31 May 2007

Psalm 32

Psalm 32
1Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
3When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
4For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
5I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
6For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.
7Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.
8I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
9Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.
10Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.
11Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.


It seems that its cool to be anything post these days but, really, I am a post-theonomist. I remember James Jordan called himself a post-theonomist at one point several years ago and perhaps he still does. I can’t remember what he means by that nor am I going to take the time to search through all my papers to find it again but let me explain what I mean by this term. In essence, I still embrace nearly all that theonomy, as a movement, once taught. However, does it really matter at this point in history? Now let me say that we still need to talk about it, teach it, promote it, write about it, read about it & preach about it but before we do we need to take one large step backwards before trying endlessly to take three steps forward. We need a powerful working of the Holy Spirit in this land (and the world) before we can move ahead with any kind of theonomic strategy. Yes, we can study and learn and prepare but before all else we need to see, and I use this word cautiously, revival. To see that revival we need to do our part first, i.e., live holy lives unto the Lord that will bring unbelievers to us so that we can share the gospel. And, we need to pray – pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will truly change lives. Only then can we start to seriously consider a theonomic society. And until then the pro-theonomy writers, preachers and bloggers would do well to incorporate more of what’s been outlined above and slightly less of the constant flow of theonomic ideals.

30 May 2007

Help, I Don’t Like Karl Barth

What's so special about this guy?

Help, I don’t like Karl Barth. And, I don’t understand this modern fascination with him. From my earliest training I’ve not liked him based on what he has taught. His books in my library sit on my “heresy shelf” and forever shall they remain. Now, let me clarify that I hold nothing against him personally I and I do so hope that he is now with the Lord. Nor am I saying there is nothing we can’t learn from him. But why is he the Theologian of 20th century? Why are there numerous blogs devoted or semi-devoted to him? What is this fascination?
Like many, I’m at odds with his view of Biblical Inerrancy and his view on understanding the revelation of God borders on pantheism. On those two issues alone is enough to discredit much of what he wrote and taught.
So, somebody help me understand why Barth is so great and why he is the greatest theologian of the 20th century.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

29 May 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Are we ready for Q&A #5? Let's push on then.

Q: Are there more Gods than one?
A: There is but One only, the living and true God.

Deuteronomy 6:4. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.
Jeremiah 10:10. But the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

Thomas Watson tells us in his Body of Divinity, That there is a God has been proved; and those that will not believe the verity of his essence, shall feel the severity of his wrath. 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord' (Deut. 6:4). He is 'the only God.' 'Know therefore this day, and consider it in thy heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath, there is none else' (Deut. 4:39). 'A just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me' (Is. 45:21). There are many titular gods. Kings represent God; their regal sceptre is an emblem of his power and authority. Judges are called gods. 'I have said, Ye are gods' (Ps. 82:6); viz., set in God's place to do justice; but dying gods. 'Ye shall die like men' (verse 7). 'There be that are called gods, but to us there is but one God' (1 Cor. 8:5, 6).
I. There is but one First Cause that has its Being of itself, and on which all other beings depend. As in the heavens, the primum mobile moves all the other orbs, so God gives life and motion to everything that exists. There can be but one God, because there is but one First Cause.
II. There is but one infinite Being, therefore there is but one God. There cannot be two infinites. 'Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord' (Jer. 23:24)? If there be one infinite, filling all places at once, how can there be any room for another infinite to subsist?
III. There is but one Omnipotent Power. If there be two Omnipotents, then we must always suppose a contest between these two: that which one would do, the other power, being equal, would oppose, and so all things would be brought into confusion. If a ship should have two pilots of equal power, one would be ever crossing the other; when one would sail, the other would cast anchor; there would be confusion, and the ship must perish. The order and harmony in the world, or the constant and uniform government of all things, is a clear argument that there is but one Omnipotent, one God that rules all. 'I am the first, and I am the last, and beside me there is no God' (Is. 44:6).
Use one: Of information: (1) If there be but one God, then it excludes all other gods. Some have feigned that there were two gods; as the Valentinians: others, that there were many gods; as the Polytheists. The Persians worshipped the sun; the Egyptians the lion and elephant; the Grecians worshipped Jupiter. These 'err, not knowing the Scriptures' (Matt. 22:29). Their faith is a fable. 'God hath given them up to strong delusions, to believe a lie, that they may be damned' (2 Thess. 2:11).
(2) if there be but one God, then there can be but one true religion in the world. 'One Lord, one faith' (Eph. 4:5). If there were many gods, then there might be many religions. Every God would be worshipped in his way; but if there be but one God, there is but one religion; one Lord, one faith. Some say, we may be saved in any religion; but it is absurd to imagine that God who is One in essence, should appoint several religions in which he will be worshipped. It is as dangerous to set up a false religion, as to set up a false god. There are many ways to hell; men may go thither which way their fancy leads them; but there is only one direct road to heaven, viz., faith and holiness. There is no way to be saved but this. As there is but one God, so there is but one true religion.
(3) If there be but one God, then there is but One whom you need chiefly to study to please, and that is God. If there were divers gods, we should be hard put to it to please them all. One would command one thing, another the contrary; and to please two contrary masters is impossible: but there is only one God. Therefore you have but One to please. As in a kingdom there is but one king, therefore every one seeks to ingratiate himself into his favour (Prov. 19:6), so there is but one true God; therefore our main work is to please him. Be sure to please God, whoever else you displease. This was Enoch's wisdom. He had this testimony before he died, that 'he pleased God' (Heb. 11:5).

