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Quote Summary The Expulsive Power of a New Affection by Thomas ChalmersThomas Chalmers (1780-1847), a Scottish preacher and inspiration of William Wilberforce, preached one of the greatest and most well-known sermons in history called “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.”

This sermon is based on the words of 1 John 2:15, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” and powerfully lays out why it doesn’t work to merely tell people to stop their sin or love for the world. Sin has a magnetic power that attracts us; and unless a greater power grips our heart, we remain powerless to change.

While Chalmers’ nineteenth century language may seem a little Yoda-like to us at times, the collection of eleven quotes/excerpts below will give a quick summary of Chalmers’ message and help you learn “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.”

The ascendant power of a second affection will do, what no exposition however forcible, of the folly and worthlessness of the first, ever could effectuate.

There is not one of these transformations in which the heart is left without an object. Its desire for one particular object may be conquered; but as to its desire for having some one object or other, this is unconquerable…

Such is the grasping tendency of the human heart, that it must have a something to lay hold of and which, if wrested away without the substitution of another something in its place, would leave a void and a vacancy as painful to the mind, as hunger is to the natural system.

To bid a man into whom there has not yet entered the great and ascendant influence of the principle of regeneration, to bid him withdraw his love from all the things that are in the world, is to bid him give up all the affections that are in his heart. The world is the all of a natural man. He has not a taste nor a desire, that points not to a something placed within the confines of its visible horizon. He loves nothing above it, and he cares for nothing beyond it; and to bid him love not the world, is to pass a sentence of expulsion on all the inmates of his bosom. To estimate the magnitude and the difficulty of such a surrender, let us only think that it were just as arduous to prevail on him not to love wealth, which is but one of the things in the world, as to prevail on him to set wilful fire to his own property. This he might do with sore and painful reluctance, if he saw that the salvation of his life hung upon it. But this he would do willingly, if he saw that a new property of tenfold value was instantly to emerge from the wreck of the old one.

In a word, if the way to disengage the heart from the positive love of one great and ascendant object, is to fasten it in positive love to another, then it is not by exposing the worthlessness of the former, but by addressing to the mental eye the worth and excellence of the latter, that all old things are to be done away and all things are to become new.

The love of God and the love of the world, are two affections, not merely in a state of rivalship, but in a state of enmity and that so irreconcilable, that they cannot dwell together in the same bosom.

The heart is not so constituted; and the only way to dispossess it of an old affection, is by the expulsive power of a new one.

Thus may we come to perceive what it is that makes the most effective kind of preaching. It is not enough to hold out to the world’s eye the mirror of its own imperfections. It is not enough to come forth with a demonstration, however pathetic, of the evanescent character of all its enjoyments. It is not enough to travel the walk of experience along with you, and speak to your own conscience and your own recollection, of the deceitfulness of the heart, and the deceitfulness of all that the heart is set upon.

When he is told to love God supremely, this may startle another; but it will not startle him to whom God has been revealed in peace, and in pardon, and in all the freeness of an offered reconciliation.

Tell a man to be holy and how can he compass such a performance, when his alone fellowship with holiness is a fellowship of despair? It is the atonement of the cross reconciling the holiness of the lawgiver with the safety of the offender, that hath opened the way for a sanctifying influence into the sinner’s heart; and he can take a kindred impression from the character of God now brought nigh, and now at peace with him. Separate the demand from the doctrine; and you have either a system of righteousness that is impractical, or a barren orthodoxy. Bring the demand and the doctrine together—and the true disciple of Christ is able to do the one, through the other strengthening him.

We know of no other way by which to keep the love of the world out of our heart, than to keep in our hearts the love of God—and no other way by which to keep our hearts in the love of God, than building ourselves up on our most holy faith.

Chalmers’ message should make us realize that unless our affections our changed to love God supremely, we will not escape the pull of the world. This is a helpful truth for those in ministry; when seeking to warn people against the dangers of sin, we must present our glorious and merciful God as someone so great and to be greatly desired so that listeners will be moved to desire with all of their hearts. (Some might call this the pathos of preaching.)

Other ways to interact with this sermon: read it, listen to it, or read it on Kindle.


Below are a few great Kindle book deals…also don’t miss the massive sale on many InterVarsity Press books over at WTS Books. I picked up John Stott’s commentary on Acts.

