27 December 2007

A Year of Blogging

Well, I’ve been blogging for a year now and after 238 posts I’ve come to a few conclusions about blogging, mine in particular. For one, I would continue blogging even if I had no readers whatsoever. I blog to keep my thoughts on those things I should. If I don’t have anything to blog about I’m not thinking about the right things. Though I would like more readers I don’t do this for fame. Notoriety is not my thing. Developing a few ‘net friendships to discuss the things of God is more my line of country. So, I’ll continue even if the few of you who read this regularly should stop – this is for my own benefit as well as, I hope, yours.
As for blogging itself, I read other blogs to learn and spark my own thinking. Long posts I just don’t have time for. I forget what they say the limit is but if it’s more than 4-5 paragraphs I won’t read it and that seems to be about the blogging standard. I really don’t want to read magazine length articles no matter how well thought out or written. I like blogs that are updated often, at least once a week if not more so I do the same. My philosophy is that the whole blog is as important as the individual article. Thus, it is rare that I don’t add a photo to each post and I rarely re-use a photo, I try to find something new each time. I try to keep it pithy and interesting both visually and in content.
So that’s it really. A year gone by and another year to start. For those of you that I’ve been getting to know, I look forward to reading more of your posts and knowing you even better, sharpening our skills together.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Prov. 27:17 ESV

Got the Post-Christmas Blues?

Jon Bloom at Desiring God has an excellent post on post-Christmas melancholy. I think many of us suffer from this but we need not to providing we keep our focus. I find for myself that it is good to keep returning to the reason that I do or enjoy anything at all which is the glory of Christ. Losing that focus sets us up for anxiety, frustration and defeat. Keeping our mind on the things that are unseen rather than seen allows us to enjoy the blessings of this life without losing sight of our true purpose. Jon’s post is worth a read and you can find it here. How was your Christmas?

26 December 2007

Westminster Wednesday #37

Wow, Christmas is over, New Years is on the way and another week is behind us. Time is so precious and fleeting so let us move to # 37.

#37 Ques. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?

Ans. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection.

As we did last week, let us return to Thomas Vincent's exposition of the catechism:

Q. 1. How manifold are the benefits of believers at their death?A. The benefits of believers at their death are twofold — 1. In regard of their souls. 2. In regard of their bodies.
Q. 2. What is the benefit of believers at their death, in regard of their souls?A. The souls of believers at their death— 1. Are made perfect in holiness. "And to the spirits of just men made perfect."— Heb. 12:23. 2. They do immediately pass into glory. "Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ."— Phil. 1:23.
Q. 3. Wherein doth consist the perfect holiness which the souls of believers shall have at their death?A. The perfect holiness of believers' souls at their death doth consist— 1. In their perfect freedom from the stain and pollution, from the being, or any inclination unto sin. "There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth."— Rev. 21:27. 2. In their perfect rectitude of soul, and full conformity unto the image of Christ. "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."— Eph. 4:13.
Q. 4. What is that glory which the souls of believers, at death, do immediately pass into?A. The souls of believers at death do immediately pass into— 1. A glorious place. 2. A glorious company. 3. A glorious state.
Q. 5. What is that glorious place which the souls of believers, at death, do immediately pass into?A. The glorious place which believers' souls do immediately pass into, is their Father's house in heaven, where there are mansions prepared for them by Christ. "In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." — John 14:2.
Q. 6. What is the glorious company which the souls of believers do immediately pass into?A. The glorious company which the souls of believers do immediately pass into, is the company of God, and Christ in his glory, as also the company of angels, and the souls of other saints in their glory." Therefore we are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, not by sight). We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." — 2 Cor. 5:6-8. "Ye are come to the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant." — Heb. 12:23-24.
Q. 7. What is that glorious state which the souls of believers at death do immediately pass into?A. The glorious state of the souls of believers immediately after their death, is a state of blessed rest. "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." — Heb. 4:9. "And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.." — Rev. 14:13.
Q. 8. What is the benefit of believers at their death, in regard of their bodies?A. 1. The bodies of believers at their death are still united unto Christ; for though death doth for a while separate their souls from their bodies, yet death cannot separate Christ from either. But as, when Christ died, his hypostatical or personal union still remained, his divine nature being united both to his soul in heaven and to his body in the tomb on earth, so, when believers die, their mystical union unto Christ still remaineth, and Christ is united both unto their souls with him in glory, and to their bodies, which are his members, even when they are rotting in the grave. "Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ ?" — 1 Cor. 6:15. "Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."— 1 Thess. 4:14. 2. The bodies of believers do rest in their graves as in beds, until the resurrection. "He shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness." — Isa. 57:2.
Q. 9. What is that resurrection here spoken of?A. The resurrection here spoken of is the last and general resurrection of all the dead that have lived in all ages, from the beginning of the creation—which will be, first of the righteous, and then of the wicked—at the last day. "The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation." — John 5:28, 29. "The dead in Christ shall rise first." — l Thess. 6:16.
Q. 10. How do you prove that there shall be such a general resurrection?A. It may be undeniably proved from the power of God, and the revelation of the Word. If God be of infinite power, and therefore can raise all the dead, and infinitely true, and in his Word hath revealed that he will raise all the dead, then there shall be a general resurrection. But God is infinitely powerful, and can raise all the dead, and infinitely true, and in his Word hath revealed that he will raise all the dead; therefore there shall be a general resurrection. The ground of the Sadducees' error, who denied the resurrection, was their ignorance of these two great foundations of this doctrine, namely, the power of God, and the Scriptures. "Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God?" — Mark 12:24.
Q. 11. Shall the dead be raised with the same bodies which they had when alive before?A. The dead shall be raised with the same bodies. "And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." Job 19:26.
Q. 12. How do you prove that the dead shall be raised with the same body! A. 1. Because if the dead were not raised with the same body, it could in no proper sense be called a resurrection, but a new creation. 2. Because the first body was an instrument of righteousness or sin, and therefore shall share in the reward or punishment.
Q. 13. Will not the bodies, when they are raised, differ from what they are now! A. The bodies which shall be raised will not differ from what they are now, in regard of their substance and essence; but they will exceedingly differ in regard of their qualities.
Q. 14. Wherein do unbelievers differ from believers at their death?A. The bodies of unbelievers are at their death shut up in the prison of the grave; and the souls of unbelievers are shut down in the prison of hell, where they are filled with horror and anguish in the company of devils, and other damned spirits, and there reserved in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day. "By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which some-time were disobedient." — 1 Pet. 3:19, 20. "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down into hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment." — 2 Pet. 2:4.

