The Humility of Reading (or The Pride of Not Reading)

We’ve all been warned about the connection between pride and reading. Charles Spurgeon warned that “little learning and much pride come with hasty reading.” Bertrand Russell once observed, “There are two motives for reading a book. One, that you enjoy it. The other; that you can boast about it.” Alan Jacobs has similarly commented: “I think most people read quickly because they want not to read but to have read.” Continue reading “The Humility of Reading (or The Pride of Not Reading)”

Justified at the First Moment of Faith

It has been said that justification is the article by which the church is standing or falling. This statement is usually attributed to Martin Luther, whose actual statement is pretty close to the popular paraphrase. Others within the Reformed tradition have affirmed the truth highlighted in this statement, including Westminster professor, John Murray (1898-1975). The point of the statement is to underscore the spiritual and theological importance of justification: if the church is unclear about her standing with God, then spiritual life and vitality will quickly vanish.

In this post, I want to focus on the essential truth that justification is an instantaneous declaration. I will begin with some preliminary definitions. Continue reading “Justified at the First Moment of Faith”

Justified by Works? Sola Fide (Faith Alone) and James 2:24

Roman Catholic theologians turn to James 2:24 to argue their case that justification is according to works. There is good reason for this. James says explicitly: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24). We need to get a solid grasp on this passage so we can be clear on what Scripture teaches about justification and know how to answer our Catholic friends when it comes to sharing the gospel. Continue reading “Justified by Works? Sola Fide (Faith Alone) and James 2:24”

Christ Alone as the Center of the Reformation Distinctives

Is there a “center” of the Reformation distinctives (Scripture alone, Faith alone, Grace alone, Christ Alone, Glory of God alone)? Yes, there is, according to Michael Reeves in his foreward to Steve Wellum’s excellent book, Christ Alone: The Uniqueness of Christ as Savior. Reeves argues that we must keep Christ at the center of these Reformation distinctives in order to ensure that each distinctive is properly understood and applied. Continue reading “Christ Alone as the Center of the Reformation Distinctives”

Hyper-Calvinism’s Deadly Mistake

At the same time Scripture exalts the sovereignty of God in salvation and regularly speaks of our need for God to grant us spiritual life (see John 1:12-13; 6:44; Acts 11:18; Eph 2:1-5; Col 2:12-13; Phil 1:29; 2 Tim 2:25-26), it calls us to believe in Christ and holds us responsible to do so.

Hyper-Calvinists typically argue that in order for a person to truly respond to the biblical exhortations to repent and believe, that person must have some confidence that they are elect in order to know that they have a warrant to believe in Christ. Specifically, a person should make sure they can discern the work of the Holy Spirit in their life before they put their faith in Christ. Continue reading “Hyper-Calvinism’s Deadly Mistake”

The Vital Distinction Between Union and Communion with Christ

In medieval theology, union with Christ was not a fixed reality; it was something that could fluctuate and change over one’s spiritual pilgrimage. It was the believer’s responsibility, therefore, to seek greater and more complete union with Christ through prayer, the sacraments, obedience, and so on.

The Reformers, however, believed the Scriptures made a distinction between union with Christ and communion with Christ. Continue reading “The Vital Distinction Between Union and Communion with Christ”

Custom-Made Temptations, Crafted Just For You

Paul told the Corinthians that he and his apostolic associates were wise to Satan’s deceptive schemes (2 Cor 2:11). The apostle knew Satan was a formidable enemy who had millennia of experience tempting and deceiving God’s image-bearers; but he also knew he had been given insight into the way his enemy operated. Continue reading “Custom-Made Temptations, Crafted Just For You”