31 December, 2005
Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place Through all the ages of our race; Before the mountains had their birth, Or ever Thou hast formed the earth, From everlasting Thou art God, To everlasting our abode.
At Thy command man fades and dies And new born generations rise; A thousand years are passed away, And all to Thee are but a day; Yea, like the watches of the night, With Thee the ages wing their flight.
Man soon yields up his fleeting breath Before the swelling tide of death; Like transient sleep his seasons pass, His life is like the tender grass, Luxuriant 'neath the morning sun, And withered ere the day is done.
Man in Thy anger is consumed, And unto grief and sorrow doomed; Before Thy clear and searching sight Our secret sins are brought to light; Beneath Thy wrath we pine and die, Our life expiring like a sigh.
For threescore years and ten we wait, Or fourscore years if strength be great; But grief and toil attend life's day, And soon our spirits fly away; O who with true and rev'rent thought Can fear Thy anger as he ought?
-If you are a Christian, have you used the means of grace sufficiently in the year 2005?
-If you remain without Christ-do you know that your life may expire this coming year? Are you prepared to stand before Christ's judgment seat?
-What are your goals for a more experiential relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in 2006?
30 December, 2005
If you are a veteran of this weblog, you know that the issue of youth ministry comes up often. Youth ministry is something that I take with a grain of salt and feel strongly that it does little lasting good to those that are involved. For the most part I see many of these programs doing nothing more than producing immature Christian adults (which is often evidenced by the number of Christian college students who use the NIV Student Bible.) I am also under the impression that "youth ministers" are often annoying 20 year olds with their roots bleached blond(e) and their noses pierced. I find this to be of little use in the kingdom of God, even though this is the norm for those doing ministry.
(Harsh? Maybe...True? Definitely.)
I have often thought that youth ministry needed to be reformed so that it could be done in the context of the covenant of grace. We know that the promise of the covenant is for us as well as for our children; and in some way genuine ministry to the youth of the church needs to be a reflection of that fact. Mark DeVries, who is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee, has written a fantastic book that made me say out loud (on numerous occasions) "that is exactly what I have been trying to say!"
Pastor DeVries uses his 25 years of experience with youth and explains the "crisis" that this discipline is currently in, as well as gives his analysis of what it is going to take to reverse the damage that we are doing to our covenant children through current youth ministry. This book is worth the time for anyone that is interested in what could become the new model for youth ministry. He challenges those that are in the church to reach out to the youth and to build the relationships that are needed to aid in the maintaining of a living and active faith in Jesus Christ.
"Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rule. And family education and order are some of the chief means of grace. If these fail, all other means are likely to prove ineffectual. If these are duly maintained, all the means of grace will be likely to prosper and be successful."
28 December, 2005
This was reaffirmed with Moses and the death penalty was expanded beyond the shedding of human blood.
The New Testament affirms this penalty for crimes in the writings of Paul. The magistrate was equipped with the sword for the punishing of evil doers.
In Puritan New England many crimes were to be punished by either death or banishment. (Banishment would lead to death). This was to ensure that the society would be one that outwardly reflects the morality of Christ- while praying that inwardly they would have hearts converted to Christ. John Cotton gives us look into the early civil practices as well as the crimes and punishments of this early era of American history. We may not be a Christian nation, the framers of our constitution may have been humanists (or HUME-anists); but Puritan New England was different. This was a time when the number one printed book was the Bay Booke of Psalmes and the people loved the Lord Jesus Christ. What did their laws look like?
Of Crimes. And first, of such as deserve capital punishment, or cutting off from a man's people, whether by death or banishment.
1. FIRST, blasphemy, which is a cursing of God by atheism, or the like, to be punished with death.
2. Idolatry to be punished with death.
3. Witchcraft, which is fellowship by covenant with a familiar spirit, to be punished with death.
4. Consulters with witches not to be tolerated, but either to be cut off by death or banishment.
5. Heresy, which is the maintenance of some wicked errors, overthrowing the foundation of the Christian religion; which obstinacy, if it be joined with endeavour to seduce others thereunto, to be punished with death; because such an heretick, no less than an idolater, seeketh to thrust the souls of men from the Lord their God.
6. To worship God in a molten or graven image, to be punished with death.
7. Such members of the church, as do wilfully reject to walk, after due admonition and conviction, in the churches' establishment, and their christian admonition and censures, shall be cut off by banishment.
8. Whosoever shall revile the religion and worship of God, and the government of the church, as it is now established, to be cut off by banishment. [I] Cor. 5:5.
9. Wilful perjury, whether before the judgment seat or in private conference, to be punished with death.
10. Rash perjury, whether in public or in private, to be punished with banishment. Just is it, that such a man's name should be cut off from his people who profanes so grosly the name of God before his people.
11. Profaning of the Lord's day, in a careless and scornful neglect or contempt thereof, to be punished with death.
12. To put in practice the betraying of the country, or any principal fort therein, to the hand of any foreign state, Spanish, French, Dutch, or the like, contrary to the allegiance we owe and profess to our dread sovereign, lord king Charles, his heirs and successors, whilst he is pleased to protect us as his loyal subjects, to be punished with death. Num. 12:14, 15.
13. Unreverend and dishonorable carriage to magistrates, to be punished with banishment for a time, till they acknowledge their fault and profess reformation.
14. Reviling of the magistrates in highest rank amongst us, to wit, of the governors and council, to be punished with death. I Kings 2:8, 9, & 46.
15. Rebellion, sedition, or insurrection, by taking up arms against the present government established in the country, to be punished with death.
