We’re not better than Old Testament Christians

Whom have I in heaven but thee?
and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
Psalm 73:25 KJV

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes how we aren’t any better than Old Testament Christians in his book Faith On Trial, a great exposition of Psalm 73.

One often finds a tendency amongst Christian people to depreciate the Old Testament. It is not that they do not believe in it as the Word of God. They do. But they tend to contrast themselves with the saints of the Old Testament ‘We are in Christ,’ they say, ‘we have received the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament saints did not know of this and they are therefore inferior to us.’ If you are tempted to think like that I have one simple question to put to you: Can you honestly use the language that this man uses in these two verses? Have you arrived at a knowledge of God and an experience of God such as this man had? Can you say quite honestly, ‘Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee’? How prejudiced we are. These Old Testament saints were children of God as you and l are; indeed, if we read these Psalms quite honestly we shall at times feel rather ashamed of ourselves, and occasionally begin to wonder whether they have not gone farther than we have ever gone. Let us be careful lest we press the difference between the two dispensations too far and make distinctions which end by being thoroughly unscriptural.

A Prayer On Prayer

May the matter of my prayer be always
wise, humble, submissive,
obedient, scriptural, Christ-like.

Give me unwavering faith
that supplications are never in vain,
that if I seem not to obtain my petitions
I shall have larger, richer answers,
surpassing all that I ask or think.

Unsought, thou hast given me
the greatest gift, the person of thy Son,
and in him thou wilt give me all I need.

Partial prayer from The Valley of Vision. See the whole prayer.

Puritans Praying

Praying About Prayer

I’ve been reading in various places about how difficult prayer is for the vast majority of Christians. The possible irony (and by that I don’t mean humor) is that we can forget to pray about prayer. Whether it’s praying about wanting to pray, or praying more, or our experience of praying becoming more and more like the one below–which is what spurred me on to write this post–as the person who wrote this models in the last line, this is something that God is very willing to help us with.

In prayer I see myself as nothing;
I find my heart going after You with intensity,
and long with vehement thirst to live to You.
Blessed be the strong gales of the Spirit
that speed me on my way to the New Jerusalem.

In prayer all things here below vanish,
and nothing seems important
but holiness of heart and the salvation of others.

In prayer all my worldly cares, fears, anxieties disappear,
and are of as little significance as a puff of wind.

In prayer my soul inwardly exults with lively thoughts at what You are doing for Your church,
and I long that You should get Yourself a great name from sinners returning to Zion.

In prayer I am lifted above the frowns and flatteries of life, and taste heavenly joys;
entering into the eternal world
I can give myself to You with all my heart,
to be Yours for ever.

In prayer I can place all my concerns in Your hands,
to be entirely at Your disposal,
having no will or interest of my own.

In prayer I can intercede for my friends, ministers, sinners, the church, Your kingdom to come,
with greatest freedom, ardent hopes,
as a son to his father,
as a lover to the beloved.

Help me to be all prayer
and never to cease praying.

This is a portion of a prayer found in The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions.

This isn’t something to feel guilty about, but to aspire to through the Holy Spirit, asking him for zeal, discipline, and affection.

Puritans Praying

New Year’s Puritan Prayer

I’m not much for holidays, but as I was reading/praying this prayer, it sounded like it fit well for this time of year. This is part of the prayer Christian Love, from The Valley of Vision, a book of Puritan prayers.

Order all my ways by thy holy Word
and make thy commandments the joy of my heart,
that by them I may have happy converse with thee.
May I grow in thy love and manifest it to mankind.

Spirit of love, make me like the loving Jesus;
give me his benevolent temper,
his beneficent actions,
that I may shine before men to thy glory.

The more thou doest in love in me and by me,
humble me the more;
keep me meek, lowly,
and always ready to give thee honor.


