30 January, 2008

Eat This Book

I have meaning to link this, but have forgotten on numerous occasions. Reformation Heritage Books now has a blog called: Reformation Heritage Book Talk. You will be able to read reviews of RHB titles as well as read and hear interviews with some of their authors and booksellers.

My friend, Michael Dewalt, is the administrator and may be emailed with your reviews of RHB titles.


28 January, 2008

A Sad Withdrawl: Further Division in the Body of Christ

Yesterday Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church voted to leave the PCA and to become a mission church in the CREC. This is problematic because the congregation has been in the middle of a court case in which the session has been charged with teaching things contrary to the Word of God.

  • To begin looking into Auburn Avenue theology, start here.
  • Here are two PCA overtures concerning AA: one, two.
  • For a critique of what Auburn Avenue teaches, see Brian Schwertley's Auburn Avenue Theology.
  • Here are 6 lectures from Brian Schwertley on the same issue.
  • Here is Lane Keister's many comments on this subject. He was one of the prosecutors in the case.
  • Here are some Banner of Truth articles related to the controversy.
Sadly there may never be justice (while on earth) in this case since the congregation left in the midst of this case. We should pray that the Lord would restore His Church and help those of us in the greater Reformed community to understand error and to pray for Zion's peace. I, by no means, claim to have any expertise in this area, but trust that the Lord will raise up men, like Lane, to defend the Church in this current controversy.

26 January, 2008

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).

24 January, 2008

Missio Ecclesia

When will the church start being the church? This is a question that many in evangelical circles are asking. The context of the question is the fact that many view church as one or two services a week and then a mind-your-own-business-spirituality the rest of the week.

This was not the practice of the Lord Jesus and his disciples, the early Church, the Reformation church, the Puritans, or even Victorian Christianity. There have been great periods of the church doing ministry and living out her faith to a degree that changed lives for the sake of the Gospel. This is our duty. I think of the words of Wesley: the world is my parish! We have a duty to mankind to bring the Gospel and its life changing message. This begins in our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities, and extends to all spheres of life with which we have contact. Most importantly, this is done in Word and in deed.

1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

The Lord has been showing me this more and more and I know that there are many saints in the Reformed churches that are seeing the need for Jesus Christ to break into our lives and to make a people that are more than 'Sunday Christians'. It is sad to see the Emergent Church and the Evangelicals doing more- and with less Truth. There is much work to do. The Lord Jesus said,

Matthew 9:37-38 The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

He also said concerning those who claimed to be Christians, but did not do these works that the Gospel requires of them:

Matthew 25:42-46 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

We have much to reform in the Reformed churches; much of which does have to do with doctrine, but with practice. Our heritage is filled with men and women who lived for the sake of advancing the Gospel; many of us are but consumers. My pastor has challenged his congregation with this.

What should be done from? Should we continue with individualistic consumerism, or be the Church?

21 January, 2008

Biblical Thoughts on 'Civil Rights'

Acts 17:26-28 And [God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

* This photo is Selma, AL, Reformed Presbyterian Church. The 'marches on Selma' with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were organized out of the manse of this church in the 1960s. Their minister at the time, Rev. Claude Brown, played a major role in the civil rights movement.

19 January, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: Look To Jesus

One must not focus upon his corruptions for long periods of time in order thereby to sink even deeper into his misery and to be more brokenhearted; as if being more brokenhearted prior to conversion would make one more acceptable before God; as if it were a condition upon which you could, and without which you could not come to Christ; as if it were the basis for our liberty to receive Christ. Rather, brokenheartedness is only necessary to cause you to go out of yourself and to take refuge with Jesus. If this is brought about by sorrow over your sinful state, it makes no difference whether your sorrow and brokenheartedness are great or small. Their only purpose is to drive you, while yet unconverted, out to Jesus (II: 605).

17 January, 2008

Derek Thomas on John Owen

One of the first classes that I took at Puritan Seminary was on the 'Pastoral Theology of John Owen'. It is not a required course for M.Div students, but being a fan of John Owen I took the course. Derek Thomas is an incredible professor who reinforces the study of the history of the church.

Long and short: Someone has asked PRTS and Derek Thomas if they could be made available for free... and of course, the answer was yes.

Here they are:

Derek Thomas' Course on John Owen

14 January, 2008

Who Would Luther Read?

‘Bernard of Clairvaux, a man so godly, so holy, so pure, that we should commend and prefer him before all the theologians of the Church.”

12 January, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: Two Basics Duties of a Ruling Elder

The primary task of elders is to "take heed...to all the flock," and "to feed the church of God" (Acts 20:28; cf. 1 Pet. 5:1-3). This means that they must endeavor to keep the congregation together, to return those to the flock who have strayed, and to be watchful against wolves who come from without to create unrest among the members with false doctrine.Secondly, they must particularly give heed to the walk of each member. There must be careful supervision as to how one conducts himself at home; that is, whether there is love and harmony and whether each member in his particular position of the household conducts himself properly towards others (II: 146).

