Gratitude Always for All Things

Ephesians 5:20 teaches us that an essential part of wisdom is "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." The grammar of this verse links it back to 5:18, which indicates that the gratitude Paul describes is a result of being filled with the Spirit. This makes perfect sense, of course, because only ...

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Aqueducts of Anxiety vs. Springs of Salvation

Isaiah 12:3 is a beautiful description of the limitless blessings of eternal life that Jesus provides: "Therefore with joy you will draw water from the springs of salvation." I pointed out all the water connections with the original Exodus, but there is also an important water connection within the book of Isaiah that helps explain the comfort and ...

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Liturgical Evangelism

The structure of our liturgy—and that of most other ancient liturgical traditions—follows the pattern of God making or renewing a covenant (hence the name "covenant renewal worship"). This biblical pattern also serves as a summary of the gospel, and the cumulative effect of this sort of weekly liturgy gets the gospel deeply ingrained within us. In ...

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The Appeal of Pre-Millennialism

It's well known that Pre-Millennialism has a very pessimistic view of the future of history before the return of Christ. In that view, Jesus tried and failed to establish His earthly kingdom in His first coming and will not be able to do so until He comes again. Thus, the Devil is ruling the world, and history is God's Vietnam. Our only hope is not...

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Do Animals Go to Heaven?

Isaiah 11:6-9 raises the very interesting question of whether or not "all dogs/animals go to heaven". We have some indication that animals go to heaven (the word translated "living creatures" in Revelation is the Greek word for animals), but we have every reason to believe that there will be animals in the new creation. We don't know if every singl...

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The Failure of Psychology

Renowned Ivy League professor of psychology William Kirk Kilpatrick wrote in his 1983 book Psychological Seduction, "However good-intentioned and however nice, it is not at all clear that the psychological establishment knows how to help. Everywhere there are dark hints that the faith doesn't work. Despite the creation of a virtual army of psychiat...

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The Lord and His Tools

Isaiah 10 describes the Lord's use of the Assyrian Empire as His instrument of wrath on rebellious nations like Syria and Israel. Following this theme, my sermon focused on how the sovereign Lord continues to work out His purposes in and through the events and circumstances of history. This includes everything from international politics down to th...

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Isaiah as the 5th Gospel

During Advent and Christmas, be on the lookout for references and allusions to Isaiah in our hymns and carols. By my count, one-third (17 out of 51) of the sung portions of Handel's Messiah come from Isaiah. One might goes so far as to say that around this time of the year, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a prophecy from Isaiah. Isaiah h...

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Gratitude or Death

Life expectancy for Americans has been falling for the past several years, due in large part to a sharp increase in "deaths of despair" (click here). How is it that the most prosperous nation in history could be filled with so many people who are unhappy, bitter, discontent, suicidal, and generally do not care whether they live or die? As one pasto...

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Christian Education & Cultural Transformation

As I mentioned briefly, one very important application of my recent sermon has to do with education. I know full well that it's very unpopular to criticize government education (aka "public schools"). Most people around here (including me) attended public school for part or all of our primary education. Many people in our area (including many of yo...

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Emotions & Self-Deception

My recent sermon provided a biblical overview of what emotions are and what we ought to do with them. As I explained, emotions reveal what's in our heart. They serve as indicators of what we love the most and fear the most, which is to say that they reveal the object of our worship. One of the most common defense mechanisms that we are tempted to u...

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Bitter at God

I mentioned two things in Sunday's sermon that I want to develop a bit further: 1) Many are people ultimately bitter against God, and 2) Bitterness is not usually related to the size of the offense but to the proximity of the person who committed it. Often, we become bitter toward those closest to us over the pettiest little things because we belie...

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Heaven Dissolved & Elements Melted (2 Peter 3:7-13)

In my sermon on Sunday, I disagreed with the popular idea that God is going to burn up this world, but I didn't have time to explain where that view comes from or why it's incorrect. To be fair, there is a biblical basis for that view in 2 Peter 3:7-13. On the surface, that passage really does seem to teach that this whole world--atomic "elements" ...

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You Don't Want to Know

All unbelief is ultimately rooted not in ignorance of the truth but in a resistance to the truth. Romans 1:18-19 clearly states this principle: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because G...

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He Declared all Foods Clean

In Mark 7:14-23, Jesus has just finished condemning the Pharisees for the ways that they nullify God's Law with their own man-made traditions. Then, in the very next breath, Jesus makes a statement that seems to be nullifying God's Law: "'Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his he...

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The Lie of Feminism

I think it's safe to say that most Christians are far more shaped by feminist ideology than they realize. The underlying assumption of the feminist movement is that men and women are not different in any meaningful way. As a result, society should treat men and women exactly the same. This is a manifestation of egalitarianism, which seeks to homoge...

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Should Our Good Works Be Visible?

As a follow-up thought to my sermon on Ecclesiastes 5, it's worth thinking about an apparent contradiction in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matt. 5:14-16, Jesus says, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house...

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Conservatism vs. Progressivism

Ecclesiastes 1 confronts us with the sobering reality that all of our toil cannot provide us with leverage or control over the basic realities of life under the sun. We are finite, mortal creatures. And as a result of the Fall, we are broken and live in a crooked world that God has subjected to futility. We should thank God for all the inventions a...

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Is Covenant Theology Anti-Semitic?

Protestant Reformed covenant theology is not replacement theology. God hasn't broken a single promise to Israel, because they are all fulfilled in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20). Ethnic Jews who believe in Christ are no longer Jewish in any meaningful sense (Gal. 6:15), because in the body of Christ—the church—there is no such distinction as Jew vs....

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Servant Leadership and False Humility

Here are some follow-up thoughts about humility and a particularly dangerous form of false humility that is wreaking havoc among Evangelical Christians. It often goes under the name of "servant leadership". We must be on guard against a sort of false humility that is actually self-centered and self-seeking. What I'm talking about is a spiritualized...

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