ. Today, though, let...

Treated As Sons

Treated As Sons

Hebrews 12:7, “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” Two thousand years ago, the original audience of the epistle to the Hebrews found itself suffering for its faith....

Encouragements for Prayer: Focus on God & His Kingdom

Encouragements for Prayer: Focus on God & His Kingdom

Do you know the importance of prayer in the Christian life? As we come to Scripture, we see that our prayer life can never be separated from the rest of our Christian life. It is often said that “We pray as we live, and we live as we pray.” Well then, how are we to...

The Father’s Discipline

The Father’s Discipline

Hebrews 12:5–6, “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It...

The Big Why: Finding God’s Purpose in Suffering

The Big Why: Finding God’s Purpose in Suffering

Life is hard right now. Constant cancellations, political division, and racial tension mark our days; all endured from behind a piece of cloth on our face that never used to be there. To one degree or another, all have been affected by the current state of the world....

The Struggle Against Sin

The Struggle Against Sin

Hebrews 12:4, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” In Hebrews 12:1–3, we find the Christian life compared to a race. An athletic race must be run with endurance lest the competitors grow faint and give up before...

The Heart and Soul of Christian Fellowship

The Heart and Soul of Christian Fellowship

THE QUESTIONS WE ASK EACH OTHER I remember the question clear as day. I remember the location, where I sat, his position to me, the gist of my response, and even what we had for breakfast. I was a Christian for about 3-4 years. My pastor and I met for breakfast to...

Consider Jesus

Consider Jesus

Hebrews 12:3, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” One central theme of the epistle to the Hebrews is the absolute superiority of Jesus to all who came before Him. This Jesus is worthy...

Jesus Alone

Jesus Alone

Hebrews 12:2, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” For the past year, we have been privileged to spend...

Run With Endurance

Run With Endurance

Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” At the end of Hebrews 11, we are reminded that the...

Counseling From Biblical Narrative

Counseling From Biblical Narrative

Everybody loves a good story, from Grimm’s Fairy Tales to Scheherazade’s Arabian Nights. We are narrative people who gather like moths to a flame whenever we hear the words, “Once upon a time” or “This reminds me of a story.” Telling stories helps us make sense of our...

Receiving the Promise

Receiving the Promise

Hebrews 11:39–40, “And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Remarkably, some in the original audience of the epistle...

A Christmas Carol That’s Not About Christmas

A Christmas Carol That’s Not About Christmas

What is a Wenceslas, and why do we sing about it at Christmas time? What is it about this jaunty little tune by John Mason Neale that has earned it a place in the Christmas carol repertoire as well as in the hearts of many for the past 160 years — even though not a...

The Real Goal of Faithfulness to God

The Real Goal of Faithfulness to God

Hebrews 11:35, “Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.” We tend to seek our happiness in this life versus the next. Some have quibbled that one can be too heavenly...

Countless Examples

Countless Examples

Hebrews 11:32–34, “32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,...

Spurgeon and The Missions-Minded Christmas

Spurgeon and The Missions-Minded Christmas

How can you be a witness during the Christmas season? How can you exalt the Lord Jesus Christ in all that you say and do? No doubt, you will be meeting with unbelievers this Christmas. No doubt, there will be people in your family who need the gospel. No doubt, there...

Rahab and the Spies

Rahab and the Spies

Hebrews 11:31, “ By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” As Christians we are well-informed about the necessity of faith. We are justified by faith alone. We persevere in...

Four Reasons to Marvel at Jesus’ Family Tree

Four Reasons to Marvel at Jesus’ Family Tree

Jesus came from God. The New Testament authors leave no room for doubt as to the agency of God the Father in sending Jesus Christ the Son. Christmas was God’s idea. It was God’s purpose which he “set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time.” (Eph 1:9-10)....

The Walls of Jericho

The Walls of Jericho

Hebrews 11:30, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.” Over and over again, the author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us that true faith must, and always does, persevere until the end of life. One of the clearest...

The Red Sea

The Red Sea

Hebrews 11:29, “By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.” Living by faith is not an easy task. Myriads of distractions try to draw us away from God. Persecutions tempt us to place our...

Looking for Home

Looking for Home

With the holidays upon us, we are all hoping to muster up enough holiday cheer to put our current world circumstances out of mind for at least a few hours. Nostalgic thoughts of better times, family memories, childhood holiday magic, and home. Home. Just the word...

The Passover

The Passover

Hebrews 11:27–28, “By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.” One of the...

Three Dangers of Busyness

Three Dangers of Busyness

Mental Overload As hectic and frustrating as modern life can be, the biggest dangers are not material or temporal inconveniences. A person can do physical labor twelve hours a day, six days a week for an entire life and not suffer many ill effects. In fact, he or she...

The Reproach of Christ

The Reproach of Christ

Hebrews 11:26, “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” There are few figures more associated with the old covenant than Moses, the one chosen by God to lead His people out of slavery in...

