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

Tim Challies

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October 05, 2015

At Ligonier, we’re confident in the power of the Word of God to convert sinners and equip Christians for every good work. We want the gospel to go forth to every nation, even if some may take that gospel and twist it to their own ends. But we want the people of God to grow deeper in their faith and to explore the depths of the gospel, which is simple enough for all to understand and yet so deep that in our lifetime we can only begin to scratch the surface of its meaning and application. For that, sound teaching is indispensable, and that’s why our goal has been to provide a study Bible grounded in the Reformed tradition of Christian theology.


Reformed theology, which C.H. Spurgeon said is merely a nickname for Christianity, is our passion here at Ligonier. We want to spread the knowledge of the gospel to as many people as possible to help churches around the world understand the substance of its message. Everything we do through Ligonier Ministries is directed toward that end, including the Reformation Study Bible.

There is distaste in our day, even in the church, for doctrine. People say, “I can live the Christian life without being concerned about doctrine.” Well, if you are not concerned about doctrine, then the best thing you can do with your Bible is throw it away, because that is what the Bible is—it is sixty-six divinely revealed books of doctrine. On the night before His execution, Jesus met in the upper room with His disciples and prayed His High Priestly Prayer. He poured out His soul to the Father in behalf of His followers—His disciples and those who would believe through the ministry of the original disciples. And His prayer was for their sanctification. He said to His heavenly Father, “Sanctify them through thy truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Now, if you want to be sanctified, if you want to grow in conformity to the image of Christ, you need to know the truth of God. You need to know doctrine. The whole point of a good study Bible, such as the Reformation Study Bible, is to help you learn the theology that God reveals in His sacred Word that will shape your life and bring you into conformity with Christ.

The original Geneva Bible was developed to help people learn the theology revealed in God’s Word. It is in the spirit of that Geneva Bible that we produced the original New Geneva Study Bible, and then the Reformation Study Bible. We wanted a resource that, like the Geneva Bible, faithfully taught the Scriptures and presented the key tenets of Reformed theology rediscovered in the Protestant Reformation. And in that same spirit, we have the completely new, reworked edition of the Reformation Study Bible—which really excites me.

What makes the Reformation Study Bible distinct? Watch this short video or purchase your copy here.

Dr. R.C. Sproul is founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries. He is general editor of the Reformation Study Bible and author of Everyone’s a Theologian. Article originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

September 28, 2015


This sponsored post was prepared by Dennis Johnson.

You may have heard passionate advocates and ardent critics debate “Christ-centered biblical interpretation” and wondered what the fuss is about. Why is it important to read the Bible as a unified story of God’s one redemptive plan, climaxing in Christ and his mission? Why should we read every page with our spiritual senses on high alert, watching for Christ?

1. Jesus Taught People to See Him in All the Scriptures

Jesus taught his apostles to read the Bible this way. On the very day of his resurrection, he showed two of his downcast, clueless disciples on the road to Emmaus that the Old Testament scriptures foretold his suffering and resurrected glory. He did the same for a larger circle in Jerusalem that same night (Luke 24). Since “the Spirit of Christ” foretold the Messiah’s sufferings and glories (1 Peter 1:11 ESV), could there be a more authoritative interpreter of the Bible than Jesus himself? 

2. Seeing Jesus in All the Scriptures Makes Us Marvel

Tracing the golden thread of God’s single salvation strategy through Scripture moves us to marvel. We watch God work through flawed people to provide previews of Jesus, the flawless Offspring of the Woman. Who but the sovereign God could weave such a tapestry in real individuals and events, interspersed throughout the history of Israel? Again and again God injected mercy into human rebellion and life into human ruin, climaxing in Christ’s cross and resurrection.

3. Seeing Jesus in All the Scriptures Changes Us

In 2 Corinthians 3:12–18 Paul contrasts two approaches to reading the Old Testament. One approach, taken by many of Paul’s Jewish contemporaries, was to read “the old covenant” with a veil over one’s hardened mind, unable to glimpse its true purpose. The second was to turn to the Lord, and so to find the veil removed (v. 16). At Sinai Moses’ face radiated the glory of his Law-giving Lord. That radiance faded, showing that the Law would give way to a greater, growing glory—the beauty of Jesus now illumining and changing the hearts of all who see him in his Word: And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (v. 18 ESV).

