29 September, 2007
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
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.
25 September, 2007
The church used to be that institution that met the needs of the poor, advanced the betterment of society, and promoted all of the 'social' aspects of the Gospel of Christ. In our day, we have handed those reins over for unconverted men and women to do through social programs.
If the church is to take back her rightful place in society, then she is going to need to set up the programs to meet these needs, in advance of those in need coming to her. I am as guilty as the next guy in not reaching out to the needs of the fatherless, widow, and (illegal) alien within our gates. May we all pour our energies into the body of Christ so that she can do that which she is called to do.
It is upon this brotherhood of [the] twice born sinner , this brotherhood of the redeemed, that the Christian founds the hope of society. He finds no solid hope in the improvement of earthly conditions, or the molding of human institutions under the influence of the Golden Rule... A solid building cannot be constructed when all the materials are faulty; a blessed society cannot be formed out of men who are still under the curse of sin. Human institutions are really to be molded, not by the Christian principles accepted by the unsaved, but by Christian men; the true transformation of society will come by the influence of those who have themselves been redeemed. True Christianity differs from liberalism in the way in which the transformation of society is conceived. But according to Christian belief, as well as according to liberalism, there is really to be a transformation of society; it is not true that the Christian evangelist is interested in the salvation of individuals without being interested in the salvation of the race. And even before salvation of all society has been achieved, there is already a society of those who have been saved. That society is the Church. The Church is the highest Christian answer to the social needs of man. -J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism.
24 September, 2007
"When we eat at McDonald's, do not pray, bless this food to our bodies; pray protect us from what we are about to do." -Dr. James Grier
22 September, 2007
20 September, 2007
Wednesday we began with the letter to Ephesus. Ephesus was the 'mother kirk' of the other churches in that region, pastored by Timothy with apostolic oversight from John. The session of this congregation was known to have precision doctrinally and could spot heresy from a distance. At the time of the writing to the churches, this congregation had lost much of the zeal that 'first generation' Christians bring to a congregation. The love for Christ had grown cold. Jesus tells them that they are to do these first works again and to repent.
“The lush green color of springtime in the congregation 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
Jesus gives them a great promise though. If they overcome, they will be granted to eat from the Tree of Life. To a city that was full of false worship that was symbolized by the fig-tree, this promise would stand out as such comfort to those that longed to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Jesus’ last words… is not a threat but a promise: the victor will eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God. In this first letter the painful memory of paradise lost is transformed into hope, as the promise points ahead to the tree of life in the New Jerusalem… The great
17 September, 2007
One of his quotes stood out as quite refreshing to me. It amazes me the balance that our Puritan forefathers had on issues that today are confused and misused. Matthew Henry, speaking of Eve's creation said, Eve was not taken out of Adam's head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled on by him, but out his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.
What a refreshing thought on Eve's creation. How could a feminist argue with the dignity and high value that God has placed on the woman?
15 September, 2007
10 September, 2007
Here is a great article by Professor John Murray on the baptism of infants.
09 September, 2007
05 September, 2007
During the discussion time, one of our new (and insightful) students asked the question, "Can someone who does not hold to the dogma of the Church [which we loosely defined as the Ecumenical Creeds] be saved?"
I immediately thought of a quote from my best-est-est-est friend, Shawn Anderson. Samuel Rutherford, in Against Separation answers this question in his mind blowing way. This is very important as we live in times of great theological confusion- the Lord saves apart from our works (which includes our theological endevors.)
03 September, 2007
Concerning the external calling, ask yourself: How did I arrive in this congregation? Did I flatter the elders of the congregation, thereby soliciting their favor? Did I establish friendships in order to control these friends? Did I give gifts? Did I interact with the worldly members of the church in order that they would impose me upon the congregation? Has money been promised and given in order thus to come to this congregation, and if this was done by friends without my knowledge, did I make restitution after this came to my knowledge? (II: 125-126).
He who is convinced of his divine commission must then also view himself as an ambassador of the Lord Jesus. As such, and with that authority, he must perform all his work, such as preaching, catechizing, the administration of the sacraments, visitation, and the use of the keys of God's kingdom. This will make him bold and faithful, and he and his work will receive more approbation. In this manner all ministers must conduct themselves concerning their commission (II: 127).
A proper consideration of the commission, the qualifications, and the authority of ministers (who not only proclaim beneficial truths but who are ambassadors of Christ), as well as the fact that Christ has deemed the congregation and each individual member worthy of having an ambassador sent to them to speak to them in His Name that which He has commanded them will have a powerful effect upon the hearts of the members. The ministers must therefore impress this upon the congregation, and the members must instruct each other concerning this, so that everyone may acknowledge and hear the minister as such (II: 128).
01 September, 2007
To these belong, first of all, a knowledge of the office. One must know what it means to be a servant of Christ, to be the mouth of the Lord, to proclaim that great gospel, to teach ignorant men the way of salvation, to be instrumental in delivering men from the devil, and to lead them to Christ. One must know that it consists in comforting those who mourn, stirring up the indolent, bringing back those who have strayed, exposing hypocrites and temporal believers to themselves, defending the truth against error, rebuking the ungodly, helping to keep out or expelling from the church those who lead offensive lives, and adorning the church, so that by the holiness of those who profess the truth she would bring glory to Christ. One must know that it consists in being an example and in being able to give an account of the souls entrusted to him. How can he who is neither thoroughly acquainted with these matters, nor perceives the weightiness of it all, nor takes this to heart, have intentions to be faithful? All of this must be known, considered, and experienced in order to be conscious of one's calling.
Secondly, there must be some knowledge of one's aptitude for this work. A fundamental knowledge of divine truths and thus being satisfied with a speculative knowledge of these is not sufficient. Rather, one must experience the power of these truths in his own heart, having been converted thereby. He will thus be able to speak from his own experience. He must also have the aptitude to clearly express his thoughts, and must have a voice which is capable of being heard by others. Even though the most qualified person must say, "Who is sufficient for these things?" (2 Cor. ), one must nevertheless be conscious of some aptitude. Shortly we shall consider this aptitude more comprehensively.
Thirdly, there must be an extraordinary love a) for Christ and a desire to make Him known; b) for the church to present her as a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2), and to cause her to shine forth with light and holiness to the honor of God; c) for the souls of the unconverted to snatch them from the fire, as well as of the converted to strengthen, comfort, and continually provide them with spiritual food.
Fourthly, one must be willing to deny all that is of the world, such as honor, material goods, yes and even life itself. If someone is of low social status and wishes to become someone of renown or to acquire material goods by way of the ministry, his objective is entirely wrong. He would be much happier as a shoemaker, for in my opinion there is no man more abominable than an unregenerate minister who uses the holy things of God to his own advantage.
Fifthly, there must be a great desire for this work (1 Tim. 3:1). There must be continual stirrings to give oneself to the Lord by way of this work, and there must be a concern about whether or not one is called. There must be anxiety when ulterior motives are perceived in the heart which in turn causes one to entertain the thought to refrain from this work; or when the heaviness of the task, and a sense of inability causes one to look up against this work, engendering a desire to be relieved from this work, as with Moses and Jeremiah. The stirrings will nevertheless persist and overcome the objections. This in turn will give him more liberty before the Lord and he will find himself more willing than beforehand because by the objections he will have a clearer view of the motives of his heart. Then his heart does not condemn him, but rather convinces him of his sincerity in this matter.
By these and similar arguments one can ascertain his internal calling. We will now proceed to consider the external calling (II: 121-122).