Recommended Podcasts

The following are some podcasts that I recommend for your car rides, workouts, plane rides, or any time when you get a prolonged opportunity to listen.

  • Obviously, at the top of our list we must include the podcasts from the church staff and members:

  • Podcasts from other ministries we listen to:

    • Alistair Begg Sermons

    • Behold Your God (This podcast has many solid teaching sessions on reading the Bible, evangelism, church history, good books, biblical doctrines, etc.)

    • H.B. Charles Jr. sermons

    • Kevin DeYoung sermons

    • Sinclair Ferguson sermons

    • Martyn Lloyd-Jones sermons

    • Help Me Teach The Bible hosted by Nancy Guthrie (this podcast takes you through many of the books and main themes of the Bible while interviewing some of the best preachers and teachers in the country about how to teach a portion of Scripture)

    • John Piper sermons

    • Les Newsom Audio (this podcast is from former Ole Miss RUF minister and current Senior Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Oxford, MS)

    • Paul David Tripp sermons

    • Renewing Your Mind with R.C. Sproul (This podcast is the recordings of the late Dr. R.C. Sproul. These are teaching sessions on biblical doctrines, important figures in church history, popular topics today, and influential books from church history.)

    • RUF at Ole Miss (these are the sermons from Brian Sorgenfrei who is the current campus minister at Ole Miss)

    • RUF MIssissippi State University (these are the sermons from Elliott Everitt who is the current campus minister at MSU)

    • RUF Vanderbilt (these are the sermons from Richie Sessions who is the current campus minister at Vanderbilt)

    • Seeing Jesus with Paul Miller (This podcast is hosted by Paul Miller who is the author of several books and lessons including A Praying Life, Love Walked Among Us, and The Person of Jesus. In this podcast, Miller gives us a closer look at what Jesus was really like in hopes that as we see Jesus more we might live like Him.)

    • T4G Podcast (this podcast is from the bi-annual national conference for Together for the Gospel. Included here are sermons from John Piper, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, Kevin DeYoung, and several others. Also included on here are the several elective classes that teach on various subjects.)

    • The Gospel Coalition (this podcast contains several sermons, messages, round table discussions, and interviews about various topics, doctrines, cultural trends, teaching sessions, etc.)

    • The Westminster Standards by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson (This podcast is the teaching sessions from Dr. Sinclair Ferguson on the Westminster Confession of Faith.)

    • Tim Keller Sermons

    • TGC Word of the Week (this podcast features sermons from Reformed ministers from around the country including J.D. Greear, John Piper, Ligon Duncan, H.B. Charles Jr., Mark Dever, Robert Smith, Tim Keller, Bryan Chapell, Sam Allberry, and several others.)

    • Youth Culture Matters hosted by Walt Mueller (this podcast helps us think wisely and biblically about current youth culture issues)

10 Reasons Why You Can Trust That The Bible Is God's Word

In our “What Is Calvinism?” Sunday School class this past Sunday, we looked at the doctrine of Scripture along with the Holy Spirit’s role in using Scripture in the Church and Christian’s life. Towards the end of the class, I quickly mentioned 10 ways Calvin brings up about why we can trust that Scripture really is God’s Word. Here are the ten with some brief explanation:

  1. Scripture is superior to all human wisdom
    Calvin says, “What wonderful confirmation ensues when, with keener study, we ponder the economy of the divine wisdom, so well ordered and disposed; the completely heavenly character of its doctrine, savoring of nothing earthly; the beautiful agreement of all the parts with one another—as well as such other qualities as can gain majesty for the writings. But our hearts are more firmly grounded when we reflect that we are captivated with admiration for Scripture more by grandeur of subjects than by grace of language.”

  2. Not style but content is decisive
    Even though there is, as Calvin says, “an elegant and clear, even brilliant, manner of speaking, so that their eloquence yields nothing to secular writers” it is not the style of Scripture that captivates us so much as the content. What Scripture says is what gives more of a testimony to the Bible being God’s Word than anything else. Scripture is “clearly crammed with thoughts that could not be humanly conceived” says Calvin.

  3. The age of Scripture
    This has often been a very helpful argument for believers to be more convinced and for unbelievers to begin to see the truth of Scripture. The “great antiquity” of Scripture far outstrips all other writings. The fact that Scripture has been around for so long and through so much persecution should give divine testimony to men and women that only God could preserve such a Book. Not only that but if God were speaking from the beginning of time then He certainly would’ve have had His words recorded by men in order to preserve the truth. Why should it surprise us that the God who spoke thousands of years ago made sure that people wrote it down and kept it alive for us today? Isn’t that a sign that He loves us? When we say that Scripture is outdated then we not only call God outdated but we also doubt His love for us since He could not give us relevant truth for today.

  4. The truthfulness of Scripture seen in men proclaiming their own faults
    The Bible does not hide the shame and sin of its “own” people. The Bible, more than any other book and religion, shows the depravity of man and the sinfulness of sin. Why would men write so much of their own sinfulness and shame for all to read throughout history if they were making up their own religion? Certainly, the Bible shows not only the sin of unbelievers but also of believers. All stand in need of Christ and His grace and this is the testimony of Scripture from beginning to end.

