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Stand for Truth*

As Christians, we are entrusted with the truth of the gospel. It is our duty to stand for truth, and against all enemies of truth.


Postmodernism is simply the latest expression of worldly unbelief. Its core value—dubious ambivalence toward truth—is merely skepticism distilled to its pure essence. There is nothing virtuous or genuinely humble about it. It is proud rebellion against divine revelation.

In fact, postmodernism’s hesitancy about truth is exactly antithetical to the bold confidence Scripture says is the birthright of every believer (Ephesians 3:12). Such assurance is wrought by the Spirit of God Himself in those who believe (I Thessalonians 1:5). We need to make the most of that assurance and not fear to confront the world with it.

The gospel message in all its component facts is a clear, definitive, confident, authoritative proclamation that Jesus is Lord, and that He gives eternal and abundant life to all who believe. We who truly know Christ and have received that gift of eternal life have also received from Him a clear, definitive commission to deliver the gospel message boldly as His ambassadors. If we are likewise not clear and distinct on our proclamations of the message, we are not being good ambassadors.

But we are not merely ambassadors. We are simultaneously soldiers, commissioned to wage war for the defense and dissemination of the truth in the face of countless onslaughts against it. We are ambassadors—with a message of good news for people who walk in a land of darkness and dwell in the land of the shadow of death (Isaiah 9:2). And we are soldiers—charged with pulling down ideological strongholds and casting down the lies and deception spawned by the forces of evil (1 Corinthians 10:3–5; 2 Timothy 2:3–4).

Notice carefully: our task as ambassadors is to bring good news to people. Our mission as soldiers is to overthrow false ideas. We must keep those objectives straight; we are not entitled to wage warfare against people or the enter into diplomatic relations with anti-Christian ideas. Our warfare is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12); and our duty as ambassadors does not permit us to compromise or align ourselves with any kind of human philosophies, religious deceit, or any other kind of falsehood (Colossians 2:8).

—John MacArthur, The Truth War (Thomas Nelson, 2007), 24–25.

* First posted January 8, 2008

Lord’s Day 28, 2019

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. —John 15:4–5 Hymn XIV. A propitious gale longed for. At anchor laid, remote from home. Toiling I cry, sweet Spirit, come, Celestial breeze, no longer stay, But swell my sails, and speed my way. Fain would I mount, fain would I glow, And loose my cable from below; But I can only spread my sail; Thou, thou must breathe th’ auspicious gale. —The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady: To the Holy Spirit (Sprinkle Publications, 1987). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Come, My Soul

Come, My Soul, Thy Suit Prepare VIENNA Come, my soul, thy suit prepare, Jesus loves to answer pray’r. He Himself has bid thee pray, rise and ask without delay. Thou art coming to a King, large petitions with thee bring, for his grace and pow’r are such, none can ever ask too much. With my burden I begin, Lord, remove this load of sin! Let Thy blood, for sinners spilt, set my conscience free from guilt. Lord! I come to Thee for rest, take possession of my breast; there Thy blood-bought right maintain, and without a rival reign. While I am a pilgrim here, let Thy love my spirit cheer; as my Guide, my Guard, my Friend, lead me to my journey’s end. Show me what I have to do; ev’ry hour my strength renew; let me live a life of faith; let me die Thy people’s death. —Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017). The current hymnal for this series is Hymns to the Living God, published by Religious Affections Ministries. This is such a good hymnal that I’m pretty sure I could happily post every hymn it contains, but I’ll be limiting selections to hymns I have never posted here before, especially those unfamiliar to me (of which there are many). For more information and to purchase this hymnal, visit Religious Affections Ministries.

Come One, Come All

The circus came to town recently. The ringmaster shared this true* tale with me. A man went to Africa on a safari. While there, he came upon an elephant in great pain, with a giant thorn in its foot. The man very slowly and fearfully approached the elephant, and gently removed the thorn from its foot. The elephant began to walk away, then turned and stared at the man for a full minute, locking eyes with him. The man was terrified, until the elephant turned again and slowly continued on its way. The man heaved a deep sigh of relief and thought, “I wonder, if I ever see that elephant again, will it remember me?” A few years later, the man went to the circus back in the States. He noticed that one of the elephants kept looking at him, almost like it knew him. The man wondered, “Could this be that elephant I helped so long ago?” He decided to get a closer look. With the elephant still giving him the stare-down, the man moved in closer, getting right up in front of the elephant. Their eyes locked. An expression of recognition seemed to cross the elephant’s face. It reached down and picked the man up carefully with its trunk. It lifted him high in the air, holding him aloft as if to exalt him for all to pay homage, and made a full three hundred and sixty degree turn. Then, thrusting him even higher into the air, with a mighty swing of his trunk, sent him crashing to the ground below and trampled him into the ground. Turns out it wasn’t that elephant. * Tall.

