Tag Archives: Truth or life

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – The Bonds of the Gospel

It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

Philippians 1:7

Commitment to each other is a nonnegotiable in the Christian life.

We see this again and again in the life and writing of the apostle Paul. As he wrote to the church in Philippi, he was unashamed of sharing with them just how he felt about them, because he was so appreciative of the fellowship he enjoyed with them. Indeed, the word “partakers” in this verse actually comes from the Greek word koinonia, a word Paul frequently used to describe a sharing partnership.

Paul described the Philippian church as his “joy and crown” (Philippians 4:1). His heart was filled with love for all the churches who were under his care, but he regarded these brothers and sisters in a special way. They stood out, for they had stuck with Paul through thick and thin. Separated as the Philippians were from Paul when he wrote to them while under arrest in Rome, they could quite possibly have been swept away by other teachers with more impressive personalities, more striking characters, or more eloquent language. But they continued to stand with Paul. Their depth of fellowship was strengthened by their constancy, which filled the apostle with joy and stimulated his outburst of affection.

The example of this early church is a challenging call to contemporary Christianity, which, if we’re honest, is all too often marked by fickleness. Many Christians tend to be uncommitted when times are good and unreliable when times are bad. We so easily treat the opportunities of fellowship, worship, and the hearing of God’s word with an arm’s-length approach. If a teacher or a book appeals to our sense of need, scratches where we itch, or tickles our fancy, then we engage with them for a while—but if things go awry, or if we find our way of life challenged, or if being alongside another Christian becomes costly rather than easy, then the temptation for many of us is to head for new pastures.

Paul shows us a better way—a more Christlike way. We are called to choose commitment to one another through the ups and downs of life. The binding element between Paul and the Philippians is the same element which can bind our hearts.

In seeing one another endure difficulties, in running to one another in the experience of loss, and in receiving from one another the enjoyment of restoration, we will discover that our hearts are actually being molded together in the bonds of the gospel. Through such constancy, we will find God strengthening our fellowship and increasing our joy with other believers.

So, does commitment describe your attitude to those the Lord has placed in fellowship around you? Do they know that you are there for them in the downs as well as the ups? To whom could you write an encouragement, and for whom will you say a prayer, right now?


Philippians 1:21-26

Topics: Christian Living Fellowship Friendship

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Hardened by Sin’s Deceit

When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer.

Luke 23:8-9

Jesus’ arrival at Herod’s palace on the first Good Friday was an occasion of great delight for the intrigued king. As ruler over the districts where Jesus had conducted His public ministry, Herod would have routinely received news of Jesus’ miracles, teaching, and influence. And so, following Jesus’ arrest, Herod “questioned him at some length” and hoped “to see some sign done by him.” But Jesus wouldn’t speak. At the time when Herod was ready to do business with Jesus, the Son of God “made no answer.”

Why didn’t Jesus respond? Was He not missing an evangelistic opportunity? No—Jesus knew Herod’s motives and his condition and that, in actual fact, Herod’s heart was hardened and unrepentant. And so Jesus called Herod out by responding in silence, thus giving Herod the opportunity to display his true colors. And that’s exactly what happened: the silence infuriated the king so much that he “treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate” (Luke 23:11).

There had been a time in Herod’s life when he hadn’t already been hardened by sin’s deceit. As he listened to John the Baptist preach, Herod “was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly” (Mark 6:20). John’s preaching stirred Herod. But when the preacher’s words began to confront Herod with his own sin—his adultery, his lustful heart—then, at that point, he didn’t want to hear any more (Matthew 14:4-5).

What happened to Herod can happen to us. Herod was trapped by his sin, and when faced with his problem he refused to change. Rather than responding in humble repentance, he attempted to cover his sin, so much so that as time passed, he was less and less in a position to respond to the good news of the gospel. Ultimately, Herod’s rejection of John’s preaching resulted in a hardened heart that could only ridicule and mock the one of whom John had spoken. As Sinclair Ferguson writes, “Unless we silence sin, sin will silence our consciences. Unless we heed God’s word, the day may come when we despise God’s Son—and then God will have nothing more to say to us.”[1] In the words of the hymn writer, Herod stands as a warning to:

Wait not till the shadows lengthen, till you older grow;
Rally now and sing for Jesus, ev’rywhere you go.[2]

Sin is deceitful, and it will harden you (Hebrews 3:13). So examine yourself. Are there areas of your life about which God’s word has spoken clearly, but you are resisting rather than repenting? Resist no longer. Seek forgiveness and commit to change, and know that you need never fear the silence of Christ.


James 4:4-10

Topics: Power of Sin Repentance Sin


1 Let’s Study Mark (Banner of Truth, 1999), p 90.

2 John R. Colgan, “Mighty Army of the Young” (1891).

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Living by Faith

Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Exodus 14:13-14

When we live by faith, we discover this great truth: God’s promises are enough.

On their way out of Egypt, Moses and the Israelites were confronted by an insurmountable hurdle: the Red Sea. After striding out of Egypt “defiantly” (Exodus 14:8), God’s people found themselves pursued and soon to be overtaken at the edge of the waters—and as “Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel … feared greatly.” In their terror, they “cried out to the LORD” and began to berate and criticize Moses (v 10-11).