Three Simple Ways to Get Started with Family Worship

Three Simple Ways to Get Started with Family Worship

3 Simple Ways to Get Started with Family Worship from Crossway on Vimeo. Overcome These Obstacles There are a lot of parents who are discouraged and intimidated about reading the Bible with their kids. They are discouraged because they say it's too much, it’s too...

Fleeting Pleasures of Sin

Fleeting Pleasures of Sin

Hebrews 11:24–25, “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.” We continue today with our examination of Moses as an...

Room

Room

And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20) I find it striking that at the end of his ministry, as he was wrapping up his time with his disciples before he went to the...

Moses Was Hidden

Moses Was Hidden

Hebrews 11:23, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king's edict.” Over the past few days we have looked at how persevering faith manifests itself...

How to Maintain Everyday Faithfulness in Festive Times

How to Maintain Everyday Faithfulness in Festive Times

Find True Rest The holidays can prove especially exhausting for many of us. Even in a strange year when our calendars are slightly less full than they have been in years past, we might find that our good intentions lead to frantic busyness rather than reflection and...

How to Enjoy a Better-Than-Anything Christmas!

How to Enjoy a Better-Than-Anything Christmas!

Time to decorate—it was Christmas! Down came boxes of ornaments, each filled with its own sweet story. But one box brought instant stress! How could I have forgotten? The box overflowed with my attempts to adopt other people’s traditions. As a child, my family’s...

The Bones of Joseph

The Bones of Joseph

Hebrews 11:22, “By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.” The patriarchs are excellent examples of persevering faith for us because they not only lived their lives in faith, they...

Blessings from Jacob

Blessings from Jacob

Hebrews 11:21, “By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.” Yesterday we examined Hebrews 11:20 and saw how Isaac by faith blessed his two sons at the end of his life. This evidence of faith shows that...

3 Blessings of Seeing Our Sin

3 Blessings of Seeing Our Sin

Sin Is Heavy Suffering feels like our biggest problem and avoiding it like our greatest need—but we know that there is something more. Sin is actually our biggest problem, and rescue from it is our greatest need. There is a link between the two. Suffering exposes the...

Isaac Blesses His Sons

Isaac Blesses His Sons

Hebrews 11:20, “By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.” The author of Hebrews wisely included a section on the faith of the old covenant saints in his letter. After all, his original audience needed to be reminded to endure in their hope and thus...

Five Ways God Provides the Fuel of Encouragement

Five Ways God Provides the Fuel of Encouragement

What do cars, clothes, dryers, factories, power grids, bonfires, light bulbs, backhoes, human beings, and arguments all have in common? They all run on fuel. Without it, they die. As fossil and other fuels power most everything we use in our daily lives, and food...

Restarting a Conversation about Holiness

Restarting a Conversation about Holiness

Talking about Holiness Robert Murray McCheyne was a 19th-century pastor noted for his personal holiness. In his devotional meditations, which are fragrant with the love of Christ, he reflects that he would glorify God most and serve others best “by attaining the most...

The Offering of Isaac

The Offering of Isaac

Hebrews 11:17–19, “17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able...

Behold Your God: A Plea to Look to the Sovereign God

Behold Your God: A Plea to Look to the Sovereign God

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, once said that, “the Sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which the child of God rests his head at night, giving perfect peace.”[1] To know that God is completely in control of all things is the greatest comfort for...

A Heavenly Country

A Heavenly Country

Hebrews 11:14–16, “For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a...

Be Bold

Be Bold

There is boldness in our world today. Boldness to stand behind a presidential candidate whether he wins or not. Boldness to put up yard signs emphatically stating beliefs. Boldness to voice opinions. Boldness to march for a cause. There is no lack of boldness around...

Strangers and Exiles

Strangers and Exiles

Hebrews 11:13, “ These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” Today’s passage makes it clear that the examples of faith...

Sarah Conceived

Sarah Conceived

Hebrews 11:11–12, “11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as...

A Story of Two Hills

A Story of Two Hills

Jonah 4:5-8, "Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant[a] and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for...

Abraham Went Out

Abraham Went Out

Hebrews 11:8–10, “8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with...

Five Things I’m Learning About God While Working at a Gas Station

Five Things I’m Learning About God While Working at a Gas Station

When I began my studies at Denver Seminary in 2014, I never imagined working at a gas station after graduation.  There is nothing wrong with such work, it’s just that my focus was on serving the local church, and I couldn’t see past that vision. I was certain God had...

Noah Built an Ark

Noah Built an Ark

Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” The original audience...

An Unconventional Love Story

An Unconventional Love Story

Twenty-five years ago, after a two–month, long–distance courtship and a three–month, long–distance engagement, two rather ordinary people said, “I do.” There were doubters in the room. How could two people who hardly knew one another, who had spent very little time...

