Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

Challies on FacebookChallies on Twitter

October 2007

October 31, 2007

Reformation Day 2007

Today is Reformation Day—the 490th anniversary of the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg’s Schlosskirke. That small act triggered a series of events that forever changed the world. It stands as one of the most important events in all of history—though an event that has been largely forgotten. Today we remember that day and express our gratitude to God for raising up men such as Martin Luther.

As I spent time alone with God this morning, my thoughts and prayers turned continually to the word “reform,” but with -ing appended to it instead of -ed. I love to claim the title of “Reformed,” but today my prayer was that God would continue reforming me. I am a work in progress and pray that God will continue to reform me and to reform the church. Perhaps He will work through some of these great articles that are coming in from the far reaches of the blogosphere as part of this Reformation Day Symposium. Each of these articles was prepared by a different blogger. Each makes a unique contribution. I’d encourage you to read at least a few of them.

If you have prepared an article you’d like to share, let me know and I will update this list throughout the day.

Additions at 4 PM

Here are a batch of additions at around 4:30 PM EST. This will be the last batch added, so if you still have something to share, post a comment with a link.

Grace Notes says “If you have a Bible on your shelf, or somewhere in your home, you owe a great debt of gratitude to Martin Luther.”

Nothing in Particular provides a Reformed analysis of the Catholic understanding of the doctrine of justification.

Everything Domestic says, “Let them sing psalms!” “How thankful we should be to have this continuing heritage of psalm-singing! We have such easy access to the Word of God, not just on paper, but set to music as well! I wonder if we recognize how blessed we are?”

Delighted says “Last of all, i remember the Reformation today, because Reformation should lead to reformission. The Word of God doing an unrestricted work of glory in our hearts should lead us to want to reach out to our lost, perverted, sick, devil worshipping towns and cities.”

Recover the Gospel posts an article by John MacArthur on “Unmasking the Pope.”

Additions at Noon

Here is the first round of updates, comprised of articles that have been forwarded to me as of noon (or so) EST.

Musings of the Dings goes for the brownie points by having the five-year old share his “My Little Martin Luther Book.” I’m quite sure he’s the youngest (and cutest) participant!

Reformed Evangelist asks “So what’s the point of celebrating Reformation Day? Especially when we already have an opportunity to witness to lost people on Halloween!”

Hiraeth writes about Albrecht Durer. “Did you know that Durer could be considered the ‘Artist of the Reformation?’”

Rebecca Writes writes about Jan Huss whom she calls “The Bohemian Morning Star.” “Luther was quite willing to acknowledge that his teachings were Hus’s teachings. “We are,” he said, “Hussites without knowing it.””

A Threefold Cord writes about John Knox, one of his heroes of the faith and one of the most influential reformers.

Allen Mickle asks “Are Baptists Part of the Protestant Reformation?” “If you are a Baptist this day (Reformation Day) take heart and rejoice in what God has done in history to rescue the truths of the Scriptures and bring them back into the church and thank God for the privilege of being part of that Reformation!”

Exploring Truth suggests “Evangelicalism: A Modern Day Tetzel?” “It’s my prayer that the Tetzelizing of Christendom will awaken more Luther’s and continue to raise that same ocean tide of fervency for truth in their hearts that marked the start of the great reformation.”

Relentlessly Biblical writes about Martin Luther’s holy matrimony.

Nauvoo Pastor remembers Matthias of Janow on Reformation Day one of the pre-prereformers who preceded even John Hus.

Wiser Time published “”I Will This Day Most Joyfully Die”: A Reformation Day Meditation on John Hus.”

The Lead of Love remembers “Promises Kept” as he focuses on Reformation Day.

Delivered by Grace writes that Luther’s legacy is love for the external Word.

Grace for Life celebrates Reformation Day with Abraham, Martin and John and invites you to do the same.

Kschaub marks the day with a review of Stephen Nichols’ The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World.

Glory and Gettysburg says “I thought it would be appropriate to write on something that I feel is the backbone of reformed theology, why we were chosen. I think it is described subtly in the Word like any other theological concept and is there in front of us waiting to humble us into submission to Christ.”

