Posts by Mark Jones

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One area where I think the so-called "new Calvinists" (and some PCA churches) need to perhaps give some more careful attention to in their retrieval of Reformed theology is in the area of worship, especially if they want to be taken seriously as "Calvinists". For all the positive developments in...
Christian parents are faced with many dilemmas as they seek to raise their children for the Lord. If they have sporty or athletic children who play on a sports team, the question of playing on the Lord's Day (Sunday) becomes a real issue. I became a Christian at University. Giving up soccer on...
When I think of the immoderate use of superlatives, I think of Martyn Lloyd-Jones describing each text he was preaching on as the "most important" or "most extraordinary" text in all of God's Word. Maybe he's to blame for the problem I want to describe below. In the church, once-useful superlatives...
Peter Enns blogged this , where he essentially states that church history is not relevant on human origins. Naturally, his views are. Besides the Apostles and Jesus, theologians and pastors over the course of church history have gotten things wrong, according to Enns. That the history of the church...
Legalism is a tricky topic. There isn't a Christian alive on earth who doesn't struggle with legalistic tendencies. To diagnose this problem, we need to look at the various types of legalisms that we encounter in the church and in our hearts to understand the concept. Neat definitions aren't always...
WCF 11.1 ... nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness ... 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...
Can justification ever be revoked if someone is justified? There are many reasons why this is impossible. I want to offer two (and perhaps some others in a future post). First, because we are justified by faith alone . Second, because of the nature of Christ's intercession. That sinners are...
You're in a faithful church, but someone complains about this, that, and the other, and so wants to leave. What do you say? #1 I agree this church isn't perfect... #2 This is a perfect church, why would you leave a perfect church? #1 and #2 are possibilities, but my sympathies are with #2. Why?...
How wide or narrow is the Reformed faith? In his recent book, Deviant Calvinism: Broadening Reformed Theology , Fuller Seminary Professor, Oliver Crisp, uses the tools of historical theology and analytic theology to address various questions, such as the broadness of Calvinistic theology. He does...
The question of how diverse the Reformed tradition is is an important topic of consideration. I have co-edited a volume on Reformed diversity in the seventeenth century, and later this year I have another co-edited volume coming out on Reformed diversity in the eighteenth century. Professor Oliver...
People do what they want to do. Regrettably, when it comes to Christians, they seem to not want to pray together at prayer meetings. As a pastor, I'm concerned how many Christians have such energy for the things of the world - we will drive across town for our kids to get to piano lessons or take...
I love reading a good book, the type that keeps you reading till the end. A recent book by Hunter Powell, The crisis of British Protestantism: Church power in the Puritan Revolution, 1638-44 , reminded me of the importance of good scholarship not only for the academy, but also for the church. It...
Updated: response to Professor Helm below. When we speak of grace, hell, heaven, etc., we must not merely speak in generalities, but as specific as the Scriptures allow us, which includes good and necessary consequences (Matt. 22:32). Someone may reference the horrors of hell or the happiness of...
I've been meaning to write a book on important theological distinctions and how they can be of practical use to ministers and lay Christians. In the past I've discussed the distinction between God's absolute power and God's ordained power . Today I want to talk about the distinction between the act...
There are many acts of extraordinary faith in the Bible. The one that has impressed me the most concerns the dying thief on the cross. We could take the approach that he had nothing to lose, so he decided to cast his lot with Jesus. But this makes absolutely no sense of the text and the context. In...
I am happy to provide a response to some of the concerns made by Rick Phillips. He agrees with me on merit, which was what my two posts were really about. So I am glad for our agreement on that. But he saw some statements on grace in the Garden that made him uncomfortable. Richard Muller has made...
Part 1 here. Westminster Seminary California Professor, David VanDrunen, critiques Norman Shepherd for rejecting Adamic merit: "It is not difficult to see how such a view, if taken seriously, makes belief in Christ's active, imputed obedience impossible. If image bearers do not merit anything...