I mentioned in my last post the purchase of The Cambuslang Revival by Arthur Fawcett. On page 71 he lists the complete list of rules set up by the session of Kilsyth in December of 1721 for the prayer societies. I found rule #7 to be most interesting and a blessing. It reads:

7. After this [reading a portion of the New Testament & a prayer], let one of the Society ask three or four questions out of Vincent's Catechism, which the Society are to be advertised of at their former Meeting to prepare to answer.

It is so good to know the we have this connection to these saints of the 18th century that have prayed and studied before us.

22 December 2007

New Books and Christmas Wishes

Just this week I received as a pseudo-Christmas gift of three books from the Banner of Truth. The Lovliness of Christ excerpts from Samuel Rutherford's Letters, Welsh Revival by Thomas Phillips, and The Cambuslang Revival by Arthur Fawcett. Obviously, by these selections one can tell that I'm very interested in the history of revival in the UK as well as in the US. Iain Murray has a few excellent books on the same subject (see sidebar) and how it relates to what is true revival and what it is not. To see how the Lord has brought about His purposes over the centuries I find truly fascinating.

I want to wish each and everyone one of you a very Merry Christmas and I look forward to reading more from all of you.

19 December 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Its been a busy week at the Renegade household. Full of Christmas preparations and visits from family and work has been very busy as well. We come now to q&a number 36 of the WSC.
Q. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.
This is a weighty question and answer and there is much to consider in its exposition. Let’s turn to Thomas Vincent for his exposition but let’s not limit ourselves as there is much more to be said on this important q&a.

Q. 1. How many sorts of benefits are there which do belong to those who are justified, adopted, and sanctified?A. There are three sorts of benefits which do belong unto those wbo are justified, adopted, and sanctified, namely — 1. Benefits in this life. 2. Benefits at death. 3. Benefits at the resurrection.
Q. 2. What are the benefits which belong to justified, adopted, and sanctified persons in this life?A. The benefits which belong to justified persons in this life are five. 1. Assurance of God's love. 2. Peace of conscience. 3. Joy in the Holy Ghost. 4. Increase of grace. 5. Perseverance in grace to the end. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." — Rom. 5:1, 2, 5. "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." — Phil. 1:6.
Q. 3. What are the benefits that do accompany and flow from the sight and sense of justification, adoption, and sanctification?A. The benefits which do accompany and flow from the sight and sense of justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost.
Q. 4. May not unjustified and unsanctified persons attain any of these benefits?A. Unjustified persons may some of them have a presumptuous confidence of God's love, but not real assurance; they may have a carnal security, and false peace; but no true spiritual peace; they may have a carnal joy, or ungrounded spiritual joy, but no sound spiritual and heavenly joy of the Holy Ghost; these benefits are given only unto such as are truly justified, adopted, and sanctified.
Q. 5. Whence is it that all that are justified, adopted, and sanctified, do not attain these benefits?A. Because all have not a sight and sense of their justification, adoption, and sanctification, but are under doubts, and therefore fear that God doth hate them, and not love them; therefore they have troubles of conscience instead of peace, and sorrow in spirit instead of the joys of the Holy Ghost.
Q. 6. How may a child of God get a sure evidence of his justification and adoption?A. A child of God may get a sure evidence of his justification and adoption by his sanctification.
Q. 7. What is a sure evidence of sanctification?A. A sure evidence of sanctification is increase of grace.
Q. 8. What are the benefits which accompany and flow from the being of justification, adoption, and sanctification?A. The benefits which accompany and flow from the being of justification, adoption, and sanctification, are, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.
Q. 9. Do all truly justified, adopted, and sanctified persons increase in grace?A. 1. All truly justified, adopted, and sanctified persons do not at all times actually increase in grace, for some of them may at some times be under declining and decays of grace. 2. They are always of a growing disposition, and desirous to grow in grace; and at some time or other they do grow, when they do not perceive themselves to grow, but fear that they do decline.
Q. 10. Do all truly justified, adopted, and sanctified persons persevere in grace to the end?A. All truly justified, adopted, and sanctified persons do persevere in grace to the end, and shall assuredly attain the heavenly inheritance.
Q. 11. How do you prove this?A. 1. From God's everlasting, unchangeable love, and his faithfulness in his promises of perseverance, as well as of heaven, which he hath made unto them. 2. From their union and relation to Christ, and his undertaking for them. 3. From the constant abode and indwelling of the Spirit of God in them. 4. From the nature of grace; which is an abiding seed, which can never be totally extirpated.
Q. 12. May not any believer, by falling into sin, fall from grace?A. Some believers may, through the remainder of corruption in them, and the violence of Satan's tempting of them, fall into sin foully, and so fall from some degree and measures of grace; but they will never fall totally nor finally from grace. And when we see any fall totally and finally from the profession which they formerly made, we may know they were never in that sincerity which they professed themselves to be. "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." — 1 John 2:19.

17 December 2007

Christmas Reality Check

Today’s secular attacks on the Christmas season (the ACLU’s legal challenges to manger scenes on “public” property, and so on) would have been less successful had the church of the last century been more vigilant in linking Jesus’ death and resurrection with His incarnation. The problem here is not chiefly the myth and commercialization into which the season has fallen: Santa Claus and debt spending. No, the root problem is that for decades now, Christmas for the church has been all about the Babe Jesus in His incarnational humiliation and peace on earth and the human charity that such tender scenes engender. Not for a moment should we diminish those scenes, but if we propagate them apart from their redemptive-historical context, we present to the church — and the world — an emasculated, dilute Christian Faith, and it’s hard to detect any deep, weighty rationale for the incarnation. We overcome this soft-core Christmas celebration if we stress that the Faith — and the incarnation — is at its very root redemptive-historical. - Andrew Sandlin. Read the whole post here.

Advice of Reading

I have found Richard Baxter's Advice On Reading useful in the past. Time is precious and we need to ask ourselves some questions on the value of what we're reading. Here goes:
While reading ask oneself:
1. Could I spend this time no better?
2. Are there better books that would edify me more?
3. Are the lovers of such a book as this the greatest lovers of the Book of God and of a holy life?
4. Does this book increase my love to the Word of God, kill my sin, and prepare me for the life to come?