What would faith do in this situation? Exodus 14:13 presents us with Moses’s response to the people: “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD.”

What a dramatic expression of faith on the part of Moses! He has little going for him at this point: the Egyptian chariots are at his back, the sea stretches out ahead, and he is surrounded by complaints and criticisms—and all he has is his staff and the command and promise of God.

But that was enough for Moses. All of his trust and confidence rested in his belief in God’s promises. If God had said it, Moses believed it—and God had said that He would bring the people out of Egypt, to Mount Sinai on the opposite side of the sea, and on into the promised land (Exodus 3:7-12). It was not Moses’ job to be concerned over the particulars. It was his job to trust and obey.

And the waters parted.

When the Egyptians tried to pursue the Israelites along the path through the sea, they were engulfed, never to be seen again (Exodus 14:27-28). Why? Because faith and presumption are two different things. The Egyptians were not living by faith in or in obedience to God. They had simply assumed that they could experience what the people of God experienced. They were wrong.

If God had said it, Moses believed it. And so can we, and so must we. We don’t have to worry about whether or not God will part the sea, but we do have to take God at His word and act accordingly. Some of us have never known the joy of standing, as it were, on the edge of dangerous waters and seeing God’s deliverance, because we’re so worried about how God is going to handle every little detail. We retreat in anxiety and hold back in doubt rather than standing firm. God has promised to take you to the promised land of eternity with Him. What is insurmountable to you and me is nothing to Him. And so He says, Don’t worry about the route by which you get home. I’ll take care of it. Just do what I told you, and trust in Me. His promises are enough. It is your job today simply to trust and obey.


Exodus 14:1-31

Topics: Faith Promises of God Trust

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – God Finishes What He Starts

I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6

When God begins a work, He always completes it.

In Acts 16, we meet Lydia, a successful woman with her own business and a nice house in Philippi. She had an interest in religion—and then she was changed (Acts
16:14-15). What happened? God began a work. Later in the same chapter, we see a Philippian jailer come off his night shift also radically changed (v 30-34). What happened? Again, God began a work. We can imagine, then, that when Lydia or the jailer were tempted to give up, the word of God through Paul’s letter to Philippi was there to remind them: “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” In other words, You didn’t start the work within you, and you aren’t going to finish it. If you feel that you can’t keep going, you’re right. You can’t. But God did, and He can, and He will.

God has a long-term plan for His people: that each of us will see and share in the glory of His Son. That is the end to which He is working (Romans 8:28-30). So we, like Lydia and the jailer, have both the need and ability to stay in the race of faith for the long haul.

While it always remains true that God gives all of us many gifts, our lives nonetheless can seem to be filled with disappointments. We continue to give in to sin. We struggle with doubts, and life’s circumstances make it hard to keep going in faith. But we can and will continue on the journey, because Scripture promises us that our God “began a good work” and that He will finish it. As we stumble along the way and face difficulties, we’re tempted to go back down to the bottom of the mountain, trade our hiking boots for slippers, and head back home. But there’s a view at the top that’s worth every ache and pain along the way! And so the word of God comes to us again and again, saying, Come on, just a little farther. Don’t be concerned about all of your tomorrows. God Himself is helping you. Keep walking the way today.

God finishes what He starts. And if you are trusting Christ, then He has started something eternal in you. When you feel overwhelmed at the journey ahead of you, or when the route today looks too steep, find encouragement in these words:

My name from the palms of His hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains,
In marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heav’n.[1]


Psalm 121

Topics: Faithfulness of God Glorification Sanctification


1 Augustus Toplady, “A Debtor to Mercy Alone” (1771).

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Nothing Thwarts God

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

Psalm 2:1-6

As far back as 1939, the Dutch theologian Johan Herman Bavinck observed, “It looks more and more likely that our culture, based as it is on self-satisfaction, will at a certain moment collapse and then we as humanity will face a worldwide calamity that will occur without warning. It may yet take a while, but there’s no doubt it will come.”[1]

If Bavinck were here today, perhaps he would find our present circumstances to be something of a fulfillment of that prophetic word. For materialism, instant gratification, and individualistic autonomy were all sold to us as the path to satisfy ourselves—and, these things having failed, where do our societies turn?

We shouldn’t misunderstand all the troubles of our world as being explicable in worldly terms alone. Mankind, the Bible tells us, is opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we consider our circumstances in light of the Scriptures, we recognize that this is what the psalmist meant when he wrote, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed.”

If we do not want to be buffeted and bowled over by opposition and persecution, we must remember that God is sovereign and that He cannot be defeated. The unfolding of His purposes from all of eternity is at the very heart of biblical Christianity. He is the Maker. He speaks, and He decides. Even the calamities of our world are all part of the plan God has predestined to take place. He has set His King to reign, and nothing can thwart His purpose. As His people, the church should therefore sound not retreat but reveille! We must remind ourselves and others of who the enemy is: our battle is primarily a spiritual one, waged not “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12). And we must remind ourselves and others of who the victor is and always shall be: the King God has appointed—His Son and our Savior.

As we consider the amazing juxtaposition between our sovereign God and this world full of rebellion, we ought to turn to Him in prayer. Indeed, Paul reminded his readers to pray “at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18), encouraging them with the truth that “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4). We can pray boldly and live bravely because God stands sovereign. He is advancing His purpose—and nothing and no one can ultimately stand against His desire to glorify His King and bless His people.


