Looking Back: Advent Candles

Noel Piper

Advent Candles probably are the most common Advent symbolism of looking back to the days of waiting for the Messiah God had promised.

Various helpful schemes of symbolism can be attached to Advent candles, their number, and color. But here are the basics—one candle for each of the Sundays of Advent, and if you wish, a fifth for Christmas Day. Some people have a special candle holder arrangement, a wreath maybe. That’s nice but not necessary. The only requirement for using Advent... Continue Reading

Advent: Standing in the Middle

Noel Piper

During Advent, it’s as if we are re-enacting the thousands of years God’s people were anticipating and longing for the coming of God’s salvation, for Jesus. Then at the end of the four weeks of Advent, Christmas is a heartfelt celebration because that ancient waiting is done.

And yet we are still waiting.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits... Continue Reading

Simon the Pharisee: The Fuel of True Love for God

Jon Bloom

He had the Holy One of Israel in his house, reclining at his table. The Prophet that Moses had foretold was sharing dinner with him. The Lord of glory, the Resurrection and the Life, was speaking with him face to face. The great climactic moment of history he claimed to be living for had arrived. It should have been a deliriously wonderful, breathtaking honor for Simon to host the Messiah.

But Simon was not amazed. As he looked at Jesus, all he saw was a... Continue Reading

Bless the Mother of Jesus, but Mainly Be the Mother of Jesus

John Piper

The veneration given to Mary in the Roman Catholic church is beyondwhat is warranted by the New Testament. In fact, it is astonishing howlittle we see of Mary in the New Testament. Let us honor her uniquemotherhood. Let us count her blessed as the mother of our incarnateLord. But let us not put her on a pedestal that neither she nor Jesuswould have approved of.

After she turns up with the disciples praying in the upper room in Acts 1:14,she is... Continue Reading

What Is Advent?

Noel Piper

We are a people of promise. For centuries, God prepared people for the coming of his Son, our only hope for life. At Christmas we celebrate the fulfillment of the promises God made—that he would give a way to draw near to him.

Advent is what we call the season leading up to Christmas. It begins four Sundays before December 25, sometimes in the last weekend of November, sometimes on the first Sunday in December. This year it was November 29.

1 Peter 1:10-12 is a clear description of what we... Continue Reading

Next Best to Grace: Oxygen

John Piper

Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote one of the wisest things I have ever read on dealing with discouragement or depression in the ministry. It’s called "The Minister’s Fainting Fits" from his book Lectures to My Students.

Here he is at his best.

He who forgets the humming of the bees among the heather, the cooing of the wood-pigeons in the forest, the song of birds in the woods, the rippling of rills among the rushes, and the sighing of the wind among the pines, needs not wonder if his... Continue Reading

Little Lamb, Who Made Thee?

John Piper

William Blake was born yesterday, 1757. One of his most famous poems is one ofmy favorites. It’s a good launch into Advent.

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed,
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little... Continue Reading

Why Say That Marriage Is Like Christ and the Church?

John Piper

When I asked Noël if there was anything she wanted me to say about marriage, she said, “You cannot say too often that marriage is a model of Christ and the church.”

I think she is right and there are at least three reasons:

  1. It lifts marriage out of sordid sitcom images and gives it the magnificent meaning God meant it to have.
  2. It gives marriage a solid basis in grace, since Christ obtained and sustains his bride by grace alone.
  3. It shows that the husband’s... Continue Reading

How Clear Differences Unite Humanity

John Piper

I have often said that I can go much farther down the road together with a serious, biblically oriented, articulate, firmly-believing Arminian than with a jesting, systems-oriented, unclear, wish-washy, Reformed philosopher.

G. K. Chesterton helps explain why.

It’s not merely true that a creed unites men. Nay a difference of creed unites men—so long as it is a clear difference . . . So a Tory can walk up to the very edge of Socialism if he knows what Socialism is. But... Continue Reading

A Chapter Closes in Advent at Bethlehem

John Piper

Some traditions are temporary—like a quarter of a century. This onelasted 27 years. I am referring to the reading of Advent Poems atBethlehem during Sunday Morning worship. I read the first one in 1982.Then I wrote four each year for about 23 years. Then, for about threeyears, I wrote three new ones, and read one recycled poem. Then lastyear, I wrote none, and I read only old poems.

This year we will replace the Advent Poems with Advent Scriptures.They will lead into... Continue Reading