31 December, 2006

Sabbath a'Brakel: Prudence

Prudence is a great virtue which is greatly praised and highly recommended in the Word of God, and is given as an extraordinary gift to God's children. It is praised as being an extraordinary ornament: "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock" (Mat. 7:24); "Who then is a faithful and wise servant...blessed is that servant...Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods" (Mat. 24:45-47) [IV: 132].

30 December, 2006

Saddam in Hell- should Christians be happy?

Just over a year ago I told you of the execution of Tookie Williams in California. This weekend Saddam Hussein was executed by the people of Iraq for murdering hundreds of Iraqi people. As Christians we are to rejoice in justice served by the sword of the magistrate, but to be heavily saddened by this death as well. Hell is never to be taken lightly since hell is not the absence of God, but the fullness of God in justice without mercy.

Ezekiel 33:11 "Say to them: 'As I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?'

Friends, if you do not know of your eternal destiny- flee to Christ for the remission of sins.

The Reformed Doctrine of Hell

29 December, 2006

Heartlessly Reformed

"Without the heart it is no worship. It is a stage play. It is an acting of a part without being that person, really. It is playing the hypocrite."
-Stephen Charnock

On this blog I talk a lot about the outward forms of worship and what constitutes worship according to the Word of God. In contemporary theology we use the term 'regulative principle of worship' to describe what God desires in worship. I have stated, and attempted to defend, what the Westminster Confession of Faith sets out as worship, and to some degree I have attempted to uphold the directory for publick worship as well.

Again, I believe that worship is strictly regulated by God and that he is to be approached only on his terms that are revealed in the Scriptures. Worship is also something that is internal and spiritual by nature. If worship is done strictly according to God's Word, but the heart is not in worship, then you are not worshiping.

The Apostle Paul tells us that worship is to be done with grace in the heart. Grace in the heart requires preparation for worship by prayer and meditation on the Word of God. Preparation is also being sure that no brothers or sisters have been offended by your behavior prior to coming to worship. Preparation requires a right frame of heart and mind and a desire to see Jesus Christ elevated in the lives of the saints.

Worship is regulated by Scripture, and part of the regulations require that Christians come to worship in a right frame of mind. Many of us 'RPW' types are quick to judge fellow believers who do not follow what Scripture says concerning the act of worship.
Are we as quick to judge our own hearts and minds when we knowingly come to worship unprepared, ill-prepared, or holding resentment in our hearts? Are we as quick to hold believers in our 'own camp' accountable for less-than-spiritual conversation on the Lord's Day, or using the day for self-fulfillment rather than complete devotion to God and Christ?
Do we desire to sacrifice the hypocrisy of our own hearts or just to make sure that every one only sings Psalms (as noble as that is)? Brothers and sisters, hold me accountable to my profession of faith, and, with the Lord's help, I will hold you accountable. Most of all, desire a right heart and mind as you approach a holy, all-consuming God in your public worship, family worship, and private worship. Do not play the hypocrite.

28 December, 2006

Edwards Speaks to the Post-Modern Church

I love reading our fathers and coming across a quote that speaks to our day and age. The churches that claim the Reformation heritage has removed many of their landmarks. They are slowly (more or less) losing their identity as Reformed churches. Pray that the Lord revives those who claim a goodly heritage.

What a dead and barren time has it now been, for a great while, with all the churches of the Reformation? The golden showers have been restrained; the influences of the Spirit suspended; and the consequence has been that the gospel has not had any eminent success. Conversions have been rare and dubious; few sons and daughters have been born to God; and the hearts of Christians not so quickened, warmed, and refreshed under the ordinances, as they have been.

-Jonathan Edwards

25 December, 2006

Library Thing

My library is being cataloged online. I am almost finished. I still have a few shelves around the house to do as well as my antiquarian books. They will have to be entered manually. I paid $25 for a lifetime membership to librarything and would recommend it for anyone that has more than $500 dollars worth of books (which most Reformed Christians do). Check it out- it is quite fun and addicting!

The Reign of Christ

De Regno Christi is a new (to me) blog that is worth linking.

24 December, 2006

Sabbath a'Brakel: On Loving God

To love God is a privilege of the elect. They, as others, were the children of wrath. However, God draws them out of the state of sin, gives them life and a child-like disposition, and thus also a loving heart. Since they are born of God, and since God is love, their nature resembles the nature of their heavenly Father, and they love Him. Their intellect, will, and affections have not only been rendered capable, but they are also active in love toward God. It is not sufficient for them to nourish love within, but they are active in manifesting this with their tongue, eye, and the entire body. They are thus known as lovers of God and are therefore also referred to as "those that love." Ye that love the LORD, hate evil" (Psa. 97:10); "They that love His Name shall dwell therein" (Psa. 69:36) [III: 266].