16. Rebellious children, whether they continue in riot or drunkenness, after due correction from their parents, or whether they curse or smite their parents, to be put to death. Ex. 21:15, 17. Lev. 20:9.
17. Murder, which is a wilful man-slaughter, not in a man's just defence, nor casually committed, but out of hatred or cruelty, to be punished with death. Ex. 21:12, 13. Num. 35:16, 17, 18, to 33. Gen. 9:6.
18. Adultery, which is the defiling of the marriage-bed, to be punished with death. Defiling of a woman espoused, is a kind of adultery, and punishable, by death, of both parties; but if a woman be forced, then by the death of the man only. Lev. 20:10. Deut. 22:22 to 27.
19. Incest, which is the defiling of any near of kin, within the degrees prohibited in Leviticus, to be punished with death.
20. Unnatural filthiness to be punished with death, whether sodomy, which is a carnal fellowship of man with man, or woman with woman, or buggery, which is a carnal fellowship of man or woman with beasts or fowls.
21. Pollution of a woman known to be in her flowers, to be put to death. Lev. 20:18,19.
22. Whoredom of a maiden in her father's house, kept secret till after her marriage with another, to be punished with death. Deut. 22:20, 21.
23. Man-stealing to be punished with death. Ex. 21:16.
24. False-witness bearing to be punished with death.
25 December, 2005
Romans 11:25-26. For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
In the second petition, (which is, Thy kingdom come,) acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan,we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fullness of the Gentiles brought in; the church furnished with all gospel-officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate: that the ordinances of Christ may be purely dispensed, and made effectual to the converting of those that are yet in their sins, and the confirming, comforting, and building up of those that are already converted: that Christ would rule in our hearts here, and hasten the time of his second coming, and our reigning with him forever: and that he would be pleased so to exercise the kingdom of his power in all the world, as may best conduce to these ends.
Question 191, Westminster Larger Catechism
23 December, 2005
Thus says the Lord:
Do not learn the way of the Gentiles;Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven,
For the Gentiles are dismayed at them.For the customs of the peoples are vain;
For one cuts a tree from the forest;
The famous Baptist Preacher, Charles Spurgeon's thoughts are to be reflected upon on this day which is regarded by 96% of Americans as a high and holy day:
We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmass: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority. (Charles Spurgeon, Sermon on Dec. 24, 1871).
When it can be proved that the observance of Christmass, Whitsuntide, and other Popish festivals was ever instituted by a divine statute, we also will attend to them, but not till then. It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men, as to observe the ordinances of the Lord. We ask concerning every rite and rubric, "Is this a law of the God of Jacob?" and if it be not clearly so, it is of no authority with us, who walk in Christian liberty. (from Charles Spurgeon's Treasury of David on Psalm 81:4.)
FOX NEWS, NEW YORK —
Yes, Chris Rock, there is a Santa Claus. Parents with young children who happened to watch "Everybody Hates Chris" in the past week had some explaining to do when the character of Rock's brother suddenly told his younger sister that Santa doesn't exist. "Everybody knows there's no Santa Claus," Drew said to Tonya on the UPN sitcom. "Come here, let me show you something. I'm taking you to the toys ... Santa doesn't come down the chimney. We don't even have a chimney. We have radiators." Disillusioned, she stomps out of the room. But wait. It gets worse.Put on the spot, Tonya's dad Julius tells her the Easter bunny and tooth fairy don't exist, either. "Somebody better give me my teeth back," the girl fumes. A blindsided UPN received "a handful" of complaints about the Santa expose on its sitcom based loosely on Rock's life growing up in Brooklyn, a spokeswoman said. The Santa episode, titled "Everybody Hates Christmas," aired on Dec. 15 and was repeated on Monday. "Everybody Hates Chris' is a semi-autobiographical show," said Ali LeRoi, its executive producer and co-creator. "We try to get humor out of tough subject matters. It never occurred to me what a 6-year-old would think about the subject of Santa." Not, at least, until busted by his own 6-year-old son. LeRoi admitted that his boy was upset when he saw the episode. "My wife told him it was just a TV show and to ignore it," he said. "It worked. He believes her. Kids trust their parents that way."
There's no word on whether Rock knew his show could be a holiday spoiler. His spokesman didn't return telephone and e-mail messages for comment. On the show, young Tonya becomes a lot more cynical. Her mother explains that Santa Claus is a symbol and asks: "So you do understand?" "Yeah," the girl replies. "It's OK to lie."
21 December, 2005
The most thrilling part of the movie for me? When Aslan the lion (the Christ figure) declares, "It is finished!" after the army defeated the white witch and her posse of uglies. As a Christian this was very moving to the religious affections.
Some of the things that I did not like about the movie:
1. You never grow to love Aslan before he dies. He comes and he dies quick as that. There is no connection to him emotionally.
2. Edmund never repented after Aslan was slain for his sin. He continued to defy the authority of his brother Peter. I do not like the antinomian quality of this.
3. The prophecy of the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve did not seem to be taken very seriously by anyone. It was very down-played in the movie.
The point of this look into the film has more to do with the man behind the Lion though. It has been a few years since I have read any Lewis; I had to read some for my undergraduate degree, but I do not recall picking him up since. The one book that I remember liking the most was Till We Have Faces. Maybe that is because it was not theological in nature, but was more in the discipline of Lewis- literature.
I began to investigate some of the ideas that Lewis had regarding theology since I recall at Calvin we talked about some of his EXTREME non-evangelical ideas. I began to parouse some of his material again- and just as it was before, there is a lot that evangelicals would find to be distasteful.
