Posts by David Garner

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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,...
On January 31, 2017, P...
On January 31, 2017, P...
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 .” It is...
Exuberant over an experience, an oh-so-sweet manifestation of divine providence, you delightedly seek to give God praise in telling your story. “It was such a ‘God thing’,” you proclaim. As you see it, God wove together an otherwise inexplicable combination of events to deliver a wonderful—even...
E very society has a rulebook, but living in one’s birth culture creates a blind embrace of its practices, norms, and expectations. We believe certain things about speech, social cues, and even driving habits with little awareness of what we prize or why we prize it. Behavior witnessed out­side the...
When we 50-somethings were children, American optimism taught us that we could be astronauts, professional athletes, astrophysicists, or neurosurgeons. Our choice. Imagination alone limited potential and opportunity, and dreaming big guaranteed living large. But our societal professors lied to us...
Writing now from the Sea of Galilee only a short distance from where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, I am reminded how earthy the gospel is. Just as Jesus walked the real turf of Nazareth, he healed really sick people and raised really dead ones. He addressed people of real faith and people...
Several months ago, I wrote an article entitled “ Jesus is Head of the Churches ,” in which I sought to describe the practical implications of Christ’s headship in our churches. Over the course of this last year, worship in various places and conversations with pastors and congregants have...
Blessed with the gift of saving faith, the believer is now able to hear what he could not hear before, to believe sincerely what he rejected outrightly. The sheep hear the voice of the One they now know as “my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). Because of the radical change, such active listening streams...
As orthodoxy [1] itself has come under contemporary fire, religious and cultural forces persuade many to extend the theological fence posts. The logic? Exclusivity of the Christian faith is the cause of intolerance; intolerance is not tolerable, so therefore, change the orthodox faith. Orthodoxy is...
When my children need braces, I do not dole out $5000 to a hetero dontist to wire their teeth randomly and recklessly. With a view to my children’s good, headgear and retainer wars are fought to ensure straight teeth, not crooked ones. If you break your arm and need your bone set, you do not Google...
Small children play at a park. A boy’s voice breaks into the festivity with a wildly unpopular declaration, “We can only play soccer on the field, not around the playground equipment!” The game stops by the swing set. Outraged to the bone, every child on the playground knows the drill...
Saving Faith, as we considered in part 1 , is a gift of God. It comes from him. Though we exercise that faith, the privilege and power of its exercise draw solely from the font of his grace. Having received the gift from God, we exercise that gift for him and unto him. Faith employs our minds...
Evangelicals uniformly acknowledge the necessity of faith. But what actually is this faith we affirm? Or to put it more personally, what changes in the one who lacks saving faith and subsequently possesses it? What should we say, or even believe, about believing? Saving faith gets center stage in...
This article is part two of a two-part series. Read part one here . Marriage, History and Theology With magisterial grace, the Bible weds Christian theology to the male/female distinctions in God’s creation of marriage. Space permits only a brief consideration of this mysterious and intricate knot...
Living Theology As creatures made in God’s image ( imago Dei ), we finitely reflect the Triune God. We are not God, but his image bearers. We are not part of him, but made by him and for him. Absolutely distinct from him, we are in essential ways, like him. Different from yet derivative of him, we...
God has a Grand Plan Larger than life itself, Paul’s God is a big God. The God of the prophets and apostles, in fact, created life. Creator and Redeemer, he becomes the awesome Benefactor of new life. Words fall short of the splendor. To say God is great is to call Niagara Falls a quaint and serene...
Head of the Church Jesus is Head of the Church. He is Head of his Church. This we believe. This we confess. And yet how quickly this we dismiss! Honestly, how significantly does Jesus’ lordship over the Church shape our thinking, our lives, and our priorities? How seriously do we take his throne,...
The following interview is from Tabletalk Magazine and was published online at Ligonier.org. It is reproduced here with permission. Tabletalk: How did God call you to become a seminary professor, and how does that calling serve the local church? David Garner : Some have enjoyed a deep sense of call...
Worth Reading Very little writing warrants reading more than once. Less still deserves numerous readings. An exclusive group of writings rises to the level of “must read once a year” for me. One of them is Geerhardus Vos’ inaugural lecture to his new post as Professor of Biblical Theology at...
Glorious Symphony The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) paints Scripture’s beauty with its own eloquent verbal strokes: “the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole” (WCF 1.5). In this 33-chapter...
The Covenant Many in evangelical and even reformed churches lack appreciation for the biblical concept of covenant, finding it obscure and even arcane. The irony is stark. What many perceive as academic smoke is actually just the opposite. Covenant puts boots on theology. It grounds biblical...
This article is the fourth and final piece in a four-part series entitled "Truth and Idolatry." Read part 1, " I Am Not an Idol Worshiper ," part 2, " Call the Gospel What It Is ," and part 3, " Call Theological Error What It Is ." Integrity At the memorial service of a dear friend of mine nearly...
This article is part three of an on-going series, "Truth and Idolatry." Read part 1, " I am Not an Idol Worshiper " and part 2, " Call the Gospel What It Is ." Golden statues, empty rituals, and corrupting bondage. Many conceptions flood our minds when we hear the word “idolatry.” We envision...
This is the second article in a series entitled, "Truth and Idolatry." Read part 1, " I Am Not an Idol Worshiper ." Idolatry by Degree? Idolatry lacks nuance. It knows no degrees, and before a jealous God, delivers no passable excuses, no matter how sophisticated they may sound. No one is sort-of...
Idolatry Reconsidered As believers in the one true God, we know that idolatry is wrong. We know God hates it. We know first two of the Ten Commandments explicitly demand exclusive worship of the one true God. We even know that idolatry is not merely worshiping a false god, but even worshiping the...