  5. Miracles authorizing God’s messengers
    The Bible is a record of eyewitness accounts. The miracles that are recorded in the Bible did not happen behind closed doors for only the writers to see. Rather, the miracles were before the public eye and many gave testimony to them and then they were written down to be remembered. Take the gospel according to Mark, Mark is all about the eyewitness account of Jesus in which there are details that only people who were there could give. In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus is said to have fallen asleep on the cushion in the boat. There is no need for that comment to be there except for the fact to show that the person who saw Jesus calm the stormy sea was actually there and remembers everything.

  6. The amount of prophecies that have come true (All of them!)
    There have been some calculations of over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament that refer to Jesus coming as the Messiah. How many of them have come true? All of them. On the contrary, can you predict one thing that will happen fifty years from now? How do you know that will happen?

  7. The preservation of the Law and Prophets
    Calvin says, “But even though all wicked men, as if conspiring together, have so shamelessly insulted the Jews, no one has ever dared charge them with substituting false books. For whatever, in their opinion, the Jewish religion may be, they confess Moses to be its author.” God has preserved His Word from the worst tyrants and persecutions in history.

  8. Simplicity and heavenly character
    The content of Bible is so simple than anyone who can read may understand it but it is also so heavenly that anyone who reads is confronted with a “heavenly character”. Calvin comments that “the truth cries out openly that these men who, previously contemptible among common folk, suddenly began to discourse so gloriously of the heavenly mysteries must have been instructed by the Spirit.”

  9. Unvarying testimony of the church to Scripture
    Although it is the Holy Spirit and not the Church who testifies that Scripture is God’s Word, nevertheless, the Church has throughout the centuries been unified in their recognition that the canon of Scripture is God’s Word. No matter what age, people, or culture, there has been a unity in the true Church that the Bible we have today is God’s Word.

  10. Martyrs who died
    Why would men and women die for a book that weren’t true? If they made it all up, why would someone choose to be burned alive as William Tyndale was? Even under the worst torture, why didn’t anyone just say, “You’re right! We came up with it ourselves!” These people would’ve had everything to lose by their deaths if the Bible was not God’s Word. But, if the Bible is God’s Word then they had everything to gain by their deaths if they died holding onto their confession of Jesus Christ as proclaimed in the Holy Scripture.

"The Plague of Lazy Pastors"

Whether you are in the ministry or not, this post is for you. There have been many books, and especially good ones, that have come out recently about the need for pastors and ministry workers to make sure they have a healthy work life. There is a need for proper and appropriate rest because of a noticeable amount of pastors who “burn out”. As true and good as the books are, there seems to be few that simultaneously promote a good work ethic (something that Protestantism and especially Calvinism has always done). Because of the gospel that speaks of the finished work of Christ on our behalf, Christians should be hard workers and not lazy workers. There is not only a need for good rest but there is certainly a need (if not a greater one) for truly hard work. Unfortunately, it seems that books tend to give more weight towards getting good rest at the expense of showing people how to work hard. But one will see that we must work hard in order to rest well.

Have you ever had the feeling that you needed a vacation from your vacation? There are several times when we spend a lazy Saturday to only feel just as tired the next day! In order to rest well we need to work hard. God gave us six days to work hard for His glory in order that we might rest hard for His glory on the Sabbath. When there is a sub-par work ethic, laziness abounds and rest escapes us.

David Mathis, pastor of Cities Church in Minneapolis and frequent writer for Desiring God, has written a brilliant and much needed post about the work ethic of pastors. In this post, he shows that the Bible frequently talks about how pastors should be hard workers and laborers. The pastor should be known as a hard worker so much so that he is a proper example of what it means to work hard and rest well.

Here is a brief excerpt from his article:

So, good pastors are not lazy. They are hard workers — even in the face of a modern society freshly primed to criticize a leaders’ workism and encourage what amounts to laziness. Outward hard work, however, can come from a sinful inward disposition. All of us, pastors included, can work hard for the wrong reasons. For selfish ambition. For mere kudos and applause. From deep emotional insecurity. What, then, are the right reasons for hard work in pastoral ministry?

First and foremost, we work not for God’s acceptance but from his full embrace in Christ. We first own, in our own souls the Christian gospel, not another. We aim to labor from fullness of soul, not from emptiness. Such is the heart of the Protestant work ethic, noticeably distinct from the prevailing medieval ethic, which came before it and challenged it at every turn.

The first word to every pastor, as to every Christian, is not, Work, but, He worked. It is finished. Look to the labors of Christ. Look how he rose early to meditate and pray, how he navigated intrusive crowds, and had patience with maturing disciples, and untiringly did the works of his Father, and fielded inconvenient pleas from the sick and disabled and disadvantaged.

For the full article, click here.

