Thursday, June 26, 2014

Psalm 145:1

Psalm 145 is a beautiful song of praise to the Lord.  David is incapable of holding back his words of joy over who God is and what he has done.  Verse 1 sets the stage for the remainder of David’s psalm by highlighting key aspects of God’s person and work from which all the rest of David’s praises flow.

Psalm 145:1--I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.

David begins by declaring his intention to extol God.  This literally means to “lift up”, to exalt, or to elevate in praise. David, of course, does not believe he is going to elevate God to a higher state than God already is, but David is saying that he is going to speak of the Lord in a manner that is befitting to a King, a King who is God.

Praise is directly proportionate to worth.  When praise is not in proportion to worth it is disingenuous and it is not truly praise.  When the praise offered is not in proportion to worth there are two options. Either the praise being offered is flattery, this is when the praise exceeds the worth, or it is insult, this is when the praise falls short of the worth.  David would in no way seek to insult the Lord.  He wants to extol the Lord properly and not fall short of this in any way.

But could David fall into flattery of God?  Could David ever offer God praise that exceeded God’s worth?  No, that would be impossible!  God is a being of infinite worth and undoubtedly deserves infinite praise.  This is exactly what David seeks to offer.  He seeks to extol the Lord.  He seeks to attribute the proper amount of praise to his King based on the value and worth of his King.

This leads to David’s second statement.  To attribute the proper amount of praise to a being who is of infinite worth would take a long, long, long, long time.  It would take, quite literally, forever!  And this is the exact point David makes.  He says not only will he extol the Lord but that he will “bless”(praise) his name forever.  CH Spurgeon put it like this,
And I will bless thy name for ever and ever.” David determined that his praise should rise to blessing, should intelligently spend itself upon the name or character of God, and should be continued world without end. He uses the word “bless” not merely for variation of sound, but also for the deepening and sweetening of the sense. To bless God is to praise him with a personal affection for him, and a wishing well to him; this is a growingly easy exercise as we advance in experience and grow in grace. David declares that he will offer every form of praise, through every form of existence. His notion of duration is a full one—“for ever” has no end, but when he adds another “ever” to it he forbids all idea of a close. Our praise of God shall be as eternal as the God we praise.[1]
Our praise to God will be as eternal as he is.  He is a being of infinite worth who deserves infinite praise.  He is a God who has offered eternal forgiveness and has earned, as if he even needed to earn it, eternal allegiance and eternal praise.  And that is exactly what he will receive and it will be our eternal joy to offer it.  But, praise be to God, we do not have to wait for any future time to offer him this worship.  Today, this very day, we can join with David and all the saints gone before in extolling the Lord and blessing the name of our great God and King.


**One of the tragedies of much of Western Christendom is the fact that many of us have lost the gift of singing the Psalms.  Here is Psalm 145:1-7 put to music.  If you cannot read music, try singing it to another hymn(like How Deep the Father’s Love for Us or When I Survey the Wondrous Cross or some other one!)


**Screenshot.  That play button^ will do nothing for you!



[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). The treasury of David: Psalms 120-150 (Vol. 6, pp. 375–376). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Time Travel to the Old Testament

Time Travel to the Old TestamentTime Travel to the Old Testament by Chris Sinkinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time Travel to the Old Testament is a fun new book from P&R and, overall, it is a good book.  It is quite an interesting and fun read.  The chapter on Hebrew storytelling (including the sections on silences that speak and chiasm in Hebrew literature) and the chapter on Meet the Natives stood out the most to me.  All of the chapters were engaging and informative, some more than others.

There are a couple of issues that are worth noting.  Language like “the church was born” in the book of Acts concerns me and tempts me to have a negative view on the total of the work.  I fight that temptation because it is really a good book and it might be a bit of an overreaction anyway!

Also, while an old earth position was interacted with well, there seemed to be an assumed position of theistic evolution that received no support or engagement with opposing position.   The fact that this was brought up and not fleshed out, warts and all, is a bit troubling even for as someone, like myself, who is rather sympathetic to that position.  I did enjoy the emphasis on the fact that Genesis, and the rest of Scripture, tells us everything we need to know (for salvation and righteous living) but not everything we might want to know.

Those issues aside, I really enjoyed this work and would encourage it to any who are looking for a clear, accessible, and fun look at the culture of the Old Testament.  Read with care and you will gain much insight and have a good time doing it.


I received a review copy from P&R Publishing


View all my reviews

Monday, June 23, 2014

Grace Works!--A Review




Grace Works!: And Ways We Think It Doesn't
by Douglas Bond

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Grace is a big deal! It is also a lightning rod for controversy and attack--even in pulpits, congregations, and denominations that purport to be centered on the good news of God’s amazing, sovereign grace. Douglas Bond jumps headfirst into the deep end of grace and shows the reader that grace is, if I might borrow some imagery from John Mark McMillan, an ocean worthy of sinking in.

Bond begins by diagnosing the tendency to abandon grace, for multiple reasons, and the overwhelming likelihood that the reader will see this in themselves, their congregation, or someone of prominence. It can happen to us and, historically speaking, it is more than likely. Bond shows how “law creep” and synergism have affected Reformed congregations and denominations throughout history.

He deals with a number of issues including: the necessity of a proper ordo salutis to minimize the creep of law into the Gospel, the fact that we often sing greater theological truth than we actually articulate, the pushback in Reformed circles on the primacy and centrality of Christ in all the Scriptures, the analogy of faith when interpreting Scripture and the danger of letting that which could be present implicitly erode what is actually present explicitly, and much more.