22 December, 2006

Christmass in the 1660s

This is what you would have seen in New England in the 1660s if you were about town during the Christmass season.

21 December, 2006

The Schooling of Christ

So why are you a Christian? Archibald Alexander probes us to ask this question. Have you been converted to Christ by the Spirit of God, or are you a Christian because that is how you have been raised. It is worth meditating on whether you believe because you have been taught thus by earthly tutors, or have you been taught at the footstool of Christ?

“Suppose a person to be educated in the Christian religion from childhood, and is taught to believe that the Scriptures are of divine authority, that Christ is the only Savior and that he must depend upon Him alone for salvation together with all the other doctrines which are essential to salvation. He has that kind of faith in these things which is common to most men who live in a Christian country. He believes them as he does a historical record. And we may suppose him also to attend to the external part of all those duties which he has been taught as incumbent on him as a Christian, he may also have exercises which seem to resemble those of a real Christian, and may have his mind sometimes considerably engaged in thinking about religion. This man is possessed of what I would call a dead faith, and it is of the very same kind he would have had if he had been educated in the religion of Mohammed; for he believes in Christ for the very same reason, and in the same manner which a Turk believes in Mohammed."
-Dr. Archibald Alexander, 1772-1851, Princeton Seminary

19 December, 2006

The Quiver Is Filling

We will be needing one of these as we expecting our third child.
Please pray for us as Lydia is still in the beginning stages of the pregnancy.

Psalm 127

A Song of degrees for Solomon.

Except the LORD build the house,
they labour in vain that build it except the LORD keep the city,
the watchman waketh but in vain.
Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD...
and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;
so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:
they shall not be ashamed,
but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

18 December, 2006

Voices in Print

Good books have always been a way to feed the soul. It is amazing to me how through the inventions of methods of printing have been a way for the godly men of old to maintain a voice within the Church. It is quite plausible to say that without the technology of mass printing the Reformation and Second Reformations would not have occurred. Maybe a third Reformation will be spurned by the use of new technology- but until then, read the good books!

"Bring the cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus when you come, and the books, especially the parchments." (2 Timothy 4:13)

When we consider how much good has been done by the published works of such men as Baxter, Owen, Doddridge, Alleine, Boston, Edwards, etc., we wonder that men gifted with a talent for writing attractively and powerfully, do not devote more of their time to the preparation of good books. But although, in theory, we acknowledge the all-pervading power of the press, yet the importance of the subject is not practically felt in all its momentous consequences. The man who is enabled to write a truly evangelical and useful book, or even a single tract of first-rate excellence, may convey the saving truth of the gospel to a thousand times more people than the living preacher can ever instruct by his voice. And hundreds of years after the death of the writer, the production of his pen may be but just commencing its career of usefulness, only to be terminated with the end of the world. Those men, therefore, who are blessed with the ability of producing one work of evangelical excellence, may be considered among the most highly favored of our race, and must enjoy a rich reward hereafter.
The plan of first publishing important views of evangelical truth from the pulpit, and then from the press, with such changes as may serve to render them more popular, is a wise economy of time; and considering the incalculable power of the press, more of our learned and eloquent preachers should avail themselves of this method of benefiting the public, by diffusing abroad the precious truths of the gospel. -Archibald Alexander

17 December, 2006

Sabbath a'Brakel

There is no sin from which a regenerated person is safeguarded in an absolute sense. Nobody can say: "I shall never fall into that sin." A person will never be delivered from the indwelling corruption of his nature. It will always prevent and defile that which is good, always stir up lusts, and daily cause a man to offend in many things, doing so either out of carelessness, or due to the sudden occurrence of an event (IV: 255).

13 December, 2006

The Immediate Future

My semester is winding down, which feels nice for awhile. Here is what is left:
  • I have one take home exam for Experiential preaching that I have to complete by Monday.
  • I have a Bernard of Clairvaux paper that I just need to edit and then turn in.
  • I have to finish a sermon that I am writing on I John 3.1-3.

When I am finished I have a few things that I am really looking forward to:

10 December, 2006

Something With Which To Buy Time While I Finish Out the Semester

Today we are going to check where we are in the scope of theological traditions. You can do it here and you have to post the results in the comments section.

For the record- I was 100% Presbyterian-Reformed (can you imagine?)