10 January, 2008

Manly Ministers or Flattery Feminists?

Douglas Wilson frequently has good thoughts. They are not always well received, but some of his thoughts are filled with biblical wisdom. Here is one thought on the way in which the preacher is to approach his pulpit:

True masculinity is submissive. Right, submissive. Effeminacy in the pulpit is disobedient and rebellious. God tells the preacher to go and speak as the very oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11). He might not feel like it. He worries that people will think he is getting above himself. He wonders if he is really called to the ministry. When tackling any lofty scriptural subject, far above him, he is frequently as disappointed with his performance as the farmer's wife was when she asked the sow to fold the linen. But how he feels does not matter. He is told what to do, and he is under authority. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

09 January, 2008

How Well Do You Listen to Sermons?

Anyone who is a Christian must sit under the foolishness of preaching. It is God's ordinary way to lead men and women to Christ; as well as God's normal way of sanctifying them. Here is the help that the Westminster Divines give for listening to sermons. There is also a survey that would be helpful to fill out about your sermon listening practices.

Q160: What is required of those that hear the word preached?
A160: It is required of those that hear the word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence,[1] preparation,[2] and prayer;[3] examine: What they hear by the scriptures;[4] receive the truth with faith,[5] love,[6] meekness,[7] and readiness of mind,[8] as the word of God;[9] meditate,[10] and confer of it;[11] hide it in their hearts,[12] and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives.[13] 1. Prov. 8:34; 2. I Peter 2:1-2; Luke 8:18; 3. Psa. 119:18; Eph. 6:18-19; 4. Acts 17:11; 5. Heb. 4:2; 6. II Thess 2:10; 7. James 1:21; 8. Acts 17:11; 9. I Thess 2:13; 10. Luke 9:44; Heb. 2:1; 11. Luke 24:14; Deut 6:6-7; 12. Prov. 2:1; Psa. 119:11; 13. Luke 8:15; James 1:25

Survey for sermon listeners.

07 January, 2008

Our Complaints Compared to Christ's Complaints

We find ourselves to be so important. We find our 'rights' to be of great concern to those around us. We desire vengeance on those who make us suffer, hurt, and cry. How often do we think in terms of what Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God, suffered for his elect. How do you compare when it comes to your trials and afflictions?

Is there any among you that are impatient under your own personal trials and troubles, apt to howl under common afflictions from the hand of God, or swell with revenge under injuries from the hands of men! To such I would say, Behold the Lamb of God! Was Christ a lamb for meekness, and you are a lion for fierceness? Was he silent, not once opening his mouth, when he suffered most vile things from the hands of sinners and can you bear nothing? He suffered patiently, and deserved it not; you suffer impatiently, and have deserved infinitely more. O that you would learn to be more Christ-like in all your trials and afflictions! Let it not be said, that Christ carried it as a lamb when he was tried, and we like swine, grumbling or howling when we are tried. O get a Christ-like temper! -Flavel,
Sacramental Meditations vi. volume 6, p.416-7

05 January, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: Thoughts AFTER the Lord's Supper

Reflection [on the Lord's Supper] consists in a continual looking unto and having fellowship with the Lord. "...walk before Me, and be thou perfect" (Gen. 17:1); "And Enoch walked with God" (Gen. 5:24). To that end it is necessary that one views God in Christ as a reconciled Father. Even when spiritual light dissipates, if one falls into sin and if strife comes, one must nevertheless hold fast to the immovableness of the covenant. It is neither your feeling nor your standing or falling which determines the steadfastness or stability of the covenant; rather, it is based on the immutability of God. "For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee" (Isa. 54:10); "For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed" (Mal. 3:6). Therefore do not succumb so readily; hold fast what you have, be steadfast in faith, and conduct yourself manfully. If, according to your feeling, you cannot conclude the certainty of your state, then make the conclusion judgmentally. Observe this in the following passages: "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:11); "Because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead" (2 Cor. 5:14). Therefore set the Lord continually before you and live in a continual dialogue with Him--at one time pray, then ask for counsel, then express your dependence upon Him, then wait upon Him, then reverently worship Him, then rest in Him, then thank Him, and then again, offer yourself to His service. Acquaint yourself thus with Him (II: 596].

04 January, 2008

Saturday: The Suffering Servant's Intercession

The most important part of Christ's suffering experientially, is that he suffered for us! Christ interceded on our behalf on the cross and he lives to make intercession for us in heaven. Jesus Christ prays for us! He prays for our conformity to his image. This should bring us great hope as we come to the Lord's table tomorrow. Christ intercedes for us. He who has begun a good work in you will bring it to completion!