The Regrafted Branch says “Let us thank God for those down through the ages who—like that monk—have been called to steadfastly teach the greatest and most surprising truth of all: that salvation is by grace alone, a gift of God’s mercy whose splendour, beauty, and matchless value lies precisely in the fact that it is a work untouched by human hands.”

Reformation Day Symposium—Initial Entries

Gazing at Glory (Doug was kind enough to send along the graphic that heads up this article) writes about “The Danger of Getting Bored with the Gospel.” “Reformation Day is something to celebrate, because of the recovery of the Gospel. But this day also reminds us that there is something we must guard. We must guard the purity and clarity of the message of the Gospel. But we must also guard our own hearts so that we never become immune, inoculated, or bored concerning the wonderful news that Jesus Christ really does save sinners.”

Vine and Fig includes a poem but first writes, “Luther was a monk who re-discovered and proclaimed the wonderful, life-giving truth that we can be saved not by penance, not by pilgrimages, not by the excess merits of the saints, not by papal dispensations, but by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ who died for sinners and who rose up again, the proof that he’d paid in full for the sins of his people.”

Reformed Baptist Fellowship has a multi-part series on the Reformation with today’s article asking (and answering) “Why was Oct 31, 1517 so important?”

Eternally Significant posts a review of Here I Stand, Bainton’s classic biography of Martin Luther. “The greatest value of this book is the fuller understanding of the life of Luther… Although his work is over a half century old, those who study Luther, both detractors and sympathizers, will continue to be able to take Bainton’s biography and support their argument with facts.”

A Deeper Love writes about the confidence Christians can have when looking to the Bible. “The work that these people did has given many millions of people the gift of confidence in God’s saving work. No longer do God’s people have to labour under the burden of uncertainty about whether they have “measured up” to a standard that will allow them to enter heaven. They can have confidence that Christ has met that standard for them.”

The Blue Fish Project seeks Reformation for his own heart. “I’m the one who keeps changing, reverting to the easy path of walking out of step with the Spirit. What I need is men and women who will rub the grace of God in the gospel into my heart. Not just once a year, but daily. Not because I don’t know it but because I do.”

Biblical Thought makes a plea to Reformed Christians in the West. “To identify your theological heritage as “Reformed,” like I do, is O.K. as it pertains to doctrine and tradition, but may lead to a relaxed Christian life with potential vulnerability. I find it helpful to be in constant reform-ing mode because the objective standard to which the church reforms to (Scripture), remains as the lens through which all of life is viewed.”

Chris’ Considerations provides a brief history of the issues at stake in the Reformation and asks how these things shaped and should continue to shape the Church of England.

Semper Reformanda highlights one of the lesser-known figures, the pre-Reformer John Huss. “On the 490th anniversary of Luther’s nailing of the 95 Theses on the church door in Wittenburg, we also celebrate John Huss, an early advocate of sola Scriptura, who was willing to die a martyr’s death for the One who had died for him.”

Sola Gratia Grigoletti’s Christian Blog writes of “A Baptist’s Love of Philipp Melanchthon.” “The reason why I choose to write about Philipp Melanchthon on this special day for Christians is because recently I have began to read the Augsburg Confession and it is clear that Melanchthon defined sola fide in a more theologically precise than Dr. Luther and while Dr. Luther did indeed teach sola fide it is also true that Melanchthon expanded on the work and theology of Luther.”

Sweet Tea and Theology writes about the sinner’s justification saying, “It is probably even more important that the faithful get back to preaching this doctrine of justification in light of our sinfulness. Not only preaching it, but living it out in our local churches.”

A Reasonable Faith says “It seems to me that in these days when certain denominations seem to be going sideways, in need of a new Reformation for all intents and purposes, we might gain encouragement from God’s promise that He will not allow His true Church to die.”

Jollyblogger shares a Reformation Day sermon in which he covered the subject of Total Depravity.

On the Other Foot, writing from a Catholic perspective, wishes Protestants a happy birthday but tells us that we are really just daughters of the mother church.

Kingdom People posts the top ten moments of the Reformation and also writes about Justification: the Defining Doctrine of the Reformation.

Provocations and Pantings wants the SBC to move from resurgance to re-formation. “By re-formation I mean we must reconsider just how we function as Southern Baptists in cooperation with one another.”

