31 March, 2008

Called To Ministry? Not Sure Where to Serve?

Professor R Scott Clark has written an article on how to evaluate which denomination to serve in. Since I have friends who are planning on serving in numerous denominations, I think that honest discussion like Prof. Clark is exhibiting, is quite helpful for building up of the greater church. I have not digested all of what he is saying, and of course, there are areas in which I disagree with him, but overall, it is quite helpful for those who want to enter seminary but are not sure where the Lord is calling him. Read it here.

27 March, 2008

Who Then Can Be Saved?

Jesus told his disciples that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The disciples cried out, "who then can be saved?" The response is no one! No man can work to earn his salvation. But the sweet blood of Jesus Christ is more efficacious than all the work that a man can do. Thomas Watson, in his Treatise on the Holy Eucharist, comments:

If we had offered up millions of holocausts and sacrifices, if we had wept rivers of tears, this could never have appeased an angry Deity. Only Christ's blood ingratiates us into God's favor and makes Him look upon us with a smiling aspect. When Christ died, the veil of the temple was rent. This was not without a mystery, to show that through Christ's blood the veil of our sins is rent which interposed between God and us.

24 March, 2008

Men Who Turn The World Upside Down!

Acts 17:5-7 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus."

The book of Acts deals with the work of the early church in spreading the Gospel from Jerusalem to 'all the ends of the world'. It is amazing that God chose these men, who in the Gospels, were so foolish and narrow-visioned at times. God used men who were prideful, self-centered, unfaithful (at times), and bigoted to 'turn the world upside down'!

This should give aspiring Gospel preachers hope. The Gospels' description of the disciples should be a mirror into our own lack of personal ability (but with Him, all things are possible). We also need to remember that the disciples became the Apostles. The old cliche is that God equips the called, not calls the equipped. He will prepare and secure the needed gifts and abilities. The world still has plenty of places that need to be 'turned upside down' for the sake of Christ and his Gospel. Proclaim to the world that there is another king- Jesus Christ! This is our calling.

22 March, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: The Fear of God

And what about you? Examine yourself. What will you answer upon the question, "Do you fear God?" Is your focus in your walk of life upon the Lord? Does reverence for His majesty arise within when you think about Him, speak of Him, or hear mention made of Him? Do you reverently bow before Him, and do you tremble if you are about to address Him in prayer? If a sinful thought or motion arises within you, does the fear of God motivate you to suppress it? Does the fear of God prevent you from all sinful association with men, fornication, unrighteousness, lies, backbiting, cursing, wrath, and other sins? Does reverence for God motivate and urge you to the practice of religion and to do whatever the Lord has enjoined you to do as being pleasing unto Him? Or do you love the things of this world? Are all your concerns related to the acquisition and preservation of these things? Do you look to people as if they were able to give or withhold them from you? Do you seek to please them even if it displeases God, and are they the measure of your fear? (III: 295-296).

250 Years Ago Today...

Jonathan Edwards died of complications from a small pox vaccine. Edwards was a very godly Congregationalist minister that stood for the Reformed faith, for genuine revival through the Holy Spirit, opposition of the half-way covenant, and supported the humanities and the sciences. Edwards is, by far, the greatest American theologian... even though he considered himself an English subject, living in the 'plantations abroad'.

Of course, all the glory goes to God for the work done through this great father, husband, missionary, pastor, evangelist, teacher, and spiritual mentor. Praise God for building up his church!

What was Edwards' view of the Scriptures?
"Edwards' reputation as an avid student of the Bible began during his lifetime; he himself had a hand in spreading word of it. In 1757 Edwards sketched for the Trustees of the College of New Jersey several projects he hoped to publish in the future, including a ‘History of the Work of Redemption’ and a ‘Harmony of the old and new Testament.’ The former was to present a Christian theology as history in which all events in time would be considered ‘so far as the scriptures give any light.’ The latter was to deal successively with the prophecies of the Messiah, Old Testament types, and ‘the harmony of the old and new Testament.’ Of this second project, the ‘Harmony,’ Edwards wrote: ‘In the course of this work, I find there will be occasion for an explanation of a very great part of the holy scripture; which may, in such a view be explained in a method, which to me seems the most entertaining and profitable, best tending to lead the mind to a view of the true spirit, design, life, and soul of the scriptures, as well as to their proper use and improvement.’ Edwards’ untimely death a year later kept him from fulfilling these plans." -The J.E. Center, Yale University.

