31 December, 2008

The Circumcision of Christ

In the Dutch Reformed tradition, New Year's Day was celebrated as the Day of the Circumcision. This day would have been the 8th day after Christ's birth and would have marked the beginning of Christ's sufferings and humiliation. According to the Law of Moses, new born boys were to be circumcised on the 8th day after their birth.

The circumcision of Christ is important to believers for this very reason- that cut would have been the first blood shed from our Savior. The first blood to flow towards the complete salvation of sinners.

We do not often think of Christ's circumcision, but it is a very important part of our redemption's accomplishment. Today Dutch Reformed Churches celebrate the New Year with a worship service- which is fine. But the redemptive nature of why they gathered on this day is lost in our current customs. On this New Year's Day, think of what Christ has done for you, if you are his. Think of blood lost.

Christ was circumcised for you. Even as an eight day old infant, Christ was actively working for the salvation of the elect.

Colossians 2:11 And in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ...

27 December, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: What is Spiritual Deadness?

(1) Its nature pertains to spiritual matters.

(2) Such deadness and insensitivity is not a total deprivation of spiritual life and feeling, for spiritual life will permanently remain in believers. Rather, it is a partial deadness, as far as both measure and time are concerned. The one may recede to a lower level than the other, and the same person may at one time be more lifeless than at other times. Yes, there can even be brief intermissions in which someone, who generally suffers from deadness, can be very tender, sensible, and lively, and is thus of the opinion that he has been delivered from it. It is, however, but a ray of sunlight on a dark and cloudy day in order that he may be supported for that which he must still endure.

(3) This deadness does not consist in an absence of sensible emotions, but rather in the coldness and lethargy of the intelligent will. The person who suffers from deadness retains his spiritual knowledge; he perceives spiritual matters in their essential nature--however, from afar (IV: 268-269).

26 December, 2008

2009: The Bible in One Year and Calvin's Institutes in One Year

One summer while I was in college a number of friends decided to read the Institutes together. I think that me and one young lady were the only ones to complete the work.

Since 2009 marks the 500th birthday of Calvin, I think it would be wise to read the Institutes. I am sure that a lot of people will be doing it and discussing the reading. Here is a link for how to read Calvin in a year.

And, of course, the reading of Scripture is extremely important. I always recommend the McCheyne reading plan for reading the Scriptures in one year. You have four readings a day- and at the end of the year you have read the Old Testament once, the New Testament twice, Psalms and Proverbs twice as well.

Enjoy! Let me know if you are planning on doing either!

25 December, 2008

Interesting Thought for Preachers On Christmas

At my Presbytery exams a couple of weeks ago in Los Angeles I got a lot of pastoral advice.

My favorite piece of advice for today came from Pastor Don Piper from Seattle RPCNA. Pastor Piper said that when he was a young minister he would preach on the resurrection on Christmas day and then preach on Christ's birth on Easter.


He advised against it for me.

23 December, 2008

Of the Public Reading of Scriptures

The past couple of weeks I have been researching the differences between the 1645 Westminster Directory for Public Worship against the 1945 and 2009 RPCNA Directories. The continuity is great and it illustrates that the RP Church was merely updating the Directory in their labors. Today I have spent time in 'The Public Reading of Scriptures'. Here is the 1645 directions for your edification:

Reading of the word in the congregation, being part of the public worship of God, (wherein .i.we; acknowledge our dependence upon him, and subjection to him,) and one mean sanctified by him for the edifying of his people, is to be performed by the pastors and teachers.

Howbeit, such as intend the ministry, may occasionally both read the word, and exercise their gift in preaching in the congregation, if allowed by the presbytery thereunto.

All the canonical books of the Old and New Testament (but none of those which are commonly called Apocrypha) shall be publickly read in the vulgar tongue, out of the best allowed translation, distinctly, that all may hear and understand.

How large a portion shall be read at once, is left to the wisdom of the minister; but it is convenient, that ordinarily one chapter of each Testament be read at every meeting; and sometimes more, where the chapters be short, or the coherence of matter requireth it.

It is requisite that all the canonical books be read over in order, that the people may be better acquainted with the whole body of the scriptures; and ordinarily, where the reading in either Testament endeth on one Lord's day, it is to begin the next.

We commend also the more frequent reading of such scriptures as he that readeth shall think best for edification of his hearers, as the book of Psalms, and such like.

When the minister who readeth shall judge it necessary to expound any part of what is read, let it not be done until the whole chapter or psalm be ended; and regard is always to be had unto the time, that neither preaching, nor other ordinances be straitened, or rendered tedious. Which rule is to be observed in all other public performances.

Beside publick reading of the holy scriptures, every person that can read, is to be exhorted to read the scriptures privately, (and all others that cannot read, if not disabled by age, or otherwise, are likewise to be exhorted to learn to read,) and to have a Bible.

20 December, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: Spiritual Courage

The crown of glory must be worth so much to you, so precious must spiritual life and fellowship with God be to you, and such pleasure you must find in the will of God, that you will be willing to battle valiantly all the days of your life. Do not let this weigh heavy upon your heart, thinking, "Must I be in arms and engage in warfare my entire life? Must there be such an exertion of strength my entire lifetime? That is indeed a distasteful way and there is no way whereby I will persevere." Yes, heaven must be that precious to you; or else you must relinquish it (III: 342).