Bible Reading Plans

As the new year comes along, many people evaluate their Bible reading or want to start reading it, and this blog can’t go without a post on something so important, so here is a modified repost. Scripture doesn’t command us to read it exactly once a year, but there are many who live by a book they haven’t read in its entirety. There was a long period of time when I didn’t read my Bible as much as I should have, but I always loved it, and because of God re-instilling the want to do it, thankfully the enthusiasm and purpose returned later on.

Some want to, but just can’t get themselves to do it. I suppose time management is part of this. It shouldn’t be difficult because it only takes about ten minutes of reading a day to read through the book in a year. It may seem like a big task that’s hard to get started. More importantly, asking God to help one want to read it is as important as anything. There are a wide variety of plans, and if the whole Bible is daunting, there is something about that below.

Many feel that they need to understand everything they read. I’ve learned that there are different objectives in the various types of reading and studying. Reading through the Bible is to familiarize ourselves with what it says. This needs to be done regularly, whether it’s once a year, twice a year or once every few years. We need to be saturated in Scripture to learn and be reminded of what it says, which is something the Holy Spirit helps us with (John 14:26). But we have to read it for him to remind us of what it says. Also, if Scripture interprets Scripture, then we need to read the Scripture that might interpret the Scripture that we’re interpreting. There is also repeated reading of smaller portions for even more familiarity. There is ‘devotional’ reading, for lack of a better term, where we read a very small portion very slowly and intently and pray through everything we read. Reading the whole Bible is essential.

Here is a great post on this subject:
How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014 – Justin Taylor

You can also find just about every type of reading plan there is on YouVersion. I would stay clear of many of the devotionals on this site.

If you’re really ambitious, then you probably know about Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System. I wrote about it in a previous post.

There are some of you reading this post who have an extraordinarily difficult time reading anything that takes concentration, whether it’s because of mental illness, medication, pain, learning disability or whatever. As the first of the previous links quotes, “it is better to read a single chapter of the Scriptures every day without fail, than to read 15 or 20 on an irregular, impulsive basis1.” And as someone else has said, nowhere in the Bible does it say that we need to read through it once a year.

There is no timetable, schedule, deadline, demand or guilt put on us by God. Although those who are able must get to know and spend time in the Bible, for those who it is a great challenge, just read one paragraph a day and think on it afterwards or later in the day. If you can’t read, there are many audio sources out there for free. For this too, you can do a small amount a day. With all this talk of reading through the Bible in a year, or twice a year or 90 days, I want to encourage those who may feel guilt because of an unusual situation, to give it their all to just read a little and know that God is pleased with you because of what Christ did on the cross for you, not because of what you do. If you have limitations, God knew you would have these (Psalm 139:13-16) and created you to glorify Him (John 9:2-3).

What a great treasure we have. I pray that we will all relish Scripture more and more, and that God will reveal more of himself through His Spirit as we read and study.

Also see:

1. Cf. Orthodox Daily Prayers (South Canaan: St Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 1982), page 3: “It is better to say a few prayers every day without fail than to say a great number of prayers on an irregular, impulsive basis.”

Holy Bible

Biggest Book Blog Post Ever–Christian Books Read in 2017

By biggest, I mean on this blog. I read far more books in 2017 than I have in any other year. In case you’d like to see all of what I’ve read, you can find them at Good Reads journey in books for 2017. I never, ever thought I’d be someone who would read a book a week (although many of them were short). I only mention this because I had a very bad reading drought–as far as books outside the Bible–around the first half of 2016. I was rather bewildered and prayed quite a bit about it. A wise person told me that God sometimes prunes the good things in our lives (John 15:2b). It showed me how much God is in control of even our desires for what we like to do in our leisure time. Spending more time reading is part of the reason I’ve been blogging less.

I often have ‘the year of…’. This year was the year of Puritans, in addition to fiction, and reading books for the second or third time. I also spent time on learning about speed reading and comprehension/concentration, which helped with the amount of books read, (somewhat–I didn’t get that fast, and you don’t want to speed-read Puritans) and some memory type stuff, along with mind mapping.