Bond brings up the dialetic method of interpretation and…well, he left me in the dust with that chapter! While I didn’t fully understand how the dialectic method practically works, I agree greatly with Bond that, “(l)ike Paul, we too must renounce any interpretive method—by whatever name—that does violence to the unity of Scripture, that makes the Bible say opposite things, and that facilitates a doctrinal framework that diminishes Christ and his saving faithfulness.”

His section on the need and benefits of confessional theology and practice is encouraging and convicting. He guides the reader in looking at the necessity of confessional standards and the hazards of abandoning them for “no Creed but Christ” or whatever we can come up with at breakfast after the evangelism seminar. Bond offers a perfect summary of his position when he quotes a brand new believer, infant in his faith but displaying wisdom beyond many, in saying, “(i)f we just stuck with the old confessions (in reference to the Westminster Standards and the 3 Forms of Unity), the church wouldn’t constantly drift away from the Gospel.”

This minimization of grace leads directly to the dangerous practice of relegating the Gospel to the unbeliever—that is, treating the Gospel as a springboard into the Christian life that has little-to-no relevance in the life of a believer. It is a gateway or an entry card, but once you are in it is of relatively little importance, other than as a means of helping others to get in. This method of starting the Christian life by grace alone through faith alone and progressing by works of the law is an error that may not often be explicitly articulated, but it is quite often lived and assumed. This is also an error that leads many believers to “live lives of quiet desperation” or grow in arrogant, yet baseless, confidence. In short, it is dangerous if not deadly. And it must be confronted with the truth that the Christian life is “all of grace”.

I am glad that Douglas Bond and P&R put this together for those of us who desperately need grace in a world full of consistent and constant forces seeking to, even when well-intentioned, pull us away from this grace we so mightily need. Bond reveals his heart beautifully when he says, “I’ll leave the minutia of the theological arguments to the theologians, but I’m far more concerned with what the congregation hears, how words like these [and an overall neglect/opposition to grace] affect the minds and hearts of the flock.” Bond’s heart is not about academic exercises and trivial controversy. It is about the everyday life of the professing believer who is so quickly driven to despair when overdosed on law and starved of grace. Grace Works! makes a great case that for just that—that grace works!

I received review copy from P&R Publishing through NetGalley to provide a review.

View all my reviews


Grace Works: And Ways We Think It Doesn't from Lieren Sinnamon on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

China's Reforming Churches

China's Reforming ChurchesChina's Reforming Churches by Bruce P. Baugus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the greatest occurrences in the world today, and this is not one iota of hyperbole, is the fruit of the Gospel being harvested amongst our brothers and sisters in China.  Millions(!!) are coming to faith in a land that until relatively recent history was actively opposed to any Christian influence.  This has created a wonderful problem of how the Church of China should go about organizing their local bodies and how the Church global can be of assistance to them.  This led to a conference addressing the issue hosted by RTS-Jackson and this wonderful book, China’s Reforming Churches, as a result.

China’s Reforming Churches sets out to survey Presbyterianism in China.  It is broken into four sections: The History of Presbyterianism in China, Presbyterianism in China Today, Challenges and Opportunities for Presbyterianism in China, and Appropriating a Tradition.  Each section has 3 or 4 chapters covering a wide variety of topics related to the explosion of Christian growth in China and the necessity of a proper, ordered, Scriptural government of these young churches.

This work is broad and exhaustive.  China’s Reforming Churches covers large portions of Chinese culture, history (in general and much in regards to the history of Christianity in/missions to China), and the current state of the nation and the Church in China.  I cannot begin to list what new information I gained from this work because, in large part due to my lack of any in-depth knowledge of China, missions to China, or Presbyterianism, it was essentially the entire book.  There were a few things I walked away with that made the time spent reading well worth it.

First, my understanding of the state of Christianity in China was a bit of a caricature.  I was under the impression that, for the most part, the Church in China was still heavily persecuted.  I believed that, as a whole, they must meet “underground” and that they were deprived of the Bible in their language and any types of Christian resources.  While I did not think it was a situation like Iran, I thought it was pretty close.  This understanding is quite a bit off base.   China’s Reforming Churches does a great job diving into the specifics and nuances of the issue but, basically, this type of persecution is not the case in China currently.  While there remain reasons that many churches are “underground” and the Church there does not enjoy the freedom to which we in the West are accustomed, there is a significant Christian presence in China that meets and worships and has Bibles and Christian literature available.  While they do not have the abundance of resources we have, and Reformed publishing was addressed in a great chapter, it is not the lockdown Communist caricature that I have always had in my mind.

Going along with that, impressed greatly on my heart was the need for Christian publishing and theological education in China.  The saying that in China the 2-year old Christian teaches the 1-year old Christian is often pretty accurate.  Many young believers are thrown into leadership positions due to the rapid rate of conversion and the lack of church structure often present in China.  The need for solid theological education is great as is the need for solid, Reformed, Biblical literature, books, and studies.  There is much in China as far as prosperity teaching but there still remains relatively little in regards to solidly Reformed literature.  Theological training, while having a relatively lengthy history in China, is needed desperately.

I also finished the book feeling the desperate need for Biblical Presbyterianism to take root in these Chinese churches.  Compelling arguments were made for the possibility of Churches already seeking this type of polity, the likelihood of the government seeing it in a positive light, and, most importantly, the case from Scripture for the necessity and requirement of a Presbyterian form to govern the church.