Understanding God

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. . . . But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. —1 Corinthians 2:11, 14–15 Men understand each other because the can communicate to one another, and because they are flesh, and share commonalities in the flesh. Men cannot understand God even though he has communicated to them, because they share nothing in common with him. For what man knoweth? Two different things he intends to teach here: first, that the doctrine of the Gospel cannot be understood otherwise than by the testimony of the Holy Spirit; and secondly, that those who have a testimony of this nature from the Holy Spirit, have an assurance as firm and solid, as if they felt with their hands what they believe, for the Spirit is a faithful and indubitable witness. This he proves by a similitude drawn from our own spirit: for every one is conscious of his own thoughts, and on the other hand what lies hid in any man’s heart, is unknown to another. In the same way what is the counsel of God, and what his will, is hid from all mankind, for “who hath been his counselor?” (Rom. xi. 34.) It is, therefore, a secret recess, inaccessible to mankind; but, if the Spirit of God himself introduces us into it, or in other words, makes us acquainted with those things that are otherwise hid from our view, there will then be no more ground for hesitation, for nothing that is in God escapes the notice of the Spirit of God. This similitude, however, may seem to be not altogether very appropriate, for as the tongue bears an impress of the mind, mankind communicate their dispositions to each other, so that they become acquainted with each other’s thoughts. Why then may we not understand from the word of God what is his will? For while mankind by pretenses and falsehoods in many cases conceal their thoughts rather than discover them, this cannot happen with God, whose word is undoubted truth, and his genuine and lively image. We must, however, carefully observe how far Paul designed to extend this comparison. A man’s innermost thought, of which others are ignorant, is perceived by himself alone: if he afterwards makes it known to others, this does not hinder but that his spirit alone knows what is in him. For it may happen that he does not persuade: it may even happen that he does not properly express his own meaning; but even if he attains both objects, this statement is not at variance with the other—that his own spirit alone has the true knowledge of it. There is this difference, however, between God’s thoughts and those of men, that men mutually understand each other; but the word of God is a kind of hidden wisdom, the loftiness of which is not reached by the weakness of the human intellect. Thus the light shineth in darkness, (John i. 5,) aye and until the Spirit opens the eyes of the blind. The spirit of a man. Observe, that the spirit of a man is taken here for the soul, in which the intellectual faculty, as it is called, resides. For Paul would have expressed himself inaccurately if he had ascribed this knowledge to man’s intellect, or in other words, the faculty itself, and not to the soul, which is endued with the power of understanding. —Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XX, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Baker Books, 2009), 1:111–112. Only those who have been born again (John 3), in whom the Spirit of God dwells, can understand God and his Word. But the animal man. By the animal man he does not mean (as is commonly thought) the man that is given up to gross lusts, or, as they say, to his own sensuality, but any man that is endowed with nothing more than the faculties of nature. This appears from the corresponding term, for he draws a comparison between the animal man and the spiritual As the latter denotes the man whose understanding is regulated by the illumination of the Spirit of God, there can be no doubt that the former denotes the man that is left in a purely natural condition, as they speak. For the soul belongs to nature, but the Spirit is of supernatural communication. He returns to what he had previously touched upon, for his object is to remove a stumblingblock which might stand in the way of the weak—that there were so many that despised the gospel. He shows that we ought to make no account of a contempt of such a nature as proceeds from ignorance, and that it ought, consequently, to be no hindrance in the way of our going forward in the race of faith, unless perhaps we choose to shut our eyes upon the brightness of the sun, because it is not seen by the blind. It would, however, argue great ingratitude in any individual, when God bestows upon him a special favor, to reject it, on the ground of its not being common to all, whereas, on the contrary, its very rareness ought to enhance its value. For they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them. “The doctrine of the gospel,” says he, “is insipid in the view of all that are wise merely in the view of man. But whence comes this? It is from their own blindness. In what respect, then, does this detract from the majesty of the gospel?” In short, while ignorant persons depreciate the gospel, because they measure its value by the estimation in which it is held by men, Paul derives an argument from this for extolling more highly its dignity. For he teaches that the reason why it is contemned is that it is unknown, and that the reason why it is unknown is that it is too profound and sublime to be apprehended by the understanding of man. What a superior wisdom this is, which so far transcends all human understanding, that man cannot have so much as a taste of it! While, however, Paul here tacitly imputes it to the pride of the flesh, that mankind dare to condemn as foolish what they do not comprehend, he at the same time shows how great is the weakness or rather bluntness of the human understanding, when he declares it to be incapable of spiritual apprehension. For he teaches, that it is not owing simply to the obstinacy of the human will, but to the impotency, also, of the understanding, that man does not attain to the things of the Spirit. Had he said that men are not willing to be wise, that indeed would have been true, but he states farther that they are not able. Hence we infer, that faith is not in one’s own power, but is divinely conferred. Because they are spiritually discerned. That is, the Spirit of God, from whom the doctrine of the gospel comes, is its only true interpreter, to open it up to us. Hence in judging of it, men’s minds must of necessity be in blindness until they are enlightened by the Spirit of God. Hence infer, that all mankind are by nature destitute of the Spirit of God: otherwise the argument would be inconclusive. It is from the Spirit of God, it is true, that we have that feeble spark of reason which we all enjoy; but at present we are speaking of that special discovery of heavenly wisdom which God vouchsafes to his sons alone. Hence the more insufferable the ignorance of those who imagine that the gospel is offered to mankind in common in such a way that all indiscriminately are free to embrace salvation by faith. —Ibid., 1:115–117.

