Powerful Prayers: Is there a secret?

Monday, December 31, 2007

Let me encourage you to read the following blog on The Secret to a Better Prayer Life. I believe this to be an awesome example of the marriage between doctrine and application.

Here are just a few morsels that hopefully will lead you to read
his whole entry:
  1. The more we know God, the better equipped we are to praise him for who he is.

  2. Good theological meditation of both the glory of God and the heinousness of our corruption will be of great assistance in both knowing and mortifying your sins.

  3. Our thanksgiving will only be as weak as our theology....You should run out of time before you run out of reasons to thank God. Systematic theology is a great help here, because through it we can see much more of God’s giving, and our unworthiness.

  4. Good theology can change our stale list of requests into a more meaningful interaction with God. How? At the very least, good theology teaches us to what we may appeal in God when making our requests. [For example:] Because God is righteous, we can appeal to him to vindicate the oppressed and persecuted.

Advent vs. Abortion

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I know of three children that are in the womb, and we are waiting patiently for their arrival:

Baby Abner
Baby Billingsly
Baby Davis

We watch the wives’ tummies grow, witnessing the work of God in the lives of these children. It is marvelous. These babies belong to dear friends of mine who have taught me much about Christ. Their theologies have mingled the academic and the affectionate in enviable proportions.

There are other children of families that have captured my heart, and I long to see them grow into God-honoring, Christ-exalting, Spirit-led men and women. That is why abortion is such a grief to me. I have heard so many arguments for the pro-choice agenda, but I have yet to hear one that grabs the discussion at the root. What does abortion say about the glory of God? Life is not expendable.

Have you ever asked yourself why babies are so frail? Babies are fragile because Christ was to be born a baby. God has knit babies together so that the following could be said of Christ:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
(Php 2:5-11)

We begin this life in the womb as a fragile mass of cells because God ordained before the foundation of the world that His Son would take on a fragile form. From conception to cross, Christ was our example. These children are to learn from their fragile state that God is all-satisfying. Daddy and mommy are to care for them in such a way that they are to learn the sufficiency of Christ. Therefore, what do we teach the world about Christ when we say that the fragile life in a womb is a nuisance?

In this Advent season, we remember the wait of our fathers for the long-expected Messiah. Also, we are reminded of Christ’s Second Advent, the blessed hope for which we eagerly wait.

I leave you with
this. For those of you interested in resources dealing with abortion, please visit Abort73.com.

How Do You Know that You Believe?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We have lost the depth of Christianity in our age because we have failed to understand the work of Christ. We have minimized the holiness of the One True God. We have gripped tightly the notion that we are valuable, that we have an intrinsic worth, that we are noble. May God have mercy on us and correct our superstitions.

Is I Smart?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Apparently, one can check the reading level of his/her blog:

cash advance

Cash Advance Loans


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Are you wasting your retirement? Are you planning on wasting your retirement? Maybe these short videos will help you decide what you should do with all that free time.

For more information on how not to waste your life, here is a wonderful website.

The Deadly the American Dream: A Warm Retirement

If you are an American, then you have been sold a lie. You have been told from birth that your life should be one of accumulation of personal wealth, banking on portfolios and looking forward to the blessed hope of retirement.

But he said to him, "A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.' But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.' And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.' And another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, 'Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.' And the servant said, 'Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' And the master said to the servant, 'Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'"
(Luke 14:16-24)

God has blessed our country with much wealth, but we have become worse than Sodom:

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.
(Ezekiel 16:49-50)

We are devastatingly banal. We have settled for the mundane. We think that a field will fulfill. We think a new car will elevate our existence. Our socioeconomic status is our strength. We are at ease in our air-conditioned houses with space-age mattresses. We need desperately to be gripped by a reality that is bigger than a 401k.

We are so far removed from the New Testament's context of suffering that we miss the point of the hope of an eternal vision of Christ's glory. The infinite majesty that brought all things into existence has been exchanged by our society for a comfortable fifty-or-so years at the end of one's life. This is absolutely absurd. Either God satisfies or money satisfies. We are all guilty. We have bought the dream, and it has cost us our souls.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)

God may give us what we want: a warm retirement....

John Piper's Response to N.T. Wright Due Out by Nov. 1

Friday, October 19, 2007

John Piper’s response to N. T. Wright is due for release on November 1, 2007 ($5.00 + shipping if you pre-order here by Oct. 31). If you have no idea what N. T. Wright has said about justification and what all of this is about, then there are some resources available for you. First, Desiring God Ministries has a seven part Q&A with John Piper that they have been releasing on their blog. Here, Piper gives the background necessary to understand the controversy. The whole interview can be found here. However, you may want to select only those parts that you haven't heard.

On his remarkable blog, Justin Taylor has also been posting several things on the book. Included in his blogging are reviews of Piper’s book from notable theologians. I have tried to compile the resources in chronological order.

On 9Marks’ website, you can listen to an interview of John Piper conducted by Mark Dever dealing with the New Perspectives on Paul.

There are more resources out there, but this will help those who know nothing about the topic and those who want to know more. May we thank those who are concerned enough with the truth to contend for it.

If you want to understand the history of the doctrine, then I encourage you to listen to this.

For your enjoyment, here is an excerpt from a sermon, unpacking the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

Anybody Want to Dance?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

In honor of Reformation Day, please enjoy!

Semper Reformanda!

