31 May, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: A Word For the Anxious

As far as you yourself are concerned--you bring yourself into continual unrest, apprehension, fear, and anxiety. You rob yourself of delighting and rejoicing in God. You impede your growth, since your disposition displeases God, and renders you unfit to appropriately use the means for spiritual growth. Your concerns will cause the Word and your good inner motions to be choked, thus rendering them unfruitful (Mat. 13:22). Unbelief has opportunity to surface and will toss the anxious soul to and fro. The desire for religious exercise decreases and free access to God is hindered. The thoughts that these adversities come upon you in God's wrath cause the soul to tremble. Thus, to a great extent quietness, dependence upon God, a childlike confidence in God, and walking with God disappear. Would you lose all this for a greater or lesser quantity of bread, for getting your way, for your own honor, and for the future, of which you do not know how it will be? Oh, these matters are too insignificant to permit the well-being of your soul to dissipate (III: 389).

Lectures on the Westminster Confession of Faith

Rev. Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn has a wonderful series on the Westminster Confession of Faith here.
He is associate pastor of Cambridge Presbyterian Church in Cambridge, UK. I have known of him for some time (thanks to Shawn Anderson) through his doctoral work on the Westminster Standards. I had the opportunity of listening to and meeting his co-pastor, Rev. Ian Hamilton this week at the Banner Conference.

29 May, 2008

Banner Annual Seceder Photo

Here is the annual Banner of Truth Seceder Photograph. It is all of the RPCNA and ARPC ministers, students, and interns.

28 May, 2008

Iain Murray Gives a Great Rebuke to Theological Students

I love this picture! Blogger, Michael Dewalt, took it for me. Thanks Mike! It is my best friend since high school, Shawn and I listening to Rev. Murray tonight.
Tonight Iain Murray preached a great sermon that was directed to the heart of ALL ministers and theological students. He was scheduled to preach from 7PM to 8PM. He apologized, and asked to stop because he was half way finished. The crowd began to yell out 'preach!' ''continue!'. We stopped and sang and he invited us to stay if we wanted to and finished the sermon. It was great.
His title was 'Our Present Needs'. Here are the needs, according to Murray, for current ministers:
1. For less self-confidence
2. Increased persevering faith in God
3. For guidance on how to use our time
4. To not stop praying and looking for spiritual awakening
He had some great quotes that were knives to the spiritual heart: The Reformed Faith does not do well with showing the love of God to sinners. We give the impression that the faith is about knowledge only: "Our message is God's amazing love to sinners AS sinners!"
He also gave 5 applications for young ministers:
1. Have a regular time in which we look at our lives and eternity.
2. Watch your own temperament. Some men who are extroverts need to stop socializing so much and get in the study. Some men who are introverts need to come out of the study and be with people.
3. Read the best books and only the best! Also, have a way of recording as you are reading. This will help you to recall in 30 years.
4. Do not let email and websites control your time. You can lose hours on this.
5. We need to avoid losing time on controversies. We spend too much time here instead on the essentials and the Gospel going out.
6. Do not see in your church what you cannot change. It is better not to stir trouble on something that can wait a few years to address.

Email Banner and order this mp3! Incredible!

Banner Singing and Preaching

Here is a video of the singing at the Banner Conference. It is wonderful to hear all these ministers, elders, and students praising God and crying out to him for help on their ministries and the Church universal. It is worth hearing!

Here are some pictures from the conference:
Iain Murray talking with a pastor from New York.
Jered Olivetti getting pastoral lessons from Dr. Adjemian.
Ian Hamilton preached this AM on the 'The Minister's Calling'. What a message! His text was Romans 11.34-36. "If we are not bringing people to a place where they are captivated by Jesus Christ we are not doing our job. This supreme calling of a minister of the new covenant is to make rebel sinners into adoring worshipers!"
This was right before prayer time. The men gather for 45 minutes to pray for the church and for each others ministries and burdens. What a blessed event!

27 May, 2008

Banner of Truth: Day One

Today Iain Murray and Craig Troxel preached. Rev. Murray opened with a sermon on John 21.19-21. His points were: 1. Following is the Supreme Duty. 2. Following is our Sole Responsibility. 3. Following is not just duty, but earnest desire.

