28 September, 2006

Prepare Ye Your Heart

The Reformed doctrine of Holy Communion is one of great comfort to the Christian. The Christian is called to enter into the heavens to sit with Christ and to commune with Him. O to be with him and to learn at his feet. May he teach us something of the greatness of his majesty, the fullness of His love, and the depths to which he went to satisfy the demands of the law to pay God's righteous penalty for us to have eternal life. Blessed be the Holy One of Israel.
"Your eyes are looking at bread and cup. This is the evidence before your physical sight. But your faith must be instructed concerning it - this bread being Christ 's Body and the cup containing His Blood. Though perhaps these words may be enough to initiate faith, faith must be further instructed in accordance with the Prophet's words:
'Believe that you may understand' ( Is 7:9).
-St. Augustine of Hippo

25 September, 2006

Emerging Right Along

This is a comment from Chuch Weise from Dutton United Reformed Church. Mr.Weise was commenting on the Emergent Church movement in response to a question concerning the Reformed response to this movement. His comments are quite helpful so I am (without permission) giving it to all of you.

In my opinion the best resource available is a book by D.A. Carson called "Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church." He does a good job providing an honest critique of the movement and particularly McLaren's book "A Generous Orthodoxy." I would also recommend reading McLaren's book as well as Rob Bell's book "Velvet Elvis" to get an understanding of where they are coming from. Both end up saying things you would expect to hear from Robert Schuller. Neither seem to have much theological training.McLaren seems to want to define Christianity in the beginning of his book with the Nicene Creed but then critiques Calvin later on for executing Christians who disagreed with him. The only person I know of that Calvin had some part in the execution of was Servetus who was anti-Trinitarian.

It is interesting that McLaren's harshest criticisms in the book seem to be directed at Calvinism. He seems to be very positive towards the other groups he refers to. McLaren even spends some time apologizing for those horrible masculine pronouns in the Bible.

Bell's book is heavily influenced by the teachings of Ray Vanderlaan and I think the Reformed community in general needs to be very careful in how it uses Vanderlaan's material. Bell claims that when Peter is rebuked by Jesus for his lack of faith it is not for lack of faith in Jesus but lack of faith in himself. This is one of the things lifted from Vanderlaan. I don't think Bell has any real training in Hebrew but he almost leaves the impression that you can't have any understanding of the Bible without it. He seems to think that the Talmud should always be read back into the Bible.Bell does bring up some important issues, such as the need to study the Bible in community but he does not provide any real guidelines in how to do that.

Keith Mathison's book "The Shape of Sola Scriptura" addresses the same problem but deals with the issue in a more in depth and Biblical way.Both McLaren and Bell seem to be mostly writing about themselves which is common in evangelicalism. Everything is related to some experience they had or how they feel. McLaren claims to be writing in the spirit of Chesterton but Chesterton was very harsh towards such self-centered people who couldn't tell you about anything except in relationship to themselves. When I read McLaren and Bell it reminds me of reading Plato. They are good at showing real problems in evangelicalism but when it comes to providing solutions they don't really have any reasonable ones.

I hope that the movement causes Reformed Christians to look back to the 16th Century Reformers and embrace the ancient traditions that the Reformers did. The more Reformed Churches start looking like evangelicalism, the more their members will be easy prey for the emerging church movement. The Reformed Churches should also recognize the need for a strong community of believers. Church can't just be a place you go to twice on Sunday.It's important to realize who these people are reacting against. They are both critiquing evangelicalism but both still working within and evangelical mindset. They are not the root problem, the evangelical paradigm is. Their methodology is no less Biblical than the common evangelical one. They are starting to question things in evangelicalism and that is good and hopefully will lead to dialog with the Reformed community.

Chuck Wiese
Dutton URC
Grand Rapids, MI

24 September, 2006

If the Devil ran against Senator Clinton- who would you vote for?

Lord's Day a'Brakel

This love [for Christ] will cause a minister to pray much for the congregation and pray that he himself might receive grace to communicate this to the congregation. He will study for his sermons prayerfully, and he will prayerfully traverse the street towards the pulpit. His prayer is not that he may avoid disgrace or shame, nor that he may speak in a manner pleasing to the congregation, rendering him honor and respect and enabling him to draw crowds. If such is his secret motive (even if he does not say so expressly) and he pretends to have another motive while praying for the honor of God and the edification of the congregation, he frequently does this to satisfy his conscience, but his own honor is his primary motive. Love, however, will cause him at all times to pray for the congregation, thereby seeking her benefit. "Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith" (1 Th. 3:10) [II: 134].