A Dead Man’s Bones

Monday, October 15, 2007

Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying,
“God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”

Genesis 50:25

How does our faith impact the “little” decisions of our lives? Does our attitude in seemingly inconsequential events testify to a deeply rooted faith in God? For all those who want to combat their post-modern tendencies: Do we live in such a way that the small narratives of our lives testify to the meta-narrative?

Praying for Rain?
There was a town that was suffering from a horrendous drought. The crops were suffering, and many families were in financial peril. The church decided to come together and pray for rain. The night of the prayer meeting came, and the pastor stood up and looked out over his congregation. He did not have encouraging words for his flock. Apparently they did not think God was going to answer any prayers. How did the pastor know that the congregation suffered from unbelief? No one brought an umbrella.

The Suffering Saint
It is an amazing thing to trace out the life of Joseph in Genesis. The beloved son of Jacob and a favored child of God, Joseph was thrown into a well, sold into slavery, falsely accused, and forgotten. Then Joseph ascended into a place of high political office. He protected the people against famine, and certainly saw the faithfulness of God displayed in his life even working through the sinfulness of man; this finally culminates in the statement to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20). This is a man who peered into the depths of the sovereignty of God and found solace there.

Two dreams of a great promise were given to Joseph (Genesis 37). At that time, Joseph was 17, and it was not until he was 30 years old when he rose to power in Egypt. Thirteen years of hard-knocks. Most of us would be disheartened, losing confidence in the promises of God. Unbelief would seize our hearts. We would shirk the promise. We would shun the God of that promise. How did Joseph handle it? Joseph took the time to learn the patience of waiting on God. For thirteen years, Joseph waited. Maybe sometimes God’s promise of his rise to power seemed vibrant; maybe, at times, it was a dim. Joseph saw God’s hand working through the sinfulness of man. The theme over this suffering was “God meant it for good”. In the end, God proved to be faithful to His promise to Joseph. No matter how long it took, Joseph finally saw the promise realized.

Joseph’s Umbrella
Joseph knew the promises of God to Abraham and his offspring: Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7a). What was to become of this promise? Is it as though the word of God had failed? They were not in the Promised Land. Could it be that in three generations God had faltered? Did the promise of God stumble? What can a dead man’s bones teach us about the deep things of Scripture? Joseph’s life of consistent disappointments and suffering brought him deeper in his faith in God’s promise to Abraham.

If God said something would happen, Joseph knew that God would do it. However, Joseph had learned that God would work in His time and His way. Joseph never saw the promise to Abraham fulfilled. But a lifetime of not seeing this promise realized would not stop Joseph from believing that God would be faithful. We read of Joseph at his death:

So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father’s house. Joseph lived 110 years. And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation. The children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were counted as Joseph's own. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt. (Genesis 50:22-26).

Joseph saw the mist of the promise in Ephraim and Manasseh’s offspring. He pulled out his umbrella and said, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” He knew the sovereignty of God, and “died in faith” (Hebrews 11:13). The writer of the letter to the Hebrews uses Joseph as an example of faith: “By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones” (Hebrews 11:22).

Whatever Happened to the Bones?
We know that this man’s faith did not fall on deaf ears. Another man of faith took heed. In going out from Egypt, “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, ‘God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.’” (Exodus 13:19). We finally find later:

As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money. It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph. (Joshua 24:32)

Is that the end? What are we to do with Joseph’s bones now?

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18).

Joseph was looking for much more than an earthly dwelling. He yearned for a “heavenly country” (Hebrews 11:16). He saw a city prepared by God. Let us do the same.

For All the Bibliophiles!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The much-anticipated release of Monergism Books' updated website has now occurred! I love this website. On more than one occasion, its related website Monergism.com has been found open in my browser while I study a particular topic.

The End Does Not Justify the Means

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good,
to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Genesis 50:20

Many people are of the opinion that what they do is morally upright if it brings about something good. If people are benefited by an action, does that mean that the action was good? Suppose a person endeavors to satiate his own desires by an action. As a byproduct of his actions, people are aided—lives are even saved. Does this mean that the action was good? Is God pleased with the person’s actions? No, not necessarily!

As we read in this account of Joseph and his brothers, we notice that this particular paradigm is highlighted. What makes an action good is not the outcome. What makes an action morally upright is rooted in something that exists even before the action takes place: the motive. There are two wills involved within this action: Joseph’s brothers’ and God’s.

God had purposed this event to glorify Himself by the saving of His people. However, the brothers were selfish and evil, wanting to rid themselves of this favored brother, a motive that is far from glorifying God. The brothers were not aware of God’s plan when they were throwing their brother in the well or selling him into slavery. They were oblivious to the fact that God would save a people from famine by Joseph’s removal. It was not on their radar. But good things happened; doesn’t that make it okay? No, their intention was evil.

We may argue with this idea further, but let us look at one other example (but not the only one left). Jesus was an innocent man, yet He was crucified. No offense was ever present, yet He was tortured and killed unjustly. We can all agree that there were a host of people in the wrong for their actions in the death of Christ: Pilate, Judas, etc. Would we justify their actions by noticing that their actions were purposed by God to save His people? Would we dare applaud the actions of Judas? Would we thank Pilate? I doubt it.

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” (Act 2:22-23)

It is an awesome thing to know that God “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). He is good, and He protects His people through His acts: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

In the midst of all of this, may we praise God for His pure motive: to bring glory to His Name. We should be careful to seek that motive. Also, we should never justify our actions that have resulted from evil intentions just because God is gracious and had meant it for good. Ask this question, “How often are my motives as pure and unadulterated as God’s?” Our motives never a firmly pure. Even if you understand this, reflect on it. If you have difficulty with this, search out Scripture. A good passage to include in this study: Hebrews 4:11-4:16.