20 March, 2008

Psalms of David in Metre, Psalm 147

This has really been ministering to me lately. I love hearing the Psalms sung- God has wrapped all of the Christian experience up into 150 perfect songs. We should thank him for that!

13 March, 2008

What's on John Calvin's Ipod?

Today in my class on the Historical Books we were discussing the incident where Saul's advisors have him get David to soothe soul. We called this a 'worldly solution' because what Saul needed to do was to repent and to seek the Lord. Instead Saul drowned out his pain with the lovely melody of a harp.

This great quote by John Calvin was shared which shows the absolute power of music. Music has the ability to be profitable to our lives and it also has the ability to keep us from doing that which needs to be done. He calls it a funnel to the heart- for good or for ill.

Although music serves our enjoyment rather than our need, it ought not on that account to be judged of no value; still less should it be condemned… music can be made profitable to men if only it be free from that foolish delight by which it seduces men from better employments and occupies them in vanity... There is scarcely anything in this world which can more turn or bend hither and thither the ways of men…and in fact we know by experience that music has a secret and almost incredible power to move hearts…When melody goes with it, every bad word penetrates more deeply into the heart…Just as a funnel conveys the wine into the depths of the decanter, so venom and corruption are distilled into the very bottom of the heart by melody. -John Calvin

11 March, 2008

What Do You Think of This Book?

How much do we love the Word of God? How much do we conform our lives to the teaching of the Scriptures by faith? The Scriptures speak a lot of our attitude toward the Word of God and we must be faithful in loving the Scriptures as much as the Scriptures require of us!

O! How love I thy law, it is my meditation all the day!

How thankful we should be that we have the pure Word of God reliably translated into our Mother Tongue! To the multitudes of Jesus' day Christ said, Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, but to us He can exclaim: Ye may read what God hath said. This is a wondrous and inestimable privilege- purchased by the blood shedding of many of our forefathers- that the Holy Scriptures are no longer confined to the learned and the abbot of the monastery. They are accessible to the unlearned and the poor, everywhere in simple English. But such a privilege carries with it, my reader, a solemn responsibility. What use are we making of this precious treasure? Do we search it daily as did the noble Bareans? Are we nourishing our souls thereby? Is our conduct governed by its teaching? Is not, double guilt lies at our door. -Arthur Pink

10 March, 2008

The Conquest of Canaan: An Overview of The Book of Joshua... I had to beat Shawn to the post!


The book of Joshua is named after the primary character in the book. He is referenced 168 times in the book, which shows overwhelmingly that he is the primary character.

In the Jewish canon this book was included in ‘The Latter Prophets’ and was referred to by the title that we use today (Joshua). It was customary to name books after something in the opening sentence of the book. Joshua 1.1 speaks of him.

The LXX gives the book a Grecian version of the name Joshua, Ieosous, which could be transliterated as Jesus. Both names mean the same thing, ‘the Lord is salvation’. The name of Joshua appears twice in the Authorized Version’s New Testament as Jesus; once in Acts 7.45 and again in Hebrews 4.8. These are references taken from the LXX.


According to William Hendriksen the theme is ‘Jehovah establishes Israel in the Promised Land’.[1]


“The purpose of the book is… to show how, after the death of Moses, the faithful covenant God fulfilled in and to the children of Israel, whom He had adopted as His people of possession through the mediation of His servant, the promise which He had made to the patriarchs; how the Canaanites were destroyed, and their land given to the tribes of Israel for an hereditary possession through the medium of Joshua, the servant of Moses…”[2]


  • Joshua 1:5-7 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. 7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.

  • Joshua 8:33-35 And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.

  • Joshua 11:23 So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.

  • Joshua 24:14-15 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.


  • Jehovah will continue to keep his promises made to Moses (as well as the patriarchs).
  • Jehovah will continue to raise leaders ‘like unto Moses’ to make his will come to pass.
  • Gentiles (even harlots) are able to be brought into the covenant.
  • Levitical blessing and cursing (Leviticus 26) is confirmed.
  • God uses providence to make his will come to pass.
  • The people of God are given the land as promised through divine sovereignty and human responsibility.


