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)

Although some theologians claim to see discrepancies between Calvin’s early thought in The Institutes and his later commentaries and sermons on the matter of resistance, a review of his commentary on Daniel 6:21-23 reveals no radical discontinuity. Admittedly, certain events, such as the 1572 St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre,[1] forced development and clarification within the Calvinistic political tradition, but Calvin’s own view about the legitimacy of reforming bad government need not be considered internally inconsistent.

Moses’ layered scheme, advised by his father in law in Exodus 18 seemed to Calvin and his disciples to be republicanism. Commenting on a similar passage in Deuteronomy 1:14-16, Calvin stated: “Hence it more plainly appears that those who were to preside in judgment were not appointed only by the will of Moses, but elected by the votes of the people. And this is the most desirable kind of liberty, that we should not be compelled to obey every person who may be tyrannically put over our heads; but which allows of election, so that no one should rule except he be approved by us.

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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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When we speak of God as our Father, it is immediately plain that we are expressing a belief that is unique to the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Of course, to the extent that other religious or philosophical systems maintain that the world owes its allegiance to some kind of deity, in a very general or implied sense the deity could be thought of as fatherly because of its presumed involvement in bringing the world into being.  Nevertheless, referring to the deity as a father is not the way such a god is viewed.  And, moreover, when the Bible speaks of God as Father it means some

The Christian school student began his argument with an unassailable assertion: “I feel like I knew the answer.” Funny, though, he marked an incorrect answer. In fact, the question was about a factual statistic recorded in the text we had read; hardly in the gray area of opinion. Yet, according to his opinion, his feelings outweighed his factual ignorance. I should have given him credit for knowing what he in fact did not know. Objective reality be gone—feelings, nothing more than feelings. Sadly, this way of thinking seems to control many who claim Jesus as Savior.

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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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