Here are some highlights, although I’ll mention all of the Puritan books because every one of them was great:

Puritan Books

I had a strong interest in the Puritans a few years ago; at first I think I liked the idea of them as much as anything else. I got just a little tired and needed a break from them. Then after reading Perkins, I got to appreciate them so much more. I think they have become a permanent staple.

  • The Works of William Perkins, Volume 1 – This was the best book of the year–most of it an exposition of the Sermon on the Mount.
  • A Treatise of Self-denial by Thomas Manton – This is not a very popular subject (!) but for me it’s the second best book of the year.
  • The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded by John Owen – I think this is underrated.
  • The Person of Christ by John Owen – This was difficult to read but had some deep content that was great material for praise and wonder.
  • Sacred Dissertations on the Lords Prayer by Herman Witsius – He’s not technically a Puritan, but Dutch Further Reformer is close enough. This is so far my favorite of the books I’ve read on this subject. I read the original facsimile on my tablet, which is pretty much all you’ll get in any printed book.
  • The Soul’s Conflict with Itself and Victory Over Itself by Faith by Richard Sibbes – This was the most difficult book to read. It’s within Volume 1 of his works. I’ll be reading more from that. This was one of the books that got D. Martin Lloyd-Jones interested in the Puritans. He says that it was very helpful for him and I can see why.
  • The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod by Thomas Brooks – God used this in a major way.
  • The Vanity of Thoughts by Thomas Goodwin – An excellent and unusually book on our thought life, but not enough on how to deal with them.
  • Meet the Puritans by Joel R. Beeke – I didn’t read all 900 pages, but this really got me straightened out on their history and some of who’s who. (Borrowed)

Contemporary Christian Fiction

I was going to read more of this and watch a little less TV. I read four fiction books and they were a disappointment. Since I was so unfamiliar with the subject, I spent a lot of time looking at books and reviews. It wasn’t worth it. I might read a couple more in 2018. I’d like to go old school and try Dostoyevsky. In any case, I’m watching less TV.

Reading Books for the Second Time

  • Knowing God by J.I. Packer – I can see how much this influenced me when I first read it around xxxx decade(s) ago.
  • In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life by Sinclair B. Ferguson
  • The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer – This is a good spiritual barometer for me, even if I don’t agree with some of his theology.
  • A Place for Weakness: Preparing Yourself for Suffering by Michael S. Horton
  • All Things for Good by Thomas Watson is a book what I would recommend for reading a Puritan for the first time if anyone has trouble with the old English. The paperback edition is inexpensive and the ebook is free.

I would like to continue re-reading more of the good books I already have, which is very beneficial.

Introductory Biblical Theology

  • From Creation to New Creation by Tim Chester
  • What Is Biblical Theology? by James M. Hamilton Jr.

I plan to continue reading this subject in 2018. These books are very helpful.

I also read two excellent books each by Carl Trueman and Timothy Keller. Some people I follow on Twitter have been poking fun of Keller’s flowery language, among other things, but I really liked his books on Prayer and Suffering. Below is a photo of a book signed by Carl Trueman that a pastor friend of mine had him sign when he was at a conference. This was really nice since I’m not able to attend them, and I’m a fan of the fellow curmudgeon. The book was an excellent introduction to Luther’s theology, even if some of it was a bit over my head. He makes history relevant. I also borrowed Fool’s Rush In Where Monkeys Fear To Tread. This is a fun book. If I owned it, there would be highlighting all over it; if it were digital, you would have seen a lot of quotes here.

Carl Trueman Signature

I could go on, but I better stop there. I didn’t take the time to link the books or insert cover art (do you blame me?). If you’d like to search for any, you can use my Amazon affiliate link. I’d also recommend Reformation Heritage Books, Westminster Books, and also searching on Monergism for free e-books, which is where I’ve gotten many of the Puritan books that I read.

