Blog Posts by David Mathis

De Clementia, Conversion, and Cop: Life of Calvin, Part 3

David Mathis

Calvin was growing disillusioned with humanism while studying law in Bourges in 1531 when his father died. Freed from dad’s expectations of making law his profession, Calvin packed his bags for Paris to resume his theological pursuits.

It was 1532, at age 23, when Calvin published his first book, a commentary on Seneca’s De Clementia. He hoped it would make for a celebrated inauguration to the guild, but it…

Continue Reading

Off to Paris: Life of Calvin, Part 2

David Mathis

It was 1523, and Calvin was 14 years old when he went off to university in Paris—70 miles south of his native city of Noyon. Providentially, he didn’t need to leave home alone, but went with two of the De Montmor sons, a wealthy family in Noyon that had afforded Calvin the opportunity for a private education.

In Paris, Calvin learned Latin from the respected Mathurin Cordier, who decades later…

Continue Reading

Born to Gerard: Life of Calvin, Part 1

David Mathis

Five hundred years ago today, he was born Jean Cauvin in Noyon, France—about 70 miles north of Paris. His father was Gerard, son of a barrelmaker and boatman. Gerard was a lawyer, and it was his law practice that brought him into the everyday sphere of the church.

The young Jean benefitted immensely through his father’s ecclesiastical connections. He was able to be educated privately with the children of the…

Continue Reading

Hope for Sexual Strugglers

David Mathis

David fell in 2 Samuel 11. He saw that Bathsheba was “very beautiful,” and he followed his lusts down the slope to adultery—and then even to having her husband killed.

But by 1 Kings 1, David is able to be attended to by Abishag the Shunammite, who the text also says was “very beautiful,” and yet “the king knew her not” (verse 4).

Maybe aging was a factor, but my…

Continue Reading

Strong in Another’s Strength

David Mathis

Laziness is not the alternative to living in your own strength. Paul talks about being strong in the strength of another.

  • Ephesians 6:10: “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
  • Colossians 1:29: “I toil [to present everyone mature in Christ], struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:1: “Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
  • 1…
Continue Reading

How John the Baptist Handled the Attention

David Mathis

God gave him a message, and so he went around delivering it. “The word of God came to John”—we call him John the Baptist—and “he went into all the region around the Jordan [River], proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:2-3).

It seems John became popular pretty fast, but he wasn’t doing seeker-friendly.

He said...to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him,…

Continue Reading

Sitting Where Angels Stand

David Mathis

What’s more impressive than standing in God’s presence? Sitting—and doing so at the right hand.

An angel said to John the Baptist’s father: “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God” (Luke 1:19). That’s noteworthy.

But more so is what Hebrews says about Jesus:

After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty of high, having become as much superior to angels…

Continue Reading

Learning from Flawed Faith

David Mathis

The book of Judges—what a mess! It starts bad and gets worse and worse, then ends so poorly that it’s awkward to read in public.

Yet God put it in the Book and means it to be for “our instruction” (1 Corinthians 10:11; Romans 15:4). The author of Hebrews even goes so far as to mention Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah in his faith hall of fame (Hebrews 11:32). What…

Continue Reading

Don't Just Be Passively Hospitable

David Mathis

In Romans 12:13, Paul points out that one effect of God’s mercy on his people is that they “seek to show hospitality.”

Seek. Pursue. Chase after.

They are not merely willing to be hospitablewhen someone comes to the door or asks for a favor. But they seek to show hospitality. They’re looking for and creating opportunities to be hospitable, not just answering the doorbell.

That Paul would point…

Continue Reading

Who's the Naked Guy and Why Does He Matter?

David Mathis

One puzzle in the passion story is, Who’s the young man running through the garden without his clothes on?

Mark 14:51–52 says,

And a young man followed [Jesus], with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

There are several options for who this is. But the best may be that it's the Gospel-writer Mark himself,…

Continue Reading

A Marriage Advice Moment with John Piper

David Mathis

A staff member at Bethlehem asked Pastor John what one or two main things he wants to say to an engaged couple in premarital counseling. His answer is relevant for marriages new and old:

Be joyfully, brokenheartedly, shaped by the death of Christ for you.

Do you both feel the fearfulness of how the death of Christ witnesses to your unspeakable unworthiness to be loved—that it took this much suffering…

Continue Reading

The Bible's Everest

David Mathis

The last 12 verses of Romans 8 (verses 28–39) are the biblical Himalayas, and Romans 8:32 is Mount Everest.

[God] did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Stand in awe at this summit. First step back and view the whole range, and then focus your gaze on the highest peak. And then…

Continue Reading

Why Finally Alive

David Mathis

John Piper's new book Finally Aliveis scheduled to release next week. We hope to have it available at the Desiring God Conference for Pastors on Monday, February 2.