Rev. Troxel had a wonderful sermon on Fanning the Flame. It was from 2 Timothy 1.6. His points were: 1. The Gift 2. The Fanning 3. The Gift of the Spirit 4. The Gift of Christ's Ministry.

I will add some quotes from them later.
Here is the Puritan Paperback collection. They are all about $5. Good book prices.
This is the book room. All men who come get $30 to spend here.
The beginning of the Conference.
Shawn listening to Iain Murray.
Iain Murray preaching. What a blessing to be here.

At the Conference

The Puritan 5 have arrived at the conference. We registered with little to no trouble. I had the great and honorable privilege of taking Dewalt's bags to his room so that he could go and hang out with Tim Challies and other authors and bloggers of importance.

Iain Murray starts in less than one hour. Updates later.

26 May, 2008

The Rare Book Room

Here is a video tour of the rare book room at RPTS. We spent a number of hours reading in the room tonight. It was a great blessing for all of us to look into our heritage.

Arrived at RPTS

We have arrived at RPTS. We will be going out into the city tonight. Dr. Scipione is staying here tonight as well.
RHB blogger, Michael Dewalt, is quite happy to be here. He is hoping to convert to Presbyterian soon... maybe after the Banner Conference.
Here is the favorite RP icon- the Blue Banner. This one is in Dr. O'Neil's office.
Derek Naves laughs at Shawn Anderson, who is having battery trouble. Jeff checks the email.
The glorious seminary. We are going to have a good night.

Banner of Truth

Today I am leaving, with 4 other Puritan Seminary students for the Banner of Truth Conference in Grantham, PA. We will be spending the night, tonight, at RPTS in Pittsburgh and then going the remaining 3 hours in the morning.

I hope to blog the trip, but no promises.

24 May, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel

Natural vision can be obstructed by various causes: the disappearance of the sun, the thickening of clouds, the interference of opaque objects, disease of the eyes, or staring at the sun. Spiritual darkness likewise has various causes (IV: 260).

22 May, 2008

How Important is Friendliness in Evangelism?

With some people, you may establish a relationship in five minutes, whereas with others it may take months. But the principle remains the same. The right to talk intimately to a person about the Lord Jesus Christ has to be earned, and you earn it by convincing him that you are his friend and really care about him. And therefore the indiscriminate buttonholing, the intrusive barging into the privacy of other people's souls, the thick-skinned insistence on expounding the things of God to reluctant strangers who are longing to get away--these modes of behavior, in which strong personalities have sometimes indulged in the name of personal evangelism, should be written off as a travesty of personal evangelism. Impersonal evangelism would be a better name for them! In fact, rudeness of this sort dishonors God; moreover, it creates resentment, and prejudices people against the Christ whose professed followers act so objectionably. The truth is that real personal evangelism is very costly, just because it demands of us a really personal relationship with the other man. We have to give ourselves in honest friendship to people, if ever our relationship with them is to reach the point at which we are justified in choosing to talk to them about Christ, and can speak to them about their own spiritual needs without being either discourteous or offensive. If you wish to do personal evangelism, then--and I hope you do; you ought to--pray for the gift of friendship (J.I. Packer)

21 May, 2008

Hitting the Links

I have added some new links that have been sitting in a file for some time. Please check them out and see what is new. Also, if you know of a blog that you think that the readers would like- leave a comment and I will check it out.

20 May, 2008

Preachy Preachers and Gossipy Church Ladies

Who is to preach the Gospel? Is it the one who gets paid to preach the Gospel? Is it the one that is ordained and holds an office that some call Minister of the Word and others call Teaching Elder?

Can un-ordained men preach? How about women? How about 5 year olds or teenagers?

The answer, of course, is no and yes.

Does that sound like a postmodern answer to you? Well, it is quite ancient:

Acts 8:4-5 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached to them the Christ.