Sabbath a'Brakel: The Sad Truth

The eating from this tree was not a minor sin, even though the eating of the fruit itself was a small matter. Rather, it was a dreadful crime in which the breaking of the entire law was comprehended. It was a breach of love, obedience, and the covenant, resulting in the perdition of himself and all his descendants (I: 372).

09 December, 2006

Let the Nations Be Glad!

Many evangelical Christians believe that evangelism is the highest calling of the Christian life. Many believe that they are converted so that they can lead others to Christ. Although as Christians we are to be missions minded and evangelistic, this is not our ultimate purpose. Worship of the true and living God is the highest end of the Christian life. We are to glorify and enjoy our Sovereign Lord!

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.”
- John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad

07 December, 2006

Salt Losing Saltiness

Some churches will lose their saltiness and cease from being churches at all. Some turn into social clubs, some become cults, and others become part of the false church led by Anti-Christ. We should pray for the well-being of our churches. We should pray that she aims to regain the attainments she once had as well as be relevant to her current cultural surrounding. The burden of the church should be on the heart of all true believers.

“It follows, also, from the very nature of the visible Church and its condition in this world, that its purity is a matter of degree, varying at different times and in different sections. The teaching of Scripture as to the nature of the kingdom under the present dispensation (Matt. xiii.), the nature of man yet imperfectly sanctified, and the universal experience of the churches, lead us to the conclusion that the very purest churches are yet very imperfect, and will continue so to the end, and that some will become so corrupt as to lose their character as true churches of Christ altogether.” -AA Hodge, The Confession of Faith

05 December, 2006

Thought for the First Week of Advent

Nothing says reverence and awe this Christmass season than a violation of the second commandment in which Jesus is a baby carrot.

04 December, 2006

How Long O Lord?

Our Presbyterian forefathers had to give up so much. If persecution came to our country, what would we be willing to give up for the sake of the Gospel? Someone once said, If the Church wants the fashions of Egypt, let her have Egypt's plagues as well. Clothing suitable for a Christian is that which he is willing to die in. Jesus said, 'in this world you would have trouble...'.

I pray that my family would be faithful in times of persecution- the 'killing times' in Scotland took 20,000 faithful men to glory as martyrs. How long O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

On July 22, 1680, faithful Richard Cameron was martyred in Airsmoss. His head and hands cut off and taken to Edinburgh, just as Robert M'Ward had spoken. Before his murderers committed the barbarous act of publicly displaying his head and hands upon the Netherbow Port, they first had one further act of antichristian cruelty to enact. His father being in prison for the same cause, they carried them to him, to add grief unto his former sorrow, and inquired at him if he knew them. Taking his son's head and hands which were very fair--being a man of fair complexion like himself--he kissed them, and said, "I know--I know them; they are my son's--my own dear son's. It is the Lord--good is the will of the Lord, who cannot wrong me nor mine, but hath made goodness and mercy to follow us all our days." After which, by order of the Council, his head was fixed upon the Netherbow Port, and his hands beside it with the fingers upward.

-John Howe, Scot's Worthies

03 December, 2006

Sabbath a'Brakel: Temperment Test

Take to heart what manner of person you are before God and what will befall you due to this.

(1) Do you have such an even-tempered and stable disposition of heart when people maltreat you in word and deed?

(2) Or do you have a cross, fretful, and irritable nature? Do you have as many spines as a porcupine does, or are you as prickly as a bush of thorns, so that one cannot be in your presence without being pricked? (IV: 84-85).

02 December, 2006

New Meeting Place

The Associate Reformed Church of Grand Rapids has a new meeting place.
We would love if you could join us for worship!
We are meeting at the lovely chapel of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and have space for growth.
Morning Worship: 10 AM
Sabbath School: 11:30 AM
Evening Worship: 6 PM

2965 Leonard Street NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49525

Come and experience historically Reformed, yet contemporary worship.

01 December, 2006

A Showcase of the Kingdom of God

"Israel was to be a living example or 'showcase' of the righteous kingdom of God. The nations could learn through the faith and life of Israel and say, Here are people who know and serve a wonderful God. His laws are fair and benefit everyone. They even protect the animals and preserve the soil. Best of all, these people have hope.." -Roger Greenway, Go and Make Disciples, P&R

Is this what the world sees in the Church? Does the Church posess the ability of being seen by an unbelieving world as a people who 'showcase' the righteousness of the kingdom of God? Does the church even have an understanding of what the kingdom of God is, nonetheless a righteous one? And does the world see a people with hope, or do they see the same materialism, worldlimindedness, and pessimism that has become a cultural norm?

30 November, 2006

Pagan TV Attacks Sacred Things

The History Channel needs to double check its sources! They claim that days that many Christians hold dear are actually pagan!