Ephesians 6:10-20

Topics: Redemptive History Sovereignty of God Victory


1 The Riddle of Life, trans. Bert Hielema (Eerdmans, 2016), p 85.

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Seeing All of Christ

He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:25-27

What are you expecting a life of following Jesus to be like?

Luke does not introduce to us a great variety of post-resurrection appearances by Jesus. He instead chooses to focus our attention on the interaction between the risen Christ and two individuals walking along the Emmaus road—individuals who were wavering between faith and fear as they tried to make sense of life in light of the crucifixion.

Jesus’ death had confronted these early believers with a problem—namely, that their hope in Jesus as the Messiah had died with Him. Indeed, Luke records for us that they “had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21, emphasis added). These individuals had expected that when the Messiah came, He would bring victory, peace, and justice that would roll down like a vast and overwhelming river (Amos 5:24). But this hope had come to a crashing halt at the cross, where injustice seemed to have triumphed.

Yet something even better was about to happen: “While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them” (Luke 24:15). Aware of their perplexity and hopelessness, Jesus, “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets … interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

It wasn’t that these people were unbelievers. It wasn’t that they didn’t know certain things the prophets had said. But in their reading of the Old Testament and in their thinking about messiahship, they had failed to grasp the big picture. They had not been paying attention to all that the prophets had spoken. They had focused on only one side of the story. They had warmed to the idea of victory—but they had failed to see that glory and victory lay at the end of a path of suffering, even death.

We cannot embrace Jesus as Messiah apart from the cross. Jesus was very clear: victory surely awaits, but only for those who take His words in Luke 9:23 to heart: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Are you willing to follow the path of suffering in order to enjoy a life with Christ in His glory? Are you at risk of turning away from God because He has not given you a victory in this life that He never promised? Be sure to see the whole story, so that setbacks and suffering do not defeat your faith or destroy the joy that comes from knowing that at the end of a hard path following a crucified King awaits the victory of seeing His face and living in His eternal kingdom. However hard or good the days of this life are, something better is always lying ahead.


2 Timothy 4:6-8

Topics: Jesus Christ Joy Suffering

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Godly Leadership

Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have obeyed your voice in all that you have said to me and have made a king over you. And now, behold, the king walks before you, and I am old and gray; and behold, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my youth until this day. Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.”

1 Samuel 12:1-3

Leadership of any kind is very vulnerable. If you work at the front of a classroom, lead an industry, operate in politics, or serve in pastoral ministry, you’re routinely in the spotlight and before people’s scrutiny—and that can be a challenge.

As King Saul was coming to leadership, the role that Samuel had played as judge was about to change. Recognizing this pivotal moment of transition in Israel’s history, Samuel used the opportunity to establish his legacy. He had enjoyed a privileged position, but he didn’t focus on his skills and strategies as Israel’s leader. Instead, he highlighted his character: that he had walked before the Lord from childhood, that he was upright before the people, and that, as a result, he had been able to enjoy and convey God’s faithfulness and goodness through it all.

After recounting his track record, Samuel did something that so many leaders fear to do and fail to do: he put himself in the dock and asked the people to testify regarding the integrity of his leadership. He was willing to stand there while they determined whether his office had been marked by any bribery or self-promotion. That’s a risky prospect! As the people considered Samuel’s questions, they found nothing against him, either in his character or in the authority and influence that had been entrusted to him: “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand” (1 Samuel 12:4). He had used his position neither to grow wealthy nor to dominate. Samuel’s leadership was vindicated.

Because leadership comes with such focused attention, we must pray for leaders diligently and, if the Lord sees fit to place us in a leadership role ourselves, enter such roles thoughtfully, considering the purpose for which God has called us. James warns us not to take our leadership responsibilities, especially within the church, lightly or carelessly: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1).

Are you under the care of godly leaders? Then know that as they serve the Lord faithfully, they need your prayers, encouragement, and support! Be sure to pray for them regularly and seek to build them up frequently. Are you a leader yourself? Then follow Samuel’s pattern: walk before the Lord as you lead, so that your leadership is marked by honesty and integrity and so that your example is truly worth following.


1 Timothy 3:1-13

Topics: Christian Living Leadership Prayer

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, 


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Thankful, Prayerful, and Joyful

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:3-6

Our prayers tell us a great deal about ourselves and about our view of those around us.

Paul and the Philippian believers enjoyed a partnership grounded in the gospel. Theirs wasn’t a static fellowship based on a little bit of common belief. Rather, it was a deepening friendship that blossomed as they continued “striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” and to “work out” their salvation “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 1:27; 2:12). The Philippians’ lives were marked by progression both in their relationship with Paul as their servant and their relationship with Christ as their Savior. Because of this partnership, Paul could be thankful, prayerful, and joyful.

If a church is to grow spiritually, the relationships among its people must be those of genuine thankfulness. Such gratefulness shouldn’t depend upon the perfection of others; we are all far from perfect. Indeed, our imperfections should fuel our prayers for each other! Even so, true, heartfelt thankfulness allows fruitful ministry to continue.