1. In fact, the unbeliever—a person without saving faith—will never do anything that pleases God. In other words, the unbeliever does nothing but sin because all things are done from an impure motive.
  • “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

  • “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23b).

2. Because of remaining indwelling sin, even the believer must repent for impure motives in all things. Actions for the believer on this side of glorification (i.e. perfection) will always be mingled with faith and unbelief.

3. We should seek to have pure motives and not be quick to judge our actions as pure even when the outcome is good.

Why We Believe the Bible, Free Audio

Friday, September 21, 2007

Desiring God Ministries has provided the audio for several of the seminars free of charge. In addition to great sermons, articles, books, and videos that are free online, these seminars will help the person wanting a doctrine centered on Christ.

Of particular interest,
Why We Believe the Bible is a seminar that addresses the following topics:
  1. Why are we concerned with the Bible?
  2. Which books make up the Bible and why?
  3. The New Testament Canon
  4. Do we have the very words written by the biblical authors?
  5. Does it matter whether we affirm the verbal inerrancy of the original manuscripts?
  6. What does the Bible claim for itself?
  7. The Old Testament claims for itself
  8. The Truth and Authority of the Apostles
  9. How can we justify the claim that the Bible is God's word?
  10. The Meaning of the Bible's inerrancy

The notes to the seminar are provided with part 1 of the seminar. I hope you find this particular seminar a valuable resource!

Please note that the above listed topics (1-10) were taken from the seminar notes listing and that I have excluded from the list the eight appendices.

The Weeping Saint: A Meditation on Psalms 40 and 42

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Behold him there, the weeping saint,
Weary from life and ‘bout to faint.
He waits in hope for Him to hear
The tired words of his trembling prayer.

Behold the Sovereign Ear of Him
Who drawing close when all seems dim:
He lifts the face and wipes the tears,
Assuages all pain and calms all fears.

Oh Lord, be soon, for night draws nigh,
For tears with each deepening sigh
Are weights upon each reddened eye.
Oh Lord, be soon, for night draws nigh.

Feel the strong arm of God’s own Son,
Who long ago the vict’ry won.
His blood and tears poured out in prayer,
Releasing men from evil’s snare.

You will again praise Him in song,
Accompanied in joyous throng!
Oh weary saint you will delight
And sing with joy and ceaseless might.

A Great Little Book on the Gospel

Friday, September 14, 2007

R. C. Sproul has said that the American Church is in Pelagian Captivity. Basically, this means that we have misunderstood the doctrines of that surround God's grace with regard to saving sinners. Our understanding of God's grace has such an influence over how we view the world, ourselves, and God. How do we become a holy people? Can we lose our salvation? These things must be understand, but they cannot be discussued without a proper biblical foundation. In addressing these questions, we find ourselves quickly at the point where we wonder, "How are we saved to begin with?"

James Montgomery Boice (now deceased) and Philip Graham Ryken wrote a wonderful book that addresses the work of God in salvation! This is an extremely readable book that will be encouraging to the believer. Hard passages from the Bible about these things are not ignored, and the the believer will be challenged to be biblical in their doctrine in spite of the worldly philosophies propagated in many of our churches!

Is Your Reading List Unruly?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has a voracious appetite for books. He reads books from a variety of genres, and he reads almost incessantly. Therefore, when he wrote an article for Together for the Gospel on the reading of books, it was bound to be reprinted. Well, here it is. It is an encouraging article for the struggling bibliophile.

Attributes of God

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The following resources are exceptional tools in studying the attributes of God.

Always read prayerfully and humbly. The goal of knowledge of the holy is not to bludgeon someone with whom you disagree. The goal of your studies should be to grow in your enjoyment of Christ who makes the holiness of God accessible. We exist in order to spread a passion for Christ that accords with knowledge.

More Resources on Adam vs. Christ and Romans 5:12-21

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

If you have been following my series on Adam's Lie vs. Christ's Truth, you may want to read or listen to the sermons by Piper that helped shape my understanding of justification. They are much deeper than my meditations.

Adam's Lie vs. Christ's Truth, Part IV

The infinite worth of Christ is of such sufficiency that when He became our sin and was crushed by Yahweh, His sacrifice was deemed acceptable (Galatians 3:13, cf. Isaiah 53). Those who are in Christ are thus saved from the coming wrath. Those who turn from Adam’s lie about God to the Christ’s truth are saved. Those who go from being in Adam to being in Christ are declared to be righteous and escape eternal wrath. Wrath will not be exacted twice. The omnipotent wrath of God was placed on Christ for those who flee to Him, and it will be poured out in hell on all those who remain in the lie about God. Thus, Paul says, “…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:8,9).

Adam failed in his charge and led a people to death because of his lie, but Christ will bring “many sons to glory,” delivering “those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Hebrews 2:9,15). Those things which were to be true for man, as disclosed by the Psalmist and quoted by the writer to the Hebrews, namely:
“Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet…” (Psalm 8:5,6, cf. Hebrews 2:7,8)

are not true for those in Adam. However, they are true for Christ, and therefore, for all who are in Him, i.e. “His brethren.”