Without Faith

Without Faith

Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” A mere profession of faith is not enough if we are to be saved. We must not only profess but...

In Response to Fear, Fear the Lord

In Response to Fear, Fear the Lord

What do you fear? We all know what it is to fear something. We live in a fallen world where fearful events and circumstances are plenty. Incurable diseases. Crime. Loss. War. We know that feeling in the pit of our stomach when we hear bad news of some kind. We know...

Faithfulness Amid the Absurd

Faithfulness Amid the Absurd

Franz Kafka (1883–1924) once wrote a parable titled “An Imperial Message.” In it, an Emperor’s messenger faces surreal trials as he delivers an important message. This messenger is an “indefatigable man,” bearing the symbol of the Emperor and thus having “the way made...

Taken Up by God

Taken Up by God

Hebrews 11:5, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.” The Christian community has always recognized that faith is not just a...

The Believer’s Paradoxical Experience of Sin

The Believer’s Paradoxical Experience of Sin

Saints and Sins Christian experience contains many tensions. It is important to maintain a balanced perspective on saints and their sins so that we grow neither discouraged nor overconfident. Forgiveness of Guilt, but with Appropriate Shame God grants believers...

Acceptable Sacrifice

Acceptable Sacrifice

Hebrews 11:4, “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.” At the end of chapter 10, the author of...

The Universe Created

The Universe Created

Hebrews 11:3, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” Throughout Hebrews chapter 11, we find examples of the persevering faith that the saints of God must possess if...

Things Hoped For

Things Hoped For

Hebrews 11:1–2, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation.” Today we begin to study one of the most well-known and beloved passages in the book of Hebrews, if not the...

We Do Not Shrink Back

We Do Not Shrink Back

Hebrews 10:37–39, “For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of...

Twenty Years of God’s Faithfulness

Twenty Years of God’s Faithfulness

20 Years of God’s Faithfulness Novembers 14, 2020, marks 20 years of understanding and hearing the gospel preached in a way that I could understand. Further, it celebrates twenty years of hearing the Bible exposited in a manner that enabled me to convict me of my sin...

We Have A Need of Patience

We Have A Need of Patience

“You have need of patience,” my shepherding elder said from across his living room. His wife nodded and looked at me for a response. I settled back into their cozy sofa as things finally began to click into place. Perhaps God had not failed me. Perhaps I had not...

How to Root out Apathy with the Power of Habit

How to Root out Apathy with the Power of Habit

Legalism or Laziness For every article or book you read praising the practice of spiritual disciplines, you’ll find another decrying a regimented spiritual life for fear of legalism. It’s true that legalism—thinking we can attain a righteous standing before God by our...

Christians Must Be Truthful

Christians Must Be Truthful

Then they said, “We will restore these and require nothing from them. We will do as you say.” And I called the priests and made them swear to do as they had promised. I also shook out the fold of my garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and...

An Abiding Possession

An Abiding Possession

Hebrews 10:34, “ For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” After embracing Christ with great joy, some in the original audience...

The Beauty of Affliction

The Beauty of Affliction

What did you expect when you became a believer? Did you have any idea what the Christian life would be like? Did you think things would be easier? Read how the author of Hebrews urged the recipients of his letter to reflect on the early days of their Christian...

7 Tips for Reading the Bible with Another Person

7 Tips for Reading the Bible with Another Person

Enjoying God’s Word with Others We all know the value of sharing a meal with others. Reading the Bible is similar to eating food—we can do it alone, but we’re missing something if we never share it with others. But what can communal Bible-reading look like? Here are...

Learning from the Life and Death of Stephen

Learning from the Life and Death of Stephen

Learning from the Life and Death of Stephen from Crossway on Vimeo. Stephen’s Boldness The Bible is very honest about people. With many of the characters we see in Scripture, we see both good things and bad things. But one of the characters that we are shown only good...

Hands of the Living God

Hands of the Living God

Hebrews 10:30–31, “For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Over the past few days we have been studying the second half of Hebrews 10...

In the Beginning, God

In the Beginning, God

In the Beginning, God The first verse of the entire Bible establishes the foundation for the rest of Scripture: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 declares a transcendent yet personal God who created all things. He is greater than...

Profaning the Blood

Profaning the Blood

Hebrews 10:28-29, “Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of...

Five Myths about Biblical Theology

Five Myths about Biblical Theology

Myth #1: Biblical theology is just theology that is biblical. When we first hear the term biblical theology, we may think it refers to sound doctrine—truth that accords with Scripture. But it more commonly refers to a way of reading the Bible that focuses on the story...

Sinning Deliberately

Sinning Deliberately

Hebrews 10:26–27, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” All Christians know that...

Why You Can’t Be a Christian without the Church

Why You Can’t Be a Christian without the Church

Reconciled to God A Christian is someone who, first and foremost, has been forgiven of his sin and been reconciled to God the Father through Jesus Christ. This happens when a person repents of his sins and puts his faith in the perfect life, substitutionary death, and...