Alexander Whyte explains further, Having given us our Lord's definition or description of what God is, and having supplemented that definition by gathering round it a cluster of His scriptural attributes, the Catechism proceeds to ask, God being such, "Are there more Gods than one?" And the answer is made, "There is but One only, the living and true God." "Thus," says an eminent teacher of Christian truth, "we must ever commence in all our teaching concerning the Holy Trinity: we must not begin by saying that there are Three, and then go on to say afterwards that there is One, lest we give false notions of the nature of that One; but we most begin by laying down the great truth that there is One God, in a simple and strict sense, and then go on to speak of Three, which is the way in which the mystery was progressively revealed in Scripture. In the Old Testament we read of the Unity; in the New, we are enlightened in the knowledge of the Trinity." The Old Testament taught that "God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth." The unity and spirituality of God formed the article of a standing or falling Church in that early dispensation of grace and truth.
One only—"The words ‘one' and ‘only,' ascribed to God in Scripture, are not used in contrast to the Son or the Holy Spirit, but rather with reference to those who are not God, and are falsely called so" (Basil). "One," in this connection, is not used in the sense of numeration; it points to an absolute aloneness rather than to plurality and accumulation. This has been called a transcendental unity, or the oneness of what is indivisible. Thus it has been said: "To apply arithmetical notions to God is as unphilosophical as profane. . . He is not One in the way in which created things are severally units; for one, as applied to ourselves, is used in contrast to two or three and a whole series of numbers. But God has not even such relation to His creatures as to allow, philosophically speaking, of our contrasting Him with them" (Newman's Grammar of Assent). "Our divines, therefore, reckon not God, in point of arithmetic, together with us. They cast not God and us into the same numbering. They suffer not creatures to bear or sustain the repute or account of numbers after Him, or when He is spoken of. They say of Him that He is unicus [unique], the only One, who stands apart by Himself, out of all arithmetic, as His transcendent being comes not under our logic" (Goodwin). The living and true God. Living in the supreme sense of having life in Himself and thus being the Fountain of life to all His creatures. "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being." "No name is so free from the taint of anthropomorphism, or of anything incongruous and degrading, as the living God" (Goldwin Smith, Bystander, ii. 141). And true as distinguished from all false gods. This doctrine of God was the ground of all the prophetical preaching and controversy in the Old Testament. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord" (see Q. 44). And Paul, treating of things offered to idols, made a restatement of this fundamental position of the Hebrew and Christian faith: "We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him."
Quoted from A Commentary on the Shorter Catechism.

I've never liked and always thought unbiblical, and indeed they are, the analogies to water+ice+steam, a three leaf clover and all the other likenesses that attempt to explain the Trinity. We cannot understand it in our finiteness, why try to? It is 3 and 1 at the same time, 100% of the time. Truly it is one of the wonderful mysteries we must accept on faith. And quite faithfully, we do.

26 May 2007

Contemporary Worship Music - A Starting Point

John Frame sums up the second chapter, A Theology of Worship: Some Basics, in his book, Contemporary Worship Music: A Biblical Defense, in the following way:
Based on theological considerations fairly widely accepted in Christian churches, I believe we have seen several important reason to at least consider the use of new music in worship.

1. God's transcendence does not exclude, but rather implies his nearness to His creation and especially to His worshiping people.
2. The God-centeredness of worship does not exclude, but rather requires, consideration of the worshiper. Although God does not need contemporaneity to play His role in the worship meeting, human worshipers do.
3. In determining the rules of worship, we should recognize that sola Scriptura requires a willingness to examine critically even the most revered human traditions.
4. Music is an area in which we have little explicit scriptural direction, and in which, therefore, human creativity should be encouraged, within the limits of general biblical standards.
5. Communication is important in worship, and intelligible communication must be contemporary at least in the sense of being understandable to modern ears.
6. The Great Commission requires us to speak, to some extant, the verbal and musical languages of people outside the church.
7. Maintaining unity among the diversity of the church's membership requires that we defer to one another in love, being willing to sing one another's music rather than insisting on the music we enjoy.
8. The singing of simple, contemporary songs plays a role not only in evangelism but also in the nuture of God's of people.

There you have it, John Frame's starting point for the defense of Contemporary Worship Music (CWM). Even as one who considers himself a follower of the Regulative Principle, I still emphatically believe that CWM has a place in today's church. The above points 4, 5 & 6 I think deserve much consideration. There is no musical style for which we can employ today that we can glean from Scripture. It is simply not there to be found. Godly judgment must be used here to make wise choices. Neither can we sing with a dictionary in our hands looking up antiquated words. We must use words that all can understand and maintain a level of integrity that worship music requires. Let's face it, we've all sung words in some of these older hymns that we never use any other time in our modern speech. C'mon, what's the point? I out right reject the charge that simple praise choruses is a dumbing-down. How better to inculcate the simple truths of God to the believer and unbeliever. Lastly, concerning #6, if many in the church are turned off by older styles of music and outdated words in the lyrics, how much more so will the unbeliever be? We must communicate so that all can understand and participate in the worship service.

Next time I plan to offer and defense of how CWM naturally fits within the Regulative Principle.

22 May 2007

Westminster Wednesday

OK, let's push on with part 2 of Q&A #4:

Q: What is God?
A: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

Again, from John Flavel's Exposition of the Assembly's Shoter Catechism:

Of God's Power
Q. 1. What is the Power of God?A. An Essential property of his Nature, whereby he can do all things that he pleases to have done. Jeremiah 32:17. Ah Lord God, behold thou hast made the Heavens, and the Earth by thy great power, and stretched-out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.
Q. 2. What evidence have we before our eyes of the Almighty Power of God?A. It appears in the Creation of the World. Romans 1:20. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal Power and Godhead. And its Sustentation. Hebrews 1:3. Who upholdeth all things by the word of his Power.
Q. 3. Did God's Power ever act its utmost?A. No, he can do more than ever he did, or ever will do. Matthew 3:9. God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. Matthew 26:53.
Q. 4. Are there not some things which God cannot do?A. Yes, there are, but they are such things as are inconsistent with his truth and holiness. Titus 1:2. ...which God that cannot lie. 2 Timothy 2:13. He cannot deny himself.
Q. 5. What is the first thing inferred from God's Power?A. That all the Creatures necessarily depend on him for what ability they have, and without the permission of the supreme Power they can do us no hurt. John 19:11. Thou couldest have no power against me except it were given thee from above.
Q. 6. What is the second Inference from hence?A. That the difficulties which lie in the way of the Promises, need be no stumbling-blocks to our Faith. Romans 4:20-21. He staggered not at the Promises through unbelief, being fully persuaded, that what he had promised he was able also to perform.
Q. 7. What is the third Inference from this Attribute?A. The Saints need not be scared at the greatness of their sufferings: their God can carry them through. Daniel 3:17. Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace.
Q. 8. What is the fourth Inference?A. That the Salvation of God's People is certain, whatever their dangers be, being kept by this mighty Power. 2 Peter 1:5. Who are kept by the power of God through faith to Salvation.
Q. 9. What is the last Inference hence?A. That the state of the damned is unconceivably miserable. Their Punishment proceeding from the glory of the Almighty. 2 Thessalonians 1:9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power.

