• Does “semper reformanda” mean that the church should always be changing? Question and Answer

    SPROUL: Unfortunately, every heretic appeals to that mantra, semper reformanda, “always reforming.” We mistake novelty with reformation. The point of that motto initially was that, in the sixteenth century, not all of the errors in the church were reformed. Not all of the dirty linen was cleansed. There was still a lot of work left to do. And there’s always a lot of work left to do. But “always reforming” does not mean “always changing.” There are those today who say that the Reformation was a tempest in a teapot, or that it was all a misunderstanding, or that it … View Resource

  • If a new believer becomes injured and cannot show “good works,” how do we know they are saved? Question and Answer

    Psalms 23

    If you unpack the question, in a sense you’ve already said, “Here is a new believer, somebody who has trusted in Christ.” If they go through some traumatic accident that makes us feel they are beyond our reach, then there’s no reason that we should doubt their faith any more than Jesus doubted the faith of the dying thief on the cross. He did not have long to produce the good works that are the fruit of faith. The second thing to say is that there are mysteries to human existence. When a catastrophic accident happens to somebody, we should … View Resource

  • Is suicide the unpardonable sin? Question and Answer

    No. I think one can say absolutely and definitely that the unpardonable sin is not suicide. Jesus speaks about the unpardonable sin in a very particular context. It seems to be an ongoing settled resistance to Jesus Christ that is simultaneously a rejection of the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. Many people become concerned that they have committed the sin against the Holy Spirit. I had a friend who told me that when someone said to him, “I think I’ve committed the sin against the Holy Spirit,” the first thing he would say was, “Well, first of all, let’s … View Resource

  • What is the best way to describe repentance to an unbeliever? Question and Answer

    Luke 15:11-32

    The best way may be to use an illustration that you think of either from their life or from your own life. The Hebrew word for repentance means returning. The prodigal son is a story like that: he goes away from home, and he returns home (Luke 15:11-32). I’ve sometimes used this illustration: one night when we were in Glasgow I was driving down the freeway on my way to church, and going up the other direction I noticed the car of one of my elders. I knew it was his car because it was the only elder who had … View Resource

  • What book or resource would you recommend to a new believer? Question and Answer

    Some new believers are just not readers at all, so the most important thing is to encourage them to read the Scriptures. For that reason, you might want to find a book for them that would give them simple help. The most obvious answer to that question in this culture is that Tabletalk may be the best “book.” A subscription to Tabletalk means that this new Christian will be led on day by day in the study of Scripture and also be able to read short articles on different aspects … View Resource

  • What is the relationship between the Holy Spirit’s work and our effort in sanctification? Question and Answer

    Philippians 2:12-13

    I think the best place to go for a one-sentence answer to that is Philippians 2:12-13, where Paul urges the Christians to work out their salvation—which is not working up their salvation, but working out the salvation that God has already worked in. He says, “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling, because it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” So we fulfill all the responsibilities that God has given to us in His word as we trust in Jesus Christ and seek the help of the … View Resource

  • What level of importance should church history have in my walk as a Christian? Question and Answer

    First of all, at the ordinary level, these folks are your family as a Christian, and it really is terrific to get to know them. The second thing is that the more we know about the past, the more we are preserved from repeating the mistakes of the past. The third thing is that we learn that even our heroes had feet of clay. That’s a very important lesson for us to learn so that we don’t engage in a kind of guru idolatry in our time. Then, speaking personally, I think ordinary Christians can best learn about the history … 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

  • Based on Acts 16:31, can we ask God to save our household? Question and Answer

    Acts 16:31

    The Philippian jailer is one context. There you’ve got the head of the household who has come to faith in Christ. I was brought up in a family that never went to church. My mother and father never went to church until after I was converted. I remember praying desperately the Lord would work in my father’s heart, and kind of complaining to Him after six months because He didn’t seem to be answering my prayers. It was actually only years later when my dad started coming with me, and then my mom as well. It was only years later … View Resource

  • What is the greatest challenge in the church today? Question and Answer

    I think the greatest challenge in the church today is probably no different from any day, and that is that if we really believe in God and His sovereignty we’ll learn to pray together. One of the things that has always burdened me is that in the life of the church it’s the prayerlessness of the church that stands out most of all. Also, I think another challenge in the church is this: that life is becoming tremendously dysfunctional, especially in the Western world. Families are becoming tremendously dysfunctional. We can moan and groan and lament that, but one of … View Resource

  • What is the mission of God as we look to the next 500 years? Question and Answer

    2 Corinthians 12:9-10

    GODFREY: As I sat listening to the international panel, one of the things that struck me was how truly global Christianity is today, much more so than it was at the time of the Reformation. And to some extent that is the fruit of the Reformation, and we can really rejoice in that. But the historian in me sat and pondered those parts of the world that once were full of churches and Christians and gospel-light, where that light has so significantly gone out. I’ve been contemplating writing a book for which I have a title. I have a friend … 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

  • In this day when the gospel is considered offensive, how can I work without losing my job? Question and Answer

    That’s a question you need to go and ask your pastor or minister really. That’s not the kind of question that can be answered just in a blanket way. But one of the things I would say to people is, please read through the New Testament, moving from the Gospels and also to the letters. You will find in the New Testament a phenomenal amount of instruction about how to live in a world that’s antagonistic to the gospel. If you think about it, the New Testament world was a pre-Christian world. We are now living—certainly in the United Kingdom, … View Resource

  • Why should I become a formal church member? Question and Answer

    By however a church does it, and churches do it in different ways, what we are actually doing by becoming a formal member is saying “I’m committing myself to you. I’m committing myself to the Lord, and I’m committing myself to you.” That brings together two really important elements in the Christian life: our faith and trust in Christ and our life for Him; but also our commitment to all those in the fellowship to whom He has committed Himself. Becoming a formal member of the church is very, very important, because if you don’t do it, in a sense … View Resource

  • Do you have any advice for new ministers in the Bible Belt surrounded by charismatic influence? Question and Answer

    The one thing I would say in a local church situation is to make sure your focus is on the person, ministry, and work of Christ. If folks really are the Lord’s sheep, Jesus assures us that they’ll hear His voice. As we do that, those prejudices, and often that focus on the Holy Spirit that actually diverts people away from what Christ has done and who Christ is, in the Lord’s people does begin to dissolve. They realize that actually they’ve been doing almost the reverse of what Jesus says the Holy Spirit would come to do. Jesus says, … View Resource