Verse 4 says that those who were scattered were preaching the word. Our English translation for preach is from the Greek word which means 'spreading the good news' or 'gossiping the Gospel'. This is the duty of all whose hearts have been changed by the Lord Jesus Christ. A converted heart overflows with the love of God and there is a desire to 'preach' Christ to all who are around. This means that the un-ordained layman, the old church lady, the little kids, the teens.... all who have been redeemed have this obligation to preach, or gossip the good news of Jesus Christ and his death for sinners.

Verse 5 is a different story. This verse uses a different word for preach. The word is the same word as 'herald'. In verse 5 we see Philip preaching the Gospel in a commissioned, ordained, set apart for public ministry way. This is heralding of the good news that Jesus Christ died for sinners! All who are ordained to the task of Minister of the Gospel, or Teaching Elder, has this responsibility. Preach Christ crucified!

Remember though. None of us are off the hook. We are all verse 4 preachers or verse 5 preachers! Now preach Christ to those who are lost.

19 May, 2008

Theodore Beza, Meet David Engelsma

The Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary recently received the private library of Dr. Theodore Letis. In the personal library was a very rare copy of Theodore Beza's New Testament in Greek and Latin. Apparently Dr. Letis (I have never heard of him, have you?) was a New Testament scholar who wrote to defend the Textus Receptus (the Greek text behind the Authorized Version and the New King James Version).

This is a very special addition to any library. The Prots should be happy with this rare volume. The article is here and begins on PDF page number 95. It is worth reading because it gives a short personal narrative of David Englesma's time in seminary in the basement of 1st Prot Church. The article also shows that they are not interested in too much reading beyond their tradition (Englesma says that there were a number of books about evangelical feminism and they are going in the dumpster! Those would be useful for reference in a paper, at least... you would think!)

Congratulations to the Protestant Reformed Seminary on their recent addition to their library.

17 May, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: Backsliding

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].

King Jesus' kingdom?

"I am sorry- (talking about the emergent church's over-realized eschatology), but I am getting real sick of hearing about the kingdom, and never hearing anything about the King."
-Mark Driscoll

16 May, 2008

The Montstrous Regiment of Women

Yep, I watched it. Yep, I agreed with it principally. I do not think that it would be that convincing to someone that is a feminist; but there are some really good points that would be worth discussing with them.

One point that I did think was compelling was the idea that 1960s Feminism was telling women that they needed to choose whether to stay at home or go out into the work force; but through legislation and taxation, the Feminist agenda was that women were forced to work out of the home, thus needing to place their children in the government schools to be indoctrinated by the Marxists that run them.

Check it out, even if you think that it is too 'patriarchal' for you. It is worth viewing (there are good Psalter selections in the background as well).

15 May, 2008

Early Presbyterians Amongst the First Abolitionists

Coming from one of the oldest denominations in the United States, the question "what was your church's position on slavery?" has come up on a small number of occasions (let's be honest though... not too often.).

I am currently reading a lengthy article called "Vermont Reformed Presbyterian Abolitionists" which shows that the RPCNA, the ARP Church, and the old Associate Church, were the only Calvinistic denominations that would not allow their members to own slaves and remain in good standing (until 1819, when others came on board).

"The political singularity of both groups also manifested itself in their early and outspoken opposition to slavery. Whereas almost every other denomination in America sidestepped the issue and tolerated slave-holding by members, the Covenanters and Seceders denounced slavery as a breach of Christ's law of love and directed their members to free their slaves immediately (the Covenanters in 1800, the Seceders in 1811)."

The article, which is from a secular publication, argues that without these three churches, and especially the RPCNA in Vermont, the abolitionist movement would not have gained the ground that it needed in those early years.

12 May, 2008

Q: Should I be Emergent? A: I Don't Think Its For Me.

My good friend, Jason Kuiper, gave me a book on the Lord's Day. It is one that I have been intending to read, but have not found the time due to life's demands and other readings that are required and/or exegetical in nature.

I have been meaning to read it because I like to interact with the Emergent Church movement. I have many friends, even godly friends, who are a part of the 'conversation' and I do what I can to be a part of it as well (even though I am an uncool confessional-dogmatic-Calvinistic-systematic theology loving-modernist). But let's face it- emergent I am not, even though there are some aspects of the movement that are very biblical and useful.

