Essential Theological Video and Audio


Ian Stamps – (Re)Write: The Story of Gratitude

Michael Mize – Comparing Human and Chimp DNA


Paul Tripp – Parenting Is Gospel Ministry

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Dane Ortlund – Reflections on Handling the Old Testament as Jesus Would Have Us: Psalm 15 as a Case Study

From every text of Scripture there is a road to Christ…I have never found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it. Charles Spurgeon

A remarkable resurgence of Christocentric interpretation has emerged in recent decades, reflected in leaders, books, commentary series, conferences, and even websites. This is not to say that a single, monolithic Christocentric hermeneutic has emerged among evangelicals. Yet amid the diversity, certain elements appear relatively stable among the various stripes of Christocentric interpretation: a conviction about the unity and coherence of the Bible, a sensitivity to the unfolding storyline across redemptive history, a willingness to read texts in a genre-sensitive way, an impulse to resist moralistic and graceless readings, a belief in the validity of biblical theology, and above all a desire to responsibly connect every text to the Bible’s redemptive climax, Jesus Christ.

“There is a typological link between every aspect of the Old Testament and the person of Jesus Christ,” writes Graeme Goldsworthy. “All Scripture has a redemptive purpose,” claims Bryan Chapell; “None of the Scriptures are so limited in purpose as to give us only moral instruction or lifestyle correction.” “Every Old Testament text must be viewed in light of Jesus’ person and ministry,” says Craig Blomberg. And such assertions among contemporary evangelicals could be quickly proliferated. Yet it is one thing to affirm such statements in principle. It is another to take a text that does not transparently lend itself to such a hermeneutic and read it in accord with these kinds of statements. That is what this essay seeks to do, with Psalm 15 serving as the test case.

Practicioners will quibble here or there with how Christocentric interpretation is to be carried out, and different arms of the Protestant church will work out of distinct frameworks, even while equally claiming a wish to read the Bible in a Christocentric way. One immediate example of this would be the difference between Lutheran and Reformed interpretive presuppositions in how to handle the Psalms in an appropriately Christocentric way. Such diversity notwithstanding, it is worth asking how Jesus would have us interpret this psalm, doing so mindful of diverse emphases among conservative Protestantism.

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Michael Boling – Jesus Upholding the Authority of Scripture (Matthew 5:17-20)


Matthew 5:17-20 – Complete Jewish Bible, “Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah — not until everything that must happen has happened. So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvot and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness is far greater than that of the Torah-teachers and P’rushim, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”

The Torah/Law is a much maligned and misunderstood term. Some teach the law was nailed to the cross. Many others are confused as to what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 5:17-20 as they have been taught for some time to distance themselves from the law. Are either approaches just mentioned in keeping with what Jesus is saying to us in Matthew 5:17-20?

The first item of note is the declaration by Jesus that He did not come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. In most translations this is stated as the “Law and the Prophets”, which is often the source of confusion. Given the popular teaching that we have been saved from the law or that the law is a burden and source of death to those who dare to follow it, it is no wonder Matthew 5:17-20 can be so confusing for some. The phrase “Torah (Law) and the Prophets” is a reference to the Old Testament. Jesus starts off by noting He did not come to do away with the front half of the Bible, meaning His arrival on the scene was not meant to overthrow or subvert the Old Testament.

Jesus continues explaining that He came to complete the Law and the Prophets. The word translated as fulfill is the Greek verb plēroō which has a variety of meanings depending on context. The appropriate meaning to be applied to Matthew 5:17 is that of “to fulfill, i.e. to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfillment”. Jesus is the focus of the promise of redemption found throughout Scripture. As the promised Messiah, He is the locus of the movement of redemptive history. He came to do what we could not, namely to perfectly obey God’s commands and to serve as the perfect atoning sacrifice for sin.

