30 April, 2006

Lord's Day a' Brakel: Christian Diligence

Diligence is an ornament to the Christian, and it removes the slanderous accusation which worldly citizens make concerning the godly: that they frequent all church services, catechism lessons, lectures, and meetings (going from the one to the other), while neglecting their calling, not giving attention to their families, and being lazy. Citizens of the world think much of diligence and have little use for godliness. You, however, ought to conjoin them, so that everyone may be convinced that godliness renders people both diligent and upright. You will thus be an ornament to the church of God, put those to shame who slander godliness, and stir up others (IV: 110).

28 April, 2006

26 April, 2006

Jesus Isn't Cool: A Blog

There is a new blog in the blogosphere entitled Jesus Isn't Cool. Add it to your list of blogs to read. It is going to be a great way to stay in touch with Christian culture as well as a way to stay conversant with the movements that ebb and flow through the Christian Church. Tell me what you think!

25 April, 2006

A Breach of the Second Commandment

Without being insensitive or non~compassionate I would like you to read this article. Without getting into the fact that idolatry has consequences or without getting into the fact that God has ordained the way in which He is to be approached I would like you to read it. Without discussing what happened in the Old Testament when man turned to idols or when Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, "you do not know what you worship" I would recommend the article. Remaining compassionate and sincere I say, It saddens PRESBYTERIAN THOUGHTS to know that not all love the Word of God or the Lord Jesus although through works righteousness some attempt to approach Him.

24 April, 2006

A Seminarian on the Other Side of the Globe

Here is a letter from Puritan Reformed Seminarian Terry Klaver who is ministering in Tazmania. I thought that you could all pray for him and be encouraged by his words:

The Lord has continual provided things for me to do here in Tasmania. The longer I am here the more I see the Lord at work in the hearts and minds of the people, and the field here is truly white and ready for harvest. Please allow me to share with you some of the many things that have been going on here since I last wrote.

I continue to preach twice every Sabbath day. The people have appreciated my ministry among them, and the Lord’s Word is not coming back to Him void. Of late there have been several family visiting the Southern Presbyterian Church here in Launceston. The visitors have been from other parts of Northern Tasmania that are looking for true gospel preaching. There are several people in the area hungry for Biblical expository and experiential preaching, and many newly discovering the Reformed faith. By the grace of God, they are finding the necessary food for their hungry souls in the Southern Presbyterian Churches.
The Bible studies I have been leading with a small group of 10 to 15 of these hungry Christians has continued. The Bible study is in the Northern City of Lowhead, about a 45 minute drive from Launceston, near the mouth of the Tamar river. After having an introductory study from the book of Galatians, we have continued onto the theme of "Experiencing Salvation." We are considering together what the Word of God teaches about our sinfulness, how salvation has been provided by the Lord Jesus Christ, how the Spirit applies salvation, places a sinner in Union with Christ in the effectual calling, and the benefits of Justification, Adoption, Sanctification, and Perseverance, that flow from being united to Christ. For many of them this is the first time they have had the gospel clearly explained.

There has also been several opportunities to meet with other Christians looking for help. I have been able to make several visits, have dinners, teas, and bush walks with many searching for a clearer understanding of the Word of God and how it is to be practically lived out. Several of the people are beginning to discover sovereign grace, covenant theology, and the Puritans after being taught Pelagianism, Arminianism, and various types of works righteousness theology. They are growing but, in need of direction.

There also continues to be work with the members and adherents of the church in Launceston. I continue to visit them in their homes. The people are quite open to have you stop by if you are in the area, and seem to greatly appreciate the reading of the Word and prayer. Some of the families have even included me in their various family outings. I have been invited for family dinners, gone on day trips, and been privileged to visit with their friends and family members who are ill, or in need of encouragement. In each circumstance the Lord has helped, and we have had good and encouraging times of fellowship.

The Lord also made a way open to visit several like minded Christians from a church in the city of Ulverston in the North. In the short four days I was there I was able to make several visits, receive visits from others, and various times of tea and dinner. I was also able to meet some of the friends and loved ones of the Krul families from the Heritage Reformed Church of Chilliwack British Columbia.

I have also sought to try and understand Tasmanian history and culture a little while I am here. I have made it a priority to do some reading about the trials and difficulties of the convicts sent here, the coming of early settlers, and their relationship to the Aboriginal peoples. Early tomorrow morning I hope to go to a sunrise service in commemoration of ANZAC day. On this day the Australians remember all those who have served in the A.ustralian N.ew Z.ealand A.rmy C.orp. History is important to Australians, and in a special way it seems to the Tasmanians, but their military history especially so.