29 November, 2006

A True Friend Is an Honest Friend

Here is a good quote that Dr. Beeke shared with us today during Homiletics. The context was in giving application that is relevant for a minister's specific congregation. I think that this is to be something of what all true Christians are to experience in communion of the saints. When you look at the book of Proverbs on what it means to be a friend- it rings all the more true!

“The man that loves you the most is the man that tells you the most about yourself.”
- Robert Murray McCheyne

28 November, 2006

Today is My Birthday

Today is my 29th birthday. It has been a wonderful day!

I had the opportunity to lead worship at chapel at Puritan Seminary.

This was my outline of Revelation 19.11-16:
I. The Character of the Rider
A. Faithful
B. True
C. Judges war righteously
II. The Artillery of the Rider
A. The Description of the rider
1. Eyes as a flame of fire
2. Kingly attire
3. Called the Word of God
B. The description of the rider's army
1. Martyrs of Revelation 6
2. On white horses
3. No weapons but righteousness
III. The Purpose of the Rider
A. smite the nations
B. rule with a rod of iron
C. tread the winepress
D. proclaim himself King of King and Lord of Lords.

And what did I get for my birthday you ask?
Let me preface with 'Thou shalt not covet':
I received volume one, number one of the Reformed Presbyterian Covenanter from January, 1863.

I also received the new edition of the 1599 Geneva Bible in Genuine Leather.

Happy birthday to me!

27 November, 2006

The Reverend Jesse Jackson Speaks

The Reverend Jesse Jackson has called for Hollywood to stop using words that are
offensive to racial minorities.
Fine, good, great.
I call on Jesse Jackson to stop calling himself Reverend.
That title,
applied to his name,
is offensive to Christians.

Is IKEA the New Reformation?

26 November, 2006

Sabbath a' Brakel: Promises Stored

He who, in reading the Bible, has accumulated numerous promises to be readily available upon becoming subject to a trial has a great advantage (II: 619).

25 November, 2006

Thomas Smyth on Harmony Amongst Church Members

1. To remember that we are all subject to failings and infirmities, of one kind or another.—Matt 7:1-5; Rom 2:21-23.

2. To bear with and not magnify each other's infirmities.—Gal 6:1.

3. To pray one for another in our social meetings, and particularly in private.—James 5:16.

4. To avoid going from house to house, for the purpose of hearing news, and interfering with other people's business.—Lev 19:16.

5. Always to turn a deaf ear to any slanderous report, and to allow no charge to be brought against any person until well founded and proved.—Prov 25:23.

6. If a member be in fault, to tell him of it in private, before it is mentioned to others.—Matt 18:15.

7. To watch against shyness of each other, and put the best construction on any action that has the appearance of opposition or resentment.—Prov 10:12.

8. To observe the just rule of Solomon, that is, to leave off contention before it be meddled with.—Prov 17:14.

9. If a member has offended, to consider how glorious, how God-like it is to forgive, and how unlike a Christian it is to revenge.—Eph 4:2.

10. To remember that it is always a grand artifice of the Devil, to promote distance and animosity among members of Churches, and we should, therefore, watch against everything that furthers his the Devil's end.—James 3:16.

11. To consider how much more good we can do in the world at large, and in the Church in particular when we are all united in love, than we could do when acting alone, and indulging a contrary spirit.—John 13:35.

12. Lastly, to consider the express injunction of Scripture, and the beautiful example of Christ, as to these important things.—Eph 4:32; 1 Pet 2:21; John 13:5,35.

(via Crazy Calvinist)

24 November, 2006

RPCNA Sites of Interest

It is no secret that I would like to preach in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America when I am completed with my Master's of Divinity. I am attempting to compile a list of websites that will be of interest to anyone who would like to know more about the RPCNA. Please add to this list via the comments section if you know of any more.

Main denominational website

Wikipedia definition and articles

Position paper on worship and history

A downloadable and printable Constitution (what they believe)

A list of Congregations

Some of their Youth Ministries

Short Term Mission trips

Home Missions and Church Planting

Exciting Foreign Missions (including one in Japan and one in Cyprus)

Their denominational college

Their denominational Seminary

Their denominational publishing house

Book of the Year

Meet The Puritans has won book of the year by Shepherd's Scrapbook. This book is a worthy tome and is an excellent reference for those who want to get to know the Puritans better. Beeke and Pederson have given a biography of each Puritan- American, English, Scottish, and Dutch. They also list the Puritan books that have been reprinted in the last 50 years. Rev. Ray Lanning has compiled a wonderful glossary of terms, places, and concepts.