16 December 2007

Transcendent or Immanent

What shall we say, is God transcendent or immanent? It is a very interesting question in the realm of worship. How do we see God and in light of this how do we then worship Him? There are numerous verses that support the facts that God is both transcendent and immanent. For example, Heb 12:28 & Is. 6:5 display his immanence. The Psalms are full of passages that demonstrate his transcendence. Conversely we read of His immanence, too, in passages such as John 15:15. Matt. 6:9 & Heb 2:11-12.
John Frame offers us his view, with which I agree, in his book Contemporary Worship Music. On page 14 we read, A biblically balanced view of worship must take into account both God's transcendence and his immanence, his exaltation and his nearness, his majestic holiness and his unmeasurable love. This balance is not always easy to maintain. Churches that focus on divine transcendence are in danger of making God appear distant, aloof, unfriendly, unloving, devoid of grace. Churches that focus on God's immanence sometimes lose sight of his majesty and purity, his hatred of sin, and the consequent seriousness of any divine-human encounter. To maintain this balance, we must go back again and again to the Scriptures themselves so that we may please God in worship rather than merely acting on our own intuitions.

An excellent point, indeed. I have been in churches that have emphasized one or the other and left knowing something was missing. Granted, we are imperfect and this is a tough challenge to meet but where does your church fall? Does the pendulum swing wildly to one side or the other or does it rest somewhere in the middle. May God grant us the grace to see how we should correctly worship Him.

Mary's Song of Praise: The Magnificat

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel,in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” Luke 1:46-55

12 December 2007

A Little Mid-Week Humor

The Bear and the Atheist
An atheist was walking through the woods.
'What majestic trees'!
'What powerful rivers'!
'What beautiful animals'!
He said to himself.

As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him

He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder & saw that the bear was closing in on him. He looked over his shoulder again, and the bear was even closer. He tripped and fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up, but saw that the bear was right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him.

At that instant the Atheist cried out, 'Oh my God!'

Time Stopped.
The bear froze.
The forest was silent.

As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky. 'You deny my existence for all these years, teach others I don't exist and even credit creation to cosmic accident.' 'Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer'? The atheist looked directly into the light, 'It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps you could make the BEAR a Christian'?

'Very Well,' said the voice.

The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. And the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed his head and spoke:

"Lord bless this food, which I am about to receive from the bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen!"

11 December 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Moving on, we come to q&a #35:
Q. 35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and mare to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

From Thomas Watson's Body of Divinity we read:
How may sanctification be attained?
(1) Be conversant in the word of God. 'Sanctify them through thy truth' (John 17:17). The word is both a glass to show us the spots of our soul, and a laver to wash them away. The word has a transforming virtue in it; it irradiates the mind, and consecrates the heart.
(2) Get faith in Christ's blood. 'Having purified their hearts by faith' (Acts 15:9). She in the gospel who touched the hem of Christ's garment was healed. A touch of faith purifies. Nothing can have a greater force upon the heart, to sanctify it, than faith. If I believe Christ and his merits are mine, how can I sin against him? Justifying faith does that in a spiritual sense which miraculous faith does, it removes mountains, the mountains of pride, lust, envy. Faith and the love of sin are inconsistent.
(3) Breathe after the Spirit. It is called 'the sanctification of the Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13). The Spirit sanctifies the heart, as lightning purifies the air, and as fire refines metals. Omne agens generat sibi simile. [The Spirit at work generates its own likeness everywhere.] The Spirit stamps the impression of its own sanctity upon the heart, as the seal prints its likeness upon the wax. The Spirit of God in a man perfumes him with holiness, and makes his heart a map of heaven.
(4) Associate with sanctified persons. They may, by their counsel, prayers, and holy example, be a means to make you holy. As the communion of saints is in our creed, so it should be in our company. 'He that walketh with the wise shall be wise' (Prov. 13:20). Association begets assimilation.
(5) Pray for sanctification. Job propounds a question. 'Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean' (Job 14:4). God can do it. Out of an unholy heart he can produce grace. Oh! make David's prayer your own, 'Create in me a clean heart, O God' (Ps. 51:10). Lay thy heart before the Lord, and say, Lord, my unsanctified heart pollutes all it touches. I am not fit to live with such a heart, for I cannot honour thee; nor die with such a heart, for I cannot see thee. Oh create in me a new heart! Lord, consecrate my heart, and make it thy temple, and thy praises shall be sung there for ever.

Use three: Has God brought a clean thing out of an unclean? has he sanctified you? Wear this jewel of sanctification with thankfulness. 'Giving thanks to the Father, who hath made us meet for the inheritance' (Col. 1:12). Christian, thou couldst defile thyself, but not sanctify thyself; but God has done it, he has not only chained up sin, but changed thy nature, and made thee as a king's daughter, all glorious within. He has put upon thee the breastplate of holiness, which, though it may be shot at, can never be shot through. Are there any here that are sanctified? God has done more for you than millions, who may be illumined, but are not sanctified. He has done more for you than if he had made you the sons of princes, and caused you to ride upon the high places of the earth. Are you sanctified? Heaven is begun in you; for happiness is nothing but the quintessence of holiness. Oh, how thankful should you be to God! Do as that blind man in the gospel did after he had received his sight, who 'followed Christ, glorifying God' (Luke 18:43). Make heaven ring with God's praises.

Christ’s prayer is, “Sanctify them through thy truth.” The more truth you believe, the more sanctified you will be. The operation of truth upon the mind is to separate a man from the world unto the service of God. Just in proportion as truth is given up, worldliness and frivolity are sure to prevail. - C.H. Spurgeon