Of God's Holiness
Q. 1. How manifold is the Holiness of God?A. The Holiness of God is twofold: Communicable, or Incommunicable; of his communicable holiness the Apostle speaks. Hebrews 12:10. But he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Of his incommunicable holiness that Scripture speaks. 1 Samuel 2:2. There is none holy as the Lord.
Q. 2. What is the essential and incommunicable Holiness of God?A. It is the infinite purity of his Nature, whereby he delights in his own holiness, and the resemblance of it in his Creatures, and hates all impurity. Habakkuk 1:13. Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.
Q. 3. What is the first property of God's Holiness?A. He is essentially Holy. Holiness is not a separable quality in God, as it is in Angels and Men: but his Being and his Holiness are one thing.
Q. 4. What is the second property of God's Holiness?A. God is essentially Holy, the author and fountain of all communicated Holiness. Leviticus 20:8. I am the Lord which sanctifieth you.
Q. 5. What is the third property?A. That the holiness of God is the perfect rule and pattern of holiness to all Creatures. 1 Peter 1:16. Be ye holy, for I am holy.
Q. 6. What is the first Instruction?A. That the holiest of men have cause to be ashamed and humbled when the come before God. Isaiah 6:3, 5. And one cried unto another, saying, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory. Then said I, Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, etc.
Q. 7. What is the second Instruction from God's holiness?A. That there is no coming near to God without a Mediator; for our God is a consuming fire.
Q. 8. What is the third Instruction from God's holiness?A. That holiness is indispensably necessary, to all those which shall dwell with him in Heaven. Hebrews 12:14. And, holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.
Q. 9. What is the fourth Instruction from hence?A. That the Gospel is of inestimable value, as it is the instrument of conveying the Holiness of God to us. 2 Corinthians 3:18. But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord. John 17:17. Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.
Q. 10. What is the last instruction from God's holiness?A. That all the despisers and scoffers of holiness, are despisers of God; for holiness is the very Nature of God; and in the Creature it is his represented Image.

Of God's Justice
Q. 1. What is the Justice of God?A. The Justice of God is the perfect rectitude and equity of his Nature, whereby he is just in himself, and in all his ways towards the Creatures. Deuteronomy 32:4. He is the rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgement; a God of truth, and without equity, just and right is he.
Q. 2. What is the first property of God's Justice?A. That it infinitely excels all humane Justice in the perfection of it. No creature can compare in Justice with God. Job 9:2. How shall man be just with God?
Q. 3. What is the second property of God's Justice?A. That he is Universally Righteous in all his administrations in the world. Psalm 145:17. The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.
Q. 4. What was the greatest demonstration of the justice of God, that ever was given to the world?A. The greatest evidence that ever was given of the Justice of God, was in his exacting satisfaction for our sins upon Christ. Romans 3:25-26. Whom God hath set forth, to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Romans 8:32. He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.
Q. 5. What is the second Discovery of God's justice?A. The second Discovery of the justice of God, is in the Eternal punishment of sin in Hell, upon all that do not repent, and come to Christ by Faith in this World. Romans 2:5. But after thy hardness, and impenitent heart, treasureth up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgement of God.
Q. 6. What is the third Evidence of God's justice?A. The third Evidence of the justice of God is, in making good all the mercies he hath promised to believers, exactly to a title. 1 John 1:19. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 2 timothy 4:8. Henceforth there is laid up for me a Crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me at that day.
Q. 7. What is the first Inference from God's justice?A. That sinners have no cause to complain of God's judgments, though they be never so terrible, or durable. Romans 2:5. But after thy hardness, and impenitent heart, treasureth up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
Q. 8. What is the second Inference from God's justice?A. That without doubt there is a judgment to come in the next Life, otherwise God would not have the glory of his justice. Ecclesiastes 3:16-17. I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there: I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous, and the wicked.
Q. 9. What is the third Inference from God's justice?A. That Penitent and Believing sinners need not doubt of the forgiveness of the Sins. 1 John 1:9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Q. 10. What is the last Inference from it?A. The last inference is, That Meekness and Patience under afflictions, is our unquestionable Duty; and murmuring against God, is a great sin and evil. Lamentations 3:39. Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?

Of God's Goodness
Q. 1. What is the goodness of God?A. A. It is an Essential Property of his Nature, whereby he is absolutely and perfectly good in himself, and the Fountain of all communicated goodness to the creature. Psalm 119:68. Thou art good, and dost good, teach my thy statutes.
Q. 2. How doth the goodness of God differ from the mercy of God?A. It differs in its objects; for the Misery is the Object of Mercy; but goodness extends to the Creatures that are happy, as well as miserable: as the Angels. Psalm 145:9. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.
Q. 3. What is the first Property of God's goodness?A. That all his other Attributes flow out of it as their Fountain: The other acts of God are but the Effluxes of his goodness. Exodus 33:19. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy unto whom I will show mercy. Exodus 34:6. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.
Q. 4. What is the second Property of the Divine goodness?A. That it is supreme, and perfect in itself. So as the goodness of no Creature is, or can be. Luke 18:19. None is good save one, and that is God: And consequently above all additions from the Creature. Psalm 16:2. O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord... my goodness extendeth not unto thee.
Q. 5. What is the third property of God's goodness?A. That it is communicative with Pleasure and delight to the Creature: No Mother draws out her Breast to an hungry Child with more pleasure than God doth his goodness to the Saints. Psalm 145:9. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.
Q. 6. In what acts hath God first manifested his goodness?A. He hath manifested it in the Creation and Government of the World. Psalm 104:24. O Lord how manifold are thy works? in wisdom hast thou made them all.
Q. 7. What was the principal work in which God hath manifested his goodness to men?A. The principal manifestation of God's goodness, was in the Work of Redemption by Christ. Romans 5:8. God commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 1 John 4:8-9. In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten son into the world, that we might live through him.
Q. 8. But are not the judgements of God on the wicked, and his Afflictions on the Saints, impeachments of his goodness?A. No, It is the property of goodness to hate and punish Evil in the impenitent. Exodus 34:7. Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty, etc. And the afflictions of the Saints flow from his goodness, and end in their true and eternal good. Hebrews 12:6. For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Psalm 119:71. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes.
Q. 9. What may we infer from the goodness of God?A. The first thing is, that Sin hath made our Natures base, and disingenuous, in that we take no notice of his goodness. Isaiah 1:3. The Ox knoweth his owner, and the Ass his masters crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider; And answer not the design of it. Romans 2:4. Now knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.
Q. 10. What is the second Inference from the goodness of God?A. That therefore God is the fittest Object of our delight and love, and of our trust and Confidence. 1. Of our Delight and Love. Psalm 116:1. I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice, and my supplication. 2. Of our trust and confidence. Psalm 34:8. O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Q. 11. What is the third Inference from God's goodness?A. That Christians have great encouragement to go to God for pardon in case of sin. Psalm 130:4. But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared; and for refuge of dangers. Nahum 1:7. The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; he knoweth them that trust in him.