18 December, 2008

Reformed Presbyterian City Churches No Longer Part of Our Testimony

Today I was doing some research in the Reformed Presbyterian Minutes of Synod. I was in the old dusty copies- early 1900s through 1940s. What struck me was the number of congregations that used to be in, what are called, 'strategic' cities. I began to be curious about what some of these buildings looked like and began using 'Google Street View' to see some of the old buildings and neighborhoods that used to be RP strongholds.

Sadly, the RP Church no longer has a witness in some of the most important cities across the United States and Canada. I will leave it to the seasoned church historians to give all of the reasons why some of the oldest RP congregations are no longer with us. From 'white flight' to changing priorities in the denomination- many reasons have left some of the oldest congregations behind (along with grand buildings and hurting neighborhoods).

It is my prayer that we can again have a voice in these cities and neighborhoods. When will we see a congregation in New York city again? We used to have a large number of them. When will we see congregations in Portland, OR, or San Fransisco, CA, or Detroit, MI, or Kansas City, MO, or Miami, FL, or even downtown Pittsburgh?

Of course, it is not just the RP Church, but conservative Reformed Churches across the board. Many have given up on the cities and urban areas of this nation and Canada. Our churches thrive in suburbs and country areas. It does not have to be that way only. We can, once again ,seek out the urban areas for the cause of Jesus Christ. Reformation does not have to be in suburbia and in the pastures only (although those places are important too). I would like to see the cause of Christ advanced in the cites of this country- in the cities that used to have much light coming from thriving Reformed and Presbyterian Churches.

Below are some of the old RP Churches that have been lost to the denomination. I noticed that one is now Antioch-Baptist, one is African Methodist Episcopal Zion, and some are boarded up or torn down. These are just a few of the many former RP congregations.

Enjoy the tour, via Google Streetview:

First Boston RP Church
Warren Ave. and Brookline Street

Chicago RP Church

66th Place and South Normal Ave.

Kansas City RP Church
44th Street and Wyoming Street

Second New York City RP Church

308 West 122nd Street

Third New York City RP Church

1932 Walton Ave. Bronx

First Philadelphia RP Church
40th Street and Sanson Street

Third Philadelphia RP Church
Franklin Street and Dauphin Street

Portland, OR, RP Church
5935 North Minnesota Ave.

Toronto RP Church
754 Samman Ave.

16 December, 2008

Snow White

Below is a short meditation on the whiteness of snow by Dr. David Murray of Puritan Reformed Seminary.

Snow White from Puritan Reformed on Vimeo.

14 December, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: Do You REALLY Love Jesus?

Many know Jesus according to the letter, but not internally by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, such also have no love for Him. They do desire Him as a servant to protect them from hell and to help them get into heaven--of which they also have no correct perceptions. Beyond that they have no use for Him. There is no entering into covenant with Him, no surrendering to Him, no receiving of Him by faith unto justification and sanctification, no heart-union, and no exercising of fellowship with Him. They are neither acquainted with His presence nor with His absence. They are satisfied if they are but good church-members, partake of the Lord's Supper, live honestly, and have the illusion that they will be saved. On that basis they proceed--even though Jesus remains a stranger to them, remaining outside of their heart and thoughts. Since you are acquainted with human love, you will thus perceive that you have no love to Jesus, whom you ought to love more vehemently than men. You may say that you love Jesus. But then I ask you, "How is this evident? Is there esteem and reverence for Him? Do you grieve and long for Him? Do you endeavor to live in immediate union with Him? Is there a resemblance between your nature and His? Are you obedient and do you keep His commandments? Is there love for the most eminent among the godly? Is there an aversion toward the unconverted, of whom we have dealt with in the above, and of whom you yourself are convinced? If you consider your love toward men, and apply this to love toward Christ, then you must be convinced that you do not love Jesus--whatever good thought you may also have concerning yourself" (III: 278-279).

11 December, 2008

I Want A LITERAL Translation of the Bible

Many Christians want a literal translation of the Bible. This is usually the argument that so many Fundamentalists make for using the King James Version of the Bible. They argue that it is a literal version of the Scriptures.

Now, as much as I love the King James Bible (and other translations that follow the same translation philosophy: ESV, NKJV, NASB), the idea of a LITERAL translation is a myth. Let me illustrate:

Today, in my Hebrew studies, I translated this section from Psalm 118:23:

מֵאֵת יְהוָה הָיְתָה זֹּאת

The way that the text would be translated LITERALLY is:
From with the LORD, she (or it) was this.

Now, frankly I do not want a translation that does not clean a verse like this up for me. I do not want a translation that refuses to understand that readability as well as textual integrity are part of the translation philosophy. Of course, many translators understand this and they make phrases like this make sense by putting them in English that is read- not just garbled English words.

Here is how I translated it:
This is from the LORD.

Here is the KJV, NKJV, NASB:
This is the LORD's doing.

Here is the ESV:
This is the Lord's doing.