More than anything though, I read China’s Reforming Churches and walked away rejoicing in what God is doing around the world.  It is quite difficult to read an account like this, of so many coming to faith and seeking the Lord diligently, and walk away not encouraged and not praising God for being so faithful to his promises.  Bruce Baugus and the good folks at Reformation Heritage Books put together a great group of essays covering a wide variety of topics.  These essays worked together perfectly to leave the reader excited, encouraged, and challenged to be a part of the mighty works God is doing.  This book is a blessing!

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through Cross Focused Reviews.


View all my reviews

Poythress on Chance and Sovereignty--Review

Chance and the Sovereignty of God: A God-Centered Approach to Probability and Random EventsChance and the Sovereignty of God: A God-Centered Approach to Probability and Random Events by Vern Sheridan Poythress
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vern Poythress has done much to encourage Christians to embrace the truth that God is God of all of creation and Christians are called to pursue excellence, not just in the “sacred” things like Bible study, learning worship choruses, and coming up with clever sayings for church signs and youth camp bracelets, but also the “secular” things like art, science, math, and literature.  His newest volume sets out to look at the topic of chance, statistics, probability and mathematics in the light of God’s sovereign reign over all of everything.  I decided that this would be a good introduction for me to Poythress on a book-length level.  That turned out to be true…and maybe not so true.

One of the first things I found was that Poythress is a very approachable and engaging writer.  He has the gifting to be able to take a subject that might not be that interesting and get you interested in it….that actually turned out to be a good thing.  It would appear that I am less interested in probability than I thought I was.  Beyond that, some of the technical aspects of this work were over my head (apparently my community college “C” in Statistics a couple of years ago has not prepared me to be much of a statistician). But, Poythress did an excellent job maintaining my attention and explaining it where I understand 3/4(or 75%, or .75 or 3 out of 4) of what he was writing about.

Poythress unpacks the difference between chance and Chance and the reign of God over all of his creation.  While his language of sovereignty at times felt like fatalism (and I would be very interested to read more of his teaching on human choice/accountability and sovereignty) this is a very encouraging book for the Christian who either has an interest in mathematics and statistics or someone who is taking a course on probability/statistics and would like some encouragement in dealing with the all-too-present naturalism that pervades much of academia.  His moral claim about gambling seemed to be an overstatement (both in emphasis and conclusion) and did not differentiate clearly enough between games of pure chance (i.e. roulette) and games of skill that involve aspects of chance (i.e. poker).

So, would I read this again? …No.  But, that has everything to do with the subject, not the author.  Mathematics in general just does not interest me much at all.  However, this work has increased my desire to dive into Logic and Redeeming Science by Vern Poythress, two works I have wanted to read but felt hesitant due to not being familiar with Poythress and being concerned that they/he might be overwhelming to read.  The chapters were short, his teaching was clear and simple, and his style was entertaining.  I look forward to investing time in some more of his works!

I received a review a complimentary copy through Crossway’s Beyond the Page review program.


View all my reviews

Lord's Day 25

Of The Sacraments

25. Lord's Day

Question 65. Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all his benefits by faith only, whence does this faith proceed?
Answer: From the Holy Ghost, (a) who works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and confirms it by the use of the sacraments. (b)
(a) Eph.2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Eph.2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph.6:23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Philip.1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (b) Matt.28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Matt.28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 1 Pet.1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 1 Pet.1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
Question 66. What are the sacraments?
Answer: The sacraments are holy visible signs and seals, appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof, he may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel, viz., that he grants us freely the remission of sin, and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross. (a)
(a) Gen.17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. Rom.4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: Deut.30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. Lev.6:25 Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, This is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: it is most holy. Heb.9:7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: Heb.9:8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Heb.9:9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Heb.9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Ezek.20:12 Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them. Isa.6:6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: Isa.6:7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Isa.54:9 For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.
Question 67. Are both word and sacraments, then, ordained and appointed for this end, that they may direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation? (a)
Answer: Yes, indeed: for the Holy Ghost teaches us in the gospel, and assures us by the sacraments, that the whole of our salvation depends upon that one sacrifice of Christ which he offered for us on the cross.
(a) Rom.6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Gal.3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Question 68. How many sacraments has Christ instituted in the new covenant, or testament?
Answer: Two: namely, holy baptism, and the holy supper.


Lord's Day 25

Of The Sacraments

25. Lord's Day

Question 65. Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all his benefits by faith only, whence does this faith proceed?
Answer: From the Holy Ghost, (a) who works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and confirms it by the use of the sacraments. (b)
(a) Eph.2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Eph.2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph.6:23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Philip.1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (b) Matt.28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Matt.28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 1 Pet.1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 1 Pet.1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
Question 66. What are the sacraments?
Answer: The sacraments are holy visible signs and seals, appointed of God for this end, that by the use thereof, he may the more fully declare and seal to us the promise of the gospel, viz., that he grants us freely the remission of sin, and life eternal, for the sake of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross. (a)
(a) Gen.17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. Rom.4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: Deut.30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. Lev.6:25 Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, This is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: it is most holy. Heb.9:7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: Heb.9:8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Heb.9:9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Heb.9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Ezek.20:12 Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them. Isa.6:6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: Isa.6:7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Isa.54:9 For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.
Question 67. Are both word and sacraments, then, ordained and appointed for this end, that they may direct our faith to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the only ground of our salvation? (a)
Answer: Yes, indeed: for the Holy Ghost teaches us in the gospel, and assures us by the sacraments, that the whole of our salvation depends upon that one sacrifice of Christ which he offered for us on the cross.
(a) Rom.6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Gal.3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Question 68. How many sacraments has Christ instituted in the new covenant, or testament?
Answer: Two: namely, holy baptism, and the holy supper.