And finally,

Of God's Truth
Q. 1. What is the Truth of God?A. It is an Essential Property of his Nature, whereby he is perfectly faithful in himself, and in all that he hath spoken. Deuteronomy 32:4. He is the Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are judgment; a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he. Psalm 119:142. Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy Law is the truth.
Q. 2. What is the first Property of Divine Truth?A. The first property of it is, That it is essential and necessary to God; He cannot lie. Titus 1:2.
Q. 3. What is the second property of it?A. The second property is, That it is everlasting, and abiding to all generations. Psalm 100:5. For the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations. Isaiah 25:1. O Lord, thou art my God, I will exalt thee... thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.
Q. 4. What is the third property of Divine truth?A. The third property is, that he is universally true in all his words and works. 1. In all his words. John 17:17. Thy word is truth. 2. In all his works. Psalm 25:10. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, unto such as keep his covenant.
Q. 5. What is the first Lesson from God's truth to be learnt?A. That truth and sincerity of heart is that which is most suitable, and pleasing to God. Psalm 51:6. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts.
Q. 6. What is the second Lesson from God's truth?A. That whatever God hath foretold, shall assuredly come to pass, and be fulfilled in his time. Joshua 23:16. Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord our God spoke concerning you, all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.
Q. 7. What is the third Lesson from the truth of God?A. That a promise from God is full security to the Faith of his People, and they may look upon it as good as a mercy in hand. Hebrews 10:23. For he is faithful that promised.
Q. 8. What is the fourth Lesson from God's truth?A. That whatever God hath threatened in his word against sinners, shall surely come upon them, except they repent. Zechariah 1:6. But my word, and my statutes which I commanded my servants, the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned, and said, Like as the Lord of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us. Ezekiel 12:27-28. The word which I have spoken, shall be done, saith the Lord.
Q. 9. What is the fifth Lesson from God's truth?A. That falsehood in words and Actions is contrary to God's Nature, and abhorred by him. John 8:44. Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lust of your father ye will do: he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him; when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it.
Q. 10. What is the Last Lesson from God's truth?A. The day of judgement will rightly and justly state every man's condition. Romans 2:2. But we are sure that the judgement of God is according to truth, against them which commit such things.

There is much to take in here. Flavel is a master at disseminating the required knowledge for our understanding of this Q&A. I believe I'll spend some time this week marvelling at what God is.

Iain Murray on Reformation and Revival

I’ve been listening to some sermons/lectures on Reformation & Revival by Iain Murray (I believe they were given at a Pastor’s conference some time ago.) Outstanding stuff ! Murray offers his assessment of the three views on revival. The first is that there is no Revival to be had. We have all that we are to receive from the Lord now, it anticipates nothing more than what have at the current time. This view limits the working of the Holy Spirit and is quite discouraging. The second is that Revival only comes through obedience, it is conditional. Thus, it is logical to conclude that we are disobedient and therefore in a state of judgment. This also is dispiriting in that within the boundaries of this view we would never be obedient enough to ever see and experience revival. Lastly, the balanced view, is that God is still working in and through His people all the time ("I am with you always") but there are times when when He is pleased to shed a greater outpouring of His Spirit. Murray explicates this view thoughtfully both from Scripture and history. Well worth the time to give it a listen. Additionally, he offers an exemplary explanation of the working of the Holy Spirit in revival, i.e., the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Give it a listen from Sermonaudio.com.

20 May 2007

Keeping The Heart, Proverbs 4:23

One of my favorite books that I often refer to is John Flavel's Keeping the Heart. It is a source to remind me that I may be fooling others but I am not fooling God. God knows my heart and so it is incumbent upon me to keep my heart. The book is also a source of encouragement. To keep one's heart from despondency during affliction he wrote, By these cross Providences, God is faithfully pursuing the great design of electing love upon the souls of His people....All the He does is in pursuit of, and in reference to, some eternal, glorious ends upon our soul. Oh, it is our ignorance of God's design that makes us quarrel with Him. He continues, Though God has reserved to Himself the liberty of afflicting His people, yet He has tied up His own hands by promising never to take away His loving-kindness from them. ....It is a marvellous efficacy to keep the heart from sinking under affliction to call to mind that your own Father has the control over it. Not a creature moves hand nor tongue against you but by His permission. ....Nothing grieves Him more than your groundless and unworthy suspicions of His designs do.

So, let us draw near to God and trust Him in all His dealings with us.

19 May 2007

John Owen - The Glory of Christ

From The Glory of Christ....Yet even in this life true believers sometimes have a little experience of the pleasure to be found in knowing Christ. The Scriptures and the Holy Spirit bring such a sense of the uncreated glory of God shining in Christ that it fills their souls with indescribable joy and peace. These experiences are not frequent but that is because of our idleness and lack of spiritual light. Glory would dawn in our souls if we were diligent in our duty of meditating on the glory of Christ. - John Owen

15 May 2007

Thoughts on Reading

There's a great post here by Nate at Presbyterian Thoughts on books & reading. He states, I have heard many complaints from believers that they are unsatisfied with the level of spirituality and commitment to Biblical Christianity that they see around them. Often it is these people who refuse to pick up books and find sweet fellowship within dusty old pages. Many times a good biography of a godly man or woman (Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, Mary Winslow) will water us in ways that is unimaginable. How very true. There are many times these old books fill the void and soothe the soul. Thanks Nate! Be sure to read the his post in it's entirety.

14 May 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Its time for Q&A #4 (part 1):

Q: What is God?
A: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

One of my favorites. I spent alot of time on this q&a when I taught the kids at church.

