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?