As a set of instructions, the Law defines what we should be, say, and do. But as commandment the Law cannot make us people who are, say, and do what pleases God (Romans 7). Yet there is hope outside the Law’s demands, in Jesus: “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, 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” (Rom. 8:3–4 ESV).

Don’t Leave Jesus Behind When You Open Your Bible—Walk with Him through His Word

I wrote Walking with Jesus through His Word from the conviction that beholding his glory wherever we turn in the Bible deepens our trust in him not only to justify us (make us right with God) but also to sanctify us (conform us to God’s holy love). Jesus is our Justifier and our Sanctifier, our Comforter and our Commander. He is the Lord who creates, provides, protects, commands, and judges us. He is also the Servant who obeyed and endured wrath in our place, and who transforms us through his Spirit—inch by inch, day by day—into faithful covenant servants. 

Focusing on the Bible’s legal demands apart from Jesus’ forgiveness and his obedience in our place will leave us guilt-laden and impotent. Focusing on the Gospel’s assurance of God’s welcome apart from Jesus’ call to follow him in grateful obedience by the Spirit’s power will leave us complacent in our sin. Seeing Jesus throughout his Word ignites our grateful love for him, the Lord who loved us and gave himself for us. Such glimpses of his glory transform us into his image. 

Walking with Jesus through His Word is available at Amazon and Westminster Books.

Author Bio

Dennis E. Johnson (ThM, Westminster Theological Seminary; PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is professor of practical theology at Westminster Seminary California. He is also an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and author of Walking with Jesus through His Word, Him We Proclaim, Triumph of the Lamb, Let’s Study Acts, and other books.

September 21, 2015

Dry and Stale
Has your pastoral ministry become dry and stale? Do you sense a need for reinvigoration and renewal? Do you need some intensive and concentrated time in the Word? Perhaps the Doctor of Ministry program, Strengthening Ministry in the Kingdom of God at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh can help address some of these issues.

Some advanced study sounds like a great idea, but life is too full, right? This program is designed with those in full-time ministry in mind. The eight required courses are offered over four years, requiring only a two week stay on campus each August. Ample time is allocated for preparation for and follow up from each of the on-campus segments. It is a lot of work, but it can be done even in the midst of family and ministry responsibilities.

This professional degree is designed to strengthen ministry in the Kingdom of God by providing advanced training for those who minister to and pastor the people of God. A blend of study and research, this program is intended for ministry renewal, reinvigoration in Biblical and theological studies, integration of theological convictions with societal issues, and enhancement of the skills needed for effective Biblical ministry.

Two concentrations are offered.

Strengthening Pastoral Ministry: If your pastoral ministry needs to be revived; if you long to pursue a set of issues and problems affecting the life of the church; if you desire advanced study in matters related to the doctrine, worship, and the overall life and ministry of the church, then this program is for you.

Strengthening Counseling Ministry: If in your ministry you face the challenge of counseling people with broken lives and relationships; if you desire to more adequately understand and apply the Word of the Lord to the needs of people; if you desire advanced study in Biblical counseling rooted in a thorough knowledge of Scripture and the faith of the Church, then this program is for you.

Courses common to both tracks are:

  • Christ in the Gospels: Rediscovering Jesus through Narrative and Literary Analysis
  • Christ’s Mediatorial Kingship: Proclaiming Christian Faith in a World of Ideological Diversity
  • The Old Testament in the New: Advancing the Reformed Conviction of the Unity and Coherence of Scripture
  • Leadership Communication: Learning to Effectively Communicate in Diverse Cultural Settings
  • Counseling the Flock: Insights for Guiding the Sheep from the Biblically-Based Study of Counseling

Courses specifically for the Strengthening Pastoral Ministry concentration:

  • The Renewal of Preaching: Values, Insights, and Techniques for Preaching
  • Issues in Theology: Reformed Orthodoxy and Current Trends and Directions in Theological Studies
  • Biblical Worship: Recovering the Depth, Beauty, and Comprehensiveness of Worship Regulated by the Word of God

Courses specifically for the Strengthening Counseling Ministry concentration:

  • What is Man?
  • Medical and Legal Issues in Biblical Counseling
  • Counseling Practicum

Candidates for the Doctor of Ministry degree will complete a major project consisting of academic research in a specific area of study with plans for the implementation of the results of that research into the practice of pastoral ministry.

For more than 205 years, RPTS has been preparing pastors and other workers for service in Christ’s Kingdom. A seminary education should do more than inform you about theology. It should transform you for ministry.

