"For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. " 1 Corinthians 2:2

The Offense of the Cross | Ligonier Ministries

cross“But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed” (v. 11).
– Galatians 5:10–11

Even before Paul gets into the details of the Spirit-led life in his epistle to the Galatians (5:16–6:10), there are clues that Paul had no doubt the Holy Spirit would preserve those in his audience who, though they were straying from the gospel, had truly believed in Jesus. His assertion that at least some of the Galatians received the Spirit by faith (3:2–6) points us in this direction, but 5:10 also demonstrates Paul’s confidence. The apostle’s readers may have been toying with the idea of adding the works of the Law to their faith and were at risk of forfeiting their redemption; however, Paul was assured in the Lord that this would not continue forever. As Paul tells us elsewhere, God always completes the good work that He begins in His people (Phil. 1:6), and He will do whatever it takes to ensure that we work out our salvation in fear and trembling (2:12–13).

Circumcision could never be one of the ways by which the Gentile believers in Galatia grew into holiness, but not because it is inherently dangerous to the soul. Actually, circumcision is an indifferent matter (Gal. 5:6), indicating that Paul forbade the practice in Galatia (v. 2) due to the Galatians’ belief that the rite would justify them. Yet there was apparently some doubt regarding his position on the subject, for the apostle must make it clear that he never preached its necessity (v. 11). His Judaizing opponents probably told the Galatians that Paul did proclaim circumcision, at least when it suited him.

The suffering Paul endured was proof that circumcision was never a requirement he added to the gospel. If he had been preaching the need for Gentiles to receive the old covenant sign he would not have run into any trouble. His refusal to impose the Mosaic law upon non-Jews was one of the things that made the news of the crucified and risen Messiah a stumbling block to the Jewish authorities and incited them to take action against him. Some even tried to say that his refusal to toe the orthodox line extended even to his barring of the Mosaic law for Jewish Christians, although this was a demonstrable lie (Acts 21:17–26).

Paul refused to compromise the gospel to make it acceptable to the sensibilities of his fellow countrymen. May we always follow his example.

Coram Deo

Martin Luther says that “when the cross is abolished, and the rage of tyrants and heretics ceases on the one side, and all things are in peace, this is a sure token that the pure doctrine of God’s Word is taken away.” The world’s hatred is sometimes a sign that we are being faithful to Scripture, provided the world detests us due to the message we preach, not because we are obnoxious. If we meet no worldly opposition, it may mean we are not being true to the offense of the cross.

Passages for Further Study

Jeremiah 38:1–13
John 15:18–16:4a

From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: http://www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343

Is Preaching Really Foolishness? | James Boice

preaching-biblefrom Ligonier.org

I once asked a number of people which verses came to mind when they thought about preaching. I had already gone to one of the concordances and looked up verses where the English words preaching, preacher, or preach occur, and I found that, even in these cases, which do not reflect all occurrences of the Greek and Hebrew root words (these are also translated “proclaim,” “make known,” “speak,” and so on), there are 150 verses. But when I began to ask my question, people referred again and again to one verse, 1 Corinthians 1:21, which says, “God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

I think that says something about the way many people regard what they hear coming from the pulpit. They think of it as foolishness. In the minds of many, the content of preaching, and perhaps even the delivery of the sermon itself, is a very foolish thing.

Is preaching really foolishness? It obviously is in some sense because Paul uses that word. Indeed, preachers will often say that there are times when they feel foolish as they try to bring a word from God to those living in the midst of a secular culture. Yet when we look at the passage from which that word comes, it is perfectly evident, even on a very superficial reading, that the apostle is using this word foolishness in a specialized sense. He is talking about that which is foolish in the world’s eyes, but which in actuality is the wisdom of God unto salvation.

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Why Theological Study Is for Everyone | Jared Wilson


from Ligonier.org

Every Christian must be a theologian. In a variety of ways, this is something I tell my church often. And the looks I get from some surprised souls are the evidence that I have not yet adequately communicated that the purposeful theological study of God by lay people is important.