Some recent defenders of justification by faith have appealed to the concept of Adamic merit because of what they perceive to be the obvious parallels between Adam and Christ. Christ merited as the second Adam, ergo... How do we understand the theological concept of merit between humans and God?...
I profited from Paul Levy's review of Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp (Carl Trueman today called it a "penetrating review"). In the review Levy makes the following point: "The memorable if somewhat ironic statement 'The bottom line is this: proud people tend to talk about themselves a lot' (p175)...
Christological supralapsarianism can take on a variety of forms. In connection with this doctrine, I would like to address whether the Son would have become incarnate if Adam had not fallen ( Cur Deus homo si Adam non pecasset? ). Reformed theologians have asked what reward Adam would have received...
I have noticed that European students of theology are usually far better linguists than North American students. This often comes down to the rigour of their linguistic education in high school. A lot of us spend our time catching up in our twenties rather than beginning in our early teens. If you...
Adam broke the ten commandments in the Garden . But Christ kept the ten commandments in the "wilderness," under far more intense circumstances than what was originally required of Adam. He kept the first commandment. He brought glory to God the Father while he was on earth (Jn. 17:4). He feared,...
As some will no doubt be preaching on Christ's death on Friday, there is one hugely important theological fact that must be kept uppermost in our minds as we consider his death on the cross. If we do not understand Christ's death as voluntary then we do not understand his death. Jesus himself...
Last year I forgot it was Easters, likely due to the fact that I had just returned home from South Africa and was jet-lagged. I prepared my sermon on Genesis, and only realized when it was too late that it was Easters. Foolishly, I told the congregation: "I forgot it was Easter and thought about...
What commandments did Adam break in the Garden when he and his wife ate from the tree which God commanded them not to eat from (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:6)? I believe he broke all ten commandments, not just one or two specific commandments (cf. James 2:10). He broke the first commandment in his unbelief ...
Does a Christian have any reason to be afraid of God? Does the gospel make any threats to God's people or does the gospel simply promise and comfort? There is no doubt that the gospel promises and comforts. That is not in dispute. What is less clear is whether the same gospel message also threatens...
Suppose an extremely wealthy person was willing to make a sizeable donation to your church or to your para-church organization. By sizeable, I mean 1 or 2 million U.S. dollars. Now, what if you told that person that you are unwilling to accept his money. Why? Not because it is "guilty" money or...
I'm currently in China, where I do not have access to Gmail, Facebook, or Twitter. I suppose this is an enforced Lent for me. But I do have access to Reformation21 for some reason. I guess we are not quite that dangerous... I'm here for a 10 year anniversary of a Seminary. Where? I cannot say, of...
Q. What is the sound of one hand clapping? A. A conference where people are more thankful for the message than praising the man who delivered the message. At a fairly large conference a few years ago, one speaker arrived with great fanfare - the guys on walkie talkies were intense. He was quickly...
As I think about Ephesians 6:1-3, a number of questions come to mind concerning the way I treat my children (ages: 4, 4, 7, 9). This post does not in fact aim to raise a challenge to Baptists, but rather to get Reformed Presbyterians to think through the implications of how we should read the...
As it happens, we are not only in the midst of Lent, but also Pastor's Wife Appreciation Month . Yes, Month. All of this self-sacrifice is too much. Here at Reformation21 we are going to begin a series. Next up: The Pastor's Dog by Paul Levy. Stay tuned. Now, of course, in one sense I think we...
Does an infinitely holy and righteous God accept imperfection from his people? Thankfully, he does. This is a central truth of our Christian living, though in some respects either ignored or rejected by some in the church today. Understanding God's acceptance of our (very) imperfect obedience will...
Have you ever wondered what it must have been like when Christ entered heaven after having ascended? This was a unique moment in redemptive history, and one that we should probably meditate upon a lot more than we do. At the risk of being occasionally speculative , here are some thoughts on Christ'...
I'm off to South Africa tomorrow for a few weeks, then to North Carolina and South Carolina, then to the China, and then to Hong Kong, all for teaching and preaching purposes (Jas. 4:15). So the flurry of posts of late are to keep up my contractual obligations to the Top Men here at Ref21. Recently...