The point? (Again, defending myself- I really liked the movie a lot. I enjoy his Narnia series as literature, I like some of the thoughts that he has had.) But why do evangelicals love this guy so much? I honestly think that if you put his list of doctrines infront of most evangelicals they would think that he was a hell bound heathen. (I am not commenting on his eternal state.) I find it odd that CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien (who was very Roman Catholic) have a stronger impact on American Christianity today than almost any other thinker, philosopher, theologian today.
Below is just one of the numerous articles that are available concerning his doctrine. (Some of the others will have extensive lists from his books that talk about various topics. Those are nice as well.)
WAS C.S. LEWIS A BIBLE BELIEVER?
Was C.S. Lewis a Bible believer? By no means, as even Christianity Today admits. “Clive Staples Lewis was anything but a classic evangelical, socially or theologically. He smoked cigarettes and a pipe, and he regularly visited pubs to drink beer with friends. Though he shared basic Christian beliefs with evangelicals, he didn’t subscribe to biblical inerrancy or penal substitution. He believed in purgatory and baptismal regeneration” (“C.S. Lewis Superstar,” Christianity Today, Dec. 2005).
Lewis believed in prayers for the dead and purgatory and confessed his sins regularly to a priest. He was given the Catholic sacrament of last rites on July 16, 1963 (C.S. Lewis: A Biography, pp. 198, 301). Lewis denied the total depravity of man and the substitutionary blood atonement of Christ. He believed in theistic evolution and rejected the Bible as the infallible Word of God. He taught that hell is a state of mind: “And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind--is, in the end, Hell” (Lewis, The Great Divorce, p. 65). D. Martin Lloyd-Jones warned that C.S. Lewis had a defective view of salvation and was an opponent of the substitutionary and penal view of the atonement (Christianity Today, Dec. 20, 1963). In a letter to the editor of Christianity Today, Feb. 28, 1964, Dr. W. Wesley Shrader, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, warned that “C.S. Lewis ... would never embrace the (literal-infallible) view of the Bible” (F.B.F. News Bulletin, March 4, 1984).
Lewis lived for 30 years with Janie Moore, a woman 25 years his senior to whom he was not married. The relationship with the married woman began when Lewis was still a student at Oxford. Moore was separated from her husband. Lewis confessed to his brother Arthur that he was in love with Mrs. Moore, the mother of one of his friends who was killed in World War I. The relationship was definitely sexual in nature. See Alan Jacobs, The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis, pp. 82, 94. At age 58, Lewis married Joy Gresham, an American woman who pursued a relationship with Lewis even while she was still married to another man. According to two of Lewis’s friends, Gresham’s husband divorced her on the grounds of desertion (Roger Lancelyn Green & Walter Hooper, Light on C.S. Lewis), though it also true that he, in turn, married his Joy’s cousin.
In the book A Severe Mercy by Sheldon VanAuken, a personal letter is reproduced on page 191 in which Lewis suggests to VanAuken that upon his next visit to England that the two of them “must have some good, long talks together and perhaps we shall both get high.”
Lewis claimed that followers of pagan religions can be saved without personal faith in Jesus Christ: “But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. ... There are people who do not accept the full Christian doctrine about Christ but who are so strongly attracted by Him that they are His in a much deeper sense than they themselves understand. There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it. For example a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ’s birth may have been in this position” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, HarperSanFrancisco edition, 2001, pp. 64, 208, 209).
-Everyone has an opinion about this, no need!
20 December, 2005
The reason that I share this note with you is not to pat myself on the back and say what a great site I am running here, but to encourage those readers (and myself) that there are others who benefit from the old paths as well. May the revival of the Reformed religion touch the lives of all readers, and love for Christ and His Word abound in your lives. Enjoy!
Just wanted to drop you a line to say thank you for running your blog. It has meant a lot to me as I have been down _______. I miss everyone greatly, and your blog, and its links to many others, lets me have a little taste of home.
In addition I have often found your meditations and suggested questions very helpful in redirecting me back to the Lord, and the heart of the Reformed faith. Also, the Lord is giving you the wisdom to dialogue well with others on your blog. You display discernment, patience, and appropriateness, while still being signature Nate Eshelman.
Thank you again.
Keeping you and your family in prayer.
Love through Christ, _________
PRESBYTERIAN THOUGHTS reads and appreciates all mail that is received. If you are so moved by the Spirit, the hate-mail is welcomed too. Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
May heresy slapping Santas be found around the world this Christmass season...
slappin' those that celebrate Romish days! *Slap!*
17 December, 2005
Today we look into the life of another Presbyterian. Mr. Makoto Fujimura is a PCA elder who is also becoming one of the hottest names in the art world. Mr. Fujimura is a New York City based artist who does beautiful work and is currently on display at the Chelsea Gallery in New York where he has painted enormous and hellish flames that are getting a lot of the art world's attention. Most of his work can be described as modern or post-modern, but it speaking volumes to the community of which he a part.
You can read more about his influence on the art community in this article entitled, ART aflame.
16 December, 2005
What is justification?
ANSWER: Justification is an act of God's free grace; wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, and received by faith alone.
James Fisher, a Seceeder Minister wrote a commentary on the Shorter Catechism that is useful for those that desire a greater understanding of what the Bible teaches, as well as some very practical insights on those teachings. Here is what Fisher says about this question on justification:
Q. 1. From whence is the word justification borrowed?
A. Being a law-word, it is borrowed from courts of justice among men, when a person arraigned is pronounced righteous, and, in court, openly absolved?
