31 December, 2007

Monday: The Suffering Servant's Lack of Desirability

For preparation for the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, I will be meditating on Isaiah 53. This week will be dedicated to some thoughts on the Suffering Servant, Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 53:1-2 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Nothing about Jesus Christ was what the Jews of the day were looking for. They desired a prince to come and rule in Jerusalem and to free them from all of their outward oppression. Little did they know that what they needed above all things was a Christ that would build a spiritual kingdom. I imagine that each one of us, if we were in the same cultural circumstances, would be highly tempted to reject King Jesus, who appeared to be anything than a king. Our king looked more like a pauper.

John Gill said that in Christ there was, "nothing that looks grand and majestic, or like a king; they [unbelieving Israel] not beholding with an eye of faith his glory, as the glory of the only begotten of the Father; only viewing him in his outward circumstances, and so made their estimate of him; they expected the Messiah as a temporal prince, appearing in great pomp and state, to deliver them from the Roman yoke, and restore their nation to its former splendour and glory; and being disappointed herein was the true reason of their unbelief, before complained of, and why they did not desire him, who is the desire of all nations."

29 December, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel: An Honest Look at the Mirror Before the Lord's Supper

Many have a wrong perception of themselves; they measure themselves by themselves. They deem themselves to be fit, for they have no disagreement with their neighbor, are baptized, diligently go to hear God's Word, live in such a manner that no one can say anything about them, and believe that Christ is the Savior--one must thus not doubt that one will also be saved and that Christ is also his Savior. Therefore all is truly well--Christ invites and commands us, and I then wish to be obedient to the Lord in this respect. Others add to this the fact that, prior to that time, they refrain from indulging in their bosom sins, read pious books, and pray more frequently. One thus puts himself into a pious mold and peacefully attends, eating and drinking judgment to himself (II: 578).

27 December, 2007

Reformed Presbyterian International Conference

This July Grand Rapids will overflow with Reformed Presbyterians. There will be RPs from the US, Canada, Japan, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, Cyprus, and other international locations. If you have never been to an international conference it is truly a foretaste of heaven. Imagine over 1500 people singing Psalms acapella in four part harmony. It is great!

Here is the website to check it out... and of course to register! It only happens once every four years!

25 December, 2007

JG Vos on Christian Worship

JG Vos was an interesting theologian. He was called the 'people's theologian' because he believed that theology was for the common man; not for the ivory towers. I whole-heartily agree. He was also Christian Reformed as a child, and later became a Reformed Presbyterian, after his father began teaching at Princeton seminary (back when that meant something).

Here is his article on Christian worship. He deals with some of the objections to Psalm singing and answers them in a very pastoral and humble way. Our position on worship is not a popular one in today's Christian milieu, which makes it all the more important to use care and a pastoral approach to dealing with these differences. If the position is biblical and offensive to some Christians; then the Scriptures should do the offending, not the messenger. I would recommend that you read it before the Lord's Day.

22 December, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel: Persecution for Faithfulness

Join yourself to the godly so that it may become manifest that you are one with them in your support for Christ and your opposition to the world. Remain with the true church and be diligent in attending public worship and in partaking of the Lord's Supper. Thereby one confesses the Lord Jesus. To separate yourself from her and to remain on your own is a quiet denial of Christ and His cause. If shame and injury come upon you due to your confession, rejoice in this, for it is a small beginning of martyrdom (III: 376).

What is a Peacemaker?

Martyn Lloyd Jones gives some great insight on what a peacemaker according to the Scriptures looks like. He stresses the fact that these qualities are not natural characteristics, but supernatural ones. These are part of what the converted man or woman look like. He challenges the Christian who does not fit into this description to examine whether he or she is even a true believer. Here is a summary of what he says:











  1. Know when NOT to speak. (James 1.19)
  2. Always view every situation in the light of the Gospel. (Ask these questions: What are the implications of the this? What about the Cause? What about the Church? What about the people who are dependent? What about the people who are right outside?)
  3. Become positive and go out of your way to look for means and methods of making peace. (Romans 12.19-21)
  4. Endeavor to diffuse peace wherever you are. (Be selfless, lovable, approachable, and not standing on your own dignity.) (Phil. 2.1-5)

17 December, 2007

Give a Warm PT Welcome to the New Kid on the Block

Long time friend, college classmate, and fellow RP, Brett Schutt, has started a blog. He has not seen much action so go give him a hearty welcome to the world of theo-blogging.

We all know how discouraging blogging can become without many comments!


God's Covenant of Grace


Brett is a very bright man and will prove to show a lot of insight into God's dealings with man.

15 December, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel: True Compassion

The essence of compassion consists in being inwardly moved to sympathy, which, if it is right, will always be accompanied by an inclination and willingness to help. It does not consist in either fully or partially parting with our belongings. "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor...and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" (1 Cor. 13:3). Rather, there must be:

(1) sympathy. Wherever there is love there will also be sympathy when the person being loved is in need.

(2) inner motions of compassion, whereby the veracity and intensity of this sympathy is expressed, this being such that it touches and moves the heart.

(3) an inclination, willingness, and zeal to assist the needy person in accordance with his need: "For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath" (2 Cor. 8:12) [IV: 116].

14 December, 2007

The Sufficiency of Scripture in Sola Scriptura

I have finished a paper that I have been working on for 4 months on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. This doctrine is abused in many ways, and has been since the time of the Reformation when the doctrine was fully developed (I say 'fully' because the doctrine is in the Scriptures as early as the Torah.). There are three ways that it is historically abused:
  • A doctrine cannot be required to be believed that is not EXPLICITLY found in Scripture.
  • Nothing can be done without the warrant of Scripture. (We can't sit in chairs during worship- where is that in the Bible?)
  • Traditions and Creeds of the Church are not important because the Bible is all that matters.
This third abuse is discussed by Allister McGrath and he does a good job of showing that sola scriptura does not negate our traditions, as long as they are supported by the Word of God.