Friday, June 20, 2014

Spiritual Helps from The Valley of Vision

Spiritual Helps

Eternal Father, it is amazing love, that Thou hast sent Thy Son to suffer in my stead, that Thou hast added the Spirit to teach, comfort, guide, that Thou hast allowed the ministry of angels to wall me round; all heaven subserves the welfare of a poor worm. Permit Thy unseen servants to be ever active on my behalf, and to rejoice when grace expands in me. Suffer them never to rest until my conflict is over, and I stand victorious on salvation's shore.

Grant that my proneness to evil, deadness to good, resistance to Thy Spirit's motions, may never provoke Thee to abandon me. May my hard heart awake Thy pity, not Thy wrath, And if the enemy gets an advantage through my corruption, let it be seen that heaven is mightier than hell, that those for me are greater than those against me. Arise to my help in richness of covenant blessings, keep me feeding in the pastures of Thy strengthening Word, searching Scripture to find Thee there.

If my waywardness is visited with a scourge, enable me to receive correction meekly, to bless the reproving hand, to discern the motive of rebuke, to respond promptly, and do the first work. Let all Thy fatherly dealings make me a partaker of Thy holiness. Grant that in every fall I may sink lower on my knees, and that when I rise it may be to loftier heights of devotion. May my every cross be sanctified, every loss be gain, every denial a spiritual advantage, every dark day a light of the Holy Spirit, every night of trial a song.

From The Valley of Vision

Titus for all of us

Titus for YouTitus for You by Tim Chester
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Good Book Company has released a few books in a basic series to make God’s Word accessible to the believer and allow the opportunity for individual and group study.

Each volume of the God’s Word For You series takes you to the heart of a book of the Bible, and applies its truths to your heart.
The central aim of each title is to be:
Bible centred
Christ glorifying
Relevantly applied
Easily readable.


I have enjoyed Tim Keller’s Galatians for You and now Tim Chester’s Titus for You.  Both of these volumes have lived up to the central aim expressed by the series editor.  I have seen some negative comments about these volumes lacking depth but I don’t think that is warranted for a few reasons.

Take Titus for You as an example.  First, and foremost, these volumes are written to be accessible for anyone on their Christian pilgrimage.  These are not treatises to be plumbed by people with more letters after their name than in their name.  This is a work for you and I and it can be read, enjoyed, and used by the Lord for yours and my edification and growth.

While these are not intended to be in-depth academic treatises to challenge the professional theologian, Titus for You has plenty of depth.  Chester gives plenty of context to allow the reader enough knowledge of the Cretes and their culture to get a greater understanding of Paul’s words to Titus.

He deals with issues like God’s sovereignty and missions, sanctification and the Christian life, the pre-temporal covenant of redemption, biblical church government, qualifications of an elder, unbiblical asceticism, legalism, the need for multigenerational ministry, and so much more.

And Chester does not interact with these topics in a cursory manner.  He goes into great depth but does so in a way that any reader should be able to follow and benefit from.

Titus for You is simple, encouraging, and clear.  It is distinctly Reformed and explicitly Scriptural.  This is a volume worth reading in a series worth reading.

***I received a copy of Titus for You in exchange for an honest review.


View all my reviews




Tuesday, June 17, 2014

God Is Sovereign and We Are Responsible by JV Fesko

God Is Sovereign and We Are Responsible

guest post
This is a guest post by J. V. Fesko. He is the author of The Theology of the Westminster Standards: Historical Context & Theological Insights.

Looking to the Past

C. S. Lewis once said that we need the fresh breeze of the centuries to blow through our minds to remind us of truths we have forgotten and to help us to see things from a different perspective. I think such a sentiment certainly helps us to understand the value and benefit of studying theological works from the past.
One set of documents that are of immense benefit are the Westminster Standards (1648), which consist of the Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger, and Shorter Catechisms. To say the least, confessions and catechisms are very practical but nevertheless profound documents.
They typically set out to instruct Christians, from the neophyte to the mature believer, about the whole system of doctrine contained the in the Scriptures. The Shorter Catechism was written for teaching children the basic theological truths. The Larger Catechism goes into greater detail, and the Confession offers a holistic presentation of every major doctrine. In many versions of the Standards, certainly the original seventeenth-century edition, the theologians who wrote them provided numerous Scripture-proofs to justify the theological claims they made.

God’s Sovereignty vs. Man’s Responsibility

Pilgrim's Progress Curriculum

Pilgrim's Progress Curriculum Available here.






pilgrim's progress curriculum

Pilgrim's Progress Teacher's Manual coverWhy do your children need to study Pilgrim’s Progress?

Curriculum Directors Kit
Download Free Samples
curr-storybook-open

Monday, June 16, 2014

Romantic Conflict: Embracing Desires That Bless Not Bruise by Brad C Hambrick



Romantic Conflict: Embracing Desires That Bless Not Bruise by Brad C Hambrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There can never be enough good resources on marriage, marital conflict, and marital romance.  And by “good” I mean Gospel-soaked and explicitly biblical.  There is a shocking abundance of pragmatic, self-help, self-centered marital works masquerading as biblical and labeled as Christian but there is a serious lack of works that meet the qualification of “good” that I gave above.  This new work in The Gospel for Real Life series is most definitely “good”.

Hambrick takes the reader through one passage, Luke 9:23-24, from three different perspectives.  He gives a basic and clear general exposition of the passage and then proceeds to apply it to two key marital stressors: romance and conflict.

I was initially skeptical when reading the section on conflict.  I felt, and still feel, that the example he gives of dealing with conflict (and similarly romance) is silly.  But I think I felt/feel that way because of how counter-intuitive his approach is.  Hambrick seeks to take the visible word aspect of the sacraments and apply them practically in the areas of conflict and romance by helping spouses demonstrate the truth of the Gospel to each other.  I am excited to try it and offer it as an option in the pre-marital counseling my wife and I are doing.

