24 April, 2007

Crunch Time

Closed until the semester ends on May 12th. Please go read a good book.

22 April, 2007

Sabbath a' Brakel: Love Towards God

The Holy Spirit, igniting love in the hearts of God's children, operates in harmony with man's nature. Man cannot love what he does not know and his love cannot go beyond that which he knows. The Holy Spirit thus also works this love by the medium of knowledge. God gives enlightened eyes of understanding to His children. He reveals Himself to them, they know His perfections, and the love of God is thus ignited in them. "Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" (1 John 4:7-8); "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Mat. 22:37) [III: 265].

20 April, 2007

Need Help With the 'Split Peas'?

Here is a helpful website to sort out all of the peas in the soup. We Presbyterians have a reputation for dividing a lot; but the truth is we are in as much as sin as the next band of Protestants:

  • Who can tell all of those Baptists apart? Regular. Particular. Primitive. Calvinistic. Reformed. Southern.

  • How about the Reformed? Heritage, Free, Christian, Canadian, Netherlands, German, United, Independent, US, etc.

Point being, we all have things to work on. We are a long way to being faithful to John 17 that is for sure! But, here is a road map to help you through the section of the body of Christ called Presbyterians- split and united. It includes the Reformed as well. So it is Split R and P soup.

Split P Organizer

19 April, 2007

Cotton Mather on Entertainment in Worship

Cotton Mather was dealing with a type of seeker-sensitive church in his day. He thought that the introduction of musical instruments (especially the organ) was a ploy to entertain the people and steal them out of the Reformed churches.

He saw the organ in the same way that many in today's churches see guitars and a drum set. I guess that many of us, upon reflection, need to reconsider our positions on these things. What is the difference between a guitar and an organ? Is there any difference?

If we believe in doing what God tells us to do in worship, should we not have all of the instruments that God says to use in the Old Testament and not one that was invented in the 1600s? Or should we reconsider the whole thing? Why did ALL of the Reformed churches sing a capella? What does God want from us?

"Attempts to propagate the Church of England among us, by a most conspicuous and marvelous blast of heaven upon them, do very much come to nothing. Even the organs introduced into the chapel in this metropolis of the English America, signify very little to draw over our people unto them." -Cotton Mather, in a letter to John Stirling, 1714.

16 April, 2007

Justification and Adoption

Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.
Q. 34. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace,a whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges, of the sons of God.

My catechumens are working on these two questions for the week. I have taken this opportunity to discuss the necessity of conversion and the need for all men (including covenant children) to have their sins pardoned.

I have given them a homework assignment that requires them to interview their believing parents and grandparents and ask them to tell the story of their justification by faith alone. As a Calvinist, I believe that one can have a testimony that says "I have never known a day when I did not love the Lord Jesus". This is my prayer for my children, that they would know and love Christ from their very youth.

With that in mind, even covenant children can discuss and write out their testimony. I hope that this exercise proves to be beneficial to my catechumens as they again hear of how their families fell in love with the Lord Jesus Christ. I would challenge you write out yours as well. Someday you may be asked to talk about your Christian experience while sharing the good news.

14 April, 2007

Sabbath a' Brakel: On Sin

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).

12 April, 2007

Set Apart For God

This year the Banner of Truth Conference will focus on being 'set apart for God'. I have linked the online brochure for you to check it out. I would love to meet up with anyone that is planning on attending. I have heard that in years past the ARP and the RPCNA people have gotten together for a Psalm sing. I am up for that! The dates are May 29-31. Is anyone interested in attending?

10 April, 2007

A Little Country Church

This is a picture of Southfield RPCNA that Jon and Wendy Hughes sent me. The picture was taken pre-1955 and has seen many changes in this short amount of time. It has been moved back from the road and was placed on a basement. There has also been a manse built on the property since then. Notice that it is all fields surrounding the little country church. It is now one acre amidst tall buildings and multi lane action!

09 April, 2007

The Heart is a Factory of Idolatry

"This potato has changed everything. I can't explain it.
It's given me hope and I know God's here."

08 April, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel

Who are you for whom Christ has suffered all this? In yourself you are nothing but sin within and without, and therefore your nature is so hateful, abominable, intolerable, and damnable. What incompatibility there is between Jesus and you! Sink away in your wretched condition and acknowledge yourself to be unworthy that anyone, let alone God and the Son of God would look after you and think upon you. Above all, consider that everything is to be found in you which would cause the Lord Jesus to be repulsed by you and refrain from doing good to you. Focus on your wretched condition until you perceive yourself to be entirely as we have just described you to be, and then betake yourself in faith to the Lord Jesus. Be humbled, but be not unbelieving, by this view which passes all understanding, namely, that Jesus should love you, and that He would love you to such an extent that out of love for you He would suffer and die. Believe, however, that such is the case, and confess, "This is the LORD's doing; and it is marvelous in my eyes" (I: 616-617)

06 April, 2007

Union With Christ Equals Communion of Saints

The Church of Christ is divided in our day. We have invented the sin called denominationalism as a means to justify the division that we have brought upon ourselves. The true Church of Christ is one. She is one in truth, one in spirit, one in the bond of peace and unity.

How often do we commune with those that we do not feel deserve our fellowship? How often do we esteem others lower than ourselves only to set up idols of our own person? How often do slander, injure, and assault the very body of Christ; even in his name?

When one has been united to the Lord Jesus Christ through justification he should seek reconciliation with fellow believers out of duty. We, who are the Church, are united to Christ and, in a sense, united with each other. The Apostle Paul was clear on this when he spoke of the many members. Does the hand say to the foot, I have no need of you?

