Posts by Mark Jones

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Who died on the Cross? Did the Second Person of the Trinity die on the cross? We affirm. (But not all of us) I recently read an argument by R.C. Sproul that suggested we should not say the second person of the Trinity died because that would be a mutation within the very being of God. It was argued...
One of the most publicly and socially acceptable sins is flattery. That's why it is also such a dangerous sin. Consider this Yiddish proverb: "Flattery makes friends and truth makes enemies." But the friends made by flattery are not worth having at all. True friendship comes through hard work, but...
"If you want to know who rules over you, find out who you are not allowed to criticize" - Voltaire If the three sisters of grace are faith, hope, and love, we may also say the three sisters of the flesh are sex, power, and money. Years ago, I was warned about these sisters of the flesh. We are all...
The response to my piece on the Ligonier statement was interesting. So far I haven't seen any critical engagement with the content of my criticisms, though many have asked why I did not also critique the statement for not affirming the eternal generation of the Son. I suppose I could also have...
Ligonier Ministries have produced a Creed, as well as Affirmations and Denials, with a focus on Christology - a "Christology Statement" . While I wonder what possible ecclesiastical authority a Creed can have when offered by a parachurch organization, I think their instincts to defend the truth are...
Likeness is the ground of delight; God loves himself for his own holiness, and they are best loved and liked that are most holy. - Manton Can God's love for us increase? We can answer this question - as indeed we can regarding most theological questions - with both a "yes" and a "no". There are...
Most pastoral situations involving sin are quite complex. For example, when someone tells me about a person who got a divorce and then they proceed to ask me whether I think there were biblical grounds, I almost always refuse to answer the question. Even slam-dunk cases are sometimes not as simple...
I'm off to South Africa to give a series of lectures in Cape Town at a new seminary that has been started in Hout Bay. This "township" (Imizamo Yethu) is literally next door to our new campus, which is an exciting prospect for a number of reasons. After reading this piece, which I am in agreement...
I'm currently editing a book with Michael Haykin on intra-Reformed debates in the Long Eighteenth Century (1688 to 1815). It is a sort of companion to this book , and part of a life-long project of mine where I want to highlight theological debates over the centuries to give readers a better...
If I, or an angel from heaven, should criticize the Marrow or the Marrow Men, let us be anathema. Imagine reading my post yesterday and coming to the following conclusions: That I was suggesting Thomas Boston was not orthodox in his covenant theology. That this is what the moralists always do:...
I believe the Marrow of Modern Divinity will receive some more attention in 2016 due to the publication of Sinclair Ferguson's new book . I have just finished it and in the book, Ferguson makes many wonderful and much-needed pastoral insights. His book also got me thinking some more about The...
Christians affirm that God is good, but just how good is God? We can speak of him being "infinitely good" but that still doesn't help the person in the pew much. People need specifics. Is it possible that God could show more goodness to his people than to his beloved Son? Think of the truth that...
If there's one thing I dislike a lot more than antinomianism, it is legalism. Legalism has many forms , and very often can come across as sanctimonious, which is why it is so lethal. Legalism often rears its ugly head in American churches concerning the matter of alcohol. This article here (getting...
Most of the time we should ignore the ugliness on twitter where people say or imply things that simply don't deserve a response. But occasionally one needs to draw attention to the silliness that goes on from time to time, if only to keep others from joining in such foolishness. Many months ago I...
Soon many will begin re-reading the Bible from cover-to-cover throughout the year. This is a practice I heartily commend. But there's another practice that has been immensely beneficial to me as I've read portions of God's word in recent times. As I read the various commands Christ gave to his...
From Muller's preface: "In the preface to the two volumes of Reformed Dogmatics, dated October 31, 1931, Berkhof notes his use of Bavinck but registers especially the importance of the theology of Geerhardus Vos to his own development." Louis Berkhof has never thrilled me as a systematician. Herman...
We come to that time of year when many Christians celebrate the incarnation of the Son of God. In thinking about and meditating on the incarnation, below are some truths to keep in mind. The incarnation has been called the miracle of all miracles. No one but God could have imagined such a "work"...