Today at work I took the book along in case I had some down time to read. I did; and I began reading it with much interest. I also read a lot of it this evening (some reading is like watching TV... it is just too fun to stop even though there are other things that could be accomplished.)

The book is Why We're Not Emergent (by two guys who should be). It co-written by the Pastor of Lansing, Michigan's University Reformed Church and some ESPN sports writer. So far it is quite good.

In their discussion of God's knowability, here is their critique of the Emergent Church:

We may all be, by nature, like blind men touching the elephant without knowing what we are feeling is a trunk, tail, or ear. But what if the elephant spoke and said, "Quit calling me a crocodile, or a peacock, or a paradox. I'm an elephant for crying out loud! That long thing is my trunk. That little frayed thing is my tail. That big floppy thing is my ear." And what if the elephant gave us ears to hear his voice and a mind to understand his message (cf. I Cor. 2.14-15)? Would our professed ignorance about the elephant and our unwillingness to make any confident assertions about his nature mean we were especially humble, or just deaf?

Because of the emerging church's implied doctrine of God's unknowability, the word mystery, a perfectly good word in its own right, has become downright annoying. Let me be very clear: I don't understand everything about God or the Bible. I don't fully understand how God can be three in one. I don't completely grasp how divine sovereignty works alongside human responsibility. The Christian faith is mysterious. But when we talk about Christianity, we don't start with mystery. It's some combination of pious confusion and intellectual laziness to claim that living in mystery is at the heart of Christianity

If you are emergent, pick it up and read it. If you are not emergent: it gives a balanced approach to why you shouldn't be- all with humor, grace, and respect for the brethren in this movement.

10 May, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: What's the Point of the Church?

...The primary purpose of the church's existence is the glorification of God. Since the church is the kingdom of heaven, the people of God have God as their Father and the Lord Jesus as their king, so the glory of God can be observed when these people live in the love and fear of God. This is true when they are obedient to Him as their Lord, trust in Him as the almighty and faithful One, and live pure and holy lives personally among each other and towards others. The Lord's name is desecrated, however, when this people who are called after His Name do not conduct themselves accordingly. It is the Lord's will that His Name be hallowed by the coming of His kingdom (Mat. 6:9-10). He has formed that people to show forth His praise (Isa. 43:21); to show forth the praises of Him who hath called them (1 Pet. 2:9); to be to the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 8:23); and to "be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God" (Isa. 62:3). Therefore "let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Mat. 5:16).

The secondary objective is the salvation of the elect. The church functions as a mother (Gal. 4:26), and has within her the Word of God as an incorruptible seed (1 Pet. 1:23). As such she is fruitful unto the conversion of many souls, "And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her" (Psa. 87:5). By means of the preaching of the Word, the Lord will add to "the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47) [II: 53-54].

08 May, 2008

Reformed Dogmatics

When Dr. Louis Berkhof published his Systematic Theology in 1932 it was for a number of reasons. One of the reasons that Dr. Berkhof gave was that the students at Calvin Seminary could not read Dutch like they used to 'in his day'.

The shame of Berkhof writing a Systematic Theology was two fold (of course, there were some good reasons as well):

1. Students did not feel the need to learn Dutch any more, hence the CRC lost a lot of her Dutch experiential history and writings.
2. The need for Dr. Herman Bavinck's Gereformeerde dogmatiek to be translated into English was lost.

Fourteen years ago, The Dutch Reformed Translation Society began a project. They saw the need for this massive Reformed Dogmatics to be translated into English and to be made available at a reasonable price.

Well, last month marked the release of volume 4, thus bringing to a close this massive project.

Personally, reading Bavinck has been an incredible experience in systematics reading. Watching the books come out, over my seminary experience, has been like kids waiting for the newest baseball cards to be released (do kids still do this? Or all they all sitting and playing Wii all day?)! I am sure that any student/pastor/teacher/elder that reads systematic theology will tell you that Bavinck is a great boon to what is available in Reformed readings.

To celebrate this massive feat, Reformation Heritage Books is offering all 4 volumes for $100. This is $80 off the retail price. (This is a great price for a 14 year project, and 1000s of pages of writing!).