Isaiah 53:11-12 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

For he IS the intercessor, and he that procured your entering in the way, will carry you on in it. He that procured a sanctified conviction to come in, will complete it! He that procured your justification, and pardon of sin, will also apply it to your conscience, and forth an intimation of it, when he thinks fit and sanctify you thoroughly. And this is indeed a great consolation to a sinner, that he who has begun a great work will perfect it; and he will not leave it; till it be at such a height of perfection, as it can be desired to be no higher! -Durham

Friday: The Suffering Servant's Seed

In the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ, he took comfort in his mission. He took comfort in the fact that he was securing the salvation of his people. He prolonged his days when he saw his seed. Of course, the Scriptures speak of a chaff as well. There are those in the world that do not belong to Christ, but grow alongside the church- but are not his. As we reflect on the sufferings of Christ we need to be mindful of the fact that if we are his seed; then we have a standard of living that we are to live by. We are to reflect the one who bought us. We are to live lives of holiness as the Lord Jesus Christ lived a life of holiness.

He was put to grief for our lives, let us not put him to grief by our lives.

Isaiah 53:9-10 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

They who are Christ's seed, carry along with them the impression of an obligation to, and an acknowledgment of him in whatever good they have gotten. They think themselves much obliged to Christ, and they acknowledge him for their life (as in Mal. 1.6).. A natively and genuinely disposed child acknowledges his father as his father, and reverences and loves his father as his father, but there are many that pretend to being from Christ, who think not themselves in his debt and common for it, and who know not what it is to walk under the conviction of their obligation to Christ for their supposed spiritual life and being. -Durham, Christ Crucified, 41-413.

03 January, 2008

Thursday: The Suffering Servant's Submission

Yesterday I talked about reflecting on what Christ did for us. Today spend some time in meditation about the submissive spirit of Jesus Christ as he secured our salvation. Are we as submissive to him, as he was for us?

Isaiah 53:7-8 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

02 January, 2008

Wedndesday: The Suffering Servant's Wounds

We Reformed Christians can become so proud. We often ask ourselves and each other why people cannot see their need for redemption and the necessity of the cross. We become proud and we alienate those to whom the message of salvation by free grace needs to be heard.

We easily forget that it is all of Christ. It is not of us.

It was HIS wounds, it was HIS stripes, it was HIS bruises.

And why?

For OUR sin. For OUR reconciliation. For OUR peace. For OUR iniquity to be healed.

Isaiah 53:5-6 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He again directs us to Christ, that we may betake ourselves to his wounds, provided that we wish to regain life. Here the Prophet draws a contrast between us and Christ; for in us nothing call be found but destruction and death; in Christ alone is life and salvation, he alone brought medicine to us, and even procures health by his weakness, and life by his death; for he alone hath pacified the Father, he alone hath reconciled us to him. Here we might bring forward many things about the blessed consequences of Christ’s sufferings, if we had not determined to expound rather than to preach; and therefore let us be satisfied with a plain exposition. Let every one, therefore, draw consolation from this passage, and let him apply the blessed result of this doctrine to his own use; for these words are spoken to all in general, and to individuals in particular. -Calvin

01 January, 2008

Tuesday: The Suffering Servant as the Man of Sorrows

Something that is very disturbing in the current evangelical impressions of Jesus Christ was that he was a cheerful and happy man. 10 minutes in any 'Christian' bookstore will reveal posters, paintings, and greeting cards of a happy Jesus with a great smile. This conception of Christ is foreign to the testimony of the Scriptures.

Jesus was the man of sorrows.

The weight of his calling to reconcile sinners to God was so impressed into the person of Christ, that the Scriptures record that he sweat blood during intercessory prayer.

We take the Christ of the Scriptures for granted. We forget the seriousness of the Christian life and the serious nature of our calling to holiness and to reflect Jesus Christ. This is not a call to constant sorrows; but we must remember the difficult life that Christ lived on our behalf. He was sinless, yet lived his whole life with the weight of the knowledge of the sinfulness of sin. This led to a life of real and constant sorrow.

Isaiah 53:3-4 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

His spirit was tender, and he admitted the impressions of sorrow. We never read that he laughed, but often that he wept. Lentulus, in his epistle to the Roman senate concerning Jesus, says, "he was never seen to laugh;'' and so worn and macerated was he with continual grief that when he was but a little above thirty years of age he was taken to be nearly fifty, Jn. 8:57. Grief was his intimate acquaintance; for he acquainted himself with the grievances of others, and sympathized with them, and he never set his own at a distance; for in his transfiguration he talked of his own decease, and in his triumph he wept over Jerusalem. Let us look unto him and mourn. -MH