From John Flavel we read, Q. 1. Can the Nature of God be defined, so as men may express properly and strictly what God is?A. No: Job 11:7. Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?We do then conceive most rightly of God, when we acknowledge him to be unconceivable; and therefor one being asked the question, what is God? answered rightly; If I fully knew that, I should be a God myself; for God only knows his own Essence.
Q. 2. How many ways are there by which men may know and describe the nature of God?A. There are two ways of knowing God in this Life. First, By way of affirmation; affirming that of God by way of eminence, which is excellent in the Creature; as when we affirm him to be Wise, Good, Merciful, etc. Secondly, By way of Negation, when we remove from God in our Conceptions all that is imperfect in the Creature: so we say God is immense, Infinite, Immutable; and in this sense we also call him a Spirit, (i.e.) He is not a gross corporeal Substance.
Q. 3. How many sorts of Spirits are there; And of which sort is God?A. There be two sorts of Spirits, created and finite; as Angels, and the Souls of Men are. Secondly, Uncreated, and Infinite; and such a Spirit God only is, infinitely above all other Spirits.
Q. 4. If God be a Spirit, in what sense are we to understand all those Scriptures, which speak of the Eyes of the Lord, the Ears and Hand of God?A. We are to understand them as Expressions of God, in condescension to the weakness of our understandings; even as the Glory of Heaven is expressed to us in Scripture by a City, and the Royal Feast. These shadows are useful to us whilst we are in the Body; but we shall know him in Heaven after a more perfect manner.
Q. 5. What may be inferred from the Spiritual Nature of God?A. Hence learn, that it is both sinful and dangerous to frame an Image or Picture of God. Who can make an Image of his Soul? which is yet not so perfect a Spirit as God is? And as it is sinful to attempt it, so it is impossible to do it; Deuteronomy 4:15-16. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of Similitude on the day that the Lord spake to you in Horeb out of the midst of the Fire; lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven Image, the similitude of any figure, etc.
Q. 6. What else may be inferred from thence?A. That our Souls are the most noble and excellent part of us, which most resembles God; and therefore our chief regard and care should be for them, whatever becomes of the vile Body. Matthew 16:26. For what is a man profited if he gain the whole world, and lost his own Soul. Or what shall a man give in Exchange for his Soul?
Q. 7. What further Truth may be inferred hence?A. That men should beware of spiritual Sins, as well as of gross and outward Sins; for there is a filthiness of the Spirit, as well as of the Flesh, 2 Corinthians 7:1. Let us cleanse our selves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit; and as God sees them, so he greatly abhors them, as sins that defile the noblest part of man, on which he stamped his own Image.
Q. 8. What also may be inferred from hence?A. Hence we learn, that spiritual worship is most agreeable to his Nature and Will; and the more spiritual it is, the more acceptable it will be to him. John 4:24. God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in Spirit and Truth. Externals in worship are of little regard with God; as places, habits, gestures, etc.
Apply this
First, To superstitious men, Isaiah 66:1-3.
Secondly, To Children that say a Prayer, but mind not to whom, nor what they say.

Q. 1. What is the sense and meaning of this Word [Infinity?]A. It signifies that which hath no bounds or limits, whithin which it is contained, as all created things are.
Q. 2. In how many respects is God infinite?A. God is infinite or boundless in three respects.First, In respect of the perfection of his Nature; his Wisdom, Power, and Holiness, exceed all measures and limits; as 1 Samuel 2:2. There is none Holy as the Lord, etc. Secondly, in respect of time and place; no time can measure him, Isaiah 57:15. Thus saith the high, and lofty one, that inhabiteth eternity. 1 Kings 8:27. Behold the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain thee, how much less this House which I have built? The Heaven of Heavens contains all created Beings; but not the Creator. Thirdly, In respect of his incomprehensibleness, by the understanding of all Creatures, Job 11:7. Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection?
Q. 3. If God be thus Infinite, and no understanding can comprehend him, How then is it said in 1 John 3:2. We shall see him as he is?A. The meaning is not, that glorified Saints shall comprehend God in the understandings; but that they shall have a true apprehensive Knowledge of God: and that we shall see him immediately, and not as we do now through a glass darkly.
Q. 4. What is the first Lesson to be learned from God's Infinity?A. That therefore men should tremble to sin even in secret. Psalm 139:11. If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me, even the night shall be light about me.
Q. 5. What is the second Instruction from hence?A. The second Instruction is, That there is an infinite evil in sin, objectively considered, as it is committed against an Infinite God; and therefore it deserves Eternal Punishment; and no satisfaction can possibly be made for it, but by the Blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:18. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold but — with the precious Blood of Christ.
Q. 6. What is the third Instruction from God's Infinity?A. The third Instruction is, That those who are reconciled to God in Christ need not fear his ability to perform any mercy for them; for he is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think. Ephesians 3:20. And those that are not reconciled, are in a very miserable condition, having infinite power set on work to punish them. 2 Thessalonians 1:9. Who shall be punished with everlasting Destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
Q. 7. What is the fourth Instruction from God's Infinity?A. That no place can bar the access of gracious Souls to God. They are as near him in a Dungeon, as when at Liberty; and that he knows their thoughts, when their tongues cannot utter them.

Q. 1. What is it to be Eternal as God is?A. The Eternity of God is, to be without beginning, and without end, Psalm 90:2. From everlasting to everlasting thou art God.
Q. 2. How doth God's Eternity differ from the Eternity of Angels, and Human Souls?A. It differs in two respects: First, In this, That though the Angels, and the Souls of men shall have no end; yet they had a beginning, which God had not. Secondly, Our Eternity is by gift from God, or by his appointment; but his Eternity is necessary, and from his own Nature.
Q. 3. In what sense is the Covenant called an Everlasting Covenant?A. The Covenant is called and Everlasting Covenant, 2 Samuel 23:5. because the mercies of it, conveyed to Believers, as Pardon, Peace, and Salvation, are mercies that shall have no end.
Q. 4. In what sense is the Gospel Everlasting?
A. The Gospel is called the Everlasting Gospel, Revelation 14:6. because the effects thereof upon the Souls it sanctifies, will abide in them forever.
Q. 5. In what sense is the Redemption of Christ called the Eternal Redemption?A. The Redemption of Christ is called Eternal redemption in Hebrews 9:12 because those whom he redeems by his Blood shall never more come into Condemnation. John 5:24. He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.
Q. 6. Why is the last judgment of the world by Christ, called Eternal judgment?A. The last judgment is called Eternal judgment, not because God judged men from Eternity, or because the Day of Judgment shall last to Eternity; but because the consequences of it will be Everlasting joy or misery to the Souls of men; therefore it's called Eternal Judgment, Hebrews 6:2.
Q. 7. What may wicked men learn from the Eternity of God?A. Hence wicked men may seee their own misery in the perfection of it; that they will have an eternal enemy to avenge himself upon them forever, in the World to come. 2 Thessalonians 1:9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord.
Q. 8. What may good men learn from it?A. That their joy and happiness will be perfect and endless, who have the Eternal God for their portion. Psalm 16:11. In thy presence is fulness of joy, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Q. 9. What may all good men and bad learn from it?A. All men may learn three things from the Eternity of God. First, That their life is a thing of nought, compared with God. Psalm 39:5. Mine age is nothing before thee. Secondly, That sins, or duties, long since committed, or performed, are all present before God. Thirdly, That God can never want opportunity to do his work, and carry on his designs in the world. All time is in the hand of the Eternal God. Revelation 12:12. The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