“The author of the Book of Joshua is unknown, and our knowledge of the time it was written depends on the interpretation of certain clues within the book. Theories range from the view that the book was largely composed by Joshua himself to the hypothesis that it was written by someone long after the Jews returned from the exile in Babylon. From the standpoint of the final form of the book, it is probable that a man or group committed to the theological framework of the Book of Deuteronomy gave Joshua its canonical form.”[3]

“No one knows who gave the book of Joshua its present form. That the book rests on written sources composed by Joshua himself is clear from 24:26. Conservative scholars, however, are not agreed with respect to the extent of Joshua’s authorship. That he himself cannot have been the one who gave the document its final form is clear from 24:29-33.”[4]

The date of the book is highly contested as well. Conservative scholars are divided on the book’s date. Woudstra notes,

“RK Harrison suggests a date at the beginning of the Monarchy, perhaps 1045 BC. GC Aadlers believes that the book received its present form sometime during the period of the Judges, where CJ Goslinga, who at one time held that the book was predominantly Joshua’s own work, had come to think that the author may be among the circle of the officers mentioned… The author would have then been a younger contemporary to Joshua himself. JH Kroeze, on the other hand, contends that we do not know how the book came into existence, but now we have it in its final form; this is how God has given it to us and it is so to be used as a part of his redemptive revelation.”[5]

I would have to agree with Kroeze. There is not enough information available to give a precise date to the writing of the book and with Word-centered evangelical scholars so divided on the date, it is best to stand with those who humbly state that they are unsure.


There is much debate around the historicity of the Book of Joshua. Some scholars claim that the victories are too complete for the Israelites to have actually been so successful in battle. Many with evolutionary agendas see our ancestors in the faith as being primitive and sub-cultural to the point of not having the skills and abilities needed for such ventures. Others claim that there were gradual defeats in small contexts which have been interpreted as more complete geographic conquests.

As Reformed Christians, we stand on the Word of God as our rule of faith and life. This means that we are to take the Scriptures for what they say. The book is not presented in any other way than historical. We must stand there.

The period of time covered in the book of Joshua has been laid out nicely by William Hendriksen,

“Joshua was not less than 40 years of age at the time of the Exodus, then the maximum extent of the period from Exodus to his death is 70 years, for Joshua died at the age of 110 (24:29). The minimum would be about 52 years, for the period includes the wilderness journey of 40 years (Deut 2.7), the 7 years of conquest implied in 14:6-10, and at least the ‘many days’ of 23:1 (which can hardly be less than 5 years). When we accept a figure midway between 52 and 70, we cannot be far from the truth. We shall assign 61 years to the period from the Exodus to the death of Joshua, making the dates 1449-1388.”[6]


The original message of the book was to chronicle the conquering of the land under the leadership of Moses’ successor, Joshua, son of Nun. Being a covenanted people, accurate recording of historical narrative was important to the people of God. They showed this in the way that each of the three major geographical conquests were recorded as well as in the honesty of recording the defeats.

Division of the Text

William Hendriksen[8]

1-5 Jehovah causes Israel to enter the land.

6-12 Jehovah causes Israel to conquer the land.

13-22 Jehovah causes Israel to inherit the land.

23-24 Joshua, in his farewell address, emphasizes Israel’s resulting obligation to worship and love Jehovah.

Dillard and Longman[9]

1-12 God fights for Israel to possess the land promised to the Fathers.

13-22 Move from achieving what was promised to enjoying it.

23-24 The renewal of the ancient covenant with God.

Marten Woudstra[10]

1-12 Promised Land conquered.

13-22 Promised Land distributed

23-24 Promised Land kept


The Covenant Land

The conquest of the land is a major theme in the Book of Joshua. The land promised to Abraham in the Abrahamic Covenant is being given to the people of God through-out the Book of Joshua. There are obstacles that the people of God must go through, such as defeat, but the land would be theirs as long as they conquered by faith. The people were proven to be more than conquerors! Jericho, Ai, the South, the North, and Center land are all conquered in chapters 6-12.