Q. 2. How does it appear, that justification denotes an act of jurisdiction, and not an inward change upon the soul?
A. From its being opposed to condemnation, which all own to consist, not in the infusing of wickedness into a person, but in passing sentence upon him, according to the demerit of his crime, Psalm 109:7.
Q. 3. What is it, then, to justify a person?
A. It is not to make him righteous, but to declare him to be so, upon a legal ground, and trial of a judge, Isa. 43:9, 26.
Q. 4. Who is the author or efficient cause, of our justification?
A. It is God himself; for, it is God that justifieth, Rom. 8:33.
Q. 5. Is it God essentially, or personally considered?
A. God essentially considered, in the person of the Father, is the justifier, in respect of judiciary power and authority, Rom. 3:26; and our Lord Jesus Christ, in respect of the dispensation, or exercise of that power, Acts 5:31.
Q. 6. In what respect is the Spirit said to justify? 1 Cor. 6:11.
A. As the applier of the blood or righteousness of Christ, by which we are justified, Tit. 3:5.
Q. 7. In what state is a sinner before justification?
A. In a state of sin and guilt, Rom. 3:9, and, consequently, in a state of wrath and condemnation, Gal. 3:10.
Q. 8. How can God justify the ungodly?
A. Every elect sinner, however ungodly in himself, yet, upon union with Christ, has communion with him in his righteousness, and on this account he is justified, Isa. 45:25 -- "In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified."
Q. 9. Why have elect sinners communion with Christ in his righteousness, upon their union with him?
A. Because their sins having been imputed to him from eternity, he became legally one with them, transferring their debt to himself, and undertaking to pay the same, Isa. 53:6; wherefore, upon union with him by faith, his perfect satisfaction is imputed to them, as if they had made it themselves, 2 Cor. 5:21.
Q. 10. Why is justification called an act?
A. Because, like the sentence of a judge, it is completed at once, and not carried on gradually like a work of time, Deut. 25:1.
Q. 11. What is the moving cause of justification, or what kind of an act is it? A. It is an act of God's free grace, Rom. 3:24 -- "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
Q. 12. How can free grace be the moving cause of our justification, when it is "through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus?"
A. Because the redemption that is in Christ, is the channel through which justifying grace runs freely to us, Eph. 1:7.
Q. 13. What are the constituent parts of justification?
A. They are two; that in which he pardons all our sins, Rom. 6:7; and that in which he accepts us as righteous in his sight, Eph. 1:6.
Q. 14. What is the pardon of sin?
A. It is God's absolving the sinner from the condemnation of the law, on account of Christ's satisfaction for sin, Rom. 8:1.
Q. 15. Why is the pardon of sin set before the accepting us as righteous, in the answer?
A. Because, till the sentence of the broken law be dissolved by pardon, it is impossible that our persons can be accepted, or any blessing of the covenant conferred upon us, Heb. 8:10-13; where, after a great many other promised blessings, it is added, ver. 12 -- "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness," &c., intimating that the pardon of sin led the way to other covenant blessings.
Q. 16. What is it in sin that pardon removes?
A. The guilt of it, which is a person's actual obligation or liability to eternal wrath, on account thereof, Eph. 2:3.
Q. 17. Can the guilt of sin ever recur upon a pardoned person?
A. No; the obligation to punishment, being once taken off, can never recur again; because "there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," Rom. 8:1.
Q. 18. Will future sins revoke a former pardon?
A. No; future sins may provoke the Lord to withdraw the sense of former pardon, but can never revoke the pardon itself; because "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance," Rom. 11:29.
Q. 19. What sins are pardoned in justification?
A. All our sins whatsoever, Psalm 103:3 -- "Who forgiveth ALL thine iniquities."
Q. 20. How are sins past and present pardoned?
A. By a formal remission of them, Psalm 32:5 -- "Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin."
Q. 21. How are sins to come, pardoned?
A. By securing the non-imputation of them, as to the guilt of eternal wrath, Rom. 4:8 -- "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."
Q. 22. If the non-imputation of eternal wrath, as to future sins, be secured, why do the saints pray for the pardon of them when committed?
A. Because the guilt or liability to fatherly anger is contracted by the commission of them; and, therefore, they pray for the removal of that guilt, Psalm 51:12 -- "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation."
Q. 23. Is repentance a condition of pardon?
A. No; because this would bring in works into the matter of our justification before God, quite contrary to scripture, which tells us, that "a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ," Gal. 2:16.
Q. 24. How do you prove, that repentance has not the same interest as faith, in our justification?
A. From this, that in scripture we are frequently said to be justified by faith, but never said to be justified by repentance.
Q. 25. Is it not affirmed in our Confession, "that repentance is of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it?"
A. The meaning is, that repentance is such an inseparable concomitant of pardon, that no pardoned person continues to be impenitent, 2 Sam. 12:13; Matt. 26:75.
Q. 26. If none can expect pardon, without expecting repentance along with it; will it not therefore follow, that repentance is a condition of pardon?
A. Not at all; for if repentance cannot so much as have the least instrumentality in pardon, it can never be the condition of it, nor have the smallest influence in causing it.
Q. 27. How does it appear that repentance has not the least instrumentality in pardon?
A. It appears evidently from this, that faith is the sole instrument of receiving Christ and his righteousness; without receiving of which there can be no pardon, John 8:24 -- "If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."