Titus2Talk re-posts their excellent biographical sketch of Katie Luther.

The Thirsty Theologian shares Spurgeon’s cry for a new generation of Luthers and Calvins. “We want again Luthers, Calvins, Bunyans, Whitefields, men fit to mark eras, whose names breathe terror in our foemen’s ears.”

Whatever Things shares a short piece about John Hooper, one of the English reformers.

After Darkness Light writes about “Assurance and the Gospel: A Post in Celebration of Reformation Day.” “Today, even among many evangelical churches, assurance of faith is too frequently peddled to the masses in the guise of a gospel that is just as inadequate as the gospel Luther struggled against.”

Pastor Steve Weaver collects a number of sermons, papers and posts he has written related to Reformation themes.

Four Scores and Seven Films Ago continues a mock news story about Martin Erasmus Hinn, a young man who seeks to make people aware of the existence of Reformation Day.

John Dekker writes about “Reformed Unity #1: Remembering the Reformation.”

Darryl Dash writes about a rediscovery of the gospel. “What I’m thinking about most today, though, is what lay at the heart of the 95 Theses: a rediscovery of the gospel. The person who has helped me understand why this is so important is Tim Keller…”

Colossians Three Sixteen writes first about “The Five Points of What?” and then turns to Calvin’s Hands, Servetus’ Blood?.

October 31, 2007
Wednesday October 31, 2007 Expositors Conference Audio
The audio from the recent Expositors Conference is now available. The sermons feature John MacArthur and Steve Lawson. Pastors will be especially interested. Be sure to check out “The Ten How To’s of Expository Preaching.”
A Truly Tiny Car
This oh-so-British clip shows the world’s tiniest car. It’s a truly funny video about a truly tiny car. (Warning: there’s one slightly rude comment at one point).
Fall and Christmas Outreach Special Offer
Desiring God is offering cases of John Piper’s Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ for just $65. That’s 48 books plus shipping for only $65. The catch? You have to give them away for free…
October 30, 2007

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes…”

Dr. Criswell, long-time pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, was once traveling by plane to attend a speaking engagement on the East Coast. After boarding the aircraft and getting himself settled and situated, he was thrilled to recognize the man in the seat beside him as a well-known Christian theologian. Criswell greatly admired this man and was eager to get to know him. Soon the plane left the ground and after it settled into cruising altitude, Criswell introduced himself and the two began to speak.

The theologian told the pastor how he had recently lost his four-year old son to a terrible illness. It had begun innocently enough when the child was sent home from school one afternoon after developing a fever. At first the parents thought it was a typical childhood illness that would soon run its course. But the young boy’s condition continued to worsen and that evening his concerned mother and father took him to the hospital. The doctors ran a battery of tests and told the parents tragic news—their son had a virulent form of meningitis and there was nothing they could do for him. The child was beyond medical help and was going to die.

The loving parents did the only thing they could do, which was sit with their son in a death vigil. Not even a week later, in the middle of the day, the illness began to cause the little boy’s vision to fade. He looked up at his daddy and said softly,”Daddy, it’s getting dark, isn’t it?”

The professor replied, “Yes, son, it is dark. It’s very dark.” And for the father it was.

The little boy said, “I guess it’s time for me to get to sleep, isn’t it?”

“Yes son, it’s time for you to sleep,” said the father.

The theologian explained to Dr. Criswell how his son liked his pillow and his blankets arranged just so because he liked to lay his head on his hands while he slept. He told how he helped the child fix his pillow and how his boy rested his head on his hands and said, “Good night daddy. I’ll see you in the morning.” With that the little boy closed his eyes and fell asleep. Only a few minutes later his little chest rose and fell for the last time and his life was over almost before it began.

The professor stopped talking and looked out the window of the airplane for a good long while. Finally he turned to Dr. Criswell and with his voice breaking and tears spilling onto his cheeks gasped, “I can hardly wait for morning to come!”

Though it may merely sound like the cry of a grief-stricken parent, the father’s words speak of far more. They speak of a profoundly beautiful truth, for the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who cannot lie, promised us that the morning will come. Death has been defeated and even now we eagerly await the dawn when Christ will return and death shall be no more. Only through Jesus can we have the hope of eternal life that sustains the grief-stricken father. Only through Jesus can we have assurance that he “will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.” (Revelation 21:4) Little boys will be reunited with their fathers so together they can dance for joy before the One who tasted and defeated death so others could have life.