09 December 2007

This is Truly Good to Hear

A conservative diocese in California has split with the Episcopal Church over the issue of homosexuality. Read a brief article here in USA Today. From the Diocese of San Joaquin website we read, Delegates and clergy attending the 48th Annual Convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin voted overwhelmingly in favor of amendments to the diocesan constitution, which removed references to The Episcopal Church, expressed the intention to maintain fellowship with the greater Anglican Communion accepted the invitation to become a diocesan member of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. The vote reaffirmed a first vote at the December 2, 2006 convention in which a more than two-thirds majority voted in favor of the constitutional amendments. And from the Bishop of the Diocese's address yesterday, For twenty years and more we have watched The Episcopal Church lose its way: straying, at first, from Scripture... to the point of dismissing the Word of God, in some instances, as mere historical documents – of value, perhaps in bygone eras – but no longer applicable to us, to appropriating powers to itself through the General Convention it had never had and, finally, on to unilateral decisions about theology, sexuality, and ordination potentially cutting itself off from the Anglican Communion. J. I. Packer, the eminent British Theologian now living in Canada, puts this in clear perspective when he says: “Liberal theology as such knows nothing about a God who uses written language to tell us things, or about the reality of sin in the human system, which makes redemption necessary and new birth urgent. Liberal theology posits, rather, a natural religiosity in man (reverence, that is, for a higher power) and a natural capacity for goodwill towards others, and sees Christianity as a force for cherishing and developing these qualities. They are fanned into flame and kept burning in the church, which in each generation must articulate itself by concessive dialogue with the culture pressures, processes and prejudices that surround it. In other words, the church must ever play catch-up to the culture, taking on board whatever is the “in thing” at the moment; otherwise, so it is thought, Christianity will lose all relevance to life. The church will inevitably leave the Bible behind at point after point, but since on this view the Bible is the word of fallible men rather than of the infallible God, leaving it behind is no great loss.” He goes on to say, In the end, it is all about freedom. It is about freedom to remain who we are in Christ. It is freedom to honor the authority of Scripture and to keep the Lectionary we now have. It is freedom to worship with the Prayer Book we know and freedom from innovations and services that are contrary to the Word of God. It is freedom to hold and practice the faith that the Episcopal Church received as a precious gift... A ‘NO’ vote would place us under the authority of those who admit they do not know where they are going and who tell us all relates “to our understanding and embrace of God’s Kingdom and the Salvation we are offered in Jesus Christ– or to our lack of such understanding and engagement.”
This is the time to know who we are in Christ, where we are headed, and to heed the words of Jesus: “Go ye...”
Praise God for their dedication and decisive actions yesterday.

07 December 2007

A Resolution on the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

The resolutions of Jonathan Edwards can be quite overwhelming. Seventy prescriptions is quite a bit to try to keep up with and or emulate in our own lives. My thought is to look at 5 per week (or month or....) and pick one to make a resolution in our own lives. So, let's begin. Here is the first five:
1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad's of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

Lately, and rightfully so I think, I've been giving thought to making the most of every moment. Even during times of relaxation and rest I endeavor to make use of that time in the most profitable manner.

Read all of the resolutions here.

06 December 2007

Trans - Siberian Orchestra

Aint seen 'em yet? Here they are...

Need New Christmas Music?

Looking for some new Christmas music? Give Reliant K's Let It Snow, Let It Reindeer a try. It is serious, funny, warm and touching and totally worth the $8.99 download cost from Amazon. Their version of the Twelve Days of Christmas is worth the price alone. Its simply hysterical.

05 December 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Another week has past and its time to move on to q&a #34.

Q. 34. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.

John Flavel enlightens us:

Q. 1. How many sorts of sons are there? A. There is one by generation, and another by adoption; John 1:12-13. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Q. 2. What moves God to adopt any man? A. Nothing but his free love; 1 John 3:1. Behold what manner of love the Father bath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God.
Q. 3. Is this privilege common to all men? A. No; it is peculiar to them that receive him; John 1:12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.
Q. 4. What is the first property of adoption? A. It is a costly relation; Galatians 4:4. When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Q. 5. What is the second property of adoption? A. It is an high and honourable relation; 1 John 3:1. Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God.
Q. 6. What is the third property of adoption? A. It is a free relation on God’s part; Ephesians 1:4-5. According as he bath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having pre~ destinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. And it makes us free; John 8:36. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Q. 7. What is the fourth property of adoption? A. It is a permanent relation; John 8:35. The Son abideth in the house for ever.
Q. 8. What is the first privilege of the adoption? A. They have an interest in God, as children in a father; 2 Corinthians 6:18. And I will he a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
Q. 9. What is the second privilege? A. Being God’s sons, they are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; Romans 8:17. And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.
Q. 10. What was the third privilege? A. Seasonable and sanctified afflictions; Hebrews 12:6. He scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Q. 11. What is the fourth privilege? A. The attendance and ministry of angels; Hebrews 1:14. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
Q. 12. What is the fifth privilege? A. The assistance of the Spirit in prayer; Romans 8:15. For we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. And God’s audience of their prayers; 1 John 5:14. And this is the confidence that we have in him, That if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.
Q. 13. What use should we make of this? A. It teacheth us to carry ourselves as children to our heavenly Father. First, In our imitation of him; Ephesians 5:1. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children. Secondly, In our submission to him; Hebrews 12:9. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh, who corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? Thirdly, In our dependence on him; Matthew 5:32. For your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things.

In a sermon delivered on Dec. 20, 1868 C.H. Spurgeon offered the following: Meditate upon a second blessing of the covenant of grace, namely, that of adoption. It is plainly revealed to us, that as many as have believed in Christ Jesus unto the salvation of their souls, are the sons of God...There is an inner richness in adoption, for, "if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Well does the apostle remind us that if children, then heirs, for we are thus assured of our blessed heritage. "All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Here are royal dainties of which the Word has said most truly, "They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house."

You can also find an uplifting sermon by C.H. Spurgeon on Adoption here.

04 December 2007

Christmas Observance

Tim over at the Conventicle has some good thoughts on Christmas observance and I agree with him. From his intro he writes: In 1676 an anonymous tract was published entitled, The Holy time of Christmas defended against non-conformists and all other of its prophaners and opposers. These prophaners and opposers were our dear friends, the puritans. The opening lines of this book kind of tell it all:Unhappy times in which we live! That we should all believe that sixteen hundred years ago, a certain man, who was also God, called Jesus, was born in a stable for the Salvation of mankind; and yet that there should be certain amongst us, who should count it a piece of Religion not to keep Holy the Day on which our said Great Redeemer was born. O unhappy times! O cross Manners of mis-instructed Zealots!’ The work has all of the balance and nuance normally associated with anonymity. However, reading this made me take a moment to think about Christmas ‘the day’ and Christmas ‘the doctrine’. I wondered if the puritan rejection of the day might give us pause to examine our own reception of the doctrine.

Give it a read here and let me know what you think. Like, Tim, I love this time of year. Its a great time of family, friends and most of all, remembering the Incarnation.

02 December 2007

Psalm 122

As we head off for worship services this morning, whether to a big cathedral as pictured, to someone's living room, or to some place in between, let us consider Psalm 122.
Psalm 122
Let Us Go to the House of the LORD
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
1I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!"
2Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!
3Jerusalem— built as a city that is bound firmly together,
4to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD,as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
5There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! "May they be secure who love you!
7Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!"
8For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, "Peace be within you!"
9For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.

01 December 2007

The Supremecy of Christ

This is definitely worth a few minutes of your time...

What Was I Thinking?

