Posts by Stephen Unthank

Posts by

Of all the Minor Prophets, perhaps Jonah is the most read and beloved, and certainly not for its brevity but for its extraordinary story – a story of a prophet running from God, of being thrown overboard in the midst of a storm, of being swallowed alive by a whale of a fish, and upon being spit out...
There was once an ancient man who so pursued the Lord, seeking always to glorify God no matter what came his way, no matter how crooked his lot, that even God himself could proclaim of him that “He still holds fast his integrity” (Job 2:3). Of course, Job’s ability to “hold fast” to his integrity...
Oh, the goodness of God’s anger! That God, in his divine simplicity, has anger and is immutably angry, presupposes that God has goodness and is good. Christopher Ash and Steve Midgley state the doctrine well, “If God were not angry with evil, God could not be good. If God did not hate evil, he...
I love the writing of Iain Murray. I’ve probably recommended and given out more of his books than I do most others. And I can certainly say that I’ve benefitted from his historical insights and applications to such a degree that many of my convictions about pastoral ministry and church and...
“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” – Romans 8:23 Paul brings us now to what is one of the key components to his whole system of theology, an idea which is...
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” – Romans 8:20-21 In John Milton’s classic epic, Paradise...
“ For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” – Romans 18:18-19 Paul has given us hope, an assured hope, that to endure any present...
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” – Romans 8:18 Perspective, having the right perspective, is often times the difference between life and death. Joseph, having the perspective given to him by God that for...
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:16-17 Paul has been moving us from one degree of glory to...
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:16-17 We saw previously how the prayer-life of a Christian...
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” –...
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” – Romans 8:14 Is there anything more comforting in all of God’s revealed word than the thought that in Christ we are sons of God? We are finding ourselves climbing higher and higher up the mountain peak of Romans 8 and now in verse 14 we...
“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” – Romans 8:12-13 We come now to one of those verses where a mere 1500 words cannot...
“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.” – Romans 8:12 Paul’s general argument so far has been to delineate between what is essentially the only two kinds of people there are in this fallen world: those who are in the flesh (i.e., unbelievers, in Adam,...
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” – Romans 8:11 We come now to what, according to the early church Father Chrysostom, is “the most encouraging...
“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” – Romans 8:9-10...
Paul, in Romans 1:20, tells us that there is something which he refers to as God’s divine nature. That is, there is something unique to God and about God that cannot be said of any other being. There is a Godness to God, what philosophers and theologians would call God’s essence (or an even more...
“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” – Romans 8:9 The Early Church Father, Basil of Caesarea, in a profound bit of theological reflection, says, “Whoever perceives...
“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” – Romans 8:7-8 We continue now in our meditation upon Romans 8, and we’ve been exploring Paul’s understanding of how there are essentially...
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” – Romans 8:5-6 I first...
The Law, though written on tablets of stone, is still able to condemningly penetrate into the depths of our hearts, and the last Commandment leaves us all with our “mouths stopped”, as Paul argues (Romans 3:19), that in our own strength we are unable to love the Lord our God with all our heart...
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and...
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and...
“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:2 As we move from the great declaration of verse 1, that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” we now begin to see in verse 2 the reason, or the...
Honor your father and your mother. That’s the command, the fifth, in God’s Ten Commandments. It’s simple in what it commands and yet profound in its good and necessary implications. It is the only commandment that comes with a promise, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long...
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1 Few lines of Holy Scripture have been used more by God to encourage assurance and comfort in my own heart. In my own Bible, the page on which Romans 8 appears is a page well worn, smudged from the constant wear...
The eighth chapter of Romans has rightly been described as one of the most beautifully rich chapters in all of Scripture. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that it is “one of the brightest gems of all… that in the whole of Scripture the brightest and most lustrous and flashing stone, or collection of stones...
There’s a bright thread of connection between the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the way the sermon on the mount begins. The tree stood as a perpetual sign for Adam and Eve to rely upon and walk submitted under God’s word. God declared all that was good or not good and they, as His...
Solomon, in wanting his son to pursue and know wisdom, instructs him to “consider the ant” (Proverbs 6:6). The command is to observe and learn the ways of this small but impressive creature. What impressive wisdom does the ant teach us? Diligent. Hard. work. In short, the ant is productive. And...
From the very opening pages of Scripture we see God’s sovereign rule over mankind in an authoritative and governmental way. He gives his law to Adam that he is not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And when Adam and Eve do eat of that tree they are depicted as being in...
