An Open Letter to Clarence the Angel (from the Film It’s a Wonderful Life)

Michael Johnson

Dear Clarence,

At the outset, please forgive me if this letter seems a bit disjointed. I’ve never written an angel before, so I’m a bit nervous!

What’s the occasion of this, my very first “Angel” letter? I realize it’s a tad tardy, but it’s regarding the movie that made you famous: Frank Capra’s iconic film It’s a Wonderful Life.

I’ve watched it for nearly every year I’ve been alive,…

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Here's What's Often Missing When We Speak of the Final Judgment As Being According to Works

Matt Perman

I agree that the final judgment is according to works. We are justified—made right with God and given a title to heaven—by faith alone apart from works. This faith, though, always and necessarily leads to good works, such that at the final judgment works can be necessary as evidence that we have already been accepted by God. So works are necessary as evidence, not basis.

One analogy may be going…

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When Preaching Becomes Plagiarism

Tyler Kenney

When has a preacher crossed the line into plagiarism in his sermon?

Matt Perman, senior director of strategy at DG, has posted his response today at The Gospel Coalition Blog. It follows in a series on plagiarism that began earlier this week, which also includes posts by Don Carson, Sandy WillsonTim Keller, Glenn Lucke and Collin Hansen (the last two forthcoming; read Hansen's introduction to the series).

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We Are Not So Reasonable

Jon Bloom

And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers…[and] went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them. (Judges 2:12)

The ancient Israelites repeatedly turned to the idols of the surrounding nations despite God’s repeated warnings. What in the world was so compelling about Baal, Dagon, Ashtoreth, Chemosh, and Molech?

Answer: the world around them worshiped them. The nations surrounding Israel had fruitful…

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What Is a Peacemaker?

Dustin S.

Our master, Jesus the Messiah, said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Christians are called to be peacemakers. So how are we doing? Is this what we are known for? Does this describe you?

Imagine you were to tell your family that you wanted to be a peacemaker. Would they first think of the church or the UN? “Peacemaker” ought to be synonymous with…

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A Good Way to Think of the Love of Christ

Tyler Kenney

Jonathan Edwards explains how romantic love helps us understand Jesus' feelings towards the church (Miscellanies #189, spacing added):

We see how great love the human nature is capable of, not only to God but fellow creatures. How greatly are we inclined to the other sex! Nor doth an exalted and fervent love to God hinder this, but only refines and purifies it.

God has created the human nature…

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Are You More Blessed Than the Virgin Mary?

Jonathan Parnell

In the sermon descriptively entitled,

“That Hearing and Keeping the Word of God Renders a Person More Blessed Than Any Other Privilege That Ever God Bestowed on Any of the Children of Men,”

Jonathan Edwards writes:

The hearing and keeping the word of God brings the happiness of a spiritual union and communion with God.

‘Tis a greater blessedness to have spiritual communion with God and to have a saving…

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A Bitter Harvest?

Paul Tripp

The Bible is very clear about three things:

  1. God's way is always the best way (Psalm 119:160).
  2. God's way will not always seem the best way to you (Proverb 14:12).
  3. What you plant, you will harvest (Galatians 6:7ff).

In every relationship, every day you harvest what you previously planted and plant what you will someday harvest. When division and acrimony take place in a relationship, we aren't experiencing mysterious difficulty.…

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When a Rebuke Became a Reward

Jon Bloom

Imagine what Zechariah and Elizabeth talked about after their friends left the naming ceremony where Zechariah had miraculously regained his speech. What might he have learned in those silent months?

*          *          *

“So… are you going to tell me?”

Elizabeth was ready to burst. She had waited nearly a year to hear what had happened in the temple.

Zechariah was looking…

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