In my quest to sample (& hopefully enjoy all of the Christmas Ales that are out there) I gave Rogue Ales' Santa's Private Reserve a tasting. To say the least it was disappointing. It left the most awful finish from a beer I've had it quite some time. To be fair its description states it has a hoppy, sprucey finish and I don't care for hoppy beers (my wife warned me I wouldn't like it - I hate when she's right about beer). Perhaps if your liking leans towards beers with a bitter hoppy flavor you'll enjoy this one. I did not.
On another sour note for beer its come to my attention that Sierra Nevada is a supporter of their local Planned Parenthood clinic. Their Christmas Ale is one I will not be imbibing this season or ever. Read more about this at the Better Drinking blog.

30 November 2007

Today is St. Andrew's Day

In case you missed it, today is St. Andrew's Day, patron saint of Scotland. For some historic and religious history you can visit here, here & here.

29 November 2007

This Cracked Me Up

If you have not seen this yet, take a look...

Keep Calm and Carry On

I came across this pic of a poster on Flickr. When I read it I was instantly reminded of Ps. 46:10, Be still and know that I am God. Interestingly enough, as many of you know, Kidderminster, where this poster was photographed, is where Richard Baxter served as minister for many years. Sound advice, but Ps. 46:10 will serve us better.

28 November 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Without delay, let's move to #33. In light of the many current discussions, disagreements and controversies on justification, this is very timely.
Q. 33. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

Let's look to Matthew Henry again to enlighten us on this important doctrine:

1. Have we all need to be justified? Yes: for we are all guilty before God, Rom. 3:19. Is it enough if we justify ourselves? No: If I justify myself my own mouth shall condemn me, Job 9:20. Is it enough if our neighbours justify us? No: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God, Luke 16:15. Must it be God's act then? Yes: It is God that justifieth, Rom. 8:33. And his only? Yes: for none can forgive sins but God only, Mark 2:7. And is it an act of free grace? Yes: we are justified freely by his grace, Rom. 3:24.
2. Are all that are justified discharged from the sentence of the law? Yes: for there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, Rom. 8:1. Have they their sins pardoned? Yes: we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, Eph. 1:7. Does God forgive them? Yes: I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions,, Isa. 43:25.
3. When God forgives sin does he forgive all? Yes: having forgiven all your trespasses, Col. 2:13. Does he forgive even great sins? Yes: though your sins have been as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, Isa. 1:18. Does he forgive many sins? Yes: he will abundantly pardon, Isa. 55:7. Does he forgive freely? Yes: I will be merciful to their unrighteousness. Does he forgive fully? Yes: their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more, Heb. 8:12. Is he forward to forgive? Yes: I said I will confess and thou forgavest, Ps. 32:5. Does he forgive and forget? Yes: thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea, Mic. 7:19.
4. Is forgiveness of sins offered to all upon gospel terms? Yes: for repentance and remission of sins is preached to all nations, Luke 24:47. Is it secured to all the chosen remnant? Yes: for Christ is exalted to be a Prince, and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins, Acts 5:31. Have all believers their sins pardoned? Yes: through him all that believe are justified, Acts 13:39. Are they accepted in God's sight? Yes: he hath made us accepted in the Beloved, Eph. 1:6. Are they accepted as righteous? Yes: for we are made the righteousness of God in him, 2 Cor. 5:21.
5. Can we be justified by the covenant of innocency ? No: for who can say, I have made my heart clean? Prov. 20:9. Can we be justified by any thing in ourselves? No: How call men be justified with God? Job 25:4. If we know no ill by ourselves will that justify us? No: though I know nothing by myself, yet am I not thereby justified, 1 Cor. 4:4. Will the law of Moses justify us? No: we are justified from all those things from which we could not be justified by the law of Moses, Acts 13:39. Will our own works justify us? No: by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified, Rom. 3:20. Would the ceremonial sacrifices justify men? No: they could not make the comers thereunto perfect, Heb. 10:1. Are we justified for the righteousness of Christ? Yes: By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous, Rom. 5:19. And for that only? Yes: Not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, Phil. 3:9.
6. Is the righteousness of Christ imputed to us for our justification? Yes: for he is made of God unto us righteousness, 1 Cor. 1:30. Did Christ die that it might be imputed? Yes: He shall justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities, Isa. 53:11. Do we owe our justification then to the death of Christ? Yes: the blood of Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin, 1 John 1:7. And does that lay the foundation of our salvation? Yes: being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath, Rom. 5:9. Were we justified from eternity? No: for in due time Christ died for the ungodly, Rom. 5:9. If Christ had died, and not risen again, could he have justified us? No: for he was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification, Rom. 4:25. Is that then our plea for peace and pardon? Yes: for who then is he that shall condemn? Rom. 8:34. May we then depend upon Christ for righteousness? Yes: In the Lord I have righteousness and strength, Isa. 45:24. Is it become an act of justice in God to pardon sin upon the account of Christ's righteousness? Yes: for he is just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus, Rom. 3:26. 1 John 1:9.
7. Are we to receive the righteousness of Christ? Yes: We have now received the atonement, Rom. 5:11. Do we receive it by faith? Yes: through his name; whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins, Acts 10:43. And by faith only? Yes: for being justified by faith we have peace with God, Rom. 5:1. Did Christ's death satisfy the law? Yes: for Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, Gal. 3:13. Is that then our only righteousness in the law court? Yes: for we are reconciled to God by the death of his Son, Rom. 5:10. Do we by true faith come up to the terms of the gospel? Yes: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved, Acts 16:31. Is that then our righteousness in the gospel court? Yes: for to him that believeth, his faith is counted for righteousness, Rom. 4:5. Is it therefore our life? Yes: for the just shall live by his faith, Hab.2:4. Is it so as it applies Christ's righteousness? Yes: This is the name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our righteousness, Jer. 23:6.
8. Is justifying faith a working faith Yes: for by works is faith made perfect, Jam. 2:22. And will that faith justify us which does not produce good works? No: for by works a man is justified, and not by faith only, Jam. 2:24. Is faith then dead without good works? Yes: for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also, Jam. 2:26. And are good works dead without faith? Yes: for without faith it is impossible to please God, Heb. 11:6. Must they both act together then? Yes: for that which avails is faith, which works by love, Gal. 5:6. Do we then make void the law through faith? No: God forbid, yea, we establish the law, Rom. 3:31. Is our faith our own? No: it is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, Eph. 2:8. Are our good works our own? No: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us, Isa. 26:12. Is any room left for boasting then? No: it is excluded by the law of faith, Rom. 3:27. Must God therefore have all the glory? Yes: for by the grace of God I am what I am, 1 Cor. 15:10.

