Posts by Jeffrey Stivason

Posts by

A theological earthquake shook my life over twenty years ago. I can still see the classroom lit by the afternoon sun. It was mostly quiet and peaceful that day with one exception. A classmate was standing in front of me trying for all he was worth to persuade me of definite or limited atonement. If...
Cardinal Bellarmine (1542-1621) was a well-known figure of the Counter-Reformation and was no mean theologian. He was Pope Clement VIII's personal theologian and in 1930 he was canonized and consequently named a Doctor of the Church. Protestants often reflect on the Reformation as the time in which...
The first three chapters of Mark's gospel are a literary tsunami. The kingdom of God embodied in Christ came like a wave. The Spirit descended upon Christ at His baptism and drove Him into the wilderness where he overcame the temptation of Satan. And from that point on the Spirit empowered Christ...
It's Sunday morning. The alarm buzzes. After convincing yourself that getting vertical is a good thing you slide out of bed and prepare for church. Now, let me ask you a question. What are you expecting to hear when you get there? No, sorry, let me rephrase the question. Who are you expecting to...
Matthew 6:19-24 is undoubtedly a difficult text to interpret. Why, you ask? Well, the verses are usually interpreted as if Jesus simply pasted them together. In other words, there is no context for verses 19-21 and the same goes for verses 22-23 and verse 24. They are treated as apothegmatic...
I was sinking fast. It was my third year of church planting and I was having one of those "seminary didn't prepare me for this!" moments. If memory serves me, I was taking what felt like my last gulp of air when I came into contact with Gregory of Nazianzus. For some that will be a familiar name...
We all know Martin Luther. Correction - We all know something about Luther. Perhaps we know the story about the ninety-five thesis, or his great "here I stand" speech, or the perhaps apocryphal knife incident at the colloquy of Marburg. But there are some lesser known things about Luther's life...
I am preaching through Matthew's gospel these days and glad to have the Alliance Column from David Hall, First Truths from the First Gospel for the journey. I am currently in the Sermon on the Mount. Now, this isn't the first time I've laid eyes on this well-known and well-loved text and it...
Hebrews 1:3b-6 reads, "When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten...
Take a minute to grab your Bible and read Matthew 5:17-20. As you can see, these verses have to do with the law. And you remember what John Newton said about the law don't you? He wrote, "Ignorance of the nature and design of the law is at the bottom of most of our religious mistakes." Wise words...
Have you ever wondered about the topical and logical order of the Westminster Confession of Faith? Not all of it; just the ordo salutis. After chapter nine lays out man's fourfold state chapter ten begins with what we might think of as a typical ordering of those blessings which accompany a Spirit...
Brace yourself. I'm about to make quite a claim. Are you ready? What would you say if I told you that the doctrine of immutability, which Francis Turretin says is a proof for the doctrine of simplicity, helps us to understand the nature of God, which it most certainly does, but at least one New...
We love lessons. As parents we wait for and even seek out teaching moments. But even more specifically, we love distilled instruction. We want the ideas boiled down. Give us three easy points and we are happy. You want proof for this mindset? Check out the endless series of books for Dummies and...
Several years ago I was doing some street evangelism. Cruising around the park and hanging out in the empty lots in the small city where the church was situated was a weekend ritual for the young. So, for several years I made it a practice of engaging these weekend warriors in conversations about...
In Isaiah 41:5-13 God was teaching Israel about their spiritual security by contrasting it with the insecurity of the idolater. Let me put it another way, idolaters are like orphans. They are fatherless and helpless. But the people of God having been adopted into the family of God enjoy a loving...
In his first epistle, Peter has been talking about believers living in a world hostile to the faith. In chapter 3 of verse 13, we read this question, "Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?" You can imagine the looks that must have floated around the room when this was read...
Luther once said, "Whoever knows well this art of distinguishing between the Law and the gospel, him place at the head and call him a doctor of Holy Scripture." John Newton wrote something similar, "The correct understanding of the harmony between law and grace is to preserve oneself from being...
When Adam stood in the Garden of Eden before the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he was confronted with the absolute authority of God. The command from God could not have been more clear, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you...