For more information, contact the admissions office at apply@rpts.edu, go to rpts.edu/academics.html, or call 412-731-6000.


September 14, 2015

This sponsored post was prepared by Matt Heerema of MereChurch.

Without question, over the last decade the Internet has become the most important tool for communication within a community and to the world at large. Web sites, social media, effective use of email, and other such tools are a vital part of a church’s outreach. But this large need seems out of reach for small congregations.

Over the years I have spoken with members, deacons, and pastors at many of these small congregations who have expressed frustration with their inability to effectively communicate with their congregation and surrounding community with this tool.

Cost, expertise, and time never seem to be in the right balance in these small, faithful fellowships.

This is why I created MereChurch

My goal with MereChurch is to provide a cost-effective solution that empowers your church with all the right tools needed for an effective Web presence, at a fraction of the cost normally associated with engaging a professional designer or agency, while still engaging a professional agency

Several free tools exist that allow a small church to “DIY” a Web site. But no tool exists that replaces the need for expert advice on tactics and best practices.

Let us provide you with the best-in-class tools, on the best platform, to provide you with a high performance, secure, worry-free Web site, that is created with the help of expert advice.

I am a co-pastor at a very average local church (~300 in attendance), so I understand the economic realities and needs of a small congregation. My team and I have also done work for mega-churches and international ministries, so we understand the technical challenges and needs of ministry at every scale. 

We are an expert team who have handled many world-class projects. And we can work with you at a budget that is feasible for a small congregation. 

Let MereChurch build your new church website

Thank you for the opportunity.

—Matt Heerema
Pastor, Web Consultant, Musician, Husband, and Father of 4. 

September 07, 2015

Books at a Glance

Have you ever wanted to read more quality Christian books but couldn’t seem to find the time? Have you ever been frustrated purchasing a book only to discover that it wasn’t as rewarding as you had hoped? Now, thanks to Books At a Glance, you’ll be able to read and learn MORE…in less time because of their in-depth book summaries. Click HERE to see a list of their book summaries.)

Thanks to Tim Challies, this Book Summary is FREE for You!

Rather than take an entire article to tell you the benefits of learning the essence of an entire book in the short amount of time it takes you to read 8 – 10 pages (or listen to our audio summaries), we here at Books At a Glance wanted to give you a book summary for FREE, so that you can experience what our service is like for yourself. And then, once you’ve read this book summary, you’ll see the value in having a fresh and new book summary emailed to you every week!

Here’s Our Summary of Kevin DeYoung’s Book on Homosexuality (Click HERE)

What Does the Bible Teach about Everything?

DeYoung begins exploring the question regarding homosexuality by pointing readers to the big picture of the Bible. It is a story of creation and redemption, one where God sets up a temple among people so that they can commune together with him. It is about a fallen creation which God redeems and consummates. The future of God’s creation cannot be understood as a place without good and evil: God’s intention is for a holy place where suffering and wickedness no longer harm or demote the Creator. It is important to see, then, that homosexuality is not the heart of the Bible. And yet, the issues which are at the heart of the Bible – God, sin, redemption, a glorious new creation, etc. – all touch on homosexuality in profound ways.

***(Click HERE to View the Complete Book Summary for FREE!)***

DeYoung sets out the question which the book endeavors to answer and explain: “Is homosexual activity a sin that must be repented of, forsaken, and forgiven, or, given the right context and commitment, can we consider same-sex sexual intimacy a blessing worth celebrating and solemnizing?” (…Click HERE to Continue Reading this Free Book Summary…)

Would You Like a New Book Summary Emailed to You Every Week?

We’ve found that our readers absolutely love staying informed on the newest and most relevant books with our book summaries! Whether ministry is your profession or you simply see the value is learning, Books At a Glance will help you learn more…in less time!

Click HERE to Start Getting Your New Book Summaries TODAY!

August 31, 2015


Faith vs Reason

This sponsored post was prepared by Dr. Craig Biehl of PilgrimsRock.com.

Are You Rattled or Ready?
Have you ever been told, “you have faith but I trust reason and science”? Does the suggestion that you believe fairy tales while unbelievers stand on facts and solid intellectual ground bother you? Can you easily answer the claim and prepare your children to answer this and the many other sophisticated arguments of unbelief?