“A number of points bring out the importance of the sola scriptura principle. First, the Reformers insisted that the authority of the popes, counsels, and theologians is subordinate to that of Scripture. This is not necessarily to say that they have no authority… the Reformers allowed certain councils and theologians of the patristic era genuine authority in matters of doctrine. It is to say however, that such authority is derived from Scripture, and is thus subordinate to Scripture. Luther tends to defend the sola scriptura principle by emphasizing the confusion and incoherence of medieval theology, whereas Calvin and Melanchthon argue that the best catholic theology supports their view on the priority of Scripture.”

Allister E. McGrath, Reformation Thought, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 145.

08 December, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel: True Holiness

True holiness springs forth from true faith. Where true faith is absent, true holiness will likewise be absent. Faith receives Christ as Surety unto justification and sanctification (John 1:12). By faith the soul is truly united with Christ (1 Cor. 6:17). By faith Christ, who is their life, dwells in their hearts (Eph. 3:17). Faith purifies the heart (Acts 15:9). Faith worketh by love (Gal. 5:6), and faith causes them to bring forth good works (James 2:18) [II: 35].

05 December, 2007

Closed Until December 12th

This week is the last week of classes for me at Puritan Seminary for the semester. Next week I have final examinations and some papers to finish up. I am closed until December 12th. (I will reopen about 8am this coming Lord's Day for an a'Brakel post. People seem to enjoy starting their Lord's Day with some a'Brakel.)

See you on the 12th!

03 December, 2007

First Reformed Presbyterian Church Conference on Practical Theology

First Reformed Presbyterian Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, welcomes you to join us for the Conference on Practical Theology, to be held at the Puritan Reformed Seminary, 2965 Leonard Street, Grand Rapids, MI on Sat, Feb. 2 from 8:45am - 3:30pm. This year's theme will be Biblical Evangelism.

Our lecturer will be Dr. David P. Murray, professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Seminary. Dr. Murray comes with much practical experience in biblical evangelism. Dr. Murray also has a depth of biblical knowledge and a mastery of the original languages of Hebrew and Greek.

This conference will prove to challenge your view of evangelism and encourage you to fulfill every Christian's duty to present Jesus Christ to a dying world!

First Reformed Presbyterian Church Conference on Practical Theology

Biblical Evangelism


8:30-9:00 Registration
9:00-9:45 Biblical Evangelism's Motivation
9:45-10:00 Questions and Answers
10:00-10:30 Coffee Break
10:30-11:15 Biblical Evangelism's Message
11:15-11:30 Questions and Answers
11:30-1:00 Lunch Break
1:00-1:45 Biblical Evangelism's Methods
1:45-2:30 Final Questions and Answers
2:30-3:30 Coffee and Fellowship

Join us for this day of great Christian instruction, fellowship, and encouragement!

There will be a nominal fee to cover logistical costs.

If interested, please email Nathan Eshelman at nleshelman@gmail.com to have a flyer mailed. Please encourage friends and family to come!

01 December, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel: Spiritual Watchfulness

Spiritual watchfulness consists in watching over our soul in a careful and circumspect manner in order that no evil may befall her. Spiritual life is a precious treasure, desirable to the believer, that far excels the entire world and all that is in it. It has many enemies which lie in wait for it--not to be a partaker of it, but rather to destroy it; they hate it. A Christian must therefore be diligent in preserving this life. "Keep thy heart with all diligence" (Prov. 4:23). The believer knows the value of that life, is acquainted with his enemies and their activities, loves this life, is desirous to preserve and increase it, takes care that it is not injured, and is thus circumspect and always on guard if there is danger approaching from elsewhere. If he becomes aware of something, he is alert and stands ready with his weapons in hand to turn away the enemy, attacking all those who come too close (IV: 11).

28 November, 2007

Knockin on Heaven's Door

Revelation 3.20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

This is one of the classically misused verses for evangelism. The church has decided that the verse portrays Jesus Christ patiently waiting for the sinner to come to his senses and open the door. This is not the case. This verse needs to be understood in the light of Luke 12.36-40 which speaks of the Great Marriage Feast. Jesus Christ will come to this feast with triumph and power and we will sup with Him in victory! Richard Bauckham says,
Jesus’ knock is not that of a homeless traveler, standing outside the locked door of a human heart, seeking shelter. Rather, he is the master of the house, and he will burst through the door in sovereign judgment!”

It reminds me of a conference that Francis Nigel Lee did at Southfield a number of years ago when he said (speaking of Psalm 110), "This is no namby pamby Arminian Jesus knocking on the door of your heart saying, hey buddy its cold outside, could you let me in and spare me dime?"

We serve an all power Savior who will save whom he desires, yet is gracious enough to invite even the most back-slidden of churches to hear his call to repentance and invite them to the marriage feast!


23 November, 2007

Black Friday

As Westerners everywhere begin their season to celebrate the birth of Jesus... let us remember what it has become... a mad rush for a violation of the 10th commandment.

21 November, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

To all my faithful readers: Have a happy Thanksgiving.
1    All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
2 Him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell,
Come ye before him and rejoice.

3 Know that the Lord is God indeed;
Without our aid he did us make:
We are his flock, he doth us feed,
And for his sheep he doth us take.

4 O enter then his gates with praise,
Approach with joy his courts unto:
Praise, laud, and bless his name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

5 For why? the Lord our God is good,
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.

-Psalm 100, LM. Psalms of David in Metre

19 November, 2007

Synod Committee Report on Worship 1898

You find such great things while digging through synodical minutes. Some things are quite boring, but there are also comments that are very practical, devotional, and spiritual in nature. In 1898, the RPCNA re-afirrmed their position on worship that had been the practice in the church since the time of the Scottish Reformation. There are very few denominations or churches that have held their principles on worship as long... I could be wrong, but I do not think that there are any in North America.