Paul’s partnership was reflected in Paul’s prayers. As he prayed for the Philippian believers, his prayers were comprehensive: “… in every prayer of mine for you all.” He didn’t just pray for those who were doing well or those who were in his inner circle; he prayed for everyone. We need to do the same! Indeed, if we pray for those who are often hardest to pray for, we will discover that they can actually become some of our best companions. We may even think they have changed, only to discover that we have changed, simply because we added prayerfulness to thankfulness.

Joyfulness comes as we partner in prayer with each other. Inevitably, some prayers involve pain. Our hearts ache as we get under the burden of our brothers and sisters who may be agonizing over their kids, their marriages, the loss of their jobs, their illnesses, or their bereavements. But at other times, instead of feeling like swimming against the tide, prayer can be like going with the waterfall as we rejoice together. When together we bring our situations, needs, and triumphs before the throne of grace, that fellowship brings joy. That’s how Paul felt about the Philippian believers. He prayed sorrowful and hopeful prayers alike with joy because of their shared partnership.

We can learn from Paul. He knew that fellowship with other believers could create thankful, prayerful, and joyful people. How are your prayers for those with whom God has brought you into gospel partnership going to reflect Paul’s prayers for the gospel partners in his life?


Philippians 1:1-11

Topics: Fellowship Prayer Thanksgiving

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, 


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Leaving Matters in God’s Hands

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

Genesis 16:1-2

Life is difficult, and living as a Christian does not mean we are spared those difficulties. As we face illness, unemployment, heartache, broken relationships, and other challenges, we are confronted by this fundamental question: Will we walk the path of faith or will we try to take matters into our own hands?

Abraham was a man who was just like us—he experienced both triumph and failure in his walk of faith. God had promised to make his family a nation and to bless the world through someone from that nation (Genesis 12:1-3). Though childless, elderly Abraham and his wife, Sarah, would have their “very own son” who would be their heir (15:4). Abraham “believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (v 6).

But after years and years of waiting, Abraham’s faith wavered. Presumably, on a monthly basis, their hopes would rise and collapse—and with every passing month and year, Sarah grew older, sadder, and more impatient. So it was that they reached a crisis of faith. They knew that God is real, that God is all-powerful, and that God had promised them a son, but they also knew they didn’t yet have a son. Would they allow the questions of their hearts to overturn their faith or would they allow their faith to overturn the questions of their hearts?

The verses above narrate the sorry conclusion: they took matters into their own hands, and the solution that they adopted was self-effort. In their doubting and despair, Sarah ordered Abraham to sleep with her maidservant, Hagar, in hopes of bringing about the promised child, and Abraham complied.

It was the wrong decision. Doubting that God would keep His promise, they instead sought to bring it about by their own (immoral) actions. They made their decision based on expediency. They didn’t ask, What is right? They asked, What will work? They allowed pragmatism to be their guide over and against faith—and in doing so, they brought about more suffering, more pain, and more heartache for themselves and for Hagar. They thought that intervening would simplify things; instead, it complicated everything.

Whenever we set faith aside and apply self-effort, we complicate our lives. Whenever we seek to take things into our own hands and make our own plans instead of trusting God to keep His promises, we end up with chaos and heartache. Faith and waiting go hand in hand. Do not lose heart as you sit in life’s waiting rooms. It is always right to wait upon God, and it is always right to wait for God. In what area of your life do you need to live this out today?


Job 1:13-21

Topics: Faith Faithfulness of God Patience

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – He Will Carry You

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

The story is told of a pastor who was moving his study to his new home—and therefore had to relocate his library of hundreds of books. But he was not without help. He had brought his four-year-old son along with him to carry some materials up the stairs. Not wanting to overtax the boy’s small frame, this father had given his son a sheaf of papers and a couple of magazines to bring up. But as the pastor was coming back down the stairs, having just deposited a tall stack in the study, he heard his boy crying halfway up the stairs.

He rushed over to his little boy and found him struggling with a huge, oversized concordance. The father said to the son, “I never gave you this to struggle with. I never meant for you to carry such a heavy thing by yourself!” He then picked up his boy, picked up his boy’s problem, and carried them both up the stairs.

How often we struggle with so much that God never gave us to carry on our own! We decide that we’d rather worry about this or fret about that, when God is not asking us to bear any of our burdens alone. Our Father desires that we cast all our anxieties on Him (1 Peter 5:7). Whether it is directly through the work of His Spirit or whether it is through the burden-sharing love of His people (Galatians 6:2), He wants to take you and your problems and carry both.

Picture that pastor picking up his son and his son’s burden. Isaiah presents us with just such a picture of our God: one who is not only willing but also fully able to help us in our time of need. We have no cause for worry, fear, or dismay. He has committed Himself to strengthen and uphold us. He promises, “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:4).

What burdens are you carrying today? You have a God who is always near and infinitely strong. He will help you. He will carry you. All you have to do is ask Him.


Isaiah 41:5-16

Topics: Character of God Christian Life Dependence on God

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, 


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Saints in Christ

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi…

Philippians 1:1

What is meant by the word “saint”? How does one become a saint? What role do saints play in the church?