Paul summarizes this concept of Adam’s sin and Christ’s righteousness and their representative headship over mankind to explain the deep truth of justification:

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:12-21)

Adam's Lie vs. Christ's Truth, Part III

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Yes, they should have died the day on which they ate of the fruit of that tree. Also, we who are Adam’s seed deserve the same righteous wrath. However God withheld judgment. He waited. He waits. He forbears, showing countless hours of patience to a wicked people who lie about the glory of God (Romans 2:1-8) . Our words and deeds serve to propagate Adam’s lie, defaming God, misrepresenting His goodness. We deny that He is majestic, sufficient, and all-satisfying. Yet God waits. Our feet are swift to shed blood—remember Cain. The venom of asps is under our lips—remember Lamech, Cain’s descendent. As God waits, do we repent? Most of us store up wrath for ourselves! We should be consumed by the Holy hatred of God, brewing against the children of wrath every day (cf. Psalm 7:11). However, He waits. Why does He wait?

In Genesis 3, He discloses a small portion of a plan to rescue a people. A seed would be born unto Eve. This seed would destroy the curse. He would be the truth of God made manifest, intimating to all creation the perfection of God’s offerings. Ultimately, we see this seed realized in Christ, the Incarnate Word. When we understand this, coupled with Paul’s words,
“[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded.” (Romans 3:23:27a)
The justice of God mandates punishment for sin. God passed over Adam's sin, but He cannot just do this. He is obligated by the constancy of His character to uphold the dignity of what is most valuable: His Name. But Adam has profaned God's Name, and so have we by being born in Adam. Forbearance must finally give way to justice. Today, God has been patient with us, but we should not presume upon theriches of His kindness and forbearance and patience. These are to lead us to repentance, to turn back to the truth of the all-satisfying God. Thus, punishment for Adam's sin and our sin must be exacted in one of two ways:
  1. On Christ at the cross, or
  2. In eternal hell.

Adam's Lie vs. Christ's Truth, Part II

Friday, August 17, 2007

There are a few commands given to man, and each demonstrates the afore-mentioned truth.

  1. “[F]rom any tree of the garden you may eat freely” displays God’s providence. In our enjoyment of what He has given to us, we display His goodness to creation. We show that He satisfies us and that He words for us and does need us. We show ourselves to be dependent upon His mercy. His words are to be kept for our own satisfaction. We see this in the penalty for not seeing God as sufficient provider: “But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).

  2. We are to rule. In our ruling, we are to understand that God rules over us and all things. Moreover, we are to see what benevolence He exercises and imitate His care. Our ruling over things is charge to display the goodness of God in the previous command.

  3. We are to be fruitful and multiply. In our procreation, we see the beginnings of life and display something of God’s creation of us. God’s joy yielded life, and our joy finds an outlet ordained by God to reflect this truth.

In creating man, God saw the complementary roles of man and woman to facilitate the keeping of the commands. “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18a). Man alone is incapable of fulfilling all that God has for him; he is inadequate. Again, we see that God provides. He creates for Adam a suitable helper. Eve is equal in value to Adam: bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.” Eve, however, has a different role: a helper to Adam. They need each other to fulfill the commands of God and thus glorify Him. They were to be one flesh. Indeed, it was “very good.”

Everything established, God has finished creating, so He sets an example for us and rests. However, a problem occurs, the ones who were to glorify God believed a lie about God. They bought into Satan’s lie, a philosophy of independence from God and self-exaltation. Man saw God’s provision as insufficient—even harmful—propagating a message that God is not good. What tasted satisfying for a moment brought shame. Sin was now manifest in those who were to represent Glory: marred mirrors, misrepresenting the majestic and manifold beauty of God’s light. All creation groaned, subjected to futility (Romans 8:20-22, cf. Jeremiah 2:11-12). Man was changed. All of us born of Adam are slaves to this. We are Adam’s lie. All of our actions perpetuate Adam’s abominable act. Our hearts are far from God; we seek to cover our lie by suppressing truth (Romans 1:18ff). Creation is aghast. The Almighty God’s eternal power and divine nature are evident.

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course. (Psalm 19:1-5)

We, who are Adam’s offspring, trivialize the majestic; we show ourselves to rebellious, robust haters of God. We are Adam’s lie.

Man was to be a statement about God: His dominion and His provision, all to be savored. Instead of ruling over the earth and its inhabitants, man was dominated by a piece of fruit from a tree he was to cultivate. He failed in charge to care for Eve, and he was dominated by the serpent’s lie—a serpent he was to rule over. Man sought satisfaction outside of God’s provision. The truth to be said about God in mankind was forsaken, exchanged for a lie. This demands condemnation. Holy justice cries out for the infinite, eternal wrath of an omnipotent Judge. Adam and Eve deserved the fierce the wrath of a righteous God. They, according to God’s own words, should have died the day on which they ate of that tree.

Adam's Lie vs. Christ's Truth, Part I

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God is the author of all things. There was a time when there was nothing except the eternal, self-existing One. Original and never-becoming, all that is needed to be abides in Him. He does not look outside of Himself for provision. He is uniquely other. All things that were to become were not yet. There will be for all things outside of Him flux. For God, there is unwavering constancy woven into His very being. He is the great “I am.” All meaning and purpose are bound up in His nature, a nature that is unlike any other; He is holy. Every thing to become has a meaning and purpose that is derivative; that which is created is “meant” or “purposed” by the Creator. All reality serves as a demonstration of eternal truth, chiefly in the display of God’s glory.

Carefully placed in the beginning chapter of Genesis, the book of beginnings, the term “good” is placed upon certain things. Well, what is “goodness”? What does it mean for something to be good? We flippantly throw around such a word without a thought of their substance, their point-of-reference. Whatever we understand “good” to be, we have just seen that its meaning must be derivative. This value must be assigned, based upon some eternal, infinite, perfect, and fixed reality, by the One who upholds all such reality.