God offers such assurance only to those who will look to Him. Do you believe in Him? Have you looked to Jesus and cried out for Him to give you life? Call out to Him today and do business with God. He will give you hope and will give you the blessed assurance that the dawn will soon break. You’ll hardly be able to wait for morning to come.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4).
October 30, 2007
Tuesday October 30, 2007 Joel Osteen & Mac & Cheese
Prodigal Jon has a good article about Joel Osteen. After reading that, I read through more of Jon’s site and really enjoyed it. So take a look and be sure to read “This is what $3 gets you.”
Reformation Day Symposium
Here’s a final reminder about tomorrow’s Reformation Day Symposium.
Reformation Art Poster
Reformation Art has put together a small brochure about their latest print. They’ve invested a lot in this print and need people like us to make it worth their while to keep producing great art like this.
Missouri Pastor’s Conference
Scott Lamb is bringing live updates from a 9Marks Ministries conference for pastors in Missouri.
October 29, 2007

Next year is an Olympic year and in the summer of 2008, athletes will converge on Beijing to complete in 302 events across 28 different sports. Already we are beginning to hear about qualifying events and national Olympic committees choosing the teams they will send to China to represent their countries. There isn’t an athlete who isn’t already dreaming of earning a spot on the Olympic team and earning a gold medal for his country.

Athletes know that to earn a spot on the team and to have any hope of bringing home a medal, they need to commit to a serious training regimen. Though the Olympics are still almost 300 days away from the opening ceremonies, all around the world men and women are preparing themselves, pushing their bodies to the limits, enduring grueling competitions, so they can be at their absolute best when the games kick off on August 8, 2008. Only with constant practice, constant attention to their sport, will these athletes be ready to perform at the highest standards. Only those who are absolutely dedicated to their sport will win the prize.

This weekend I read Craig Brown’s The Five Dilemmas of Calvinism, a small book that has just been published by Ligonier Ministries. It is a book that seeks to address five of the most common charges against Calvinistic theology, showing how Calvinism ultimately addresses these issues in a way that is faithful to Scripture. In a brief Foreword to this book, R.C. Sproul says something that resonated in my mind throughout the weekend. He first quotes Hebrews 5:12-14 which reads. “[E]veryone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Sproul than says, “In other words, there is much to the Scriptures and the Christian faith beyond what immediately meets the eye, and it is not easy to get at it—‘constant practice’ is necessary to move from the ‘unskilled’ state to that of ‘mature’ and ‘trained.’ Even Peter acknowledged the difficulty of doctrine when he said of the letters of his colleague Paul, the apostle who, more than any other, laid down the doctrinal basics of the Christian faith: ‘There are some things in them that are hard to understand’ (2 Peter 3:16b). He was right. For this reason, I would be suspicious of any doctrinal system I could thoroughly grasp with ease.”

As I was writing The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment I spent quite a bit of time studying and pondering those verses from Hebrews 5. I found them challenging verses and ones that had important things to tell us about discernment and its deep connection to spiritual maturity. I’ve written about that here in the past in a three-part Call to Discernment.

But the verses are also a challenge to us in that they exhort us to constant practice. All around the world Olympic athletes are practicing as they gear up for the Olympics, hoping that they can bring a medal home with them. And yet many Christians seemed lulled into complacency about the spiritual matters that are of far greater importance than any athletic competition. The Bible is clear, not only in Hebrews but in other passages, that God expects and demands maturity. He expects that we will move beyond the unskilled state to the state of one who is mature and trained—the state of one who is ready to be challenged.

As I read these words from Hebrews and as I pondered their significance I was led to ask myself, “What have I done today to prepare myself?” I am certain that this is a question athletes must ask themselves every day as well. And I asked again this morning, “What will I do to practice today?” To be a man who is mature in my faith and to be a person who is ready to have my faith challenged, I must practice and I must dedicate myself to maturity. Have I done those things God requires of me in order to mature in my faith? Have I given time to learning from Him in the Bible? Have I spent time communing with Him in prayer? Have I dedicated myself to a local church and to sharing my life with other Christian men and women? If I wish to be mature, I must train. And if I am to be mature, I must train in the way God tells me to.

