Keep Calm and Read On

“Until I come, give attendance to reading” (1 Tim. 4:13). By God’s grace, keep calm and read on. Read the Bible and read the best books for your soul!

Union with Christ and Coronavirus

Adapted from Laughing at the Days to Come: Facing Present Trials and Future Uncertainties with Gospel Hope by Tessa Thompson.

John Murray once wrote that there is no other truth “more suited to impart confidence and strength, comfort and joy in the Lord than this one of union with Christ.”[1] If he was right, it goes without saying that now is a good time to meditate on this precious doctrine.

A global pandemic wreaks havoc on our once robust economy—we are anxious.

Weddings and graduation ceremonies are cancelled—we are disappointed.

Statistics are rising and the threat of death is ever before us—we are fearful.

Families are shut up in their homes together for days on end—we are irritable.

Unlike the godly woman in Proverbs 31:25 who laughs at her unknown future, the world is desperately longing for answers it simply doesn’t have. How bad is this going to get? Is the end in sight? As believers, we, too, desire answers. But amid a world that is terrified of the unknown, we have the joy of standing upon the rock of what we do know—namely, everything God has revealed to us in His word. The Christian’s union with Christ is one of those rocks.

To be sure, the believer’s intimate union with Christ is not a magical doctrine that causes sin, sorrow, and sighing to disappear from life; knowledge of it will not typically change unfortunate circumstances. Nevertheless, it is an important truth that when factored into life will greatly affect the way we think about and respond to those circumstances. Let us briefly consider one great encouragement (among many others) we can draw from this doctrine: our union with Christ comes with the comforting promise of conformity to Christ.

For many of us, one result of the current pandemic is that we are seeing our sinfulness in a new light. Our tempers are shorter than we thought. We are more anxious about the numbers in the bank account than we’d care to admit. And perhaps we are saddened by the ways we have chosen to use our extra time, realizing we are not as hungry for the things of God as we desire to be. It is a mercy of God to expose these things to us, but when we begin to see the extent of our sinfulness, we can quickly grow discouraged.

Our union with Christ confronts this discouragement with the precious promise of conformity—that, for the remainder of this earthly life, the Spirit will be daily at work in me, causing me to be “changed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18 KJV). Every day the Holy Spirit not only sustains my union with the risen Christ but applies to me the sanctifying benefits of that union, making me more and more like the person of Christ. And as that Spirit causes me to gaze on the risen Christ and better understand the effects of His redemptive work, I increasingly come to know, love, imitate, and obey Him.

Life may indeed get harder, but the Spirit of Christ in us is indeed making us holier—day by day, month by month, year by year—through both seasons of pandemic and seasons of prosperity. The Spirit of Christ is sanctifying us now in ways that will better prepare us to face the trials of tomorrow. This does not mean that future trials will be a walk in the park. No matter how mature we are five years from now, we will still have much to learn about following in the footsteps of the Suffering Servant. God will go on sanctifying us then just as He is now. But this does mean we ought to anticipate the joy of witnessing how the Spirit has been at work in our lives, teaching, preparing, and equipping us for whatever is down the road. Come what may, our union with Christ compels us to look to the future and anticipate not the increasing misery of sin but the increasing miracle of steadfastness.

[1] John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, 171.

Laughing at the Days to Come is available for purchase at Reformation Heritage Books:

It’s a Zoom World

What an amazing Zoom world we live in! Minutes ago I just finished with a Zoom meeting in which I “preached” for 30 minutes on Hebrews 12:1-2 to several dozen theological students from the SRL seminaries scattered throughout Latin America—with 22 sites from Mexico to Chile—in order to encourage them to keep running the race by looking unto Jesus. This morning we had a Zoom conference prayer time for dozens of PRTS and RHB employees—and we plan to continue this every day, M-F, at our normal 9:45 a.m. meeting time.  Wednesday evening we had a Zoom conference prayer time for our church with about 80 of our church members participating from 50 different homes. Tuesday evening we had a consistory meeting with 24 men on Zoom. We are doing our entire full semester seminary program of teaching through Zoom with dozens of students on the screen as we lecture, as well as nearly all of our denominational committee meetings. And every Zoom call and meeting has been flawless in terms of the quality of Zoom. It nearly feels like a new world. Though we long to see each other in person again in every ministry, let us in the interim thank God, together with us, for the gift of Zoom so that all of these ministries may continue unabated!

Pressing on During Discouraging Times

How do you press on in our discouraging times when you have lost your job or been adversely impacted in other ways by the coronavirus? In this 11-minute devotional meditation on enduring while running the best race ever (Heb. 12:1-2), I aim to show Christian believers what our mission in this race is, the manner in which we are to run, and how we ought to be motivated to persevere in our running to the end.

A Thought from Last Lord’s Day Sermon

New Printing of “A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life”

A new printing of 3000 more copies of “A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life,” by Mark Jones and me, arrived today (7th printing; first printed in 2012). I’m grateful that it is available again. The book aims to serve as a kind of systematic theology of Puritan teachings, expounding 51 major doctrines in which the Puritans excelled (chapters 1-51), and then showing how the Puritans brought doctrine into practice into their homes, their prayer life, their meditation, and their consciences to arouse zeal and practical Christian living in every area of their lives (chapters 52-60). Since each chapter is a stand-alone chapter, you can read this book any way you desire. I recommend beginning with the last nine chapters so as to whet your appetite for the rich truths the Puritans so beautifully and richly expounded.

You can purchase your copy here: 

Reflecting on the Resurrection of Christ

I wish you and your loved ones a blessed resurrection Sabbath tomorrow. Here are some edifying quotations to meditate on as we reflect on the empty tomb and commemorate the living Immanuel:

“Christ did not rise from the dead as a private person, but as the public Head of the church. Therefore, we are more sure to arise out of our graves than out of our beds.” – Thomas Watson

“God fits our souls here to possess a glorious body after; and he will fit the body for a glorious soul.” – Richard Sibbes

“The resurrection of Christ, as the evidence of the sacrifice of His death being accepted, and of the validity of all His claims, is a much more decisive proof of the security of all who trust in Him than His death could be.” –Charles Hodge

Wishing You A Blessed Resurrection Sabbath

I wish you and your loved ones a blessed resurrection Sabbath tomorrow. Here are some edifying quotations to meditate on as we reflect on the empty tomb and commemorate the living Immanuel:

“Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” – Martin Luther

“Everything antecedent in the incarnate life of our Lord moves towards the resurrection and everything subsequent rests upon it and is conditioned by it.”  – John Murray

“In an age of abounding unbelief and skepticism, we shall find that the resurrection of Christ will bear any weight that we can lay upon it.”  – J. C. Ryle

Two New RHB Titles

Great news! This afternoon we received two more new RHB titles: “The Sum and Substance of the Gospel: The Christ-centered Piety of Charles Haddon Spurgeon” (in our Profiles in Reformed Spirituality series)—which makes for an excellent daily devotional —; and “The Cure for Unjust Anger” by the Puritan John Downame (in our Puritan Treasures for Today series)—ably edited by Brian Hedges. This is an outstanding book on a much-needed subject. Every sentence in this series is edited so it reads like these books were written in 2020, without sacrificing any content! 

The Wholesome Doctrine of the Gospel: Faith and Love in the Writings of William Perkins

A great new RHB paperback in our Profiles in Reformed Spirituality arrived today: “The Wholesome Doctrine of the Gospel: Faith and Love in the Writings of William Perkins,” edited and introduced by Andrew Ballitch and J. Stephen Yuille. A lot of edifying material is packed into this 140-page paperback—perfect for your next daily devotional!