"There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it." - Bertrand Russell I've noted, with some degree of envy, the lists of pastors and others who speak of their top ten favorite books they've read this year. To be honest, I don't think I could...
After our post on the Top Ten Seminaries in 2015 , we bring you the top 10 denominations of 2015. Separate Category: PCA Progressives : "Denominations" are so 1990s. They transcend denominational boundaries. Disqualified: Southern Baptist Convention : Two Words: Steven Furtick. ACTS29 : Two words:...
Here at Reformation21 we skip the best books of the year and instead give you the "Top Ten Seminaries of 2015." All of these seminaries provide a good theological education, especially when compared to what one finds in the rest of the world. America is spoiled for riches. Honorable Mention: MARS:...
What makes someone a heretic? This topic may be more important than we might think, especially in the world of online discourse. There is a distinction between willfully committing a soul-destroying heresy and committing a theological error. To call someone a "false teacher" is to say they are...
Connecting Christ and the Proverbs isn't so easy. How do we read the book of Proverbs as Christians in a way that would distinguish us from how a Jew might read the same book? Also, why then was the book of Proverbs written? In understanding Christ in relation to Proverbs we need to understand...
One of the most common errors I encounter among students of theology concerns what happened to Christ after he ascended. A surprising amount of Christians seem to think that Jesus no longer needs his humanity now in heaven. The most crass version, which I have heard with my own ears, suggests that...
A class of churchmen is emerging in Reformed circles that excites me. They are called Reformed catholics (or Reformed irenics ), the term preferred by many of the great Protestant scholastics who didn't care much for the term "Calvinist". Reformed catholics differ from the so-called progressives...
If a preacher had one sermon to preach to unbelievers he would likely preach something that follows the Apostolic pattern in the book of Acts. But what about when faced with the chance to give just one message to those who are Christians? Here there is, naturally, a lot more liberty. Usually, when...
Answering who is your best friend is a little like answering who is your favorite character in the Bible. The rules of theology (rightly) demand that we answer the latter question with the name that is above every name. And the rules of society today seem to demand that we answer the first question...
At the church where I minister, we have a morning and an evening service, both of which are practically identical in their order and form. As far as I am aware, we are one of the few Presbyterian churches in Canada who have both services on the Lord's Day. In America, from what I am told, more and...
I have a work in progress, defending the Reformed doctrine of justification by faith alone. In this work I am trying to make it as pastoral as possible for the average layman in the church to benefit from in his mind and heart. Some treatments can be a little dry, even if they are solid. I hope...
Never say "never", and never say "always" when making a claim about the Reformed tradition. That's rule number one, and it can save you from a lot of embarrassment. I plan to post on this in the future and bring into light some Reformed voices who have made bold claims in an attempt to cast...
Part 1: Justification by Precision Alone? Part 2: Act and Habit of Faith Part 3: Justification is an act that cannot be revoked Part 4: Arminian vs. Reformed on justification Part 5: One or Two Justifications? Part 6: Judgment According to Works (see below) It is well nigh impossible to deny that...
"And a good work it is, no doubt, to pare off all unnecessary occasions of debate and differences in religion, provided we go not so near the quick as to let out any of its vital spirits." John Owen Part 1: Justification by Precision Alone? Part 2: Act and Habit of Faith Part 3: Justification is an...
Our readers may be interested in this video, which looks at topics such as Cultivating Awe in the Presence of God, Christian Meditation and Knowing Christ. J.I. Packer is always worth listening to. We did manage to talk about his writing style, but, alas, that part of the conversation is (sadly)...
Prayer is not easy. I find that true myself, but others whom I respect have also given testimony to the difficulty of prayer. Some chaps make it sound easy; if they spend hours a day in the tent of meeting, they probably have their computer in the tent with them. Consider the following testimonies...
I've been told that some folk are taking issue with John Piper's Foreword to Thomas Schreiner's book on justification. According to Piper, who agrees with Schreiner, we are "right with God by faith alone" but we do not "attain heaven by faith alone." He adds that "there are other conditions for...