Encourage One Another

Encourage One Another

Hebrews 10:24–25, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” One of the issues that continually...

Help! I’m Struggling with the Doctrine of Predestination

Help! I’m Struggling with the Doctrine of Predestination

What Is Predestination? The doctrine of predestination is the teaching that before the creation of the world, God decided the eternal destiny of all rational creatures, that is, all angels and all human beings. “Some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting...

Disappointment in Things That Are Seen

Disappointment in Things That Are Seen

Disappointment in Things That Are Seen My heart pounded and felt like it was pumping acid through my veins. My legs screamed for me to stop, but I couldn’t. There was still another mile to go in the 5k, and I knew I had to finish strong. I had my goal pace in mind and...

Hold Fast

Hold Fast

Hebrews 10:23, “ Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Yesterday we saw that given the great truths about Christ’s superiority and His high priesthood, there can be no other response other than to draw near Him...

Building a Kingdom, Not a Babel

Building a Kingdom, Not a Babel

Remember that infamous blue and black dress that swept the internet in early 2015? Through a trick of the eye and brain, family and friends could gather around one image, and half insist that they saw blue and back, while the other half swore up and down that it was...

Draw Near

Draw Near

Hebrews 10:21–22, “and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” After laying out the...

The New and Living Way

The New and Living Way

Hebrews 10:19-20,“19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,” The author of Hebrews has labored to teach us that...

Herman Bavinck: The Man and the Mind

Herman Bavinck: The Man and the Mind

Bavinck, the Man To the extent that Herman Bavinck is known among English-speaking, theologically aware people, he is known as a thinker and as the author of his four-volume Reformed Dogmatics. Now, no one can read the Reformed Dogmatics and fail to learn some...

No More Offering for Sin

No More Offering for Sin

Hebrews 10:15–18, “15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” 17 then he adds, “I will...

Three Reasons to Celebrate Reformation Day

Three Reasons to Celebrate Reformation Day

I have heard mature Protestant believers say that the Reformation was a tragedy. Certain aspects and outcomes were indeed tragic. Yet, how quick are we to discard the joy and truth, which also accompanied those decades of change! The Lord commanded the Israelites to...

Three Practical Ways to Battle Depression

Three Practical Ways to Battle Depression

3 Practical Ways to Battle Depression from Crossway on Vimeo. Basic Steps Some people think when a teen gets anxiety or depression, We’ve got to get meds or We need to get counseling or You need to get repentance in there. There’s no doubt that these areas may...

Much To Be Thankful For

Much To Be Thankful For

I hoisted the ax over my head while fixing my eyes on the precise spot on the log I intended to hit. My right hand slid down the handle as gravity pulled the ax head downward. There was a loud ‘crack,’ then the log split evenly down the middle with each side falling...

4 Essential Ingredients of Reformed Preaching

4 Essential Ingredients of Reformed Preaching

4 Essential Ingredients of Reformed Preaching from Crossway on Vimeo. Letting God Speak The vision for reformed preaching is to bring a comprehensive worldview of what Scripture is presenting in terms of truth. What reformed preaching does is it aims to take all of...

For All Time

For All Time

Hebrews 10:11–14, “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ[a] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from...

Five Myths About the Reformation

Five Myths About the Reformation

Should We Be Celebrating? This time of year many Protestants celebrate the Reformation. For some, however, it feels odd to “celebrate” an event that divided the church. Didn’t Jesus pray for the church’s unity? Others have no difficulty celebrating the Reformation,...

We Have Been Sanctified

We Have Been Sanctified

Hebrews 10:8–10, “When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with...

The Purpose of Christian Education

The Purpose of Christian Education

In Scotland today (and in much of Western Society), we see a very clear and rapid acceleration away from our Christian heritage with ideologies, policies, and legislation that contradicts what we see in Scripture. This is undeniably the case with regard to education....

Why You Should Teach Your Kids about the Reformation

Why You Should Teach Your Kids about the Reformation

Teach to Preserve the Message One of the reasons why it's important to teach kids about the Reformation is because of the content of what the Reformers taught. One of the things that Luther said was that if we don't teach the next generation, then all of our efforts...

Unwanted Sacrifices

Unwanted Sacrifices

Hebrews 10:5–7, “Consequently, when Christ[a] came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to...

What Did the Reformers Think of the Church Fathers?

What Did the Reformers Think of the Church Fathers?

What Did the Reformers Think of the Church Fathers? from Crossway on Vimeo. Church History Shaped the Reformation One of the most interesting texts by Luther is called “On the Councils in the Church.” One of the challenges to Luther is that he was throwing away...

Ineffectual Blood

Ineffectual Blood

Hebrews 10:3–4, “But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” The earliest Christians knew that they were living under the new covenant. They knew that Christ had come and...