The Most Important Thing You Could Do Today. An important and motivating article from Francis Chan

3 Decade Old Porn Experiment Reveals Why We’re All Messed Up from Covenant Eyes. A fascinatingly sad—yet extremely important—article. You can see the video version below.

Dear Whoopi, Hitler wasn’t a Christian by Marty Duren

Twenty Predictions for the Next 20 Years from Fast Company

A new Advent devotional from Desiring God: Good News of Great Joy. It is free for Kindle, ePub, and in PDF format. Desiring God has made a Spanish version available too (PDF).

I love what Erik Raymond Shared in his article What Do You Tell Your Kids About ISIS?

Will Christ Be Enough if Your Dreams Don’t Come True? by Aaron Armstrong

And a few of you have been asking about my trip to Ecuador. The short answer is that it has been a blast, and I’ve enjoyed seeing God move through His Word. I will share more when the trip is done (you can see some pictures here)…but for now, below is a short video I shot (sneakily!) at church before preaching:

Train up your worship leaders when they’re young… #worshipmusic #alabanza

A video posted by Kevin Halloran (@kp_halloran) on

5 Lies I Believed About Faith and Work - Originally Published on The Gospel Coalition Spanish

Ever since I turned fifteen and could get a worker’s permit for a summer job at a pool concession stand, I have loved to work. My work history includes time delivering mail, as a garbage collector on my college campus, in marketing sound systems, and now as a missionary with an organization training pastors in expository preaching.

Even though I had wonderful Christian parents who taught me the value of working hard, I didn’t always see work as a major element of Christian discipleship. In my head, I knew some truths about how my Christian faith informs my work, but those truths didn’t make the journey down to my heart.

Several times I had to learn the hard way of how God wants us to approach work as a Christian. God, in His grace, revealed to me several lies that seeped into my work life. I pray that the lessons I learned will give you a greater view of God and His purpose for your work while strengthening you to work for His glory.

Lie #1: Work is not a part of God’s perfect plan.

For a long time I believed that the necessity of work was a result of sin and not part of God’s original plan and good design. This probably entered into my brain as a kid watching TV characters complain about work or hearing the constant whining of peers complain about their homework. “In a perfect world,” I would think, “Nobody would have to work and I could just sit around all day doing what I wanted”—which in those times was playing video games, eating junk food, and watching sports. (Funny, I didn’t think about the thousands of people whose work made enjoying food, video games, TV, or even sitting on a couch possible for me!)

The Scriptures show a different reality, one that says work is a fundamental part of God’s good plan for the world. God gave Adam what theologians call the “Creation Mandate”—the command to subdue the earth and have dominion over every living thing (Genesis 1:28). This command for purposeful work to cultivate the earth came before humanity’s fall into sin. Sin tarnished God’s good design, making our work toilsome (Genesis 3:17-19). While sin changed many elements of work for us today, it did not change the fact that we are image bearers created to reflect the image of a working God.

Lie #2: Work is all about me.

I believed this lie for a long time. In my mind and heart, I was the one I worked for. I wanted the money, opportunity, and status that came from my work. When something at work made getting what I wanted difficult, frustration would overwhelm me, causing my attitude and motivation to suffer.

Scripture says that our work should be done, “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 6:7). This means that He is our ultimate boss, the One we will ultimately report to for our work. Our work also touches many other people because in God created work to be a means of blessing others. This goes for the barista, the car salesman, the truck driver, the teacher, and the banker. This new focus away from ourselves helps us obey the two great commandments of Scripture: to love God and love others.

Lie #3: Full-time ministry is the only work that serves God.

I struggled finding my calling in work for a while because I believed the false dichotomy that said I couldn’t serve God while working a “normal job.” Sure, a ministry job like pastor or a missionary uses your skills to more directly advance the Kingdom (which is an honorable thing!). That doesn’t mean a job other than pastor or missionary doesn’t serve God as well. If you do your job for the Lord, it is serving Him.

