Posts by Jonathan Master

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I get to talk with pastors all the time. It's one of the joys and privileges of the work God has given me to do. I've also served as a pastor for ten years - less than many of my brothers, but long enough to experience some of the ups and downs of ministry.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of addressing a chapel full of students on the subject of their spiritual lives. The title which I was assigned was taken from an address given over 100 years ago by B.B. Warfield, "The Religious Life of Theological Students."
Christians have always been persecuted. Peter reminded his readers of this in the earliest days of the church: "knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by the brotherhood throughout the world" (1 Peter 5:9b). But it does seem as if the suffering of Christians - whether at the...
There are many model prayers in the Bible. The most famous is The Lord's Prayer, recorded for us in Matthew and Luke; but there are others besides. Recently, Mark Johnston has turned our attention to the prayer of Daniel, or, more specifically, to the prayer life of Daniel. Both Daniel's specific...
We live in a time of loneliness. It is not because we are isolated. Most people live within a short drive of a city, and those who don't can easily connect with others over the phone or the internet. And yet there is a sense that our technological connection has made use less connected in other...
Have you ever looked back at your life or your ministry? How does it appear to you - as a success, or as a failure? In the last chapter of Micah, we see Micah reflect on the entirety of his ministry in Judah. Micah overlapped with three kings, one of whom was lukewarm; one of whom was very wicked;...
One of the clearest insights of the Reformers was on the concept of vocation. Luther said that individual Christians had obligations to walk by faith in their Christian life, but they also had important obligations in whatever employment they had. It was as important to be an honest banker, for...
From the beginning, Israel was faced with the prospect of false prophets trying to pass themselves off as prophets of God. Anyone coming in the name of another god was to be disregarded; those coming in the name of the LORD were to be tested. Prophets were only to be obeyed if they truly spoke with...
The Bible is full of irony. One of the most obvious examples is found in the book of Esther. In it, a man named Haman - close advisor to the king - plots against the Jews. More to the point, he specifically plans against Modecai, a particular Jew. So great is Haman's hate, that he builds a gallows...
If you look around the United States today (with apologies to our overseas readers), several things stand out. First, we are a military power. We face threats, but we have confidence in our military might.
The Church seems to be full of controversy. Much of this is quite necessary, and not unexpected. After all, as the New Testament continually reminds us, false teachers will continually arise and false teaching always needs to be addressed. On the other hand, it must be admitted that some...
Last week, I entitled my column, "How to Wreck a Church." In my mind, the false teachers in Jude had (and have) the potential to do just that. They come in secretly; they flatter; they are immoral and follow their own desires; ultimately, they will be destroyed by God. But when we step back and...
As I look back on my days at seminary, I can see some courses which were more helpful than others. This is probably due to a combination of factors: my own interests and aptitude; the strength of the teacher; the subject matter itself. Most classes were valuable, but a few classes were forgettable.
Escapism seems to be everywhere. If you have internet access, try typing "escape" or "escapism" into a search engine. You might not want to visit all the sites that come up in such a search, but what you will see - if you need proof - is that many people seek to escape. Or think about the...
Let me start with a personal testimony. David Wells' first book in what might roughly be called this series is entitled, No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology?. Say what you will about that volume (and it has its critics), but for me it was transformative. When I try to...
Teaching has its own occupational hazards. Teachers complain about lack of respect and pay. They frequently gripe about the students under their care. Teachers grumble about other teachers. In fact, you can read complaints about any and all of these things from teachers in the ancient world, from...
Paul's letter to the Philippians begins with an expression of confidence. Paul's confidence is ultimately in God. It was God who had begun a good work in the Philippians (Phil 1:6); and it was God's grace that they had been partakers of, along with Paul (Phil 1:7). But when Paul looked at the...
When I give instructions to my children, or even to my students, they often come in the form of warnings: "Be careful not to postpone this assignment to the last minute" "Watch out for cars on the road" "Make sure to proofread your papers" I don't think I'm alone in doing this; in fact, I think...
All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use...
Last words are important. If you've ever been with someone at or near the moment of their death, you know what significance they have. What someone says in those final hours takes on added poignancy and significance. If they are of sound mind, we treat these last words with special reverence,...
Acts 2 is a familiar chapter. In it we find the great Pentecost sermon by Peter, just after the Holy Spirit descended on those in Jerusalem in tongues of fire. The proximate cause of Peter's well-known sermon is the accusation that those Christians baptized by the Holy Spirit were actually drunk,...
I've been browsing the Christian blog sites lately. This is always a risky move; you never know exactly what you'll find. But in the first few weeks of the New Year, there are some articles you can count on seeing. There are plenty of reflections on the year past. And there are always resolutions...
The coming of a new year offers an opportunity for consideration and prediction. Newspapers and websites are full of reflections on the previous year - in politics, sports, and entertainment. Some commentators move beyond the public and include personal reminiscences on various milestones, births,...
What could be more broadly evangelical than Christmas? It's a time when all celebrating Christians agree on what the holiday means, and even many non-Christians pretend to believe - or at least to affirm that something good happened on the night Christ was born. Christmas would hardly seem to be...
Professor and pastor Dr. Derek Thomas joins Jonathan Master to discuss the important Christian doctrine of sanctification. In this video, Dr. Thomas answers the question, "What is sanctification?"
What is Christmas all about? What are we to learn from God becoming a man? These should be pressing questions during this holiday season. And while these questions point us to great mysteries, they are also matters about which the Bible speaks plainly. In fact, on a number of occasions Jesus...
Paul's last known letter - called 2 Timothy in our Bibles - contains a startling warning to a pastors and churchmen. In 2 Timothy 3:1-4 Paul lists out characteristics of the last days - the days in which the church lives. People, Paul says, will be selfish, greedy, arrogant, malicious, and reckless...
There are good reasons to rejoice over the publication of this new online magazine. It may or not make a splash, but it will provide an opportunity. This opportunity could be described in many ways, but I think it's best described as a chance to stop and think - to think theologically, to think in...