Q. 28. Does God do any more in justification than freely pardon all our sins?
A. Yes; he likewise accepts us as righteous in his sight, Eph. 1:6.
Q. 29. Why is the accepting us as righteous joined with pardon, in justification?
A. Because, though among men a criminal may be pardoned, and neither declared righteous nor received into favour, yet it is not so with God; for whom he forgives, he both accounts their persons righteous in his sight, and receives them into perpetual favour, Rom. 5:8-10.
Q. 30. How can a holy and righteous God, whose judgement is according to truth, accept sinners as righteous without a perfect righteousness?
A. He accepts them as righteous only for the righteousness of Christ, which is perfect, and becomes truly theirs through faith, Jer. 23:6; Isa. 45:24.
Q. 31. By what right does the surety-righteousness become theirs?
A. By the right of a free gift received, and the right of communion with Christ.
Q. 32. How does it become theirs by the right of a gift received?
A. In as much as Christ's righteousness being made over in the gospel, as God's gift to sinners, it is by faith actually claimed and received; hence called the GIFT of righteousness, Rom. 5:17.
Q. 33. How does Christ's surety-righteousness become theirs by right of communion with him?
A. In as much as sinners being united to him by faith, have thus communion or a common interest with him in his righteousness, Phil. 3:9.
Q. 34. When is it, then, that, according to truth, God accepts us as righteous in his sight?
A. When Christ's surety-righteousness is actually reckoned ours, and we made the righteousness of God in HIM, 2 Cor. 5:21:upon this account precisely, and no other, are we accepted of God as righteous; the righteousness of GOD being UPON all them that believe, Rom. 3:22.
Q. 35 What is the matter of our justification, or that for which we are justified?
A. The RIGHTEOUSNESS of Christ only; hence he is called, "The Lord our Righteousness," Jer. 23:6.
Q. 36. In what does the righteousness of Christ consist?
A. In the holiness of his human nature, his righteous life, and satisfactory death.
Q. 37. Can law or justice reach the person who is under the covering of the surety righteousness?
A. By no means; for "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? -- It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again," Rom. 8:33, 34.
Q. 38. Is the righteousness of Christ meritorious of our justification?
A. Yes; because of the infinite dignity of his person; for, though he "took upon him the form of a servant, yet, being in the form of God, he thought it no robbery to be equal with God," Phil 2:6, 7.
Q. 39. How is the righteousness of Christ commonly divided?
A. Into his active and passive obedience.
Q. 40. What is his active obedience?
A. The holiness of his nature and righteousness of his life, in full and perfect conformity to the whole law, without the least failure, either of parts, or degrees of obedience to the end, Matt. 5:17, 18.
Q. 41. What is his passive obedience?
A. His satisfaction for sin, by enduring the infinite execution of the curse, upon him in his death, Gal. 3:13, to the full compensation of all the injuries done to the honour of an infinite God, by all the sins of an elect world, Eph. 5:2.
Q. 42. Why does his satisfactory death, as well as his righteous life, get the name of obedience? Phil. 2:8.
A. Because his sufferings and death were entirely voluntary, and in most profound submission to the commandment which he had received of his Father, John 10:18.
Q. 43. What is the formal cause of our justification, or that by which Christ's righteousness is made ours?
A. It is its being imputed to us, Rom. 4:6.
Q. 44. What is it to impute Christ's righteousness to us?
A. It is God's accounting or reckoning it to us, as if we had obeyed the law, and satisfied justice in our own persons, and dealing with us accordingly, Rom. 4:4; 8:4; 2 Cor. 5:21.
Q. 45. Upon what ground or foundation is Christ's righteousness imputed to us?
A. Upon the ground of his representing us from eternity, and our union with him in time, Isa. 53:5.
Q. 46. What necessity is there for the imputation of Christ's passive obedience?
A. Because without the imputation of it, we could have no legal security from eternal death, Rom. 5:9.
Q. 47. What necessity is there for the imputation of Christ's active obedience?
A. Because without the imputation of it, we could have no legal title to eternal life, Rom. 6:23.
Q. 48. If Christ, as man, gave obedience to the law for himself, how can his active obedience be imputed to us?
A. Though the human nature, abstractly considered, be a creature, yet never subsisting by itself, but in the person of the Son of God, the acts of obedience performed in it were never the acts of a mere man, but of him who is God-man, Mediator; and, consequently, acts of obedience, not for himself, but for us, Gal. 4:4, 5.
Q. 49. If Christ's active obedience be imputed to us, are we not released from any obligation to yield obedience to the law in our own persons?
A. We are only released from an obligation to yield obedience to the law as a covenant of works, not released from obedience to it as a rule of life, Gal. 2:19.
Q. 50. Is the righteousness of Christ, itself, imputed to us, or only its effects?
A. As the guilt itself of Adam's first sin is imputed to all his posterity, by which judgement comes upon all men to condemnation, so, the righteousness of Christ itself is imputed to all his spiritual seed, by which the free gift comes upon them all unto justification of life, Rom. 5:18.
Q. 51. What is the difference between the imputation of our sins to Christ, and the imputation of his righteousness to us?
A. Our sins were imputed to Christ as our Surety, only for a time, that he might take them away; but his righteousness is imputed to us to abide with us for ever; hence called an everlasting righteousness, Dan. 9:24.
Q. 52. Why are we said to be pardoned and accepted only for the righteousness of Christ?
A. Because a sinner can have no other plea before God, for pardon and acceptance, but Christ's fulfilling all righteousness, as the only condition of the covenant, Isa. 45:24.
