In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us about our heavenly Father. He describes the birds of the air, telling us that our heavenly Father feeds them, and aren’t we of more value than they are? In Matthew 6:32, after describing the pressures of our human need to obtain food, drink, and clothing, he reminds us that our heavenly Father knows that we need all these things. In Matthew 7:11, reflecting on prayer using the illustration of a child asking a father for food and receiving what is good, he says, “how much more will you Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Jesus tenderly and lovingly points us, and the crowds hearing him, to God the Father’s great care and love for his people. Continue reading
The English Reformer Hugh Latimer (c.1487-1555) wrote the following to his friend and fellow minister, Nicholas Ridley, as they sat imprisoned awaiting a likely death penalty by burning during the reign of Queen Mary:
“Be of good cheer in the Lord, remember what he requires of you, and what he promises you. Our common enemy will do no more than God will permit him. “God is faithful, which will not suffer us to be tempted above our strength,” &c. They can but kill the body, which must die regardless. They cannot even do that when they want, but when God wills, when the appointed time has come… Give a reasonable account of your faith, if they will quietly hear you; if not, you know, in a wicked place of judgment a man may keep silence following the example of Christ. Don’t let them deceive you… with their fallacies. As Paul says, “Let no man deceive you.” Continue reading
What does faith look like in the Christian life? What is its character? The Westminster Confession of Faith summarizes Scripture telling us that saving faith “is different in degrees, weak or strong.”
We can see these contrasts both between Christians, and in any individual Christian. Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer were both courageous in faith during the English Reformation, yet at the point of martyrdom, at the stake to be burned, Ridley was struggling, weak in faith, very much in need of the encouragement of Latimer, his brother in Christ: “Be of good comfort, Mr. Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace, in England, as I trust never shall be put out.” The apostle Peter was so weak in faith as to flat out deny Christ to the servant girl; weeks later, by grace, he was strong in faith, fearlessly “street preaching” in the public square in Jerusalem, in the heart of the city that had crucified Jesus. Continue reading
Have you ever thought about what saving faith is or what it does? God’s Word tells us that faith is a gift of grace: our faith has been obtained “by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:1) It is something given to us—without our having done anything to merit it. The theologian Thomas Boston describes our receiving faith this way: “We are born spiritually blind, and cannot be restored without a miracle of grace… There is, in the unrenewed will, an utter inability for what is truly good and acceptable in God’s sight.” Even elect souls attempt to resist “when the Spirit of the Lord is at work, to bring them from the power of Satan unto God.” God’s Word plainly declares our inability to create or conjure up spiritual life, including faith, from within. Continue reading
What is communion with God? In the first epistle of John we are told that Christians fellowship with “the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3) The Christians of John’s day were marginalized, despised, and persecuted. Why would anyone want to become a Christian? Yet, for all the apparent disadvantages, it was not only desirable, but honorable and glorious. “Truly,” John says, “our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
Due to our sin, no man, woman, or child, in their natural born condition has fellowship with God. God is light. We are darkness. What communion does light have with darkness? God is life. We are dead. God is love. We are enmity. So what friendship can there be between God and man? Continue reading
“One of the most significant growth points in the believer’s life is the dawning realisation that Christian doctrine matters for Christian living. How we live as God’s children will be shaped by the impact of God’s truth upon our minds and hearts. This is so basic; and yet it can hardly be denied that many Christians languish in the shadows of God’s love when they should be basking in the noon-day sunshine of his love, and all because they fail to make the connection between believing the truth and enjoying the truth.
This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in the lack of assurance that blights the lives of many Christians. Continue reading
My only comfort is “that I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with His precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation, and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready from now on to live for Him.” Continue reading
The first benefit of biblical Christianity is that the Christian is a person no longer a rebel and enemy, chasing futility and facing judgement. The Christian is reconciled to God in Christ, and brought to glorify and enjoy Him. God in his grace lavishes the Christian with this and innumerable other blessings. The benefits of a biblical Christianity also extend beyond the individual–to the church, family, and beyond.
Broken, distorted relationships in families and society are a painful, and to some degree, standard reality in our world. What difference does it make to be a Christian? While retaining natural family ties, the Christian receives the benefit of adoption into God’s family. He/she becomes a child of God, entering a new relationship with Christians around the globe, as well as those already in heavenly glory. Continue reading