Hambrick does well to base his counsel in the Gospel.  He gives much practical advice but is clear that trying to accomplish any of this apart from the residing presence of the Spirit of God is a fool’s errand and destined to end poorly.  He encourages accountability, honesty, and a resting in the Gospel of God’s immeasurable grace found in Jesus Christ.  This is a work worth reading and implementing.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


View all my reviews

Sunday, June 15, 2014

This meal commemorates the death of Jesus Christ--By Doug Wilson

This meal commemorates the death of Jesus Christ. This bread represents His body, and this wine represents His blood. This Table is all about the crucifixion. The cross is what we are talking about. The affliction He went through on our behalf is the message.
But we have to presuppose the resurrection in order to be able to do this. If Jesus had not come back from the dead, then His death would have been just one more obscure execution, wherein a prophet was swallowed up by the system—devoured by the cruel machinery of death. We have the privilege of proclaiming the Lord’s death two thousand years later because we are proclaiming the death of one who rose.
This dark world was utterly transformed by the resurrection. In the very middle of history—necessarily transforming the very meaning of history—Jesus came out of the tomb. This world is now a world in which the first man rose from the dead.
What this does is liberate us, so that we can proclaim the Lord’s death as full of gospel meaning, instead of forgetting it as necessarily meaningless. Jesus was raised for our justification (Rom. 4:25), which means, in part, that He was raised so that we could declare that He died.
Further, this declaration helps keep the sap of grace flowing out to our leaves. Whenever affliction blows someone off the tree, it is a withered leaf that blows off. Afflictions test your graces. You should be strengthened in those graces by this. This Table is a Table of affliction, and it is simultaneously a Table of thanksgiving. Affliction because He died, thanksgiving because He rose. We imitate Him, then, in our afflictions. We see them all against the backdrop of resurrection.
So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.
http://dougwils.com/the-church/the-backdrop-of-resurrection.html

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Worshipping with Calvin

Worshipping with CalvinWorshipping with Calvin by Terry L. Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a dangerous book.  Well, it was at least for me.   And if you are working through some of the same issues that I am, this is a dangerous book for you as well.

Johnson invites us to “worship with Calvin”, a term he uses to indicate a mirroring of the Reformers plea to ad fontes (return to the sources), and worship in a manner consistent with the Scriptures, the early Patristics and the Reformers.  Johnson, the author of the invaluable resource The Family Worship Book, takes time to lead the reader back to the Scriptures via Geneva’s 16th century return to the Scriptures to see what our worship should look like.  We then travel throughout Church history to see the development of worship practices, both good and not so good.  If Calvin had written a Biblical-Historical theology of worship, this is much what it would have looked like.

Johnson’s impetus for writing, along with calling his fellow confessional believers back to traditional Reformed worship, is to reach those who see value in the theology of Calvin but are ignorant of the order and practices that naturally proceed from it. “If the neo-Calvinists of the “young, restless, reformed” movement can connect with this movement to renew historic Reformed ministry and worship, a powerful engine for church renewal and revival may result.”  So the title “Worshipping With Calvin”, which can be off-putting to many who only recognize “Calvin” as a pejorative term, is simply a call for Presbyterians to return to their confessional roots and practice and for the neo-Calvinist to see the value of classical Calvinism beyond a flower in one’s soteriological garden.  

But why is that necessary?  Why is a work like this needed in the life of the Church.  Johnson contends, rightly, that, “how we worship determines what we believe, and, what we believe determines how we worship.” He encourages the reader to see how traditional reformed worship produced traditional Reformed piety and honored God most greatly in the process.

Johnson calls for an extreme response to what he identifies as a crucial error plaguing evangelical Protestantism.

We can all agree that worship, if it is to be true worship, must be God-centered. We can also regard as axiomatic the principle that worship cannot be entertainment. Worship as entertainment is idolatry. It is unlikely that anyone really disagrees with this claim. As we have argued, by definition worship must be about God, not personal amusement. Here is where we disagree: adiaphora. Contemplate for a moment contemporary worship in its typical setting of stages, theater-lighting, bands, singers, dancers, dramatists, choirs, hand-held microphones, and theater-style seating. Are these adiaphora? Normally, issues of seating, lighting, placement of musicians, and style of platform might have qualified as adiaphora, as things indifferent, just as the elevation and adoration of the host might have been considered adiaphora. But is this evaluation still possible? Or has a line been crossed in our generation? A benign view of the above trappings of entertainment in the place of worship is increasingly difficult to sustain. Much of what passes for worship today appears to be little more than lightly baptized entertainment. Should such worship not therefore be considered idolatrous? Does it not at least have a propensity to encourage idolatry, and therefore should not serious churches distance themselves from it? Our principle must be (with apologies to Luther), “Let us, therefore, repudiate everything that smacks of entertainment.”

We would suggest that the time has come for the worship places of evangelical Protestantism to be cleansed of everything that reflects the world of entertainment. Our Protestant forefathers took axes to the altars, and whitewashed the walls of medieval churches.30 Perhaps similar iconoclastic zeal should be shown, and soon, in our houses of worship, lest they become houses of mirth. Perhaps we ought to pull out the theater seats, break up the stages, banish the dancers and actors, move musicians and choirs to the rear and redefine their role as that of simply supporting and enhancing congregational singing. Has the time not come to restore the pulpit, table, and font to the visible focal point of the interior of our churches, and restore simple services of the Word read, preached, sung, prayed, and received (in the sacraments)? What was once considered indifferent ought to be reconsidered in light of the danger of idolatry posed by the trappings of entertainment that have come to dominate our places of worship.