John Calvin on the Gospel Logic of Ethnic/Racial Unity

In Ephesians 2:14, Paul writes, “For [Jesus Christ] is our peace, who has made us both one…” The “both” in this verse is a reference to Jew and Gentile. These two groups were opposed to one another, with the Jews in particular viewing the Gentiles with prideful superiority. Yet in the gospel of Jesus Christ, these ethnic and cultural divisions are broken down, and unity is created by and in Him. John Calvin helpfully and succinctly summarizes the pride of the Jews and the way the gospel of Jesus breaks this pride and unites a fractured relationship:

The Jews, puffed up with the privilege which God had conferred upon them, reckoned the Gentiles to be unworthy of being admitted to any intercourse whatever. To subdue this pride, [Paul] tells them that they and the Gentiles have been united into one body. Put all these things together, and you will frame the following syllogism: If the Jews wish to enjoy peace with God, they must have Christ as their Mediator. But Christ will not be their peace in any other way than by making them one body with the Gentiles. Therefore, unless the Jews admit the Gentiles to fellowship with them, they have no friendship with God. (Commentary on Ephesians 2:14)

May the Lord by His gospel cause us to live out the oneness that the cross of Christ has created across every racial, cultural, and economic barrier we erect between ourselves and other Christians.

Augustine on Two Cities, Two Loves

Pastor Carl quoted from Augustine this past Sunday, and I wanted to share an expanded version of that quote here:

Two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; and the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of our conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, “Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of my head” (Psalm 3:3).

— Augustine, The City of God, Book 14, Chapter 28

May the Lord enable us to live each day as citizens of the city of God, the heavenly kingdom which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God Himself.

A-Z Questions for Bible Study

The right question makes all the difference in the world - and not just in Jeopardy. The best interviewers, whether on TV or on podcasts, ask the best questions - the most insightful, the most difficult, the ones that make their subject squirm, or laugh, or angry, or transparent. Knowing the right questions to ask of a person, or a text, usually means the difference between understanding and ignorance.

In 1884, the Encyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America was published by Alfred Nevin. The following questions were included in it, as a guide for reading the New Testament in particular, but can be applied to the whole Bible. Helpfully, they are listed in alphabetical form. Keep these handy wherever you read and study God’s word.

In the study of the New Testament, and of the gospels especially, we need to inquire and compare. The inspired writings are infinitely rich in truth, and each verse is so connected with the rest that an intelligent inquirer may easily extend its investigations from one passage over the whole of Scripture. Without attempting to exhaust topics of inquiry, we mention the following :

A. What analogies between sensible and spiritual things may be here traced ?

A1. What prophecy is here accomplished? where found? when written? what rule of interpretation is illustrated?

B. What blessing is here sought or acknowledged, or promised, and why?

C. What custom is here referred to ?

C1. What trait of character is here given? good or bad? belonging to our natural or our renewed state? what advantages are connected with it?

D. What doctrine is here taught? how illustrated? what its practical influence ?

D1. What duty is here enforced, and how? from what motives ?

D2. What difficulty is here found in history or doctrine? how explained?

E. What evangelical or other experience is here recorded?

E1. What example is here placed before us? of sin or of holiness? lessons?

F. What facts are here related? what doctrine or duty do they illustrate? do you commend or blame them, and why ?

G. What is the geographical position of this country, or place? and what its history ?

H. What facts of natural history or of general history are here referred to or illustrated?

I. What institution or ordinance is here mentioned? On whom bindling? what its design? what its connection with other institutions?

I1. What instructions may be gathered from this fact, or parable, or miracle?

K. What knowledge of human nature, or want of knowledge, is here displayed?

L. What lofty expressions of devotional fervor?

L1. What Levitical institute is here mentioned? why appointed?

M. What miracle is here recorded? by whom wrought? in whose name? what were its results? what taught?

N. What is worthy of notice in this name?

P. What prohibition is here given? is it word, or thought, or deed it condemns?

P1. What is the meaning of the parable here given? what truth as to God, Christ, man, "the kingdom," is taught?

P2. What promise is here given? to whom?

R. What prophecy is here recorded? is it fulfilled? how? when?

S. What sin is here exposed?

S1. What sect is here introduced? mention its tenets.

T. What type is here traced?

T. What threatening? when inflicted?

U. What unjustifiable action of a good man? what unusual excellence in one not pious?

W. What woe is here denounced? what warning given? against whom, and why?

X. What is here taught of the work, character, person of Christ?

X1. What sublimity of thought or of language is here? what inference follows ?

"What Is Calvinism?" Sunday School Class Recordings

Due to many people who are in and out during the Summer, I have decided to start recording and posting the “What Is Calvinism?” Sunday School class lectures onto the “Wilson Van Hooser Audio” podcast. The podcast episodes will be named, for example, “What Is Calvinism? (Week 2)”. The details of the class will be listed on the podcast episode as well.

To access the first episode of the podcast, click HERE.

For the entire list of podcast episodes, click HERE.

Why Be Passionate In Preaching?

Sometimes you read a quote that profoundly shapes your outlook of an entire area of life. For me, the following quote by John Angell James has mightily shaped my view of preaching.

This then was the earnestness of the apostle; one constant, uniform, and undeviating endeavor to save men’s souls by the truth as it is in Jesus…

Is it probable there can be any earnestness in the hearers, when there is none in the preacher? “How is it,” said a minister to an actor, “that your performances, which are but pictures of the imagination, produce so much more effect than our sermons, which are all realities?” “Because,” said the actor, “we represent fictions as though they realities, and you preach realities as though they were fictions.”

