Posts by Tim Bertolet

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When we think about the doctrine of salvation, one of the more important topics to explore is the relationship between union with Christ and justification by faith. In fact, if we have a poor connection between these concepts, our understanding of salvation will be lacking. John Murray has written...
John Calvin called justification as “the main hinge on which religion turns” and said we must devote great attention to it ( Institutes, III.xi.1). When we consider justification’s role in the order of salvation it plays a crucial role in distinction from other element but not in separation from...
One vital component to the humiliation and exaltation of Christ is His ascension into heaven. The ascension is as central to the work of Christ as His death and resurrection, yet today it is largely unnoticed by the average evangelical believer. Our tendency is to focus on the cross of Christ while...
The third of the Ten Commandments seems simple at first read: we are not to take God’s name in vain. But the more we think about it, the deeper our reflections will become on what it means to honor God and cherish His name above all else. The commandment reads: You shall not take the name of the...
Is the conversation about God's attributes "old fashioned" and "western"? Regarding systematic theology, one often encounters the critique that the logical ordering of various topics is "western" or "Greek" or "academic"--all of which are really meant as synonyms for "bad" and "wrongheaded."...
Since the rise of modern Biblical criticism, it is common in some circles to think that there are little to no predictions of a Messiah in the Old Testament. But this is not the view of the Scriptures. This is not what the New Testament explicitly teaches. Christ can be found in the Old Testament...
The Bible teaches that the believer in Jesus Christ is completely justified before God. We have peace with God (Romans 5:1) and have no condemnation (Romans 8:1). I have everything I need to stand before a holy God as “not guilty” as the God declares the verdict “righteous” over me. I have Christ’s...
As heirs of the Reformation, we rightly champion salvation by grace alone. If God was not gracious to us we would have no hope. The simplest definition of grace is: favor extended where wrath is deserved. Others have made the definition in the form of an acronym: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense...
We live in a culture that teaches us to pursue happiness. When our ultimate goal is happiness, we have an inability to pursue the greater things in life that lead to our glorification. The pursuit of happiness as ultimate will keep you from the goal of godliness and Christlikeness. Many times it is...
I cannot tell you how many variations I have heard of sermon and sermon points about the special kind of agape love in the New Testament. Variations often emphasize the uniqueness and the sacrificial aspects of agape love and distinguish it from the other Greek words. Yet, as D.A. Carson warned in...
In a previous post, I mentioned how Jesus is our true retirement—our true Sabbath rest that awaits us. As you think about riches, bank accounts, 401(k)s, and your finances in general, we need to remember that only what we have in Christ is truly imperishable. Again, there is nothing wrong with wise...
Dear Beloved Church, I know of your love for the Word of God. I know how you rejoice in the life that God has given you through the Holy Spirit and that you are born again through the Word of God. There is such a richness of truth and doctrine in the Word of God, and we have seen your love for Him...
We probably all have bank accounts with savings, and maybe investments and 401(k)s. Wisdom would suggest that while we trust God we also should be good stewards and save. You want to have in inheritance—at the end of the road of your work life, you want to have a nest egg. This doesn’t make you...
When we think of the places in Scripture where we find the doctrine of union with Christ, most people, especially Biblical scholars, immediately think of all the material in Paul’s letters. Paul uses the words “in Christ” numerous times point to this union, he also uses the imagery of our baptism...
The Bible teaches that God is incomprehensible. God is so far above us as the supreme being and only infinite being that we as finite creatures are never going to be able to know and understand all that there is to Him. Even to say we are like an ant trying to understand the vastness of the Milky...
Who Goes to Hell? The simplest answer to the question “who goes to hell?” is to answer: “unrepentant sinners who do not have saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will go to hell.” In fact, when the Philippian jailer asked the most basic question: “what must I do to be saved?”, Paul and Silas...