The land promised was also divided to the people according to the word of Moses. Chapter 13 is the division of the land east of Jordan. Chapters 14-19 show the land that was divided to the tribes west of Jordan. The Levites were not given land since their inheritance was the Lord himself.

The Covenant Messenger

The Angel of the Lord, a Christophany, is met in chapter 5. He tells Joshua to take off his sandals since he is on holy ground. This is reflective of the burning bush incident with Moses and shows a continuation of the blessing from the mediator of the Covenant of Grace.

The Covenant Renewed

Chapter 8 and 24 each have ceremonies of covenant renewal by the people of God. This shows the importance of the dependency on God by the people for their victories and their contentment in the land. Blaikie says, “The first transaction here performed was the sacrificial. Here sin was called to mind, and the need of propitiation. Here it was commended that God himself had appointed a method of propitiation; that he had thereby signified His gracious desire to be at peace with his people; that he had not left them to sigh out, but had opened to His people the gates of righteousness, that they might go in and praise the Lord.”[11]

The Covenant Signs and Seals

The act of circumcision was performed on the males before entering the land as well as the Passover celebrated. This shows the validity of the sacraments as means of grace for the people of God. This act of obedience was intended to remind and to prepare the people for the inheriting of the land.


Dillard and Longman have a useful presentation of Joshua in the New Testament[12]. They mention four major points of parallel between the ministry of Joshua in establishing the people in the land to the ministry of Jesus in establishing His people in the world.

1. The Promised Rest

“From the vantage point of the New Testament, Joshua’s successes were only partial at best, and therefore they pointed beyond themselves to a time when Joshua’s greater namesake, Jesus, would bring God’s people into an inheritance that could not be taken away from them. Jesus would provide the rest Joshua had not attained.”

2. Models of Faith

“The people of Israel at the battle of Jericho and Rahab the prostitute are presented as models of faith…”

3. God’s Warrior

“Jesus, is not only Joshua’s namesake, but he is also the Divine Warrior, the captain of the Lord’s army who fights in behalf of his people and achieves victory for them. The inheritance he gives is not a stretch of rocky land in the Eastern Mediterranean, but rather renewed heavens and earth and a heavenly city.”

4. The Conquest

“After redemption from Egypt in the Exodus, Israel began the conquest of her inheritance; after the redemptive work of Jesus Christ at the cross, his people move forward to conquer the world in his name. Israel enjoyed an earthly inheritance and an earthly kingdom, but the kingdom of which the church is a part is spiritual and heavenly.”

[1] William Hendriksen, Bible Survey (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1947), 234.

[2] Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary On the Book of Joshua (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2006), 11.

[3] RC Sproul, general editor, Reformation Study Bible (Orlando: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 297.

[4] William Hendriksen, Bible Survey (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1947), 234.

[5] Marten Woudstra, NICOT: The Book of Joshua (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), 13.

[6] William Hendriksen, Bible Survey (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1947), 55.

[7] Libronix Gold Digital Library Map Collection.

[8] William Hendriksen, Bible Survey (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1947), 234-5.

[9] Dillard and Longman, Old Testament Introduction (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 113.

[10] Marten Woudstra, NICOT: The Book of Joshua (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), 43.

[11] William Blaikie, The Book of Joshua (Minneapolis: Klock and Klock: 1908), 207.

[12] This section, ‘Approaching the New Testament’ is found on pp.115-17 in the book cited in footnote 9.

08 March, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: God as a Loving Father

Since they are children, God hears and answers them as their loving Father. As children they take refuge to their Father in their perplexity and by reason of this relationship they call Him, "Abba, Father!" In an intimate manner they bring their needs before Him, and with teary eyes they tell Him what their sorrow is. They cry out, "My Father, the cross is so heavy and it is so very painful for me; it lasts so long and I do not see my way through. Thou art able to help me, however, for Thou hast promised it and Thou dost indeed have compassion with me. Therefore, my Father! help me, support me, and deliver me!" The Lord looks upon such children in love, and is pleased with their childlike complaints and their taking refuge to Him. He shall most certainly answer them and deliver them at His time and in His manner. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?" (Luke 11:13); "How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" (Mat. 7:11) [II: 423].