Of God's Unchangeableness
Q. 1. What Scriptures plainly assert this Attribute?A. Exodus 3;14. And God said unto Moses, I AM that I AM. Daniel 6:26. For he is the living God, and steadfast forever. James 1:17. With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Q. 2. Whence doth God's Immutability flow?A. The Immutability of God flows from the perfection of his Nature, to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken away. If anything could be added to make him better than he is; or if anything could be taken away, to make him less good that he is, then he were not the chiefest Good, and consequently not God.
Q. 3. By what other argument prove you his Immutability?A. I prove it from the Eternity of God. If God be Eternal, he must be Immutable; for if he change by addition of something to him he had not before, then there is something in God which he had not from Eternity. And if he change by diminution, then there was something in God from Eternity, which now is not; but from Everlasting to Everlasting he is the same God, and therefore changeth not.
Q. 4. But it is said, God repents, and Repentance is a change; How then is he Unchangeable, and yet repents?A. In those Phrases God speaks to us, as we must speak of, and to him; not properly, but after the manner of men; and it only notes a change in his outward Providence, not in his Nature.
Q. 5. But how could God become man, and yet no change be made in him?A. There is a twofold change, one active, made by God, that we allow. He made a change upon our Nature by uniting it to Christ; but a passive change made upon God, we deny. The Nature of man was made more excellent, but the Divine Nature was still the same.
Q. 6. What is the first Instruction from God's Immutability?A. That those that are most unchangeable in holiness, are most like God. Let him that is holy, be holy still.
Q. 7. What is the second Instruction from hence?A. That the happiness of God's people is firm, and sure, being still upon the word of an unchangeable God. Malachi 3:6. For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Hebrews 6:18.
Q. 8. What is the third Instruction from this attribute?A. That the hopes of all wicked men are vain, being built upon a presumption, that God will not deal with them as he hath threatened he will do.
Q. 9. What is the last Instruction from God's Immutability?A. That Christians may take as much encouragement now from the nature, word, and providence of God, as the Saints in any former Generation did, or might do; for he is the same now, he was then.

Of God's Wisdom
Q. 1. How manifold is the Wisdom of God?A. There is a personal and essential wisdom of God; the personal wisdom os the Son of God. 1 Corinthians 1:24. Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Colossians 2:3. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The essential wisdom of God, is the essence of God; of which this Question speaks.
Q. 2. What is the Essential wisdom of God?A. The Essential wisdom of God, is his most exact and perfect knowledge of himself, and all his Creatures, and his ordering and disposing them in the most convenient manner, to the Glory of his own Name. Ephesians 1:11. According to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.
Q. 3. What is the first property of God's Wisdom?A. The first property is, he is only wise. Romans 16:27. To God only wise be glory. And whatsoever wisdom is in Angels, or Men, is all derived, and borrowed from God; but his from none. Isaiah 40:14.With whom took he counsel? And who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?
Q. 4. What is the second property of God's Wisdom?A. The second property is, That he is incomprehensible in his wisdom. Romans 11:33-34. Oh the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, etc.
Q. 5. What is the third property of the wisdom of God?A. The third property is, That God is perfectly wise, which no Creatures, no not the very Angels in Heaven are. Job 4:18. And his Angels he chargeth with folly.
Q. 6. What is the most glorious display and eminent discovery of the wisdom of God?A. The most glorious display of the wisdom of God was in the work of our Redemption by Jesus Christ. Colossians 2:3. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 1 Corinthians 1:24. Christ the wisdom of God.
Q. 7. What is the first Instruction from God's wisdom?A. The first instruction is, That God is a fit object of our trust, dependance, and resignation. Isaiah 30:18. And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you; and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of judgement; blessed are all they that wait for him.
Q. 8. What is the second Instruction from hence?A. The second instruction is, That it is a dangerous arrogancy in the Creature, either to prescribe unto God, and direct his Maker Job 21:22. Shall any teach God knowledge, seeing he Judgeth those that are high? Or to quarrel with his providences, as not so fit and convenient as they should be. Job 40:2. Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it.
Q. 9. What is the third Instruction from it?A. That the people of God have much reason to quiet, and encourage themselves, when crafty and subtle Enemies surround them. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man. 1 Corinthians 1:25.
Q. 10. What is the fourth Instruction from God's wisdom?A. The fourth instruction is, That the true way to wisdom, is to be sensible of our own folly. 1 Corinthians 3:18. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. And to apply ourselves by prayer to God the fountain of it. James 1:5. If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God.
Q. 11. What is the last Instruction from God's wisdom?A. That the study of Christ, and of the Scriptures, is to be preferred to all other studies in the world. Colossians 2:3. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom, and knowledge: And the Scriptures contain all that Wisdom which is for our salvation. 1 Corinthians 2:7. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world, unto our glory.

The rest of God's attributes we'll cover next week!

12 May 2007

Matthew 24 Conclusion

The Fig Tree

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Matthew 24: 32-33

So, what can we learn? Hopefully we can learn what the disciples were to learn. This parable the lesson the the unpleasant events foretold by Jesus were but precursors. Precursors of the New Covenant where all men are beckoned by the Gospel. With Judaism gone, there is no longer any hindrance to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The events that Jesus has just described should not have discouraged but rather encouraged the disciples. Summer was drawing near and it was time for rejoicing.

The Time Text

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Matthew 24:34.

We have come to the focal point of the study of Matthew 24 - the time text. This text reveals to us the people who will witness the events described by our Lord. Let's review from part 1 of our study why this generation means this generation. (Remember that our Dispensational friends would have us believe that generation actually means race.) First, the text warrants it. Throughout this study we've seen that the events recorded actually took place within the time frame of a generation. A generation in biblical terms is roughly 40 years:

Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: (Psalm 95:10).

Secondly, no where else in Matthew's Gospel can the word generation mean anything but generation. This can be verified by reviewing the pertinent passages. They are 1:17; 11:16; 12:39-45; 16:4; 17:17; and 23:36. Thirdly, in 26:64 we read, Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Jesus here is informing the Pharisees that they will see him coming in judgment. That certainly, is within a generation of the Olivet discourse. Hence, we can be quite confident with this abundance of evidence that Jesus was most certainly referring to the generation then living.

The Transition Text

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Matthew 24:36.

With the beginning of vs. 36, Jesus changes the subject of His discourse from the destruction of Jerusalem to His second advent. This is where many commentators begin to disagree.

Many feel that chapter 24 and much of 25 refer only to the destruction of Jerusalem and the events preceeding it and others believe there is a decisive change in subject. I tend to agree with the latter. Let me lay out a few reasons why I follow this particular interpretation.