Here is their reaffirmation on biblical worship:

Since the second or third century of the Christian era what should be sung in the worship of God has been a matter of more or less controversy. Until that time the subject was very simple; all were found singing the Scriptural Psalms. The only arbiter in the matter is the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ.
However much might be truly said of many songs of human composition in praise of their beauty and excellence, the Christian conscience must be satisfied with nothing short of Divine authority for what is used in the worship of God. What is best suited to incite devotional feelings and give them proper expression is not the primary matter for consideration; but what is the will of God? Saving faith is the submission of our wills to God's, and the subjection of our judgment to His.

Concerning the matter and manner of His worship the Lord has laid down a general principle to be followed by his people in all ages, places and circumstances: "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto nor diminish from it." (Deut. xii., 32.) "All power," says Christ, "is given unto me in Heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Matt, xxviii., 18-20.)


There are irrefragable reasons for believing that the Psalms, commonly called the Psalms of David, and they only, have been divinely authorized to be sung in the worship of God. These Psalms are inspired, as none dispute, and hence are found in the canon of Scripture. They are lyric in structure, and consequently composed to be sung. They have been, under divine direction and superintendence, collected into one book, and hence give proof of being intended for general and continuous use. As a historical fact, they have been used in the worship of God through all the ages of the Church, and exclusively until the Second or Third Century, A. D. The law authorizing their use has never been repealed.

The Lord has not given the Church another book of praise as a substitute. O n the contrary, Christ and the Apostles used the Psalms of David exclusively in the worship of God, and Christ has, through His Apostles, given His seal to their exclusive right of use: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Col. iii., 16; also, Eph. v., 19.)


In connection with the singing of praise in the worship of God there has crept into the modern Church a corruption in the use of instruments of music. It is deemed that there is no Divine authority for this innovation. In the pattern of the Tabernacle which God gave to Moses, after which he was to construct a place of worship, no mention is made of instruments of music, and in harmony with a principle now well-established that what is not commanded is forbidden, instruments of music were not introduced by Moses.

Instruments of music were introduced into the Tabernacle worship in the later years of David's life, and also into the Temple worship; but only at the plain command of God. In the reconstruction of the Church in N e w Testament times no mention is made of instruments of music by Christ and His Apostles in their instructions concerning the mode of worship, and New Testament history and early Church history, their use before the Tenth or Eleventh Century of the Christian Era.


We recommend:

I. That pastors be urged to present the subject to their congregations at least once during the year.
2. That parents be urged to continue the old practice of having their children memorize the Psalms.

ROBT. A. PADEN,
THOS. A. RUSK, J. R. LATIMER, Of the Committee.

The following resolution was adopted: Resolved, that all our people, old and young, are hereby warned to avoid all appearance of giving their approval to the use of man-made hymns and instrumental music in the worship of God. R. M. Sommerville was instructed to issue such new editions of the Psalter as may be called for.

17 November, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel

Engage much in holy contemplation and meditation. Reflect upon who and what you are, the ways the Lord has led you hitherto, and upon your former mourning, seeking, and tears. Reflect upon the comforts and deliverances which the Lord has frequently given you, upon the benefits of the covenant of grace (each individually), and upon future glory and all that the soul will forever enjoy there. This is suitable to cause the soul quietly to rejoice. "My meditation of Him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD" (Psa. 104:34).

16 November, 2007

Fantastic Fun For a Fall Friday... A Church History/Polity Poll


What church's official documents contain: "what is eaten and drunk by us is the proper and natural body and the proper blood of Christ..."
Zwinglian Anabaptist Roman Catholic Reformed Evangelical Lutheran Eastern Orthodox Emergent Anglican

15 November, 2007

Comfort For His People

I am doing a comparison on a number of Reformed Creeds as part of my course-work this semester. I have regained a love and appreciation for the Belgic Confession of Faith. It is so experiential, practical, applicable, and comforting to the Christian. The article on the Sacraments is just one example of the many fine articles that our Continental brethren hold so dear:

We believe that our gracious God, taking account of our weakness and infirmities, has ordained the sacraments for us, thereby to seal unto us His promises, and to be pledges of the good will and grace of God towards us, and also to nourish and strengthen our faith; which He has joined to the Word of the gospel, the better to present to our senses both that which He declares to us by His Word and that which He works inwardly in our hearts, thereby confirming in us the salvation which He imparts to us. For they are visible signs and seals of an inward and invisible thing, by means whereof God works in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore the signs are not empty or meaningless, so as to deceive us. For Jesus Christ is the true object presented by them, without whom they would be of no moment. Moreover, we are satisfied with the number of sacraments which Christ our Lord has instituted, which are two only, namely, the sacrament of baptism and the holy supper of our Lord Jesus Christ -Belgic Confession, Article XXXII

12 November, 2007

The Lord Jesus Defends His Bride

Some stories in Christian history seem too exciting to be true. We often think that some of these stories are hagiography, but some of the greatest stories are well documented. One such story is the death of Arius the heretic (with a name like Arius, you are almost guaranteed to be an Arian). Arius had won the hearts and minds of the people, despite his denial of the orthodox Trinity. Arius had caused much havoc in the Christian world and many people prayed imprecations, asking that God would deal with him. God did. The story of his death is solemn and reminds us of the truth of Scripture- our God is a consuming fire.

At that time [the year 336] Alexander presided over the church in Constantinople. He was a devout and godly bishop, qualities he clearly proved by his conflict with Arius. When Arius arrived in the city, the people divided into two factions and the city was thrown into confusion. Some insisted that the Creed of Nicaea must be obeyed, others argued that Arius' views were in harmony with reason. This forced Alexander into grave difficulties, especially since Eusebius of Nicomedia had violently threatened to have Alexander instantly deposed unless he admitted Arius and his disciples to holy communion.... At his wits' end, Alexander said farewell to the resources of human wisdom, and took refuge in God, devoting himself to continual fasting and ceaseless praying. Without telling anyone, he shut himself up in the church called "Peace", went up to the altar, and prostrated himself beneath the communion table, where he poured forth his fervent prayers with weeping. He did this without ceasing for many nights and days. And he received from God what he so earnestly sought; for this was his prayer: "If Arius's views are right, may I not be allowed to see the day appointed by the emperor for discussing them. But if I myself hold the true faith, may Arius suffer the penalty his ungodliness deserves, as the author of these evils...."