Pastors writing their own catechisms was standard practice in the Reformation and Post-Reformation eras. Luther, Calvin, Bucer, Beza, Ursinus, Ussher, Owen, Fisher, Cotton, Baxter, Ball, among many others wrote catechisms. Each catechism has similarities and differences. Moreover, a lot of...
Appreciating both Christ's divinity and his humanity is not easy. What does it mean to be both God and man? Looking at Christ's two natures helps us to understand not only the marvel of the incarnation, but the incredible humility of Christ, who "did not count equality with God a thing to be...
Do all professing Christians pray with the same efficacy? Does our godliness or lack thereof affect our prayers in terms of the influence they have on God to answer them? There is no question, our sin can hinder our prayers (Ps. 66:18; Prov. 28:9; Isa. 59:2; Jn. 9:31; James 4:3; 1 Pet. 3:7). So if...
Social media has brought about many interesting phenomena. Some of them are quite irritating. Someone can be privately critical of another person, but still praise that same person publicly. I've seen it happen. In South Africa we have a name for these types of people. They are called "bless you...
The Westminster Shorter Catechism on Q. & A. is wrong-headed, in my view. Almost everyone in Reformed circles knows the following question and answer by heart: Q. 1. What is the chief end of man? A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. But, as I read the Scriptures, it...
This is not a post that will gain me much popularity, with accusations of legalism bound to happen. If there's one thing I know from attending a Big Ten school to play soccer, it is this: don't mess with Americans and their sports. If we don't think we have a problem with the idolatry of sports...
My wife's step-father has attended a Roman Catholic church his whole life. But he has just been moved to palliative care, and likely has days or weeks to live. He has a book beside his bed where he lies dying: not the Catechism of the (Roman) Catholic Church, but a book by Martin Luther on...
We hate to be humiliated in any way. But our sin forfeits our right to honor and praise. Consider who we are: in ourselves, fully leprous in our souls and deserving of shame. But we crave praise, honor, and glory. Consider who Christ is: in himself, fully righteous, and deserving of praise, honor,...
This interview at a Gospel Coalition website struck me as very odd. I suspect that the "Calvinism" these two gentlemen are referring to has very little to do with historic Reformed theology, and more to do with the fact that what passes for "Calvinism" today has been watered-down to mean acceptance...
Who are Reformed Christians, theologians, and pastors allowed to read? Or, more specifically, who are we allowed to cite positively in our writings and conversations? Are we allowed to speak positively of anything N.T. Wright has written, for example, without getting accused of all sorts of things...
Only one person has truly understood the words that Christ said on the cross: "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46). That person was Christ himself. The rest of us are left to try our best in comprehending this heaven-rending, heart-melting...
The debate over whether pictures of Jesus are allowed, suitable, etc., usually revolves around the interpretation of the second commandment. I want to look at the debate from a slightly different angle, namely: the beatific vision. There are only two ways that we are able to see Christ: either by...
How many of our modern hymns speak of Christ's wrath and judgment? If I'm not mistaken, "Agnus Dei" (Michael W. Smith) derives its language from Revelation 19. How many consider the wrath of the Lamb, described in that chapter, when they have their eyes closed and hands raised in the air when...
Rick Phillips has posted a provocative piece on why his PCA church does not recite the full version of the Apostles' Creed. I was actually surprised to learn that many Southern Presbyterians omit the phrase, "He descended into Hell." Pastor Phillips makes a strong argument, but one that leaves me...
I don't really care for Resolutions, mainly because I rarely keep them. Personally, I just want to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ day by day, depending especially on the ordinary means of grace to accomplish this purpose. But for 2015, I want to go the extra mile and set modest goals:...
"Mark, it's a sad fact, but books on our Lord don't sell well" - Anonymous. Blog posts on Jesus don't do well, either, if you are judging a blog post by stats. But what about books and posts on Christ's body, the church? When was the last time you read a good book on the church? Knowing Christ...

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