What if the Opposite Is True?
What if you could easily see that all such arguments are built on unreasonable blind faith, that your trust in the Word of the Creator and Sustainer of all things is reasonable and supported by every known fact in the universe? What if you could increase your joy, comfort, and faith in Christ and Scripture in the face of the most sophisticated attacks of unbelief? And, what if you could do this all without reading countless technical books? Well, you can.

Using simple language and illustrations, the Unbreakable Faith course and companion books God the Reason and The Box explore the amazing nature and implications of the infinite excellence of God’s perfections, exposing the unreasonable blind faith of unbelief while boosting your knowledge and love of God.

Everyone Has Faith…in Something
All people reason by faith in an ultimate authority by which they interpret God and the universe. Atheists trust their own ability to interpret the world and answer ultimate questions about God and reality, while Christians trust God’s explanation of such things.  Atheists reason by faith in themselves while believers reason by faith in God.  Both use reason and both have faith. But who reasons rightly? And which object of faith can speak with authority and be trusted to answer ultimate questions about God, life, and the universe? Here lies the issue.

We Have Limits
If my atheist neighbor can’t know the contents of my garage without having a look, he can’t be trusted to explain the nature of an infinite God and His universe. God must tell us such things. And complete knowledge of the universe and beyond, or the omniscience of the God the atheist denies, is required to know that God does not exist.  (For simple and fun examples of how to see and expose the unreasonable faith of unbelief, see The Box: Answering the Faith of Unbelief.)

A Rock and an Empty Place
Believers trust the One who created, sustains, and knows all things, who clearly displays His power and genius in the universe, who orders and sustains every law by which we do science (random chance produces no laws), whose moral law is written on every heart, whose goodness appears in every raindrop, flower, and morsel of food, who dwelt among us and suffered to display His perfect nature and purchase our eternal happiness.  Believers trust the God who has personally and clearly explained His nature and works, including the ultimate nature of the universe He created and upholds. Atheists trust their opinions.  

No GodNo Science
Every scientific discovery affirms the genius and power of God. And speculation about God, as well as science, would be impossible in a random chance universe—no laws, language, truth, knowledge, logic, experiment, or scientist would be possible. Our world cannot exist apart from the personal and powerful God of Scripture. Whose faith, then, is reasonable?

Want to Learn More?
To further your love and knowledge of God’s excellence, and increase your joy, comfort, and faith in Christ and Scripture, I would like to offer you a free eBook copy of The Box as my gift to you. Click here for your free copy. 


August 24, 2015



This sponsored post was prepared by Dr. C. J. Williams, Professor of Old Testament Studies at RPTS.

In a continuing series, professors from the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary share some thoughts that are on their hearts.

It’s amazing how regimented modern life is.  Busy schedules demand precise organization, and we can hardly conceive of a day that is not divided into hours and minutes.  I don’t know how many times I glance at my watch during the day, but each glance reminds me of pending tasks and the precise time allotted to each.  This being the case, it is refreshing to step into the world of Old Testament narrative.  In the place of hours and minutes, the patriarchs lived and thought in terms of seasons, not the natural seasons of the year, but indefinite periods of time that were characterized by one particular task or calling.

Thus we read about characters encamping here or there “for a season” in the King James Version, or the “season” in which Israel came out of Egypt, or the psalmist praying to God “in the night season.”  Even the days are delineated only by morning, noon, and night with no thought of greater precision.  If we tried to operate on these terms, schedule things “in due season” or plan our tasks “when the time comes,” a tangled mess would surely be the result.

Our world demands precision and a strict accounting of time.  But when reading the historical narratives of the Hebrew Bible, we seem to step into a dream-like world with very little consciousness of, or concern for, the delineation and passage of time.

I do not think this narrative timelessness can be neatly accounted for by the simplicity of ancient life or the nature of ancient literature.  Of course, to some degree, we would expect a shepherd people to move at a sheep’s pace, but I think the difference between the Old Testament world and ours has as much to do with priorities as anything.  Perhaps the timeless quality of these texts exhibits the simplicity of faith unencumbered by the desires, expectations, and obligations that we needlessly heap upon ourselves.

What mattered to the patriarchs was the calling at hand, not the next bend in the road.  They lived within the present reality of the covenant relationship, enjoying it and responding to its development.  What mattered was right in front of them – faith, life, and family – and to these things they gave themselves with timeless focus.  I’m sure they had occasion for greater precision and foresight when it came to the responsibilities of life, as we do, but one certainly gets the sense that, from “season to season,” our forefathers in the faith had an unwavering simplicity of focus that makes their life narratives seem timeless, or at least not nearly as regimented as our world.