It was Saturday, and Arius was expecting to take communion with the church on the following day; but divine vengeance overtook his daring crimes. As he left the imperial palace, attended by a mob of Eusebius's followers like guards, he paraded proudly through the city, the centre of attention. But as he approached the place called Constantine's market, at one and the same time the terrors of conviction attacked his conscience, and a violent seizure attacked his bowels. He asked if there was somewhere nearby where he could relieve himself, and someone directed him to the back of the market. There he fainted, and his bowels came spilling out of his backside, together with streams of blood; parts of his spleen and liver poured out in the bloody flow. He died almost instantly. People in Constantinople still point out where this calamity happened, behind the meat-market in the colonnade; this constant pointing out of the place has preserved a perpetual memorial of this extraordinary death. The disaster filled with dread and alarm the party of Eusebius of Nicomedia; and the news spread quickly through the city and indeed the whole world. The emperor, growing more earnest in Christianity, confessed that God had vindicated the Creed of Nicaea, and rejoiced at what had happened.

- N Needham, 2000 Years of Christ's Power

10 November, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel: The Joyful Christian

God is pleased with the joy of His children. It is His will that they delight themselves, value the benefits, fully trust in His Word and in His promise, and jubilate, leap for joy, and sing His praises with joyful and singing lips. Cheerfulness and joyfulness are a delight to Him. "But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel" (Psa. 22:3-4); "Thou meetest him that rejoiceth" (Isa. 64:5). Is it your desire to do something which is pleasing to God? Is God's nearness, His presence, and your familiar encounters with Him, your desire and your delight? Accustom yourself then to live joyfully by faith (II: 463-464).

09 November, 2007

Is the Sabbath Day Worth Fighting For in Our Culture?

Isaiah 58:13-14 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.


The answer is yes. The Lord calls us to keep a Sabbath that is devoted to Him and His worship. May the church and the culture 'turn from her own ways' and seek the Lord on His appointed holiday. There are great promises attached to honoring Him on the Sabbath day.

Westminster Confession XXI. VII. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week, and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.

VIII. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

07 November, 2007

How To Astonish the World

Here is the sermon from First RP's covenanting service of reception. We are thankful for Pastor Ian Wise of Triangle RPC for recording it. Enjoy!

05 November, 2007

A Faithful Martyr Of Jesus Christ

While discussing the life and death of Guido De Bres, it was brought to my attention that there are a few of his letters that have not been translated from Dutch to English.

His letter to his wife prior to his beheading is so loving and passionate. It clearly shows that a man that loves the Lord Jesus Christ above all will show love to his wife in all circumstances- even the death of martyrdom. Let us follow in faithfulness to Jesus Christ and love for Him. May God grant some of us the great honor of dying as a faithful martyr to Jesus Christ.

I am practicing now what I have preached to others. And I must confess that when I preached I would speak about the things I am actually experiencing as a blind man speaks of colour. Since I was taken prisoner I have profited more and learned more than during all the rest of my life. I am in a good school: the Holy Spirit inspires me continually and teaches me how to use the weapons in this combat. On the other side is Satan, the adversary of all children of God. He seeks to wound me. But he who has said, “Fear not, for I have overcome the world,” makes me victorious. And already I see that the Lord puts Satan under my feet and I feel the power of God in my weakness....

As you have always loved me, I pray that you will continue this love toward our children, instructing them in the knowledge of the true God and of his Son Jesus Christ. Be their father and their mother, and take care that they use honestly the little that God has given you. If God does you the favour to permit you to live in widowhood with our children after my death, that will be well. If you cannot, and the means are lacking, then go to some good man, faithful and fearing God. And when I can, I shall write to our friends to watch over you. I think that they will not let you want for anything. Take up your regular routine after the Lord has taken me. You have our daughter Sarah who will soon be grown. She will be your companion and help you in your troubles. She will console you in your tribulations and the Lord will always be with you. Greet our good friends in my name, and let them pray to God for me, that he may give me strength and the wisdom and ability to uphold the truth of the Son of God to the last breath of my life.


The letter is quite inspiring as well as convicting. It can be read here.

03 November, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel: A Call to Live at Peace With All Men

If you are desirous to live in peace:

(1) Crucify your desire for money, honor, and love; it is neither possible to have a peaceable heart nor to maintain such a disposition without self-denial.

(2) Keep to yourself and let others govern their own matters. Do not appoint yourself as a detective and judge concerning the deeds of others; close your ears for backbiters. Do not listen for what is being said about you. "A whisperer separateth chief friends" (Prov. 16:28); "Where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth" (Prov. 26:20).

(3) Be always the least--both in your own eyes as well as in your conduct toward others. Endure being wronged, and forgive such deeds (Col. 3:13). In all things yield to the will of others insofar as this is not contrary to the will of God.

(4) If someone else encounters you in an unpleasant manner, or if you perceive the first motion of displeasure within yourself, arm yourself at once and resist strife at the very outset; be completely silent (IV: 100-101).

01 November, 2007

Who Is Up For Some Real Fun?

For those of us who love Reformed Presbyterian historical research- life just got a little easier. We can now follow, year by year, why the name of our denominational magazine has changed so many times! We can learn all about why RPs did not think that deacons were necessary in America, and we can learn all about how the denomination moved from disciplining ministers for drunkenness to a position of total abstinence and then to a biblical position. You can also follow your favorite historical minister from his seminary days until when he went to be with the Lord (or jumped into another Presbyterian body!)

The Minutes of Synod, The Reformed Presbyterian and/or Covenanter Witness has been cataloged in a searchable PDF format. This is a valuable tool for us young guys... and I am sure that it makes the older guys a bit jealous... we have a lot less hard work to do when it comes to research!

Reformed Presbyterian Archives From 1837-2006

31 October, 2007

Happy Reformation Day!