The book retails for $35, but at Heritage Books you can get one for $25. I will also pick up a copy for anyone local. (I have a loaner copy as well- if you would like to add it to your library, but would like to peruse it first, let me know.)

22 November, 2006

Thanksgiving ad fontes

Today Thanksgiving is called Turkey-day and it is when people over-eat and sit and watch NFL football all afternoon (at least that's how it was in my home growing up). Historically it was a great time of thanking the Lord for his provisions and a day set apart for worship and for prayer. Do we come to the Thanksgiving table with that same devotion to Christ that our Puritan forefathers did?

Our Corne did proue well, & God be praysed, we had a good increase of Indian Corne, and our Barly indifferent good, but our Pease not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sowne, they came vp very well, and blossomed, but the Sunne parched them in the blossome; our harvest being gotten in, our Governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a more speciall manner reioyce together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labors; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst vs, and among the rest their greatest King Massasoyt, with some nintie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed fiue Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed upon our Governour, and upon the Captaine, and others. And although it be not alwayes so plentifull, as it was at this time with vs, yet by the goodneses of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty. -Edward Winslow, December 11, 1621

They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty; for some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, & bass, & other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no wante. And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter aproached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degree). And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they took many, besids venison, &c. Besids they had aboute a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corne to yt proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their freinds in England, which were not fained, but true reports.
-Governor William Bradford

21 November, 2006

The Conquering Warrior-King

I have been meditating on Christ's kingdom a lot of late. I have been especially moved by the amount of places in Scripture that present the kingdom of Christ as one that will issue forth as a force that will not be stopped.

In our time, and from our point-of-view, it may seem as though the cause of Christ is being lost in our culture. We cannot despair. He who is called Faithful and True is riding forth to conquer- and he will.

Revelation 19. 11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

20 November, 2006

Hearing Preaching in Post-Modernity

The concept of preaching has been challenged in the post-modern evangelical church. This may be because the preaching is not good, but it may also be that the hearing is not good.

Preachers need to be diligent in making their sermons Christ centered, exegetical, and applicatory to these post-modern times. On the other hand, hearers of sermons need to train their minds, ears, and rear-ends to endure a 40 minute sermon. My generation has the attention span of a gnat. I have heard it said that even in conversation the 20-somethings down to teens are not really having conversations, but verballing IM-ing each other.

With our culture being visually oriented and having less and less abilities to focus and to concentrate, we as Christians need to retrain our minds and be not conformed to the ways of this world. After-all, faith comes by hearing- and that requires a preacher.

The Right Hearing of Preaching
By this subject matter of preaching the word of God, we may receive a good direction to observe two caveats enjoined by Christ concerning hearing:

The first is concerning the matter which we hear, "Take heed what you hear," Mark 4:24. We must hear nothing with approval except what we know to be the word of God. We must, therefore, be well acquainted with the Scriptures ourselves, and by them test the things which we hear, whether they are the word of God or not, as the men of Berea did, Acts 17:11.

The second caveat is concerning the manner of hearing, "Take heed how you hear," Luke 18:18. That which we know to be grounded upon the Scriptures we must receive, "not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God," 1 Thess. 2:13. We must with reverence attend to it; we must in our hearts believe, and we must in our lives obey it.
-William Gouge, (1575-1653)

19 November, 2006

Sabbath a' Brakel

Listen to the knocking and arousing voice of the Lord Jesus and reflect upon the words of the bride: "I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night." She, not being worthy of arising says, "My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him...My soul failed when he spake" (Song of Sol. 5:2, 4, 6) [IV: 273].

17 November, 2006

All Roads Lead to Rome

Eight Days OF Silence is an article about a Christian Reformed minister who went to a monastery and was silent for eight days. This experience was considered to be invigorating and reviving of his own personal spiritual life. He encourages us to do the same thing.

Is this really what minister's of the Gospel are supposed to be doing? Does a church with the name Reformed attached remember from what we have reformed? Does the blood of the martyrs not cry out against such practices that attempt to bring us, once again, under the blood-stained-staff of the so called Holy Father of Rome?

If we are going to drop the distinctives that Reformed churches have maintained since the 1500s (and not to mention the lights that shone in the Ancient and Medieval church), should we not just pack our bags and go knocking on the door of Saint Peter's basilica?

I desire one united catholic church- if others desire the same thing and have no problems with the errors and abuse of Rome- then they should return unto her shepherd. She is there to welcome you with open arms!

13 November, 2006

An Emotional and Logical Religion

Does your heart burn with within as grace is exercised? Does God excite your heart as you live out of obedience to Him? True religion is one that changes the way that we use our emotions and respond to God through them. True religion is not just an exercise of the mind.