I have also tried to get a feel for the different Christian denominations, other religions, and the general outlook of the people. Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists all have a presence, as do the major cults, a remarkably large number of Free Masons, Neo-Paganism and the occult, atheism, and deism. Tasmania is a "post-Christian" place, with many people looking almost anywhere for what only the Lord Jesus Christ can provide. Sadly, many have rejected Christianity out of hand because they have never truly heard it taught, or seen it rightly modeled. The genuine Christian witness has always been small, but never more then of late it would seem. By the grace of God their was a type of "mini- revival" of the historic Reformed in Northern Tasmania 50 years ago, but due to fraction, division, and lack of sound guidance, the hot coals and bright flame has gone to embers over the years. But is appears things are changing.

The Lord is doing a work here in Tasmania, and I have been privileged to be a part of it. It will be difficult to leave. I agreed to stay in Tasmania until May 30, but will be returning home early, May 15, to my graduation from seminary on May 18, DV. The people of the church of Launceston have freely aloud me to leave early, despite agreeing with them to stay longer, and they even graciously absorbed the added cost of changing my plane flights.

During my brief few months in Tasmania, I have developed a bond with these people, and a great burden for this island. The people have begun preparations for possibly extending me a call to minister here among them. Please remember them in prayer as they contemplate extending a call, and myself as I will have to seriously consider a call if it is extended. I have no desire to leave the Heritage Reformed Churches whom I greatly love, and who have sacrificed so much for me and my training. The HRC is my Church home and Church family, but I must be open to the leading of the Lord.

Wishing the blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ from Van Diemen’s Land (otherwise known as Tasmania).

Love through out Lord Jesus Christ,
Terry Klaver

23 April, 2006

Lord's Day Dose of Wilhelmus a'Brakel

Delight yourself in your circumstances, since it is the will of God concerning you--especially since God is your Father to whom you pray daily, "Thy will be done." Since you subject yourself to His will in prayer, should you then not also subject yourself to His will in His dealings with you--even if they are not according to your desires? Submit yourself therefore to God and glorify Him in doing so (III: 391).

21 April, 2006

Social Gospel 201

Happy 80th bitrthday to the Queen of England. As the head magistrate in the United Kingdom, the beloved queen also holds office in two very distinct churches.

As head of the Church of England, the Queen is the chief decision maker of this historic denomination. In theory, she presides over each decision that is made in the denomination.

In Scotland, the Queen, in theory, is present at each of the Church of Scotland's assemblies.

In England- prelate.
In Scotland- presbyterian.

Without giving the PRESBYTERIAN THOUGHTS position just yet, what are your thoughts on a magistrate being involved in the Church? American, no. Biblical, ?

18 April, 2006

Social Gospel 101

Liberals are often those accused of turning Christianity into a political religion where Jesus desires a liberation of the poor and oppressed. This is often the case, but the 'religious right' in this country seem to be doing the same thing. For the past month I have been watching one sermon per week by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. They are interesting, they are good stories and anecdotes, they even have some biblical content..but it is not preaching.
This weeks sermon was this text:
1 Chronicles 12:32
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.

In his introduction to the sermon he told the listeners that there were two things that they needed to do in order to understand the times. The first one was to read the Bible. The second thing that a Christian needs to do is to watch Fox News. He then began to talk about the Republican party and how we need to be on board to help rebuild this country.

These were the two points:
1. We need to know doctrine. I am fine with this, except, in his explanation of what doctrines were necessary to know the times he excluded the Reformed and Presbyterians by saying,
"If you think that some men are predestined to hell and others are chosen to go to heaven, you are plain wrong. If someone really believes that then they have too much education!"
And this, "It is ridiculous to believe in a particular atonement, in a limited atonement...the atonement of Jesus was for everyone!" (At least he understood that the Reformed are well educated!)
2. We need to reinstate family values. Guess how this is done. Yep. The agenda that is the Republican party.

Rev. Falwell told us a lot about the agenda of government, the role that Liberty University plays, and some of his favorite news channels and blogs..but did he tell us about the text? Did he expound the Scriptures? Sadly, no. And the fact is- this is what one will hear at a liberal church...a gospel that is centered in Christ's mission to equipped governments. This is what is heard at Thomas Road Baptist Church as well- a gospel that is centered in Christ's mission to equipped governments (of course they are democratic, limited, and fight abortion first and foremost).

What is the difference?

