19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream…

Joseph will not get much press this Christmas. He’ll be around of course, often as no more than a prop to make the Holy Family appear like a normal family. But Joseph is just there. We ask why.

God created the first Adam in His own image, and appointed him to rule over the works of His hands. He also gave him a commandment. Gen. 2:16, 17: “Of all the trees of the garden you may freely eat. But from the one tree—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—you may not eat. For in the day you eat from it you will surely die.” Had Adam and Eve obeyed God’s commandment, they would have continued to enjoy the favor and blessing of their Creator-God. But that was not to be. Satan tempted them to disobey God’s command.

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Ephrem was still a young man when his quick understanding, knowledge of Scriptures, literary skills, and love for the church captured the attention of the local bishop. Jacob had been bishop of the Christian community of Nisibis (a commercial center on the Persian border) since 309, when Ephrem was only three. Over the years, he had invested time and efforts to prepare the promising young man for service in the church. Finally, he appointed Ephrem as deacon, as well as teacher and interpreter of Scriptures.

Tempers ran high at the Synod of Dordt. By January 1619, Francis Gomarus, Reformed minister and veteran professor at the University of Leiden, had come to take some Remostrants’ opinions on the extent of Christ’s atoning sacrifice as a personal offense.

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This article is the third part of an article called "On the Hermeneutics of Subscription." Read part 1 and part 2

Scotland and Ireland Prior to the Adopting Act

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I’m very thankful for the opportunity to contribute a column at Place for Truth, and I pray the Lord will use my contributions for the furthering of His kingdom.

Given the Alliance’s clear emphasis on the subject (coupled with evangelicalism’s increasing murkiness), I can think of no better theme for my first post than this: “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Two texts are particularly helpful for understanding what Paul means by this.

      Among the early English Puritans, none has greater pastoral insight and enduring readability than Richard Sibbes. This blog hopes to honor his classic work, The Bruised Reed. First published in 1630, it opens with Matthew 12:18-21, which cites Isaiah 42.

Behold, my servant whom I have chosen... a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” 

     In 2017-8, the long-simmering, long-suppressed scandal of sexual harassment of women in the workplace broke containment. It began when a handful of strong, brave entertainers credibly accused entertainment's worst offenders of sexual harassment. Men had objectified, harassed, demeaned, and groped them. Bosses had pressed for sexual favors, even forced them, and threatened reprisals if a woman refused to comply or spoke up after the fact. They decided they weren't going to take it anymore. Once a few stood up, dozens, then hundreds of others came forward.

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Christians are frequently reminded to “remember the reason for Christmas,” meaning, of course, that we should turn our attention away from the cultural trappings and to the fact that Jesus was born to Mary in Bethlehem.  But this Christmas, perhaps we should fix our attention a little more closely, not just on the details of Jesus’ birth, but on the miracle of the incarnation.  In so doing, we join a great cloud of Christian witnesses, who have reflected deeply on this glorious mystery.

This week on Theology on the Go, Dr. Jonathan Master is joined by Dr. Liam Goligher, pastor of the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in downtown Philadelphia, PA. As pastor of Tenth Presbyterian, Dr. Goligher has done much thinking and teaching on the topic of missions, and how Christians are to reach the lost. This installment of Theology on the Go gives a glimpse of some of that teaching as Dr. Goligher chats with Jonathan about the doctrine of missions.

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The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. (WCF 1:6a)

Calvin’s and Beza’s thought was so fertile as to spawn many followers. Summaries of Ponet, Daneau, Hotman, and many others are worth consulting at any Inauguration. Another disciple who particularly refined this theory was the Marian exile, Christopher Goodman, whose ideas will be explored briefly below. 

The popular Federalist Papers in many ways reflect the continuation of Calvin’s view of man and the state.[1] Alexander Hamilton began The Federalist Papers by asserting that the people of this country have reserved to themselves the important question of whether “societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government” (Federalist #1).[2] While he admitted that the people must cede to that government certain prerogatives (#2), Ham

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The very first John Piper book I read was Future Grace. Its title is taken from Peter’s exhortation, ‘Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed’ (1Pe 1.13). It provides the important reminder that no matter how great our experience of grace may be in this present age, it will take on a whole new dimension in the age to come.

It is one of those ‘stop-you-in-your-tracks’ type statements that crops up in the Bible from time to time. ‘Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God’ (He 12.2). It is, of course, speaking of Christ and his sufferings on Calvary, but it is the strange inclusion of ‘joy’ in this statement that seems out of place.

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The first Psalm sets the stage for the entire Psalter. Its attention on the covenant God and covenant blessing and cursing, as well as its preoccupation with God’s Word as the source for our understanding, focus the entire Psalter. In fact, as scholars like O. Palmer Robertson have contended, Psalms 1 and 2 serve as the “pillar or gates” to the whole edifice of the Psalter.[1] They are the great building blocks that support the whole.

A Stew Pot

One of the more frequently visited proverbs of my childhood came to me from my mother. “A stew pot never boils,” she would say. I felt what it meant long before I actually understood it. Explanation of the phrase came in its fuller version: “A stew pot never boils when watched.”

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Within Reformed theology there is an emphasis on the “already, but not yet” aspect of the Christian faith and life. It’s an emphasis, though, that is not merely within Reformed theology but more importantly Scripture. Our Triune Lord has already accomplished all his promises (Gen. 17:5; Ex. 2:23-25; 1Kings 8:56; 2Cor. 1:20; Eph. 1:3-14; Rom. 6:1-15). God chose his people in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy (Eph. 1:4). We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God has prepared beforehand for us to walk or live in (Eph. 2:10).

When we consider the Biblical doctrine of sanctification, it is important to recognize how the doctrine is often portrayed in Scripture. It is organized first around who we are and then second around how we should live. The Bible first establishes who the believer is in Christ and makes statements as to the objective reality. Second, the Bible uses that objective reality to motivate us and bring commands for how we should live. Theologians have called this pairing the “indicative and the imperative”.

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