21 September, 2006

Parson's Hebrew Tutor

I have found a Hebrew Tutorial that I think will help me with my studies. I am also receiving private tutoring from Dr. Bilkes who is a master of these Semetic languages. I am having a difficult time with it though. Semetic languages are strange because there is NOTHING recognizable about them at all.

When I began Greek it was a bit easier since there is a lot of similarity between Greek and English roots. If you saw that Big Fat Greek Wedding you can recall that everything goes back to Greek.

.llew sa gnisufnoc etiuq era sretcarahc eht dna sdrawkcab si ti ecnis werbeH ot kcab seog gnihton tuB

18 September, 2006

Pope Bows Knee to Allah

It seems as though the so-called Bishop of Rome has offended the Muslims. He referred to their practice of Jihad (holy war against Jews, Christians, and other 'idolators') as evil. Amongst the dying words of Mohammed, the founder of Islam, were "All Jews and Christians must die".

Does this sound evil to you? Is a hate-filled religion that fosters fear and violence an evil religion? Is a religion that denies that Jesus Christ is the Son of God evil? Is a religion that that has a God who is arbitrary and will damn you on Monday but redeem you on Tuesday evil?

Are the number one outward enemy of Christianity since the middle-ages, who dipped the blood of Christians onto their fez hats...are they evil.

Well, the Pope thought so..until the heathen raged... now he is deeply sorry for the offense.

Here is the text of his apology:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The pastoral visit which I recently made to Bavaria was a deep spiritual experience, bringing together personal memories linked to places well known to me and pastoral initiatives towards an effective proclamation of the Gospel for today.
I thank God for the interior joy which he made possible, and I am also grateful to all those who worked hard for the success of this Pastoral Visit.
As is the custom, I will speak more of this during next Wednesday's general audience.
At this time, I wish also to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims.
These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought.
Yesterday, the Cardinal Secretary of State published a statement in this regard in which he explained the true meaning of my words.
I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.

Pope Apologizes to Angered Muslims

17 September, 2006

Lord's Day a'Brakel

In [the] church there is both glory and elegance. For a moment give attentive consideration to the glorious state of that kingdom and its true subjects. The earth and the nations are enveloped in darkness; however, wondrous light is to be found in the church. The glory of the Lord illuminates this city of God and the Sun of Righteousness enlightens it with His light. Outside of her is nothing but pollution, abominations, and ungodliness; however, within there is her holiness, purity, and glory…. Ought not everyone therefore to delight himself in Zion, and be desirous to be a member of this church, a fellow citizen of the saints, and a member of the household of God? Should not everyone be desirous to submit himself to the protection and government of this King? For not only are all the these things said concerning this kingdom and this King, but all are most certainly true. (II: 58).

14 September, 2006

What We Believe Concerning the Old and New Testaments

I. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable;[1] yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation.[2] Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church;[3] and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing:[4] which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary;[5] those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.[6]
1. Rom. 1:19-20; 1:32-2:1; 2:14-15; Psa. 19:1-4
2. John 17:3; I Cor. 1:21; 2:13-143. Heb. 1:1-24. Luke 1:3-4; Rom. 15:4; Matt. 4:4, 7, 10; Isa. 8:205. II Tim. 3:15; II Peter 1:196. John 20:31; I Cor. 10:11; 14:37; I John 5:13; Heb. 1:1-2; 2:2-4

II. Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are these:

Of the Old Testament:
Genesis I Kings Ecclesiastes ObadiahExodus II Kings The Song of Songs JonahLeviticus I Chronicles Isaiah MicahNumbers II Chronicles Jeremiah NahumDeuteronomy Ezra Lamentations HabakkukJoshua Nehemiah Ezekiel ZephaniahJudges Esther Daniel HaggaiRuth Job Hosea ZechariahI Samuel Psalms Joel MalachiII Samuel Proverbs Amos Of the New Testament:
The Gospels Paul's Epistles to the Thessalonians II The first and according to the Romans Timothy I second Epistles Matthew the Corinthians I Timothy II of Peter Mark the Corinthians II Titus The first, second Luke the Galatians Philemon and third Epistles John the Ephesians The Epistle to of JohnThe Acts of the the Philippians the Hebrews The Epistle Apostles the Colossians The Epistle of Jude the Thessalonians I of James The Revelation of JohnAll which are given by inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life.[7]
7. Luke 16:29, 31; 24:27, 44; II Tim. 3:15-16; John 5:46-47

III. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.[8]
8. Rev. 22:18-19; Rom. 3:2; II Peter 1:21

IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.[9]
9. II Peter 1:19-20; II Tim. 3:16; I John 5:9; I Thess. 2:13; Rev. 1:1-2

V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture.[10] And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.[11]
10. I Tim 3:1511. I Cor. 2:4-5, 9-10; Heb. 4:12; John 10:35; Isa. 55:11, 59:21; Rom. 11:36: Psa. 19:7-11; II Tim. 3:15; I Thess. 1:5; I John 2:20, 27

VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.[12] Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word:[13] and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.[14]
12. II Tim. 3:16-17; Gal. 1:8-9; II Thess. 2:213. John 6:45; I Cor. 2:12, 14-15; Eph. 1:18; II Cor. 4:614. I Cor. 11:13-14; 14:26, 40

VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all:[15] yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.[16]
15. II Peter 3:1616. Psa. 119:105, 130; Deut. 29:29; 30:10-14; Acts 17:11

VIII. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by his singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical;[17] so as, in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal unto them.[18] But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them,[19] therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come,[20] that, the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner;[21] and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.[22]
17. Matt. 5:18; Psa. 119;8918. Isa. 8:20; Matt. 15:3, 6; Acts 15:15; Luke 16:3119. John 5:39; Acts 17:11; Rev. 1:3; II Tim. 3:14,1520. Matt. 28:19-20; I Cor. 14:6; Mark 15:3421. Col. 3:16; Exod. 20:4-6; Matt. 15:7-922. Rom. 15:4

IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.[23]
23. Acts 15:15; John 5:46; II Peter 1:20-21

X. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.[24]
24. Matt. 22:29,31; Acts 28:25; I John 4:1-6

12 September, 2006

A PT Discussion on Old and New Testaments

I have never hosted a discussion, per se, without giving my thoughts up front. It seems that a nice Jewish person has posted this question concerning the Old and New Testaments. I would like to give you his question and then open the comments section for some discussion on the issue. Enjoy!

Q: Did it ever occur to you that the Old Testament was written by G-d and the New Testament was written by mortal men.Men naturally are able to exagerate and lie. Do you think it could happen?...I do.

Only rule: Season all things with grace.

11 September, 2006

Did the Church Make-up the Bible?

I am not sure where the switch has occurred in Protestant thinking, but it seems that many people, when thinking about the formation of the Scriptures, want to attribute them to a counsel, more than to God. The idea taught in a lot of Christian schools is that at Nicea the Christian church declared that our 66 books of the Bible were the Word of God. This may be because the Church no longer believes the Scriptures thanks to the influences of Liberal "scholarship".

Although true, Nicea did affirm, the Scriptures, but had not the Christian Church been using all of these books since the late-middle of the first century? As the Bride of Christ, we must know our place, and not declare ourselves over our Lord.

In this affair, then, the Church is a servant and not a mistress; a depository and not a judge. She exercises the office of a minister, not of a magistrate...She delivers a testimony, not a judicial sentence. She discerns the canon of the Scriptures, she does not make it; she has recognized their authenticity, she has not given it-The authority of the Scriptures is not founded then, on the authority of the Church: It is the Church that is founded on the authority of the Scriptures. -Louis Gaussen

10 September, 2006

Lord's Day a'Brakel

We then reason as follows: "It cannot be that I have grace, for in nearly all my actions my conscience accuses me that I am being hypocritical. It appears as if I am serving God, but in reality I have myself in view.
Answer:…. However, be it first of all known that believers are only regenerated in part and that the seed of various sins still remains in them. No sin can ever be mortified so completely that it will never surface again. This remaining corruption will manifest itself externally, this being contingent upon the condition of the body, opportunities, and other circumstances. Therefore, the one godly person will fall more into a given sin than the other.
Secondly, it should be known that the fear of seeking self frequently causes us to think about the seeking of self. This will suggest to us that it is so, and the devil will create the illusion in our minds that we are seeking self (IV: 224).