First, Ken Gentry points out that vs. 34 appears to be a concluding statement. it would seem unlikely that our Lord would put a concluding statement in the middle of His discourse unless the following statements relate to a different issue. It is more probable then, that what is described previous to vs. 34 would be of a different subject then what follows vs. 36. Secondly, if we contrast what is before vs. 36 and what follows we find some notable differences:

Before verse 36
False Christs and prophets Life is normal
Wars and rumors of wars
Famines and earthquakes
Sign of the abomination Lack of signs
People urges to flee when its seen
"All these things" will take place during the generation then living.
Christ speaks in specifics

After verse 36
Life is normal. "Eating & drinking" etc.
Lack of signs
"But of that day and hour no one knows." A delay is implied See also Matthew 24:28; 25:5; 25:19.
Christ speaks in generalities


As we can see, we really do have an Eschatology of Victory as the title of Kik's book proclaims. Not one of defeat as the dispensational touts. We have cause to rejoice in our salvation. With the demise of Old Covenant Judaism, a new era was ushered in and exists today to provide salvation for all men.

This study was meant to be introductory only. It was intended to be a primer to those who have never studied through this passage. My hope is that those readers who have been following along and new to studying this portion of Scripture will continue to study and gain knowledge on this important passage.

11 May 2007

They're Just Not Trusted

Wow, Atheists aren't trusted. Imagine that. Read about it here. Interesting that they are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry. Wow, that's hard to believe, too, huh? Just where do they come up with this stuff?
Photo credit.

Another perspective on tattooing

Some good observations by Andrew Sandlin on tattoos can be found here. In answer to his last question, The Biblical issue, it seems, therefore, is not NT discontinuity with the OT, but whether Lev. 19:28 parallels today’s tattooing practice, I would argue that Lev. 19:28 does not mirror or parallel today's modern practice of tattooing and even if it did I believe this falls under the ceremonial law which has been abrogated.

08 May 2007

Westminster Wednesday

And time for another installment of Westminster Wednesday.

Q&A #3:
Q:What do the scriptures principally teach?
A: The scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

John Flavel's Exposition on the Catechism states:
Q. 1. Why is Faith conjoined with Obedience, and put before it?
A. Because Faith is the principle from whence all Obedience flows, and no man can perform any duty aright in the estate of unbelief. Hebrews 11:6. But without Faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God, must believe that he is.
Q. 2. Can there be no saving Faith where the Scriptures are not known and preached?
A. No; for the Apostle saith, Romans 10:14. How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a Preacher? and how shall they preach without they be sent? And v. 7. So then, Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Q. 3. Are not we bound to believe what learned men teach us, as Points of Faith, though the things they teach be not contained in the word of God?
A. No; if the things they teach be not contained expressly, or by necessary consequence in the Word of God, we are not obliged to believe them as points of Faith. Isaiah 8:20. To the Law, and to the Testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Galatians 1:8. Though we, or an Angel from Heaven preach any other Gospel unto you, than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. And Christ hath charged us, Matthew 23:10. To call no man Master, for one is your Master, even Christ.
Q. 4. Are there some things in Scripture more excellent than others; because it's said, the Scriptures principally teach Matters of Faith and Duty?
A. Every part of Scripture is alike pure. Proverbs 30:5. Every word of God is pure, and of equal Authority, but not of equal weight; as several pieces of Gold are alike pure, and of the same stamp, but not of equal value.
Q. 5. What may be inferred hence for use?
A. First, Hence 'tis our duty to examine what we hear, by the Word, and not receive any Doctrine, because men confidently affirm it, but because the Scriptures require it. Acts 17:11. These were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so. Secondly, That Christian Religion is not notional, but practical; and that impractical faith saves no man. James 2:20. Faith without Works is dead.

How can we ever improve on that? We can't, no need to even try.

From Matthew Henry we read:
1. Is it necessary that we have a faith concerning God? Yes: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Hebrews 11:6. Can we have that faith without being taught? No: for how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? Romans 10:14. And have they not heard? Yes: verily their sound went into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world, Romans 10:18.
2. Is not the knowledge of God a great privilege? Yes: for this is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, John 17:3. Is it not the best knowledge? Yes: for the knowledge of the holy is understanding, Proverbs 9:10. Does the Scripture teach us that knowledge? Yes: for if we receive those words, and hide those commandments with us, then shall we understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God, Proverbs 2:1, 5.
3. Do not the works of creation prove that there is a God? Yes: for we understand by the things that are made his eternal power and godhead, Romans 1:20. And do not the works of providence prove it? Yes: for verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth, Psalm 58:11 But do not the Scriptures tell us best what God is? Yes: for no man hath seen God at any time, the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him, John 1:18.
4. Are we all concerned to get the knowledge of God? Yes: we should all know him, from the least even to the greatest, Hebrews 8:11. Must children get that knowledge ? Yes: I write unto you, little children, because you have known the Father, 1 John 2:13. And must we all grow in that knowledge? Yes: we must follow on to know the Lord, Hosea 6:3.
5. Are we to believe what the Scripture reveals concerning God? Yes: for these things are written that we may believe, John 20:31. And must we believe all that the Scripture reveals? Yes: Believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets, Acts 24:14. Must we believe that which is not revealed? No : for the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2:11.
6. Does God require duty of man ? Yes: for unto man He said, Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil, that is understanding, Job 28: 28. Is it enough to believe the truth revealed, if we do not the duty that is required? No: for faith without works is dead, James 2: 26. Is it enough to do the duty required, though we do not believe the truth revealed ? No: for he that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, 1 John 5:10.
7. Does the Scripture teach us what duty God requires? Yes: He has showed thee what the Lord thy God requires of thee, Mic. 6: 8. And must we do the duty that the Scripture teaches? Yes: we must observe to do according to all that is written therein, and not turn from it to the right hand, or to the left, Josh. 1:7. Must this obedience always accompany faith ? Yes: for they which have believed in God must be careful to maintain good works, Tit. 3: 8.

05 May 2007

Matthew 24 Part 10

A Great Trumpet and the Elect

And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:31

So far, we have seen how words and phrases can have their origins from the Old Testament. Certainly, Christ used the same arrangement in vs. 31. The the New Testament however trumpets are often associated with the heralding of the end of time. For example, in 1 Thes. 4:16 we read, For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Here and in 1 Cor. 15:52, we read of trumpets declaring the end of time. These verses are often sighted by dispensationalists to assert that the text of Matthew 24 does indeed refer to the end of time. Despite this seeming clarification of the use of trumpets, a more equitable assessment can again be derived by referring to the Old Testament.

It is more plausible, as well as consistent with the context that the trumpet is in reference to the Year of Jubilee in Lev. 25. The significance of the Year of Jubilee can be found in Is. 61:1-2. In Luke 4:17-21, Jesus read the Isaiah passage to those present and then stated in vs. 21, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. The Year of Jubilee was a foreshadowing of Christ's work which confirmed by Christ in this verse. In fact, the Hebrew word for jubilee means shout or blast. After this trumpet blast His angels joyfully will gather the elect, declaring freedom from sin by the work of Christ on the cross.