Not in the Wisdom of Men

and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. —1 Corinthians 2:4–5 [And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:] That your faith should not be in the wisdom of men. To be is used here as meaning to consist His meaning, then, is, that the Corinthians derived this advantage from his having preached Christ among them without dependence on human wisdom, and relying solely on the Spirit’s influence, that their faith was founded not on men but on God. If the Apostle’s preaching had rested exclusively on the power of eloquence, it might have been overthrown by superior eloquence, and besides, no one would pronounce that to be solid truth which rests on mere elegance of speech. It may indeed be helped by it, but it ought not to rest upon it. On the other hand, that must have been most powerful which could stand of itself without any foreign aid. Hence it forms a choice commendation of Paul’s preaching, that heavenly influence shone forth in it so clearly, that it surmounted so many hindrances, while deriving no assistance from the world. It follows, therefore, that they must not allow themselves to be moved away from his doctrine, which they acknowledge to rest on the authority of God. Paul, however, speaks here of the faith of the Corinthians in such a way as to bring forward this, as a general statement. Let it then be known by us that it is the property of faith to rest upon God alone, without depending on men; for it requires to have so much certainty to go upon, that it will not fail, even when assailed by all the machinations of hell, but will perseveringly endure and sustain every assault. This cannot be accomplished unless we are fully persuaded that God has spoken to us, and that what we have believed is no mere contrivance of men. While faith ought properly to be founded on the word of God alone, there is at the same time no impropriety in adding this second prop,—that believers recognize the word which they hear as having come forth from God, from the effect of its influence. —Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XX, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Baker Books, 2009), 1:101.

Random Selections: No Special Mystery (Thomas Peck)

This random selection (odd page, first paragraph, plus one) is from The Lord’s Supper by Thomas Peck. There is no special mystery about this ordinance. It began to be called a “mystery,” a “tremendous mystery,” in the church so early as the middle of the second century, and as words react mightily on thought, men began to think that there must be a mystery in it, and as they could not find any, it became necessary to put some into it. Hence the very word “sacrament,” which meant mystery; hence the doctrine of the “real presence” in all its forms. If this simple memorial of Christ’s death could not be made a miracle for the senses, it must at least become a mystery for faith. Something must be put into it to justify the extravagant language which was commonly employed in regard to it. The mystery is not in the ordinance. How men can be taught by the use of visible signs and symbols it is not harder to understand than how they can be taught by words; not as hard perhaps. The mystery is in the truth, not in the vehicle; the mystery of the incarnation, of “God manifest in the flesh”; the mystery of grace, condescension, and love in the Saviour’s death; the mystery of the believer’s vital union with his Saviour; the mystery of glory, when that life which is now “hid with Christ in God” shall be revealed in the revelation of Christ “our life”; all these mysteries are real and ineffable. But they may be and are set forth in the preaching of the word, as well as in the supper. Is there any mystery in preaching? —Writings of Rev. Thomas E. Peck (Banner of Truth, 1999), 1:163–164. [First published as Miscellanies of Rev. Thomas E. Peck (The Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1895).]

More than Propositions, but Not Less*
Lord’s Day 27, 2019
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: What Various Hindrances We Meet
Author! Author!
Independence Day, 2019
Bearing Reproach*
Recompense which Fully Satisfies*

I Am His*
Lord’s Day 25, 2019
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Credo
A Grizzly Tale
Harmonious in Faith and Affection
The Fountain of Holiness
Random Selections: When our hearts begin to melt (Matthew Henry)

Lord’s Day 26, 2019
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Lord, Teach Us How to Pray Aright
Those Angry Villagers Will Get You Every Time
Claiming No Merit
Perception Is Not Reality
Random Selections: A Raw Christmas Chicken (Church Curmudgeon)


Who Is Jesus?

The Gospel
What It Means to Be a Christian

Norma Normata
What I Believe

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