Seek peace with the household of God. Seek unity of mind and heart. It has been said that through division and hatred, many Sabbath worship services have had Christians murdering other Christians through their mutual thoughts and feelings. Seek peace. Seek unity. Seek communion of the saints as an outworking of union with Christ.

See how fearful a sin it is to abuse the saints. It is an injury done to Christ, for believers are mystically one with him: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4). When the body was wounded, the Head, being in heaven, cried out. In this sense, men crucify Christ afresh (Heb. 6:6), because what is done to his members is done to him. If Gideon was avenged upon those who slew his brethren, will not Christ much more be avenged on those that wrong his spouse (Judges 8:21)? Will a king tolerate having his treasure rifled, his crown thrown in the dust, his queen beheaded? Will Christ bear with the affronts and injuries done to his bride? The saints are the apple of Christ's eye (Zech. 2:8), and let those who strike at his eye answer for it. Isa 49:26 "I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine" (Isa. 49:26). -Thomas Watson

05 April, 2007

New Blog in Town

Reverend Charles Brown of Westminster RPCNA has started a blog. I get excited, as well as encouraged, when pastors begin to blog. I think that it is a good way to continue the discussion of theological ideas as well as pass on knowledge of Church history. I have said many times that the Puritans were innovators in using the technology of the day for the furtherance of the Kingdom of Christ. May the Lord use new technologies to again reform and revive the Church.

Preacher's Wives Gone Wild

03 April, 2007

Hide Thy Word in My Heart

Memorizing Scripture is essential to the Christian life. Often Christians become overwhelmed at where to begin in the process of memorization. I would suggest beginning with the Westminster Shorter Catechism proof texts. These are a great place to begin because you can have a broad range of verses from systematic theology hidden in your heart.

Another place to begin is with the Navigator's Topical Memory System (TMS). These are 60 verses to aid in ministering to people. They teach the essentials of Christ as well as give a broad range of verses to use in evangelism. I prefer the TMS verses over the 'packaged gospel' of Evangelism Explosion (in which I am certified thanks to my strenuous and intellectual undergraduate education). Here is a printable TMS. It is a good place to begin.

Once you have begun memorizing God's Word you should pray that the Lord bring you opportunity to evangelize. This will be liberating to you who have not shared your faith to another. We are all commanded to preach the Gospel. Our English translations have
'preach' used for two different Greek words. One is the preaching that a minister is ordained by God to do. The other is the preaching, or 'gossiping' the Gospel, that all who are true Christians are commanded to do. If the church was equipped to share the Gospel; the Lord would have a mighty army. Imagine, a bunch of Calvinists sharing the Gospel!

A certain degree of religious knowledge , beyond doubt, is of vast importance. Ignorance is certainly not the mother of true devotion and helps nobody towards heaven. An 'unknown god' can never be the object of reasonable worship. Happy indeed would it be for Christians if they all knew the Scriptures as well as the Jews seem to have done when our Lord was on earth!

-JC Ryle

02 April, 2007

The Larger Catechism on Christ's Bride

Q62: What is the visible church?
A62: The visible church is a society made up of all such as in all ages and places of the world do profess the true religion,[1] and of their children.[2]
1. I Cor. 1:2; 12:13; Rom. 15:9-12; Rev. 7:9; Psa. 2:8; 22:27-31; 45:17; Matt. 28:19-20; Isa. 59:212. I Cor. 7:14; Acts 2:39; Rom. 11:16; Gen. 17:7

Q63: What are the special privileges of the visible church?
A63: The visible church hath the privilege of being under God's special care and government;[1] of being protected and preserved in all ages, not withstanding the opposition of all enemies;[2] and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation,[3] and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved,[4] and excluding none that will come unto him.[5]
1. Isa. 4:5-6; I Tim. 4:102. Psa. 115:1-2, 9: Isa. 31:4-5; Zech. 12:2-4, 8-93. Acts 2:39, 424. Psa. 147:19-20; Rom. 9:4; Eph. 4:11-12; Mark 16:15-165. John 6:37

Q64: What is the invisible church?
A64: The invisible church is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head.[1]
1. Eph. 1:20, 22-23; John 10:16, 11:52

Q65: What special benefits do the members of the invisible church enjoy by Christ?
A65: The members of the invisible church by Christ enjoy union and communion with him in grace and glory.[1]
1. John 17:21, 24; Eph. 2:5-6

01 April, 2007

Sabbath a'Brakel: Post-Communion Reflection

Be very careful to conduct yourself well after the Lord's Supper. If Satan has not been able to gain the advantage over you in the preparation for and celebration of the Lord's Supper, he will yet endeavor to get the advantage over you after the Lord's Supper. After the Lord Jesus had been baptized, He was tempted of the devil, and after the disciples had celebrated the Lord's Supper with Christ, they were in that same night offended and dispersed, and Peter was sifted as the wheat. After Paul had been drawn into the third heaven, there came an angel of Satan who buffeted him. This is generally also true for believers--after having been comforted they must arm themselves against the assaults of the enemy, so that he may not get a hold upon them. As one must be on guard against the enemy, he must likewise take special care to conduct himself appropriately toward God, his Benefactor. We may indeed apply to this spiritual meal what God demanded of Israel upon their arrival in Canaan with its abundance: "When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which He hath given thee. Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God" (Deu. 8:10-11) [II: 593].