This post might be for my own benefit more than anything else. I commend you if you made it all the way here.

Around the Web

Reflections on R.C. Sproul
“Reflections on his life and legacy continue to be shared online—whether in short tweets or longer obituaries. Below is a collection of some of them.”

Better Man Project: 7 Things I’ve Learned From Reading More
“I never noticed how much easier it was to sit down and actually do it when I was doing it regularly. Not reading made it harder to read. Reading a few hours every morning made it easier to sit down and read in the evening instead of watching television. I have found it easier to read as a leisure activity.”

Love before logic: politics, persuasion, and the Puritans
“the Puritans believed that a lack of love makes it hard to hear. If a disagreement was going to proceed civilly—if it was going to be aimed at actual edification—then only an underlying unity of affections (some basic sort of sympathy with one another) would make it possible.”

Reading Books and Why We Have to Dive – This year I began to really discover the benefits of re-reading good books that I already have. I’ll write a little about this in an upcoming post on reading done in 2017, and maybe more later on.

Puritans and Football and Wisdom

I admit that the subject line is click bait–somewhat. Have you ever heard the argument that some men are more passionate about football than God by how they act when watching a game? They seem to show more emotion when watching football (or whatever the sport) than they would in church. I’ve always thought this was a ridiculous comparison.

Certainly there are many men who profess (or professors, as the Puritans might say) to be Christian that have more love for a sport than for God. But to insinuate that most Christian men, and some women, are more passionate about football than God, just because they get emotional during an event, is very unfair. It’s a matter of assessment.

I’ve always had a picture in my own mind about how this isn’t the case with me or many Christian men I know. As I was reading the Puritan Thomas Manton’s A Treatise Of Self Denial (a very popular topic these days, indeed), I found a perfect quote for annihilating this most absurd notion, despite the fact that it was written in the 1600s. Here he’s helping the reader to compare love of things or people with love for God. (Luke 14:26)

Though comparison be the best way to discover love, yet this love is not to be measured by the lively stirring acts of love so much as by the solid esteem and constitution of the spirit. Why? because the act may be more lively where the love is less firm and rooted in the heart. The passions of suitors are greater than the love of the husband, yet not so deeply rooted. The commotion may be greater in less love, but esteem and solid complacency is always a fruit of the greater love. […] A man may laugh at a toy, yet he cannot be said to rejoice more in that toy than in other things, because the act of his joy is more lively than it would be in a solid, serious matter. We laugh more at a trifle, but are better pleased at a great courtesy. [..] For instance, a man may have more affectionate expressions upon the loss of a child or an estate, than at God’s dishonour. A man may weep more for a temporal loss than for sin. [..] So a man may seem to have more lively joy in sensible blessings than in spiritual, and yet he cannot be concluded to be carnal. Why? because of the solid estimation of his heart; he could rather part with all these things than offend God; had rather want this and that comfort than want the favour of God. […] Therefore the judgment you are to make upon your heart, whether you love your relations and contentments more than God, is not to be determined by the rapid motion, but by the constant stream and bent of the heart.

I know the older language can be difficult. I shortened it (this is only part of one very long paragraph) so that it would be easier to read and hopefully see his point. Just because we act silly over something in the moment doesn’t mean that we love it more than something else. Suitors may swoon over a person they would like to enter into a serious relationship with, but the “love of a husband” is more deeply rooted. We may even show more delight in a humorous toy than in the serious matter of Biblical doctrine.

Though we should hate everything in this life relative to our love for God (Luke 14:26), and we should ‘order (or manage) our affections’, as the Puritans would say, we need to be careful to assess these things properly.

Extra credit:
The wisdom of some of the Puritans amazes me. Not all of their wisdom comes directly from Scripture, although it would all be in conformity to it. Sola Scriptura doesn’t mean ‘nothing but Scripture’. This also shows how reasonable they were. They didn’t usually take the stereotypical hard-line literal approach that we might think they would take. More in future posts.