This, along with hundreds and hundreds of other passages in both the Hebrew and the Greek show us that we do not want a LITERAL translation of the Scriptures. What we want is one where:
  1. The translators believe that the Hebrew and Greek texts ARE the ACTUAL Word of God.
  2. Where the sentence is translated Word for Word- and at the same time readability is taken into consideration.
When the American Standard Version came out in 1901, Charles Spurgeon wrote a review of it. He was quite impressed with the faithfulness to the text, but found it VERY awkward to read. His quote is famous- "The ASV is good Greek and horrible English!" Of course, he was an Englishman commenting on the American tongue as well!

09 December, 2008

Who Needs Calvin's Commentaries?

Calvin's Commentaries on the Scripture are some of the best expositions that the Church has. My personal opinion is that a set should be in every Christian home for reference when a text is unclear or even for personal or family worship purposes. They are that good! Calvin is not the dry, dusty, overly-scholastic killjoy that some make him out to be. He is actually very warm, applicable, and pastoral in his exposition (something that many Reformed pastors could learn from!).

If you do not have these commentaries in your home, but agree that they would make a great addition to a spiritual library- then now is the time to add them. Christian Book Distributors has them for $99 right now (they retail at $1000... even though most get them for around $250 in the used market). $99 is unheard of though- with 22 volumes, I would imagine that the paper and ink are worth at least half of that!

Get em here!

Reformation Thoughts on the Role of the Government

I have always thought that the Belgic Confession, article 36 is the best summary of the role of the civil magistrate. It is a concise statement on the thoughts of the Reformers concerning the duties and benefits of the magistrate. Here is article 36:

We believe that our gracious God, because of the depravity of mankind, has appointed kings, princes and magistrates, willing that the world should be governed by certain laws and policies; to the end that the dissoluteness of men might be restrained and all things carried on among them with good order and decency. For this purpose he has invested the magistracy with the sword, for the punishment of evildoers, and for the protection of them that do well. And their office is, not only to have regard unto, and watch for the welfare of the civil state; but also that they protect the sacred ministry; and thus may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship; that the kingdom of antichrist may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of Christ promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honoured and worshipped by every one, as he commands in his Word. Moreover, it is the bounden duty of every one, of what state, quality, or condition soever he may be, to subject himself to the magistrates; to pay tribute, to show due honour and respect to them, and to obey them in all things which are not repugnant to the Word of God; to supplicate for them in their prayers, that God may rule and guide them in all their ways, and that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. Wherefore we detest the Anabaptists and other seditious people, and in general all those who reject the higher powers and magistrates, and would subvert justice, introduce community of goods, and confound that decency and good order, which God has established among men.

07 December, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: How to Attain Christian Joy

To that end you should first of all continually exercise faith in Christ, reflect upon the truths pertaining to the atonement and God's way in which He leads man to salvation, and put your trust in Jesus, leaning upon Him. To entrust yourself thus to Him, without seeing Him or apart from any feeling, is the way that leads to joy (1 Pet. 1:8).

Secondly, continue to read and acknowledge the Word to be what it really is: the Word of God. Acknowledge that it addresses itself at that particular moment to you. Search for the promises, deem them to be unbreakable, and when you apply them to your soul as such, you will experience joy. "For thy word hath quickened me" (Psa. 119:50).

Thirdly, pray much, and acquaint yourself with the Lord by praying to Him, communing with Him, making request to Him, and laying before Him all that you lack and desire, especially your desire for joy. "Make me to hear joy and gladness" (Psa. 51:8); "O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days" (Psa. 90:14).

Pursue the promise and lift up your heart to the truth that whatever you will pray for in Christ's Name, He will indeed give you. By being thus engaged in prayer the soul will experience more and more of this joy.

Fourthly, 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).

Fifthly, be much on guard against yielding to a sinful routine in your life. Even if there are no great falls, this yielding, this drowsy carelessness, and this departing from God will readily rob us of this joy. Rather, one ought to refrain from unrighteousness, and, upon falling, arise each time again and immediately run to the fountain once more; this will, time and again, quicken joyfulness. May the God of our exceeding joy gladden you! Amen (II: 466-467).

02 December, 2008

A Letter to My Readers

Friends and Family,

I wanted to let everyone know that I have accepted a call to pastor the Los Angeles, CA Reformed Presbyterian Church. I look forward to beginning the hard work of ministering in Southern California.

I have presbytery examinations on December 13th in Los Angeles and will be ordained and installed in the early part of February. The official move will be some time between those dates.

After being in Grand Rapids almost 11 years, I really have grown to consider Grand Rapids my home (and I know that Lydia feels the same way). The friendships and the relationships that have developed over these years are strong and will be missed greatly. Our college friends, seminary friends, congregation, and co-workers at Pine Rest will be missed greatly as we begin this new phase of life.

Lydia and I also want to acknowledge that it will be difficult to be so far away from family. Chicago and NW Pennsylvania are distant lands from the sunny hills of Los Angeles. We appreciate their understanding and support as we make this move. With the modern advances in communication and relatively inexpensive travel, we hope that it will not seem so distant.

Please be in prayer for us as we move our belongings, family, and most importantly- our ministry across the country. We will update you all as things progress.

With grateful hearts,

Nathan and Lydia Eshelman

22 November, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: The Commission of the Minsiter of the Word

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).

21 November, 2008

Happy Birthday Anna Grace

Today is my precious daughter, Anna Grace's 5th birthday. I love her more than you would imagine. I pray that she grows to be a woman who loves and fears her God, Savior, and King.