09 September, 2006

Crossed Fingers: How Liberals Won the Presbyterian Church

I am looking for this book. If anyone has a copy that they would like to sell me, contact me.

Crossed Fingers is a book by Gary North about how liberalism took over the Northern Presbyterian Church. I know that it is available online for free, but that is just not my style!

07 September, 2006

A Young Woman's Guide and Friend

My lovely wife has linked a copy of Female Piety by James Angell James. This book is worth reading by Christian men and women alike. Although this book was written in the 19th century, it will prove to be an answer to both the Feminist as well as the oppressor of women.

From chapter one:
History, which will ever be found to corroborate revelation, proves that in most Pagan and Mohammedan nations, whether ancient or modern, woman has been cruelly and wickedly sunk below her proper level in social and domestic life, "hated and despised from her birth, and her birth itself esteemed a calamity; in some countries not even allowed the rank of a moral and responsible agent; so tenderly alive to her own degradation that she acquiesces in the murder of her female offspring; immured from infancy; without education; married without her consent; in a multitude of instances sold by her parents; refused the confidence of her husband, and banished from his table; on his death, doomed to the funeral pile, or to contempt that renders life a burden." In such a condition she has been the household drudge, or the mere object of lust. She has ministered to the gratification of man's indolence or sensual appetite, but has not been his companion, his counselor, or his comforter. In barbarous countries she has been a slave; in civilized ones very generally little better than a kept mistress. Her mind has been left untaught, as if incapable or unworthy of instruction. She has been not only imprisoned in seclusion by jealousy, but degraded and rendered inferior and miserable by polygamy. Sometimes worshiped as a goddess; next fondled as a toy; then punished as a victim, she could never attain to dignity, and even with all her brightest charms could rarely appear but as a doll or a puppet.

04 September, 2006

The Death of Man

Often we hear comments from people that are to the effect that man is basically good. People have come a long way from the biblical doctrine of original sin and its impact upon the human race. The fact is that man has fallen so far from his original state that he is beyond hope without the intersession of the Lord Jesus Christ. Man is naturally corrupt. This corruption can be cleansed with the blood of Christ's atoning sacrifice.

Guido de Bres wrote the Belgic Confession in the early days of the Reformation (1561). Here is what he said concerning the fall of man:

We believe that by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race.
It is a corruption of all nature-- an inherited depravity which even infects small infants in their mother's womb, and the root which produces in man every sort of sin. It is therefore so vile and enormous in God's sight that it is enough to condemn the human race, and it is not abolished or wholly uprooted even by baptism, seeing that sin constantly boils forth as though from a contaminated spring.
Nevertheless, it is not imputed to God's children for their condemnation but is forgiven by his grace and mercy-- not to put them to sleep but so that the awareness of this corruption might often make believers groan as they long to be set free from the "body of this death."

03 September, 2006

Lord's Day a'Brakel: Solitude

Solitude is a separation from all men for a period of time, in order to be enabled to express ourselves more earnestly and with more freedom as we engage ourselves in seeking after God. We designate this as a separation from all fellowship with men (IV: 19).

This is a seasonal separation and thus not life-long as the papists do in their monasteries, which are nothing more than places of filth, dens of murder, and impure Sodoms. Then there are also the hermits among them who permit themselves to be enclosed within four walls, or who make either the forest or the wilderness their residence. We abhor this manner of life--even if it were void of all superstition and pollution. For, first of all, it is contrary to God's command who has created man as a being in need of companionship, saying, "It is not good that the man should be alone" (Gen. 2:18). Secondly, it is God's will that we let our light shine before men in order that they may see our good works and may glorify our Father which is in heaven (Mat. 5:16); and that we would use our gifts to the advantage, conversion, and edification of other men. We have received our talents to that end, along with the command: "Occupy till I come" (Luke 19:13). Thirdly, continual solitude prevents us from becoming acquainted with our corrupt heart, being humbled by this, and striving for its sanctification, there being no opportunity whereby this corruption would manifest itself (IV: 19-20).