What Is Reformation Day?

Content originally posted by Stephen Nichols at www.ligonier.org.  Click here to see the original post. A single event on a single day changed the world. It was October 31, 1517. Brother Martin, a monk and a scholar, had struggled for years with his church, the church in Rome. He had been greatly disturbed by an unprecedented indulgence sale. The story has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster. Let’s meet the cast. First, there is the young bishop—too young by church laws—Albert of Mainz. Not only was he bishop over two bishoprics, he desired an additional archbishopric over Mainz. This too was against church laws. So Albert appealed to the Pope in Rome, Leo X. From the De Medici family, Leo X greedily allowed his tastes to exceed his financial resources. Enter the artists and sculptors, Raphael and Michelangelo. When Albert of Mainz appealed for a papal dispensation, Leo X was ready to deal. Albert, with the papal blessing, would sell indulgences for past, present, and future sins. All of this sickened the monk, Martin Luther. Can we buy our way into heaven? Luther had to speak out. But why October 31? November 1 held a special place in the church calendar as All Soul’s Day. On November 1, 1517, a massive exhibit of newly acquired relics would be on display at Wittenberg, Luther’s home city. Pilgrims would come from all over, genuflect before the relics, and take hundreds, if not thousands, of years off time in purgatory. Luther’s soul grew even more vexed. None of this seemed right. Martin Luther, a scholar, took quill in hand, dipped it in his...

10 Things You Should Know about the Presence of God

Content originally posted as a guest post by J. Ryan Lister, author of The Presence of God: Its Place in the Storyline of Scripture and the Story of Our Lives, at www.crossway.org.  Click here to see the original post.   1. God is immanent because he is transcendent. The Lord is “God in the heavens above (transcendent) and on the earth beneath (immanent)” (Josh 2:11). But to understand God in full we must recognize that his drawing near to creation stems from his being distinct from creation. In other words, there is no deficiency in God that creation satisfies. The Lord doesn’t relate to this world because he lacks something within himself. No, God draws near out of the abundance of who he is. God’s transcendence distinguishes him from the created order and puts things in their right perspective. God does not come to us needy and wanting, but rather he comes to “revive the spirit of the lowly and the heart of the contrite” (Isa 57:15). It is the holy and righteous One above who restores the broken and needy below. 2. The Bible emphasizes God’s manifest presence, not only his omnipresence. There is a difference between saying “God is everywhere,” and saying “God is here.” The former is the default category for most Christians. We talk about God’s presence being inescapable and that he is “everywhere present” (Ps 139:5-12; 1 Kings 8:27). But it seems Scripture is more concerned with his presence manifest in relationship and redemption. And though these divine realities are certainly not at odds, the biblical story does turn on God’s being manifest with his people...

Echoes of the Sermon on the Mount in the Book of James

Editor’s Note: This Sunday, we continue our series on the book of James, entitled “Faith Works.” Many readers of James would be surprised to discover how Jesus greatest ‘sermon’, as recorded in Matthew 5-11, s the basis for so many of Jame’s teachings. Check it out! Content originally posted by Justin Taylor at www.thegospelcoalition.org.  Click here to see the original post. I tend to have a suspicion of charts showing extensive parallels between biblical passages. Fifty years ago Samuel Sandmel complained of the extravagance and exaggeration of “parallelomania.” One valid example of parallels, in my opinion, can be found in the book of James, echoing the Sermon on the Mount. The parallels potentially become more poignant when we remember that the author of the epistle is James the Just, the younger brother of Jesus (Matt. 13:55). Thanks to the ESV Study Bible for first suggesting to me the following parallels. Rejoice and be glad in your trials. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12) “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” (James 1:2) Be perfect and complete. “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:4)...

5 Reasons to Read Missionary Biographies to Your Children

Content originally posted by Christina Fox at www.thegospelcoalition.org.  Click here to see the original post. Our kids’ favorite part of the day is story time. At the end of a long day, we all gather, and I read to them. Even my oldest, who’s almost in middle school, looks forward to it. We’ve read a variety of books over the years, from mysteries to fantasies to literary classics. Favorites have included The Hobbit, King Arthur, Farmer Boy, and The Hardy Boys. One evening, I was reading a different genre than usual. As I neared the end of the book, my eyes started to burn. I blinked and my vision blurred. Before I knew it, tears were streaming down my face. This was unusual for story time. I turned to my son, handed him the book, and whispered, “Can you finish, please?” He took over reading for me while I sat there in tears. We were reading a biography of Nate Saint. Saint was a mid-20th-century missionary in Ecuador to the Auca Indians. He and four others (including Jim Elliot) were martyred by those they came to serve. Yet this death didn’t stop God’s redeeming work. In time, many in the village came to embrace Christ, including the six who killed the missionaries. Reading a missionary biography, like that of Nate Saint, might not be your first choice since such stories are often filled with heartache and hardship. But I encourage you to consider reading them to your kids for five reasons. 1. They expose kids to God’s kingdom expansion worldwide. Missionary biographies open our children’s eyes to see what Jesus...

Scripture Guide for Events of Holy Week

  PALM SUNDAY Jesus enters Jerusalem Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-44; John 12:12-19 Jesus Predicts his death John 12:20-36 Jesus visits the Temple Matthew 21:14-17; Mark 11:11 MONDAY Jesus curses a fig tree Matthew 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-14 Jesus cleanses the temple Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-48 TUESDAY The lesson from the fig tree Matthew 21:20-22; Mark 11:20-26 Jesus teaches and engages in controversies in the temple Matthew 21:23- 23:39; Mark 11:27-12:44; Luke 20:1-21:4 Jesus predicts the future Matthew 24-25; Mark 13:1-37; Luke 21:5-36 WEDNESDAY Jesus continues his daily teaching in the temple complex Luke 21:37-38 The Sanhedrin plots to kill Jesus Matthew 26:3-5; Mark 14:1-2; Luke 22:1-2 MAUNDY THURSDAY Jesus instructs his disciples Peter and John to secure a large upper room in a home in Jerusalem and to prepare for the passover meal Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-13 In the evening Jesus eats the passover meal with the Twelve, tells them of the coming betrayal, and institutes the Lord’s Supper Matthew 26:20-29; Mark 14:17-23; Luke 22:14-30 During supper Jesus washes the disciples feet, interacts with them, and delivers the Upper Room Discourse John 13:1-17:26 Jesus and the disciples sing a hymn together, then depart to the Mount of Olives Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26; Luke 22:39 Jesus predicts Peter’s denials Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:31-34 Jesus issues final practical commands about supplies and provisions Luke 22:35-38 Jesus and the disciples go to Gethsemane where he struggles in prayer and they struggle to stay awake late into the night Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:40-46 GOOD FRIDAY Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested by the...