Why Study God?

Next week, we will be wrapping up our Youth Ministry Large Group sermon series in the Book of Exodus with a sermon on chapter 34 which is primarily about the attributes of God. In preparation for this sermon, I was reminded of one of the best books on the subject of the attributes of God. In J.I. Packer’s Knowing God, one is confronted with a God who is far beyond all eyes can see and minds can imagine. Packer has sold millions of copies of this book and for good reason. There are few books that explore the depths of the God of the Bible with so much simplicity. Packer begins his most famous book Knowing God with one of the best openings of any book ever although the opening is not his own words but rather someone else’s. Here is how the book begins:

[Packer begins] On January 7, 1855, the minister of New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, England, opened his morning sermon as follows:

“It has been said by someone that ‘the proper study of mankind is man.’ I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.

“There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, ‘Behold I am wise.’ But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumbline cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with solemn exclamation, ‘I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.’ No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God….

“But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe….The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity.

“And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in its immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead. It is to that subject that I invite you this morning.”

[Packer’s begins again] These words, spoken over a century ago by C.H. Spurgeon (at that time, incredibly, only twenty years old) were true then, and they are true now. They make a fitting preface to a series of studies on the nature and character of God.

Oh, may God raise up more Packers and Spurgeons who know a God like this and proclaim a God like this!

4 Ways RTS Jackson Has Shaped Me

Tomorrow night my wife and I will be attending an event hosted by RTS (Reformed Theological Seminary) where they have some students doing a panel discussion on their experiences at RTS Jackson. While thinking in anticipation for this, there have been many thoughts go through my mind about the different ways RTS has shaped me in my time there. Although I am not done until December, I have already seen several ways that my life has been changed because of my studies there. This list could be pages and pages long but I wanted to give just a few that might be helpful. Keep in mind, I transferred to RTS from another seminary because I knew that what RTS was doing at the moment was some of the best in the world and I could not afford to miss out on it.

  1. Big God Theology
    There is no replacement for sitting under teaching for four years while soaking in theology that drowns you (and I’m not talking about theology that you can’t understand because the terms are strange and the wording is complicated but rather the theology that a child can read but an adult is overwhelmed by). True theology “happens” not when people write or teach in a complicated way where only the academic elites understand but rather when they write and teach in an overly simple, relevant, and applicable way but the truth of it is so weighty that it knocks you on your spiritual back. We live in an overly man-centered age of the Church and RTS has battled against that by showing us a God who cannot tamed. If the foundation of sin is built upon pride then the best way to combat against sin is to look to an infinitely glorious God. RTS certainly done that. I cannot tell you how many days I have walked away from class thinking, “I know nothing. I am so small.” Hopefully, you’ll laugh at that thought because we have all been prideful in our thoughts about God and need to be humbled by how “big” He really is. Two of the professors I have to thank for this first reason are Derek Thomas and Bruce Baugus.

  2. Preaching a Big God in a Simple, Clear, and Applicable Style
    What good is it to know all the theology in the world if you can’t help others understand it? Christ has commanded that all Christians live on mission (shoutout to Dr. Elias Medeiros) and that means to present the gospel in word and deed. RTS has shown us that the depths of theology are for the Church. Theology is not left for the academic elites while the rest of the Church just focuses on “Christian living”. If salvation is to know God (John 17:3) and if the entirety of the Word is what sanctifies us (John 17:17) then that means that every Christian needs to understand the depths of theology. The primary way this happens is when a man learns to preach a “big” God in simple ways. One of the best pieces of advice I have gotten came from Reverend Patrick Curles (Associate Minister at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, AL) when he told me, “If you can’t preach the gospel to the elementary kids then you can’t preach the gospel to adults.” His point was that if you don’t know the depths of the gospel so clearly that you cannot present it simply to those who can’t read then you don’t really know how to preach the gospel. RTS has put a big emphasis on this. There is no such thing as good preaching if it cannot be understood. There is also no such thing as preaching if you only explain the text. The Bible jumps out at us and redefines all of life and if the preacher does not “apply” the text to the real lives of his congregation then he is not preaching. I am very indebted to Dr. Charlie Wingard for giving us straightforward feedback on the seven sermons that we preach in front of him (and that he graciously sits through). I am also greatly indebted to Dr. Sean Michael Lucas for showing me what it was to proclaim Christ all the time.

  3. We Must Be Pastor-Scholars
    There is an unnecessary division between a pastor and a scholar. I believe it was Sinclair Ferguson who once said that this has only been a recent development in Church History. Through much of the church’s history the pastor has been the scholar and the scholar has been the pastor. RTS has sought to develop pastor-scholars rather than either/or. We make a wrong division when we say that the pastor shouldn’t be someone who studies more for the sake of shepherding the people or that the scholar shouldn’t be someone who relates his studies to the people. The pastor is the “local theologian” for the people and where the pastor is not a theologian then the people tend to be ignorant. Again, RTS has done a superb job of not just teaching us the truth but lighting a fire in us to keep pursuing a greater knowledge of the truth that applies to our people. My father is a long-time veterinarian in Montgomery and he told me once, “Vet school does make someone a veterinarian; it only gives someone a license to learn how to be a veterinarian.” In the same way, seminary doesn’t make a pastor-scholar. Seminary only gives someone the license to learn how to pursue to being a pastor-scholar. The pastor is someone who must always been studying and always learning. For this, I have a massive amount of thanks for Dr. Benjamin Gladd, Dr. Guy Waters, Dr. Miles Van Pelt, and Dr. Mike McKelvey. These four men have not merely convinced me that lifelong study is necessary but also have lit a fire in me to do so.