Let us remember God's mighty acts in the history of Redemption. Use today to reflect on God's Word, His Son, and the full sufficiency of the Scriptures to teach what man is to believe concerning God as well as what man is to do to glorify and enjoy God. Join the Reformed faith in praying that God would move again to shake the world and to bring men, women, and children back to God's Word. On this day, be a TRUE LUTHERAN.


One generation shall praise thy works to another,
and shall declare thy mighty acts.
I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.
And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts:
and I will declare thy greatness.
They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness,
and shall sing of thy righteousness.
The LORD is gracious,
and full of compassion;
slow to anger,
and of great mercy.
The LORD is good to all:
and his tender mercies are over all his works.
Psalm 145:4-9

29 October, 2007

First Reformed Presbyterian Church (of Grand Rapids, MI)

Here is a photo of the newly (re)formed, First Reformed Presbyterian Church. Friday we were covenanted into the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. Below is the Covenant of Church membership that every member is to covenant to uphold. We look forward to participating in the life and work of the RPCNA.
Covenant of Communicant Membership
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule for faith and life?
2. Do you believe in the one living and true God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as revealed in the Scriptures?
3. Do you repent of your sin; confess your guilt and helplessness as a sinner against God; profess Jesus Christ, Son of God, as your Saviour and Lord; and dedicate yourself to His service: Do you promise that you will endeavor to forsake all sin, and to conform your life to His teaching and example?
4. Do you promise to submit in the Lord to the teaching and government of this church as being based upon the Scriptures and described in substance in the Constitution of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America? Do you recognize your responsibility to work with others in the church and do you promise to support and encourage them in their service to the Lord? In case you should need correction in doctrine or life, do you promise to respect the authority and discipline of the church?
5. To the end that you may grow in the Christian life, do you promise that you will diligently read the Bible, engage in private prayer, keep the Lord’s Day, regularly attend the worship services, observe the appointed sacraments, and give to the Lord’s work as He shall prosper you?
6. Do you purpose to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness in all the relationships of life, faithfully to perform your whole duty as a true servant of Jesus Christ, and seek to win others to Him?
7. Do you make this profession of faith and purpose in the presence of God, in humble reliance upon His grace, as you desire to give your account with joy at the Last Great Day?

28 October, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel: The Picture of Meekness

The effects of meekness are:

(1) a being congenial, so that it is a pleasant and effortless task to interact with the meek person.

(2) a relinquishing of one's rights. A meek person is a wise person; his wisdom is of a meek nature, and he is neither witless nor insensitive. He can indeed judge what is his right, and he is capable of standing up for his rights. He will do so if this is God's will and he is under obligation to do so. However, he does so with quiet earnestness, freedom, and in a noble manner--always in such a manner that his meekness shines forth. If, however, there are matters in which he may yield, then he would rather do so than to gain that which is his ultimate right by fighting for it.

(3) enduring injustice. A meek person neither wishes to get even nor avenge himself--even if he were able to do so.

(4) a forgiving of the committed injustice. Forgiveness does not merely consist in a refraining from taking vengeance, meanwhile harboring animosity and hatred in the heart. Instead, it consists in not holding the offender accountable and in loving him no less than before. It means that the offender must be treated as if he had not committed the deed.

(5) the rewarding of evil with good. To render evil for evil is carnal, to reward good with evil is devilish, but to reward evil with good is Christian (IV: 83-84).

24 October, 2007

How Do the Redeemed Live?

As we approach the 490th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we need to remember that the heart of the matter was this question: 'How can a man be made right with a holy and just God?" This is a question that we need to be asking ourselves, our families, and those with whom we come into contact. The doctrine of justification by faith alone is as important, and misunderstood, as it was before the dawn of the Protestant Reformation. May the Lord again send Reformation to His Bride.

Habakkuk 2:4 "Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.

Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."

"The precious and momentous doctrine of justification by faith alone, when biblically preached and rightly balanced, is not a denominational or sectarian peculiarity. It is not a mere species of Christianity. It is the heart of the evangel, the kernel of the glorious gospel of the blessed triune God, and the key to the kingdom of heaven.

"Justification by faith," John Murray writes, " is the jubilee trumpet of the gospel because it proclaims the gospel to the poor and destitute whose only door of hope is to roll themselves in total helplessness upon the grace and power and righteousness of the Redeemer of the lost."
In our decadent and desperate day there is a crying need to reestablish and defend, with prayer and hope, in the power of the Spirit, the scriptural proclamation of this doctrine. The relevance and urgency of this doctrine relate to the identity of the church, the essence of Christian theology, the proclamation of the gospel, as well as to the scriptural-experiential foundations of the Christian faith for every one of us. Not only is justification by faith still, in Luther's words, "the article by which the church stands or falls" (articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae), but by this doctrine each of us shall personally stand of fall before God. Justification by faith alone must be confessed and experienced by you and me; it is a matter of eternal life or eternal death."
-Dr. Joel Beeke.

22 October, 2007

Happy Earth Day!

Whether you like it or not, today may be the real 'Earth Day'. The famous Arch Bishop James Ussher Chronology states that God created the world on the evening before October 23, 4004 BC. This date is followed by many in the Reformed faith as well as many evangelical Christians.

So, if you are a big-time creation science person- happy earth day. Almost all of creation science dating is based on Arch Bishop Ussher's work.

On a personal note, I do not think that we should be too dogmatic about 4004 BC, and definitely not dogmatic about October 23rd... nevertheless, it is fun part of our Christian heritage to note that men have spent substantial time and energy attempting to figure out when God created the world.

Buy Ussher's work here.

20 October, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel: The Need for an Active Presbytery

The propriety of such assemblies is first of all evident when considering the need for such assemblies. It is naturally evident to man that there can be no republic or society without having an assembly of those who have been appointed as rulers. This is particularly true when such republics and societies include various provinces, cities, and villages. It is thus also a requisite in the church that her elders assemble, not only in each individual church, but also in the provinces. In turn, there must be assemblies representing several and/or many provinces. If need be, there must also be assemblies consisting of delegates from all churches throughout the world, for there is but one church. In this manner the unity of doctrine will be preserved, and the church will be delivered from confusion (II:157).