Their communion with God and the Lord’s calling upon them, was not just one part of a diffuse existence, nor did they see the present as only a steppingstone to something else.  They found themselves on the “pathway of life” (Psalm 16:11) because of God’s grace, and that path was all that mattered.  “What” mattered a whole lot more than “when.”

You have heard the hackneyed saying: “Life is a road, not a destination.”  Nothing could be further from the truth in our world.  Many people covet what they do not have, live only for what they want to achieve, are always looking to the next bend in the road, sacrifice the people in their lives for progress toward their goals, and are unsatisfied with where they are.  But maybe this was truly the case with the patriarchs – they thought in terms of the road rather than the destination.  It was enough for them to simply live the life of faith, unhurried and unencumbered, while enjoying the different “seasons” of the covenant relationship.  Perhaps we, too, should live and think more in such terms.

To learn more about RPTS visit rpts.edu.


August 17, 2015


Fighting Faith

This sponsored post was prepared by Aimee Byrd.

Bruce Lee isn’t exactly someone we would think of as a Christian role model. He was an atheist. But he said something about the martial arts that reminds me so much of the exhortation to persevere in Hebrews 10:23. Behold Bruce Lee’s wisdom:

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” 

Think about that for a second. Who cares if you’ve practiced 10,000 kicks one time? You’re still an amateur. It is far better to master one thing than to be slipshod at 10,000. To master something you must exercise it over, and over, and over again. Muscle memory develops so that the movement becomes instinctive. Your body just knows it. In the realm of martial arts, an opponent who has practiced one kick 10,000 times really is someone to be feared. He or she has reached a level of fitness and stamina to exercise a particular skill with great strength and perfection.

So, what is the connection with Hebrews’ message of perseverance? I believe the preacher to the Hebrews is saying the same thing as Lee. His sermon-letter was written to exhort the intended first audience of Jewish believers to persevere in the Christian faith and not to turn back to their old-covenant sacrificial system and ceremonies. And yet this message was not only written for a congregation over 2,000 years ago. It is God’s Word to us now.

After studying all the sermon says about who God is and what he has done in Christ, I was captivated by a particular command that the preacher lays out to press the reader to persevere:

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Heb. 10:23)

To persevere, we are told to hold fast to the confession of hope that this preacher has already faithfully delivered. 

Christian, what do you believe? This is a very important question, because your answer, and your ability to hold tightly to a proper confession, is directly connected to your perseverance in the Christian life. All Christians need to know what they are persevering for, whether they are suffering through great adversity or just trying to make it through ordinary everyday life. We need to rehearse the truths of our faith like a fighter who practices a kick 10,000 times.

Perseverance involves theological fitness—that persistent fight to exercise faith by actively engaging in the gospel truth revealed in God’s Word. We’re motivated in holy living not just by remembering some Bible verses about God but by trusting in his person, work, and promises. This is what we are exhorted to exercise in Hebrews 10:23. (I break it down further in my book Theological Fitness.)

Faith is a gift from God, but faith is a fighting grace. We may never be as tough as Bruce Lee, but Christians are fighters too. Every day we fight to persevere.

We want a healthy spiritual life just as we want physical health. But we have a problem: the flesh is always working against us in our fight to be healthy, whether we are pursuing physical fitness or making a vigorous effort to know God. John Owen explains that the command in Hebrews to hold fast insinuates an opposing force, a “great danger” even. “To ‘hold fast’ implies the putting forth our utmost strength and endeavors in the defense of our profession, and a constant perseverance in so doing.”1

One thing is for sure—you cannot hold fast to a confession of hope that you know little about. To see how your knowledge of the person and work of Christ helps you to fight to endure, try partaking in a little theological fitness training with me. I hope to both motivate and equip you to practice your kick another 9,999 times. And some more times after that.

Theological Fitness is available at Amazon and Westminster Books.

Aimee’s Bio 

Aimee Byrd is just an ordinary mom of three who has also been a martial arts student, coffee shop owner, and Bible study teacher. Author of Housewife Theologian and Theological Fitness, she now blogs about theology and the Christian life and cohosts The Mortification of Spin podcast.

1John Owen, Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1968), 200.