There We Stood

My college roommate and I were torn. Purdue football was in a season of rebirth in 1997 under new head-coach Joe Tiller; the team had opened the season 6-2. We had just returned from a blast of a road trip with friends to Iowa City’s Kinnnick Stadium the prior week – a blast even if the Hawkeyes had snapped our six-game winning streak. Next, Nick Saban’s Michigan State Spartans were coming to West Lafayette, Indiana on November 8.

Simultaneously, Dr. Roy Blackwood arranged for Dr. James Montgomery Boice to speak in Indianapolis on November 7-8. Dr. Blackwood had long prayed and labored to bring reformed theology to Indiana – a state that was most influenced by the Restoration Movement, frontier Methodism, Cumberland Presbyterianism, and dispensationalism. Very little that could be considered reformed existed by the mid-twentieth century in Indianapolis. Dr. Blackwood had successfully recruited others in the 1980s like Dr. John Gerstner to come and speak, but interest was not widespread in the city. As in many places in the late twentieth century, interest reformed theology began to gain attention in the area through church planting and the influence of ministries like Ligonier. Blackwood taught some seminary-level classes himself over the […]


Guest Post. J.K. Wall on Christ’s Kingdom and Work

J.K. Wall is a business journalist in Indianapolis, where he is a member of the Christ Church Reformed Presbyterian congregation. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history, writing his master’s thesis on the early sermons of Augustine of Hippo. His book Messiah the Prince Revisited, a modern update on Scottish theologian William Symington’s book, was published in September by Crown & Covenant Publications.   J.K. applies Symington’s book to the issue of work in this post entitled “Christ is Using You, Right Now, to Build His Kingdom.”

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I’m a follow-the-money reporter at a city business journal, which is owned by non-Christian businessmen and run by editors with a slightly left-of-center bent.

And yet, I know my work is helping to build the kingdom of Jesus Christ and change the world every day.

In fact, I know your work is too.

How am I so certain? Because the Bible tells us that Christ, as our Redeemer, is using all people and their work to accomplish His work: the building of His church and, through it, the transforming of the world.

This is the special insight articulated by William Symington in Messiah the Prince. I have written a new version of Symington’s 19th Century classic in […]


John Calvin on the Why and How of Fasting

Last Sunday night we studied Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount regarding fasting. One of the things that stands out is that fasting is nowhere commanded in Scripture, but rather is simply expected of those who follow the Lord. In preparation for the lesson, I found these paragraphs from Calvin’s Institutes to be of great help, especially in answering the questions: “Why should I fast?” and “What good does it do?”


Christian Apologetics: A Preeminently Spirit Empowered Task

In part III of Religious Affections, section V, Jonathan Edwards writes with penetrating insight,

“Unless men may come to a reasonable, solid persuasion and conviction of the truth of the gospel, by the internal evidences of it, in the way that has been spoken, viz., by a sight of its glory; it is impossible that those who are illiterate, and unacquainted with history, should have any thorough and effectual conviction of it at all. They may without this, see a great deal of probability of it; it may be reasonable for them to give much credit to what learned men and historians tell them; and they may tell them so much, that it may look very probable and rational to them, that the Christian religion is true; and so much that they would be very unreasonable not to entertain this opinion. But to have a conviction, so clear, and evident, and assuring, as to be sufficient to induce them, with boldness to sell all, confidently and fearlessly to run the venture of the loss of all things, and of enduring the most exquisite and long continued torments, and to trample the world under foot, and count all things but […]


Is There Any Point In Trying?

God tells us that we are to discipline ourselves for godliness. We are to train ourselves to be godly. But how many of us actually take Him seriously? I mean, be honest, do you really try everyday to make serious progress in righteousness? What about ‘mortifying sin’? It’s good to hear a rousing sermon about it occasionally but as to a daily engagement, does it exist in your life? You are reading this blog, so possibly you might be one of those people who actually do it. Most of the rest of us however tend to have a ‘mend and make do’ attitude towards labouring unto godliness.

Why is that the case? I mean we have been bought out of an eternal existence, if you could call it an existence, of absolute poverty and agonising pain. How? Well it certainly wasn’t with the perishable commodities of silver and gold. Astonishingly it was through the sacrifice of death by God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. It was because He bore our sins in His body on the tree that we who were dead are now alive. We who were strangers and aliens, without hope and without God, have been adopted and are now the beloved children of […]


Preaching Earnestly

In his classic work An Earnest Ministry: The Want of the Times, John Angell James has much to offer the preacher in taking a sense of urgency or “intense devotion” into the pulpit.  As to the importance of this subject, James says:

The public will hear an earnest minister, and will not hear any other…if the people demand an earnest exhibition of gospel truth, and their minister, instead of this, will give them nothing but dull, dry, abstract sermons, it is they who are right, and he is wrong. They, better than he does, know not only what they want—but what he was appointed by God to furnish them!