While there are certainly individuals in church history who have been strikingly effective and particularly used by God, in the language of the New Testament there is no basis for titling someone “Saint So-and-So” while the rest of us are called by our ordinary names. Biblically, saints are not a special group of outstanding Christians who have done something peculiarly pious. Saints are normal Christians who follow Jesus.

“Saint” is simply the New Testament word used to describe every believer. In the introductions to Paul’s letters, he frequently addressed the recipients as “saints.” The word means “set-apart ones” or “holy ones,” and all Christians are those who have been set apart from what they once were in sin and set apart for Christ. They are His treasured possession—His saints.

And if you are in Christ, so too are you.

The key to becoming a saint, then, is not building up a résumé of good deeds; it is being “in Christ Jesus.” The Bible says that by nature, we are “in Adam,” and unless we are placed into Christ, we remain in Adam and will die in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:22). Jesus came to do all that Adam failed to do and undo all that Adam did in the fall. People are brought from their experience in Adam to a new experience in Christ by His atoning death on the cross. Paul puts it this way: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Here is the real question about sainthood: not “Am I in church?” but “Am I in Christ?” It’s good to be “in church,” but just as someone can be “in a garage” and not become a car, someone can be “in church” and not be a Christian. If we are not in Christ, we are still the same old stuff—religiously painted up and spiritually interested, perhaps, but fundamentally unchanged.

Are you in Christ? If so, then you are a saint! All the benefits and blessings of being in Christ Jesus accrue to you, and you have the privilege of living for Him. Paul’s addressing of ordinary Christians as saints stood as a reminder to them: This is what you are, and this is what you should live as. You are different. You are not to be like the world. You are His. Rejoice today, this moment, if He has set you apart for Himself, and live in freedom to the praise of His glory.


Ephesians 1:1-14

Topics: Christian Living Jesus Christ Security in Christ

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, 


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Hidden With Christ

You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:3

One of Satan’s main schemes for attacking believers is accusation (Revelation 12:10). As the father of lies (John 8:44), he will use anything within his arsenal of demonic devices to cause Christians to feel condemnation—though the truth, of course, is that “there is … now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

So how are we to stand firm in Christ when the Accuser tempts us to despair? When he whispers, “Would a Christian really think that?” or “How could a Christian ever do that?” what will we say? Should we point out that last week was a very good week or that this Bible reading or that prayer time ought to offset our guilt?

Surely, any good thing in our life is an evidence of God’s grace at work. But no list of good works will ever assuage the Accuser. Our best response is to confront the Evil One head-on and tell him that Jesus bore our sins in His death, He rose to victory, and we are now united to Him and all His benefits by grace and through faith. We certainly want to live in a way that demonstrates real, active, vibrant faith; however, the most important thing about us isn’t what we do but who we are in Christ. “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God,” says Paul. It is “Christ in you” who is “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

In the fight for faith, the issue is always the gospel. We must ask ourselves, “Have I come to entrust myself to Christ? Have I admitted who He is, who I am, and why I need Him? Is my hope in Jesus and what He has done for me, and not in any way in what I do for Him?” If we can answer yes, then we can confront the devil’s lies and insinuations with the gospel. So, when the Accuser comes to you and suggests that you are not really a Christian, not really saved, not really forgiven—and he will!—take refuge in the finished work of your Lord on your behalf. Jesus has already won the victory. Therefore, hidden in Him, His triumph is now yours, and not one of Satan’s schemes can change that glorious truth.


Colossians 3:1-4

Topics: Grace Guilt Satan

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, 


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Sovereign Over Suffering

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

John 9:2-3

Sometimes God has something better for us than an answer to our questions.

When Jesus’ disciples saw “a man blind from birth” (John 9:1), they asked the probing question: Who is to blame? Yet Jesus’ answer indicates that the disciples were asking the wrong question. Rather than looking for someone to blame for the blind man’s state, they needed to learn a lesson about God’s sovereignty over suffering.

Their assumption was that sin and suffering are intimately connected. This assumption is generally true. Genesis 3 makes clear that it was the entry of sin into the world that disrupted the goodness of the world. All the thorns and thistles—the disharmony, mayhem, illnesses, and everything else—are a consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Yet while the disciples’ assumption is understandable, their belief that there was a connection between the sin and the sufferings of a particular individual put them on shaky ground.

It is encouraging to know that two millennia ago those closest to Jesus had questions about suffering. We, too, face these questions when the news from the doctor is the opposite of what we had hoped for, and perhaps most acutely of all when our loved ones face pain that we cannot remove. We face them, too, as we talk with those in our community.

When we search the Scriptures, we see that even though there is a cost to be paid for our sin, the suffering we experience is not the form of payment. God’s word doesn’t introduce us to a deity on a deckchair who is indifferent to our pain. Rather, it directs us to a God on a cross, who understands rejection, pain, and grief at the deepest level because He has experienced those things. Not only that, but He did it for us. He has “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4) and, in bearing the crushing weight of our sin on Himself, has made it so that “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). The same Jesus who gave the man born blind his sight (John 9:6-7) has given you, born in sin as you are, your salvation. We may not understand why God leads us along the paths that He does in this life, but we have an eternity of pain-free joy in His presence to see how, through all of it, He was guiding us toward our heavenly home.