Just as the moon, i.e. the lesser light, has no original light of its own and whose light is derivative, based upon what small amount of light it reflects from the sun, i.e. the greater light, how much more does creation derive its goodness from the greatest Good, the original Good. God’s glory spills forth from the goodness observed in Himself by Himself to create for Himself something to reflect Himself. To the degree which He sees Himself in this creation, He enjoys it. God’s providence in creation—creating filling, supplying, maintaining, etc.—display an eternal truth about God, something intrinsic to His nature. Creation is an overflow of, or outpouring of, something of Himself, some characteristic.

We see lights that govern over night and day. We observe vast creatures that could crush us with little effort. We search out the tiniest realities that we suppose are the glue of the universe. The continuum of size and variety display the eternal reality of the size of our God and the vast array over which He exercises authority. He is the Sovereign Lord over all things.

Until man was created, everything was good. God had evaluated those things He had created, and He was pleased. The eternal joy that God had in Himself then led Him to say,

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Gen 1:26)

Thus, we see a creature aware of its glorification of his Creator, illustrated in his fruitful multiplication and dominion over all other creation on earth. Man: Imago Dei, i.e. the image of God. God’s creation had reached a crescendo; God had established man as a representative for Himself unto creation, and seeing His glory bearers, “Very good.” What a divine pronouncement! After all, man did bear the image of God.

Good Blog Entries from 9 Marks

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A good blog entry on false teachers can be found on the 9 Marks blog: Church Matters. On another note, there is a series of ten entries being written on Where'd All These Calvinists Come From?.

Renewed Life

Thursday, July 26, 2007

All at once, I am set free.
Now able to view rightly
The Glory shining brightly:
Forever with Christ, I'll be.

Joy poured forth into my heart,
Not a trickle but a flood
Of hope, raining in the blood
Of Christ, never to depart.

Ever increasing love, He
Has granted this hateful wretch.
Replacing cold stone with flesh,
His Holy Fire indwelt me.

I wait for the bell's last toll,
For eternal rest and peace,
That vision that will ne'er cease:
Christ's glory gazed upon whole.

Now! Cast off death's damning chains!
Forever, His Name be sung
By every tribe and tongue!
Death in subjection, Christ reigns!

IT'S ON THE WAY!! Piper's Response to N.T. Wright

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

John Piper's new book The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright will be published soon. Luther rightly stated that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is "the article by which the church stands or falls." The New Perspectives on Paul (NPP), made popular by N.T. Wright, has challenged this doctrine. Therefore, we thank those who have put pen to paper and responded to this doctrine.

If you are interested, this book will be published by
Crossway. It will be interesting to see how Piper has written this book. He can write about very academic subjects at an approachable and enjoyable level, e.g. The Pleasures of God. However, The Justification of God shows his ability to write at a (necessarily) high level in order to refute bad theology.

Sermons on John 17

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Here are two sermons relevant to Christ as our high priest:

The Supremacy of Christ and Joy in a Postmodern World by John Piper

The Supremacy of Christ and Love in a Postmodern World by D. A. Carson

Preaching Christ from the Old Testament

Friday, May 18, 2007

“…Luther does not wish to ignore the Old Testament in preaching. In fact, he vehemently opposes those who would reject the Old Testament. He scolds them: ‘What a fine lot of tender and pious children we are! In order that we might not have to study in the Scriptures and learn Christ there, we simply regard the entire Old Testament as of no account, as done for and no longer valid’” (Greidanus, 117-118).

Is the Old Testament a valuable resource for the pulpit? Does the one who takes the pulpit to preach only use the Old Testament as a database of quotes and stories? Can a sermon be crafted from the Old Testament to represent Christ using a responsible hermeneutic? For those of us who have heard sermons from the Old Testament (if there are any of us), we have probably heard wonderful sermons from the Old Testament and sermons that lead us down a path of speculation and bad proof-texts. For many of us, the pulpit is bereft of a sermon from the Old Testament, leaving us in ignorance with regard to a majority of God's Word.

Pastors everywhere need to bridge this gap for their flocks. Sidney Greidanus has provided a valuable resource for the pastor, teacher, and student: Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method. In this text, Greidanus gives us a solid, biblical rationale for the preaching of the Old Testament. Moreover, he gives an incredible lesson on the approaches different theologians have used throughout the history of the Church. He highlights the struggles and triumphs. Not afraid to be critical of certain techniques, Greidanus is quick to cite those with whom he disagrees, showing their strengths (if any) and weaknesses. After the history lesson, Greidanus takes the reader through his method for interpreting the Old Testament texts.

I think that this text would be of great value for anyone who will invest the mental energy! It is difficult at times, but the author provides example after example, holding the reader's hand (and attention) throughout the whole text.

An Unpublished Essay on the Trinity by Jonathan Edwards

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The doctrine of the Trinity is a difficult doctrine. In fact, it is so difficult that many of us have left it. If asked to explain the Trinity, a large portion of evangelicals would fall into heresy. A distinctive of Christianity, the doctrine of the Trinity is a firm foundation for us. True, it is impossible to grasp the infinite nature of the Triune, but we should stretch ourselves. I encourage you to do so and read An Unpublished Essay on the Trinity by Jonathan Edwards.

The Glory of God Guards Against Apostasy, Part II

Monday, May 14, 2007


Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.

