The Tragic Path of James Baldwin

John Piper

James Baldwin, novelist, essayist, poet, was born August 2, 1924 anddied November 30, 1987. From child evangelist in a store-front churchin Harlem, to the front of TIME magazine as a dominant prophetic voiceof the sixties, to a disillusioned anti-American living and dying inFrance, Baldwin’s life was another witness to the power of Christianroots and the tragedy that comes when the root is severed.

James Baldwin on the cover of TIMEIn 1963, when I was a junior in high school, Baldwin published his most... Continue Reading

Return to Geneva: Life of Calvin, Part 7

David Mathis

After a golden three-year exile, Calvin returned to the city that expelled him. He didn’t jump at the opportunity but went reluctantly, feeling constrained by God’s will to resume the work.

It was September, 1541 when he stepped back into the pulpit and continued his exposition of the Psalms, picking up at the very place he had left off.

Now that Calvin was back, he would settle in for life in the Geneva he would be famous for.

Severe trials would come the following... Continue Reading

I Wrote a Poem to Put My Heart Right

John Piper

On vacation I was meditating on Luke 10:17-20 where Jesus tells us not to be overly excited about our ability to do feats of triumph in defeating the devil. Rather he says, fix the root of your joy in this: Your names are written in heaven. Amazing.

Most of us are moved more by the fireworks of miracles than by the mere assurance of salvation. Something is amiss. So I lingered long enough here to put my heart right. And in the process wrote a poem.

Rejoice! Your Names... Continue Reading

Resource for Preaching OT Narrative

David Mathis

Ralph Davis’s The Word Became Fresh is an outstanding resource for those eager to preach from the largest chunk of their Bibles—the Old Testament narratives. In a mere 150 pages, Davis walks through all the basics that are so obvious they take brilliance to see. His style is a wonderful blend of humor and seriousness, substance and simplicity (even if a bit too punchy at points).

In this book, Davis discusses everything from getting a macro sense of whole books to how to... Continue Reading

Biopsy Blows and the Helmet of Hope

John Piper

The helmets referred to in the Bible are for protection in mortal battle. A blow to the head with a mace or a bludgeon would crush your skull and kill you.

So when Paul says that we should put on “for a helmet the hope of salvation” he means that there are blows that come to our spiritual life that could destroy us, if we were not protected by the hope of salvation.

The hope of salvation—that we will not perish but obtain eternal life in the presence of Christ—absorbs the... Continue Reading

The Golden Years: Life of Calvin, Part 6

David Mathis

Calvin spent the happiest years of his life outside Geneva. It started in April of 1538 when Calvin and fellow reformer William Farel were expelled from Geneva.

Their eager reforms were moving quicker than the city council was ready for. Tensions escalated. Calvin in his youth and Farel in his zeal wouldn’t back down, and the council eventually expelled them. It wasn’t Calvin’s first or last mistake in ministry, but it likely served more than most in breaking the... Continue Reading

Liberalism 1 and Liberalism 2

John Piper

If you find yourself in a love-hate relationship with the concept of “liberalism,” part of the reason may be the schizophrenic history of the concept. Lights went on for me in reading Dinesh D’Souza’s distinction between two liberalisms.

It's helpful to distinguish between two types of liberalism. One is the classical liberalism of the American founding. Call this Liberalism 1, which is reflected in such principles as the right to vote, to assemble freely, to trade with... Continue Reading

Why There Are No Perfect Pastors

John Piper

On his birthday, let John Newton (author of "Amazing Grace") tell us why there aren't any perfect pastors.

In my imagination, I sometimes fancy I could [create] a perfect minister. I take the eloquence of ______, the knowledge of ______, the zeal of ______, and the pastoral meekness, tenderness, and piety of ______. Then, putting them all together into one man, I say to myself, “This would be a perfect minister.”

Now there is One, who, if he chose to, could actually do... Continue Reading

A Night's Stay in Geneva: Life of Calvin, Part 5

David Mathis

William Farel was the fiery redhead who cursed John Calvin’s ivory-tower life in Strasbourg and twisted his arm to stay in Geneva. Here’s the story.

Having published his Institutes, which were immediately successful, Calvin left Basel, still a fugitive from France, in the Summer of 1536 to make for Strasbourg where he could pursue a life of study and writing while tucked away under the pastoral care of famed reformer Martin Bucer. (Bucer had come to the Reformed... Continue Reading

The Myth of Neutrality

David Mathis

Is feigning neutrality a good strategy in telling a nonbeliever about Jesus? In his Apologetics to the Glory of God, John Frame argues that doing so is not only unwise but dishonest.

To tell an unbeliever that we can reason with him on a neutral basis, however that claim might help to attract his attention, is a lie. Indeed, it is a lie of the most serious kind, for it falsifies the very heart of the gospel—that Jesus Christ is Lord. For one thing, there is no neutrality. Our... Continue Reading