  4. No Other Way To Prepare Youth Workers
    Unfortunately, youth ministry is seen by many churches and pastors as a “practice round” for future pastors. Youth ministry is often treated as the “minor leagues” while the senior pastor is the “big leagues”. Here’s the problem: the students that I am leading today are the elders for tomorrow. The students I am preaching to tonight are the pastors and counselors for tomorrow. Working at Pear Orchard while pursuing my studies at RTS has been the best preparation for preaching to youth, counseling youth, and leading youth. The Church cannot afford to overlook youth ministry because where youth are neglected the Church is neglected. Our youth are growing up in a Church culture where there is much biblical illiteracy and this is greatly hurting not only the Church but the world. What we need now more than ever is better preaching to youth, better teaching to you, better counseling to youth (massive shoutout to Dr. John Kwasny—yes, the same John Kwasny who is at POPC!), and better discipling of youth. RTS has taught me that the big parts of theology are not left for the “big leagues” but rather they are of utmost necessity for the seventh grader who feels like they have no friends. The tenth grader who struggles with pornography doesn’t need just some web blockers or tips to not look at porn. What they need now more than ever is a “big” God who transforms their lives through the gospel of Jesus Christ. If our youth don’t have “big God preaching” then they will never be transformed. We have too many youth workers who give students fluff and lightweight lessons because they don’t think they can handle the more “weighty” matters of Scripture. I have seen from experience and word of others that when a “big” God is preached in simple, straightforward, relevant, and applicable ways that youth not only listen but are transformed by it. For this, I am forever indebted to RTS for training me in this way.

For all of this, I am forever grateful to Dr. Ligon Duncan for his leadership and passion for RTS and the training of future church leaders.

A Description of Sincere Confession of Sin

This past Sunday we looked together at Genesis 3:1-13, and discovered much concerning the nature of sin and temptation and our fallen condition by nature. Even in a state of grace, we are sinners still, and thus our prayers must always be filled with confession of sin. Benjamin Morgan Palmer, a pastor at First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans from 1856-1902, has written these helpful words concerning confession of sin in his book Theology of Prayer:

1. It begins with a clear perception of the nature of sin, as seen from the inside as well as from the outside. Sin cannot be fully confessed merely in its consequences. These are dreadful enough, but not so dreadful as the thing itself. God looks at sin in its intrinsic vileness. We make a true confession only when the eye has been opened to take the same view; not, of course, as broad or as deep as that of Jehovah, nor marked with the same terrible abhorrence; but a view nevertheless which is true, because it discovers the real deformity of sin as opposed to all that is beautiful and holy and excellent in the character of God.

2. With this conviction of the essential evil of sin, the heart will be aroused to a proper indignation against it. Let us not be afraid of the terms necessary to express a righteous abhorrence of sin, lest we evaporate their strength until nothing is left but a little pious sentiment. There is such a feeling in a good man's breast as a cultivated resentment, which shall pervade his whole being and arouse every faculty. There is in the soul of the true penitent a virtuous and burning hatred of that which robs God of his honor, and himself of peace. Conscience should be educated to look, not only with pity, but with horror and detestation upon what is known to be wrong. And the more robust and sinewy the character, the more will these generous resentments flame forth against sin in all its forms.

3. Following this holy anger against sin, confession involves a judicial pronouncement against it before the tribunal of conscience. God declares against it “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” His justice utters the decree which it deserves; and now the sinner, arraigned before the bar of his own conscience, which is the shadow of the tribunal upon which Jehovah sits, pronounces the same condemnation. He not only perceives the fact of transgression, but feels the wrongness of it; and concurs in the justice of the penalty which the law thunders against it.

4. All this, however, would be vain if confession did not include true repentance and abandonment of the sin which is bewailed. The habit of sin may not easily be broken, and the penitent may find himself again ensnared in the net which he is seeking to rend. Nevertheless, it is the sincere purpose and desire at the time to escape the bondage of sin, or else the confession itself is the thinnest deceit ever attempted upon himself or upon the omniscient God. In true confession all the powers of the soul are engaged. The judgment recognizes the standard of duty, and notes the deviations from it. The conscience feels these deviations to be wrong, and fills the soul with shame. The heart kindles with a holy abhorrence of what is impure within ourselves. And the will turns from its commission “with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.” Thus is the sinner purged from guilt, when his confession has been heard by him who is able to forgive.

11 Reasons Why You Should Study John Calvin

This Summer I will be teaching one of the adult Sunday School classes on the Theology of John Calvin (formerly known as Calvinism). In light of this, I would like to offer 11 reasons why you should study John Calvin this Summer.