The Spirit of God, in those that have sound and solid religion, is a spirit of powerful holy affection; and therefore, God is said to have given them the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (II Tim. 1:7). And such, when they receive the Spirit of God, in his sanctifying and saving influences, are said to be baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire; by reason of the power and fervor of those exercises the Spirit of God excites in their hearts, whereby their hearts, when grace is in exercise, may be said to burn within them; as is said of the disciples (Luke 24:32).
-Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections

Sabbath a' Brakel: Offices of Christ

Come to this Prophet, humbly beseeching Him that He will teach and guide you. "Shew me Thy ways, O LORD; teach me Thy paths; "Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me" (Psa. 25:4-5); "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law" (Psa. 119:18). Then believe that He shall hear you and grant you wisdom. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering" (James 1:5-6), that is, doubting neither the power and the willingness of the Lord nor the fact that He will grant any matter at His time, in His manner, and in a measure determined by Him (I: 529)

08 November, 2006

Living Out of Feelings or Living by Faith?

Ebenezer Erskine ( One of the founders of the Associate Presbyterian Church) makes the distinction in his preaching between the assurance of faith and what he calls 'the assurance of sense'. This distinction is what we would call living by your feelings versus living by faith. One man places his trust in his religious experience. The other man places his trust in the promises of God and by faith.

1. Sense gives an important status to what is enjoyed and in hand, but faith looks to all of what man has in Christ comprehensively.
2. Sense is ready to judge of the love of God by providences; Faith wreaths the love of God in all circumstances.
3. Sense and sight is a variable and fluctuating thing, but faith is steady and fixed like Abraham who against hope staggered against unbelief.
4. Sight and sense look only to things present, but faith, like a prophet looks to things to come.
5. Sense and sight are superficial and are easily taken in with appearances bt faith is a diving thing (it probes deeply).
6. Sense and faith differ in their order. Faith is the leader and sense is the follower. Faith is duty and sense follows in the wake of faith.
7. Sense is hasty and precipitous in judgment; faith is patient and waits to see God's end.
8. A life of sense is dangerous; a life of faith is sure and safe.
9. Sense has its only foundation and confidences within the believer himself, ittreadss in the shallow waters of experimental attainments and marks of grace; but faith has its foundation outside the man with Christ in God's covenant and in the great and precious promises. While the Mariner stays in the shallow waters in continuous fear of rocks and sandbars- while he is in the deep waters he feels safe. So it is with the shallowness of living out of sense and depths of living by faith.

06 November, 2006

Kerugma: A New "To Me" Blog

Kerugma: Pulpit and Pew
is a new blog that I have linked. Please check it out and see some of the great thoughts that are being published there. Pastor Lewis is a former Covenanter in the RPNA, in Edmonton Canada. He is also a former ARP minister. Pastor Lewis is now serving in the Free Reformed Churches.

I had the opportunity of meeting him at Puritan Seminary where he sat in on one of my sermon critiques. He had some great recommendations and we had the opportunity to spend some time together speaking of the great depths of the riches of Christ.

I would also recommend listening to his sermon on Sermon Audio entitled Preparation For Rain. It is a true call to the church that all should hear!

05 November, 2006

A Meditation From the Depths Towards the Heights

Sometimes in the Christian experience we have dark nights of the soul. These are times when our experiences of the world around are affecting us to the point where God feels far from us. Our soul longs for closeness and communion with God, through Christ, yet we cannot muster the energy to bring worship from the depths of our being. The Puritans referred to these times as being in the Valley of Vision. This is where we are brought low as into a valley for the purpose of seeing our loving God on the apex of the mountains above us.

The Psalms are perfect meditations for times in the Valley of Vision. John Calvin called the Psalms a complete anatomy of Christian experience. Allow me to share one such Psalm that I have been meditating on today. May the Lord be blessed as we command praise from the depths of our souls!

The tune is Freu Dich Sehr, also entitled, Thirsting. The text is a translation of the Genevan poet Louis Bourgeous' rendition of Psalm 42. It was originally written in 1551 and then translated by Dewey Westra in 1931.

This meditative Psalm is one that is worth putting into memory for such a time as this. Again, may the Lord be blessed as we walk in the Valley of Vision.

As the hart, about to falter,
In its trembling agony,
Panteth for the brooks of water,
So my soul doth pant for Thee.
Yea, athirst for Thee I cry;
God of life, O when shall I
Come again to stand before Thee
In Thy temple, and adore Thee?