Johnson shows how the “solas” of the Reformers led to the reform of Christian worship (which had been hijacked in the medieval period).  Johnson shows how sola Scriptura led to the reduction of the liturgy, solus Christus led to the reformation of the Eucharist, sola fide led to the reform of the reading and preaching of Scripture, sola gratia led to reform of prayer, and soli Deo Gloria “led to the revival of confidence in the ordinary means of grace.”  Beyond simply leading to the reform of these aspects of worship, these principles help guide our understanding of each of these aspects.

Soli Deo gloria effectively summarizes the Reformers’ concerns even as it elevates those concerns to the highest level. The reforms of worship were necessary, the Reformers argued, because God is glorified when his people worship “according to Scripture” and refuse to embrace human novelties and innovations. God is glorified when the church’s eucharistic practices affirm the finality and sufficiency of Christ’s atonement and in no way imply the need for its perpetual supplementation. God is glorified in Word-filled worship services which underscore that justification is by personal faith in Christ alone and not by implicit faith in the church and her sacraments. God is glorified in prayer-saturated worship services which demonstrate dependence upon the Holy Spirit, rather than rituals and ceremonies (or in our day, on marketers, demographers, and entertainers). Historic Reformed worship, by its content, form, order, furnishings and buildings, provides an unmistakable witness to the central truths of the Christian faith: Scripture alone leads us to Christ alone, whom we receive by faith alone, as initiated by God’s grace alone, all to God’s glory alone.


Johnson does not simply seek to lambaste modern worship innovations, he wants to present a case for traditional Protestant worship that is Bible-filled, Gospel structured, Church aware, and Spirit-dependent.  “The advocates of historic Reformed worship are simply saying that when the church assembles to worship it does so around the Word read, preached, sung, prayed and received through the ‘visible word,’ the sacraments. These are the concerns of the Reformed tradition.”

This should not be a controversial aim for Christians, specifically Protestants, more specifically those who would claim to be “people of the Book”.  But it is.  In my Christian sub-culture, we affirm in word the sufficiency and authority of the Bible.  But we do not publicly read the Scriptures at any length.  We do not sing the Scriptures.  We do not pray with the words of Scripture (although thanks to some leadership this is becoming more common place in our local body).  We do not place any emphasis on the visible word of God in the sacraments.  Our worship services, apart from a fine exposition of a passage of Scripture, are pretty much devoid of God’s word.  This is a pervasive tragedy that plagues much of Evangelicalism.

Citing corporate Scripture reading as “one of the major needs of our day,” Johnson ardently encourages the “reintroduction of this plank from the Reformers’ platform of church reform”.

“Are we not commanded to read Scripture in public worship (1 Tim. 4:13)? Should not the historic Christian practice of substantial Scripture reading be restored to the worship of evangelical Protestantism? Should not the apostolic, patristic and Reformed discipline of lectio continua readings become standard practice in the worship of our churches?”  Johnson gives the reader many reasons to answer “yes” to all of these questions.

Johnson also seeks to see worship return to the word in prayer, preaching, and singing as well.  Beyond this, he desires that Christians would “see the word” in worship through the sacraments.  Returning Baptism and Communion to its proper place in Christian worship is crucial if we will see any type of Christian reform or sustained growth in individual piety.  And, quite simply, it is proper because it is how God has designed worship.

Johnson has an interesting chapter on the “Gospel structure” of the order of reformed worship and follows with a chapter on the need of worship to be “Church aware”.  The liturgy of reformed worship services lead the believer from confession to repentance to forgiveness to praise, all before the sermon is preached.  Johnson also encourages the reader to recognize the “catholicity” of the church and the need for “catholicity” in how we worship.  “Worship wars,” he says, “are actually culture wars.” This is true as well as the fact that,
‘Contemporary worship’ is really a determination to prefer the taste preferences of a segment of contemporary culture (typically anglo-contemporary, but sometimes Latino, African-American, Hip-Hop, Cowboy, skate-boarders, etc.) over an older church culture. Have the ecclesiastical ramifications of that determination been thought through? Can the church avoid fragmentation and division according to cultural preference if ‘authenticity’ requires that ‘my culture’ be the dominant form in which Christian devotion is expressed?


While I enjoyed the entire book, Johnson saves the best for last.  Chapter 9 covers how Reformed worship is “Spirit-dependent”.

Finally, we urge the practice of Reformed worship and ministry because it is Spirit-dependent. We have argued that dependence on the Holy Spirit is the necessary implication of the principle of sola gratia (see chapter 3). Believers, according to the Reformed ordo salutis, depend on the Holy Spirit for regeneration (John 3:8), faith and justification (1 Cor. 12:3), adoption (Rom. 8:15), sanctification (1 Peter 1:2), and perseverance (1 Peter 1:5). Beyond the individual and personal, the church depends upon the Holy Spirit to make the ordinary means of grace, the Word, sacraments, and prayer, effective and fruitful means of sanctification.

Johnson takes time, good time, to dispel some common myths in regards to the Spirit’s role and presence in worship.  He shows that some phenomena typically attributed to the Spirit, and used as measuring stick of his presence, are not necessarily accurate or appropriate.  Emotional exuberance, spontaneity, individual/idiosyncratic response, so often lauded as hallmarks of “the Spirit moving” are not necessarily that and are, possibly more often than not, signs of the opposite.  Reformed worship relies on the Holy Spirit through his word, in prayer, and demonstrates this reliance through simplicity.  Reformed worship can pass the “catacombs test” because of a confidence in God ministering through his normal means of grace and not being dependent on our innovations, creativity, and pragmatic wisdom to help our sovereign Lord accomplish what he has already promised to do.