R.C. Sproul

R.C. Sproul

We learned that R.C. Sproul died today. I’m not good with eulogies, or even anniversaries or writing about major events, so I’ll just write a little bit about what I’ve learned from him.

The first book I read of his is The Truth of the Cross. I just looked up a review of this book I did on the blog and see that it’s the first book I ever reviewed. I will always remember his exposition of portions of the Old Testament leading to the cross, which was especially helpful for me.

Next I read The Prayer of the Lord, which I also reviewed here. I also read his very well-known The Holiness of God.

I have also learned a lot from Reformed questions and answers that are on Youtube. This is where you can see what the man was really like. His humor was often evident.

Two things that especially impressed me about him are his precision regarding the understanding and teaching of Biblical doctrine, and the fact that even though his knowledge was so deep, he made it his life’s work to teach regular people about mere Christianity.

For the miserly, you can find some of his books for free in audio or Kindle format on Amazon.

Quotes from The Works of William Perkins, Vol. 1 – Pt. 2

I have some fine quotes from The Combat Between Christ and the Devil Displayed which is contained in The Works of William Perkins, Volume 1. These pertain to affliction that I found to be especially good. All of the text and references (remember, you can hover over or tap them) in brackets are the editor’s, not mine.

The wheat will not be good without the fan, nor the meal without the bolter, nor the bush without the flame, nor the sacrifice without the cords, nor the gold without the furnace; they are trials, not punishments, if we be sons; punishments, not trials, if we be slaves. Let us then bear them, they will have an end [Ps. 37:37]; joy will follow [Ps. 126:5]; they show us our weakness [Isa. 38:10]; they move us to pray [Hos. 5:15]; they show we are in the pathway to heaven [Luke 24:26]; and [they] make us condemn this present world [Eccl. 1:2].


Let us then therefore be patient in trouble, constant in hope, rooted in love; let us wait and He will come, call and He will hear, believe and He will perform, repent us of our evil committed against Him, and He will repent of His evils intended against us. He is over us by His providence, about us by His angels, in us by His Spirit, with us by His Word, under us by His power, and upon us by His Son. In Him is our help, from Him is our comfort, by Him is our victory, and for Him is our trouble.

our Savior Christ after His solemn inauguration into His mediators hip [baptism], was immediately to go to be tempted, we learn, that all those that are set apart by God to any special calling, even at their very entrance thereinto must look for temptations. This befell the Head, and therefore all the members must reckon for it.


this [temptation/affliction] the Lord does in great wisdom for the good of His children: first to teach them, that no man is able of himself to carry himself in any acceptable course of his calling without God’s special assistance and grace. Secondly, to stir up in them those good gifts and graces which He has formerly bestowed on them; as the fear of His name, the love of His majesty, the gifts of prayer, faith, patience, and many other which He would have tried in the entrance of their callings, and exercised in the continuance therein unto the end.

God’s will permitting Satan so far must make us patient, and yet His power restraining Satan from doing worse, must give us comfort.

The Works of William Perkins Volume 1

Also see:
Quotes from The Works of William Perkins, Vol. 1 – Pt. 1

Quotes from The Works of William Perkins, Vol. 1 – Pt. 1

This post is in the series of Book Quotes, where various quotes are posted to give the reader an idea of what the book and author are like.

William Perkins (1558-1602) is often called a father of Puritanism, being one of the early, well-known (in the 17th century) Puritan preachers. J. I. Packer writes, “No Puritan author save Richard Baxter ever sold [books] better than Perkins, and no Puritan thinker ever did more to shape and solidify historic Puritanism itself”. It’s strange that he’s not as well-known now. He may be my favorite Puritan and one of my favorite authors in any period of history.

Here are some preliminary quotes. The first few quotes are from the introduction and offer some insight into the Puritans in general.

he devised a very simple structure in preaching and writing: exposition, doctrines, reasons, and uses.