In Romans 6:6, the Apostle Paul writes, “We know that our old self [or old man ] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” As we engage a series on “the old man,” we want to ask the basic question: what is the...
When I was a child, we used to sing a little song that went, “Heaven is a wonderful place; filled with glory and grace; I want to see my Savior’s face, ‘cause heaven is a wonderful place.” This is very simple yet strikes at deep truths. In this easy we want to outline a few brief points that the...
It is important to understand that we cannot know anything about God unless He reveals Himself to us. God is infinite, and we are finite. The distance between God and man is so great that we could not know anything about Him or what He requires if He did not reveal Himself to us (WCF 7.1). As...
Let’s be honest: the evangelical and Protestant church has seen better days. We have our own scandals. In a fast-paced world, our faults are replicated through our communities at a much quicker rate than in previous generations. We may not have a pope but we certainly have a celebrity culture of...
In his book “Christianity at the Crossroads” Michael Kruger discusses the development of the church in the second century. During this time there were many alternative Christianities, or heresies that arose. This really should not surprise us. In the New Testament there are a number of warnings...
The Bible teaches that God has created all things. His purpose is ultimately to display His glory and majesty. Thus, creation is “good” and “very good” in Genesis 1 because God made and ordered the creation. He is pleased with His handiwork. The glory of creation is a shining forth of God’s glory...
In Genesis 1, humanity is created and introduced to us as ‘made in the image of God.’ The description of humanity in Genesis 1 is foundational for the Christian worldview. The moral and ethical implications abound from the single statement than humanity is made in God’s image. In this brief post,...
Not every doctrinal issue is a matter of heresy versus orthodoxy. In today’s internet fueled climate this first sentence is worth repeating to ourselves. As young growing Christians many of us, myself included, zealously desired to defend Biblical doctrines. Sometimes in our zeal we brought more...
Evangelical Christians often spend time considering all the benefits won for us on the cross and in the resurrection but spend little time pondering how the ascension further secures and confirms these salvific benefits. We typically give little thought to the question: How does Christ's ascension...
The Bible is very clear that those who make genuine professions of faith will continue in those confessions of faith. The genuine believer will bear fruit as a consequence of God’s working in them. Thus, Scripture often brings to the believer this motivating command: bear fruit. We are to “work out...
“I believe…in Jesus Christ, his [God’s] only Son, our Lord” So every believer confesses and so it is found in the Apostles’ Creed. Let’s unpack four things that we find in this phrase of the Creed: (1) Jesus; (2) Jesus Christ ; (3) God’s only Son; (4) our Lord. First, the believer is making a...
When we consider the Biblical doctrine of sanctification, it is important to recognize how the doctrine is often portrayed in Scripture. It is organized first around who we are and then second around how we should live. The Bible first establishes who the believer is in Christ and makes statements...
Most of the time when we think of the earthly life of Jesus, we think of how he demonstrated his power and manifest that he was the Son of God. On occasion, we think about how he demonstrated his humility in the weakness of his incarnation particularly at Gethsemane and Golgotha. One area we often...
Generally speaking, to revive something is to bring it back to health or strength. Something is in some weak state and when it is revived it regains new health and vibrancy. Typically, when we hear the word “revival” in a Christian setting we think of a series of meeting that involve the preaching...
I have always taken comfort from the fact that if Peter could find some of Paul’s saying as hard (2 Peter 3:15-16), so can I. One hard saying in the Apostle Paul’s writing is his remark in 1 Cor. 15:29 regarding the baptism of the dead: 1Cor. 15:29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized...
Basic Biblical Trinitarianism teaches that God is one being with one divine essence but three eternal persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each of the three persons shares fully in the divine essence so that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God but there are...
As we think about the Trinity and seek to grow in our understanding of this Biblical doctrine, it is always helpful to use resources of others who have spent more time thinking about the Trinity. To this end, I would like to recommend Robert Letham’s book The Holy Trinity: In Scripture, History,...