Initially during and after reading “Worshipping with Calvin” I had some reservations.  I felt it was heavy handed at points and a bit extreme.  After some reflection I feel my reservations might simply be conviction.  What I thought was heavy handed was simply sharp exposition and explanation that jabbed at me.  Like a dentist finding an exposed nerve, even delicate and precise exploration can often be painful to the one with cavities.  Couple that with the realization that I have decisions to make and repentance to enjoy, it is easy to see the many ways that this book could be quite uncomfortable.  I told you this was a dangerous book!

I praise God for Terry Johnson and the work that has gone into this volume.  I am thankful for Cross Focused Reviews and the review copy of this book without which I probably would not have read this work.  More people should read this work than probably will, but everyone who does will be encouraged and challenged.  I was blessed and burdened by the claims presented in Worshipping with Calvin and the support given from Scripture and history.  It is hard to ask more from a book than that!

***I received a review copy for my honest review.


View all my reviews

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I HAVE OTHER SHEEP THAT ARE NOT OF THIS FOLD--By John Piper

I Have Other Sheep That Are Not of This Fold
“DON’T WASTE YOUR LIFE” COLLEGE EVENT
SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIFORNIA

JOHN PIPER
MARCH 30, 2008


One of the most moving books I have read about the history of modern missions is The St. Andrews Seven, by Stuart Piggin and John Roxborogh. It tells the story of how the life and teaching of Thomas Chalmers at the University of St. Andrews inspired six of his best students in the 1820’s to radical missionary commitment which resulted in 141 years of combined service on the missions field.
One of the most brilliant of these young students died while he was still 18. Already his memoirs filled two volumes. He said in one of his addresses to the mission society at the university:
We know of no office in the Church of God where the very highest mental attainments can be more beneficially employed, than in the office, all despised as it is, of the Christian missionary. (p.53)

The reason I mention this book is that it illustrates historically what I am trying to bear witness to in my life and church, namely, that a vision and zeal for missions can and should flow down from a vision of the greatness of God and his grand design for the world.
That group of students was part of the second generation of modern missions. The same thing is illustrated from the first generation, too. Let me illustrate this from the life of William Carey, the father of modern missions who gave 40 years of his life in India and who never went home on furlough. (Taken from p. 13 of A Vision for Missions, by Tom Wells.)
In 1797, four years after he came to India, Carey tells us of being confronted by a Brahman. Carey had preached on Acts 14:16 and 17:30 and said that God formerly allowed all men everywhere to go their own way, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent.
The Brahman responded, “Indeed I think God ought to repent for not sending the gospel sooner to us.”
Here is a crucial need for deep Biblical doctrine. It is not an easy objection to answer. Listen to the kind of answer Carey gave and see if you would have thought of such a thing.
To this I added, suppose a kingdom had been long overrun by the enemies of its true king, and he though possessed of sufficient power to conquer them, should yet suffer them to prevail, and establish themselves as much as they could desire, would not the valor and wisdom of that king be far more conspicuous in exterminating them, than it would have been if he had opposed them at first, and prevented their entering the country? Thus by the diffusion of gospel light, the wisdom, power, and grace of God will be more conspicuous in overcoming such deep-rooted idolatries, and in destroying all that darkness and vice which have so universally prevailed in this country, than they would have been if all had not been suffered to walk in their own ways for so many ages past.

What an answer! The sovereign God rules the nations in such a way that even the ages of unbelief will redound to his glory in the most pagan of countries when the gospel victory comes! Carey did not say that God was unable to get the gospel to India sooner simply because of his stubborn and disobedient people. He knew that such impotence is simply not worthy of the name of God.
So the modern missionary movement got its start in an atmosphere of strong doctrinal commitments. They were the commitments of the great American pastor and theologian, Jonathan Edwards. Edwards wrote The Life of David Brainerd, the young New England missionary—a biography that deeply influenced Carey. And on the boat to India, Carey said he comforted his mind by reading sermons of Jonathan Edwards who had died forty years earlier. For example: June 24, 1793
Saw a number of flying-fish. Have begun to write Bengali, and read Edwards’ sermons and Cowper’s poems. Mind tranquil and serene...

The keynote of Edwards’ and Carey’s theology was the centrality of God and the glory of his sovereign grace. The origin of modern missions sprang up among pastors in England who were decidedly doctrinal in their life and preaching. Andrew Fuller, Samuel Pearce, John Sutcliffe and William Carey were all of this sort. This was the little band of brothers from which such amazing things sprung in the beginning of the modern missionary movement in the late 1700’s.
Their majestic view of God moved them to lay claim to the nations on behalf of the risen Christ who said, “All authority in heaven and on earth belongs to me. Therefore, go make disciples of all nations...” (Matt. 28:18– 19). The modern missionary movement was born in this majestic view of the sovereignty of God and the global authority of Jesus Christ.
Later on such names as David Livingstone, Adoniram Judson, Alexander Duff, John Paton, etc., were driven by the same vision. They loved the historic doctrines of Biblical Christianity.
I love their vision of God because I have found it in Scripture and this God is magnificent. My aim is to show how in my own experience the majesty and the glory of God and his absolute authority and power awaken and sustain a passion for world missions—the reaching of all the ethnolinguistic people-groups of the world with the good news that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, has come and died in our place to remove the guilt and condemnation of sin and has risen from the dead to destroy death and secure everlasting life and joy for all who will believe on his name.
My text for this message is taken from John 10:16. Jesus says,
I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.

