• What is a biblical church? Question and Answer

    If you were in the patristic era, you would say that “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” would be some of the marks of a true biblical church. If you were in the Reformation, you would add to that the faithful preaching of the Scriptures, the right administration of sacraments, and the exercise of biblical church discipline. This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with Derek Thomas and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org … View Resource

  • Are you hopeful for another spiritual awakening in our day? Question and Answer

    SPROUL: I’m a Calvinist—how can I not be hopeful? I see all kinds of encouraging signs of the revitalization of the church in our own day. At the same time, on the other side of the spectrum, we see dreadful decay in the life of the church. There are so many things being eclipsed that are vital to the truth of Christianity, but you have to have a scope beyond the United States. Worldwide, I see all kinds of resurgence of powerful Christianity, and I’m encouraged by it. THOMAS: I have just read a brand new biography of Luther, and … View Resource

  • What does “sola Scriptura” mean? Question and Answer

    Sola Scriptura is one of the five principal solas of the Reformation. The Reformation was, in many respects, a recovery of the authority of Scripture over all of doctrine and all of life. The final answer to any question is, “What does the Bible have to say about this?” Sola Scriptura means putting Scripture above human opinion, whether that’s the opinion of a single individual, such as a preacher, a commentator, or a pope, or the opinion of a collection, like a council or a synod. Scripture is the final authority. This transcript is from a … View Resource

  • Can sound theology become an idol in my life? Question and Answer

    THOMAS: It’s possible to make an idol of anything, including your perceived knowledge of doctrine. The issue here is the way in which doctrine impacts the whole of our being, both head and heart. There are Christians who are all head. They’re cerebral. They know stuff and they like to argue stuff. They like to win apologetic battles and epistemological battles, but there’s no heart. There’s no life of prayer. There’s no repentance. There’s no confession of sin. There’s no pleading with God. B.B. Warfield, at the inception of Princeton Seminary, wrote about the importance of maintaining good and regular … View Resource

  • Which of the Bible’s teachings do you find most difficult to accept? Question and Answer

    SPROUL: Probably the hardest doctrine of the Bible to accept is hell, for the obvious reason that it is so difficult for any human being to think about the idea of everlasting punishment on anybody. There’s just a human struggle with it. I don’t have a difficult time accepting the doctrine of hell because I believe the Bible teaches it and our Lord taught it, so I believe it. It’s not difficult as far as whether the data is there to support it, but the emotional feeling attached to it is difficult. THOMAS: I believe in male headship. I believe … View Resource

  • Are preachers and pastors more important than other Christians? Question and Answer

    James 3:1

    THOMAS: There is an important Reformation principle behind this question: the priesthood of all believers. That was a profound rediscovery at the time of the Reformation. Religion had been hidden in a language that people didn’t understand by professional people to whom they had no real access. The Reformation discovered that we are all priests before God. The individual can approach God by himself or herself through faith in Jesus Christ rather than through the intermediary of a sacerdotal system. The Bible being given into the hands of an individual was vitally important. That the individual could read and discover … View Resource

  • Did believers in the Old Testament have a complete understanding of the Trinity? Question and Answer

    Deuteronomy 6:4

    SPROUL: I don’t think the average New Testament Christian is able to gain a complete understanding of the Trinity. I suppose that what you mean is, “Can you find the Trinity in the Old Testament?” I think you have to be careful about how you understand the Old Testament. The Old Testament, in a progressive fashion, points us to a fuller revelation that comes forth in the New Testament. I don’t think it’s foreign to the Old Testament. It’s the old statement that the New is in the Old concealed, and the Old is in the New revealed. THOMAS: This … View Resource

  • Do you think the state will soon require churches to perform same-sex weddings? Question and Answer