The Forgotten Women of the Reformation

The Forgotten Women of the Reformation

The Forgotten Women of the Reformation from Crossway on Vimeo. The untold story of the Reformation is of the women of the Reformation. We tend to tell the story of all the men, and that's because they were pastors, and believe based on the teachings of Scripture, that...

The Sacrifices of the Law

The Sacrifices of the Law

Hebrews 10:1–2, “For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have...

God, Where Are You When I Need You?

God, Where Are You When I Need You?

God, Where Are You When I Need You? When bad things happen, some deny God’s compassion: “Even if I pray, it won’t change a thing.” Others diminish God’s sovereignty, demanding answers: “Why, O Lord? You owe me an explanation.” The prophet Habakkuk, however, humbly...

An MRI, Panic, and the Fragility of Me: What Panic Feels Like

An MRI, Panic, and the Fragility of Me: What Panic Feels Like

I had my first ever panic attack the other day, and I hope never to experience another. At one level, it was a trauma too unsettling to talk about. At another, it was an experience too painfully affecting to be silent about. But despite its terrifying effect, my...

2 Essential Doctrines of the Reformation

2 Essential Doctrines of the Reformation

2 Essential Doctrines of the Reformation from Crossway on Vimeo. Authority of Scripture The Reformation addressed many different theological issues, and as an entire movement, affected a reformation for the whole church. There were at least two issues—two doctrines...

When Christ Appears

When Christ Appears

Hebrews 9:27–28, “27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”...

Why the Reformation Isn’t Over

Why the Reformation Isn’t Over

 Why the Reformation Isn't Over from Crossway on Vimeo. More Than History People might think that the Reformation is irrelevant today—just a feature on the pages of history. And they may not like history so they might not find that at all interesting. People might...

Not Repeatedly

Not Repeatedly

Hebrews 9:25–26, “25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he...

10 Things You Should Know about the Reformation

10 Things You Should Know about the Reformation

1. The Pope started the Reformation. The fourteenth century was a bad time for the papacy. For a period, there were two rival popes and the papacy was under pressure from the French monarchy. It wasn’t a good time for the city of Rome either—seven successive popes...

Into Holy Places

Into Holy Places

Hebrews 9:23–24, “23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a...

Being the Friend Who Stays

Being the Friend Who Stays

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” I am very familiar with encouraging people with...

Without Blood

Without Blood

Hebrews 9:21–22, “21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Jesus of...

A Covenant in Blood

A Covenant in Blood

Hebrews 9:18–20, “18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and...

The Will Takes Effect

The Will Takes Effect

Hebrews 9:16–17, “For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.” In order for all of the blessings of the new covenant to...

Reformation Theology: Soli Deo Gloria

Reformation Theology: Soli Deo Gloria

Soli Deo Gloria – for the glory of God alone – is the motto that grew out of the Protestant Reformation. At the core of this motto is the pulse beat of Christianity – we have been saved by grace to the praise of His glorious grace (Eph. 1:6). All things lead to the...

New Covenant Mediator

New Covenant Mediator

Hebrews 9:15, “Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” The example of Abraham...

Luther: The Monk of Wittenberg

Luther: The Monk of Wittenberg

When tasked with writing about Martin Luther, there are many ways to approach the man. There are books on his influence on the Christian life, biographies aplenty, commentaries on his Tabletalk’s commentaries on his letters and writings, there are even books devoted...

The Blood of Christ

The Blood of Christ

Hebrews 9:13-14, “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without...

10 Things You Should Know about Reformed Theology

10 Things You Should Know about Reformed Theology

1. Reformed theology celebrates the glory of God. The heart and soul of Reformed theology is the glory of the triune God (Ps. 96:3; John 17:1). For this reason, it is often called “God-centered” theology. B. B. Warfield said, “The Calvinist, in a word, is the man who...

His Own Blood

His Own Blood

Hebrews 9:11–12, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the...

A Brief Introduction to the Life and Ministry of John Calvin

A Brief Introduction to the Life and Ministry of John Calvin

A Brief Introduction to the Life and Ministry of John Calvin from Crossway on Vimeo. God Changes Calvin’s Plans When we first meet John Calvin, we find him at the University of Paris, and he’s twelve years old. We sometimes make a big deal about the fact that he was a...

Imperfect Sacrifices

Imperfect Sacrifices

Hebrews 9:8–10, “By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9 (which is symbolic for the present age).[a] According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that...

5 Myths about John Calvin

5 Myths about John Calvin

Dispelling Urban Legends Like many larger-than-life figures in the history of the church, the memory of the French Reformer John Calvin has been subjected to various distortions that amount to urban legends. Myth #1: Calvin had Michael Servetus executed. During what...

But Once a Year

But Once a Year

Hebrews 9:6–7, “These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for...

