Archive for December, 2017


Our Christian life is one of fits and starts. We take three steps forward and two steps back. We see some progress in one area of our lives and, at the same time, virtually none in another area, which is frustrating.

Here’s the good news: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

If our growth and progress in the Christian life depended solely upon our own effort, we would fail miserably. But our security isn’t dependent upon us (praise God!); God Himself is the One who guarantees it. Our security rests  firmly upon the promise and power of God. He finishes what He starts! We can count on that, which is an immense comfort.

God’s promise is based on three truths found in this verse:

God is at work in His people. Paul wrote, “He who began a good work in you.” The “He,” is, of course, God. If you’re in Christ as the Bible defines it, then God is at work in you. He’s at work in us to make us like His Son (Rom. 8:29). That work, however, isn’t always what we think it should be or what we’d like it to be.

Someday, the good work God is doing in us will be complete, but not in this life. According to Paul, God will perfect, or accomplish, His work “until the day of Christ Jesus.” It’s comforting to know that God will continue His work in us for the rest of our time here on earth (and we all know there’s a lot to work to do in each of us).

Although I am to work (see Philippians 2:12-13), God is ultimately responsible for the success of the mission. Paul wrote, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it.” The God who began a good work in you at justification will continue to sanctify you and will someday glorify you. If you or I were responsible, it wouldn’t happen.

With all of the ups and downs, fits and starts, and bumps in the road, we can be confident and certain because God is the One who is working.

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The hour was dark – very dark for the British Empire and the rest of the world – as Nazi Germany was on a seemingly unstoppable march toward world domination. Winston Churchill, however, shone brightly in contrast.

Darkest Hour tells the story of Churchill’s appointment as Prime Minister through the rescue at Dunkirk and his “We shall never surrender” speech to Parliament. With the exception of one scene (Winston riding the Tube in the Underground), the movie is historically accurate. Gary Oldman was fantastic in his portrayal of Churchill. He obviously studied the Prime Minister’s mannerisms and speech patterns. The makeup artists deserve some kind of reward for transforming Oldman into Churchill – unless his name was on the credits, you may not have known it was him.

Darkest Hour presents Churchill’s admirable qualities quite clearly. As an admirer and student of Churchill, I’m well aware of his less than admirable qualities as well (which were seen in the movie, too). He was flawed, just like all of us.

Churchill provided the courage needed to fight against, and ultimately defeat along with the Allies, the Axis powers. Providentially, Churchill was the right man for the right time. Churchill harnessed the power of words to motivate, inspire, and lead the free world in the battle against evil that was World War II. He was a needed counterbalance to Adolf Hitler, who also used words to advance his cause. Viscount Halifax, an opponent of Churchill in many ways, said of Churchill that he “mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” Indeed he did.

There are lessons for us to learn from Britain’s experience in World War II. Courage is always needed whatever our time or place, but it is always in short supply. It’s the rarest of virtues. Words are powerful: they turned the tide in World War II; they were used by God to create all things – visible and invisible; they turned the world upside down as the early Christians preached the gospel; and they changed the world in the Reformation as Bible preaching thundered from from pulpit all over Europe.

I highly recommend Darkest Hour. It’s a movie my Dad, who was a “Churchillophile” (if I may coin a word), would have liked.

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Repentance and faith are not the same thing, but they’re linked together and can’t be separated.

In Scripture, the gospel is the objective good news of salvation. It is the message of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. That message is declared to mankind in a way that summons us all to do two things—repent and believe. This repentance and belief are all the same fundamental and entirely fluid motion. Repentance is turning away from all that is not Christ, and belief is turning toward all that is. Repentance turns away from sin, and faith embraces Christ. This is the way it is by definition, and so it is not possible to turn to Christ actually without turning away from not Christ actually. This means true and real repentance.

To be given an opportunity to do this is good news indeed. However, there are two kinds of good news. One kind is the “out of the blue” sort. You get word that you have inherited millions from a distant relative you never even knew about. The other kind of good news is the kind that presupposes some awareness of antecedent bad news. The governor signed the pardon and you won’t be executed in the morning. A further review of the tests shows us that you do not have cancer. This is the kind of good news that shows us how turning away and turning toward can essentially be the same thing. This is good news that displaces the bad news.