    THOMAS: The church is not tied to the state, so the state can’t mandate what the church does, and the state cannot mandate what the church believes. If it came to a point where the state was insisting that individual churches perform homosexual marriages, we would be much further down the line than we are right now. Is that possible? Yes, I suppose it’s possible. But at the minute, unless you’re a church that’s affiliated with the state, such as the Church of England, the Anglican Church, it’s not here yet. In the Anglican Church, Parliament would dictate the rules … View Resource

  • How do scholars estimate when each book of the Bible was written? Question and Answer

    SPROUL: There are different methods. The main method is through external sources, by looking at what the ancient extra-biblical writers would quote. For example, if a text of Scripture was quoted by Eusebius, and you know when Eusebius lived, then that helps to date the book. You also do this by looking at internal references and first-century history to see where the weight of the evidence falls. Of course, this becomes a matter of huge controversy with higher criticism. The higher critics have, for the most part, forced the majority of the New Testament writers into the second century, although … View Resource

  • What are the essential ingredients of a true church? Question and Answer

    Acts 2:42

    SPROUL: In the sixteenth century, with the rupture of unity in the ecclesiastical situation, there was a huge debate about what makes a valid church because there was such a proliferation of different denominations and so on. The essential ingredients were a place where the gospel is truly preached, the sacraments are rightly administered, and where there is true discipline and government within the church. That’s where you begin. You want to make sure that the gospel is truly being preached. A church that is not preaching the gospel is not a good church—it’s an apostate one. If the sacraments … View Resource

  • Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Question and Answer

    SPROUL: One way you could look at it is to say that there is only one God—Yahweh. So, you could say that every form of pagan worship is a worship of the one true God, though a distorted, corrupted style of worship that goes back to the question of idolatry. If you mean to ask whether the content of the theology of Islam with respect to the nature and being of God is the same as you find in the Christian understanding of the being and character of God, I would say that there’s very little resemblance between the two. … View Resource

  • How was the gospel lost prior to its rediscovery in the Reformation? Question and Answer

    NICHOLS: It shouldn’t surprise us that, in the sixteenth century, the gospel was obscured. We see this in the first century. We see it in Paul’s churches. In his epistle to the Galatians, he’s astounded that they were entertaining a different gospel (Gal. 1:6), then he quickly adds that it’s a false gospel. If we see it in the first century, in the churches of the Apostles themselves, then it really shouldn’t surprise us that there’s a temptation in every generation to “improve” upon God’s gospel or obscure it. In the sixteenth century, we found ourselves with the need to … View Resource

  • What characteristic of Martin Luther made him effective as God’s instrument to reform the church? Question and Answer

    Isaiah 6:5

    SPROUL: Luther was a beggar who found where he could get bread and told everybody who would listen to him. How can a guy stand against the whole world like he did? The only way to understand that is to get into his personal struggle with his lack of assurance of salvation, with his violent search for justification in the presence of a Holy God, and visit with him in his utter despair. Luther understood who Luther was. And that’s our problem. We don’t understand who God is, and we don’t understand who we are. It’s like Isaiah in chapter … View Resource

  • What is an “ordinary means of grace” ministry? Question and Answer

    FERGUSON: An ordinary means of grace ministry is the thrill, from the point of view of those who share in that ministry, of the exposition of Scripture in different ways and at different levels and watching the Word of God work. I’ve become more and more convinced that the default among us evangelicals is that we do the work and the Word helps us. And perhaps that’s an indication that in our churches we see far too infrequently what it’s like when the Word of God, preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, itself does the work and changes … View Resource

  • What is the goal of reformation? Question and Answer

    Psalm 115:1

    FERGUSON: Both in Calvin and in the Westminster Confession and its subordinate standards the answer to the first question, “What is our chief end?” must be the same as to the question, “What is the goal of Reformation?” The answer is, “To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” To be able to do both of these things simultaneously is what I think at the end of the day is going to make an impact on our contemporary world that is so interested in enjoyment. It’s very rare to hear non-Christians say, “See how these Christians enjoy the glory of … View Resource