  1. John Calvin is the biggest influence on Western civilization.
    You cannot read the history of the Western civilization accurately without considering John Calvin. It is a shame that any history book would not mention the man who shaped the largest group of organized people in the Western world. Calvin was at the forefront of the Reformation and was one of the pioneers of bringing the gospel back to the Church and to the world. The Reformation did not just change the Church but changed the entire world. To take John Calvin out of our history books is like trying to take the light out of the Sun.

  2. John Calvin was very practical.
    First and foremost, Calvin was a pastor. Everything that Calvin wrote was for the purpose of application. He wrote for the church and for the people. Even when Calvin gets into the depths of theological arguments in The Institutes he is writing for the purpose of the truth changing our lives. Theology is meant for living and we “do” theology wrong if it is only an intellectual activity. Calvin didn’t fall into this trap of keeping theology only intellectual. In this class, we will be working out how each of the doctrines discussed applies to all of life.

  3. John Calvin’s “Big God” theology is the most needed theology today.
    We are living in an age that is plagued with self-centered theology, self-esteem movement, and raising the “Selfie Generation”. What we desperately need is someone like Calvin to speak loudly and clearly into our culture to show us how “big” God is. Calvin is completely and entirely God-centered in his theology. True Calvinism is God-centered and not man-centered. In an age that is filled with many self-help books and other books that some often consider to be “solid” Christian books are mostly man-centered writings that treat God like a reputation builder or self-esteem booster. Calvinism takes our eyes off of ourselves and rightly places them on Him.

  4. Calvinism Counsels
    Because Calvin’s “Big God” theology is also pastoral and practical, we can see that true Calvinism counsels the soul. In an age that is overly obsessed with psychological theories and self-esteem fixes, we need to have the answer to true heart change and we find it in true Calvinism. Calvin shows us that when we truly understand and grasp God’s gospel by faith we are changed. True life change happens after true heart change. In this Sunday school class on Calvinism, we will not only study his theology but we will see how it actually changes and counsels our souls.

  5. John Calvin is one of the biggest influences on the PCA.
    The PCA, and other Reformed denominations, owe deep gratitude to John Calvin. Without Calvin, and without Calvin’s Institutes, we would not have such lasting influence on the Church. The PCA is deeply influenced by Calvin and Calvinism at its core and to truly understand the PCA we must understand Calvin.

  6. John Calvin had a massive influence on the founding fathers of America.
    One historian has said, ““Calvin was virtually the founder of America.” Another has said, “[The] Earliest and most influential settlers...were Calvinists and brought with them the Bible and the Reformed confessions of faith.” We when forget Calvin we forget much of the values of the founding fathers.

  7. John Calvin and Calvinism is often misrepresented (even by “Calvinists” at times).
    We have often met self-proclaimed “Calvinists” who fail to proclaim what Calvinism really is. We often give lip service to the TULIP but this is not all of Calvinism. There is so much more to Calvinism and to being Reformed. This Sunday school class will explore more important themes such as the doctrine of Scripture, the Holy Spirit, the Church, the place of the Law, the person and work of Christ, and especially prayer. There are several people who say they are Calvinist but do not have a full awareness (and sometimes accurate perception) of what Calvinism is.

  8. Calvinism is Missions Minded.
    Calvin was very influential on developing and sending out missionaries. When someone grasps the depths of Reformed Calvinism they are propelled to proclaim this glorious God to the people. Doctrine doesn’t disrupt missions but rather empowers missions. The more we know the more we can show. As we will see in the first week, Calvin was a major influence on the men who transformed France, Scotland, America, Holland, and England.

  9. Calvinism restores the centrality of the Word.
    Calvinism moves us from our opinions about God to God’s Word. The Scripture index at the end of the Institutes is several pages long. There are around 3,000 Scripture references. Calvin “reformed” Europe to put the Bible back at the center of the Church and, therefore, also the pulpit. Preaching became central to not only worship but also even in the architecture of the buildings. Instead of the sacraments being in the center the pulpit was moved to the center. The Reformation is centrally a restoration of preaching God’s Word. For today, we need this now more than ever because of our emphasis on entertainment, seeker sensitive messages, and programmatic-centered churches. Where the truth of God is pushed to the side, God is pushed to the side.

  10. Calvinism shapes your entire worldview.
    John Calvin wholly embraced the theme of the Reformation which was “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God alone be the glory). Calvinism is not a theology that stays in the church but rather overflows into every area of life. The Bible should not only influence us on Sunday but rather should be our worldview for everything that we do. Whenever someone teaches on Calvinism they must never stop at merely what Calvin says but rather show how it changes the way we live. The Bible never gives us content that is simply meant to stay in our heads. That’s what the Pharisees did. True knowledge turns into true living.

  11. Calvinism changes the way you work.
    One of the specific ways Calvinism changed much of the European culture during the Reformation was in the area of work. When God is big, work becomes a way to worship God. Our work is not primarily for financial gain, social status, or self-fulfillment. All of work is for worship and Calvin applied his theology to the everyday workers.

What Is The Greatest Need Of The Church Today?

The following quote is from Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his sermon on Acts 2:42 which says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” The following sermon was delivered in August 1969 in Pensacola, Florida.