John Knox: The Founder of the Presbyterian Church

John Knox: The Founder of the Presbyterian Church

When we consider the Reformers, we may picture strong men and women with booming voices that echoed around the gathered crowd. We picture them as fearless, rebuking whoever contradicted the true teachings of Scripture, calling out heresy for what it was. But this...

Regulations for Worship

Regulations for Worship

Hebrews 9:1–5, “Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. 2 For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the...

Jan Hus “The Goosefather of the Reformation”

Jan Hus “The Goosefather of the Reformation”

Jan Hus was born in 1372 in the small bustling village of Hussenic, Bohemia, which is in modern-day Czech Republic. Ironically enough, his village's name means “Goosetown,” and his last name means “Goose,” but we’ll get to more of that later. Jan Hus was a common...

Becoming Obsolete

Becoming Obsolete

Hebrews 8:13, “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” The original audience of the epistle to the Hebrews was tempted to avoid persecution by returning to the old...

Final Redemption

Final Redemption

Hebrews 8:11-12, “And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins...

Written on the Heart

Written on the Heart

Hebrews 8:10, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” The prophets of the Old...

The New Covenant

The New Covenant

Hebrews 8:8–9, “But God found fault with the people and said[a]: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took...

1 John 5:16 What Is the “Sin Unto Death,” and Who Can Commit It?

1 John 5:16 What Is the “Sin Unto Death,” and Who Can Commit It?

1 John 5:16 What is the “sin unto death,” and who can commit it? We’ll state the apparent problem in the text and then apply various rules of interpretation to arrive at an exegetical answer to the question. Problem: A divergence of views surrounds the nature of this...

Christian, be a Peacemaker

Christian, be a Peacemaker

In a culture where everybody is at each other’s throats, we need a breath of fresh air–fresh air of peace among people. And this fresh air needs to be more prevalent in Christians. Constant bickering isn’t getting us anywhere. This may be an election year — and...

A Faultless Covenant

A Faultless Covenant

Hebrews 8:7, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.” Hebrews 8 tells us that the priesthood of Christ is superior to the priesthood of Aaron because the covenant that Christ mediates is a better covenant...

Better Promises

Better Promises

Marriage is a wonderful gift from God. There’s nothing quite like the relationship that a husband and wife share. There’s a special closeness and uniqueness in the relationship that cannot be compared. The wedding ring I wear serves as a pointer to greater reality of...

The Priests on Earth

The Priests on Earth

Hebrews 8:4–5, “Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying,...

Something to Offer

Something to Offer

Hebrews 8:3, “For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.” A return to the old covenant was attractive to the original audience of Hebrews because it would have made their...

Minister in the True Tent

Minister in the True Tent

Hebrews 8:1–2, “Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.” Today we return to...

Made Perfect Forever

Made Perfect Forever

Hebrews 7:27–28, “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but...

Theodicy: Reconciling a Good and Powerful God with an Evil World

Theodicy: Reconciling a Good and Powerful God with an Evil World

When wicked and painful events of life occur, people wonder how an all-powerful and all-good God could allow such things. People wrestle with these competing realities and question whether God is indeed good and sovereign over the events in His creation. How could...

An Unstained Priest

An Unstained Priest

Hebrews 7:26, “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.” The Levitical priesthood was only a temporary solution to the problem of sin. Though God accepted...

Saved to the Uttermost

Saved to the Uttermost

Hebrews 7:25, “ Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Jesus is the guarantor of a better, more perfect covenant (Heb. 7:22). The old covenant, though good in a...

A Permanent Priesthood

A Permanent Priesthood

Hebrews 7:23–24, “23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.” Those of us who live under the new covenant are in a far better...

A Better Covenant

A Better Covenant

Hebrews 7:22, “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.” Legalism has been a perennial temptation for the church. The apostle Paul, for example, has to admonish the Galatian Christians for trying to ensure their salvation by observing the Law. Beginning in...

Not Without an Oath

Not Without an Oath

Hebrews 7:20–21, “And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21 but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest...

Losing Discernment

Losing Discernment

Narcissism isn’t a new issue, but I’m often overwhelmed by how prevalent it is. It seems to be tolerated, perhaps at times celebrated, even among self-proclaimed Christians. Pragmatism rules the day so that if someone “gets the job done,” then we’ll turn a blind eye...

Living Quenched

Living Quenched

A major reason why many Christians struggle with biblical literacy is that they don’t know how to approach Bible study. They might recognize their need for God’s Word but don’t know how to remain in it. The outcome can result in frustration over Bible reading that...

A Better Hope

A Better Hope

Hebrews 7:18–19, “18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.” On account of...

A Priest Forever

A Priest Forever

Hebrews 7:15-17, “15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is...

Descended from Judah

Descended from Judah

Hebrews 7:13-14, “For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.” How...

A Change in the Law

A Change in the Law

Hebrews 7:11–12, “11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the...