Many times the confused responses come from a misunderstanding of what is meant in this context by theology. So I tell my church what I don’t mean. When I say every Christian must be a theologian, I don’t mean that every Christian must be an academic or that every Christian must be a scholar or that every Christian must work hard at giving the impression of being a know-it-all. We all basically understand what is meant in the biblical warning that “knowledge puffs up” (1 Cor. 8:1). Nobody likes an egghead.

But the answer to formal scholasticism or dry intellectualism is not a neglect of theological study. Laypeople have no biblical warrant to leave the duty of doctrine up to pastors and professors alone. Therefore, I remind my church that theology—coming from the Greek words theos (God) and logos (word)—simply means “the knowledge (or study) of God.” If you’re a Christian, you must by definition know God. Christians are disciples of Jesus; they are student-followers of Jesus. The longer we follow Him, the more we learn about Him and, consequently, the more deeply we come to know Him.

There are at least three primary reasons why every Christian ought to be a theologian.

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Bible Reading Plans for 2015 | Ligonier Ministries

from Ligonier Ministries:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Many Christians take the beginning of a new year to evaluate their Bible reading habits, and then change or begin a Bible reading plan.

For your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of Bible reading plans for you to choose from. Maybe in 2015 you will read more of the Bible each day. Perhaps you’ll slow down your reading and instead spend more time considering what you read. Whatever it is you’re looking for in a reading plan, you should find it below:

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Free Will and Divine Sovereignty | R.C. Sproul

The Blessing of Great Teachers | R.C. Sproul

“It’s ultimately no surprise that great teachers produce other great teachers. That seems to be the way God has designed us. In Scripture, we are called again and again to be disciples, or more precisely, learners. We need teachers if we are to learn, and great teachers raise up great learners who can then go on to produce other great learners. Christ is our preeminent example of this. Because He was a great teacher, He knew what to do in order to take a ragtag bunch of fishermen, Zealots, and tax collectors, and make them into the most influential bunch of learners the world has ever known. From their ranks we have been blessed with great teachers—Matthew, John, Peter, and others whose work continues to impact the world to this day. Of course, these men were inspired by the Holy Spirit in a manner that other teachers aren’t. However, Christ’s use of them to make disciples of all nations remains a model of how great teachers produce other great teachers.

No matter how great our earthly teachers may be, they will err. We will have to weigh their words against the Spirit-inspired teachings of the Apostles and prophets. But we dare not think we can ever reach a point where we cannot benefit from the teaching of others. Great teachers who are faithful to God’s Word are a blessing to God’s church. He will use them to build us up so that we can build up other.”

R.C. Sproul, The Blessing of Great Teachers from Lignier.org

What Is Reformation Day All About? | Robert Rothwell

from Ligonier.org

On Friday, much of the culture will be focused on candy and things that go bump in the night. Protestants, however, have something far more significant to celebrate on October 31. Friday is Reformation day, which commemorates what was perhaps the greatest move of God’s Spirit since the days of the Apostles. But what is the significance of Reformation Day, and how should we consider the events it commemorates?

At the time, few would have suspected that the sound of a hammer striking the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany, would soon be heard around the world and lead ultimately to the greatest transformation of Western society since the apostles first preached the Gospel throughout the Roman empire. Martin Luther’s nailing of his ninety-five theses to the church door on October 31, 1517, provoked a debate that culminated finally in what we now call the Protestant Reformation.

An heir of Bishop Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther is one of the most significant figures God has raised up since that time. This law student turned Augustinian monk became the center of a great controversy after his theses were copied and distributed throughout Europe. Initially protesting the pope’s attempt to sell salvation, Luther’s study of Scripture soon led him to oppose the church of Rome on issues including the primacy of the Bible over church tradition and the means by which we are found righteous in the sight of God. [Read more…]