Think of Joseph, who by faith honored God as a shepherd, prisoner, overseer of Potiphar’s house, and eventually the second in command of all of Egypt. By faith, Daniel similarly served in the Babylonian government and stood for his God against strong cultural pressures and even death warrants. By faith, Obadiah, as an official of the king, protected and fed God’s prophets in a cave while they ran from the queen who sought to kill them (1 Kings 18:3-4). Time would fail me to tell of all of the other brothers and sisters throughout history who were faithful gospel witnesses in their workplace, stood compassionately for biblical truth, fought for justice, showed mercy, cared for the poor, and stewarded the resources God gave them in service to His Kingdom. Bottom line: we are servants of God no matter if we serve in “official” ministry positions or not.

Lie #4: Rest is optional.

One summer during my seminary days, my boss gave me a great offer: “Kevin, this summer you can work as many hours as you want—even if you go into overtime.” Overtime and overtime pay? The ears of this cash-strapped seminary student perked up and I soon made it my goal to cash in on this offer. After a few weeks filled with 55+ hours of work while trying to balance responsibilities at church, I realized that I slowly began to dread work, serving at church, and spending time with friends. I was drained both physically and spiritually—I needed a break!

I was missing a vital part of God’s plan for work. In God’s design, man is to work and to restfrom his work. This imitates God’s rest in creation (Exodus 20:8-11) and in the words of Tim Keller is “a celebration of our design.” True rest refocuses our hearts on the Creator and rejuvenates us for more work.

Rest has many dimensions and doesn’t only refer to physical rest. Spiritual rest is found in Christ and obtained when we put our faith in Him. In Christ we rest from trying to earn God’s approval through works (Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:3). This means we need the rejuvenating effects of spiritual rest in communion with God through prayer and the Scriptures, solitude, and fellowship with other believers.

Lie #5: My work gives me an identity.

This lie is actually more of a half-truth—work does shape part of our earthly identity. But if I bank my life and entire identity on my work, my self-worth and emotions will be dependent on my performance. If work is going well, it quickly becomes an idol. That idol will eventually disappoint me, leaving me disappointed until I have reason to hope in myself again. And when things get difficult, I question my identity and if I’m doing what God called me to do.

Jesus wants us off of the emotional rollercoaster that comes with finding our identities solely in our work. First and foremost, we are forgiven sinners, bought by the blood of Christ and are children of God. The very reason Jesus died was “to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession” (Titus 2:14). If you believe in Christ, your core identity is no longer in your work but is in your new identity as belonging to Christ. This fundamental aspect of your identity should be weaved into the very fabric of your being both today and 100,000 years into the future.

Working in the Gospel’s Power

Christ’s death and resurrection gives believers a new identity and a new power in the Holy Spirit for our work. Instead of separating work from worship, we can fuse them together for the glory of our King. Instead of focusing on the frustrations of work in a fallen world, we can rejoice that Christ’s work on the cross makes it so it won’t always be this way. And instead of striving to achieve worth, you can rest knowing that you are of infinite worth in your Father’s eyes.

When you are tempted to believe lies about work or who you are in Christ, may these truths serve as a steady anchor for your mind and heart.

This article is part of the compilation eBook Word + Life: 20 Reflections on Prayer, the Christian Life, and the Glorious Gospel of Christ. Click here to learn more or download the Kindle book.

This post can also be read in Spanish.


I leave for Ecuador tomorrow to train pastors in expository preaching (I will be there three weeks). If you’d like to join my prayer update email list, you can join that here. I would love for you to partner with me on this trip through prayer!

FREE for Kindle: God’s Promise of Happiness by Randy Alcorn

How to Keep Your iPhone from Destroying Your Relationships by Sherry Turkle. Also consider John Piper’s 6 Bad Reasons to Check Your Phone in the Morning

Why No School Has to Allow Boys in Girls Locker Rooms Read by Julie Roys

Mike Leake explains something important here about the Bible-Only Man

Bad Blood in which John Stonestreet shares why pop culture and music is increasingly angry and dark.

David Murray shares Infographics on Christ in the Old Testament

Tim Challies’ 10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling. You may also be interested to see why I think Tim Keller’s new devotional was created as a response to Jesus Calling.

Why Christians Shouldn’t Kill Baby Hitler by Joe Carter

This is hilarious.

A helpful video from The Master’s Seminary: How Should Evangelicals View Seventh-Day Adventism?

