Blog Posts by Tyler Kenney
The History of Veterans Day
Today in the United States we celebrate the great and many sacrifices our war veterans have made over the years in service to our nation. (Two years ago, John Piper wrote of his gratitude for such veterans in his post "Thankful They Embraced the Risk.")
The History Channel recently created this short video to tell the story of when and why November 11th became the day for remembering…Continue Reading
Thoughts on Evangelical Neglect of the Old Testament
It has been my experience, in talking with fellow evangelicals, that many of us are quick to equate the Old Testament to mean little more than what the Pharisees thought it meant in Jesus’ day. It is a book of Jewish religion, and if there is any Christian doctrine in its pages, it is veiled to the reader who hasn’t first become acquainted with the New Testament.
Of course, regardless…Continue Reading
Why God Makes Understanding Difficult
Jonathan Edwards, from Miscellanies #139:
I am convinced that there are many things in religion and the Scriptures that are made difficult on purpose to try men, and to exercise their faith and scrutiny, and to hinder the proud and self-sufficient.
John Piper addresses this same issue, speaking particularly about difficulties we encounter in Scripture, in his sermon, "Why God Inspired Hard Texts." He says God has…Continue Reading
How Saints Grow Happier Forever
Jonathan Edwards viewed heaven as a place where the joy of God's people will only increase forever and ever. (Sam Storms passionately unpacked this grand vision at our 2003 National Conference in his message "Joy's Eternal Increase: Edwards on the Beauty of Heaven.")
But why did Edwards think this? What will cause the saints' joy to constantly overflow and expand again and again into eternity? Edwards explains in …Continue Reading
Spoiled by the Grace of God
Where sin abounds with Achan at Jericho, grace abounds all the more at the defeat of Ai. And that abundant grace "spoils" the Israelites.
When God brings Israel back to Canaan to take possession of it, after being gone for 400 years in Egypt and 40 years in the wilderness, the first city they come to is Jericho. There God promises that he will give them victory: "See, I have…Continue Reading
Love Is Impatient, Love Is Kind
Impatience without self-control is always bad. But there is a time when impatience can be a sweet expression of love.
And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD, saying, “We have sinned against you, because we have forsaken our God and have served the Baals.”
And the LORD said to the people of Israel, “Did I not save you from the Egyptians and from the Amorites,…
Good News in the Gibeonite Deception
When Israel was fulfilling the Lord's command to take possession of the Promised Land and drive out its inhabitants, the Gibeonites, who were among them, recognized what was happening and concocted a plan.
They disguised themselves as worn out, weary travelers and approached Joshua, telling him they were from a far away land. They "acted with cunning" (Joshua 9:4) to escape being destroyed along with the other Canaanite nations.
The Firm Foundation of Our Forgiveness
It is a profound gift of grace that God has not only promised us forgiveness, but that he has established the foundations of it right before our eyes.
The death of Jesus Christ is an eternal testimony before God that our sins have been sufficiently dealt with, which gives us confidence that we will receive mercy on the Day of Judgment and not wrath.
Jonathan Edwards ponders the alternative in …Continue Reading
Surprise Book—For the Fame of God's Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper
Two days ago at our National Conference, Sam Storms and Justin Taylor took the stage just before lunch to make an unexpected announcement: after 3 years of undercover communication and composition, a special book had been prepared.
There on stage, Sam and Justin presented to John Piper a book written in his honor: For the Fame of God's Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper.
Sam began by reading from…Continue Reading
The Excellencies of Christ Illustrated in Nature
The triune God had a purpose when he set his final creation, man, in the midst of such a marvelous universe. He wanted every aspect of that universe to teach man something about him.
Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20 tell us this. "The heavens declare the glory of God"; that is, they show forth "his eternal power and divine nature," along with the rest of creation.
In this excerpt from …Continue Reading
Holier and Happier Forever? How?
Jonathan Edwards believed that Christians in heaven will only increase in holiness and happiness forever and ever.
He based this on the idea that, once in heaven, a Christian's bank of memories will forever be growing, which only means that the number of ideas in their mind will forever be growing also. Of course, this is just another way of saying that a Christian's knowledge will always be increasing—and here…Continue Reading
How Humans Are Greater Than Angels
Jonathan Edwards gives three reasons why human beings, though sinful and inferior in wisdom and strength, will forever exceed angels in glory and honor:
- Angels were made to serve God by serving man, but man was made to serve God directly.
- Human grace, holiness, and love are greater virtues than angelic wisdom and strength.
- Believers are united to Christ in a way angels never will be.
Follow his logic for…Continue Reading
The Importance of Using Your Body in Worship
Jonathan Edwards says that a lack of external expression in worship can actually destroy Christian community and devotion.