18 October, 2007

First Love

I went through a number of boxes in a closet today. I found a number of old pictures and my old brown leather Bible cover that I was given when I first became a Christian. Looking back in reflection through those old pictures I wonder about the zeal that I had back then. I was not afraid to talk to anyone about the love of Christ, the free offer of grace, and the realities of life without God.

We ebb and flow in our Christian experience, but with the Lord's help we should not lose our zeal for Christ or what the book of Revelation calls 'our first love'. We should all examine ourselves and see where our allegiance lies. At times, for me, the fear of man, holds me back. Other times I feel spiritually empowered to speak of the great things of God. We should strive for perseverance, for growth in grace and knowledge, and above all, a greater dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ. As the song we used to sing in the praise circles went- more of you Lord, less of me.

For the sake of Christ and the next generation of believers, do not lose your first love. I have some praying to do.

“The lush green color of springtime in the congregation [at Ephesus] has disappeared, and the fading shades… of Autumn are now prevalent. To put it differently, the church that Jesus addressed no longer consisted of first generation believers but of second and third generation Christians. These people lacked the enthusiasm their parents and grandparents had demonstrated. They functioned not as propagators of the faith but as caretakers and custodians. There was an obvious deficiency in evangelistic outreach as a result of a status quo mode of thought. They loved the Lord, but no longer with heart, mind, and soul.” –Simon Kistemaker

14 October, 2007

First Reformed Presbyterian Church

The Associate Reformed Church of Grand Rapids is one step closer to union with the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. Today we voted on a name for our congregation and "First RP" was chosen with a majority vote.

It was a good day for our congregation and we look forward to the life of First and with the Lord's help, we will see Second and beyond. Ray Joseph, a late minister in the RPCNA, used to pray for the Lord to raise up a group of Christians in Grand Rapids that would want to be united with the RPCNA. He also prayed that there would be enough congregations in Michigan for a Michigan Presbytery. We will see what the Lord has in store for First. Please celebrate this great name with us and pray that the Lord would get all the glory for First RP!
Below are the top seven choices that we voted from. Rev. Lanning wrote the commentary for each. Each one would have had great significance.


BETHEL REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Commentary: Bethel is Hebrew for “House of God.” It was the name which Jacob gave to the place where he slept and dreamed of “a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven … and, behold, the LORD stood above it” (Gen. 28:11,12). When Jacob awoke, he declared, “This is none other but the house of God (Hebrew: Beth-El), and this is the gate of heaven” (28:17). Later, Jacob recounts another dream in which God appeared to him, saying, “I am the God of Bethel” (Gen. 31:13.)


FIRST REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Commentary: In Scripture, to be first is always to have a place of honor. Firstborn sons, firstlings of the flock, and the first-fruits of the field were all claimed by God as His own, and had to be devoted to Him, or else redeemed, by sacrifice. The “first estate” of men and angels was the state of original righteousness; on the “first day” of the week, God created light, Christ was raised from the dead, and the Spirit was poured out from heaven. God called Israel, “My son, even My firstborn” (Ex. 4:22); Christ is hailed as “the first begotten of the dead” (Rev. 1:5); Christ’s church is “the general assembly and church of the firstborn” (Heb. 12:23).


LANDMARK REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Commentary: It was a law in ancient Israel that, “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance” (Dt. 19:14); a curse was pronounced on those who did so (Dt. 27:17). A landmark was an object marking the boundary of one’s inheritance; to remove it was a means of diminishing someone else’s inheritance, in violation of the gift and promise of God. In the same way there are landmarks of sound doctrine and good morals that identify “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). These landmarks of truth and faith should be maintained among Christians today as markers of our great heritage as the church of the living God.

MARTYRS MEMORIAL REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Commentary: The title of “martyr” (Greek: “witness”) first referred to Christian witnesses in general, but early on, to those especially who sealed their witness with their blood, being “faithful unto death” (Rev. 2:10), beginning with “thy martyr Stephen” (Acts 22:20), and “Antipas, my faithful martyr” (Rev. 2:13). The Reformation produced its own martyrs, perhaps nowhere so many as in The Netherlands and in France; the authors of the Belgic Confession, rather than deny the truth confessed therein, offered “their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire.” Many Reformed Christians were martyred in England during the reign of “bloody Mary,” and in Scotland, the Covenanters died by thousands, among them the first Reformed Presbyterians. This “noble army of martyrs” should be remembered and honored by Christians today, who are the heirs and beneficiaries of their great faith and sacrifice.


OLD PATHS REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Commentary: Jeremiah records this promise: “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jer. 6:16). These words were addressed to a church and a nation that had forsaken the ways of God and Scripture. Christ’s invitation and promise, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Mt. 11:29) makes it clear that He is that good Shepherd sent to bring the sheep of God back to those “old paths” of righteousness (Ps. 23) that lead to eternal life and the blessed rest of heaven (cf. John 14:6)


UNITY REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Commentary: The royal Psalmist sings, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133). The apostle Paul commands all Christians to keep “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3); in building up the church, the aim is that “we all come into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4:12,13). The preservation and practice of unity (Latin: “oneness”) is greatly to be prized among Christians, for it is the way we express our love for one another as brethren, or members of the same family; it is the evidence of our common experience of being indwelt by the same Holy Spirit, and our common enjoyment of the peace of God; and it is a validation of our common confession of the one Lord and only Savior, Jesus Christ.


ZION REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Commentary: Zion (Hebrew: “fortress”) is the SW hill of Jerusalem, the older and higher part of the city, often called the city of David. As a fortress of the Jebusites, it was thought to be impregnable. “Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion: the same is the city of David” (II Sam. 5:7). In later usage it came to mean of the temple mount in Jerusalem, as the place where God dwells, where His glory is manifested, where His ordinances are dispensed and enjoyed, and from whence His word goes forth to the ends of the earth; and therefore, a perfect metaphor for the Christian church. “The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God” (Ps. 87:2,3).