A Somniloquy Soliloquy: Preaching Election in My Sleep

A Somniloquy Soliloquy: Preaching Election in My Sleep

Tim, the Sleep-Talker I’m a somniloquist, one who regularly experiences somniloquy. Simply put: I talk in my sleep. Gayline, my dear long-suffering wife of nearly 43 years, has had to listen to me talk nearly every day of her adult life; and she doesn’t even catch a...

Inferior to Melchizedek

Inferior to Melchizedek

Hebrews 7:9–10, “9 One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.” In chapter 7, the author of Hebrews demonstrates the superiority of Melchizedek to...

Living Thirsty

Living Thirsty

According to a survey by the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. This statistic may seem startling but the reality is many of us are so used to living this way it has become normal. We live in an “on the go” society...

Why Ordinary Faithfulness Is Enough

Why Ordinary Faithfulness Is Enough

What the Lord Requires You can track everything these days. Calories, steps, BMI, books you’ve read (down to the page number), hours of screen time, hours of productivity, REM cycles of sleep, Instagram likes, and anything else you never cared to know before...

Blessed by the Superior

Blessed by the Superior

Hebrews 7:7–8, “It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8 In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives.” Facing a congregation that considered abandoning the new...

Resembling the Son

Resembling the Son

Hebrews 7:2–3, “and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither...

God, Who Is Greater Than Our Hearts

God, Who Is Greater Than Our Hearts

If our hearts are our emotional houses, we have lived in them, as in our literal homes, too long and too exclusively the past few months. I can tell that people are losing their sense of proportion. Not only are tempers flaring online and in the streets among...

This Melchizedek

This Melchizedek

Hebrews 7:1, “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,” The church father Tertullian once remarked that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. His point was...

The Cross, Our Hope

The Cross, Our Hope

Like many Marylanders, I learned early on about sailboats, sailing, and all things Chesapeake. I could handle a Sunfish™ when I was in grade school. As a teen, one summer I crewed on a 33-foot ketch, exploring rivers and streams up and down the bay. Pittsburgh’s...

C.O.R.E Identity

C.O.R.E Identity

Identity Awareness I am an old white guy who grew up poor, and then became an ordinary pastor of modest means, basic education, mediocre talent, decent health, and a sushi-loving appetite. Which begs the question: Who am I? Are these things me, or are they simply...

The Outward Design of Faithfulness

The Outward Design of Faithfulness

As Christian, we all know the mundane, daily plodding along of faithfulness. The early morning rising—perhaps before the sun kisses the horizon—to pray and read our Bibles. The ordinary work of discipling our children in God’s Word. The every day choice of obedience...

Unchangeable Thing

Unchangeable Thing

Hebrews 6:18, “so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” Solely by His grace and mercy, God promised Abraham that He would bless...

God Swore an Oath

God Swore an Oath

Hebrews 6:17, “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,” One of the main reasons the book of Hebrews was written was to encourage the readers to persevere in...

The Oaths of Men

The Oaths of Men

Hebrews 6:16, “or people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.” Near the end of chapter 6, the author of Hebrews recounts the oath God made to Abraham after Abraham demonstrated his faith and patience...

Abraham’s Perseverance

Abraham’s Perseverance

Hebrews 6:13–15, “For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.” Today we resume our study...

Patterns of Growth

Patterns of Growth

Hebrews 6:11–12, “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Hebrews 6:4–8 tells us that...

God Remembers Us

God Remembers Us

Hebrews 6:10, “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” The author of the book of Hebrews, like the rest of the New Testament writers, is confident that genuine Christians...

Sure of Better Things

Sure of Better Things

Hebrews 6:9, “Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation.” Ever since Judas became a disciple of Christ, the Christian community has always included people who claimed faith without really...

A Good Crop

A Good Crop

Hebrews 6:7–8, “For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is...

Why Christians Depend on Revelation from God

Why Christians Depend on Revelation from God

The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.—Exodus 32:16 Revelation-Dependent Christianity is the true worship and service of the true God, humankind’s Creator and Redeemer. It is a religion that rests on...

Those Who Fall Away

Those Who Fall Away

Hebrews 6:6, “and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” Hebrews 6:4–6 paints the dreadful picture that it is impossible to restore to...

Resting in a Timeless, Unchanging God

Resting in a Timeless, Unchanging God

As I walked down the aisle trying to find the next item on my grocery list, I saw a familiar face. He recognized me at the exact same moment and we both smiled and walked toward one another with excitement. As I approached, I instinctively started to put out my right...

The Covenant Community

The Covenant Community

Hebrews 6:4-5, “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,” Yesterday we saw the...

If God Permits

If God Permits

Hebrews 6:2–3, “and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.” Yesterday we examined how the author of Hebrews encourages his audience to press on to maturity in the...

