It’s April Fools’ Day, and whatever its origins, the Scriptures have something to say about playing the fool.
There is uncertainty about how and when people began mocking the fool on the first day of April. Many think it goes back to sixteenth-century France when the nation changed from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian. April 1 had been the end of a weeklong festival celebrating the coming of Spring and with it the new year. Now the new year changed to January 1. Some refused to make the switch, or lived in rural areas and didn’t get the word, and were mocked as fools by those who made the change.
Others think the origin may be in a scribal error in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales that had …
“Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” (John 20:25)
The resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is the most important event of human history. If it didn’t happen, the most influential world religion is a sham. If it did happen, “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
The resurrection is a fantastic claim. Jesus’ own disciples didn’t believe it at first. And Thomas struggled more than anyone with his skeptic side. And in his experience1 in particular there is hope for all of us stumbling doubters. Jesus knows how and when to reach us.
Jesus’s death had been difficult and confusin…
This Easter marks the end of an era at Bethlehem Baptist.
John Piper served as the church’s primary preacher from July 13, 1980, until December 31, 2012. Since January 1 this year, he has been associate pastor, and his final task on staff is preaching this weekend’s Easter message — once Saturday night, three times Sunday morning, and then the last hurrah on Sunday night.
It’s the end of an era — the era of Piper as local-church pastor — but God willing, just the beginning of a new season of ministry.
For well over a decade Piper and Bethlehem have felt an increasing call on Piper for “wider” ministry. The elders and church have eagerly encouraged this broader ministry beyond Bethlehem by…
The hands-down, most horrific nightmare possible is that of a God who is angry without due cause. Could we imagine anything worse?
It would be the most terrible thing if the only person who has the power to destroy you forever were ferociously angry with you for no reason. That God would hate you just because. That he would throw his fury around on a whim. What if he were arbitrarily annoyed with everything about you? What if he were to burn with indignation toward you only because he can?
There is no idea worse, and no idea more untrue.
Now to be clear, God is angry. He “feels indignation every day,” as Psalm 7:11 says. But here’s the crucial point to remember: his anger is always a righ…
In running the race of life we are to look to the exaltation of Jesus at the end of his race. But Hebrews 12:2 tells us to look not only to his exaltation, but to his motivation.
Jesus was carried in the agonies of the last lap of his race by the hope of joy. “For the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross, despising the shame” (verse 2). Jesus kept his eyes on the same place we should — his own future exaltation at the Father’s right hand, with the completion of our salvation crowning his head. This was his joy.
There were mammoth obstacles in Jesus’s way. Two are mentioned. The cross and the shame. The cross, no doubt, stands for all the pain and abandonment and spiritual dar…
Sin in Eden knocked all creation into chaos. Sin at Babel marked the collective pride of mankind. And while every sin is an act of God-rejection, humanity’s wickedness reaches new heights in the horrifying events of Good Friday.
Holy Week makes us uncomfortable. There is glorious life and victory to come on Easter Sunday, but to get there we must pass directly through the darkness of Good Friday. We must remember the day when human malice broke barriers and reached levels of previously unmatched atrocity. The Messiah, the King, come to save mankind, was nailed to an accursed tree and left to die.
There is no immunity for such cosmic treason.
On Good Friday we feel the finger of guilt a…
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2)
Hebrews 12:1–2 tells us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Part of our motivation is that “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” These are the runners from chapter 11 who finished the race of life before us. They have come around to line the way and cheer us on bec…
In the UK a few years back a group of church leaders used a Maundy Thursday church service to do something extraordinary. As people entered the church for the Thursday gathering of Holy Week, elders greeted them on their knees in the entryway. Every attendee was invited to sit, and there, in the entrance of the church, the elders removed shoes and socks and washed the reluctant feet of every stunned attendee.
Maundy Thursday is like that — it shocks.
The term maundy in Maundy Thursday comes to us from the Latin root mandatum, or commandment, from Jesus’s words in John 13:34:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are …
The Book of Psalms is an amazing gift to the church. Says John Piper, “The Psalms, more intentionally than any other book of the Bible, is designed to carry, express, and shape our emotions, to give vent to them — all of them, and shape them, to reign them in, and to free them up, to explode them, and to kill them when they should be killed.”
The Psalms are useful for shaping our emotions, and rich devotional fuel for the soul, but how are these ancient Psalms to function in the life of the gathered church in weekend worship? Most of us don’t sing from the Psalter, or even recite from the Psalms on a typical Sunday, although such a practice seems to be assumed by the early church (Ephesians…
It felt as though we were traveling back in time.
Snow was falling, the roads were icy, and civilization was in the rearview. Tony Reinke and I had landed an interview with a 96-year-old theologian tucked away in rural Minnesota, and now we meant to make good on it, despite the distance and wintry weather.
We knew we were in for a memorable day. Robert Duncan Culver is the only surviving founding member of the Evangelical Theological Society — and his mind is sharp enough to recall his membership number was 158. He taught a combined 25 years at Wheaton College and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and stirred up his share of controversy.
“I don’t mind disagreeing,” says Culver. “I can …