Psalm 5:11-12 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.

17 November, 2008

Tom Lyon on How to Get the Most Out of Our Home Libraries

These 10 Directions appear in the December issue of The Banner of Truth. I have taken out the explanations and only given the 10 'directions'. To read the whole article... well, subscribe to BOT!

‘Give heed to reading’ (1 Tim. 4:13).

DIRECTION 1. Always reckon that the best book to be read, the first book to be read, and often the only book to be read, is God’s book.
DIRECTION 2. Give no credit to that opinion which holds bookishness in religion in suspicion or contempt.
DIRECTION 3. Do not be simply a collector of books. Retain them not for the number, beauty, antiquity, rarity, value, or mere possession of them.
DIRECTION 4. Mortify your library. That which you shelve may be construed the measure of that which you approve. That which you retain for reference may be read unwittingly for life (see Acts 19:19).
DIRECTION 5. Reckon that, contrary to popular expectation, those books lately written may be inferior to those of another day.
DIRECTION 6. Judge the importance of a book, not by the author’s exuberance or the publisher’s notices, but by the relative weight assigned that topic in God’s book. Weak books struggle through the press with ease nowadays, which strangely impresses the unwary.
DIRECTION 7. Do not give, lend, or recommend a book which you have not read. Do not trust an author just because he has written helpfully once or upon one subject.
DIRECTION 8. Care for your books. Esteem them as friends, for there may be times when they will be the only friends you have!
DIRECTION 9. And always a. Read widely. Avoid the accumulation of devotional material. Sermons are generally better heard than read. b. Read with discrimination. Be quick to part company with that book which fails to promote sound doctrine, solid thought, balanced inference, experimental godliness, and esteem for Christ.
DIRECTION 10. Never be found without a book nearby.

And to help with working towards these directions, here is a PDF of the new Reformation Heritage Books catalog.

13 November, 2008

Is Christianity Rational or Emotional? The Prodigal God Requires Both

Often Christians find themselves erring in how they view their relationship with God in Christ. Some see Christianity as merely a relationship with God and they forget things like requirements, obedience, commands, and other biblical things. Too often, in the Reformed churches, we tend to make religion too rational. We do not think that Christianity has an emotional aspect to it. We think- head good; heart bad. We take a dogmatic and rational approach to God. Of course, we are to have a dogmatic and rational approach to the Scriptures and to the God of the Bible. We are also called to have a relationship with him- an experience of God. Timothy Keller touches upon this in his new book, The Prodigal God. Keller (in chapter 7) comments,

Salvation is experiential. A feast is a place where our appetites of senses, taste, sight, smell, are filled up. In John's Gospel we are told Jesus was in attendance at a wedding reception where the wine had run out too early. Both the bridal couple and the master of the banquet... were in danger of social humiliation. However, in his first public exercise of divine power, Jesus turned several large containers of water into wine. Amazingly, John the Gospel writer calls this miracle a sign, a signifier of what Jesus' ministry was all about. Why would this be his inaugural act? Why would Jesus, to convey what he had come to do choose to turn 150 gallons of water into superb wine in order to keep a party going? The answer is that Jesus came to bring festival joy. He is the real and true master of the banquet, the Lord of the feast...

Salvation is not only objective and legal but also subjective and experiential. The Bible insists on using sensory language about salvation. It calls us to taste and see that the LORD is good, not only to agree and believe it.. The difference between believing that God is gracious and tasting that God is gracious is as different as having a rational sense that honey is sweet and having an actual sense of its sweetness...

His love is like honey or like wine, rather than only believing that he is loving we come to sense the reality, the beauty, and the power of his love. His love can become more real to you than anyone else.

11 November, 2008

Puritan Seminary Has A New Website

Puritan Seminary has had a website for as long as I have been a student there. It was always... well, let's say... well... not very attractive. People would ask me (because I am a student, I guess) why it is PINK?

I do not know why the website was pink.

It is no longer pink.

Check it out.

07 November, 2008

Why Doesn't (Y)our Church Grow?

Have you ever asked the question, 'why doesn't my church grow?' I think that the experience in many Reformed churches is to find ourselves asking this question.

Have we thought that maybe we are not growing is because we are not really seeking God's Kingdom? Maybe we are too busy building our own wealth, worried too much about our 401K (or 403B in my case), our home, our seeking to entertain ourselves, our worrying more about our own families and lives than His Kingdom?

Well, someone says, Doesn't God call us to provide for our families, build wealth, rest, and take care of our spheres? Yes. We cannot deny that God calls us to these things- but they are ALL secondary to His Kingdom.

Why doesn't the Church grow? Here Pastor Quigley shows us from the book of Haggai, that the problem for many congregations is mixed loyalties. We are to seek His Kingdom FIRST! Many congregations go from Sabbath Day to Sabbath Day with no vision, no purpose for existing other than to exist. Pastor Quigley challenges the church to ask this question, "Do you YEARN for God to build His Kingdom in this place?"

03 November, 2008

A Vote Is Affirmation, Not Against Someone You Do Not Like

In my years of voting, I have heard EVERY presidential election this line: 'This is the most important election of our lifetime.' To that I say, 'yeah right'. This line is just a way for Republicans to scare us into voting for their candidate out of fear that God will not be pleased with us if we do not vote Republican.