Sabbath a'Brakel

The godly person…has spiritual life by virtue of his faith in Christ, and having become a partaker of the nature of Christ as a result of that union, he thus engages himself, motivated by love to God and for His will. From this proceeds love for his neighbor, being inclined also to seek his spiritual welfare in order that God may be thanked and glorified by the recipient of such help. It is with such a disposition that the believer helps the needy person. The apostle therefore limits compassion to the elect who are holy and beloved: "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies" (Col. 3:12) [IV: 114].

12 October, 2007

Quiz Yourself For Fun: What Kind of Presbyterian Are You?

Go ahead! See what kind of Presbyterian you are. Please record the church and percentages in the comments section. And yeah... I know there are other kinds of Christians- it is just for fun.


What Presbyterian Church would you feel at home in?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Reformed Presbyterian

You are Reformed Presbyterian, or Cameronian. You have a very high view of the Solemn league and Covenant, and of Christ's kingship over nations.

Reformed Presbyterian


95%

Free Presbyterian Church


83%

Disruption Free Church


63%

Auld Kirk


55%

United Presbyterian


40%

18th Century 'Moderate' Auld Kirk


30%

09 October, 2007

The Creation Points Us to Him Who Made Them

The creation is an amazing thing. It is quite easy to see how people will give the creation praise and glory since it is so beautiful and amazing to behold. The Scriptures teach us that part of the purpose of creation is to point us to the one who made it.

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat. -Psalm 19.1-6

"I asked the earth and it answered me, 'I am not He.' And whatsoever things are in it confirmed the same. I asked the sea and the deeps and the living creeping things, and they answered, 'We are not thy God, seek above us.' I asked the morning air, and the whole air with its inhabitants answered, 'Anaximenes was deceived, we are not thy God.' I asked the heavens, sun, moon, stars, 'Nor,' say they, 'are we the God whom thou seekest.' And I replied unto all the things which encompass the door of my flesh, 'Ye have told me of my God that ye are not He: tell me something more of Him.' And they cried out with a loud voice, 'He made us.'"

-Saint Augustine, Confessions

08 October, 2007

Politician's Religions


It seems that the media has become quite interested in the religious lives of this country's leaders. I am sure that it is because Americans are quite interested in religion and the media is reflecting that. It always interests me to see how different people view God and His Son, Jesus Christ. It saddens me when people hold error (as I am sure it does for all who love Christ). Here are two stories that I saw in the news today concerning two prominent political leaders:

06 October, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel: The Body and Blood of Christ

When seeing these signs, the communicant must not end in them mentally, but must proceed to the matter signified, that is, to the body and blood of Christ--broken and shed to satisfy God's justice for the sins of believers. Thus, he must unite the sign to the matter signified. One must not do so on the basis of his own imagination, for then he would be able to ascend to the suffering and death of Christ by way of the physical; rather, one ought to do so upon the basis of Christ's institution. It is thus not a union established by way of human imagination, but it is a union in the true sense of the word. However, it is not a local or physical union, but a spiritual union which has its foundation and derives its veracity from Christ's institution. This union therefore does not relate to the substances of bread and wine as they are in the dish and in the cup at that moment, that is, apart from being used in the sacrament. Instead, this union comes about when the communicant, by virtue of Christ's institution, exercises faith, taking note of the instituted relationship between the sign and the matter signified. This is similar to a stone which, taken from a pile and placed as a boundary marker upon the land, is not changed as far as its nature is concerned, but as to how it is viewed (II: 532-533).

Puritan Paperback Study: The Christian's Great Interest

As many of you know, our congregation is reading through the entire Puritan paperback series from Banner of Truth. It has been a great time of fellowship and Christ-centered discussion. We meet that last Lord's Day of every month, following evening worship, for this meeting. Everyone brings a dish to pass and we eat, talk, read, and pray. It is, in Puritan terminology, sweet fellowship.

Our next book is The Christian's Great Interest by William Guthrie. It was written in 1668 and was regarded as one of the most important books of its time.

If you would like to join us for this monthly time of fellowship, please contact me and I will send you a free PDF of the book. The book is also available at Reformation Heritage Books for $7.00.

Here is a taste of what lies ahead in your reading:
Many who have closed with Christ Jesus, as aforesaid, are still complaining of their leanness and fruitlessness, which makes my heart lay the less weight on that duty of believing. If thou be convinced that it is a duty to believe on Christ, you may not neglect it under any pretence. As for the complaints of some who have looked after Him, not admitting every one to be judge of his own fruit, I say-- 1. Many, by their jealousies of God's love, and by their unbelief, after they have so closed with God, do obstruct many precious communications, which otherwise would be let out to them--'And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.' (Matt. 13: 58.) 2. It cannot be that any whose heart is gone out after Christ 'have found Him a wilderness.' (Jer. 2: 31.) Surely they find somewhat in their spirit swaying them towards God in whose two great things, namely, how to be found in Him in that day--'Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ and be found in Him; not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith' (Phil. 3: 8, 9);-- and how to show forth His praise in the land of the living, 'Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live and keep Thy word.' (Psa. 119: 17.) 'Wilt Thou not deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the land of the living.' (Psa. 56: 13.) They find these two things existing in the soul, and that is much. Moreover, they shall, on due inquiry, ever find such an emptiness in the creatures, that the utmost abundance of the creature cannot satisfy their souls--all is vanity, only God can fill the empty room in their heart; and when He breathes but a little, there is no room for additional comfort from creatures. This shows that God has captivated the man, and has fixed that saving principle in the understanding and heart--'Who is God but the Lord? Worship Him all ye gods.' (Psa. 97: 7.) Yea, further, those whose hearts have closed with God in Christ as aforesaid, will not deny that there has been seasonable preventing and quickening now and then when the soul was like to fail--'For Thou preventest me with the blessings of Thy goodness.' (Psa. 21: 3.) 'When I said, my foot slippeth, Thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Thy comforts delight my soul.' (Psa. 94: 18, 19.) Therefore, let none say that there is no fruit following, and let none neglect their duty upon the unjust and groundless complaints of others.