May I draw your attention to John Piper's new book, The Future of Justification as a fine response to N.T. Wright's position on justification. It can be purchased here and check the side bar. Also, it can be read in PDF format here. This is a critical doctrine that we should all understand and be able to defend.

25 November 2007

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

One of the best things about this time of year is listening to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I have seen them in concert twice and its just an amazing show. And, let me tell you, modernized Christmas hymns and songs can bring tears to your eyes just like the traditional arrangements.
Check out an article about TSO in Christianity Today and have a look at the TSO website here.

Christmas Time Again

Well, Christmas time has come to the Renegade household. The pic is of our Christmas tree for '07. I like this time of year. The festiveness of the season, Christmas decorations, the fun of watching little ones open their presents but most of all, remembering what is most truly important. Christ came to save sinners.

Luke 2:4-14
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “ Glory to God in the highest, "And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

24 November 2007

Comments on Comments

It appears that Adrian Warnock is no longer permitting comments on his blog. It seems that it takes him quite a bit of time to weed the through the comments and chuck the bad ones. OK, he has a huge readership and that may be what he needs to do. For me, I want the comments. If you're just stopping by for the 1st time or the 100th, I don't care. I really enjoy the interaction and making Christian contacts that without this blog I would never know. So go ahead, leave a comment. Only one caveat, don't leave garbage. You're welcome to commend me or disagree with me but don't leave weird stuff or promote some personal agenda. I recently, for example, received quite a lengthy comment promoting a presidential candidate. It was obviously a standard form letter that was converted. And, clicking on the commenter's name I was connected to a Blogspot page that informed me I could not read the blogger's profile or blog without an invitation. That comment got tanked! So, leave an message and let's interact. After all, Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

23 November 2007


A good but brief post on apologetics can be found here at Chris' Considerations. He briefly outlines the three types, Classical, Evidential and Presuppositional, and provides links for further study. I'm a Van Tillian Presuppositionalist myself. One's presuppositions are always the starting point. A good source on Van Til can be found at http://www.vantil.info/. A Primer on Presuppositionalism by Joel Garver is here. Of course, in my opinion, no one else knows Van Til on this subject better than John Frame. Check out an Introduction to Presuppositional Apologetics here and here.

22 November 2007


Yes, my family has much to be thankful for. Most importantly, my grandson has made it through all his chemo treatments for leukemia and is in the last, although still lenghty, stage of treatment.
This is a pic of the two of us from some time ago while he was still receiving chemo, thus he has no hair. We'll be having T-Day dinner at my daughter's today. Praise Him for His faithfulness.

21 November 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Forging ahead we now come to question #32.

Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life? A. They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption, and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.

1. Are all that be effectually called, justified? A. Yes; God justifies all, and every soul that obeys and answers his call; Romans 8:30. Whom be called, them lie also justified.
Q. 2. What other benefits have the called in this life? A. They are all the adopted children of God; Ephesians 1:5. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.
Q. 3. Are those all the benefits the called receive? A. No; they are not only justified and adopted, but also sanctified; 1 Corinthians 1:30. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.
Q. 4. Do these three blessings come singly to the called? A. No; they are all accompanied with multitudes of other blessings flowing from them; Ephesians 1:3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places in Christ.
Q. 5. What are the mercies flowing from justification? A. They are great and manifold; Romans 5:1-5. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Q. 6. What are the benefits flowing from adoption? A. Free access to God; Ephesians 3:12. In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. And a title to heaven; Romans 8:17. If children, then heirs.
Q. 7. What blessings accompany sanctification? A. Union with Christ; Hebrews 11. For both he that sanctifleth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one. And right to the inheritance; Acts 20:32. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
Q. 8. What is the first lesson from hence? A. That they are enemies to their own souls, who obey not the gospel call; 2 Thessalonians 1:8. In flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Q. 9. What is the second lesson from hence? A. That the estate of believers abounds with spiritual privileges; 1 Corinthians 3:22-23. Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
Q. 10. What is the third lesson from hence? A. That all the believer’s privileges are not in hope, but some in hand; 1 John 3:1. Behold what manner of love the Father bath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.
Q. 11. What is the fourth lesson from hence? A. The greatest sufferers for Christ have no reason to repent their call; Romans 8:18. For I reckon, that the sufferings of this presen. time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.
Q. 12. What is the last lesson from hence? A. That we have infinite reason to bless God for the gospel, by which we are called; 2 Thessalonians 2:14. Whereunto he called you by our gospel.
- John Flavel

For a brief biography of John Flavel click here.

18 November 2007

Psalm 119:137-144

Psalm 119:137-144

137 Righteous are you, O Lord,and right are your rules.
138 You have appointed your testimonies in righteousnessand in all faithfulness.
139 My zeal consumes me,because my foes forget your words.
140 Your promise is well tried,and your servant loves it.
141 I am small and despised,yet I do not forget your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is righteous forever,and your law is true.
143 Trouble and anguish have found me out,but your commandments are my delight.
144 Your testimonies are righteous forever;give me understanding that I may live.

17 November 2007

Oh no....

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported today that the price of hops is rising and therefore the price of beer is rising. What will we (I) do? Suffer through the higher prices, right? It seems that many overseas brewers are coming to the U.S. to buy their hops which has created a shrortage and the resultant higher prices. Of course, I'm having my first Belhaven Scottish Ale as I type this and I'm enjoying every drop so I guess those hops are being put to good use.

15 November 2007

New Greek Study Resource

If you haven't seen this yet, take a look now. Its a new greek Bible study sight that looks to be very promising for those wishing to seriously ( or not so seriously) study Scripture. The Greek can be brought up along with parallel columns of the KJV, NASB & ESV or any combination that you like or need. Its fast and easy. Zack Hubert has done an outstanding job with this. I know I will be using this often!

14 November 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Let's press on now to question #31 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. I've included some additional resource links at the end of this post.

