With 2017 here, we've gone back and collected some of the most popular blog posts from the past year.
R.C. Sproul's Warning Concerning Prayer by R.C. Sproul
"Jesus clearly said, 'If two of you agree on earth concerning anything … it will be done,' but He made this statement in the context of a vast amount of information about authentic prayer that He had already given to His disciples. We cannot simply come to a text and pick out a verse without examining all of the qualifications our Lord gave in His full teaching of prayer. To do so is to risk ending up with a magical view of the matter."
Stop the Revolution. Join the Plodders by Kevin DeYoung
"What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. That's my dream for the church—a multitude of faithful, risktaking plodders. The best churches are full of gospel-saturated people holding tenaciously to a vision of godly obedience and God's glory, and pursuing that godliness and glory with relentless, often unnoticed, plodding consistency."
What Is Thanksgiving Day? by Stephen Nichols
"Thanksgiving is an American holiday that stretches all the way back to a time long before America became a nation. The Pilgrims landed in 1620. They faced brutal conditions and were woefully unprepared. Roughly half of them died in that first year. Then they had a successful harvest of corn. In November of 1621 they decided to celebrate a feast of thanksgiving."
Remember Who Sits Over the White House by R.C. Sproul
"Jesus made it clear that His coming into this world sparked a time of crisis. He said: 'If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you' (Luke 11:20). He added, 'Behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you' (17:21b). We have a King who already has been crowned. So the kingdom of God has been inaugurated, though it won't be fully consummated until He returns at the end of the age, when every knee will bow before Him (Phil. 2:10). His Kingdom already exists. He's the King right now."
Spiritual Disciplines and the Sinkhole Syndrome by Donald Whitney
"You know the story. A man has been a believer in Christ for decades. To all outward appearances he's a man of Christian faithfulness and integrity. He has maintained a reputation as a fine example of public and private faithfulness to the things of God for decades. Then, without warning, it all collapses into a sinkhole of sin. Everyone wonders how it could have happened so quickly. In most cases, it soon becomes known that—like most sinkholes—the problem didn't develop overnight."
The Blessing of an Excellent Wife by Steven Lawson
"'An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels' (v. 10). Such a good wife is hard to find. The word excellent (hayil) can mean 'strength, capability, valor, or dignity.' This woman exemplifies each of these qualities, having great competence, noble character, and a strong commitment to God and her family. Only the Lord can provide such an excellent woman: 'House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord' (Prov. 19:14). 'He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord' (18:22). This virtuous woman is a priceless gift from God."
John Calvin's 4 Rules of Prayer by Joel Beeke
"These rules may seem overwhelming—even unattainable—in the face of a holy, omniscient God. Calvin acknowledges that our prayers are fraught with weakness and failure. 'No one has ever carried this out with the uprightness that was due,' he writes. But God tolerates 'even our stammering and pardons our ignorance,' allowing us to gain familiarity with Him in prayer, though it be in 'a babbling manner.' In short, we will never feel like worthy petitioners."
3 Types of Legalism by R.C. Sproul
"Many people think that the essence of Christianity is following the right rules, even rules that are extrabiblical. For example, the Bible doesn't say that we can't play cards or have a glass of wine with dinner. We can't make these matters the external test of authentic Christianity. That would be a deadly violation of the gospel because it would substitute human tradition for the real fruits of the Spirit. We come perilously close to blasphemy by misrepresenting Christ in this way. Where God has given liberty, we should never enslave people with man-made rules. We must be careful to fight this form of legalism."
4 Sermon Types to Avoid by Derek Thomas
"Instead of asking the question, 'What is the intention of God?' it asks, 'Where does this passage fit in my systematic theology?' or 'What doctrine does this passage teach?' Both Reformed and dispensational schools fall into this practice regularly. They have a certain shape of truth, and this shape is going to be stretched and made to fit. Thus, sermons become defensive. .."
Doxological Calvinism by Sinclair Ferguson
"Doxology is, literally, a word or words of praise. Doxologies punctuate the Bible because they punctuate the life of faith. This at least was Paul's understanding of the life of Abraham: 'he was strong in faith, giving glory to God' (Rom. 4:20). The rhythm of the Christian's life is always determined by the principle that when the revelation of God in His glory is grasped by faith, the response is to return all glory to God."
Christ's Exaltation: The Ground of Our Hope by Albert Mohler
"For the Christian, the future is secured by the sure and certain fulfillment of God's promises and the comprehensive realization of Christ's reign over all powers in heaven and on the earth. According to the historic evangelical faith, the exaltation of Christ includes His resurrection, His ascension, His session with the Father, and His glorious return. Each of these realities represents an essential aspect of Christ's reign as King of kings and Lord of lords."
John Calvin on the Necessity for Reforming the Church by W. Robert Godfrey
"More than 450 years ago, a request came to John Calvin to write on the character of and need for reform in the Church. The circumstances were quite different from those that inspired other writings of Calvin, and enable us to see other dimensions of his defense of the Reformation. The Emperor Charles V was calling the Diet of the Holy Roman Empire to meet in the city of Speyer in 1544. Martin Bucer, the great reformer of Strassburg, appealed to Calvin to draft a statement of the doctrines of and necessity for the Reformation. The result was remarkable. Theodore Beza, Calvin’s friend and successor in Geneva, called 'The Necessity for Reforming the Church' the most powerful work of his time."
Preach the Word by Steven Lawson
"D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, preacher of Westminster Chapel London, stated, 'The most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching; and as it is the greatest and the most urgent need in the Church, it is the greatest need of the world also.' If the doctor's diagnosis is correct, and this writer believes it is, then a return to true preaching—biblical preaching, expository preaching—is the greatest need in this critical hour. If a reformation is to come to the church, it must begin in the pulpit."
Hypocrites in the Church by R.C. Sproul
"Admittedly, the church is full of sinners. In fact, I know of no other organization in the world that requires a person to be a sinner in order to join it. However, while all hypocrites are sinners, not all sinners are hypocrites. Hypocrisy is just one of many sins. It is unfair of our critics to say, 'So and so is a professing Christian, and we saw him sin during the week; therefore, he's a hypocrite.' That is not necessarily so. If I claim not to do something sinful and then you see me do it, I am guilty of hypocrisy. But if you see me do something sinful that I never claimed I do not do, I am a sinner but I am not a hypocrite. We need to draw that clear distinction."
5 Methods for Fighting Half-Hearted Prayer by Joel Beeke
"Give priority to prayer. Prayer is the first and most important thing you are called to do. 'You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed,' John Bunyan writes. 'Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan.'"
When Should You Not Take Communion? by Anthony Carter
"Contrary to some assumptions, the Lord's Table is not for everyone. It is a blessed sacrament, like baptism, given to the church as a sign of God's faithfulness to His promises and an assurance in the heart of the one to whom the promises are given. With this in mind, we should understand that there are at least two groups of people who should be discouraged from partaking at the Lord's Table, namely, the unconverted and the unrepentant."
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 2017 on the Ligonier Blog.