17 April, 2006

Calvin on Sorrow in David

From this it appears that David contended strongly against his sorrow, lest he should yield to temptation: but what we ought chiefly to observe is, that he had experienced a strong and bitter contest before he obtained the victory over it; or we might rather say, that he was not delivered from it after one alarming assault, but was often called upon to enter into new scenes of conflict. It need not excite our wonder that he was so much disquieted and cast down, since he could not discern any sign of the divine favor towards him. But David here represents himself as if he formed two opposing parties. In so far as in the exercise of faith he relied upon the promises of God, being armed with the Spirit of invincible fortitude, he set himself, in opposition to the affections of his flesh, to restrain and subdue them; and, at the same time, he rebuked his own cowardice and imbecility of heart. Moreover, although he carried on war against the devil and the world, yet he does not enter into open and direct conflict with them, but rather regards himself as the enemy against whom he desires chiefly to contend. -Calvin on Psalm 42

16 April, 2006

Lord's Day Dose of a'Brakel

[E]veryone ought to have his private exercises of prayer, which are either prompted by extraordinary circumstances or are commonly conducted…. if we are neglectful in this, we hall perceive that communion with God will decrease. At first we shall not be aware of this, since there will be many ejaculatory prayers during the course of the day. We shall experience, however, that there will be a gradual decrease in ejaculatory prayer, and if we by renewal adhere to regular devotions, we shall perceive how far we have degenerated. Then we shall perceive that there was not such a steadfast basis for intimate communion with God, that there were no extraordinary encounters and illuminations relative to the mysteries of godliness. Yes, we shall perceive that the Spirit of prayer has departed from us and that of ourselves we are not capable to engage in fellowship with God for some period of time. Therefore he who desires to be in an assured state, to have continual fellowship with God, to attain to a higher level of illumination and experience, and to fear God steadfastly, let him strictly observe his devotional time and let him not be neglectful in this--for the devil greatly strives to bring this about (III: 465).

13 April, 2006

How Relevant Are the Confessions Today?

Westminster Into the 21st Century is a project headed up by Ligion Duncan III which will be a four volume set from modern theologians which show the relevancy of the Confession. The title is a bit deceiving since it also has articles concerning the Shorter Catechism, Larger Catechism, and some doctrines which are debatable yet confessional.

Some of the debatable articles include topics such as the Eschatology of the Assembly, The Scot's view of Establishment, and even one on the term "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs'.

There are two of the four volumes that are available at this time. I got my copy of volume two on Tuesday and by Tuesday evening my pastor had me convinced that he needed to borrow it for the article on the theology of the Larger Catechism!

10 April, 2006

Anne Bradstreet and National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month (like anyone really cares). Anne Bradstreet was one of the earliest "American" poets, but many of her poetry remained undiscovered for years. She was a Puritan woman who served Christ and loved Him deeply which is evident by her many poems that have published. She also speaks to those that are lonely of heart as well seeing that her husband, Governor Simon Bradstreet was often away on political business. In recognition of National Poetry Month, pick up a copy of her poems so that you can be refreshed in your love and commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In my distress I sought the Lord
When naught on earth could comfort give,
And when my soul these things abhorred,
Then, Lord, Thou said'st unto me, "Live."

Thou knowest the sorrows that I felt;
My plaints and groans were heard of Thee,
And how in sweat I seemed to melt
Thou help'st and Thou regardest me.

My wasted flesh Thou didst restore,
My feeble loins didst gird with strength,
Yea, when I was most low and poor,
I said I shall praise Thee at length.

What shall I render to my God
For all His bounty showed to me?
Even for His mercies in His rod,
Where pity most of all I see.

My heart I wholly give to Thee;
O make it fruitful, faithful Lord.
My life shall dedicated be
To praise in thought, in deed, in word.

Thou know'st no life I did require Longer
than still Thy name to praise,
Nor ought on earth worthy desire,
In drawing out these wretched days.

Thy name and praise to celebrate,
O Lord, for aye is my request.
O grant I do it in this state,
And then with Thee, which is the best.

09 April, 2006

Lord's Day Feature: a'Brakel on the Spiritual Life

A true prayer is originated by the Holy Spirit…. Under the administration of the means of grace he learns that the Holy Spirit is the author of prayer, and he learns from the Word of God that he must pray God for the Holy Spirit. By means of these natural convictions and motions the Holy Spirit works in the elect the inclination to pray and shows them that they neither have the right prayerful disposition, the right desires, nor do they express them correctly. The Holy Spirit will show them that He must work all this in them and that therefore they must pray for the Holy Spirit. They are thus secretly wrought upon to pray for the Spirit, and are therefore already praying for the Spirit by the Spirit. Those who presently perceive in themselves the beginnings of the operation of the Spirit will pray that this might be increased by the Spirit (III: 452-453).

06 April, 2006

People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change

Honest about the need for all Christians to change. Straightforward about the sufficiency of Scripture to bring counsel to those who need help. Compassionate in the approach. Reliant on Christ as the changer of hearts. Rebuking in calling out our fears about using the Word as the instrument of change. Worth reading for all Christians who desire to be used by God to aid in the sanctification of others.