04 October, 2007

Descendit ad Inferna?

In a discussion on the article of faith, "He descended into hell" you will find much confusion. The ancients intended this phrase to mean just what it says- Jesus descended into hell after his burial. Most views say that he preached or proclaimed his triumph over sin and death before demons and/or the damned.

Reformed Christians historically deny this interpretation. We have reinterpreted this phrase in our ancient creed to mean that he either entered the place of the dead or he suffered the pains of hell on the cross. My personal belief (which does not find much support in the Reformed and Presbyterian tradition) is that we strike this phrase from our Creed or we place a giant footnote at the bottom of every printing and state that we disagree with the original meaning of the authors of the text.

As far as I see there are three camps in the Reformed tradition here:
1. Those who are revisionists and reinterpret the creed.
2. Those that do not think that it is that important to change or redefine.
3. Those who want to strike the phrase out of our ancient creed.

Of course, all three have consequences. What should be done though? Does a revisionistic interpretation open the door to liberal interpretations of the Scriptures? Does striking the line show disrespect to our ancient heritage?

Three quotes were given in the discussion that shows the confusion that this phrase has made in the evangelical world. These quotes left me astonished that some have gone so far as to redefine Christ's atoning sacrifice to fit into a creedal system. I see these as the bad fruit of not dealing with this early on in the Protestant Reformation (I understand that the Reformers would not have been able to maintain their claim on catholicity if they began disassembling the creeds of the historic Church):

When Jesus cried, ‘It is finished!’ He was not speaking of the plan of redemption. There were still three days and nights to go through before He went to the throne...Jesus’ death on the cross was only the beginning of the complete work of redemption. -Kenneth Copeland

Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case, the two thieves could have paid your price. No, the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in hell separated from God...Satan and all the demons of hell thought that they had Him bound and they threw a net over Jesus and they dragged Him down to the very pit of hell itself to serve our sentence. -Fredrick Price

He [Jesus] tasted spiritual death for every man. And His spirit and inner man went to hell in my place. Can’t you see that? Physical death wouldn’t remove your sins. He’s tasted death for every man. He’s talking about tasting spiritual death. -Kenneth Hagen

01 October, 2007

The Sanctity of the Lord's Day: John Murray

This is from an article by John Murray published in 1941. The whole article is worth reading.

The Sanctity of the Day

First, and most elementally and centrally, it is that one day in seven is distinguished from the other six. That day is to be sanctified, and at the heart of the word “sanctify is the idea of distinction and separation. This one day is set off, it is placed in a distinct category. This import of the word cannot be evaded and it is to be very carefully marked, for on it depends the whole notion of what we may and must call the “sanctity” of the Sabbath.

It is not, however, the bare notion of distinction or separation that is expressed in the commandment. The command to sanctify occurs in a context. “Six days shall thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God.” And it is not only in the context of the remainder of the commandment, but also in the context of the other commandments. “Thou shall have no other gods before me.” “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” “Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” It is separation, therefore, to God, to the specific purpose of contemplation upon Him and specific occupation with His work in contrast with their own work. In this kind of distinction or sanctity the meaning of the fourth commandment resides. Abolish it, and the essence of the commandment is destroyed.

There is no purpose in contending for the moral obligation of the commandment unless this sanctity is recognized and preserved, for it is the core around which all else is formed and without which all else disintegrates. Just as there is an ineradicable distinction between the six days of creation and the day of rest by which they were followed, so it is here. And it is precisely with this reminder that the commandment itself ends, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day” wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
Israel truly was a holy people; they were separated unto God Jehovah.

It might, then, be supposed that the sanctification of one day in seven was inconsistent with the totality of their devotion to God. Yet it is an inescapable fact that this kingdom of priests and holy nation was in the most direct way commanded to separate one day from the other six for a specific purpose. And unless our conception of devotion to God, and of time as it is related to Him, can embrace and appreciate this notion, together with the divine wisdom embodied in it, we can have no understanding of the fourth commandment.

29 September, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel: The Comfort of 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).

Thank You Mrs. P: More Thoughts on Aliens

For those of you who do not follow comments: hidden under the post with the great Lloyd-Jones quote lies a buzzing comment section concerning the church's duty to illegal immigrants. My position is that the church has a spiritual duty to minister to them and part of that duty is calling them to repentance for their violation of the 10th commandment. Others feel differently.

To give some spiritual widsom to this heated conversation, I would like to ask those interested to read the OPC position paper on illegal immigrants and church membership. I would be interested in reading other's thoughts on this issue as well.

27 September, 2007

Are You Poor In Spirit?

There are many great Scriptures that serve as self-examination to see whether or not you are a follower of Jesus Christ. I can think of no better place (in the New Testament) than the Sermon on the Mount for Christians to perform this holy duty. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has a wonderful statement on this in his book, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. Here is what he says:

There, then, is the general account of the Christian which is given in the Beatitudes. Do you see how essentially different he is from the non-Christian? The vital questions which we therefore ask ourselves are these. Do we belong to this kingdom? Are we ruled by Christ? Is he our king and our lord? Are we manifesting these qualities in our daily lives? Is it our ambition to do so? Do we see that this is what we are meant to be? Are we truly blessed? Are we happy? Have we been filled? Have we got peace? I ask as we have looked together at the general description. Do we find ourselves to be? It is only the man who is like that who is truly happy, the man who is truly blessed. It is a simple question.

My immediate reaction to these Beatitudes proclaims exactly what I am. If I feel they are harsh and hard, if I feel they are against the grain and depict a character and type of life which I dislike, I am afraid it just means I am not a Christian. If I do not want to be like this, I must be "dead in trespasses and sins"; I can never have received new life, but if I feel that I am unworthy and yet I want to be like that, well, however unworthy I may be, if this is my desire and ambition, there must be a new life in me, I must be a child of God, I must be a citizen of the kingdom of heaven and of God's dear son. Let every man examine himself.