A lot of ink gets spilled regarding the idea of complete. Some suggest this word means that all of the Old Testament Law becomes irrelevant as the cross ushered in a new era of grace. Such a position is difficult to support given that Jesus also notes in Matthew 5:18 something of great importance – “until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah – not until everything that must happen has happened.” Two important markers are noted by Jesus here with the first being heaven and earth passing away and the second that of everything happening that must happen. Last time I checked, the current heaven and earth has not yet passed away to be replaced with the redeemed creation promised to us.

The second marker refers to everything happening that must happen. Some believe this statement refers to the Cross given the idea that the Law was done away with there. In order to understand what Jesus is saying here, we need to look at how the rest of Scripture explains this point. The Apostle Paul in Romans 3:31 explains, “Do we then make void the Law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” Scripture often makes the comparison between the wicked and the righteous with the wicked being those who pursue lawlessness and the righteous as those who embrace God’s commands. By definition, being without law is lawlessness. Since lawlessness is a hallmark of the wicked, as God’s people, we should be the one’s who love God’s Law and seek to abide by the teaching of Scripture through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was so specific about the continued need for God’s commands in the life of the believer that He stated not a single yud (jot) or a stroke (tittle) will pass from the Torah until everything that must happen has happened. Martyn Lloyd-Jones aptly comments, “There is nothing smaller than these, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet and the smallest point in the smallest letter.”[1] This means not a single element of the Law and the Prophets will pass away until all is fulfilled, until we reach that point in salvation history when sin and death are dealt that eternal blow and we once again return to that which was lost in the beginning, eternity in the presence of God.

As we move along further in this passage, Jesus further defines the purpose of God’s law. He declares that whoever disobeys even the least of these mitzvot (God’s commands and precepts) and those who teach others to disobey will be called least in the Kingdom of God. Does this mean we are to obey every single one of the 613 commandments found in the Mosaic Law? Some look at this passage and make such an assumption resulting in the incorrect interpretation that somehow the Law must have been nailed to the cross. The truth of the matter is not all 613 commandments were for everyone. Many of these laws were related specifically to matters of the priesthood, some were for women, with many others geared directly for matters of that day and time. One reason Matthew 5:17-20 is misunderstood is because often times we fail to understand the broader storyline of Scripture and isolate this passage from the rest of the Scriptures.

Jesus notes the Law and the Prophets will not pass away, not even the smallest letter or word separation until everything has happened that must happen. We also know that apart from the Law there is nothing but lawlessness. So what is Jesus saying here in Matthew 5:17-20? He is noting the authority of God’s Word from beginning to end. Lloyd-Jones once again sheds salient light on this issue, noting:

“But above all, here is this pronouncement by the Son of God himself, in which he says that he has not come to supersede the Old Testament, the law and the prophets…He regarded it all as the Word of God and finally authoritative. And you and I, if we are to be true followers of Him and believers in Him, are to do the same. The moment you begin to question the authority of the Old Testament, you are of necessity questioning the authority of the Son of God himself, and you will find yourself in endless trouble and difficulty.”[2]

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day often added to the Word of God (the Law and the Prophets), elevating the traditions of man to a place of authority, furthermore, teaching those traditions as authoritative to the people. Thus their righteousness was based not on obedience to the commands of God, but an incorrect mixture of man-made tradition and God’s Word. It is no wonder Jesus chastised them for teaching something other than the Law and the Prophets.

The lesson that can be gleaned from Matthew 5:17-20 is that all of God’s Word remains valid as the source of authority. As Christians, we would do well to abide by His commands. Moreover, God’s Law is something to embrace as it defines for His people what it means to love God and to others. We continue to live in a sinful world. In order to understand what sin is all about and what living righteously means, we have to continually refer to the pages of Scripture as the gold standard. As noted by A. W. Pink, “Christ’s setting his seal upon the inviolable authority of the Law intimates its perfections: every part of it is needed by us, every sentence evidences its Divine authorship, every precept calls for our loving obedience.”[3]

[1] Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids: Wm B Eerdmans, 1976), 162.
[2] Ibid., 164.
[3] A. W. Pink, Sermon on the Mount (Lafeyette: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 2001), 54.

