• When we pray, should we only pray to the Father? Question and Answer

    No, although there is a general rule of thumb that we pray to the Father through the intercession of the Lord Jesus and by the help and strength of the Holy Spirit. Prayer, generally speaking, should be Trinitarian. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, saying, “Our Father, who art in heaven” (Matt. 6:9). It is, however, appropriate on occasion and in certain circumstances to pray directly to Jesus or to pray directly to the Holy Spirit, realizing some of the aspects that are peculiar to each person of the Trinity. But on Sunday morning in a pastoral prayer, I want … View Resource

  • How can I discern the will of God? Question and Answer

    You can read Sinclair Ferguson’s book on that topic, Discovering God’s Will. It’s an interesting fact that problems relating to finding out God’s will is a very twentieth and twenty-first-century problem. If you went back into the seventeenth or the sixteenth century and looked at their sermons and books, they were not preoccupied with knowing God’s will. The answer to those in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was that once you knew and understood Scripture, you would be able to discover 99% of the answers to the question, “What does God want me to do here?” This is because the … View Resource

  • Is there a role for entertainment in the church? Question and Answer

    I’m a Presbyterian, and I think that Presbyterians find it difficult to have fun. I do believe that God intends for us to have fun, though I’m not sure that’s in church, and most definitely not in an act of worship. Worship should be worship, and worship should be reverent and solemn. It should not be about entertaining ourselves, but giving praise to God. As Christians, however, we gather together, and there is a theology of fun. There’s a wonderful chapter in a book that Jim Packer once wrote on “eudaimonism,” from the Greek for “pleasure.” There is a proper … View Resource

  • What does it mean in Romans 1 that God gave people up to a reprobate mind? Question and Answer

    Romans 1:28

    THOMAS: This is the first chapter of Romans, and it extends after the introductory prologue that is, in some ways, a summary of the whole book of Romans. Paul begins his exposition of sin, which will lead all the way through to the middle of the third chapter. He talks about sin both in Jews and Gentiles so that none is without excuse. As a result of Adam’s fall and rebellion, he lost his native ability to will that which is good. “Giving over to a reprobate mind” means that God consigns mankind to live in a condition that can … View Resource

  • 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