A vote is not something that is negative. A vote cannot be made against someone. A vote is a vow that you are making in support of the name you put forward. On November 5th, please remember that we are not voting against someone, but voting FOR someone. A Christian's conscience must be clear when putting a man forward- otherwise it is sin to us.

Here is what THE Dictionary defines as vote:

{dag}1. A vow; a solemn promise or undertaking. Obs.

1533 BELLENDEN Livy V. x. (S.T.S.) II. 182 Nochtwithstanding {th}at {th}ai made solempne vote to appollo, {ygh}it {th}ai tuke mare regarde of ony vthir thing {th}an to..fulfil {th}e said vote. 1536 {emem} Cron. Scot. (1821) II. 141 King Hungus..maid solempnit vote, that he and his posterite sall use na ansenye in times cuming..bot the croce of Sanct Andro. 1715 M. DAVIES Athen. Brit. I. 152 A Temporal Religious Pensioner, or what is vulgarly call'd a Galloping-Nun, without any Votes.

{dag}2. a. A prayer or intercession. Obs.

1626 B. JONSON Fort. Isles, Song Wks. (Rtldg.) 651/1 All the heavens consent, With harmony to tune their notes, In answer to the public votes, That for it up were sent. 1633 COWLEY Constantia & Philetus 146 Now at last the pitying God, o'recome By his constant votes and teares, fixt in her heart A golden shaft. 1656 J. PRIDEAUX Euchologia 226 Here may be taken in those interchangeable Votes of Priest and People, which are interposed, ‘O Lord, arise, help us and deliver us for thy Names sake!’ 1664 FULLER Triana & Paduana in Wounded Consc., etc. (1867) 223 Being assigned but three hours of three several days, for the begging of the votes of mankind to help her in her extremity.

{dag}b. A petition, a request. Obs.{em}1

1645 Unholsome Henbane betw. two Fragr. Roses 1 A most humble Vote, and serious desire to our..Assembly of Divines.

{dag}3. An aspiration; an ardent wish or desire. Obs. (Common 1630-60.)

a1626 BACON Hist. Gt. Brit. Wks. (Bohn) 498 Queen Elizabeth..carrying a hand restrained in gift, and strained in points of prerogative, could not answer the votes either of servants or subjects to a full contentment, especially in her latter days. 1640 HABINGTON Edw. IV, 169 Nothing was more in the vote of the English; then to preserve King Lewys safe in his estate at home. 1656 SANDERSON Serm. (1689) 541 The Glory of God, is to be the Alpha and Omega of all our votes and desires. 1667 Decay Chr. Piety v. {page}29 To breath out Moses's wish, O that men were wise; or if that be too hopeless a vote, O that men were not so destructively foolish.

II. {dag}4. a. Sc. A formal expression of opinion by a member of a deliberative assembly on a matter under discussion; a decision or verdict. Obs.

1533 BELLENDEN Livy I. xiii. (S.T.S.) I. 76 Quhen {th}e maist parte & nowmer of senatouris war foundin of {th}e samyn votis as {th}e first has schewin,..it is accustumyt [etc.]. 1562 WIN{ygh}ET Wks. (S.T.S.) II. 76 Quhat..wes the woceis and woteis of al [the bishops in council], bot that the thing quhilk wes techeit of auld suld be haldin? 1581 BURNE in Cath. Tract. (S.T.S.) 154 Thair is na ressoune quhy he sould follou rather the voittis of your ministeris, nor ye the voittis of his bischopis.

{dag}b. Sc. in one vote, with one consent, of one accord, unanimously. Obs.

1546 Reg. Privy Council Scot. I. 28 Tha all in ane vote conselit and consentit that my Lord Governour suld cause the said hous to be deliverit to the said Lord Maxwell. c1550 ROLLAND Crt. Venus II. 494 All in ane voit set thair Felicitie On future thingis, and Predestination. 1582-8 Hist. James VI (1804) 81 They all in ane voite [1825 voce], voittit, declarit, and testified, that [etc.].

5. a. An indication, by some approved method, of one's opinion or choice on a matter under discussion; an intimation that one approves or disapproves, accepts or rejects, a proposal, motion, candidate for office, or the like.
casting vote: see CASTING ppl. a. 2.

c1460 in Liber Pluscardensis (Skene) I. 394 Be eleccioune chosin men of gude,..Quhilkis has the votis of al the commonis hale. 1552 in Rec. Convent. Roy. Burghs (1870) I. 3 To woit about throw that haill nowmer,..and he that gettis monyest wottis to be chosin and sworn incontinent. a1578 LINDESAY (Pitscottie) Chron. Scot. (S.T.S.) I. 18 Lyk as he haid beine suppreme magistratt apprivit be the vottis of this realme. 1596 DALRYMPLE tr. Leslie's Hist. Scot. I. 246 Malduin the fourt sone of King Donalde,..with al votis, is declaired king. 1609 SKENE Reg. Maj. II. 132 The crime being lawfully provin,..be the suffrages and voites of the estaites in parliament..he may be condemned. 1651 HOBBES Govt. & Soc. vii. §14. 119 The civill Person sinnes not, but those subjects only by whose votes it was decreed for sinne. 1681 WOOD Life 5 July (1848) 231 Both his dispensations for terms and absence from lectures were denied but by one vote. 1756-7 tr. Keysler's Trav. (1760) I. 192 A young Prussian nobleman..was very near undergoing the same fate.., two votes only saving him from losing his head. 1823 Local Act 4 Geo. IV, C. iii. §8 Where the Number of Votes upon any Question shall be equal (including the Chairman's Vote) the Chairman shall have the casting Vote. 1855 TENNYSON Maud I. VI. vi, That so, when the rotten hustings shake In another month to his brazen lies, A wretched vote may be gain'd. 1884 tr. Lotze's Logic 394 It is sometimes done by simply counting the single vote of the preferred person as equal to several votes.

