With 2016 here, we've gone back and collected some of the most popular blog posts from the past year.
Star Wars and the Ancient Religion by Peter Jones
"In this famous and creative saga, which we must respect for its artistic value, we find many positive ideals—bravery, friendship, love, and spirituality, and others—which help explain the success of the series. However, in examining Star Wars' account of the mystery and nobility of human life, the Bible's answer, in comparison, emerges with incomparably more convincing power."
Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart by J.D. Greear
"I used to think I was alone in this, that I was just a neurotic oddball. But when I began to talk about this, I would have such a slew of people tell me they had the same experience that I concluded the problem was endemic. Countless people in our churches today are genuinely saved, but they just can't seem to gain any assurance about their salvation."
How to Distinguish the Holy Spirit from the Serpent by Sinclair Ferguson
"How do we distinguish the promptings of the Spirit of grace in His guiding and governing of our lives from the delusions of the spirit of the world and of our own sinful heart? This is a hugely important question if we are to be calm and confident that the spirit with whom we are communing really is the Holy Spirit."
What Is Reformation Day? by Stephen Nichols
"What is Reformation Day? It is the day the light of the gospel broke forth out of darkness. It was the day that began the Protestant Reformation. It was a day that led to Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and may other Reformers helping the church find its way back to God's Word as the only authority for faith and life and leading the church back to the glorious doctrines of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone."
4 Ways to Reach a Child's Heart by Richard Phillips
"This is my simple agenda to ensure I am actively and intimately involved in the lives of my children: Read, Pray, Work, Play. I must read God's Word to and with my children regularly. We must bear each others' burdens in prayer and worship the Lord together at His throne of grace. My children need my positive, encouraging involvement in their work (and they need an invitation into some of mine). And we need to bind our hearts with laughter and joy in shared play, both one-on-one and as a complete family."
What Was the Star of Bethlehem? by R.C. Sproul
"What an extraordinary story—wise men traveling from the East, a star appearing to guide their way, and gifts offered to the Messiah. Who were these wise men? In all probability, they came from Babylon. Babylon was the center of a civilization that had for ages had an advanced understanding of astronomy. Of course, in those days, astronomy was closely related to astrology."
Do You Have to Go to Church to Be a Christian? by R.C. Sproul
"We may claim to be Christians, but if we love Christ, how can we despise His bride? How can we consistently and persistently absent ourself from that which He has called us to join—His visible church? I offer a sober warning to those who are doing this. You may, in fact, be deluding yourself about the state of your soul."
What Is the Gospel? by R.C. Sproul
"There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they're preaching the gospel to you when they tell you, "you can have a purpose to your life', or that "you can have meaning to your life', or that "you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.' All of those things are true, and they're all important, but they don't get to the heart of the gospel."
The Importance of What We Do in Secret by Derek Thomas
"Godliness must be found in the heart if it is to be genuine. The one who prays more in public than in private, or only gives at special events when likely to be thanked for it, or practices spiritual disciplines and lets everyone know just how difficult a spiritual routine he keeps, is more concerned about the outward appearance than a heart-relationship with Jesus."
Saint Nicholas and the Origins of Santa Claus by Stephen Nichols
"It might surprise many today to find out that Saint Nicholas (spoiler alert) is a real person after all. Is he the white-bearded man with a red suit, a cap, and a sleigh?
Not quite, but he probably was bearded, did wear a hat, and did travel in horse-drawn, not reindeer-drawn, transportation. The legend behind Santa Claus is Saint Nicholas, the fourth-century bishop of Myra. His hat was the bishop's mitre."
Talking to Children about God's Design for Sexuality by Nate Shurden
"The truth is we cannot afford to avoid the subject of sexuality with our children—the stakes are simply too high. God has given parents the responsibility to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). This includes acknowledging that they are sexual beings and training them in what it means to flourish sexually as God designed."
Patience is Not Optional for the Christian by Albert Mohler
"Most of us recognize that patience is one of the cardinal Christian virtues—we're just in no hurry to obtain it. Others just define patience as a delay in getting what we want. As Margaret Thatcher once famously remarked: "I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end." In today's fast-paced society and self-centered culture, patience is quickly disappearing, even among Christians."
God's Sovereignty in Salvation and the Unity of the Trinity by Steven Lawson
"Divine sovereignty in salvation involves each of the three persons of the Godhead—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All three work in perfect unity to rescue the same undeserving sinners. Within the Trinity, there is one saving purpose, one saving plan, and one saving enterprise. Those whom the Father chooses are precisely those whom the Son redeems and those whom the Spirit regenerates. The persons of the Godhead act as one Savior. The Trinity is not fractured in its saving activity. It is not divided in its direction and intent, as if each person of the Godhead seeks to save a different group of sinners. Instead, each member of the Trinity purposes and irresistibly proceeds to save one and the same people—God's chosen people."
The Word-less "Church" by W. Robert Godfrey
"Many American churches are in a mess. Theologically they are indifferent, confused, or dangerously wrong. Liturgically they are the captives of superficial fads. Morally they live lives indistinguishable from the world. They often have a lot of people, money, and activities. But are they really churches, or have they degenerated into peculiar clubs?"
Thank you for your support as you've read and shared our posts with family and friends. We look forward, Lord willing, to another edifying and God glorifying year in 2016 on the Ligonier Blog.