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Reaching the Campuses

Reaching the Campuses of Our Great Cities by Planting Churches When we look back at the history of the evangelical church in recent decades, we sadly can see how the church often left and neglected the great cities of our country. It is an unfortunate part of our past that has greatly impacted these cities and the people who live in them. By neglecting these cities, not only did we pull back from them in general, but by those actions we were also neglecting the universities in those cities. Many of the key, culture-shaping universities in our nation are located in or very near more urban settings and for decades have had few healthy churches located within a reasonable proximity. So, hundreds of thousands of students in their most formative years as they wrestle with life and eternity-shaping questions have little access to a church where they can clearly hear the...

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The Vitality of Time and Energy in Church Planting

One of the biggest challenges for church planters is the gathering of an effective core group. The planter is in need of more than warm bodies to fill those cold folding chairs in his basement. He needs devoted people who are passionate about the gospel and want to see it spread to their friends and neighbors. This group needs to have a pulse on the cultural context so they can effectively communicate gospel truth in understandable ways. These people need to be willing to stay up nights, talk to people they don’t know, go through a gauntlet of try and fail...

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A Primer on Justification: Part 4

This article is the fourth in a ten-part series by Dr. Ryken that we will gradually make available in the coming weeks. Find the other articles: Part 1: The Need For Justification, Part 2: The Centrality of Justification, Part 3: The Meaning of Justification.   The Source of Justification If righteousness is necessary for justification, where does it come from? As we have seen, our problem is that we have no righteousness of our own. So what is the source of justifying righteousness? The source of our justification is God’s free grace. The apostle Paul says it very simply: We “are justified freely by his grace” (Rom. 3:24). The Gospel Coalition gives a more expansive answer: “Inasmuch as Christ was given by the Father for us, and his obedience and punishment were accepted in place of our own, freely and not for anything in us, this justification is solely of free grace, in order that both the exact...

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The Immense Value of Missionary Biographies

  Outside of the Bible, biographies can be some of the most encouraging, inspiring, challenging, and beneficial types of books for Christians to read. We learn valuable lessons from reading about the lives of other people—their trials and their triumphs, their struggles and their strengths, their greatest mistakes and their greatest achievements. But there is one particular kind of biography that I believe has immense value for Christians, arguably more value than any other kind, and that is the missionary biography. So in the brief space I have here, I want to commend to you the practice of reading missionary biographies by highlighting just a few reasons why they are so valuable.  One, missionary biographies fuel and inform our prayers for missionaries. Reading their stories reminds us that most days on the mission field are a grind, not glamorous. We’re reminded that missionaries frequently face loneliness and discouragement. Often times, they experience...

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A Primer on Justification: Part 3

This article is the third in a ten-part series by Dr. Ryken that will be made available over the coming weeks. Find the other articles: Part 1: The Need For Justification, Part 2: The Centrality of Justification.   The Meaning of Justification The vocabulary of justification comes from the law court, where “to justify” is a declarative verb. In its noun form “justification” is a legal word that refers to a person’s judicial standing. The biblical terms surrounding justification find their origin in legal relationships. The Greek verb dikaioo, which means “to justify,” is essentially a forensic term that “denotes basically a sentence of acquittal.”1 To justify is to render a favorable verdict, to declare a person to be in the right, to announce forgiveness in legal terms. Justification is vindication. It is a decision of the court stating that someone has a right relationship to God and his law. It is the pronouncement that—as far as the...

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Truth Matters

We live in an age when truth has become increasingly subjective and perspectival. What is truth for me may not be truth for you. As a result, the whole notion of absolute truth has died, and, in terms of the conventional definition, there is no more truth; all that is left is varying points of view. Not that this is entirely new. Over a generation ago, apologist Francis Schaeffer lamented the very same phenomenon he perceived already in his day and felt compelled to coin the term “true truth” (as if there were false truth!) to affirm emphatically that truth still existed. That truth, Schaeffer maintained, is grounded in the one God who “is there and is not silent,” having revealed himself in the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins and came back to life again. The Christian gospel thus gives meaning to our lives...

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Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

What does the Bible say about divine sovereignty and human responsibility? Much high end research has been done on this challenging topic. This paper is a mere summary of the work done by many scholars, but it may be helpful for some because a) it is brief, b) it uses simple straightforward language, and c) it addresses a matter of theological importance. D.A. Carson, How Long, O Lord? (IVP, 1990) J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (IVP, 1986) Summary: People sometimes feel that a belief in the all-powerful God of the Bible necessitates a kind of philosophical fatalism. For instance, people ask, “If God is all powerful and all loving, why do people suffer?” Or, again, people ask, “If God is all powerful, why pray?” These questions are at root confusions about the relationship between the sovereignty of God and human responsibility. According to the Bible, the sovereignty of God and human responsibility are both...

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A Primer on Justification: Part 2

The Centrality of Justification Having described our predicament in all its miserable detail, the apostle Paul announces that a legal remedy has been made available: “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known” (Rom. 3:21). The words “but now” mark a major transition in Paul’s argument. More than that, they introduce the great turning point in the history of salvation. Up to this point we stand condemned. God’s perfect law tells us that we cannot be declared righteous at the bar of God’s justice. But now a righteousness from God has been revealed. God has provided the way for us to be declared righteous. Or, to put it in the biblical way, he has provided a way for us to be justified. There is more to salvation than justification by faith. Yet without exaggerating its importance, it must be said that this doctrine holds a place near the center of...

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A Primer on Justification: Part 1

The Need for Justification Picture the scene: An accused criminal stands before an impartial judge to receive his just sentence. The legal proceedings begin with a court official reciting the laws of the kingdom. As he listens, the criminal starts to realize that he is doomed to be condemned, for it turns out that he has violated every single law in the book. Whatever the charge, he is certain to be found guilty. When the judge finally turns to the defendant and asks how he pleads, the man is speechless. He stands before the judge in mute terror, unable to utter anything in his defense. This is the desperate legal predicament described in the opening chapters of Romans. Humanity stands in the dock. The religious and the irreligious, Jews and Gentiles, believers and atheists—everyone must appear before God’s throne for judgment. The standard for justice is God’s perfect law. By that standard,...

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