Q. 31. What is effectual calling? A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby convincing us our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

Q. 1. What makes the difference between effectual and ineffectual culling? A. Ineffectual calling is, when men have nothing but the external sound of the gospel; Matthew 20:16. For many be called, but few chosen. Effectual is, when the Spirit works in conjunction with the word; John 6:45. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God; every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
Q. 2. What is the first act of the Spirit in effectual calling? A. Conviction of sin; John 16:8. And when he is come, lie will reprove the world of sin.
Q. 3. Do the called of God hear any voice from heaven? A. Ordinarily it is a call without sound, yet as efficacious as an audible voice from heaven.
Q. 4. What is the second act of the Spirit in our effectual calling? A. The illumination of the mind in the knowledge of Christ; Acts 26:18. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.
Q. 5. In what things doth it enlighten them? A. In this; That Christ is their only remedy; Acts 4:12. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. And their all-sufficient remedy; Hebrews 7:25. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.
Q. 6. What is the third act? A. His renewing of the sinner’s will, and making it flexible; Psalm 110:3. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power. Ezekiel 36:26. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and 1 will give you an heart of flesh.
Q. 7. Can no man come to Christ till thus enabled? A. No; it is not in the power of man’s nature or will, till thus renewed and enabled; Ephesians 1:19-20. And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward, who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, ‘which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him on his own right-hand in the heavenly places. John 6:44. No man can come to me except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him.
Q. 8. What sort of men are most ordinarily called? A. The poor and mean ones in the world; 1 Cor. 1:26. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God bath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.
Q. 9. What is the first instruction from it? A. Souls effectually called are never lost; Romans 11:29. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
Q. 10. What is the second instruction? A. All things co-operate to their good; Romans 8:28. For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.
Q. 11. What is the third instruction? A. It is dangerous to refuse God’s call; Proverbs 1:24. Because I have called, and ye have refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded.
Q. 12. What is the last instruction? A. That Christians are obliged to walk suitably to their heavenly calling; 1 Thessalonians 2:12. That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you into his kingdom and glory.
- James Fisher

Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 10

CHAP. X. - Of Effectual Calling.
1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by His word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.
2. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.
3. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth: so also are all other elect persons who are uncapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
4. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess. And to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.

More Resources:

13 November 2007

For Those of a Blogging Disposition

Some thoughtful posts on blogging can be found here and here. First, the Exiled Preacher reviews Derek Thomas' comments on blogging (although he blogs from time to time). Next, some timely and biblical reflections on blog commenting from Justin Taylor. Both worth of few moments to read.

(HT:Between Two Worlds)

12 November 2007

Top Ten Things to Say on Returning Home with Conference Book Plunder

This is just sooo good I gotta pass this on. Ten classic responses to over indulgent book buying (at least from the non-book buying spouse's perspective). I have to say that, as my wife is an accountant, number 5 is my favorite. “Don’t worry. It just looks like a lot. Amortized over my lifetime, I’m not spending very much on books at all. How true. And number 6, although humorous, is very true, “Oh, so you’re going to complain about your husband/wife squandering money on books! Do I blow money on alcohol? tobacco? gambling? drugs? sex? stadium box seats? No! Just books on justice and peace, Jesus and Paul, trinitarian theology and the evils of, uh . . . consumerism!” As five books have arrived in the mail in the last two weeks I need to start committing these to memory, quick! So you can start memorizing the excuse list, here is the link.

07 November 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Let's jump right in...

Q. 30. How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and hereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

Matthew Henry elaborates:

1. Does the Spirit act freely in applying the redemption?
Yes: The wind bloweth where it listeth, so is every one that is born of the Spirit, John 3:8. Does he act mysteriously? Yes: Thou knowest not what is the way of the Spirit, Eccl. 11:15. Does he act effectually? Yes: All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, John 6:37.
2. Is faith necessary to our interest in the redemption?
Yes: for without faith it is impossible to please God, Heb. 11:6. Is it the great thing necessary? Yes: only believe, all things are possible to him that can believe, Mark 5: 36. and 9:23. Can we have a saving interest in the redemption without faith? No: he that believeth not, is condemned already, John 3:18. Is it that which is required on our part? Yes: by grace ye are saved through faith. And is it of ourselves? No: not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, Eph. 2:8. Is it given for Christ's sake ? Yes: Unto you it is given on the behalf of Christ to believe on him, Phil. 1:29.
3. Does the Spirit work faith in us?
Yes: it is the faith of the operation of God, Col. 2:12. Is it a divine work then? Yes: this is the work of God, that ye believe, John 6:29. Is it a work of divine power? Yes: we believe according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, Eph. 1:19, 20. Is it wrought in all the saints? Yes: for they have all obtained a like precious faith, 2 Pet. 1:1. Shall it be wrought in all the chosen? Yes: for it is the faith of God's elect, Tit. 1:1.
4. Are all true believers united to Christ?
Yes: He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit, 1 Cor. 6:17. Are they interested in his death? Yes: We are crucified with Christ, Gal. 2:20. And in his burial? Yes: We are buried with him in baptism, Rom. 6:4. And in his resurrection? Yes: He has quickened us together with Christ, Eph. 2:5. And in his ascension? Yes: He has made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Eph. 2:6.
5. Is there a real union between Christ and believers?
Yes: for both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified are all of one, Heb 2:11. Is he the head? Yes: he is the Head of the body, the church, Col 1:18. Are they his members? Yes: Who are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, Eph. 5:30. Is he the Root? Yes: for of his fulness have all we received, John 1:16. Are they the branches? Yes: I am the vine, ye are the branches, John 15:5. Is he the Foundation? Yes: Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, Isa 28:16. Are they built upon him? Yes: Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, 1 Pet. 2:5.
6. Is there a relative union between Christ and believers?
Yes: I ascend to my Father and your Father, John 20:17. Are they his children? Yes: here am I, and the children which thou hast given me, Heb. 2:13. Are they his brethren? Yes: he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Heb. 2:11, 12. Are they his spouse? Yes: I have espoused you to one husband, 2 Cor. 11:2. Are they his subjects? Yes: they are translated into the kingdom of his dear Son, Col. 1:13. Are they his soldiers? Yes: good soldiers of Jesus Christ, 2 Tim. 2:3. Are they his servants? Yes: Ye call me Master and Lord, John 13:13. Are they his scholars? Yes: they sit at Jesus' feet and hear his word, Luke 10:39. Are they his sheep? Yes: for he is the great Shepherd of the sheep, Heb. 13:20.
7. Is it by faith that we are united to Christ?
Yes: for Christ dwells in the heart by faith, Eph. 3:17. Is that owing to the Spirit? Yes: we are a habitation of God through the Spirit, Eph. 2:22. Does communion result from this union? Yes: for truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, 1 John 1:3. And is that owing to the Spirit? Yes: we have an access by one Spirit unto the Father, Eph. 2:18. Can we be united to Christ without the indwelling of the Spirit? No: for if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his, Rom. 8: 9. Have all that are united to Christ an interest in the benefits of redemption? Yes: for of him are we in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, 1 Cor. 1:30.
8. Are we united to Christ in our effectual calling?
Yes: for we are called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, 1 Cor. 1:9. Will the common call unite us to Christ? No: for many are called, but few are chosen, Matt. 22:14. Is it the effectual call then that does it? Yes: for whom he called, them he justified, Rom. 8:30.
9. Does the gospel call us from sin to God?
Yes: it turns from the power of Satan unto God, Acts 26:18. Does it call us from self to Christ? Yes: If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself and follow me, Matt. 16:24. Does it call us from darkness to light? Yes: he hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light, 1 Pet. 2:9. And from uncleanness to holiness? Yes: God hath not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness, 1 Thes. 4:7. And from this world to the other? Yes: If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things that are above, Col. 3:1. Is this call effectual when we come at the call? Yes: Follow me, and he arose and followed him, Matt. 9:9. Is it our great concern to make this sure? Yes: make your calling and your election sure, 2 Pet. 1:10.