Perkins, along with many Reformers and later Puritans used this method of preaching. They would often preach through a book of the Bible, expositing a passage or verse each day. They would also explain doctrine (teaching) that goes along with it. ‘Reasons’ are why–often using question and answer format. ‘Use’ would be what we call application. I like the word use a lot better.

“The form of justification, is, as it were, a kind of translation of the believer’s sins unto Christ, and again Christ’s righteousness unto the believer, by a reciprocal or mutual imputation.” This concept of “mutual imputation” flowed directly from Perkins’s covenant theology.

Perkins was a Puritan in terms of his piety. “For the pure heart is so little regarded,” says he, “that the seeking after it is turned to a by-word, and a matter of reproach. Who are so much branded with vile terms of Puritans and Precisians, as those that most endeavor to get and keep the purity of heart in a good conscience?” Again, “The due obedience to the moral law is nick-named and termed preciseness, and the professors thereof called Puritans and Precisians, for this cause only, that they make conscience of walking in obedience to God’s law.”

The Puritans weren’t the killjoys that the sterotype would portray. They did preach and write extensively about obedience, purity of heart, and having a good conscience. They were as much maligned for that back then as some are now.

‘The term experimental comes from the Latin verb experior—“to know by experience.”’
Many use the word experiential, which is more understandable to people unfamiliar with the terminology.

hurliburlies – noisy confusion – I’m not making that up. He only used it once.

mammonists – those who are greedy, among other things – I think this term should be resurrected.

sanctification or renewed holiness, whereby we are enabled to walk before God in new obedience, bringing forth the fruits of righteousness.” He uses this term more often for initial renewal than continued growth. I would look further into this.

I have some interesting quotes on affliction and the Sermon on the Mount coming up. This is one of the best books I’ve read in quite a while. The hardcover is expensive, but a lot of work went into editing it which is a big help. I bought the Kindle version at a reduced price. I plan on getting Volume 2 which is an exposition of Galatians. Thankfully the Kindle version is the standard $9.99.

The Works of William Perkins Volume 1

Richard Sibbes On Being In Christ

God cannot be comfortably thought upon out of Christ our Mediator, in whom he was ‘reconciling the world to himself,’ 1 Cor. 5:19, as being a friend both to God and us [John 15:14], and therefore fit to bring God and the soul together, being a middle person in the Trinity. In Christ, God’s nature becomes lovely to us, and ours to God; otherwise there is an utter enmity betwixt his pure and our impure nature. Christ hath made up the vast gulf between God and us [Romans 5:1]. There is nothing more terrible to think on, than an absolute God out of Christ.

Works of Richard Sibbes, Vol. 1, The Soul’s Conflict

Especially interesting to me is “God’s nature becomes lovely to us, and ours to God”. I’ll attempt to assemble Scripture to portray that, but in reverse order. (I added references in brackets above.)

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God;
Romans 8:7a

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:1-7

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Psalm 84:1-2

Richard Sibbes was an English Puritan preacher (1577-1635).

Luther on Motivation to Pray

This is from Luther on the Christian Life by Carl Trueman.

For Luther, it is not the desire for reading Scripture that fuels prayer; it is reading Scripture that fuels the desire for prayer. That the Christian may not feel like praying is one of the Devil’s tricks played on weak and sinful flesh; the answer is the discipline of reading and meditation, both corporate and individual. One might draw an analogy with marital love: the husband is commanded by God’s Word to love his wife. That command is independent of how the husband feels at any given moment. He is to act in a loving way toward her, and as he does so, his love for her will itself deepen and grow. So it is to be with prayer: reading Scripture shapes people in such a way that their prayer life will deepen and grow as a result.