Bitter tears of lamentation
Are my food by night and day;
In my deep humiliation
Where is now thy God? they say.
Yea, my soul doth melt in me,
When I bring to memory,
How of yore I did assemble
With the joyful in Thy temple.

O my soul, why art thou grieving,
Why disquieted in me?
Hope in God, thy faith retrieving;
Let Him still thy refuge be.
I shall yet extol His grace
For the comfort of His face;
He has ever turned my sorrow
Into gladness on the morrow.

From the land beyond the Jordan
I bewail my misery;
From the foothills of Mount Hermon,
O my God, I think of Thee.
As the waters plunge and leap,
Deep re-echoes unto deep;
All Thy waves and billows roaring
O'er my troubled soul are pouring.

But the Lord will send salvation,
And by day His love provide;
He shall be my exultation,
And my song at eventide.
On His praise e'en in the night
I will ponder with delight,
And in prayer, transcending distance,
Seek the God of my existence.

I will say to God, my fortress:
Why hast Thou forsaken me?
Why go I about in sadness
For my foes' dread tyranny?
Their rebukes and scoffing words
Pierce my bones as pointed sword,
As they say with proud defiance:
Where is God, thy soul's reliance?

O my soul, why art thou grieving;
Why disquieted in me?
Hope in God, thy faith retrieving;
He will still thy refuge be.
I shall yet through all my days
Give to Him my thankful praise;
God, who will from shame deliver,
Is my God, my rock, forever.

Sabbath a'Brakel: On Unconverted Church Members

By maintaining that only true believers are members of the church, we do not claim that there are no unconverted in the congregation, but that they are not present as true members there. There neither has been, nor will ever be a church upon earth in which there are no unconverted, that is, those who merely run along; yes, the latter are generally in the majority. There is a significant difference between being in the church, and being of the church (II: 14).

02 November, 2006

Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts

Some of the greatest meditations on the life and work of the Lord Jesus Christ come from the pen of the 12th century mystic, Bernard of Clairvaux. Bernard is highly honored amongst those in the experiential Christian tradition. Bernard is extensively quoted by John Calvin as well as by many Puritan authors. He is well known for his work on the Love of God as well as for his extensive meditations on the relationship between Christ and his Bride as described in the book of Canticles.
Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.

Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;
Thou savest those that on Thee call;
To them that seek Thee Thou art good,
To them that find Thee all in all.

We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
Wherever our changeful lot is cast;
Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
Blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast.

O Jesus, ever with us stay,
Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away,
Shed over the world Thy holy light.

31 October, 2006

Happy Reformation Day

489 Years

O the depth of the riches

both of the

wisdom and knowledge

of God!

how unsearchable are his judgments,

and his ways past finding out!

For who hath known the mind of the Lord?

or who hath been his counsellor?

Or who hath first given to him,

and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

For of him,

and through him,

and to him,

are all things:

to whom be glory for ever.


Romans 11:33-36

30 October, 2006

Where Do You Stand?

When the great doctor of the Reformation was asked to recant his writings since they went against the papacy and the traditions of the church, Luther was slow to speak and was quite articulate. In today's church we tend to be more quick to defend the status quo, and less likely to disrupt the supposed peace in our churches and denominations.

If there are things taught that are contrary to Scripture- we must stand for what is right. If there are practices that are contrary to the Word of God- we must defend the biblical positions.

Brothers and sisters, as heirs of the Protestant Reformation, we have a duty to guard and defend those truths that were recovered almost 600 years ago. I cannot imagine that the serious error and apostasy of the medieval church came in over-night or with one great sweep. We must stand on the Word of our savior. God help us.

I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen. -Dr. Martin Luther

29 October, 2006

Sabbath a'Brakel: Benefits of Your Election

The assurance of one’s election also affords much liberty and gives much support in prayer. One may approach unto God and say, “My Father! Hast Thou not known me by name and have I not found grace in Thine eyes? Hast Thou not eternally known me to be one of Thy own, chosen me to be Thy child and the object of Thy love, and wondrously to glorify me by Thy grace, mercy, and faithfulness, which manifests itself in the way in which Thou hast led me and wilt lead me? Therefore, oh Father, consider the trials and tribulations which I fear, the troubles which press me down, and my sinfulness which oppresses me. These matters I desire, these are the needs of my body, and these are my spiritual desires. May it therefore please Thee to look down upon Thy chosen one and upon the object of Thy favor. May it please Thee to hear me and to grant my desire.” How this yields liberty, familiarity, faith that my prayer will be answered, and quiet submission! (I: 249-250).