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John Flavel – Of the Imitation of Christ in Holiness of Life, and the Necessity of it in Believers

He that saith he abided in him, ought himself also to walk, even as he walked.” 1 John 2:6

The express and principal design of the apostle, in this chapter, is to propound marks and signs, both negative and positive, for the trial and examination of men’s claims to Christ; amongst which (not to spend time about the coherence) my text is a principal one; a trial of men’s interest in Christ, by their imitation of Christ. It is supposed by some expositors, that the apostle, in laying down this mark, had a special design to overthrow the wicked doctrine of the Carpocratians, who taught (as Epiphanius relates it) that men might have as much communion with God in sin as in duty. In full opposition to which the apostle lays down this proposition, wherein he asserts the necessity of a Christ-like conversation in all that claim union with him, or interest with him. The words resolve themselves into two parts, viz.

1. A claim to Christ supposed.

2. The only way to have our claim warranted.

First, We have here a claim to Christ supposed; “if any man say he abideth in him.” Abiding in Christ is an expression denoting proper and real interest in Christ, and communion with him; for it is put in opposition to those temporary, light, and transient effects of the gospel, which are called a morning dew, or an early cloud; such a receiving of Christ as that, Mat. 13: 21. which is but a present flash, sudden and vanishing; abiding in Christ notes a solid, durable, and effectual work of the Spirit, thoroughly and everlastingly joining the soul to Christ. Now, if any man, whosoever he be (for this indefinite is equivalent to an universal term) let him never think his claim to be good and valid, except he take this course to adjust it.

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John Flavel – Of the Imitation of Christ in Holiness of Life, and the Necessity of it in Believers (Part 2)

Of the Imitation of Christ in Holiness of Life, and the necessity of it in Believers.

“He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” 1 John 11:6

These words have been resolved into their parts, and their sense opened in the former sermon: The observation was this:

That every man is bound to the imitation of Christ, under penalty of forfeiting his claim to Christ.

In prosecution of this point, we have already shown what the imitation of Christ imports, and what the imitable excellencies in the life of Christ are: It now remains that I shew you in the next place, why all that profess Christ are bound to imitate his example and then apply the whole. Now the necessity of this imitation of Christ will convincingly appear divers ways.

First, From the established order of salvation, which is fixed and unalterable: God that has appointed the end, has also established the means and order by which men shall attain the ultimate end. Now conformity to Christ is the established method in which God will bring souls to glory, Rom. 8: 29. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate, to be conformed to the image of his Son; that he might be the first born among many brethren.” The same God who has predestinated men to salvation, has in order thereunto, predestinated them unto conformity to Christ, and this order of heaven is never to be reversed; we may as well hope to be saved without Christ, as to be saved without conformity to Christ.

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Michael Boling – Seeking the Face (Paniym) of God


A recurring concept and for that matter a declaration found throughout Scripture is that of seeking after God and entering His presence. One vital element of what seeking God and entering His presence that I firmly believe many often overlook is what the Hebrew word paniym means and how it relates to what seeking God and being in His presence is all about. Before we do any analysis of paniym, let’s first take a look at various passages in the Old Testament that use this term in relation to seeking God or being in His presence.

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (Genesis 17:1)

And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: (Genesis 19:27)

And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings. (Exodus 16:9)

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face. (Psalm 5:8)

He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it. (Psalm 10:11)

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16:11)

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. (Psalm 27:8)

And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. (Isaiah 8:17)

For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire. (Jeremiah 21:10)

Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings. (Micah 3:4)

The above passages represent a small sample of how paniym is used in the Old Testament as this word is used over 2100 times. So let’s define exactly what this word means when it comes to seeking the Lord and being in His presence, or for that matter, what it means for God to set His face for or against someone.

