Posts by David Smith

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Worship practices get changed so that the worshipers feel what they believe they ought to feel. We endorse the preachers and worship that give us the feelings we want. We determine our actions based on whether those actions give us the feelings we want and achieve goals we want achieved. Even those...
The parable of the unmerciful servant recorded in Matthew 18:23-34 clarifies that the one who professes to be a Christian must forgive his fellow Christian (his or her “brother”) on the basis of God’s forgiveness of the Christian’s sin. This is not complicated, although it is a miracle that it can...
What is faithful preaching of God’s word? How does one know whether one has heard, or is hearing on a regular basis faithful preaching of God’s word? The central importance of these questions and their answers hits us when we recognize that the Second Person of the Trinity is identified by the...
To interpret is to identify the meaning or significance that the thing has which we interpret. Humans interpret. We do not choose to interpret; interpretation is unavoidable. But we do choose how we interpret and thereby what our interpretation will be. Furthermore, interpreting is a perpetual...
I look forward to reading Sinclair Ferguson’s Pastors and Teachers. I have long admired Dr. Ferguson’s brevity, clarity, and depth in writing and preaching. After hearing the podcast I am especially anticipating drinking from the fountain of his insights forged over many years of faithful devotion...
Ironically, what seems to have been the case perhaps more often than not is that what has passed for the “outrageous idea of Christian scholarship” or the “Evangelical mind” is academic writing that either warrants trying to hide Christian commitments, or capitulates in various ways and to varying...
The terms old and new are like the terms high and low, tall and short and big and little; they are relative terms; we know what they mean as they are used in relation to a fixed measurable standard. I am short in relation to some people, tall in relation to others. When the term old man or old self...
Genesis 1-2 reveals that God created in an orderly way and a cosmic order with everything having a function based on what he created it to be. In other words, when we use the phrase “the design of creation” we ought to understand the word “creation” as both a noun and a verb. Creation refers not...
The topics of apologetics and natural theology are, to say the least, complex and controversial. Yet as Christians we have to deal with them. So let us try informed by God’s word and the history of the Church.
Genesis 1-2 reveals that God created in an orderly way and a cosmic order with everything having a function based on what he created it to be. In other words, when we use the phrase “the design of creation” we ought to understand the word “creation” as both a noun and a verb. Creation refers not...
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...
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...
The Old and New Testament (Covenant) Scriptures command their reader to treat them as two distinct wholes inseparably and organically united. Yes, what is truly in the OT, yet somewhat concealed, is more fully revealed in the NT. Yes, the NT interprets the OT. But in affirming these truths we have...
Words hardly do justice to the experience of preaching and teaching God’s word. Irony is the blanket from which the preacher cannot free himself. After all, the hope of glory is Christ in you (Col. 1:27), but those in whom Christ resides are, by themselves, corrupt, polluted, wayward, deaf and...
Every Sunday I have the astoundingly gracious and mercifully miraculous privilege to preach God’s written word to some of God’s precious covenant people. But why does God require that his word is not merely read but preached? Put another way, wherein lies the difference between preaching and...
Warfield denies that the doctrine can be proven or grasped by human reason alone; there are no analogies for it, because “in his Trinitarian mode of being” God is utterly unique (135). Yet, the history of theology is marked by failed attempts to prove it. These provide a negative support to the...
Unspoken assumptions make the argument. Debates become fruitful when unspoken assumptions get clarified. Many of us are accustomed to calling these assumptions presuppositions—controlling beliefs that determine how we think. In a culture that has largely accepted the belief that the only thing that...
The first day of creation consisted in God creating day and night. God created light and distinguished it from darkness. God created history and filled it with the objects he created, sustains and perfects. What we call “history” is dependent on God, both for its existence, purpose and outcome...
The term discipline is an elastic term. We can speak of the discipline of a particular subject, activity or skill, such as the discipline of music, or running, or brick laying. Still further we can speak of discipline in terms of consequences brought for bad behavior, and for the purpose of trying...
The history of Christian theology could be told from the perspective of how the church’s theological giants have been misunderstood and misrepresented. One theological giant who fits in such a storyline is the Old Princeton scholar B. B. Warfield (1851-1921). Perhaps the central point at which he...