Have you been through something so difficult that it has caused you to lose your bearings? Have your circumstances left you looking for someone to blame? God suffered and died for you, and He has promised never to leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He is not surprised by your situation or your struggle. He might not give you answers right now, but He has given you the cross, which assures you that there is no length to which He will not go to for your eternal good. Come to Him with all of your pain and confusion, and He will give you rest.


John 9:1-11

Topics: Affliction Sovereignty of God Suffering

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, 


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –Power in Weakness

A thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:7-9

Difficulties, disappointments, failure, and weakness are all inevitable in life. But have you ever considered the possibility that these limitations may be the key to usefulness in the service of Christ? We often find ourselves saying or thinking something like “If I wasn’t like this, or if my circumstances were different, or if I was healthier or in better shape, then God could and would better use me.” It is easy to wish we could be someone we’re not, instead of believing what the Bible says: that God formed us purposefully, divinely, and intricately in our mother’s womb and has overseen each of our days since then (Psalm 139:13), making and molding each of us as a unique individual.

When we doubt our worth, Satan is quick to encourage us to question the integrity of God’s character and promises. Indeed, Paul calls his weakness, his thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan. Why? Because Satan had used it to bring about doubt in Paul: Why you, Paul? Why didn’t Peter have this thorn? Wouldn’t your ministry be more effective without it? God’s not coming through for you, is He? But our heavenly Father knows best, and He is painting on a far bigger canvas. His purpose is not to make our journey through life pleasurable or to make all our dreams come true. His purpose for us is far grander: to conform us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

John Berridge, an 18th-century preacher, observed, “A Christian never falls asleep in the fire or in the water, but grows drowsy in the sunshine.”[1] We grow too comfortable, too self-reliant, when life is easy and our strengths are apparent. And so God graciously gives us thorns to wake us up.

When God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” He didn’t change Paul’s pain. He changed his perspective. Paul was able to quit focusing on his weakness and begin appreciating the gift that came through it: Christ’s own strength. The thorn suddenly became a rose: something redemptively given instead of something only unwanted. God makes even Satan’s insinuations work for our good, causing us to turn to Christ in childlike and prayerful dependence upon His promises.

The things about ourselves that we want to run from, hide from, or cover up are the very things that could suddenly open the door to phenomenal ministry. Have you considered this truth? Have you considered the possibility that your limitations, your disappointments, and your weaknesses are not detriments to effectiveness but true assets, as they bring you to lean on His strength? Do not see your weakness as an obstacle to serving God but as an opportunity for it.


2 Corinthians 4:7-18

Topics: Affliction Christian Living Dependence on God


1 John Berridge to Samuel Wilks, Everton, August 16, 1774, in The Works of the Rev. John Berridge, ed. Richard Whittingham (Simpkin, Marshall, and Co., 1838), p 396.

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Saved From the Fear of Death

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Hebrews 2:14-15

Death is not an appealing subject to consider. We don’t like to think about how it might be that our bodies and minds will fail us. Driven by a fear of dying, well-meaning people spend vast sums of money in attempts to put off their end and find meaning in life. But even the best attempts can’t answer life’s essential questions: Who am I? Where am I from? Where do I go when I die?

This is nothing new. Adam and Eve did the same thing in Genesis 3 when they listened to the false hope of Satan’s seductive lie welcoming sin and death into the world: “You will not surely die … you will be like God” (Genesis 3:4-5). We continue to believe the same lie. We try to be like God, longing to construct our own meaning and aiming to live forever. But death continues to hold terror for us, enslaving us in fear. When signs of old age emerge, when illness sets in, when the funeral procession passes by, we’re reminded that our false hopes have no substance. We must find true answers.

Everybody bases their hope on something. Let us base ours on the enduring strength and authority of God’s word. When we want to run away from troubling thoughts and crippling fears, let us run to the foot of the cross, where Jesus delivered “all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Why did Jesus come? “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). By Christ’s death and resurrection, He drowned out the seductive voices of false hope, He took all our sin and rebellion and made our record clean, and He delivered us from all fear—even the fear of death itself. In taking our sins from us, Jesus has taken away Satan’s voice. There is nothing left for him to accuse us of, and there is nothing left to stand between us and the presence of God forever.

Death should therefore hold no fear for the Christian. As Paul writes, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Saved from what? Saved from sin, from judgment, from the terrors of death and hell, from fear of the grave—and saved for all eternity. This is the eternal life that the world longs for but can never find. It is not an escape from death but an escape through death—and it is the reason that Jesus left heavenly glory and became a human like me and you, and the reason that He died a criminal’s death.

When you are tempted to base your hope in the things of this world and are blinded by tempting lies, or when you find yourself considering aging, frailty, and death with a rising fear, tell yourself, “Jesus has destroyed the one who has the power of death. Jesus has delivered me from the fear of death.” Learn to see death as it truly is and you will be able to see life as it truly is for all God’s children: eternal, free, and full of joy.


Acts 7:54-60

Topics: Death Fear Jesus Christ

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, 


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Incorruptible Counsel and Comfort

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

Psalm 16:7

Most of us receive constant counsel, seemingly from everywhere. Everyone, every book, every social-media feed is trying to tell us precisely what will make us happier and more fulfilled. Hopefully, some of the input into our lives is godly and biblical. If we’re honest, though, some of it we could probably go without.