06 May, 2008

Socialism's Biblical Roots

Many would like to say that the early Church was socialistic. They cite Acts 2 as a way to defend their own political ideals. Was the early church a Communistic community? Were they Socialists? Should you join the Presby-socialist party? Some of my emergent church friends are promoters of forced socialism based on this text. They claim that the state should be progressive because the early church was progressive.

If that is the case, give me your 80g I-pod. I don't have one.

Acts 2:44-45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Because their generosity extended to sharing of their goods, some have regarded this as a biblical endorsement for communism. It is not communism. In fact, the opposite is true. Communism is the sharing of goods, but it is a forced sharing of goods on the basis that no one had the right to own anything. Communism is compulsory; therefore it has nothing whatsoever to do with generosity. Peter himself endorses the right to private property (see Acts 5.3-4).

The sharing of possessions that went on in the early church was not socialism either. Socialism acknowledges the right of private property, but it compels individuals to give a percentage of, or everything above a certain figure, to others. Socialism does not deny a person a right to own things, but it denies him the right to have too many of these things as measured by someone else's standard. Most people would be astounded to hear that American life is socialistic, but it is very socialistic. Whenever there is a system that taxes those who have more at a higher rater than those who have less in order that the state can take these resources and redistribute them to those who have less, that is socialism, because it is being done not willingly, but by force...

The early Christians shared their possessions, not because they were communists or socialists- not because they were forced to share their things- but for a far better reason. They shared their goods because they had learned generosity from God. God has been generous with them. So because God had been generous to them, they were determined to be generous to one another. -Dr. James M. Boice

03 May, 2008

Sabbath a'Brakel: Communion With Christ

This communion is exercised in the following manner: In beholding the Lord Jesus in his beauty, desirability, and fullness. In doing so one attentively contemplates upon the Counsel of Peace, in which the Son of God out of love for His elect willingly offered Himself as their Surety. From there one descends to meditate upon His assumption of the human nature, His bitter suffering in its entirety, and then His cursed death. From there one proceeds to His resurrection, ascension, and session at the right hand of God. In all of these one beholds His love, His willingness, the efficacy of the atonement, and all His fullness unto the salvation of the sinner. Here the soul pauses with longing eyes desiring a further, clearer, and closer view of His perfections. He desires to find delight in such contemplation, to be ignited with love, to joyfully acknowledge and approve of Him as such, and to praise and to magnify Him. In this manner a believer beholds Jesus (II: 94-95).

01 May, 2008

A Letter For The Advancement of the Gospel Amongst the Illegals Within Our Gates

Below is a letter that I received from a friend of mine who is Latino and Reformed. It is a plea to the Reformed Churches to reach the Samaritans of our day:

On this May Day, as we see in the news or in your home town the Latino/Mexica people protesting and marching for immigration rights, I would like to offer these insights and even challenge.

How will the Reformed and Presbyterian Church respond to the growing number of immigrants, particularly the Latino/Mexica immigrants, which are the largest group?

Will individual Reformed and Presbyterians jump on the Republican, Nationalist, anti-immigration band wagon and thus alienate the immigrants from even giving an audience to the Reformed Faith? Speaking out against the "invasion" of the other cultures within our borders and wish to turn these "illegals" over to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)?


Will the Reformed and Presbyterian Church/individuals act like Christ and stretch out their hands to the disliked and unloved Samaritans of our time? Dine with the harlots and tax collectors (so to speak or as many see the immigrants)? The duty of Christians is to proclaim the Gospel to all people regardless of their social standing, and not to be an agent to oppress those that are perceived below their status.

We talk about sending missionaries to foreign lands, what will we do with those from foreign lands that are at our doorstep? Ignore them or reach out to them with the one True Gospel? Many of them are Roman Catholic or Muslim by profession, WE can reach out to them and by the power of the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit they can become followers of Christ.

The Church has a tremendous opportunity and even obligation to reach out to the newly arrival in this nation. I pray that the Church does not squander this due to political ideology that can cause Christians to act contrary to the Gospel proclamation as was done towards the African-Americans.