31 December, 2008
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
(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
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
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
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
18 December, 2008
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
14 December, 2008
11 December, 2008
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.
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.
- The translators believe that the Hebrew and Greek texts ARE the ACTUAL Word of God.
- Where the sentence is translated Word for Word- and at the same time readability is taken into consideration.
09 December, 2008
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!
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
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
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
21 November, 2008
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
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
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
I do not know why the website was pink.
It is no longer pink.
Check it out.
07 November, 2008
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 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:
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
30 October, 2008
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
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
21 October, 2008
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.