b. In the phrase to give (in recent use also to record) a or one's vote.

a1578 LINDESAY (Pitscottie) Chron. Scot. (S.T.S.) I. 269 Lord Patrick Lyndsay that hes gevin the first wott. a1654 SELDEN Table-T. (1689) 6 Bishops give not their Votes by Blood in Parliament, but by an Office annext to them. 1727 BAILEY (vol. II), Voting, giving his Vote or Suffrage at the Election of a Magistrate, or making a Law, etc. 1765 BLACKSTONE Comm. I. 165 If it were probable that every man would give his vote freely and without influence. a1856 [see RECORD v.1 9b].

c. transf. (Cf. sense 9.)

1652 CRASHAW Poems (1904) 189 Twixt pen and pensill rose a holy strife Which might draw vertue better to the life. Best witts gave votes to that. 1667 JER. TAYLOR Dissuas. Popery II. I. §7. 217 But the events of salvation and damnation (blessed be God) do not depend upon the votes and sentences of men. 1746 FRANCIS tr. Horace, Art of Poetry 467 Profit and Pleasure, then, to mix with Art, T' inform the Judgement, nor offend the Heart, Shall gain all Votes. 1829 LYTTON Devereux I. iv, You run, ride, leap too, better than anyone else, according to the votes of your comrades.

d. A means of signifying choice, approval, etc.; a voting tablet or ticket.

1817 SHELLEY Rev. Islam IV. xxii, Her voice, whose awful sweetness doth repress All evil,..And cast the vote of love in hope's abandoned urn. 1838 F. A. P[ALEY] tr. Schömann's Assemb. Athen. I. xi. 129 The citizens of each tribe cast their votes of condemnation or acquittal into one urn.

6. a. The collective opinion or assent of an assembly or body of persons. to take a vote, to ascertain the opinion of a meeting by formal reference.

1582 Reg. Privy Council Scot. III. 482 To beare the chargeis of provest, baillies, eldermen, and counsale of the said burgh, not being electit thairto be commoun consent and voit of the haill inhabitantis. 1597-8 Rec. Earldom Orkney lxxix. (S.H.S.) 173 Patrik, Erle of Orkney..sittand in judgement at the head court callit the Harmanstein..befoir the haill woit of the countrie. 1624 MASSINGER Renegado Ded., With a full vote and suffrage it is acknowledged that the patronage and protection of the dramatic poem is your's. 1632 Chron. Perth (Maitl. Cl.) 33 Mr John row wes admittit master of the gramer scole, be the provest, baillies, and counsall, without consent or woatt of ony wtheris. 1667 MILTON P.L. II. 313 For so the popular vote Inclines, here to continue, and build up here A growing Empire. 1721 RAMSAY Prospect of Plenty 133 Nor can we wyt them, since they had our vote. 1821 BYRON Two Foscari V. i, Why would the general vote compel me hither? 1848 W. K. KELLY tr. L. Blanc's Hist. Ten Y. I. 76 The law of the double vote had been..an implement of war directed against the throne. 1875 JOWETT Plato (ed. 2) V. 88 One is to be chosen by lot out of ten who are elected by vote. 1884 tr. Lotze's Logic 394 A number of groups in each of which a separate vote is taken.

b. In the phrase to put to the vote, to submit to the decision of a meeting. Similarly (of a question), to go to the vote.

1599 Hist. Writers to Signet (1890) 234 It being put to vote.., the maist part voteit to the said incorporatioun. 1681 in Acts Parlt. Scotl. (1875) XII. 45/2 It was putt to the vote, If the Act should be delayed or not, and was carried in the negative. 1770 LANGHORNE Plutarch V. 87 Cato, however, before it was put to the vote, ascended the rostrum. 1823 New Monthly Mag. IX. 244/1 He implored the House not to let the question go to the vote. 1857 TOULMIN SMITH Parish 58 He must then put it to the Vote whether the meeting ‘approve’ and ‘confirm’ the minutes. 1888 [see PUT v.1 22b].

c. The collective support of a special number or class of persons in a deliberative decision, election, etc. (Cf. 7c.)

1851 GALLENGA Italy 391 We must not, indeed, allow that it was the result of the Lombard vote that turned Sardinia's allies into enemies. 1884 Nation (N.Y.) 3 July 1/3 Mr. Blaine will get the following ‘votes’. The Hebrew vote, because he spoke severely about the persecution of the Jews by Russia; the Dynamite vote, because he is down on the English.