In First Kings 8 we see King Solomon lead in corporate prayer and what stands out about his prayer is that it is Solomon pleading for what the Lord has already promised. He uses language like “keep for your servant David my father what you have promised” (verse 25) and “let your word be confirmed,...
The right preaching of the Gospel, the right administration of the sacraments and church discipline have together been held, among Protestants, as the key marks of any true church. And though the third mark, church discipline, has sadly been neglected in modern evangelicalism (greatly damaging the...
“In the Last Days of Narnia, far up to the west.” This is how C.S. Lewis begins the end of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle . I reread this book last year, right in the middle of the pandemic lock-downs, and since doing so I’ve found myself more and more referring to the book to help find...
Have you heard that ancient Chinese curse which parents would proclaim on only the most disobedient of their children? The parent, looking at their bad kid, would proclaim: “O, may you live in interesting times!” Turn on the news and you may be tempted to think that that curse is our reality -...
The Westminster Confession of Faith begins with one of the most well articulated statements concerning the doctrine of Scripture. And incorporated right into the Confession is an ever so brief clause on how one might do theology. The clause was placed there to be an expression defending the...
John Owen, in his “Greater Catechism” written for the adults within his parish of Fordham in Essex, asks concerning the Person of Jesus Christ (chap. 10, Q. 6), “Wherefore was our redeemer to be man?” His answer: “That the nature which had offended might suffer, and make satisfaction, and so he...
Perspective, having the right perspective, is often times the difference between life and death. It was Joseph’s unique perspective that allowed him to look back on all the suffering he endured, all the evil done to him, and be able to conclude it was all meant for good under God’s hand of...
The Psalmist certainly professes a great truth when he remarks “how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.” But if we’re honest, this passage can often sound like an unattainable rhetorical ideal; not a commonly celebrated experience. Perfect unity within the body of Christ has got...
Our author, John, wants us not only to see the prophet Moses, whose rich memory is woven throughout the entirety of chapter six, but he also wants us to see He who is greater than Moses. Consider: the setting, we’re told, is the season of “the Passover, the feast of the Jews” (vs. 4), and just like...
“But the fruit of the Spirit is… joy.” Joy, that ultimate of teleological pursuits. It is the reason we exist. What is the chief end of man? It is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. [1] More than mere happiness, though not less than, joy is the deep culmination and end of all we were created...
First, let it be known that God hates; He hates sin and he hates sinners. [1] And we ought not shy away from this truth for it is really only out of this reality that the Gospel explodes with such wonderful good news. The God who hates sinners also loves sinners and sent his only Son to die and...
“Therefore, become imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2). In much Jewish thought the idea of imitating God was anathema. With the initial sin of Adam and Eve in “desiring to...
The transcendentals – goodness, beauty, and truth – they’re called the transcendentals because they are ubiquitous; they’re not merely parts and aspects of our reality, they are the moral-fabric that make up all of reality. Being as they are communicable attributes of our Creator God it stands to...
When speaking about God it’s always crucial to remember that we are speaking about He who is incomprehensible, the infinite One of Whom finite language cannot fully describe or define. Thus, theologians have rightly stated that most language concerning the Being of God is analogical, rather than...
A favorite hymn we sing at church is Walter Smith’s “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” where the congregation beautifully confesses that “We blossom and flourish as leaves on a tree, and wither and perish, but naught changeth Thee.” My heart soars in adoration as we sing that last clause, “but...
In 2003 the Free Church of Scotland published an updated psalter entitled Sing Psalms where Psalm 16 versus 8 through 11 reads thus: “Before me constantly, I set the Lord alone. Because he is at my right hand I'll not be overthrown. Therefore my heart is glad; my tongue with joy will sing. My body...
Christian sanctification is normally understood as the on-going spiritual growth of a believer where that believer is more and more conformed into the image and likeness of Christ. The moment a person believes in Jesus and thereby becomes one with Him, the Spirit of Christ enables and works within...
Singing, specifically Christians singing praise to God, will be an activity that echoes on into the everlasting halls of glory. Mankind was of course created with the ability to sing, the telos of which is the vocal adoration of the Creator. But we have also been recreated in Christ to sing, the...
Puritan pastor Walter Marshall concludes his magisterial work on a believer’s sanctification, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, with the simple but profound dictum that “Sanctification in Christ is glorification begun as glorification is sanctification perfected.” [1] What makes this statement...
It shouldn’t surprise Protestant readers that our Roman Catholic friends (or maybe they’re not your friends) really do believe that God justifies sinners. When they read Romans 3:19-26 they also say “Amen!” But of course, it’s what is meant by the term justify that needs careful clarification. In...