But what if, instead of soundbites and social media, we could go straight to the fount of inexhaustible wisdom? What if we could receive counsel from the one who Himself needs no counsel?

This is exactly what David receives in Psalm 16: “I bless the LORD who gives me counsel.”

How do we access this counsel? One of the greatest gifts God gives us is the counsel of His heart through the sufficiency of His word. Did God leave anything out of His book that we need to make it from here to eternity? Is there any unwise guidance, or are there any mistakes? No, never! God is the pre-eminent counselor. His words are wisdom without end. Not only that but when you pray, you never get His voicemail. There’s never a time when you can’t speak with Him.

God offers wise counsel, and in this we find real comfort. David declares, “Because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8). Elsewhere, Asaph prays, “I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel” (73:23-24). It’s as if we are children crossing a busy street, and our Father is holding our hands as we cross. Those cars zipping by sure can be intimidating—but with God at our side, what have we to fear?

God will guide us by His hand on the path of life; He will not abandon us. We can rejoice securely in Him (Psalm 16:9-11). We know this with certainty because our Lord Jesus Christ, who went before us to the grave, was raised to new, incorruptible life (Acts 2:25-32), and He is the firstfruits of all who trust in Him (1 Corinthians 15:20).

The path Christ trod is the same way God now leads you along. You, too, must take up your cross and follow your Lord (Matthew 16:24). You, too, will struggle and even endure pain. But through it all, you will never have to go without your Father’s wise counsel. Be sure to turn to it. You will never be without His real comfort. Be sure to rest in it. You are never out of reach of His strong hands. Be sure to remember it.


Psalm 16

Topics: Authority of the Bible God’s Word Wisdom

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Who Does What?

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge.

2 Peter 1:3-5

A question often arises in the mind of Christians as we grow in Christ: Who’s doing what? What is God’s role, and what is ours? The question gets at the paradox we see in Scripture, where in various places we are told two messages that seem to be in conflict: first, that we are to work hard in our Christian lives, and second, that God is the one providing resources for such labor.

This verse is one example of this apparent paradox. One one hand, Peter writes that God’s “divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” In other words, He has given us everything we need to follow Jesus. But then, a few lines later, Peter directs his readers to “make every effort.” God has supplied what we need, and yet we are still to put in the effort.

In Colossians 1:29, Paul similarly describes his ministry labors as “toil” and “struggling.” There is little doubt that Paul worked hard for the cause of Christ. But how did he do this? He tells us that his toil and struggle was done “with all [God’s] energy that he powerfully works within me.” Paul’s toil was genuine, and it was fueled by Christ Himself.

Similarly, in Philippians 2:12, Paul tells us to “work out your … salvation.” This is a call to real effort to stay on the narrow way. Yet Paul continues by saying, “It is God who works in you.”

If we are going to honor and heed the call to labor that these passages describe, we must remember that God has accomplished our salvation for us; and now, rather than leaving us to our own devices, He continues to be constantly at work within us so that we have the will and the power to do what pleases Him.

We should avoid the erroneous thinking that responds to passages like these by concluding either that we contribute something to our salvation or that we have no need to work hard as we journey toward our heavenly home. Instead, we need first to acknowledge that we contribute nothing to salvation other than the sin from which we need to be saved, and then at the same time embrace the truth that our walk with Christ must be the single most significant aspect of our lives.

What, then, is a faithful response to biblical calls such as this? It is to strive for holiness and pray for growth. It is to follow Christ, and when we stumble and sin, to confess and repent and keep going. You must toil if you are to find yourself a citizen in the new creation; but toil you will because His divine power gives you everything you need in order to do so. When you stand with Jesus, you will not say, “What a good person I was!” You will declare, “What a great and mighty God I serve!”


Colossians 1:24-29, Colossians 2:1-3

Topics: Christian Living Holiness Sanctification

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, 


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – To Be Continued

… Proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Acts 28:31

When I was growing up, I watched television programs in the comforting assurance that they would reach a timely and logical conclusion. Whether it was Bonanza, The Dick Van Dyke Show, or Perry Mason, I could be sure that there would be a resolution to the plot. It was a bad show when the plot didn’t resolve and the dreaded phrase appeared at the bottom of the screen: “To be continued…” In a similar way, the plot in Acts is left unresolved, and we are left with the realization that the full story is yet to be completed.

In writing the book we know as Acts, its author, Luke, wasn’t composing a biography of the apostle Paul. Rather, he was demonstrating the power of the Holy Spirit to spread God’s word in the world through a variety of individuals in the unfolding story of human history. He wasn’t encouraging readers to create their own endings but inviting them to be a part of the continuing story.

The final word in the Greek text of the book of Acts is akolytos, which means “unhindered.” This is in step with what Paul wrote during his second imprisonment: “I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!” (2 Timothy 2:9). In other words, Acts concludes but the action continues. Acts is the beginning of the story, a story of the work of God’s Spirit, through His church, that sweeps into our world and up to our time.

In fact, the unfolding story of redemption, in which we find ourselves, actually begins much earlier than Acts 1. We catch one of our first glimpses when God promised Adam and Eve that one of their family would crush Satan and undo the effects of their sin (Genesis 3:15); we see another when the Lord told Abraham, “In your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (22:18). The Father’s plan was always that He would give to His Son the nations as an inheritance (Psalm 2:8). This is an all-encompassing promise worthy of our life, and even our death.