God’s covenant blessing of salvation has come through his line of covenant descendants. Thus, the covenant people of God are not only identified as God’s family, but also every human family is a miniature model of God’s spiritual family, the Church. We see this point reflected in Paul’s emphasis on...
Sola Scriptura affirms that Scripture alone is the supreme and final authority for human thinking and living. Since God created by his Word and Spirit, all the various kinds of authority within creation are subordinate to or dependent upon God’s word. God does not depend on that which he created to...
Reading has always been at the core of human scholarly pursuits. Indeed, the ancient and long-standing view of a scholar has been one who has the ability to read (not necessarily speak) in multiple languages and synthesize this reading accurately. On more than one occasion Jesus criticized the...
Why do some pastors so strongly emphasize the “means of grace” or God’s “ordinances”—God’s word, the sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper) and prayer? It boils down to this: humans are dead in their sin, wholly corrupted in their soul, and the only source of life—God—has given to his church...
When considering the matter of our application of Scripture, or what we can call our doctrine or theology, we really do need to think about it. Think about this—God only gave us ten commands for all life and then reduced them to two, both about what we love. Every situation you have ever found...
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God is life. There is no life apart from God. For life to be, God must give it and sustain it. There is no such thing as life that God does not give or sustain. Among the many things this means, perhaps one of the most monumental is this:...
When I was a child there were times when my mother, exasperated by my behavior, would ask: “Who do you think you are!?” My unruly and arrogant conduct revealed that I was not thinking rightly about myself. Understanding salvation from sin is like this. Rightly understanding salvation means rightly...
Faithful preachers and teachers in the Church have always looked for effective ways to communicate their points. The acronym TULIP, of course, is a device meant to communicate the core of the doctrine of human salvation. Like all pedagogical devices, it is not meant to explain everything that could...
Since God created humans in his image to love and serve him, he has the power and authority to command us how to live and enable us to obey. God’s word written and his commands in particular do not merely touch one aspect of our being. It is impossible for God’s word and commands not to be...
God’s redeemed covenant people have a long and sad history of failing to communicate in word and deed God’s saving truth despite being the merciful recipients of it. Among other things, it reveals that the sins that we so easily identify and criticize in others are actually in our lives; they...
To regard human feelings, choices and opinions as ultimate reality, or the only thing that really matters can rightly be called “subjectivism;” the knowing the subject is the ultimate determiner of how things are to be interpreted. In this way of thinking and living it is not the object being...
Perhaps the most disturbing sign of the impoverished condition of many professing Christians, Christian congregations and denominations is their inability to recognize and self-consciously live in the practicality of the doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity is the distinguishing...
In the history of the Church her doctrines have been understood and organized through seven distinct yet interrelated topics or categories: Scripture, God, Man, Christ, Salvation, Church and Last Things. These distinct yet inseparably related doctrines reveal that the doctrine of the Trinity is the...
There are several things necessary for an orchestra performance that by themselves would not be sufficient for the performance. Instruments, the music, the sheets upon which the music was written and many other things would all be necessary for the performance. Still, by themselves, such things are...
The term orthodox is a compound word that many want to affirm means right or straight belief, but is perhaps more accurately identified as right or straight praise. The dox part of orthodox comes from the Greek term doxa that means praise or glory. Our term doxology helps make the point. It is a...
Everyone, whether Christian or not, has a doctrine of inerrancy. Everyone believes some things to be true, others false and they base their life on what they believe is true, right and good. No one actually functions believing that they are void of all truth. This can be known from observation of...
Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield (1851-1921) was professor of Didactic and Polemic theology at Princeton seminary from 1887-1921. Warfield still stands at the center of most of the significant theological controversies marking our day. Yet, despite his voluminous and accessible writings, Warfield is...
One of the most important interpretive questions with which we have to wrestle as we seek to understand the Bible is: How are the Old and New Testament (OT...
All philosophical and theological or doctrinal work revolves around definitions of terms and the concepts expressed by the use of those terms. Everyone, Christian or not, engages in theology, and has doctrine. This is because all humans are created in God's image, make knowledge claims and live...
We are given various historical examples and descriptions of sin in Scripture. One way to describe sin is that it is our rejection of, and rebellion against, having the true and living Triune God as our God. But this does not stop God from being God and ruling over us. The first man, Adam, learned...