Q. 53. What is the instrumental cause of our justification?
A. It is twofold; namely, external and internal.
Q. 54. What is the external instrumental cause?
A. The G OSPEL; because the righteousness of God is revealed in it, and brought near to us as a free gift, Rom. 1:17, 5:17, and 10:8.
Q. 55. What is the internal instrumental cause of our Justification?
A. It is faith, Rom. 10:10.
Q. 56 Why is faith the instrument of our justification?
A. To show that our justification is wholly of grace; it being the nature of faith to take the gift of righteousness freely, without money, and without price; "therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace," Rom. 4:16.
Q. 57. What, then, is the instrumentality of faith in our justification?
A. It is merely the hand that receives and applies the righteousness of Christ, by which we are justified.
Q. 58. Is the grace of faith or any act of it, imputed to a sinner for justification?
A. No; for, "To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness," Rom. 4:5.
Q. 59. What is the difference between saving faith, and justifying faith?
A. Saving, faith receives and rests upon Christ in all his offices, as "of God made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption;" but justifying faith, receives and rests upon him, more particularly, in his priestly office, for pardon and acceptance, on account of his meritorious righteousness, Phil. 3:9 -- "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."
Q. 60. Why is the righteousness of Christ said to be received by faith alone?
A. That works may be wholly excluded from having any share in our justification, less or more, Rom. 3:28 -- "Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law."
Q. 61. If good works have no influence upon our justification, of what use are they to the justified?
A. Though they cannot justify us before God, yet they are good "evidences" of our justification, being the fruits of a true and lively faith, James 2:18:they "adorn the profession of the gospel, Tit. 2:11, 12; stop the mouths of adversaries, 1 Pet. 2:15; and glorify God, John 15:8."
Q. 62. If faith's receiving of Christ's righteousness justify us, does not faith justify as a work?
A. It is not properly the receiving, or any other act of faith, that justifies us, but the righteousness of Christ RECEIVED, Rom. 3:22; even as it is not the hand that nourishes us, but the food which we take by it.
Q. 63. If we are justified by faith alone, why is it said, James 2:24, "That by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?"
A. This is to be understood of justifying, or evidencing the reality of our faith before men, and not of justifying our persons before God.
Q. 64. When is it that God justifies the ungodly?
A. "Though from eternity God decreed to justify all the elect," yet "they are not" actually "justified, until the Holy Spirit does, in due time, apply Christ," and his righteousness "unto them, Tit. 3:5-7."
Q. 65. How were believers, under the Old Testament, justified?
A. "Their justification was, in all respects, the same with the justification of believers, under the New Testament," Gal. 3:9; Heb. 13:8.
Q. 66. What may we learn from this important doctrine of justification?
A. That all ground of pride and boasting is taken away from the creature, Rom. 3:27:that faith itself, by laying hold upon the surety righteousness without us, is nothing else than a solemn declaration of our poverty and nakedness; and that, therefore, it is our duty to glory only in Christ Jesus, saying, "Surely -- in the Lord have we righteousness and strength," Isa. 45:24.
-Which point of Fisher's impressed your soul and mind?
-What use does this have for evangelizing the unconverted?
-What are the implications of question and answer 66?
14 December, 2005
Acts 23:12-14; Mark 6:26; Num. 30:5, 8, 12-1316. Matt. 10:11-12; I Cor. 7:2, 9; Heb. 13:4; Eph. 4:28; I Thess. 4:11-12; I Cor. 7:23
-Why were the Reformers so against these practices?
-Should be hold the same view as "modern Christians"?
13 December, 2005
One of my favorite meditations is that of the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism. This statement is so well known in the Reformed community that very few really take the time to meditate upon it. Take a few minutes and talk to yourself before God about this statement. There are so many great truths that are revealed in this poetic statement; truths that reveal God's loving character as well as our state before our Savior Jesus Christ.
There will be no Discussion Points, but please meditate upon this for a minute or two and comment on what impression it gives you concerning your faith in Christ. Question 1: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
Answer 1: That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me, that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him.
12 December, 2005
Let this cause each one of us to be mindful of the temporal nature of this life in the flesh. Are you prepared to stand before the judgment seat of Christ?
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Zwingli, his sons, and his brother in law all died together in battle fighting for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When his wife had heard this news, she in Job-like fashion, said, "the Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord."
The famed German doctor on the other hand, had a much different reaction to the news of the death of Zwingli. (Let it be noted that Luther and Zwingli had known each other as well as corresponded) : Zwingli drew his sword. Therefore he has received the reward that Christ spoke of, "All who take the sword will perish by the sword [Matt 26.52]". If God has saved him, he has done so above and beyond the rule. -Table Talk, 1451
09 December, 2005
Here he speaks of the use of the breast for the nurturing of children and how when a woman goes against that light of nature it is sinful. (Unless it is for medical purposes; which are rare circumstances.)
". . .the Lord does not in vain prepare nutriment for children in their mothers' bosoms, before they are born. But those on whom he confers the honor of mothers, he, in this way, constitutes nurses; and they who deem it a hardship to nourish their own offspring, break, as far as they are able, the sacred bond of nature. If disease, or anything of that kind, is the hindrance, they have a just excuse; but for mothers voluntarily, and for their own pleasure, to avoid the trouble of nursing, and thus to make themselves only half-mothers, is a shameful corruption."
Commentary on Genesis 21.7
-What are some other "lights of nature" that we need to be mindful of?
-Why is our culture "uncomfortable" with the way in which God has provided for infants to be nourished?
-What role does Christian modesty play in providing nourishment for a woman's children?