Hebrews 1:1-2a

We hear much today about being in the last days. We hear preachers speak on the Middle East, neutron bombs, and countdowns to a late, great planet. They have large charts with illustrations that are to give us a time table for the end of time and how to understand the hidden meaning of certain biblical texts. It is PowerPoint Prophecy, and it is on every Sunday morning, urging us to hasten the return of the Lord by doing this or that. If they are not talking about the end-times prophecies, then they are urging you to do this and that to hear from God. Words-of-knowledge and individual prophecies are hot commodities in certain congregations. We want to hear something from God, and we will jump through all sorts of hoops to do so. What does Scripture say about this emphasis?

Hearing from God
For the early converts to Christianity from Judaism, the writings that we refer to as the Old Testament were the writings detailing their “adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises” (Romans 9:4). Therefore, they held these words in high regard, as they rightly should have! The prophets were remarkable messengers of God, detailing visions of God and his interactions with humanity. After all, there had been around 400 years of silence between the last prophet of the Old Testament and the coming of John the Baptist. That is a long time to wait. The message of the Old Testament was deeply important to them. These words were handed down to them by their ancestors who had actually heard the prophets.

Moreover, the recipients of this letter were probably second generation Christians, having never seen Christ in person. They are basing their faith on the testimony of other people. We are much like them. We have not seen Christ either. They are even suffering because of Christ. “We should go back to the message of the prophets,” they probably thought, “God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, so let’s forget this Christ. If only God would speak to us in the midst of this, confirming our faith, then we might believe in Jesus.” Does that sound like us? Do we think of the days before our conversion with fondness? How do we deal with this reminiscing? How did they?

This small group of Christians is sharing the painful experiences of suffering in its latest meeting. They may even complain about their aches and pains (much worse than ours). Then they receive a letter in their little house church. What do they read? “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son….” Now that is a difference. Notice the contrast:
  1. The Time
  2. The Recipients
  3. The Messenger

The Time
When has God spoken? Many of us would say, long ago. We feel distant from the time of the Bible. But is that true? Is that the way the inspired Word of God says we should think about the nature of special revelation? The writer to the Hebrews says that God spoke long ago, but in these last days, he has spoken again. What a relief for the reader! The silence has been broken. The wait is over. The words of Isaiah ring in our ears, “Remember not the things former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18,19). These are the last days! The recipients of this letter were in the last days. We have been in the last days since then.

The Recipients
To whom has God spoken? Many of us would say that we have never heard from God. We may even view the last person to hear from God to be John, the writer of the book of Revelation. Therefore, this house church receives a letter saying, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets.” The recipients of that letter must have felt those words deeply. “Not only was it long ago, but we didn’t even get to hear it. We only have what was given to us by our fathers.” But they read on, “but in these last days, he has spoken to us.” The writer of this letter does two things to the members of this church with these words:

  1. He corrects their theology.
  2. He provides comfort.

Make note of that! The comfort that the writer provides is based in correct theology. That is how the writer starts a letter to a suffering church. There are no computer games or cookies in this care package, just good theology.

The Messenger
The writer begins to make another distinction between the way God spoke in the past to our fathers and the way he does so in the present to us. At this point, the recipient may have been skeptical, noting that he has not heard of any prophets in their city. How does the writer address this skepticism? Again, he does so with good theology. “[B]ut in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son” (v.2a). Even today, God has spoken to us by his Son. We have a full understanding that the entire written Word of God testifies to the Incarnate Word of God. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Christ is the foundation of our hope as Christians. He is the anchor that we need so that we do not drift away from God.

The Supremacy of Christ

Friday, May 11, 2007

In the light of the last post, I thought that it would be a great thing to meditate on the supremacy of Christ. I found the following video that will hopefully be a springboard into the text of Hebrews.

The Glory of God Guards Against Apostasy, Part I

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Long ago, at many times and in many ways,
God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,
whom he appointed the heir of all things
and through whom also he created the world.
Hebrews 1:1-2

In our culture of pragmatism and secular humanism, the shape of evangelicalism has morphed into a self-help, pop-psychology rather than standing strong for a passionate striving for holiness and reverencing of God. This has led to best-selling “Christian” books focused on the self, propagating the notion that faith is a means by which you can “name-and-claim” health, wealth, and prosperity or even speak things into existence. Is this new to the Church? Do we face a new dilemma? Will this super-market theology with its theme-park ecclesiology provide substance for a suffering a world? We can have thousands of purpose-driven, plastic smiles in our stadiums, but how would the Christians who were martyred in a stadium feel about our congregations? Would they find brothers and sisters with whom they would lock arms as they were shredded by the fierce jaws of lions?

The banner over the Church is crimson, mounted upon the cross of Christ and baptized in his blood. The blood of the martyrs echoes this theme, proclaiming the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 24:14). The message of the gospel in the New Testament is married to suffering. This should not be a surprise to us; Christ even declared, “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours” (John 15:20). In fact, watch the banner wave:
  • “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11).

  • “[Y]ou will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22b).

  • “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

  • “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

  • “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33).

  • “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41).

  • “…if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him” (Romans 8:17).

  • “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Do we preach this to our people? Do we ignore these texts?

The Christian will be persecuted for his faith. It is not optional. The above texts make that clear. What do we do then? Well, Christ got us into this; maybe we would be better off if we left him and this world of Christianity. What do we think of this? Our congregations have seen those who have “tried Christ,” but when it became difficult they deserted him. This is what we call apostasy. How do we fight apostasy in our congregations and in our own lives?