Here are ten of his valuable pieces of counsel regarding preaching earnestly.

1)  Keep this golden rule of preaching before you.

No ministry will be really effective, whatever may be its education, which is not a ministry of strong faith, true spirituality, and deep earnestness. I wish this golden sentence could be inscribed in characters of light over every professor’s chair, over every student’s desk, and over every preacher’s pulpit.

2) Go to the prayer closet before you go to the pulpit.

We are weak in the pulpit, because we are weak in the closet. An earnest man will not only […]


The First Word of God to His Church

Have you ever noticed that almost every letter in the New Testament–James, Hebrews, and 3 John excepted–opens with the words “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” or a close approximate? Its’ easy, isn’t it, to just pass by those words. After all, sometimes we view them as being a mere formality, equivalent to our own modern, “I hope you are well.” Who cares about mere pleasantries when the body of the letter is what contains the “good stuff.”

Well, it’s true that the Apostles borrowed from the common practice of their own day when they wrote letters. After all, letter writing isn’t a unique Christian endeavor. But it’s far from the truth to think of these greeting only as a matter of custom. Rather, as a part of God’s Word, they’re transformed and given significance. Here’s two ways to think about these greetings—“grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

First, we need to remember that this is an inspired greeting. Though the Apostles wrote the letters, they did so as those who were inspired. Their letters, to be sure, bear their trademarks—their personality and characteristics. The letters […]


Crisis Management

The current Ebola epidemic has dwarfed all previous outbreaks of this potent and deadly virus. Since it was first discovered in 1976 variants of the Ebola virus have infected 2,387 people in 24 distinct outbreaks of the disease. Of those infected, the disease has killed 1,590 (67%). That was until the current outbreak in West Africa, which is thought to have infected almost 10,000 people and to have killed over 4,500 to date. At its current rate of increase, The World Health Organization (WHO) is estimating that there will be over 20,000 cases by the end of next week.

In addition to killing more people than all the previous Ebola outbreaks combined, the current outbreak is the first in which a victim died in the United States. It is also the first time that a person has been infected with the virus while on U.S. soil. Perhaps this variant of the virus is really no different from strains in previous outbreaks. To the casual observer it appears that the current viral strain is much more effective at getting around. The epidemiology of this outbreak seems to point in that direction. Interestingly, health officials in our country have been adamant that they […]


Not Just a Soup Kitchen

Does your local church faithfully minister in the area of mercy? Many of us likely cringe a bit at that question. Perhaps the reason we do not like our own answer to that question is due to ignorance, confusion, fear, lack of leadership, or simply hard-heartedness. So, what is the way forward? When Jesus taught on the ministry of compassion, he often did so through stories – the parable of the Good Samaritan is foremost among them. Those stories then give way to instruction in the ministry of mercy.

Dr. David Apple’s new book Not Just a Soup Kitchen: How Mercy Ministry in the Local Church Transforms Us All follows the same pattern. Apple has been director of Active Compassion Through Service at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia for over twenty-five years.

The book opens with Apple’s own biography of having twice been the wounded man on the side of the road like the man on the Jericho Road. He also experienced a hundred other hurts. He writes “This book is partially the story of how God transformed my life after surviving a near-death skull-fracture, childhood sexual abuse, teenage hopelessness, marital betrayal, spiritual bankruptcy and thoughts of suicide as an adult.” The […]


Dr. James Anderson – Audio and Articles

Dr. James Anderson, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, has made some of his works available for free. He is an exquisite blend of Van Tillian thought and analytical philosophy, and I for one have immensely enjoyed not only his lectures, but his written articles. In this vein, allow me to point out a few for your consideration:

Audio

• Why Universities Can’t Do Without God – A look at why the atheistic worldview cannot account for moral norms and rational thought.

• Can I Trust the Bible over Evolutionary Science – A popular level discussion of faith and science.

• Calvinism and the Origin of Sin – A theologically robust and faithful handling of an admittedly tricky subject.

Articles

• If Knowledge Then God: The Epistemological Theistic Arguments of Plantinga and Van Til – A superb paper summarizing the arguments of each these two apologetic giants.

• The Lord of Non-Contradiction: An Argument for God From Logic (Greg Welty and James Anderson) – A philosophically heavy article, so be warned.