27 October, 2006

Martin Luther on School Reform

I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.
-Martin Luther

How much more in today's society and in today's places of higher learning. May we love the Scriptures and seek out God in them as dilligent schoolmen in the school of the Lord Jesus Christ.

26 October, 2006

Luther on True Prayer

“All who call on God in true faith, earnestly from the heart, will certainly be heard, and will receive what they have asked and desired, although not in the hour or in the measure, or the very thing which they ask. Yet they will obtain something greater and more glorious than they had dared to ask.”
- Dr. Martin Luther

And what is it, dear Dr. Luther, for which we ask? We ask for none other than the reform of the Church. We desire to see the Bride of Christ, the glorious Church live as a pure bride, devoted to her husband and glorious head.

Brothers and sisters, pray for the Church. Pray that the broken walls of Zion would be rebuilt.

25 October, 2006

Derek Webb- The Church

I have come with one purpose
to capture for myself a bride
by my life she is lovely
by my death she’s justified

I have always been her husband
though many lovers she has known
so with water I will wash her
and by my word alone
so when you hear the sound of the water
you will know you’re not alone

‘cause I haven’t come for only you
but for my people to pursue
you cannot care for me with no regard for her
if you love me you will love the church

I have long pursued her
as a harlot and a whore
but she will feast upon me
she will drink and thirst no more
so when you taste my flesh and my blood
you will know you’re not alone

‘cause I haven’t come for only you
but for my people to pursue
you cannot care for me with no regard for her
if you love me you will love the church

there is none that can replace her
though there are many who will try
and though some may be her bridesmaids
they can never be my bride

‘cause I haven’t come for only you
but for my people to pursue
you cannot care for me with no regard for her
if you love me you will love the church

23 October, 2006

Split Peas

Here is a nice map of all of the main Presbyterian bodies in the USA. It shows the places of origin and the splits that have occured. This is a good resource for Presbyterians who have to try to explain where they are from and why their church was never connected with the PC (USA).

* The promoting of this map does not mean that I promote schism of any kind, nor does it justify why the Presbyterian churches are in such a state of chaos. Remember- the Lord prayed that we would be one as the Father and the Son are one. Much shame is on the Presbyterians for their schismatic ways.
Hebrew grammar test this Thursday and a vocabulary test a week from tomorrow. Pray for me.

22 October, 2006

Sabbath a'Brakel: On Reading the Word

Read, search, and meditate upon the Word of God with all diligence and persistence. This should even be the practice of kings. "And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life" (Deu. 17:19). It is the duty of scholars as well. "Give attendance to reading" (1 Tim. 4:13). It is the privilege and obligation of the lowly and of every individual. "Search the Scriptures" (John 5:39); "Have ye not read?" (Mat. 12:3).

The eunuch read while riding in his chariot (Acts 8:28). The Bereans searched the Scriptures daily (Acts 17:11). How everyone ought to practice this in private, prior to going to work, both by himself alone, and with his family! At noon when one nourishes his body, he ought also to nourish his soul. In the evening after work, one must end the day by seeking some refreshment from the Word of God. In the meantime, while engaged in his occupation, by meditating upon what has been read, the soul will maintain communion with God. He will be enabled to understand the spiritual meaning as well as to experience the power of God's Word. This will cause the soul to grow in grace, protect against vain thoughts, control the tongue, suppress corruptions, and direct man to fear God (I: 77).

21 October, 2006

Mother Kirk and Her Translations

I have not read the book- but here are some quotes that were sent to me from a fellow seminarian during a discussion on translation and textual traditions. If the quotes are reflective of the quality of the book, then it is quite worthy as a read.

'Now when the Reformers first rejected the abuses of the Roman Catholic church, they did so on the basis of Sola Scriptura - the Roman Catholic church responded by collecting all the variant textual readings and then holding them up in front of the Reformers and asked, which one is scripture alone? you need the Roman Catholic church and the Pope to tell you.'

'The Reformers responded, not as scientists, examining every textual manuscript (which they couldn't anyway, because the Vatican had most of them), but as confessing Christians, and said that the Sola Scriptura was contained in the manuscript family which contained the overwhelming number of manuscripts = the Received Text. (80% of all manuscripts).'

'The Reformers looked at the variant texts and saw what man can do (that is, thousands of scribal errors). Then they looked to the Received Text (or Textus Receptus; not the same as the Majority Text), and saw what God does (that is, He uphold His Word accurately).'

'All the protestant bible tanslations up to the KJV used the Received Text, until the NIV introduced textual criticism. Now most Bibles include the variant texts, because they're thought to be older and better. This is leaving the thoughts of the Reformers.'