My challenge to you and my challenge to myself at the beginning of another week is simply this: What have you done to practice?

October 29, 2007
Monday October 29, 2007 refocus Blog
The reFocus Conference now has a blog. “The purpose of reFocus is to unite Canadian pastors around a resurgent historical evangelicalism and equip them to preach the full counsel of God in an age of relativism.”
Quite Possibly the Best Line Ever
Shannon posts what she is convinced may just be the best line ever in the whole world.
Levels of Happiness in Heaven
John Piper has recorded a section of a Jonathan Edwards sermon dealing with levels of happiness in heaven.
A Great Ending
A pretty amazing ending to a football game (unless you love a good defense). (HT: About 50 people)
If You Can’t Say Something Nice
Phil Johnson, in an article responding to Adrian Warnock, has some good things to say about discernment.
October 28, 2007

King for a Week is an honor I bestow on blogs that I feel are making a valuable contribution to my faith and the faith of other believers…or sometimes just because I really like them. It is a way of introducing my readers to blogs that they may also find interesting and edifying. Every two weeks (or so. That is theoretical. Practically, I don’t get around to updating as often as I should and we’ve been know to have kings for a month or two!) I select a blog, link to it from my site, and add that site’s most recent headlines to my right sidebar. While this is really not much, I do feel that it allows me to encourage and support other bloggers while making the readers of this blog aware of other good sites.

This week’s King for a Week is The Blazing Center. This is a blog headed up by Stephen Altrogge but it also features increasing numbers of contributions from his father, Mark Altrogge. If you know of the music of Sovereign Grace Ministries, these names will be familiar to you. Mark has long contributed some of the finest songs produced by that organization and Stephen is now also contributing many good selections. The two also recently collaborated on an album titled In A Little While. When I read The Blazing Center I am always reminded of why I love the men and women of Sovereign Grace Ministries. Mark and Stephen love the gospel and are continually drawing their readers hearts and minds back to the cross and back to the good new of salvation through Jesus Christ. They take every day situations and use these situations as a bridge to teaching eternal truths. Though it is a relative newcomer to the blogosphere, this site is already making a mark and is fast becoming a personal favorite. I commend it to you.

In the coming days (and/or weeks) you will be able to see the most recent headlines from this blog in the sidebar of my site. I hope you will make your way over to look around.

October 27, 2007

Rather than attempt to answer a question today, I thought I’d ask one instead. This is a question primarily for people who read blogs, though certainly people who write them may be interested as well. The question is this: How much should bloggers disclose?

Let me explain. Bloggers tend to put a lot of work into their sites but receive relatively little in return. There are usually just a few options open to bloggers who wish to make a few dollars. One of the more popular of these are affiliate programs. Stores like Amazon and Westminster Books offer programs whereby anyone who links to them will receive a small amount of compensation. It’s usually a safe bet that if a blogger links to Amazon, he is doing so through his affiliate account, meaning that any items that are sold after people click through that link will kick back about 6%. Westminster’s program is a little different in that they tally clicks and pay out a certain amount at the end of the month based on the total number of visitors sent to them.

What I am asking today is whether you think bloggers should disclose when they are referring people to some kind of affiliate program. If a blogger writes a book review and links to a store for which he is an affiliate, should he disclose that he is part of the affiliate program?

I’d be interested in your responses to this.

Why? Well, there may be several ramifications. Here is just one: In theory, a person may direct visitors to a particular store or even a particular product he would not otherwise direct people to because he knows he will receive some kind of compensation. He may direct people to a store that offers higher prices or inferior service not because this represents the best deal but because he stands to benefit. Just take a look at the number of bloggers who chose to announce that Westminster Books (which has an affiliate program) upgraded their design compared to those who announced that Monergism Books (which at that time did not have a program) had upgraded. People stood to benefit directly from one announcement but not the other.

This is not to accuse anyone of dishonesty or deliberate deception. But it is definitely something worth considering as bloggers attempt to establish some kind of code of conduct and as they seek to find their place in this new media.

So let’s talk it through…