In forgetting the context of the suffering Church in Scripture, we rob Christ of his glory (2 Corinthians 12:9,10). Many in our congregations are weary of the race and are ready to throw in the towel. Can we find an anchor that will hold us close to Christ, equipping us for suffering? The Epistle to the Hebrews is such an anchor.

The authorship of the letter is not exactly known, and we do not know much about the recipients. However, what we do find in the text is in a congregation many people were forsaking the name of Christ because of suffering for bearing his name (cf. Hebrews 10:25,34). Their dilemma is not too distant from ours. How does the writer begin to address their problem? Knowing this will provide a foundation by which we will battle our unbelief.

The author, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, begins, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1,2). There we have our foundation: Christ Jesus, the Incarnate Word (cf. John 1:1-3). If we know Jesus rightly and passionately, the one through whom the world was created, we may begin our battle with the proper footing (cf. Ephesians 6:15).

Because of our gross misunderstanding of Christ, we have no rock upon which to stand in times of persecution. A proper view of Christ will transform our congregations into people who will follow passionately after him, going into the hard places. We will become a people who are being conformed to the image of Christ, “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 12:2, cf. Romans 8:29).

Justice and Amazing Grace

Monday, April 16, 2007

Wash yourselves;
make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil, learn to do good;
seek justice, correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD:
though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow;
though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

Isaiah 1:16-18
Several weeks ago, I asked a friend of mine to write about an issue close to her heart and one that should close to ours, that is, social justice.

Dear friends,

A few weeks ago, I went to see the movie Amazing Grace, a movie about a man named William Wilberforce who helped bring an end to the slave trade in Great Britain. Wilberforce’s life inspires me, not only because of his passion to abolish slavery but also because this zeal came from his deep faith in God. In one of his addresses to Parliament, he said “Sir, when we think of eternity and the future consequence of all human conduct, what is there in this life that shall make any man contradict the dictates of his conscience, the principles of justice and the law of God!” We are to conduct ourselves so that people neither violate their consciences nor strive against the principles of justice and the law of God.

Throughout the movie, and especially after, I was upset because we have not eradicated slavery! We have a regular 800 to 900 thousand people forced into slavery every year; most of these people are women and children! It is so easy to be comfortable with our lives, wanting to live near our families in comfort when children all around the world do not even know who their families are. We want to live near our friends and support system, when women all over the world only know the friendship of the four walls that protect them from the cold but do not protect them from the harm of forced sex. Who is going to minister to the women who are forced into the sex trade? Who is going to cry when they cry for the thousandth time because their body is being made a source of pleasure for a man and a source of hell for them? Furthermore, who is going to look after the children that have been forced into prostitution at a young age of two?

Wilberforce saw that slavery profanes the very name of God. Letting it continue is not merely an easy way out; it is a disgrace against the Lord. But the good news is as Jesus brought us His righteousness through His obedience, He, in a similar way, is going to bring justice for those women and children by using us, His Church.

My life here in America is not enough! I cannot just stand by and pray a prayer for them and call it a job well done. When I went to Azerbaijan, the women there were the ones who first introduced me to human trafficking. There it was very real and was not just a story in a paper. These women were flesh and blood just like you, just like me. These children are real children that need the love and care that most of us had the privilege of knowing, but the only thing they receive are perverted men who seek to appease their radically depraved sexual appetite. We need to educate ourselves, find out what human trafficking is, why it occurs, and who is out there to help prohibit it. Then we need to step up and tell others, letting the world know. Do not just stand by; talk about it! If the only thing you can do is talk, then talk! Find organizations who seek ways to stop human trafficking; then find ways to help them. One such opportunity is Justice Week this week, April 16-20, hosted by Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. We are going to spend the week bringing awareness of human trafficking to SIUC campus. Then at the end of the week, April 19 and 20, we are having a fundraiser by selling tickets to a conference. We are bringing in a speaker who will educate all of us and bring stories that will shock our comfortable existence. In addition to learning more about human trafficking, there will be a silent auction. All the proceeds from the auction and ticket sales will go to a human justice group; none of it will go to Intervarsity. If you would like more information or even like to talk more about human trafficking, I would be more then happy to talk with you.

For God’s Glory,


Amazing Grace (How sweet the sound)
That sav'd a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev'd;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ'd!
Thro' many dangers, toils and snare,
I have already come;
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall profess, within the vail,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call'd me here below,
Will be for ever mine

An Old Dead Guy Can Still Be Relevant

Monday, April 09, 2007

Apparently, it does not take being pop-culturally savvy to be relevant to the perils of today. Three of John Owen’s works have been collected and edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor in Overcoming Sin and Temptation. They have made the texts more readable and have included some very useful appendices to aid your study.

Reading Owen is never easy, but these two have made it more accessible. Our generation is indebted to them. Owen’s treatment of sin and temptation is challenging and an essential tool in understanding how to fight sin. The battle against sin must be waged. If we are to make any progress in holiness, we should prepare ourselves to walk “over the bellies of [our] lusts.” We need to “be killing sin or it will be killing [us].”

Great Book on Being a Man

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Pastor Hughes has shown us what it means to be a man in Christianity. Whereas some modern texts with their supermarket theologies have divorced manhood from Scripture, Disciplines of a Godly Man hugs the Word of God tightly. This is a refreshing text, and it is needed in this age of nominal Christianity.

You may read more about this text at the publisher's website.

For the women, a similar text, written by Barbara Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Woman is available as well.

For families, Kent and Barbara Hughes have written Disciplines of a Godly Family.

For those who are on the road, there are audio versions available.