08 December, 2005
This is a very sobering thought for us as Christians, and one that should give us much evangelical zeal. Every Christian has a responsibility to present the Lord is all three of his offices:
1. Christ the Prophet
2. Christ the Priest
3. Christ the King.
One day he will return and we will have to give account for all that we have done in the flesh. It is my prayer that he says, "well done good and faithful servant." "Since then the gospel invites all to partake of salvation without any difference, it is rightly called the doctrine of salvation: for Christ is there offered, whose peculiar office is to save that which was lost; and those who refuse to be saved by him, shall find him a Judge."
John Calvin, Commentary on Romans 1:16.
-How are the three offices of Christ to be used in evangelism?
-Does the Christian have his sins revealed at judgment day?
-Why are the Reformed accused of not having "missionary hearts" when they have done more for missions than any other sector of Christianity?
06 December, 2005
Christians have historically seen the Sabbath as a day that is a creational ordinance. In creation a day of rest was established, this is not rooted in the Mosaic law, it has been part of the true religion since the onset of time. All men are to set aside this day to glorify and to enjoy God.
With that in mind, read the second article in my "Tis the Season" series: AP-Lexington, KY, December 5, 2005, 3:41 p.m. Central Kentucky's largest church will be shuttered and dark on Christmas Sunday, a move drawing some criticism among the faithful.
Southland Christian Church near Lexington is joining several evangelical megachurches across the country in canceling services for the holiday. Officials at the church, where about 7,000 people worship each week, said the move is designed to allow staff and volunteers to spend the holy holiday with their families.
The megachurches, which rank among the largest congregations in America, will hold multiple Christmas Eve services instead.
Among the churches closed on Christmas Sunday are Willow Creek Community Church, the Chicago area's largest congregation; Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan; North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia; and Fellowship Church near Dallas.
Megachurch officials around the country consulted with each other before deciding to take the day off.
"It's more than being family friendly. It's being lifestyle-friendly for people who are just very, very busy," said Willow Creek spokeswoman Cally Parkinson.
The move is drawing mixed reviews. Critics say it's the day of the week -- not the day of the year -- that's sacred. To them, closing the doors of the church on the Lord's Day is unthinkable.
Others are troubled by the holiday's increasingly secular tone and lament the change.
Robert K. Johnston, a professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, worries that another Christian tradition is fading.
"What's going on here is a redefinition of Christmas as a time of family celebration rather than as a time of the community faithful celebrating the birth of the savior," Johnston said.
"There is a risk that we will lose one more of our Christian rituals, one that's at the heart of our faith."
The decision hasn't generated much controversy at Southland, said church spokeswoman Cindy Willison.
"We've probably had maybe half a dozen (complaints), which is understandable," Willison said.
Some churches are scaling down their Sunday schedule on Christmas.
Louisville's Southeast Christian Church, where 18,000 people worship each weekend, is scheduled to hold one service on Christmas in the fellowship hall.
Tom Shaughnessy, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington, said churches will be open because it is a holy day of obligation for Catholics, meaning attendance at Mass is required.
At least one other major Lexington congregation, Crossroads Christian Church, will close for Christmas.
Crossroads Pastor Glenn Schneiders says December 25 is no longer considered sacred by many Americans -- especially those who are not regular churchgoers.
"It's viewed more as a holiday than a holy day," he said.
Lexington Theological Seminary professor Bill Turner said some congregations find it tough to hold several Christmas Eve services, then turn around for Christmas Day services.
"You're talking about a lot of volunteers and a lot of logistics to make Sunday happen in a lot of those megachurches," he said.
At First United Methodist Church in Lexington, the pastor will perform a "blessing of the toys," and the congregation will sing Christmas carols, church spokeswoman Marsha Berry said.
"Even if there's a small group, we'll be there to worship," she said. "What better day than Christmas to experience God?"
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
05 December, 2005
Granted, there are a handful of church fathers that believed in this doctrine, but it was in the minority even then. It was not revived in the church again until the Anabaptists of the time of the reformation. (Those who held to the view were lawless in those days and their stories would make a great essay for future blogging.) When this view became popular as a whole, was through the father of dispensationalism, Darby, and popularized in the CI Scofield reference bible.
Premillennialism has a played a very minor role in the Christian church, and most theologians that hold to this view find themselves in the business of predicting the time of the second coming. (Against the words of Christ who said, "no man knoweth the day nor the hour."
AA Hodge, Outlines of Theology:
What are the principal Scriptural arguments against the pre-millennial view?
1st.The theory is evidently Jewish in its origin and Judaizing in its tendency.
2nd. It is not consistent with what the Scriptures teach. (1) As to the nature of Christ's kingdom, e.g., (a) that it is not of this world but spiritual, Matthew 13:44; John 18:36; Romans 14:17; (b) that it was not to be confined to the Jews Matthew 8:11, 12; (c) that regeneration is the condition of admission to it, John 3:3, 5; (d) that the blessings of the kingdom are purely spiritual, as pardon, sanctification, etc., Matthew 3:2, 11; Colossians 1:13, 14. (2) As to the fact that the kingdom of Christ has already come. He has sat upon the throne of his Father David ever since his ascension.Acts 2:29-36; 3:13-15; 4:26-28; 5:29-31; Hebrews 10:12, 13; Revelation 3:7-12. The Old Testament prophecies, therefore, which predict this kingdom, must refer to the present dispensation of grace, and not to a future reign of Christ on earth in person among men in the flesh.