7. a. The right or privilege of exercising the suffrage; esp. in the phrase to have a vote.

a1585 MONTGOMERIE Cherry & Slae 683 (Laing MS.), Thay say {th}at wayage neuir luckis, quhair ilk ane hes ane woit. 1624 in Eng. Hist. Rev. Jan. (1913) 130 It is to be carryed by most voyces, because every Councillor hath equall vote there. 1660 R. COKE Power & Subj. 109 If every man of England has not a like vote and power in electing Members for the House of Commons, then cannot the House of Commons be the Representative of the Nation. 1686 tr. Chardin's Trav. Persia 5 Who has sufficient to drive a Trade that will bear an Imposition of Eight Crowns, has as good a Vote as he that Trades for an Hundred Thousand. 1765 BLACKSTONE Comm. I. 165 Every member of the community..should have a vote in electing those delegates. 1782 PRIESTLEY Corrupt. Chr. II. x. 229 The common people ceased to have votes. 1829 MACAULAY Mill on Govt. in Edin. Rev. Mar. 177 On these grounds Mr. Mill recommends that all males of mature age, rich and poor, educated and ignorant, shall have votes. 1835 THIRLWALL Greece I. 379 Each tribe, however feeble, had two votes in the deliberation of the congress. 1866 GEO. ELIOT F. Holt xi, He..was already a forty-shilling freeholder, and was conscious of a vote for the county.

b. A person regarded merely as an embodiment of the right to vote; also, a person possessing the right to vote; a voter.

1737 POPE Hor. Ep. II. ii. 197 That from a Patriot of distinguish'd note, Have bled and purg'd me to a simple Vote. ?a1800 Devonshire's Noble Duel ii. in Child Ballads VII. 114/2 Then away to the Parliament these votes all went again, And there they acted like just and honest men. 1806 WOLCOT (P. Pindar) Tristia Wks. 1812 V. 298 Oh! had I been a vote, a borough vote, Then Fortune would have squeezed me by thy hand. Ibid. 299 To enter the votes' houses up and down. 1852 R. S. HAWKER in C. E. Byles Life xiii. (1905) 220, I am not a vote, but a Man. The reverse is the general fact. People are not Men but votes.

c. The aggregate of voters, esp. of a certain class. (Cf. 6c.)

1888 Daily Chron. 26 April (Cassell's) Alluding to the large amount of the illiterate vote in Ireland.

8. a. A resolution or decision passed by, or carried in, an assembly as the result of voting; an expression of opinion formally adopted by a meeting of any kind.

1641 Jrnls. Ho. Comm. II. 230/2 Resolved..That these Votes shall be printed; and attested under the Clerk's Hand. 1648 Hamilton Papers (Camden) 192 The distempers of the Houses (to see their former votes eluded and Presb[yterians] lately excluded now so numerous to carie all votes with a high hand) will grow suddenly to a great fire. 1682 A. MUDIE Pres. St. Scotl. ii. 26 The Prerogatives of the Crown are great, as Power of..giving the Votes of Parliament, the Authority of Laws. 1713 STEELE Englishm. No. 2 {page}7 That's the Gentleman who gained the first Vote [in the Senate] against Hannibal. 1724 SWIFT Drapier's Lett. Wks. 1738 IV. 62 Several smart Votes were printed. 1809 Med. Jrnl. XXI. 170 Pursuant to a Vote of the House of Commons, passed in the last Session. 1855 in Blaikie Livingstone ix. (1881) 185, I need not say that the award was made by an unanimous and cordial vote. 1874 GREEN Short Hist. ix. §9. 700 Marlborough was..charged with peculation, and condemned as guilty by a vote of the House of Commons.

(b) vote on account, a resolution at the close of the financial year to assign a sum of money to a government department as an advance payment before its full annual expenditure is authorized by law.

1859 ERSKINE MAY Law of Parl. (ed. 4) 531 Votes on account. The entire sums proposed to be granted for particular services, are not always voted at the same time, but a certain sum is occasionally voted on account of such grants. 1910 W. S. CHURCHILL Let. 11 Mar. in R. S. Churchill Winston S. Churchill (1969) II. Compan. II. xiii. 992 The Vote on account is the most powerful and the most simple Parliamentary engine by which the House of Commmons is assured of its influence upon the Executive Government. 1963 Economist 24 Feb. 71/3 Part of the central government's expenditure, as recorded in the ‘vote-on-account’, is simply of a transfer kind; it includes, for instance, not only such personal payments as family allowances but also grants to local authorities made out of the central tax pool. a1974 R. CROSSMAN Diaries (1977) III. 332, I am worried about this year's Vote on Account.

b. Const. of. vote of confidence, a resolution showing majority support for a government, policy, etc. Similarly vote of no (or want of) confidence. Also fig.

1837 DICKENS Pickw. xiii, Then a vote of thanks was moved to the mayor for his able conduct in the chair. 1846 G. BENTINCK in Hansard Commons 8 June 182, I should certainly have preferred an Amendment which took the shape of a direct vote of want of confidence in Her Majesty's Ministers. 1863 H. COX Instit. I. vi. 44 Subsequently in the session a further vote of public money has been required. 1870 LD. RUSSELL Sel. Speeches I. 154 Institutions..whose ministers resign on a vote of want of confidence. 1881 Sat. Rev. 30 July 125/1 A majority, if it is good for anything, may be relied upon to reject a vote of censure. 1955 Times 10 May 14/4 The Government are asking for a vote of confidence. 1962 Listener 13 Dec. 1002/1 Why is it that grown men and women, no less than teenagers, are registering this unmistakable vote of no confidence in a society which has in so many ways improved their physical and material conditions of life? 1963 Ibid. 14 Feb. 281/2 The government survived..a vote of no confidence in the Parliament. 1976 Glasgow Herald 26 Nov. 1/8 Derby County's Scottish manager, Dave Mackay, was dismissed last night after three years at the Baseball ground. He had asked the club's directors for a vote of confidence.