Holy Speech: A Measure of Sanctification

Friday, February 23, 2007

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us,
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness
must not even be named among you,
as is proper among saints.
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking,
which are out of place,
but instead let there be thanksgiving.
For you may be sure of this, that
who is sexually immoral or impure,
or who is covetous (that is, an idolater),
has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Ephesians 5:1-5

In the midst of our congregations, we have a cacophony drowning out the righteousness of Christ. Much to the relief of some readers (and this writer), I am not speaking of those who sing along in church poorly (and loudly). Instead, we have a tumor in our tongues. We are in great need of a spiritual biopsy of our tongues. We wonder why there are so many congregations splitting over the insignificant issues of carpet color and percussion, but we never pause to contemplate the spiritual health of those in debate. How can we gauge the progress of our sanctification? Let us look at several key points in this passage:

  1. The Children of God,
  2. Wielding our Tongues as an Instrument of Righteousness, and
  3. Guarding against Legalism

The Children of God
At one time, it was understood that a son would do what his father does. If you were a carpenter, then you would teach your son the trade, and he would become a carpenter. Therefore, if we are to be called children of God, then it would be of grave importance to know what God does. We must make it our lifestyle to imitate God. The basis of our sanctification is an understanding of our adoption, i.e. being declared sons of God. For example, Romans 8 is a great exposition on sanctification, and it is saturated with the work of the Holy Spirit. In Romans 8:14-17, we see Paul give this encouragement:

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

We are children of God, and therefore we have been given the Spirit of adoption. However, this inheritance is contingent upon suffering, but we know that suffering is not relegated to just physical suffering. Suffering could also be the spiritual battles we face as Christians.[1] Noting this, we see that suffering, adoption, and sanctification are inseparable experiences of Christianity.

Wielding Your Tongue as an Instrument of Righteousness
In this passage from Ephesians, Paul states that there are three things that should not enter into our speech. Now let us note that the phrase "which are out of place" has a plural verb. Therefore, these elements of speech are each out of place. For the same reason, we see that

  1. Filthiness,
  2. Foolish talk, and
  3. Crude joking

should have not residence in our conversations. What is this reason? It is because we should be “imitators of God, as beloved children.” What does this entail? We should look to the obedience of Christ, and we “ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:6).

Understanding our union with Christ provides the lens through which we see that there is absolutely never a place for filthiness, foolish talk, or crude joking. Indeed, to give place to these things would be to show Christ as filthy, foolish, and crude. Instead, we should “present our bodies [including tongues] as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1). James exhorts us to bring our tongue under control:

“For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?” (James 3:7-11).

The difference between the righteous person’s mouth and the wicked person’s mouth is devastatingly apparent in Proverbs 10:11: “The mouth of the righteous man is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” One of the marks of a Christian is his ability to encourage wisely and exhort compassionately, bringing the living words of Christ in Scripture to a person. In fact, if a Christian uses his mouth in filthiness, foolish talking, and crude joking, then he profanes the Name of the Lord. In addition, we should not give approval to those who practice such things.[2] This has far reaching implications for what we watch on television or listen to on the radio.

Guarding against Legalism
To drive home the point even further, we see that thanksgiving is to replace these actions. To say that there is ever a time when place for filthiness, foolish talk, or crude joking has a place is to say that there is a time when thanksgiving does not have a place. The exchange of thanksgiving for coarse language is not acceptable for the Christian and is on the pathway of sexual immorality and idolatry. When fighting sin, it can be dangerous to view the defeat of sin as a means of gaining favor before God. If we do this, we confuse our sanctification with our justification, and we become legalists. Woe to us if we view our spiritual battle as having any foundation other than the unmerited favor of God. We rob the cross of its glory, and we will never defeat any sin. We become no better than the Scribes and Pharisees that Jesus rebukes for their self-righteous behavior.

How do we know if we are legalists?

We should see an attitude of thanksgiving radiating from our lives. Are we doing this to draw attention to our own efforts, or is our light shining “before men in such a way that they may see [our] good works, and glorify [our] Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We should be “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19). Our actions should be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Our fight must be fought with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
[4] Our putting “to death the deeds of the body” must be done “by the Spirit” (Romans 8:13).

Our Christian lives must be lived out in the fellowship of a local body of believers, so that we “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). As believers, we should be accountable to one another, sharpening one another (Proverbs 27:17). Suffering with one another helps dispel our sinful pride. We must confess our sins to each other and travail in prayer for each other (James 5:16). We should “[address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all [our] heart” and “[submit] to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:19,21).

These three are essential elements in the way of holiness for the believer. It provides the God-ordained matrix of sanctifying the bride of Christ. To neglect any of these three will produce failure in the battle of sin. However, we must always be aware of being overconfident in our battle; we must remember that “the victory belongs to the LORD” (Proverbs 21:31). We should be quick to repent of our failings—we will have many—but we hope in Christ who is the “founder and perfecter of our faith,”
[5] knowing that “he who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion”[6].

Therefore, we must learn to control our tongues, examining our conversations to see if they are cross-centered, God-honoring, and Christ-exalting.

[1] Cf. Eph. 6:10ff, 1 Co. 9:27, Rom. 6:12-14
[2] Rom. 1:32, Is. 5:20
[3] Matt. 23
[4] For a greater understanding of the spiritual warfare of sanctification, the reader is advised to study in Ephesians 6:10ff. It would also be advantageous to spend a great deal of study in Job.
[5] Hebrews 12:2
[6] Philippians 1:6