We Have Not Even Heard That There Is a Holy Spirit

It’s a funny little story that could only have happened during the church’s earliest days. Paul has been on one of his missionary journeys and, while traveling through Asia Minor, stumbles upon a little group of believers. But there’s something unusual about them, something missing. Here’s how Luke describes it: And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did …

Hymn Stories: Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah

If Isaac Watts is known as the father of English hymnody, William Williams (1717-1791) is considered by many to be the father of Welsh hymnody. In 1738 Williams heard a sermon by the revivalist preacher Howell Harris, a fiery Welsh layman who had been influenced by the Methodist movement in England. It was through this sermon that Williams discerned his calling to go into the ministry. Williams first pursued becoming an Anglican priest (in the Church of Wales) and entered …

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Stuff Christians Say

Stuff Christians Say obviously struck a nerve; it has racked up tens of thousands of views on YouTube and hundreds of thousands on GodTube. Two guys hop between various locations while offering a long list of “stuff Christians say,” those words and phrases distinct to Christianity. “God thing,” “secular music,” “my testimony,” “traveling mercies”–they are all here. It’s appropriate satire because it rings true. As Christians we can become oblivious to the fact that we have developed a lexicon all …

The Essential: Adoption

This is the fourteenth installment in a series on theological terms. See previous posts on the terms theology, Trinity, creation, man, Fall, common grace, sin, righteousness, faith, pride, election, revelation, and atonement. “Our first point about adoption is that it is the highest privilege that the gospel offers” (J. I. Packer, Knowing God, 206). J. I. Packer rightly considers adoption the highest privilege of the gospel—higher even than justification—because of the richness of the relationship with God that it begins. …

Five Verses on Adoption

The word “adoption” (Greek huiothesias) occurs only a few times in the New Testament, and each time it refers to God choosing a people for himself. Though there are not a lot of references to this word, there is a good deal we learn from them about the doctrine of adoption. 1) God adopts those whom he loves and has predestined to be his children “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the …

The Essential: Common Grace

This is the sixth installment in a series on theological terms. See previous posts on the terms theology, Trinity, creation, man, and Fall. Why is it that after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden and incurred the just penalty of death, they did not immediately die? What enabled them to go on living to enjoy the many of the benefits of life for years afterward (food, marriage, sex, children, etc.)? And why do so many sinners today enjoy those …

RCT: The Holiness of God (IX)

We have just a few chapters left in our reading of R.C. Sproul’s classic book The Holiness of God. This week we come to chapter 9 which is titled, “God in the Hands of Angry Sinners,” a clear play on the title of Jonathan Edwards’ most famous or notorious sermon. Summary I hope no one will accuse me of laziness if I continue posting lists of my favorite quotes from the chapter. I am trying this this time around because …

The Dim Mirror

Have you ever considered what it must have been like for Adam and Eve to walk and talk with God in the Garden of Eden? Have you thought of the things you might say to God if you were to hear his footsteps today? What Christian hasn’t experienced a pang of jealousy when he reads “they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” And what Christian hasn’t experienced a little …

The Message Behind the Method

This morning I’ve got Whitefield and Wesley on my mind. This morning I was thinking about John Wesley’s infamous and divisive sermon called Free Grace and went looking for what I had written on it in the past. This was the sermon that began a significant rift between Whitefield and the Wesleys, for not only did it set them at theological odds, but it also betrayed Whitefield’s trust in Wesley. Though the men continued to love one other, this sermon …

Ruined for Anything Else

Aileen and I were once members of a church that, after a few years of existence, began to de-emphasize doctrine. Some of the pastors seemed to reach the conclusion that “doctrine divides” and that the church really just needed to focus on evangelism and on “action.” They seemed to determine that a sound theological foundation held in common was unattainable and unrealistic. Therefore, doctrine should be laid aside and the church should rally around the things we had in common—a …