This is the first of 6 posts introducing this book. This first one is a Q&A with John Piper about why he wrote the book. The last 5 will provide 5 of my favorite quotes from Finally Alive and some endorsements.

Continue Reading

Resolutions? No!

David Mathis

Reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ classic Spiritual Depression would be a strong way to start the new year.

The title can be a tad deceiving. It’s not merely a book for those with a pronounced sense of spiritual depression. It’s a book for all Christians—for the daily spiritual depressions we all face this side of heaven.

Lloyd-Jones ends his second chapter with these challenging and refreshing words:

Would you like to be…

Continue Reading

Jesus' Humanity Now

David Mathis

The Permanence of Christmas, Part 3: Contemporary Articulations

From the New Testament to the present, Christian theology has celebrated that Jesus is forever the God-man. In this series, we saw first what the apostles had to say in the New Testament. Then we picked up the theme of Jesus’ continuing humanity in church history. Today we'll conclude with four present-day articulations of this doctrine.

Jesus’ Body: Not

Continue Reading

Jesus' Humanity Throughout History

David Mathis

The Permanence of Christmas, Part 2: Church History

Throughout church history, the best of Christian theology has recognized and affirmed the truth of Jesus’ continuing incarnation—the idea that Jesus didn’t simply make a 33-year cameo in the created world, but rather forever joined our humanity to his divinity and will always be fully God and fully man.

Here’s a sampling with help from Gerrit Scott Dawson’s Jesus Ascended:

Continue Reading

Jesus Is Still Human

David Mathis

The Permanence of Christmas, Part 1: Biblical Foundations

Advent is a chance not only to celebrate Jesus’ taking of human flesh but also his keeping of it. It wasn’t a mere 33-year stint—impressive as that would have been. Jesus is forever the God-man. He is glorious not merely in assuming our human nature but in remaining our brother and continuing as the visible “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).

Continue Reading

From Protest to Praise

David Mathis

An amazing progression occurs in the 3 short chapters of Habakkuk.

The book begins with the prophet protesting that God seems to be standing idly by while his people in Judah plummet into rampant evil and injustice (1:2–5).

God responds that it’s not going unnoticed, and, to Habakkuk’s surprise, God’s already attending to it—by raising up the wicked Chaldeans, “that bitter and hasty nation," to punish Judah (1:5-11).

Habakkuk protests…

Continue Reading

Give Time to Your Wife

David Mathis

The apostle Peter writes,

Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

This is strange at first glance. How does caring for your wife connect to having unhindered prayers?

Here’s Wayne Grudem’s challenging commentary:

So concerned is…

Continue Reading

Thank God for Martin Luther

David Mathis

It was a backwater German town called Eisleben on November 10, 1483—today marks 525 years.

There Martin Luther had his inauspicious beginning. He was born a poor boy, son of a coal miner. And by a strange providence, Luther died in the same town 62 years later on February 18, 1546, even though he spent barely any of his life there.

In the intervening 6 decades, the world changed—and Luther,…

Continue Reading

Luther's First Thesis and Last Words

David Mathis

491 years ago today, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg.

He wanted to debate the sale of indulgences with his fellow university professors. So he wrote in Latin.

But a nameless visionary translated the theses into German, carried them to the printing press, and enabled their dispersion far and wide. Luther ended up with more than he bargained for, but he proved to be…

Continue Reading

Ordinary Life with Gospel Intentionality

David Mathis

Total Church book coverA pair of Brits have a provocative book appearing in the States this month. Tim Chester and Steve Timmis published Total Church in the UK last year, and enough readers here have found it helpful to prompt Crossway Books and Mark Driscoll’s Resurgence ministry to pick up the title in the Re:Lit series. You can watch Tim Chester introduce the book at Crossway's blog.

Chester’s and Timmis’s refrain for…

Continue Reading

Practicing Politics as Former Fools

David Mathis

Titus 3 speaks a timely word during election season. Paul charges Titus,

Remind [the people] to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. (verses 1-2)

God doesn't send his church into the political fray with a strut and an open mouth…

Continue Reading

Strong Rebuke & Affirming Challenges

David Mathis

Sometimes a strong rebuke is in order. The sin we see in the lives of those we love and lead is so serious that we must respond with intensity. This is the loving way to handle egregious departures from the truth.

But more often the sin is subtler, and the best way to respond is the path of an affirming challenge.

A Strong Rebuke

The occasional strong rebuke has biblical…

Continue Reading

Believing-the-Bible Book List

David Mathis

Last weekend was John Piper’s “Why We Believe the Bible” seminar for The Bethlehem Institute. Several in attendance asked that we make a few booklists available that Pastor Piper referred to during the seminar.

There are 3 categories:

  • The formation of the canon
  • The reliability of the New Testament
  • Refuting the claims of some recent critics

We disagree with some of these scholars on other points of doctrine, however…

Continue Reading