One of the reasons God rarely gives micro reasons for his painful providences, but regularly gives magnificent macro reasons, is that there are too many micro reasons for us to manage, namely, millions and millions and millions and millions and millions.
God says things like:
- These bad things happened to you because I intend to work it together for your good (Romans 8).
- These happened so that you would rely more on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1).
- This happened so that the gold and silver of your faith would be refined (1 Peter 1).
- This thorn is so that the power of Christ would be magnified in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12).
But we can always object that th…
Happy birthday, John Calvin. Today we celebrate your 499th birthday. Your preaching inspires me to press on with this great and glorious task of heralding the Word of God.
T. H. L. Parker’s 1975 biography tells why:
And so we trace him preaching on Sundays with one hundred and eighty-nine sermons on the Acts between 1549 and 1554, a shorter series on some of the Pauline letters between 1554 and 1558, and the sixty-five on the Harmony of the Gospels between 1559 and 1564. During this time the weekdays saw series on Jeremiah and Lamentations (up to 1550), on the Minor Prophets and Daniel (1550-2), the one hundred and seventy-four on Ezekiel (1552-4), the one hundred and fif…
I hope you are reading your Bible steadily through the summer. I hope you don’t miss a day. “On his law he meditates day and night” (Psalms 1:2). I pray that there are times when it tastes so good, you slow down and steep your heart in it. Today was an especially rich day for me.
I was reading in four parts of the Bible—not for any preparation, but just to feed my soul. In every text another text came to mind that made each clearer. And that blew some fog away so I could see and enjoy God more fully...
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What does Jesus mean when he says,
Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away (Luke 8:18)?
He is applying the parable of the four soils (Luke 8:12-15). Notice the connection between “take care how you hear,” and the focus in hearing in the parable.
- “The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word.”
- “And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.”
- “And as …
Since there are some Arminians who are more godly than some Calvinists and some Calvinists who are more godly than some Arminians, what is the correlation between true knowledge of God and godliness?
The best of both groups have historically admired the godliness of those in the other group. Whitefield, the Calvinist, said of Wesley, the Arminian, “Mr. Wesley I think is wrong in some things; yet I believe...Mr. Wesley, and others, with whom we do not agree in all things, will shine bright in glory” (Wesley and the Men Who Followed, 71).
But the sad thing about our day, unlike the days of Whitefield and Wesley, is that many infer from this that knowing God with greater truth and full…
Resolved 08, which I spoke at a couple weeks ago, had a sobering theme: Heaven and Hell. In my preparation, I dug up this contrast between Clark Pinnock and Dorothy Sayers.
Clark Pinnock, a Canadian theologian who has moved far from his evangelical roots, wrote:
I was led to question the traditional belief in everlasting conscious torment because of moral revulsion and broader theological considerations, not first of all on scriptural grounds. It just does not make any sense to say that a God of love will torture people forever for sins done in the context of a finite life.... It’s time for evangelicals to come out and say that the biblical and morally appropriate doctrine …
Not everything is complex when it comes to politics. Here’s something that is clear and simple and fearful. If political figures don’t humble themselves and give glory to God when they are praised for their speeches, they will be eaten by worms.
On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last. (Acts 12:21-23)
It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one ey…
Here is a sampling of God’s complete providence in governing the world.
- “I have commanded the ravens to feed you there” (1Kings 17:4)
- “The Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah” (Jonah 4:6).
- “God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered” (Jonah 4:7).
- “I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants” (Exodus 8:21).
- “He summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread” (Psalms 105:16).
- “He gave them hail for rain” (Psalms 105:32).
- “He spoke, and the locusts came” (Psalms 105:34).
- “The Lord will whistle for . . . the bee that is in the land of Assyria” (Isa…
What do the supreme court ruling on guns and the martyrdom of missionaries have to do with each other?
Noël and I watched Beyond Gates of Splendor, the documentary version of End of the Spear, the story of the martyrdom of Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, and Nate Saint in Ecuador in 1956. That same day we heard that the Supreme Court decided in favor of the right of Americans to keep firearms at home for self-defense.
Here’s the connection. The missionaries had guns when they were speared to death. One of them shot the gun into the air, it appears, as he was killed, rather than shooting the natives. They had agreed to do this. The reason was simple and stagg…
From time to time I meet the objection that efforts to understand complex and mysterious doctrines in the Bible are unhelpful because they reduce mystery and therefore diminish wonder and worship.
There are at least two answers to this objection. The first is mine and the other is from Jonathan Edwards.
1. God is more honored by worship that rises from what we know about him than by worship that rises from what we don’t know about him.
There is something fishy about saying our wonder and worship are greater, the less we understand about God. One gets the impression that such “wonder” and “worship” are vague aesthetic feelings on the brink of a void, rather than what we meet in…