Strong’s Concordance defines the semantic range of paniym as being:

face, faces; presence, person; face (of seraphim or cherubim); face (of animals); face, surface (of ground); as adv of loc/temp; before and behind, toward, in front of, forward, formerly, from beforetime, before; in front of, before, to the front of, in the presence of, in the face of, at the face or front of, from the presence of, from before, from before the face of.

For the purposes of this study, we will be focusing on the definitions of face, presence, toward, in front of, in the presence of, in the face of, and from before.

One aspect of paniym that should be noted first is the root word from which it comes from, the Hebrew word panah. This particular word is a verb that literally means to turn toward or from or away. Right away we begin to see that paniym involves the active turning of God or humanity to or from the presence of each other. Ultimately, paniym is the active movement either toward or away from something or someone.

Keri Kent, in her book Deeper Into the Word: Old Testament: Reflections on 100 Words from the Old Testament, notes “In English, a shining face usually is an idiom for someone who is smiling or happy. In Hebrew, his expression means showing favor.”[1] Kent also notes how paniym is used in relation to the Table of Showbread that was in the Temple, commenting “this bread called the Bread of the Presence or in some versions of the Bible, the showbread, is in Hebrew lechem paniym or literally the bread of the face.”[2] Willem VanGemeren states that paniym or to seek the face of the Lord “was an expression of devotion, often attended by sacrifices or acts of loyalty.”[3]

With these definitions in place, we can begin to notice that paniym involves an active motion that is to be focused on God. When the creation is properly focused on God, the result is God’s favor being poured out on creation. Conversely, when the creation rejects God and turns their face and actions away from God, His favor is also turned away from the creation. Let’s look at some examples from the scriptures provided above as to how this process works to include the proper posture for the believer.

1. Creation turning to God with God’s favor bestowed on the creation:

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16:11)

In this passage, the Psalmist declares for the reader where fullness of joy can be found. It is important to notice that complete joy, the shalom that we seek as believers is found only in the paniym or the presence of the Lord. There is no other location whereby true joy can be obtained. It cannot be obtained in the fleeting things of this world for Jesus noted these things will be destroyed by moth and rust. Lasting joy is found only in the presence of God. Derek Kidner aptly notes “The joy and pleasures are presented as wholly satisfying (this is the force of fullness, from the same root as satisfied in 17:15) and endlessly varied, for they are found in both what He is and what He gives – joys of His face (the meaning of presence) and of His right hand.”[4]

Those who earnestly seek the face of God will be rewarded with the only thing of true lasting value, the fullness of joy that comes from seeking God knowing that the reward of seeking God is not just the gift of joy, but rather the pleasure and satisfaction of being in the paniym of God.

2. Creation turning away from God with God turning His paniym away from creation:

Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings. (Micah 3:4)

Turning to the Minor Prophets, admittedly a book most of us scan over if we read it at all, we see an example of God hiding His paniym from His people. To have God’s face turned away from you meant that His blessings would cease. This was in accordance with the covenant God made with His people, the system if you will of blessings for obedience and faithfulness as well as cursing with these curses impacting both prosperity and blessing in a physical sense and more importantly, their relationship with God. The prophet Micah in this passage was declaring that since Israel had rejected God, His face would be turned from them. Notice also that even though the people would cry out to God, He would not hear Him for His paniym was turned away. Since their cries were merely due to their suffering resulting from their sinful behavior rather than crying out from a posture of repentance, God turned His paniym from them. As noted by scholar F. F. Bruce notes in regards to Micah 3:4, “Those who persistently have done evil must inevitably face the consequence of irrevocable alienation from God.”[5]

3. Proper posture for the believer:

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. (Psalm 27:8)

It is important to notice the flow of statements in this passage. It begins with the acknowledgement that God had made a command to His people to “seek His paniym.” Before moving on to the remainder of this passage, let’s first examine why God would make such a command. Is God somehow lonely or somehow needs His creation in order to be complete? The response to that question would be no. This begs the question as to why God created us. While that answer is to a large degree wrapped up in the grand mystery of an eternal God, Scripture does provide some answers. God desires relationship with His creation. It is not due to some lack in God’s character or attributes. This desire is derived from His great love for His creation. We see this played out in passages such as John 15:12 where Jesus declared “This is My commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you.”