Your life is wrapped up in this amazing story. The same Spirit that powerfully worked in the book of Acts is still at work today. The extension of the gospel message—that Jesus is the long-promised King and the much-needed Savior—did not conclude with Paul in Rome, nor when it arrived at your doorstep. God is still telling it, and His people are still called to share it, unhindered. Whether you give your life to doing that as a missionary overseas or you seek each day to make Christ known among your family, friends, coworkers and neighbors, God wants you to be involved in the greatest story of the ages, which will be told throughout eternity. What would you rather spend your life doing than writing a line in this great, unfinished story?


Psalm 2

Topics: Evangelism Gospel Mission

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, 


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Why the Old Testament Matters

Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Romans 15:4

While we may understand the importance of God’s word for our lives, we might also wonder, deep down, why we should study Old Testament stories. What can modern people gain from such a study? Why not focus on the New Testament and the stories of what Jesus and His apostles did and said?

Here is the answer: these ancient segments of history are significant not just for the biblical characters or for Israel but also for you and me—and, indeed, for the entire world! Such a sweeping claim may sound like hyperbole. But if we approach our study of the Bible with certain convictions in mind, we will begin to understand and be convinced, as the apostle Paul was clearly convinced, that the Old Testament was written for us, that it was written to instruct, and that it gives us hope.

The first conviction is that there is unity to the Bible, from creation in Genesis to the new creation in Revelation. In between is the record of humanity’s fall and the chaos and brokenness of the universe that flowed from it. Through it all, we discover the story of redemption and the plan and purpose of God to put together a people of His very own. We need to read the whole of that story, from start to finish.

The second conviction guiding our study of God’s word is that this biblical unity exists not because it is a collection of religious documents but because it is the word of God, written by men who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). We need to read all of what God has chosen to tell us.

Thirdly, there is the conviction that we need our Bibles to understand human history, our own little histories, and our place within history. Much of what is happening within us and around us does not make sense apart from an understanding of human nature and God’s sovereignty at work as revealed in Scripture.

Finally, we hold the conviction that the Bible, including the Old Testament, is a book about Jesus. If we take our eyes from Jesus, then we don’t just lose our way around the universe; we also lose our way around the Bible. The Old Testament points us to Christ, prepares us for Christ, and shows us pictures of Christ. One of the questions we ought always to be asking is “How does this record of things show me good news about Jesus Christ?”

With these convictions in mind, we can have confidence as we study the Old Testament that it is instructive. But not only that: it is full of hope, for it shows us our Savior. The more we read the parts of the Old Testament as books written by God, through His Spirit, about His Son, the more we grow in hope, in understanding, and into the likeness of our Savior.


2 Timothy 3:12-17

Topics: The Bible Inerrancy of the Bible Preaching Christ from the Old Testament

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,


Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Our Resurrection Hope

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished … But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.

1 Corinthians 15:17-18, 1 Corinthians 15:20

Questions surrounding death and dying have faced mankind ever since the fall: “What will happen when I die? Will I go somewhere when I die, or is this it? Is there any significance to my life? What does it all mean?”

All of Scripture is timelessly relevant, and it provides answers to these questions. Paul, for example, addresses the issues of resurrection and eternal life in 1 Corinthians 15. Without the resurrection, he says, our faith would be in vain. Our salvation would be false, for we would still be living in sin. Death would prove to be stronger than God. Jesus’ claims would be untrue: He would not be Lord, and He would not be returning. History would have no goal or purpose, and the human race would be going nowhere.

Since that’s the “reality” in which unbelievers live, it’s no wonder there is so much angst in our world! But the Christian can say, “Hey, not so fast! Don’t say that history is going nowhere and all is meaningless! Consider the resurrection.” We believe Christ rose from the dead and promises each of His followers full resurrection—not a resurrection only of soul but one of body and soul (1 Corinthians 15:42-49).

John Locke, the 18th-century British philosopher, wrote of Christ’s resurrection that it is “truly of great importance in Christianity; so great, that his being, or not being the Messiah, stands or falls with it.”[1] It is the resurrection that proves that Jesus is who Scripture claims He is, the resurrection that seals our salvation, and the resurrection that transforms our lives. You can visit the burial sites of Buddha’s ashes, Muhammad’s body, and Gandhi’s urn, but the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth is an empty one. Belief in the resurrection is the narrow gate through which we enter, and it’s the only one that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). All our hope hangs on this fact: Jesus is alive!

Because of this hope, we can say that this life is not all there is; it is simply the appetizer, the first course. Shadows fall on our greatest successes on this earth. We lose loved ones. We’re confronted by sin. Even our best days leave us longing for something more. But the fact is that we are only preparing for a day yet to come, when these former things will pass away and the new, resurrected kingdom will come. The resurrection of Jesus is what gives purpose to all you do today, and comfort in all your trials, and hope for all your tomorrows.


Revelation 1:9-18

Topics: Hope Jesus Christ Resurrection


1 “A Second Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity” in The Works of John Locke, in Nine Volumes (Rivington, 1824), 6:341-42.

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,