Going on to Maturity

Going on to Maturity

Hebrews 6:1, “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,” Over the past few days we have seen how the author of the epistle to the Hebrews had to...

The Injustice of Social Justice?

The Injustice of Social Justice?

Western culture is being shaken. It is a time of significant social instability. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police has unleashed a torrent of rage. Large segments of our society are demonstrating, even rioting, for something enigmatically...

Dull of Hearing

Dull of Hearing

Hebrews 5:11-12, “About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not...

The Holy Spirit and Common Grace

The Holy Spirit and Common Grace

The second volume of “Great Doctrines of the Bible” by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (MLJ) focuses on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. We examined the person and the deity of the Holy Spirit in the first two chapters, now we’ll begin looking at the work of the Spirit in...

Source of Salvation

Source of Salvation

Hebrews 5:9-10, “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” In Hebrews 5:1–4, the author briefly describes the work of the old covenant priesthood. He...

Faithfulness in a COVID-19 School Year

Faithfulness in a COVID-19 School Year

I think we can all agree that this year has been strange. Covid-19 rushed in with a vengeance and changed life as we knew it. For most of us, nothing is going according to plan, everything feels chaotic and uncertain, and we are having to settle into a new normal that...

Obedience In Suffering

Obedience In Suffering

Hebrews 5:8-10, “8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” Reformed...

Suffering and Obedience

Suffering and Obedience

Hebrews 5:7–8, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he...

Called By God

Called By God

Hebrews 5:3–4, “3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.” At the beginning of an extended section detailing...

The High Priest’s Purpose

The High Priest’s Purpose

Hebrews 5:1–2, “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.” Today we find...

Singing the Song of Heaven Together

Singing the Song of Heaven Together

In a recurring dream (or maybe it’s a nightmare?), I find myself back in college during exams week. The registrar’s office has informed me that I am still enrolled in a course I thought I had dropped, and that there’s nothing to be done except take the final exam. The...

Mustard Seeds, Fig Trees, and the Sovereignty of God

Mustard Seeds, Fig Trees, and the Sovereignty of God

In Matthew 17, we learn that the disciples had attempted to cast out a demon but were unsuccessful. They then came to him privately, whether out of shame or discretion, and asked Jesus why they were unable to cast out the demon (v19). Jesus, instead of offering...

Draw Near With Confidence

Draw Near With Confidence

Hebrews 4:16, “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.” The author of Hebrews makes an airtight case for the superiority of Christ as our great High Priest. Jesus’ ascension into...

Tithes from Abraham

Tithes from Abraham

Hebrews 7:4–6, “4 See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! 5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers,[a] though...

Sometimes We Don’t Get a “Why”

Sometimes We Don’t Get a “Why”

Oftentimes when we are suffering, we search for a “why.” Why are we, or someone we love, suffering? Why would God allow this, even direct it to happen, when He can see how much I’m hurting? These are all questions I have asked in my own life, and I’m sure some of you...

Sympathetic to Weakness

Sympathetic to Weakness

Hebrews 4:15, “15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Yesterday we saw how Christ’s ascension makes Him a greater High Priest than the high priests...

Confidence in Christ

Confidence in Christ

Hebrews 4:14, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” Today we return to the book of Hebrews and continue our study in chapter 4. A week ago, we finished a section exhorting...

God’s Living and Active Word

God’s Living and Active Word

Hebrews 4:12–13, “ For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his...

Striving Toward God’s Rest

Striving Toward God’s Rest

Hebrews 4:11, “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” For the past week and a half, we have studied the Sabbath rest that Hebrews 4 promises to the people of God. This rest, as we have seen, is the same...

Four Reasons to Be Content in a Contentious Culture

Four Reasons to Be Content in a Contentious Culture

In an ever-increasingly hostile environment, contentiousness seems to be a default posture. It really doesn’t matter what we’re talking about; we come ready to argue. And we come intending to win. One of the most piercing aspects of those gripped by the gospel of...

Rest for God’s People

Rest for God’s People

Hebrews 4:9–10, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” In Hebrews 4, the author tells us about the Sabbath rest that is yet to come for the people of God....

Christian, Be Like Beloved Gaius

Christian, Be Like Beloved Gaius

I have now been a pastor for almost 20 years. In a year in which a mounting list of issues threaten the peace of society in the West, and the peace of individual churches as well, I have grown to appreciate mature, peace-making Christians. Such men and women, whether...

Another Day Later On

Another Day Later On

Hebrews 4:8, “For if Joshua had given them rest, God[a] would not have spoken of another day later on.” Again and again, chapter 4 of Hebrews tells us that there is still a rest to come for the people of God. This rest to come is none other than the fullness of God’s...

Today is the Day

Today is the Day

Hebrews 4:6–7, “6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,...

Sabbath Rest for God

Sabbath Rest for God

Hebrews 4:4-5, “For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.” In chapter 4, the author of Hebrews develops the idea of God’s...