• Will Christians who have been forgiven answer for their sins in judgment? Question and Answer

    1 Corinthians 5:10

    First of all, let me try and put it this way: When we are justified, we are justified with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. What that means–if you can begin to take it in–is that when you stand before God you are able to say, “I am as righteous before You as Your Son Jesus Christ.” Now that can sound very arrogant. But if you then ask, “Well how is that?” the answer is, “Because the only righteousness with which I’m justified is Jesus Christ’s righteousness.” There is an absoluteness about the perfection of that righteousness. There is an absoluteness … View Resource

  • What are apocryphal books, and should Christians read them? Question and Answer

    I’m a Presbyterian, and the confession of faith that the denomination I’m in uses is the Westminster Confession of Faith. In its first chapter it makes a comment on the apocryphal books, which basically is that they have no more value than any other piece of literature. The reason that is characteristic Reformed teaching is because unlike, for example, the prophecy of Isaiah or Jeremiah, the apocryphal books are not recognized by the apostles as part of the canon of the Old Testament Scriptures. So there is no reason that Christians should treat them in that way. In the Anglican … View Resource

  • How should I preach the doctrines of grace? Question and Answer

    Matthew 11:25-30

    I think, pastorally, one must always recognize that in some of these areas people do not have the paradigms to be able immediately to take in what Scripture teaches. Sometimes they have been taught in a way that is contrary to the doctrines of grace. So I usually say to younger men, or men who are younger than myself, “One of the best things to do with someone you think really is a Christian is sit down with them or preach to them with this question in mind, ‘How did Jesus think about this?’” Because sometimes people think they have … View Resource

  • How do we obey the moral law without being moralistic? Question and Answer

    John 14:15

    We obey the moral law, first of all, by understanding what it’s for, and there are various ways of putting this. For all my life I have been interested in the game of golf. Golf is played according to rules. I have never met a golfer who has said to me, “Let me move my golf ball nearer the hole,” and I said, “That’s fine,” because the game ceases to work when you don’t play it according to the rules. Take the Ten Commandments, for example: the moral law. The moral law given in Exodus 20 is a written form … View Resource

  • What are the essential qualities of a Christian? Question and Answer

    1 Corinthians 13:13

    Think for example about what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13. Here is a church where certain gifts are being held up before the people as indications of a kind of super-spirituality. And basically what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 is, “You can have all of these gifts and actually be nothing in God’s kingdom.” So what would be the sign? The sign would be the presence of faith and hope and love (1 Cor. 13:13): faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in Him; hope—remember how Peter speaks in 1 Peter about the hope that is given to … View Resource

  • Why should we pray if God has planned all things? Question and Answer

    In a way that’s a form of a bigger question that sometimes people who ask that question don’t ask, which is, “If God has planned all things, why should we do anything?” And we understand that what we do as Christians we do for a variety of reasons. One is because God has taught us to do it in His Word. So the bargain basement level answer to the question is that we pray because God has told us to pray, even if we don’t understand how prayer works and how He employs our prayer. The second thing is to … View Resource

  • How do you know if God has called you to be a pastor? Question and Answer

    1 Timothy 1:6

    When Paul is reflecting on young Timothy who has been called to the ministry, he says to him in 2 Timothy 1:6, “Fan into flame the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands.” I think there are three elements there that help us to recognize a call to the ministry. And a call to the ministry can come in very different ways. One of them is that God has gifted us. Another is that, beginning to recognize those gifts, the church begins to make room for them. And so there is a recognition … View Resource

  • How do I know that I am elect? How do I know my faith is genuine? Question and Answer

    Ephesians 1:3-4

    The way in which we come to know our election is through faith in Christ. So we must never try to bypass Jesus Christ, because, for example, as Paul says in Ephesians 1, we are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-4). So, often, I think we need to say to people, “Instead of trying to go directly to your election you need to go directly to Jesus Christ.” And when you come to Christ, there is a kind of confidence that you find in Christ that He has embraced you and that you are His. … View Resource

  • Which comes first in the ordo salutis (order of salvation)—faith or regeneration? Question and Answer

    John 3:3-5

    I think first of all of what Jesus said in John chapter 3, when he said to Nicodemus that unless you’re born from above—which is regeneration—you’ll neither be able to see or enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5). And we enter the kingdom of God through faith. So in that conversation, I think it’s very clear that in order to come to faith, first of all, God has to give us a new heart. And that is really what John had said in the prologue to the gospel as well, that those who came to believe in Him were … View Resource

  • What is the gospel? Question and Answer

    1 Corinthians 15:3-4

    SPROUL: When I would teach in the doctor of ministry program and I’d have the clergy in there, I would ask them to define the gospel. And if I got ten percent of them to give an adequate answer to it, I would be happy. Because that word is thrown around so much it has died the death of a thousand qualifications. In New Testament terms, the gospel is the proclamation of the person and work of Jesus Christ plus how the benefits of that work can be appropriated to us by faith and by faith alone. So the gospel … View Resource

  • Is it important that a church subscribe to a confession? Why or why not? Question and Answer

    Anything smaller than that, or theoretically larger, will not give you the stability that a solid confession of faith will do. For example, you might say, “The Bible is our confession.” But that wouldn’t help us. All that tells us is that the contents of this book constitute our confession. The real question is, “Tell me what are the contents of this book are.” A really good confession of faith is a summary of the theology of the Bible, written, of course, in a particular historical context but with a view to the people of God in every place and … View Resource

  • Since God is sovereign, what is the purpose of intercessory prayer? Question and Answer

    There are layers of answers to that. One purpose is obedience to God, because in so many different places we are urged to pray, and we are urged to pray without ceasing. So even if we were not able to explain why we should pray, we should pray because God has commanded us. That’s a sufficient answer. The second part of the answer is that God has decreed that much of what will take place will take place through the secondary causation of the intercession of the saints. That’s part of His purpose. With questions like this I often say … View Resource