"We must not let ourselves become comfortable with the casual, where ministry is limited to offering general principles that would fit anyone's story. The genius of personal ministry is that it is personal. It can take the grand themes of the Great Story and apply them with utter specificity to the particulars of an individual's life. Personal ministry is not preaching to a very small congregation. It is the careful ministry of Christ and his Word to the struggles of heart that have been uncovered by good questions from a committed friend. This means that an effective, God-honoring, heart-changing personal ministry idependentnt on a rich base of personal information. You cannot minister well to someone you do not know". p165

"When we approach moments of personal ministry, we do not come empty-handed, but with the theology of Scripture. The theology of the Word not only describes God's plan of redemption, it explains people as well. The Bible knows us, even to the deepest thoughts and motives of our hearts. It dramatically depicts our suffering and our joy, untangling the complexities of human relationships. It depicts human feeling, knowing, and communicating. If you read the Bible, you will know and understand people". p168

"Rebuke is the word the Bible uses for brining truth to where change is needed, yet most of us don't react positively when we hear it. For example, if I called you one night and said that I would like to come over the next morning and rebuke you, how would you respond? Would you run to a friend and say, 'The most wonderful thing is going to happen to me tomorrow! Paul is coming over to rebuke me. I can't wait! It has been so long since I have been rebuked.' That would not likely be your reaction. Many of us would rather go to the dentist and be drilled without Novocain. When we think of rebuke, we think of harsh words, red faces, ultimatums, and threats. We don't think of an act of patient and committed love. So it is important to consider what a biblical model of rebuke looks like. It is part of the Speak component of personal ministry, and we need to know what 'speaking the truth in love' is all about". p200

"Confronting people should not only confront them with failure and sin, it should also confront them with the gospel. We cannot forget this! We need to remind people of their identity in Christ (2 Peter 1:3-9; 1 John 3:1-3). We need to remind them of God's amazing promise of forgiveness (1 John 1:5-10), and the wonderful gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Eph. 3:20), who gives us strength to obey. These truths give believers the courage to examine their hearts, confess their sin, and turn to Christ. If we are speaking as agents of repentance, the law is not enough. We must come with the gospel as well". p213-214

"When we see Christians who do not exhibit Christian character or produce good fruit, we ought to ask why. What is missing? Peter's answer is, 'These people have forgotten who they are' ([2 Peter 1] v9). They have lost sight of their identity in Christ, so they do not realize the resources that are theirs. Because of this, they fail to live with hope, faith, and courage. Their problems worsen and new layers of difficulty are added. This heightens their potential to walk through life with a problem based identity. There are probably more people living like this than we would ever imagine. When I work though this passage with people, I am frequently impressed by how often they respond as if they have never heard these truths before. Their sense of who they are has usually been shaped by their problems". p262

03 April, 2006

Babies at the Lord's Supper

Paedo~communion is a doctrine that seems to be closely connected with the New Perspective on Paul. The new perspective teaches that Paul did not have a problem with the legalism of the Judaisers in the Galatian controversy, but the problem was with the refusal of Peter to commune as a Jew while Gentiles were present. It was not a Soteriological problem in the eyes of the New Perspective, but an Ecclesiological one. The idea of paedo~communion (administering the Lord's supper to infants or children who are able to eat solid food, at the discression of the parents) in the mind of those who promote it, is that since the Church is the new Israel then all of the rules of feasts from the Old Covenant apply. Logically, this leads to the New Perspective which does not have a problem with the legalism (which they call nomism) of the Judaisers, but allows for these 'cultural differences'.

Paedo~communion is attempting to maintain the continuity of the two covenants, but it is at the expense of some of the discontinuity that the New Testament writers show to exist between the covenants. As much as I love to read Douglas Wilson and the crew at Credenda Agenda, I believe that some of his latest theological hobby horses will prove to be nothing more than a Trojan horse full of heinous error.

02 April, 2006

Lord's Day Feature: a'Brakel on the Spiritual Life

Reflection consists in a continual looking unto and having fellowship with the Lord. "...walk before Me, and be thou perfect" (Gen. 17:1); "And Enoch walked with God" (Gen. 5:24). To that end it is necessary that one views God in Christ as a reconciled Father. Even when spiritual light dissipates, if one falls into sin and if strife comes, one must nevertheless hold fast to the immovableness of the covenant. It is neither your feeling nor your standing or falling which determines the steadfastness or stability of the covenant; rather, it is based on the immutability of God. "For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee" (Isa. 54:10); "For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed" (Mal. 3:6). Therefore do not succumb so readily; hold fast what you have, be steadfast in faith, and conduct yourself manfully. If, according to your feeling, you cannot conclude the certainty of your state, then make the conclusion judgmentally. Observe this in the following passages: "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:11); "Because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead" (2 Cor. 5:14). Therefore set the Lord continually before you and live in a continual dialogue with Him--at one time pray, then ask for counsel, then express your dependence upon Him, then wait upon Him, then reverently worship Him, then rest in Him, then thank Him, and then again, offer yourself to His service. Acquaint yourself thus with Him (II: 596].