They also continued in prayers. The old preachers always used to say that the way to test a church is to examine its prayer meeting. They said, '“That’s the powerhouse. The thermometer by which you can measure the warmth of the life of a church is the character of its prayer meeting.” What are the prayer meetings like in our churches? Are they powerhouses? Do you meet with others to pray? Pray for what? Pray for your preacher. Pray for your pastor. Here is a man weak in the flesh, as we are reminded by the apostle Paul: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor. 4:7). Do you pray regularly week by week that the Holy Spirit may come upon him? I have a fear that the members of our churches are beginning to think that only certain people can evangelize. They will prepare only for some special effort. But do you pray daily and week by week for your own minister? The Spirit can come upon him at any moment. Do you pray that He may do so? That is the only hope. We need revival. We need the Holy Spirit’s power upon us. Nothing will avail until we get it. Are you praying for this?

Is Jordan Peterson the "Priest of the Secular Age"?

If you don’t know about Jordan Peterson then it’s a name that you should be aware of. His book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos has sold more than 3 million copies. His YouTube channel has nearly 2 million subscribers. He is a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto. He is quickly becoming one of the most influential voices in the world. Whether directly or indirectly, the masses of popular culture are being influenced and challenged by what he says.

In light of this, Bruce Ashford wrote a helpful reflection on how evangelicals should view the influence of Peterson. Should we look out for him or look up to him? Should we draw away from his writings or draw near? These questions and more are answered in the blog post. Here is a brief excerpt:

In our secular age, Peterson’s status as a social scientist gives him the effectual status of a high priest. As religious authority has been diminished and decentered, social science has moved to the center. Economists, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists—each uses “hard data” to draw their conclusions about human beings, personal identity, and social order. As a clinical psychologist, therefore, Peterson’s life-coaching combines the cultural authority of the social sciences with the spiritual appeal of vague religious intimations.

Peterson’s disposition adds to this mystique. He is a deep reader who is able to penetrate to the essence of ideologies such as Marxist intersectional identity politics or alt-right ethno-nationalism. But he is also a deep listener; his interviews and Q&A sessions reveal him as one who listens, sympathizes, and communicates in a way that often fosters genuine respect and dialogue. Indeed, commentators often note Peterson’s resemblance to a religious prophet, priest, or pastor.

Thus, it’s unsurprising to learn of Peterson’s popularity among 20-something males and other disaffected castaways of secular modernity. These are the people who hunger for the security of meaning and significance. And they seem to sense that Peterson has found it.

The irony in all this, however, is that unless Peterson buys wholesale into the Christian faith, his solution is insubstantial; metaphysically, it is little more than a banquet of crushed ice and vapor. Indeed, even though Peterson wisely taps into the power of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the West, he guts it of any real power when he treats it as functionally helpful rather than transcendentally true.

For the full article, click here.

A Thank You from Joe Deegan

Two Sundays ago, we were privileged to have Joe Deegan, the RYM Music Resources Coordinator, accompanying our morning worship service. We received this week a thank you note from him, and we wanted to pass it along to you. Please note the Bible study he has written. Continue to keep the ministry of RYM in your prayers!

Dear Pear Orchard Presbyterian,

Thank you so much for having me at your church a couple weeks ago to sing and lead worship! It was such an honor and privilege for me to get to be there with you. I sing and play at several churches and events throughout the year, but I felt more at home at Pear Orchard than I have at almost any other church I’ve visited. There was a genuine warmth there from everyone I met, and I would love to come back again sometime soon if y’all would have me.

I’m also grateful for the love and support you gave to me after the service and the interest you showed in the music of RYM Worship. I wanted to write and tell you where you could find the music in case anyone else is interested. It’s available on iTunes, Spotify, and Apple Music under the artist name “RYM Worship.” The album title is “Promised Land.” Just search for either of those, and the album should pop up.

I also wanted to let you know about a 12-week Bible Study curriculum that I wrote to go along with the album that is available for free on RYM’s website: The study is intended for youth groups but could be used by anyone. It walks through the Scripture and stories behind each of the songs on the album, and it’s set with small group questions and takeaways for discussion.

Again, I just wanted to write and say how grateful I am for the love and support you showed me. I would be honored to come back again sometime and visit. You all made my family feel very welcome, and most importantly, you showed the love of Jesus in your worship, preaching, liturgy, and hospitality. I appreciate all you’re doing for the kingdom at Pear Orchard.

In Christ, Joe Deegan

Youth Ministry Sermons & Chapel Messages Now On Podcast

I have learned that there are fewer people who sit down to listen to sermons on their computer than there are people who download them on their phone to listen to them while they drive, walk, or workout. Knowing this, I have decided to start uploading all the youth sermons, chapel messages, FCA talks, and anything that is recorded onto this podcast. I have given the podcast an overly simplistic name to keep it simple and to make it distinct from Pear Orchard’s normal sermon podcast for the Sunday sermons. When you download the Apple “Podcast” app (which is free), you then can search for “Wilson Van Hooser” or “Wilson Van Hooser Audio” to find the audio recordings. Hopefully, this will make these recordings easier to access and also easier to pass along to others.

I will give a slight warning to all listeners: Since I am speaking primarily to youth, sometimes I make loud noises. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy.