Some bodily worship is necessary to give liberty to our own devotion; yea though in secret, so more when with others . . . 'Tis necessary that there should be something bodily and visible in the worship of a congregation; otherwise, there can be no communion at all. (From Miscellanies #101)
Read …Continue Reading
How Can God Decree Sin Without Sinning?
Jonathan Edwards offers his explanation. (See below for my attempt at restating him.)
That we should say, that God has decreed every action of men, yea, every action that they do that is sinful, and every circumstance of those actions . . . and yet that God does not decree the actions that are sinful as sinful, but decrees [them] as good, is really consistent.
We do not mean…
Why the Law Makes Us Want to Sin More
Jonathan Edwards explains why Romans 7:8—"But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness"—happens.
[The] reason why man has the more strong inclination to moral evil when forbidden, is because obedience is submission and subjection, and the commandment is obligation. But natural corruption is against submission and obligation, but loves the lowest kind of liberty as one of those apparent goods that it seeks;…
Free Bodies, Bound Wills
True and saving faith in Christ is not a thing out of the power of man, but infinitely easy. 'Tis entirely in a man's power to submit to Jesus Christ as a Savior, if he will; but the thing is, it never will be that he should will it, except God works it in him.
—Jonathan Edwards, from Miscellanies #71
Edwards draws a distinction here between two kinds of ability:
One of the Greatest Blockheads in the World
Seeing the devil is so cunning and subtile, it may seem a paradox, why he will endeavor to frustrate the designs of an omniscient being, or to pretend to counterwork him that is omnipotent, and will not suffer anything but what is for his own glory: seeing that God turns everything he does to the greater and more illustrious advancement of His own honor, and seeing he has experience of…
The Nature of Conversion, Then and Now
I am now convinced, that conversion under the old [covenant] was not only the same in general with what it is commonly under the new, but much more like it as to the particular way and manner, than I used to think.
Among the children of Israel, there was always without doubt two sorts of persons, wicked and godly, and there used to be as manifest a difference between these…
When Justice Becomes Your Bodyguard
The redemption by Christ is particularly wonderful upon this account, inasmuch as the justice of God is not only appeased to those who have an interest in him, but stands up for them; is not only not an enemy but a friend, every whit as much as mercy.
Justice demands adoption and glorification, and importunes as much for it, as ever it did before for misery; in every respect that…
The Harmony of All God's Decrees
If God has already willed to send rain, then why pray for it? Or if God has chosen to save you, then why fight so hard against temptation?
Edwards gives his answer to questions like these in Miscellanies #29 (reformatted for readability):
God decrees all things harmoniously and in excellent order; one decree harmonizes with another, and there is such a relation between all the decrees as makes the most…
Luke's Lesson on Grace and Faith
Though their stories in Luke 1 are strikingly similar, Zechariah and Mary have two significant differences that Luke highlights to teach an amusingly ironic and encouraging lesson about grace and faith.
Here are their similarities:
- Both are visited by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:19; 1:26-27)
- Both are promised the miraculous birth of a son (Luke 1:13; 1:31)
- Both are equally unfit to have a child: Zechariah's wife is barren, and…
Are There Two Wills in God? Yes.
If you've never before heard about the existence of two wills in God, I recommend reading John Piper's article, "Are There Two Wills in God?" (which is also an appendix in the book The Pleasures of God).
In essence, what the doctrine states is that there are... well... two wills in God. The first will is his will of command (or as Edwards says below, "law"). This…Continue Reading
The Sin of Sodom
As Bible-believing Christians, we are known for our convictions against sexual immorality. But are we known equally as well for our contempt for religious arrogance?
Scripture clearly states that sexual immorality is sin (Matthew 15:19; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 5:19, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, etc.). We must also remember, however, that this is only one bad fruit of our rebellion against God, one among a list of many others,…Continue Reading
The Beautiful Simplicity of Biblical Narrative
An excerpt from Jonathan Edwards' Miscellanies #6 (paragraphing added):
There is a strange and unaccountable kind of enchantment, if I may so speak, in Scripture history; which, notwithstanding it is destitute of all rhetorical ornaments, makes it vastly more pleasant, agreeable, easy and natural, than any other history whatever. It shines brighter with the amiable simplicity of truth. There is something in the relation that at the same time very…
Why It's OK That Some Are Happier Than Others in Heaven
We saw last week in Jonathan Edwards' Miscellanies #3 that God created the universe so that it would be happy in him. Today, in this excerpt from Miscellanies #5, he explains how the experience of higher levels of happiness by some in heaven will not dampen the joy of others.
We are very apt to conceive that those that are more holy and more happy than others in heaven will…