The Mandate to Godliness Writing the Pastoral Epistles, the Apostle Paul makes “godliness” (Greek, eusebeia ) primary. Some have perceived here a theologically incompatible, and hardly “pastoral,” fixation. It might sound strange to hear the apostle of grace making such a big deal about our...
Promises, Promises Promises. We’ve received them, and we have made them. We have trusted others and been entrusted by others. We have suffered let downs; and we have let others down—probably more frequently than we would care to admit. With vacuous words, we speak either to ourselves or openly to...
“Hark! the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King; peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!’ Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies; With th’ angelic host proclaim, ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem!" 1 With Christmas season upon us again, familiar angelic...
The Mandate of Thanksgiving The Apostle Paul exhorts the church: “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Ripped out of its theological context, such an appeal would clang like a hammer upon a steely heart. But Paul’s...
We come now to our final section in this six-part series, [1] in which we have asked the question, How Can I Know For Sure? [2] We conclude with a reminder of our opening questions. Rejecting the closed circle of human reason, we have exposed an entirely different Source for understanding ultimate...
The questions of life plague our souls, shake us mercilessly, and even cast us into a tailspin of desperation. Into this chaos, we have considered a universally pressing question, drawing upon a booklet entitled, How Can We Know For Sure? 1 The answer, as we have contended in the prior articles, 2...
How Can I Know for Sure? [1] remains our ongoing focus in this series of articles. Both confidence and contentment have eluded many of us. Feet firmly planted in mid-air, we drift from one thought to another and one opinion to another, persuaded by the rhetoric of the speaker’s voice that has most...
The search is on. Can we find confidence in anyone or anything at all? Or are we left to our own devices and just dumb luck? Is life a meaningless series of serendipitous events, weaving moments of happiness into an ethereal fabric of emptiness? Having begun to probe with a series of questions , [1...
In our prior article , we raised a number of pressing questions that could lead us to conclude that the only certainty is uncertainty! Yet in the midst of relentless questions, gnawing ambiguities, and the cacophony of voices offering inconclusive and unsatisfactory answers, we turn elsewhere. We...
For many, certainty has gone the way of fairy tales. Like Robin Hood and Cinderella, certainty once intrigued us; it drew us into its wonder. It compelled, enraptured, and even produced a deep sense of peace. But now we know better. We know that we cannot really know. We have put away such childish...
“ For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. ” 2 Corinthians 1:20 Loving the Word of God As faithful Christians, we prize our Bibles. And so we should. The almighty God of heaven and earth has spoken, and he has...
In the previous articles on the Insider Movements (IM), we have surfaced four IM commitments which counter the teaching of Scripture. 1. IM calls believers to stay in. God’s Word calls believers to come out. [1] 2. IM makes the old trump the new . God’s Word makes the new trump the old. [2] 3. IM...
This article is the fourth in a series on the Insider Movement. The first article is titled “ Stay in or Come Out? ” the second part is “ Old Trumps New or New Trumps Old ,” and the third is called " Who am I and Who Says? " Jesus or the Apostles? Understanding the relationship between the Kingdom...
This article is the third in a series on the Insider Movement. The first article is titled “Stay in or Come Out?” and second part is “Old Trumps New or New Trumps Old.” Who Says? Since the events recorded in the third chapter of the Bible, a subtle and dangerous impetus frequently rebounds in the...
In our prior article responding to the Insider Movement (IM), entitled, “ Stay in or Come Out ,” we examined a prevailing contrast between IM and Scripture: IM calls believers to stay in. God’s Word calls believers to come out. In this second of five articles, we raise another prevailing...
Because of its shared faith and shared confession in the risen Christ, the worldwide confessing Church must maintain mutual accountability in the advance of the gospel. To safeguard faithful missions in the global Church is an act of faith and obedience to the Church’s Christ. To neglect a...
Come Back! The recipients of the letter to the Hebrews faced uncompromising pressure to compromise. Ridiculed for abandoning their own religious heritage and for extracting themselves from their very own people, these early followers of Christ anguished under tremendous pressures to return to their...
The Heart of the Insider Movement Paradigm Extreme practices of the Insider Movement Paradigm (IMP), like those missionaries who publicly convert to Islam in order to “reach” those in the mosque, [1] are rejected even by most IM advocates. But the concerns before the Church of Jesus Christ around...
Introduction Missions is not what it used to be, because the study of missions and missions theories, called missiology, has taken a life of its own. In recent years, the attention of the international Church has been turned to controversial approaches in missions birthed in the missiological think...
This article is the fifth and final part of a series. The first part is called " Salvation is by Works Alone ," the second is titled " God Works Grace ," the third is " God's Work in Jesus ," and the fourth is " Sympathy Made Perfect ." Theology regularly gets a bad rap. “Don’t give me doctrine. I...
This article is the fourth part of an on-going series. The first part is called " Salvation is by Works Alone ," the second is titled " God Works Grace ," the third is " God's Work in Jesus ," and the fifth is " Only Jesus' Grace Works ." In our last column, we surveyed the importance of Jesus’...
This article is the third part of an on-going series. The first part is called " Salvation is by Works Alone ," the second is titled " God Works Grace ," the fourth is " Sympathy Made Perfect ," and the fifth is " Only Jesus' Grace Works ." “I have come to do your will, O God,” Jesus says to his...
This article is the second part of an on-going series. The first part is called " Salvation is by Works Alone ," the third is titled " God's Work in Jesus ," the fourth is " Sympathy Made Perfect ," and the fifth is " Only Jesus' Grace Works ." Grace is no arbitrary decision or arbitrary act. Grace...

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