To Work and to Keep

"He will be like a tree planted by water..." Jeremiah 17:8

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Only the preaching of grace can open the sinful heart. Unaided law, imperatives without indicatives, cannot pry open locked hearts.
Sinclair Ferguson

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The Word Became Flesh

This past weekend I spent time in Greenville with my beautiful older sister, Sarah. I was excited for a few reasons, one being that I rarely get to spend a whole weekend alone with Sarah and another being that we were spending it at the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology (PCRT). The Lord, in His grace, revealed many truths to me throughout the course of the weekend and I was undoubtedly blessed by the environment and the speakers. The theme of the conference was “Adopted into the Father’s Love,” and as you may have guessed revolved around the topic of divine adoption. Our first night’s Scripture was 1 John 3:1-3 which begins, “See! what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” This verse is so significant to our understanding of our relationship with God as it was before the new covenant and after. We are no longer a stranger, a vagabond, or guest but a child¬†come home. There is no reference to God as our father in the OT but He is called Yahwey, Elohim, El Shaddai, all of which reflect His majesty but not His love. The greatest revelation of the NT is that Christ tells us we may now address Him as FATHER! Through His sacrifice, He shared His inheritance with us which is the eternal glorification of the Father. He died that we may become His inheritance so that He may become ours!¬†

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:3-4



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In a recent blog post on this site, my good friend Ligon Duncan has provocatively suggested that the Mercersburg theologian John W. Nevin is “not the answer to what ails us.” As one who has read a bit of Nevin over the years, I offer this friendly rejoinder.

The Herman Bavinck quote Ligon provides in his post issues a salutary warning against the assumption that covenant children will almost inevitably come to faith. Bavinck’s statement here doubtless…

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Ref21 friend Paul Helm has just finished a fascinating series of posts on Jonathan Edwards and his thoughts on true religion. His conclusion was this: “The Religious Affections is an important book, but in my view it would be unwise to take its teaching on what true religion consists in very seriously. It is a book about the importance of emotion, expressed in a public, visible way, being the measure of true religion.”


Obviously, I am not close to the scholar that Helm is and I feel it…

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There’s still time to get in on a great weekend of teaching in and fellowship - just head over to Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, if you’re in the area! Today, Rick Phillips will be speaking about godly masculinity and femininity, joined by Joel Beeke on fathers and fatherhood - again, this is something not to miss!

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"In a comparatively sound church life, it is possible to assume that as a rule the children of the covenant will be born again in their youth and come to faith and conversion ‘in stages and gracefully.’ But when the world penetrates the church and many people grow up and live for years without showing any fruits worthy of faith and repentance, then the serious-minded feel called to warn against trusting one’s childhood regeneration and one’s historical faith in Christian doctrine and to…

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Last night, a friend emailed me the following quotation, apparently written by one of the gurus of emergent evangelicalism, or whatever it calls itself these days. He is talking about the sacraments, or so I am told:

"These rituals are true for us, because they’re true for everybody. They unite us, because they unite everybody. These are signs, glimpses, and tastes of what is true for all people in all places at all times—we simply name the mystery present in all the world, the gospel already…