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Elizabeth Holmes and Our Need For Repentance

If you have found yourself in a conversation with me in the past two weeks, there’s a good chance I’ve brought up the Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos story. After listening to an 11 hour audiobook and a six episode podcast about her rise and fall in silicon valley, I’ve asked myself why I’m so intrigued by this story. If you haven’t listened to me ramble on about it and you’re asking yourself, “Who in the world is Elizabeth Holmes?” here’s a quick summary:

Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos' founder and CEO, dropped out of Stanford University at age 19 to launch Theranos in 2003 as a cheaper, more efficient alternative to traditional blood testing. After serious allegations about the legitimacy of the company’s technology, Theranos’ valuation of $9 billion collapsed, and Holmes along with a former COO were indicted on federal fraud charges in June 2018. The podcast (The Dropout) and book (Bad Blood) seek to tell the story of Elizabeth’s demise through first hand accounts of former employees, investors, and journalists.

Now, I’m about to ask something from you. Instead of hearing this story and thinking, “Wow what a shame someone could go to such great lengths just for money and fame,” I want you to ask yourself, “In what areas of my life am I like Elizabeth Holmes?”

Sin has a sneaky way of revealing itself to us when we have gone much too far than we ever intended. The World, The Flesh, and The Devil want us to think we are doing just fine until suddenly we are in uncharted waters wondering how we got so far from shore. Listening to Elizabeth’s story has made me reflect on where she went wrong, and how we can apply steps in our lives to keep our souls from going where we never intended on going in the first place.

1) You cannot serve two masters - Elizabeth’s technology was a healthcare device that would give blood test results. The catch was, it never worked consistently well, and she knew it. In some very real instances, this caused patients to take medical care steps for illnesses they didn’t even have. Elizabeth put the money she would gain from partners and investors before the lives of patients.

We cannot serve God and money (Matt 6:24) just like she could not serve money and patients. The Bible makes this so clear through several parables spoken by Jesus (Luke 16:13). We must rely on the Lord for our provision and sustenance - our daily bread (Matt 6:11). When we serve money over God, we are serving an idol made in the image of man. When have you treated others in a sinful way because the stake of money was in the balance?

2) Put yourself around others who will hold you accountable - Elizabeth ran a company of 700 employees including scientists and researchers who were working on her technology. There was very high turnover of employees. Why? When someone would question the product or the process of the technology, they were fired. If someone suggested the quality control was skewed, they were fired. She didn’t want to hear someone tell her she was running her business unethically. Elizabeth may not be facing criminal charges today if she took some of these critiques to heart and slowed down the roll out of her devices to stores.

We must not run away from loving and wise rebuke (1 John 1:8-10). When we only surround ourselves with friends who “only lift us up and ‘support’ us” and not those who love us too much to leave us in our sin, we are not pursuing holiness and will find ourselves in very deep sinful patterns before we realize they even started.

Elizabeth convinced herself, along with many others, that she was doing a revolutionary work for humanity while in reality she was lying about the legitimacy of her device in order to keep cash flowing. Have you sought a seemingly good end through self-justified sinful behavior? Have you closed off relationships that convicted you about a certain sinful behavior?

3) We must have a repentant heart - Elizabeth still hasn’t pleaded guilty to defrauding investors. According to a former employee, he saw Elizabeth this past January and she didn’t apologize or even act like there was a wrong doing on her end for his firing. It is also alleged she is pursuing another technology venture while she is still on trial for her time at Theranos.

When we see our sin, it is the grace of God and the Holy Spirit that gives us eyes to see and brings us to our knees with a contrite heart (again, see 1 John 1:8-10). When we have this posture, we can come to the ones we’ve hurt and ask for forgiveness (Matt 6:14-15). We can do this because we have seen that we have fallen so short of the glory of God, yet he still pursues a relationship with us and still covers us with his mercy. This allows us to battle our sin patterns and have freedom from them - the freedom you can only receive through being In Christ (Rom 8:1).

It is one thing if we sin and then quickly come to the Lord through repentance, but it is another thing if we live in a perpetual sinful pattern with no returning to the Lord with a contrite heart. Is there something in your life that you are living in sinful bondage to? Have you sinned against God and others and have yet to reconcile either? Do not hope that time will fix all, but run to the cross where mercy is given.

So what was Elizabeth missing that we could be missing too?

What draws many of us to stories like Elizabeth’s is that we think this could never happen to us. That we are so separated from this story that it is entertainment. We may never defraud investors of upwards of 700 million dollars in our lifetime, but we may slip into a sin pattern that leaves irreparable damage to relationships, jobs, or even the view of all Christians to others. But lift up your faces, there is good news for us and even for Elizabeth Holmes if the Holy Spirit lifts the veil from over her eyes:
No matter how small or big our sin may feel or look, God is Bigger. God is Sovereign. God is Merciful. God is Just. He has known before time every sin you will ever commit, and Jesus paid for every bit of it on the Cross (John 19:30). He knew you intimately before the beginning of time, and still chose to love you like He loves his perfect son (Eph 1:11). Will you take this love over Money? Over Power? Over an Affair? Over Comfort?