Douglas Wilson, “Gospel for Snowflakes” blog post at Blog and Mablog (Dec. 20, 2017).

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Luke 2:8-14 says,

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

Rejoice, the Saviour has come! Repent and believe in Him.

Rejoice, the Lord has come! Submit to Him.

Rejoice, the Saviour and Lord is coming again! Prepare for Him.

Merry Christmas!



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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on Psalm 8. Here is a summary of his sermon in the space of one sentence: This who are in Jesus Christ are blessed to have Him as our representative in the Father’s plan of restoring all things.

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on Psalm 110. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: Not only is Jesus the King who subdues us, He is also the Priest who reconciles us to His Father.

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Robert Charles Sproul, better known to us as R.C., went to be with the Lord yesterday afternoon. Well done, good and faithful servant!

R.C. had, and will continue to have, a tremendous impact on me. In fact, I can’t really even quantify how influential he’s been. I’m saddened by his death, but rejoice that he’s in the presence of God and basking in His glory. I pray for his family and friends, as well as all of those who knew him through his teaching, his books, his ministry, and Bible college. May God give us all peace and comfort.

R.C. has influenced my thinking and theology through his books. The Holiness of God, Chosen by God, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, Now That’s A Good Question, Loved by God, Everyone’s A Theologian, The Last Days According to Jesus, The Truth of the Cross, Knowing Scripture, Getting the Gospel Right, Saved from What? What is Reformed Theology? Justification by Faith Alone, The Invisible Hand, to name only a few (and I mean that).

My understanding of the holiness of God was radically changed, for example, by R.C. I know intellectually that God is holy, but after reading and watching the video series The Holiness of God, I knew it emotionally and to the core of my being. If God is that holy, and if holiness means what R.C. says it does, then He is immeasurably larger than I’ve ever imagined and He is worthy of all praise, honor, glory, love, and devotion. Not only that, but everything is about Him, not me.

R.C.’s audio and video teachings, conferences, and the Renewing Your Mind radio program (and podcast) have been mainstays in my life. They’ll continue to be.

What influenced me most, though, was R.C. himself. His manner, his style, his faithfulness, his fearlessness, and His commitment to God and His Word all made him charming, challenging, and endearing to me. I can remember the first time I saw him. I thought, “Who is this guy who looks and sounds like Peter Falk as Columbo?” Well, he proved to be a lot more than that in the decades to come. In reality, he became indispensable. He was a lion in defense of the faith, which is something to imitate, and someone I want to be like.

We’ll miss him. We grieve, but not as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Those who belong to Jesus will see R.C. again – we can count on that. We praise God for using R.C. Sproul to deepen our knowledge and devotion to Him. He was a gift from God to the church.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15).

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I like recommending books to people, but they have to be good books. As someone has said, “Life is too short to waste on bad theology.” There are times when a short answer will suffice, but not always. Good books can help us go deeper into a subject and give perspectives we may lack.

Basic Christianity, by John Stott, is one of those good books that takes us deeper and gives an in-depth explanation of what Christianity is and isn’t. Originally published in 1958 (and since updated), it has become a classic. The book serves an as introduction to Christianity for the inquirer and a good reminder for Christians who want to brush up on the basics.

Who is Jesus? Stott answers the question by focusing on the claims, character, and resurrection of Jesus in part one. Part two deals with man’s need – the fact and nature of sin, and the consequences of sin. The third part of the book answers the question of the work of Christ. What He did is explained through His death and the salvation it brings to sinful man. In the fourth part, Stott explains man’s response to what Christ has done: counting the cost, reaching a decision, and being a Christian.

This is a good, well-written book. It also fits another of my criteria – it’s under two hundred pages. (That’s not a hard and fast rule, but the vast majority of books don’t need to go beyond two hundred pages.) Read Basic Christianity yourself and give away copies. You’ll be glad you did!


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This morning, I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on Psalm 2. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: The one who submits to the kingship of Jesus Christ is blessed.

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Jesus is the final prophet, obey His word.

Jesus is the ultimate priest, trust His intercession.

Jesus is the final lamb, trust His sacrifice.

Jesus is the good shepherd, follow His lead.

Jesus is the conquering lion, fear His roar.

Jesus is the eternal King, bow before Him.

(Garrett Kell)

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