What comes to mind when you hear the words “systematic theology”? For many Christians, they think of the halls of academia and the debating of obscure and minor details related to God. But for most of the history of the church, systematic theology was a discipline done for the church and by...
In this series, we are examining how the Lord’s prayer shapes our prayer life. In this post, we want to apply the phrase “…Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…” How does this statement in the Lord’s prayer shape our prayers? First, we should pray regularly for the forgiveness of sins...
One of the most important things we need to pray for is our evangelistic efforts. When we fail to pray for our evangelism efforts we could be in danger of acting as if it is within our ability to save individuals. Because God is the great Savior, saving people in Jesus Christ, we must pray and ask...
When it comes to the Westminster Confession of the Faith, we often do not think very much about how we might be able to study the Confession’s use of Scripture. In fact, most of us probably do not get very far beyond acknowledging the proof texts that the Confession offers. Yet the use of Scripture...
John Calvin lived from 1509-1564. He was an influential Reformer for his ministry in Geneva. By many accounts he was an excellent writer, preacher, and theologian. When people hear his name today, they often think of him as associated with the doctrine of predestination—that God elects before the...
Since the 1980s, a movement called the New Perspective on Paul has been a rising star in Biblical studies and Pauline scholarship. The movement primarily started through the writings of E.P. Sanders’ 1977 Paul and Palestinian Judaism as he explored the Second Temple Jewish texts and reexamined what...
Benjamin Breckinridge (B.B.) Warfield was a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1887 to 1921. He was one of the great professors of “Old Princeton” who tackled a number of Biblical and theological issues related to the rise of modernism and liberalism. One of the issues that he...
Few doctrines are as central to Christianity as the doctrine of the Trinity. That God is Triune is not just a confession of faith but it is also at the core of our worship. We worship the true and living God and it is vital that we know who He is. To this end God has revealed who He is so that we...
The book that started the “Marrow Controversy” was Edward Fisher’s The Marrow of Modern Divinity by Edward Fisher. It was first published in 1645 and 1649. In 1726, a new addition of the Marrow was published with the accompanying notes from Thomas Boston. This is the version that is republished...
In 1 Peter 2:9, the Bible teaches that the church is a “royal priesthood”. The background from this passage is a quote from Exodus 19:6 where God gave the nation of Israel the same call: Exodus 19:6 “and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall...
For the proper functioning of the church, God has established the offices of elder and deacon. Elders have the function of overseeing the church, proclaiming the Word, and shepherding the flock. While all elders must be able to teach (1 Tim. 3:2), it seems that in 1 Tim. 5:17 the early church...
One of the most important doctrines of the Reformation is the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. It means that the ultimate and final authority for all things is the Bible, which is the Word of God. As Protestants, we stand on the Bible. This does not mean we ignore creeds or church history but it does...
One of the most important things you can do with your family is read the Bible together with them. Children are never to young nor too old for you to engage them in Bible reading, study, and devotions as a family together. Honestly, if your family is anything like my family, it can be difficult to...
“The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God.” This line from the Second Helvetic Confession summarizes how we should think of the Biblical authority exercised in the pulpit. We see this concept reflected in Scripture, when someone preaches they are bringing the Word of God with authority...
Sometimes when people first hear the term “irresistible grace” they think that this means people are forced to take salvation against their will. They may erroneously think that people are dragged kicking and screaming into God’s kingdom even though they do not want it. Nothing could be further...
The wonderful thing about the grace of God is that the grace that saves is the grace that causes perseverance in the saint. That may take some clarification. Perseverance of the saints (or believers) does not mean that the saint will never stumble in sin, nor does it mean that the saint may not for...
The concept of “limited atonement” does not mean that we limit the power of the blood of Jesus Christ. Far from it, the idea of the limited atonement secures the effectiveness of the work of Jesus Christ. Limited atonement says that because Christ died for sins the sinner comes to saving faith...