3rd. The second advent is not to occur until the resurrection, when all the dead, both good and bad, are to rise at once. Daniel 12:2; John 5:28, 29; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 20:11, 15. Only one passage (Revelation 20:1-10) is even apparently inconsistent with the fact here asserted. For the true interpretation of that passage, see next question.
4th.The second advent is not to occur until the simultaneous judgment of all men, the good and the bad together. Matthew 7:21, 23; 13:30-43; 16:24, 27; 25:31-46; Romans 2:5, 16; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Revelation 20:11-15.
5th.The second advent is to be attended with the general conflagration and the generation of the "new heavens and the new earth."2 Peter 3:7-13; Revelation 20:11; 21:1. "Brown on the Second Advent."
-What role does eschatology play in the practical life of the believer?
-Explain the saying, All of life is eschatological?
-What should be the punishmentpredictingwrongly prediciting dates for the second coming? (Ecclesiastical and Magisterial)
01 December, 2005
We need to come before God with humility as we storm the throne room of Grace for the answers that we seek. Let us be as the prophet Isaiah and come with the understanding that we are men and women of unclean lips.
Touch thou our lips that we may be cleansed to worship thee as we ought.
The Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter xxi, Of Worship:
I. The light of nature showeth that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and doth good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.
1. Rom. 1:20; Psa. 19:1-4a; 50:6; 86:8-10; 89:5-7; 95:1-6; 97:6; 104:1-35; 145:9-12; Acts 14:17; Deut. 6:4-52. Deut. 4:15-20; 12:32; Matt. 4:9-10; 15:9; Acts 17:23-25; Exod. 20:4-6, John 4:23-24; Col. 2:18-23
II. Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to him alone;  not to angels, saints, or any other creature: and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.
3. John 5:23; Matt. 28:19; II Cor. 13:14; Eph. 3:14; Rev. 5:11-14; Acts 10:25-264. Col. 2:18; Rev. 19:10; Rom. 1:255. John 14:6; I Tim. 2:5; Eph. 2:18; Col. 3:17
III. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men: and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of his Spirit, according to his will, with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and, if vocal, in a known tongue.
6. Phil. 4:6; I Tim. 2:1; Col. 4:27. Psa. 65:2; 67:3; 96:7-8; 148:11-13; Isa. 55:6-78. John 14:13-14; I Peter 2:59. Rom. 8:26; Eph. 6:1810. I John 5:1411. Psa. 47:7; Eccl. 5:1-2; Heb. 12:28; Gen. 18:27; James 1:6-7; 5:16; Mark 11:24; Matt. 6:12, 14-15; Col. 4:2; Eph. 6:1812. I Cor. 14:14
IV. Prayer is to be made for things lawful; and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter: but not for the dead, nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.
13. I John 5:14, 16; John 15:714. I Tim. 2:1-2; John 17:20; II Sam. 7:29; II Chr. 6:14-4215. Luke 16:25-26; Isa. 57:1-2; Psa. 73:24; II Cor. 5:8, 10; Phil 1:21-24; Rev. 14:13
16. I John 5:16
V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear, the sound preaching  and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence, singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: beside religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.
17. Luke 4:16-17; Acts 15:21; Col. 4:16; I Thess. 5:27; Rev. 1:318. II Tim. 4:2; Acts 5:4219. James 1:22; Acts 10:33; Matt. 13:19; Heb. 4:2; Isa. 66:220. Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19; James 5:13; I Cor. 14:15
21. Matt. 28:19; I Cor. 11:23-29; Acts 2:4222. Deut. 6:13; Neh. 10:29; II Cor. 1:2323. Psa. 116:14; Isa. 19:21; Eccl. 5:4-524. Joel 2:12; Est. 4:16; Matt. 9:15; Acts 14:2325. Exod. 15:1-21; Psa. 107:1-43; Neh. 12:27-43; Est. 9:20-2226. Heb. 12:28.
VI. Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed: but God is to be worshiped everywhere, in spirit and truth; as, in private families  daily, and in secret, each one by himself; so, more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or willfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by his Word or providence, calleth thereunto.
27. John 4:2128. Mal. 1:11; I Tim. 2:829. John 4:23-2430. Jer. 10:25; Deut. 6:6-7; Job 1:5; II Sam. 6:18, 2031. Matt. 6:11; see Job 1:532. Matt. 6:6; 16-18; Neh. 1:4-11; Dan. 9:3-4a33. Isa. 56:6-7; Heb. 10:25; Psa. 84:1-12; 100:4; 122:1, Luke 4:16; Acts 2:42; 13:42, 44
VII. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week, and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.
34. Exod. 20:8-11; Isa. 56:2- 735. Gen. 2:2-3; I Cor. 16:1-2; Acts 20:736. Rev. 1:1037. Matt. 5:17-18; Mark 2:27-28; Rom. 13:8-10; James 2:8-12
VIII. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
38. Exod. 16:23, 25-26, 29-30; 20:8; 31:15-17; Isa. 58:13-14; Neh. 13:15-2239. Isa. 58:13-14; Luke 4:16; Matt. 12:1-13; Mark 3:1-5
-What can Westminster teach us concerning worship?
-Is this view of worship too constricting to Christian liberty?
-What are some biblical examples of men and women not worshipping according to the Bible's principle of worship?
Many young Christians are into very worldly music and attempt to reason it away using Kuyperian principles that they learned while attending Calvin College. Friends and dear readers, music is very sacred.
My children will not listen to the current rock and roll type music that calls itself Christian. Let us look at some of the covers of those CDs that all the kids are into and attempting to get their God fearing parents to spend their hard earned money on:
These should speak for themselves! Feel free to comment.