07 March, 2008

The Psalter

The United Presbyterian Psalter of 1912 is available for free download here. This is a copy from Harvard Divinity School and was the first reprint of 1913. This edition has a very nice introduction that gives some background of its making. It also has responsive readings in the back so that you can play 'high church' during family worship.

Boasting in Jesus Christ

Galatians 6:14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

We live in a world of braggers and men that elevate themselves. As Christians we are not to find great comfort or happiness in the things of this world. Our comfort, hope, love, and boasting should be in Jesus Christ and his cross alone! We are crucified to the world- we are dead to it! I think of Hebrews 11 which says that the world was not worthy of those contended for Christ. Not worthy. Does the world see us as one of them? Does Christ see us as more worthy than the world around us? Do we boast in ourselves, in our accomplishments, in our skills and abilities, our greatness- or do we boast in Jesus Christ and the cross which has bought us life?

The apostle, on the contrary, expresses his aversion to glorying in anything these men did; not in his outward carnal privileges, as a Jew; nor in his moral, civil, and legal righteousness; nor in his gifts and attainments; nor in his labours and success, as of himself; nor in the flesh of others, or in any outward corporeal subjection to any ordinance, legal or evangelical; his glorying and rejoicing were rather in the spirituality, the faith, hope, love, patience, order, and steadfastness of the saints, than in anything in the flesh, either his own or others:

and indeed he chose not to glory in any thing, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ
; meaning either the infirmities, reproaches, tribulations, and persecutions, which he endured for the sake of Christ, and the preaching of his Gospel; or the Gospel, the doctrine of the cross of Christ, and salvation by it:

or rather a crucified Christ himself, whom he preached; though counted foolishness by some, and was a stumbling to others: he gloried in him, and determined to know, and make known, none but him, in the business of salvation; he gloried in him as crucified, and in his cross; not in the wood of the cross, but in the effects of his crucifixion; in the peace, pardon, righteousness, life, salvation, and eternal glory, which come through the death of the cross; he gloried in Christ as his wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption: by whom the world is crucified to me
: so that he feared not the worst men, and things in it, any more than he would one that was fastened to a cross, or dead; since Christ, by his crucifixion and death, had overcome the world, the prince of it, the men and malice of it, the sin that was in it, and had made him more than a conqueror also; his faith in a crucified Christ overcame the world likewise; so that he looked upon it as the Israelites saw the Egyptians, dead on the sea shore; nor did he affect and love, but trampled upon and despised, as crucified persons generally are, those things in it which are the most alluring to the flesh, the lusts of it; the doctrine of grace, of a crucified Christ, taught him to deny the riches, honours, pleasures, profits, and applause of the world; which were to him as dross, in comparison of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord:

the ceremonial law also, the elements of the world, were dead unto him, being nailed to the cross of Christ, to be of no further use and service unto men: and I unto the world
; that is, am crucified to the world, as the Syriac and Arabic versions express it; that is, he was despised by the world for the sake of a crucified Christ, as the world was by him, in comparison of him; the world had no affection for him, as he had none for the world; and as the ceremonial law was dead to him, so he was dead to that, through the body of Christ, and had nothing to do with these beggarly elements, nor they with him, which sense is confirmed by the following words.
-John Gill

01 March, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: Spiritual Renwal (Sorry, another lovey-dovey type a'Brakel... but it is worth it!)

Is Jesus absent, and is your soul troubled because your Beloved has departed? Does your soul melt as you think of former times when you were able to pray, weep, wait, yearn, and long; when you were able to lean upon Him in such a delightful manner, when you lost yourself in mutual love and requested everyone neither to disturb nor awake your love until it would please Him; when He kissed you with the kisses of His mouth, His left hand was under your head, He embraced you with His right hand, you were sick with love, and found delight under the shadow of His favor? Do you miss all this? Have numerous sinful and grievous afflictions come in their place? Is your life consumed by sorrow and your years with sighing? Come, and attentively give ear to the promises. "For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul" (Jer. 31:25); "The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me...to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness" (Isa. 61:1-3); "Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted" (Mat. 5:4) [II: 627].