Tim Keller | Our Identity: The Christian Alternative to Late Modernity’s Story (11/11/2015)

3 Things Christians Must Remember When Discouraged about the Culture

Western culture has experienced a moral and cultural revolution of astounding proportions in the past few years and has led many to ask questions that we never thought we’d have to ask: “Can two people of the same gender marry?” “Is gender merely a biological construct?” “What pronoun should we use to call a transgendered person who is biologically a male but whose gender identity is female?”

We live in troubling times, and it can be hard to approach the above questions and related issues as thinking and faithful Christians—especially when a number of “Christians” have abandoned orthodoxy in favor of culture. In the midst of all of this, truth doesn’t change and neither does our calling as Christians.

Christian reader—if our culture is pushing you toward the verge of despair, remember the following three things Dr. Albert Mohler shares in his new book We Cannot Be Silent (my review):

First, the intellectual and moral heritage of the Christian tradition provides a wealth of theological reflection on the issues of gender and sexuality. We must resist facile and shallow responses to the challenges of our day by reminding ourselves of the enormous theological tradition we gladly inherit from our past.

Second, we must always remember that the Scriptures are sufficient to engage these challenges…. Christians need to remember that the sufficiency of Scripture gives us a comprehensive worldview that equips us to wrestle with even the most challenging ethical dilemmas of our time.

Finally…the gospel provides the only true remedy for sexual brokenness. The theological and pastoral challenges we face in the transgender revolution are indeed enormous, but they are not beyond the sufficiency of Christ’s cross and resurrection.

Our culture leaves me feeling a handful of emotions.

I feel sad for the future confusion faced by today’s six-year-olds who are told gender is their choice. I feel sad for today’s teens and folly they are currently experiencing. I feel sad for school administrators being coerced by the government to let adolescent boys have free reign of the girls’ locker rooms. I feel fearful for the many who claim to follow Christ who have forsaken the Christ of Scripture. But I also feel hopeful. We do have a glorious gospel that can transform any life.

A few years ago, John MacArthur shared the following story of how God used his church’s Scripture reading of Psalm 107 in a powerful way:

Some years ago I was standing here at the beginning of the service, and I got up to read the Scripture, and this is what I read, starting at verse 4,

“They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region; they didn’t find a way to an inhabited city. They were hungry and thirsty; their soul fainted within them.

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He delivered them out of their distresses. He led them also by a straight way, to …an inhabited city.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for His loving-kindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.

There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in misery and chains, because they had rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel of the Most High. Therefore He humbled their heart with labor; they stumbled there was none to help.

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death…broke their bands apart.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for His loving-kindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men! For He has shattered gates of bronze and cut bars of iron asunder.”

After the service, a handsome, tall man, 6’ 3” or so, walked up to me… His name was Robert Logerstrum. He was one of the directors of the gay pride parade in Los Angeles, lived completely consumed in a world of homosexuals, and was dying of AIDS.

He said, “I have to talk to you; I have to talk to you.” I said, “Absolutely.” So we sat and talked and he said, “I just have to tell you, you preach a long time.” I said, “Well, why are you saying that?” He said, “Because when you read that Scripture, I knew I was in the right place, and I just wanted to get wherever I needed to get, to whoever I needed to talk to, to tell how the Lord could break the bands of iron and bondage that holds me. And then you kept talking, and talking, and talking, and talking.” Later when I talked to him on a couple occasions, he couldn’t remember the sermon. All he remembered was the Scripture.

But, he gave his life to Christ. He was dying of AIDS, and he went to some of his friends and he said, “I don’t want to die. I’m terrified to die. Where can I get help?” And the homosexual friends that he had said go to Grace Community Church. They sent him here. These are unconverted people who know the reputation of the church.

He came that one Sunday. He came, gave his life to Christ. I baptized him right here a few weeks later. He was totally transformed. He went back and the gay pride parade, went down Hollywood Boulevard, right by his apartment, and all his friends came by to see him in his dying days, and he gave the gospel to all of them. And he went to glory. And his baptism testimony was recorded and played at his funeral to the whole homosexual community.

That’s not politics. That’s the gospel at work and if you don’t have the right view of sin then you’re going to get caught up in aiding and abetting people’s destruction.

Now with that in mind, listen to the words of that psalm: “They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region; they didn’t find a way to an inhabited city. They were hungry and thirsty; their soul fainted within them. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He delivered them out of their distresses.”