{dag}9. a. A declaration or statement of opinion. Obs.

1634 SIR T. HERBERT Trav. 206 [China] is by common vote, reputed the greatest Empire in the Orient. 1650 BULWER Anthropomet. 228 The Vote of the Proverb, for a handsome Woman, would have her English to the Neck, French to the Waste, and Dutch below. a1680 GLANVILL Sadducismus I. App. (1681) 179 That a thing should be, and yet not be anywhere in the whole Universe, is so wild and mad a vote..that it cannot be said by any man in his wits.

30 October, 2008

Happy Reformation Day!

As Reformed Christians reflect on the goodness of God to His Church, we need to give God thanks for His provisions. On this Reformation Day we should be in meditation about the need for God to move again in a large scale, as He did during the 16th and 17th century in Europe.

During the Reformation we saw God move nations, cultures, cities, churches, families, and individuals. We need to see that movement again- and it begins with you and me. We need to be repentant, we need to seek godliness, we need to search the Scriptures.

On this Reformation Day please join me in praying that God would move us again as the Kingship of Christ is proclaimed to all nations.

As a Reformation Day gift: Here is a Reformation Study Bible in Genuine Leather being offered for any price. What better way to celebrate the Reformation than with a new Bible?

27 October, 2008

Brother's Keepers and the Pursuit of Happiness

In our American, individualistic culture, we do not think of the group or the community very often. We are Americans! We have rights and freedoms! But as Christians, we need to think in terms of community and in terms of covenant obligations. When we enter into covenant with the Church of Christ and declare that we will walk with her in obedience and in faithfulness we saying that we are going to help each other be accountable and responsible for the professions, covenants, and obligations that they have made. All of a sudden, when a brother or sister is in sin or walking in a way contrary to the Word of God- we all have a duty, a holy responsibility to care enough to do something. This was much like in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. When the heinous sin of marrying unbelievers was brought to Ezra's attention, what was his reply? Did he say, to each his own? Did he say that everyone has the right to pursue happiness? No, he was not a self-centered individualist. He was communal. He was covenantal. He saw that he had a responsibility towards his neighbor. He saw that he was his brother's keeper.

Ezra 9:3 As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled.

These verses describe the effect which the news of the infidelity of the Jews had on Ezra… This action showed his distress. A great sin had been committed, a sin which ran contrary to the law of God. Ezra identified himself with this sin, although he and the exiles who had returned with him did not commit it. In a certain sense Ezra accepted his solidarity with his people. He became a mediator for them as Moses did after the golden bull was worshiped at Sinai. In a time like today in which individuality is emphasized people cannot always understand this attitude. For the Israelites… the Lord contracted a covenant with all the people and not only with individuals. All the people were responsible for the acts of every individual or group. -FC Fensham, NICOT.

26 October, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: Singing Unto the Lord!

God is particularly pleased when His children praise Him in song. There where the Lord is sweetly praised in song--there the Lord will come with His blessings. "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel" (Psa. 22:3). It is noteworthy to consider what transpired at the dedication of the temple. "It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD...that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God" (2 Chr. 5:13-14). When Jehoshaphat, together with his army, lifted up their voices in joyous exclamation and song (2 Chr. 20:22), the Lord defeated their enemies. When Paul and Silas sang praises unto God in the middle of the night, the doors of the prison were opened and the bands of all the prisoners were loosened (Acts 16:25-26). Therefore, if you are desirous to please the Lord, and delight in having the Lord visit your soul and experience His help, then accustom yourself to singing (IV: 36).

21 October, 2008

The Sufferings of the Scapegoat

Leviticus 16:22 The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.

As the scapegoat was released into the wilderness to suffer and die, we can think of Jesus Christ being sent outside of the camp to suffer and die on behalf of his elect.

Follow the scapegoat, and see its doom. Is there not here a criminal led along? There is something that speaks of the Man of Sorrows, made sin for us. Is there not here a criminal led away to an unknown woe? There is something that speaks of one “made a curse for us”. Why is he left alone, defenseless, trembling, amid a wilderness? There is here enough to remind us of Jesus left to suffer without sympathy… The scapegoat’s solitary cry is re-echoed by the barren rocks, and the howling of beasts of prey terrifies it on all sides; the gloom of night settles down upon it and shrouds it in deeper terror. Perhaps too, it was not uncommon for Jehovah himself to direct His lightning’s stroke toward the victim, and to cause it to perish amid the tempest’s roar. Wounded by beasts of prey, from whom it has scarcely escaped, it is now stretched on the ground by a stroke from that thunder-cloud, its eye glaring with convulsive fear, and its piteous cries echoing through the dismal wilderness. Perhaps it was generally thus that the sin-bearing scapegoat died. ‘Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness’… That victim’s sufferings are my sufferings.