This is the great missionary text in the Gospel of John. But in order to understand this missionary promise of Christ we have to notice at least six things in the context of John 10.
6 Observations from Christ’s Missionary Promise
1. Jesus calls himself a shepherd.
Verse 11: “I am the good shepherd.”
Verse 14: “I am the good shepherd.”

The flock of God is the people of Israel. We know this because later, in verse 16, Jesus refers to other sheep that are not of this fold, namely Gentile converts. This leads to the second observation.
2. Some sheep are Christ’s and some are not.
Verses 3b-4: “...He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them.”
Verse 14: “I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me.”

In other words, not all the people in the flock of Israel truly belonged to Christ. Some were his sheep; some weren’t.
3. The reason some sheep belonged to Jesus so that he could call them his own is that God the Father had given them to the Son.
Verse 29: “My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

This is Jesus’ way of talking about the doctrine of election. God has chosen a people for his own. These are his sheep. He then gives them to his Son so that they can be saved by faith in him. You can see this clearly in John 17:6 where Jesus says to his Father,
I have manifested your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world; thine they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept thy word.

And you can see it in John 6:37,
All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.

So Jesus can speak with confidence about some sheep among the flock of Israel that are definitely his, because they first belonged to the Father before they ever came to Jesus or believed on Jesus. The Father had chosen them for himself—”thine they were”—and then he had given them to the Son— ”and thou hast given them to me” (see 6:39, 44, 65; 17:9, 24; 18:9).
4. Since Jesus knows those who are his, he can call them by name and because they are already his they follow.
Verses 3b-4: The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own he goes before them and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
Verse 27: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Be sure you see the thrust of these verses: being one of Christ’s sheep enables you to respond to his call. It is not the other way around in these verses: responding to his call does not make you one of his sheep. If you hear and recognize his voice it is because you already are one of his sheep, chosen by the Father. You come to the Son because the Father is giving you to the Son (John 6:44, 65).
That is the startling thing about this chapter. And it can be very offensive to a self-sufficient, unbelieving heart. It reveals to us the presumption of ultimate self-determination—of thinking that the final, decisive determination of our salvation lies in our own power. Listen carefully to verse 26:
You do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.

The final boast of unbelief is destroyed by the doctrine of election. Those whom God chose he also gave to the Son, and those whom he gave to the Son, the Son also called by name, and those whom he called hear his voice and believe.
5. But that is not all that Jesus does for his sheep.
Verse 11: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Verses 14-15: I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
In other words, to echo the words of Paul again,

•those whom the Father has made his own, he also gave to the Son,
•and those whom he gave to the Son the Son also called,
•and those whom he called he also justified by laying down his life for the sheep.
6. On the basis of this sacrifice Jesus gives eternal life to his sheep and it can never be taken away.
Verses 27-30: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
In other words,

•Those whom the Father chose for himself he also gave to the Son,
•and those whom he gave to the Son the Son also called by name,
•and for those he called, he also laid down his life,
•and to those for whom he died he gave eternal life, and it can never be taken away.

The picture we have in John 10 is of a great shepherd who sovereignly saves his sheep.

•The Father gives them to him.
•He dies for them.
•He calls them by name.
•He gives them eternal life.
•And he keeps them safe forever.

What a great salvation we have! What a great Savior!
And now a great danger arises for us. Satan takes every great truth and throws up a plausible distortion of it. He did that in William Carey’s day. Some Christians had taken this pride-shattering doctrine of salvation through sovereign grace and twisted it into an in-house, elitist doctrine for the private comfort of the chosen few with no burden to reach the nations of the world.
But God in his mercy has again and again made clear to his servants that his salvation is not the prerogative of any one group on earth.
Just when the Jewish disciples begin to feel like they are the real select heirs of Abraham, Jesus strikes in John 10:16: “I have other sheep, that are not of this fold”—among the Gentiles.
Just when the early American Puritans were settling in to their “chosen” status as the New Israel in the New England, Jesus said to John Eliot, “I have other sheep that are not of this Puritan fold—among the Algonquin Indians.” And 100 years later to David Brainerd, “I have other sheep that are not of this Congregational fold— among the Susquehanna.”
Just when the Particular Baptists of England were being frozen in the unbiblical ice of hyper-Calvinism, Jesus spoke to William Carey: “I have other sheep that are not of this English fold—in India.”
Just when the mission agencies and churches were growing content with the coastland successes around the world, Jesus stirred up Hudson Taylor, “I have other sheep that are not of this coastal fold—in the middle of China.” And to David Livingston: “In the middle of Africa.”
And just when all of western Christendom began to feel content in the 20th century that every country of the world had been penetrated with the gospel, Jesus came to Cameron Townsend, the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, and said, “I have other sheep that are not of this visible worldwide fold—among the hidden tribal peoples, thousands of them with not even a portion of Scripture in their language.”
John 10:16 is the great missionary text in the Gospel of John: I have other sheep that are not of this fold! Every time we start to get comfortable with just us, it is like a thorn in the cushion on the pew. Every time a board of world missions begins to get comfortable with the ten or eleven fields where we are planting churches, John 10:16 is like a bugle call: I have other sheep in thousands of peoples yet unreached by the gospel.
But this verse is far more than a mere goad. It is full of hope and power. It is a deep and broad foundation for great mission efforts. So I want to look at four things in John 10:16 that should fill us to overflowing with confidence in our missions dreaming and planning and labor.
4 Reasons We Should Do Missions Confidently