This story beautifully illustrates the sufficiency of the Scriptures and the power of the gospel. No matter our background or the sins we have committed, we can cry out to the Lord in our trouble and be saved from all of our distresses.

As the headlines continue to disappoint, may our convictions and Christ-like compassion grow stronger as we trust in God, share the truth in love, and minister the gospel to broken people left in sin’s treacherous wake.

The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms by Timothy Keller (Book Review)The newest book from Tim and Kathy Keller is The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms. The Songs of Jesus digs into a beloved portion of Scripture to share daily devotions with corresponding prayers. It is Tim and Kathy Keller’s second book together (the first was The Meaning of Marriage).

Each day begins with a portion of the Psalms (sometimes an entire psalm, but never more than a dozen verses), a devotional thought of about 150 words, and a short prayer. These prayers, “should be seen as ‘on‑ramps,’ not as complete prayers. The reader should follow the trajectory of the prayers and keep going, filling each prayer out with personal particulars, as well as always praying in Jesus’s name (John 14:13).”

The Kellers recommend using the devotional three ways:

  1. The simplest way is to read the psalm and the meditation slowly, and then use the prayer to begin praying the psalm yourself.
  2. The second way to use the devotional is to take the time to look up the additional scriptural references that are embedded in the meditation and sometimes in the prayer.
  3. The third way to use the devotional is to journal through it while keeping three questions in mind:
  • Adore—What did you learn about God for which you could praise or thank him?
  • Admit—What did you learn about yourself for which you could repent?
  • Aspire—What did you learn about life that you could aspire to, ask for, and act on?

The Songs of Jesus among other Devotionals (particularly Jesus Calling)

Why choose the book of psalms? The Kellers share their reasoning:

“Many find modern devotionals to be either too upbeat or too sentimental or too doctrinal or too mystical because they reflect the perspective and experience of just one human author. The psalms, by contrast, give us a range of divinely inspired voices of different temperaments and experiences.”

In addition to a love for the Psalter (which is like a swiss-army knife for our prayer lives), I have a hunch that at least part of the motivation behind this book was to provide a healthy alternative to the controversial, yet immensely popular devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

In Kathy Keller’s review of Jesus Calling, she called it “unhelpful and to be avoided” because Young writes from the first-person perspective of Jesus and admits to doubting Scripture’s sufficiency (in the introduction she states: “I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day.”).

Another critique was that Jesus Calling appeals too much to the experiential at the expense of the doctrinal—which is where the book of Psalms fits in perfectly as a book that so beautifully interweaves both rich doctrine with a wide range of human emotions. Keller’s review continues, “If you want to experience Jesus, learn how to find him in his Word. His real Word.”

The Songs of Jesus will lead readers to Jesus through His Word and through praying His Word back to Him.

My recommendation

My first thought as I flipped through The Songs of Jesus was, “This wasn’t what I expected.” Being a big fan of Tim’s writing, I found myself craving more Scriptural and cultural insights than the 150ish word devotional and 50ish word prayer can offer. This disappointment dissipated when I remembered the purpose of the book: to help readers meditate on the Psalms and pray them to know and experience Jesus. In other words, I was focused on the on-ramp instead of the highway.

The Songs of Jesus are a rich collection of devotionals that are clear and straight to the point, getting to the heart of each Psalm and helping readers think through them practically and prayerfully. Diligent readers and those who journal through it will feast on the richness of the Psalter and rejoice as they behold and commune with the Savior who so faithfully embodied the psalms.

Don Whitney says in Praying the Bible that many Christians are bored in prayer because they pray the same old things about the same old things. If taken to heart and diligently prayed, The Songs of Jesus will fight against this boredom and fill our minds and hearts with fresh thoughts and prayers to our Lord.

I expect this volume to expand Keller’s already wide readership base by offering an accessible and top-notch alternative to Jesus Calling. While I typically don’t like the daily devotional format, I will keep The Songs of Jesus close at hand for my wife and I to sing and pray the songs of Jesus together.

Title: The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms
Author: Timothy and Kathy Keller
Publisher: Viking
Year: 2015
Rating: 5 Stars

Here’s a sneak peak inside the book at two of the daily devotions (click image to enlarge):

The Songs of Jesus- A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms by Timothy and Kathy Keller