What is perhaps most noteworthy in all this, of course, is the routine nature of the practice of the Christian life. Nothing Luther proposes in itself is particularly exciting or novel. We live in an age mesmerized both by technique and by the extraordinary. Modern evangelicalism, particularly in America, has been shaped by the kind of revivalism pioneered by Charles Finney in the nineteenth century. Find the right techniques and one will achieve the desired spiritual results; and typically those techniques involve something unusual or impressive. For Luther, this would all have been alien and obnoxious: the Word is powerful in and of itself; and the ways in which the Word works are ordinary and routine.

I may post more quotes from this excellent book in the future.

Luther wrote a letter to his barber called A Simple Way To Pray if you’d like to read more on what he says about prayer. Another good resource is Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer, which is a website with very brief aspects of prayer and includes Scripture with each one. You can even choose between four Bible translations.

Luther on the Christian Life

Repost: What Does “Grace Upon Grace” Mean?

I just noticed that this has become the most popular post on the blog, most likely because of search engine activity. It has surpassed Complete List of Paul's Prayers. So I thought I’d post it again after three years.

First of all, is it in the Bible? It almost sounds like a catch-phrase of some sort. Why, yes, yes it is in the Bible. You can find it in John 1:16:

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
John 1:16 NASB

That’s the wording I’m familiar with for some reason. KJV has “grace for grace.”

This is according to D.A. Carson (quoting the TNIV), which is consistent with what he wrote in his commentary on John, published almost 20 years earlier. 


John adds, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given” (1:16). That is exactly what the text says—but what does it mean? It does not mean “grace on top of grace” or “one grace after another,” like Christmas presents piled up under a Christmas tree, one blessing after another. It means we have all received a grace in place of a grace already given. What does that mean? The next verse tells us: “For the law was given through Moses [which takes us back to Exod. 32—34]; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:17). In other words, the gift of the law was a gracious thing, a good and wonderful gift from God. But grace and truth par excellence came through Jesus Christ, not in the display of glory to Moses in a cave but in the display of Jesus and the bloody sacrifice on the cross. The law covenant was a gracious gift from God, but now Jesus is going to introduce a new covenant, the ultimate grace and truth. This is a grace that replaces that old grace. It is bound up with a new covenant.

The God Who Is There, pg 116, Chapter 7 — The God Who Becomes a Human Being, published in 2010

Repost – Murmuring and Contentment

This was posted a few years ago. It’s something I still constantly work on.

Murmuring–a half-suppressed or muttered complaint, which may be synonymous with grumbling–is a sin that isn’t mentioned often. Thomas Watson writes about this in The Art of Divine Contentment. I’ve been making an effort to think more positively, or less negatively, but when he uses the word murmur and explains it like he does, it’s very convicting. I can see how this is subtly insidious, and the devil would love to see a lot of it, without our ever really realizing it. I can see how profitable this would be if it could be reduced by working on it with God’s grace.

You that are a murmurer are in the [same] account of [or ‘to’] God as a witch, a sorcerer, as one that deals with the devil: this is a sin of the first magnitude. Murmuring often ends in cursing: Micah’s mother fell to cursing when the talents of silver were taken away, (Jude 17:2) so does the murmurer when a part of his estate is taken away. Our murmuring is the devil’s music; this is that sin which God cannot bear: “how long shall I bear with this evil congregation which murmur against me?” (Num. 14:7) It is a sin which whets the sword against a people: it is a land-destroying sin; “neither murmur ye as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” (1 Cor. 10:10) It is a ripening sin this; without mercy it will hasten England’s funerals. O then how excellent is , which prevents this sin! To be contented, and yet murmur is a : a contented Christian does acquiesce in his present condition, and does not murmur, but admire. Herein appears the excellency of contentation; it is a spiritual antidote against sin.

I attempted to slightly simplify the English.

I think that letting this fester is one way that nice young people can become cranky old people. Not cranky like Carl Trueman, but truly mean and destructively negative people.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing,
Philippians 2:14 NIV

Also see: Contentment | Scripture Zealot blog

Being content
something deviating from the proper, normal, or accepted order