Rooted in the command to love one another is the reality that we do so because God loved us. Moreover, notice that in the beginning God communed or tabernacle with Adam and Eve. Sin marred that intimate relationship resulting in the need for redemption through the Messiah. That intimate relationship between the Creator and His creation, specifically those who are His bride, will one day be restored. All along the timeline of history, we see God acting within history to draw His people to Himself through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross for the purpose relationship, eternal fellowship with God their Creator and the restoration of His creation being in His paniyn, His presence.

Now that we have established where the command to seek His paniym derives from and why it is important, we can then move to the final part of Psalm 27:8. In recognition of God’s command, the Psalmist declares quite simply yet profoundly, “my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” So was it that pounding muscle within his chest that said to the Psalmist, “seek His face”? The Hebrew word used for heart in this passage is leb which literally means the seat of your appetites, the seat of your emotions and passions. So the Psalmist is declaring that everything he is knows the importance of obeying God’s command to seek His face and in acknowledgement of that command, everything within him is focused on being obedient to that command.

Notice also what the Psalmist declares He will seek. Does he state he wants God’s blessings? Does he state he seeks God for something in return? The reason the Psalmist seeks God is simply because God declared the Psalmist was to seek God. It is a very simple command and obedience construct. Furthermore, what the Psalmist seeks is God’s paniym. Why does he seek God’s paniym? Remember back to our discussion of Psalm 16:11. It is in the paniym of God where fullness of joy can be found.

Artur Weiser notes concerning Psalm 27:8, specifically the Psalmist’s response to God’s command, “The poet certainly discerns God’s command in this word of God and is willing to act in obedience to it; but even more distinctly he can perceive the promise it contains, the invitation of the divine love as well as God’s readiness to be gracious to him, as he offers of his own free will to restore the relationship which had been broken through human guilt.”[6]

The seeking of God’s face should be a hallmark of those who are called to be His bride. This perhaps begs the question of how we should seek God’s face. Two important elements are the daily washing of our hearts and minds in the word of God through consistent purposeful Bible study and through a consistent posture of bowing before God in prayer. Seeking God’s face through His word and through prayer will result in a proper relationship with God, a proper perspective towards life, and the movement of the believer from being pĕthiy (foolish, simple, naïve) to being tamiym (mature, complete). It is only by going to that which is tamiym, namely the word of God that is a lamp to our feet and a light unto our path that we also can be a bride that can overcome, endure, and run the race that is set before us.

The question lies before us each and every day. Will we do as the Psalmist did and act in obedience to God’s call for His people to seek His paniym? Is that the desire of your heart or is your treasure found somewhere other than where true shalom and fullness of joy is derived? May we strive as His bride to be a people who constantly seek His paniym. In doing so, we will be acting in obedience to God’s command and we will find ourselves rooted on the path of righteousness for His name’s sake with the result of God’s paniym being turned toward us as we turn our paniym towards Him. May we always have that proper posture in all we do for truly in the paniym of God is where life can be found.


[1] Keri Kent, Deeper Into the Word: Old Testament: Reflections on 100 Words from the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Willem VanGemeren. “Commentary on Psalms” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms through Song of Songs. Edited by Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 247.

[4] Derek Kidner, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 1-72 (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1973), 103.

[5] F. F. Bruce, New International Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), 931.

[6] Artur Weiser, The Old Testament Library: The Psalms (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962), 252.