The Future of Justification

I received my copy yesterday of The Future of Justification by John Piper. So far, it’s a very good read and a needed refutation of N.T. Wright's position. I’m encouraged to read that Piper is not playing the scholarly game of one-upsmanship. Rather, he is filling the need for us of clarifying Wright’s confusing position and reaffirming the correct view of justification. My own assessment of the need of the church at this moment in history is different from Wright’s: I think we need a new generation of preachers who are not only open to the new light that God may shed upon his word, but are also suspicious of their own love of novelty and are eager to test all their own interpretations of the Bible by the wisdom of the centuries. He goes to say, This book exists because of my own concern that, specifically in the matter of justification by faith, Wright’s approach has not been as illuminating as it has been misleading, or perhaps, confusing (pgs 37-38).

06 November 2007

Make It Free

The vision that Desiring God has for its online ministry is simply outstanding. May I commend them here and thank them for what they’re doing and for even possibly being the needed pioneers for others with internet ministries. From the DG website:

…there are four things you need to do in order to maximize access to your content online and truly "make it free":
Post all of your content online
Don't charge for your online content
Don't make people register to access any of your content
Make your site very easy to use

Who can argue with these four premises? Let’s face it, whatever we’re doing on the net we want it to be easy. If we’re disappointed that the content we’re hunting for is no longer posted we’re going elsewhere and likely not comeback. If we’re charged for everything we want we’ll either not buy it or be disappointed that we have to and not come back. I do not like having to register to read or buy product. Its just another way of getting my address and then sending me emails, let’s face it – SPAM, I don’t want. Managing all these passwords for all these websites is just ridiculous. I recently went to a site to buy some music and decided not to when I had to register. These online businesses need to realize they’re losing money. Its just not worth the hassle to me. Lastly, if I can’t find my way around a website in a few seconds, I’m done. All of the above applies to any site we may visit but its troubling to me that many “outreach” websites operate in the same manner. Its just so inconsistent. Of course, I’m not saying a ministry site can’t charge for some items, they need funding to keep operating, authors need to be paid for their work. But money is not the goal here, reaching those in need of whatever services are provided is. Again, I commend DG for this and their ministry is now on my donation list.

05 November 2007

Christmas Ales

I must take a moment to commend to you two beers as we approach the festive Christmas season. Great Lakes Christmas Ale and Goose Island Christmas Ale. Both are very fine brews. The Great Lakes is, according to their website, A holiday ale brewed with honey and spiced with fresh ginger and cinnamon. ABV 7.5%, ABW 6.0% and IBU 40. The Goose Island Christmas Ale is also a delightful beer and worth the effort to purchase another six pack. ABV 5.6%, ABW 4.45 and IBU 50. Both are delicious. If I had to pick between the two I would have to go with Great Lakes giving it a 9 out of 10 ranking compared to the Goose Island, 7 out of 10. It'll be Christmas soon, give 'em both a try.

It is possible to tolerate a little elevation, when a man takes a drink or two too much after working hard and when he is feeling low. This must be called a frolic. But to sit day and night, pouring it in and pouring it out again, is piggish... all food is a matter of freedom, even a modest drink for one's pleasure. If you do not wish to conduct yourself this way, if you are going to go beyond this and be a born pig and guzzle beer and wine, then, if this cannot be stopped by the rulers, you must know that you cannot be saved. For God will not admit such piggish drinkers into the kingdom of heaven [cf. Gal. 5:19-21]... If you are tired and downhearted, take a drink; but this does not mean being a pig and doing nothing but gorging and swilling... You should be moderate and sober; this means that we should not be drunken, though we may be exhilarated. - Martin Luther

04 November 2007

Feeling Low?

I find Spurgeon had great insight into the deep issues of life. On feeling low he postulated, The worst forms of depression are cured when Holy Scripture is believed. Elsewhere he went on, To have something to do for Jesus, and to go right on with it, is one of the best ways to get over a bereavement, or any heavy mental depression. If you can pursue some great object, you will not feel that you are living for nothing. I find both statements very true for Scripture tells us, These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33). And, Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thes. 5:16-18). Putting our focus on the Lord and minimizing times of self pity will see us through those difficult periods in life.

30 October 2007

Wetsminster Wednesday

WSC #29
Ques. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
Ans. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.

A brief and simple explanation from Vincent: Q. 1. By whom was our redemption purchased? A. Our redemption was purchased for us by the blood of Christ. "By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." — Heb. 9:12.
Q. 2. By whom is our redemption applied? A. Our redemption is applied by the Holy Spirit, in his effectual operation upon us. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour." — Tit. 3:5, 6.

With the above in mind, the next several questions of the catechism elaborate on the steps, so to speak, of salvation. We must comprehend and be mindful of these steps as others today ignore these or group them all under one heading. Let's not be confused.

1. Effectual calling - Calling and Regeneration
2. Conversion - Repentance and Faith
3. Justification
4. Adoption
5. Sanctification
6. Glorification

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27 October 2007

Masculine Christianity

John Piper has recently posted his notes on his message Some Sweet Blessings of Masculine Christianity. If you will allow me to press home his second point: Men are more properly attracted to the Christian life when it does not appear that he must become effeminate to be a Christian. (Dominance of female leadership undermines the proper sense of a man’s call to be a leader, protector, and provider.) This is so true. Men are often turned off by what they perceive as the feminity of Christianity. Churches need to to realize this now and begin to cater to the needs of men, both the lost that they are trying reach and those attending that they need to keep. May I add that point #8 is well stated, too. The feminization of modern worship music is a tragedy that needs to stop now. Piper states, The corporate worship teams are not dominated by women and the songs chosen are not dominated by a one-sided feel of intimacy or majesty. The presence of masculine men and strong theology and music give the corporate worship a feel of strength that helps men discover and express the fullness of the emotions toward God that God calls for. Read the entire post here.