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.

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