• Does every person need a specific divine calling to do their job? Question and Answer

    I believe that every person who is a Christian and is seeking to serve God in whatever they are doing is fulfilling a calling in the service of God. The idea of calling relative to the ministry and to other activities of life can sometimes be turned into a very mystic kind of thing. That is, in order to be a minister you have to have some kind of tingly feeling, or experience of a voice, or other sorts of things. That is not what classically Reformed theology has taught, yet there is certainly a teaching that God draws people … View Resource

  • What’s your favorite teaching series from R.C. Sproul? Question and Answer

    That’s sort of overwhelming. R.C. was such a master verbal communicator that, almost every time, the last one I heard was my favorite. The Holiness of God, Chosen by God – those early works of his were foundational for so many people and such a blessing. They were able to draw people into aspects of biblical truth that had been neglected in many American evangelical circles. So I would tend to go back to those foundational works that were so fine. This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with W. Robert Godfrey and has been … View Resource

  • What is a good source for learning Bible study methodology? Question and Answer

    At our seminary in California, Dennis Johnson has published a series of books, one of which is called Walking with Jesus through His Word. It is a wonderful aid to seeing how all the Bible points to Jesus. I think it’s at the heart of Bible study to see how the Bible leads us to Jesus and encourages us to live in Jesus. So there is the work of Dennis Johnson, Walking with Jesus through His Word. He has also done a more abbreviated version of that for people who are just starting out, called Journeys with … View Resource

  • Is God equally active in causing the salvation of the elect and the damnation of the reprobate? Question and Answer

    This question is addressed in the conclusion of the Canons of Dort. The Canons say that there is equal ultimacy in the sense of the decrees. God is sovereign both in the decree of election and in the decree of reprobation, but there is not a symmetry in the exercise of those decrees. They are not exercised in the same manner. Eodem modo is the Latin expression in the conclusion of the Canons of Dort. The Canons want to say that, while God is in charge both of electing the elect and reprobating the reprobate, and while He sovereignly gives … View Resource

  • Is it scriptural for just one elder or pastor to be the overseer of a local congregation? Question and Answer

    Acts 14:23

    I think we have to be careful and realize that churches find themselves in different circumstances, so not every general answer applies to a church in some extreme situation or difficulty. There was a great church order in the latter part of the 16th century drawn up by the Hungarian Reformed churches. That church order covered all the normal things concerning how a church should operate and function. Then the last article said, “And for the brothers living under the Turk, they should do the best they can.” So there are extreme circumstances where we have to do the best … View Resource

  • What’s the best way to help people at your church learn church history? Question and Answer

    I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want to offer a separate class in church history, because it is a distinct discipline. Certainly you can encourage some interest in church history in a sermon, occasionally having an illustration out of church history. When talking about prayer, particularly the prayers of parents for their children, preachers have often talked about Augustine’s mother Monica. When she saw him leave the church and, for a time, really commit himself to an anti-Christian philosophy and lifestyle, she prayed for him and beseeched the Lord to move him. The Lord heard those prayers, and Augustine gave … View Resource

  • If you believe in Arminian doctrine, can you be saved? Question and Answer

    That’s a great question that was asked of William Ames at the Synod of Dort. I’ve written a book on the Synod of Dort in which I talk about William Ames. He was a great English Puritan who had to flee from England because he wouldn’t conform to the Church of England as a Congregationalist. He found a home in the Netherlands among the welcoming Dutch. William Ames was the personal secretary to the president of the Synod of Dort in the early seventeenth century, and someone came to him and said, “Is Arminianism a heresy?” This was meant in … View Resource

  • Why are there so many false doctrines? Question and Answer

    The devil is desperate. His kingdom has been raided by Christ, and he delights in whatever way he can derail us. He doesn’t care how we run amok so long as we run amok. He doesn’t care whether you’re an atheist or whether you embrace some false religion. He’s out there promoting falsehood all the time. Regrettably, those in sin, who have not been regenerated by the Spirit of God, are prone to all sorts of errors and confusion. Sometimes the people who are proudest of being post-Christian, who take pride in being modern, scientific, and growing beyond old-fashioned Christianity, … View Resource

  • How does God’s sovereignty not “do violence” to the will of man, as the Westminster Confession says? Question and Answer

    There is an element of mystery in this relationship, because Scripture teaches that God is sovereign over all things, but it also teaches that man has a will. Lots of people reason that if man has a will, then it must be a free will; but Scripture doesn’t actually teach this. Man has a responsible will. Man has the responsibility to exercise his will as God directs him in His revealed Word. We also know that God has a hidden will that He keeps to Himself. This is His sovereign will by which He directs and accomplishes all things. He … View Resource

  • Does God turn His face away from Christians? Question and Answer

    Psalm 39:13

    The great Aaronic blessing that God gave to the priesthood in Israel to lay upon Israel and to bless Israel was that the Lord’s face would shine upon them (Num. 6:24-26). This was an expression of the happy, blessed, and positive relationship that would exist between God and His people. When the people had fallen into sin, or when they had fallen into misery and suffering that they could not immediately relate to sin, they had this sense that God was not as near to them as they desired. It did not seem God was blessing them as they wanted … View Resource

  • Why has the church lost its appreciation for the Sabbath? Question and Answer

    Matthew 28:20

    I think one of the temptations of American evangelical Christianity—borne out of something fundamentally good, namely our desire to see the church revived and our desire to see the church involved in evangelism and missions—has gotten persuaded, in our time particularly, that the way to advance evangelism is to pursue minimalist Christianity. “What is the absolute least we need to know and believe and require of people to make them Christians?” I understand the motive behind that. In some ways you can say the motive is praiseworthy. But it’s a fundamental betrayal of the Great Commission. The Great Commission was … View Resource

  • How do we overcome sin? Question and Answer

    Sin is what needs to be overcome in sanctification. So sin is the enemy in sanctification. I go back to the Heidelberg Catechism, and at the end of the exposition of the Ten Commandments near the end of the Heidelberg Catechism, the question asks, “Why does God want this law to be preached so passionately?” And the answer is because He calls us to holiness even though He knows that the holiest of men in this life have only small beginnings of the obedience to which we’re called. So sin remains very much the reality in which we live and … 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

  • How did the early church fathers interpret the “rock” of Matthew 16? Question and Answer

    Matthew 16:18

    I would say if this were the lightning round we could say, true. The notion that Peter himself was the rock rather than his confession being the rock seems first to be articulated by a bishop of Rome in the third century. Now, the third century is very early relative to us, but it’s a long time after Jesus—two hundred and fifty years after Jesus. And this is a sort of solitary point of view of the bishop of Rome initially, not even followed up by all later bishops of Rome in the ancient church period. So yes, I think, … View Resource

  • What is your theological background, and how has it shaped your view of history? Question and Answer

    I’ve written a little book about my own personal spiritual journey. I was raised in a Methodist family, and it was in high school that I fell in amongst the Dutch Reformed and started going to a Reformed church. That was where I was converted. So from the very beginning of my active Christian life I was in Reformed circles. And those Dutch Reformed circles embraced the Reformation as it was expressed in the Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession of the sixteenth century. They also very much embraced the developing covenant theology that became more articulated as a system … View Resource