"In this world two things are essential: a healthy life and friendship..." - Augustine How do we develop our theology as Christians who take seriously the call to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our savior, Jesus Christ"? I've sometimes enjoyed hearing from others as to what makes them tick in...
The so-called pastor-scholar... This is a term I'm starting to feel a little suspicious about, especially if the words "pastor" and "scholar" are not going to be diluted regarding their meaning or compromised regarding the quality demanded of each "job". Why? Because the longer I remain in the...
Paul Tripp felt it necessary to comment on the breakdown in the marriage between Tullian Tchvidjian and his wife, Kim. I understand that Tripp is a counselor with a lot of experience, and a sort of expert that many look to for advice and daily spiritual counsel. However, ever since the news broke...
"... be sure your sin will find you out" (Num. 32:23). Ashley. Madison. Two words that will not be forgotten by millions of people for as long as they live. Divorce lawyers in some cities are not even answering their phones. Computer hackers are being celebrated and vindicated. Millions of men and...
Trending on Twitter recently was the hashtag: #ThingsJesusNeverSaid It was a case of the good, the bad, the ugly, the downright blasphemous, and occasionally humorous. Such tweets included: "Go to Yale Divinity School" "The old covenant is a republication of the covenant of works." "Man, if I just...
If I had my way regarding theological training, I'd attempt to help students master the basic theological distinctions from the era of Protestant scholasticism. Those who think "scholastic" is a bad word probably don't know much about scholasticism. Truth be told, we all need a little - perhaps a...
Historical theology is an important discipline for the church. There are views that have been held by Reformed theologians in the past that I don't necessarily agree with, but must nevertheless do my best to understand so that I know precisely what I'm disagreeing with. Regarding the atonement, I...
How do you know you are a Christian? Beware of easy-to-fix theological answers to complex spiritual problems. Poor theology usually offers quick fixes (i.e., a silver bullet approach). And people love quick fixes, which is why bad theology will always remain popular this side of glory. Very rarely...
What comfort can we offer to parents whose infant dies in infancy? And what is the real tragedy of abortion? Reformed Confessions have spoken to this issue, Charles Spurgeon has addressed the question, B.B. Warfield has as well, and many of us have some view on what happens to infants dying in...
When it comes to parenting, I think there are some general principles that we can draw from the way God the Father treats his children. That is why I am not, in principle, opposed to various types of punishments for our children when they are disobedient. A spanking may be the best, most...
As most of our readers know, Tullian Tchividjian resigned from his ministry in a PCA church because he committed the sin of adultery. Many were quick to comment, either defending him or attacking him. Based on my own pastoral experience (and the fact that I'm a Presbyterian), I tend to think that...
Infant baptism strikes the fear of God into me. Baptism really establishes - in a public, visible manner - a covenant relationship. A love relationship, involving promises and responsibilities, blessings and curses, is begun by a gracious God, who must always begin a covenantal relationship to his...
I find that there are two important biblical perspectives we ought to keep in mind when a Christian or Christians commit a grievous, public sin. These perspectives are sometimes lost, or at least fade into the background, when in fact they should be uppermost in our thinking. They are: divine...
I appreciate IX Marks ministries, and their desire to take ecclesiology seriously. But I did read this from IX Marks and thought it would be good to interact a little with this perspective: Daughter: Daddy, am I a Christian? Me: If you're repenting of your sins, and putting your trust in Jesus,...
Listening to the family members of those who were mercilessly killed in the Charleston church was an opportunity to witness some of the best theology you'll see in your life. I only hope that if I am ever faced with a similar situation that I'll react half as well as those people did as they spoke...
1. The Ashgate Research Companion to John Owen's Theology is now available for about $20.00 (softcover). Go here and plug in this 50% off code: 50CNK15N For $20, this book is a steal. My copy just arrived on my door-step and the softcover is quite nice. Great editorial work on that book. 2. Rosaria...