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John Bunyan – A Caution to Stir Up Watch Against Sin

The first eight lines one did commend to me, the rest I thought good to commend to thee: Reader, in reading be thou rul’d by me, with rhimes nor lines, but truths, affected be. 8 April 1684


Sin will at first, just like a beggar, crave one penny or one half-penny to have; and if you grant its first suit, ‘twill aspire, from pence to pounds, and so will still mount higher to the whole soul: but if it makes its moan, then say, here is not for you, get you gone. For if you give it entrance at the door, it will come in, and may go out no more.


Sin, rather than ‘twill out of action be, will pray to stay, though but a while with thee; one night, one hour, one moment, will it cry, embrace me in thy bosom, else I die:

Time to repent [saith it] I will allow, and help, if to repent thou know’st not how. But if you give it entrance at the door, it will come in, and may go out no more.

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Horatius Bonar – Christ and the World

What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? 2 Cor. 6:14

The friendship of the world is enmity with God. James 4:4

Worldly people seem to be well aware that it is only in this life that they will be able to get vent to their worldliness. They quite count upon death putting an end to it all; and this is one of the main reasons for their dread of death, and their dislike even of the thoughts of it.

They know that there will be no “worldliness” in “the world to come”; that there will be no money-making, nor pleasure-finding, nor feasting, nor reveling; no balls, nor races, nor theaters, in heaven or in hell. Hence their eagerness to taste “life’s glad moments,” to take their fill of mirth, to make the best of this life while it lasts; and hence the origin of their motto, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Such are the out-and-out “lovers of pleasure,” the worshipers of the god of this world, the admirers of vanity, and indulgers of the flesh. They do not profess to be “religious”; but rather take pains to show that they are not so, and boast that they are not hypocrites.

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Danielle Spencer – Faith in the Hallway

The Christian life is full of risk taking. Simply being a Christian has often been cause enough for the executioner. But even where the cost comes short of shedding our blood, our lives–lived faithfully–will at some point beg the question, “What is the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15)? Implicit in this question is a life lived counter to the path of least resistance; that kind of life requires risk and courage–sustained, plodding courage. I’m nearing the middle part of my race to glory, and finding here that the courage needed is not so much about jumping into new adventures, but actively waiting on the Lord for the fruition of risks already begun. Maybe you can relate. You’ve given the money, moved to a different continent, had the kids, or identified as a Christian in academia, like Peter you’ve already left the boat, and now you feel the wet waves pound on your courage as you wonder, “What have I done? Will this work out? Or will I be put to shame?”

Many saints of old have experienced the same, but often as we encounter the narrative portions of Scripture we find the conflict wrapped up in just a few short chapters or verses. It is easy to miss the fact that the person living out the story did not know the outcome. Take the familiar story of Esther for example. Mordecai, trusting God’s promises, knew his people could not be wiped out, but he and Esther did not have a personal promise that they would be the means. When Esther committed herself to intercede for her people with that famous line, ““I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish,” she did not know that 5 chapters later, 75,000 anti-Semitics would be dead instead of her.

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Thomas Schreiner – Do Paul and James Disagree on Justification by Faith Alone?

Critics of the slogan “faith alone” often point out that Scripture only speaks once about whether we are justified by faith alone—and that text denies it: “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24, CSB).

What does James mean in saying we are justified by works?

I won’t defend the truth of justification by faith alone in detail, but it’s clearly taught, for example, in Romans 3:28: “A person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” Or, as Paul teaches in Romans 4:5, “God justifies the ungodly.” Both Abraham and David were justified by faith and not by works (Rom. 4:1–8; Gal. 3:6–9).

Salvation, as Paul elsewhere demonstrates, is “by grace” and “through faith” (Eph. 2:8–9). Works are excluded as the basis of salvation—otherwise people could boast about what they have done. Salvation by grace through faith highlights the amazing and comforting truth that salvation is the Lord’s work, not ours.

But does Paul contradict James?

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