The Greek word for angel here does not necessarily mean angelic being. Rather, it's meaning is messenger. The messengers are those who go out and gather the elect proclaiming the good news of redemption through the cross.

These messengers are gathering the elect from the four winds. The four winds is obviously symbolic for the entire world. Other similar figurative expressions can be found in Ps. 2:27; Is. 45:22; and Luke 13:29.

J. Marcellus Kik summed up these verse marvelously when he wrote in An Eschatology of Victory, The trumpet of Matt. 24:31 indicated deliverance of universal scope, not from physical bondage but from bondage to sin and Satan. As Isaiah's reference to trumpet sounding had nothing to do with the second coming of the Lord, so one must not feel that the trumpet mentioned in the Olivet Discourse refers to the inauguration of the consummate kingdom, especially in view of our Lord's clear indication that the sounding of it was to occur within the span of the contemporary generation. The trumpet sound was figurative for announcing the time of worldwide deliverance from sin through the Gospel now at hand.
The worldwide mission to conquer the world for Christ began actually on the day of Pentecost when the Apostle Peter preached to the Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. By a study of the book of Acts and the Epistles, we know that some of these devout Jews tried to shackle the worldwide mission with forms and rituals of the Old Dispensation. But the destruction of Jerusalem forever removed the shackles of Judaism, and the message of salvation was no longer impeded by those attempting to retain the carnal ordinances. All the nations of the earth were to benefit from the coming of the Messiah and His atoning death (pg. 150).

Reinventing God?

Pastor Rick Duncan has posted on Elizabeth Edward's comments on losing her teenage son in a car accident several years ago. Pastor Rick quotes Edwards as saying, So I had to think, “What kind of God do I have that doesn't intervene—in fact, may even participate—in the death of this good boy?” I had to accept that my God was a God who promised enlightenment and salvation. And that's all. Didn't promise us protection. So, if I was going to have a God, it couldn’t be an intervening God any more. That’s the God I live with now. It’s not exactly the God I want, but it’s the God I have. Pastor Rick comments, I can’t identify with the kind of hurt she’s been through. My heart goes out to that family. We need to hurt with them. And I’m hoping that no one is trying to give them simplistic, holier-than-thou answers about God. We just have to sit with people who hurt and cry with them. They don’t need sermonettes from us. But make no mistake, in the face of unimaginable and unexplainable heartache, Elizabeth Edwards has had to reinvent God. Her God is not an intervening God who is sovereign.

Like Pastor Rick, I've never suffered a loss like this. But I've had my trials. My father died when I was only 9 and he was just 45 years old. I now have a grandson that has leukemia. And,...and,...and,... We all need to be steeped in Scripture, grow stronger in His Word, be entrenched in the truth so that when grief comes our way we can say, Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved (Ps 55:22). John Flavel has written, You read that the Word of God is the only support and relief to a gracious soul in the dark day of affliction (Ps. 119:50, 92; 2 Sam. 23:5), and that for this purpose it was written (Rom. 15:4). No rules of moral prudence, no natural remedies can perform for us that which the Word can do.

We don't need to reinvent God, we need to put our confidence in Him who is the Creator of all things. There are mercies even in the most difficult of trials.
Read the rest of Rick's post here.

I Have to Agree

I have to agree with Andrew Sandlin's position on the war. He writes, I am a foreign policy hawk, and the Center for Cultural Leadership does not oppose what it deems justifiable war. War is Hell, but some Hells are worse than others. A permanent global Hell governed by fanatical Muslims and other political fascists is worse than the temporary Hell of grief and bloodshed that inhere in a war to prevent or overthrow those fascists. I don't like the thought of myself or my children or grandchildren or any of us being under Muslim rule & I don't think this threat is taken seriously. Nevertheless, this war is needed. We must all trust God's Providence but do what is prudent. Read the rest of Sandlin's post here.

02 May 2007

J. C. Ryle on the Bible

J. C. Ryle was steeped in Scripture, it was his life so it's no surprise that he has some good advice concerning the Bible in his Thoughts For Young Men. He wrote, For another thing, determine as long as you live to make the Bible your guide and advisor. The Bible is God's merciful provision for sinful man's soul, - the map by which he must steer his course, if he would attain eternal life. All that we need to know, in order to make us peaceful, holy or happy, is there richly contained. If a young man wants to know how to begin life well, let him hear what David says, "How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word." (Ps. 119:9).

Thoughts For Young Men, pg. 53

Stornoway, Isle of Lewis

Isle of Lewis

The Isle of Lewis is a beautiful place and remains a stronghold of Reformed teaching in Scotland. I've never been there but it's high on my travel list. A.W. Pink lived there for quite some time.
To hear some outstanding sermons by the Rev. David P. Murray, minister at the Stornoway Free Church of Scotland just click here.

01 May 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Wow, it's already Wednesday again and time for Westminster Wednesday! So here we go with Q&A #2:

Q: What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A: The word of God, which is contained in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

Thomas Vincent, educated at Christ Church, Oxford, has left us an excellent commentary on the catechism. On this question he eloquently penned the following:
How do you prove the word in the Scriptures to be the word of God? Because of the power and efficacy of the Scriptures. (1.) The Scriptures are powerful to convince,and awaken, and wound the conscience. "The Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword "— Heb. 4:12. (2.) The Scriptures are powerful to convert and change the heart. "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul."— Ps. 19:7. (3.) They are powerful to quicken men out of spiritual death and deadness. "Hear, and your souls shall live."— Isaiah 55:3. "Thy Word hath quickened me."— Ps. 119:50. (4.) They are powerful to rejoice and comfort under the deepest distresses. "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart."— Ps. 19:8. The Scriptures opened and applied are made effectual to produce such powerful effects as do exceed the power of nature, and can be effected only by the power of God; which showeth that God only is the author of the Scriptures, which he would Dot so far own and honour if they were not his own. Because of the design and contrivement of the Scriptures. (1.) The design of the Scriptures is to give God all the glory; the design is not to exalt any, but to debase and empty all men, and exalt God's name and grace in the world. (2.) The marvellous contrivement ofwisdom, in finding out a way for man's recovery and salvation by Jesus Christ,when fallen by sin into such astate of misery, which no mortal brain could have invented; this doth show, not only that this contrivance was from the infinitely wise God, but also that the Scriptures, which have revealed this, are his book.8. Because the Scriptures were confirmed by miracles. We read of many miracles in the Scriptures, especially those which were wrought by Jesus Christ and his disciples, to confirm their doctrine, that it was from God; such as curing some who were born blind, raising the dead, calming the sea with a word, and many more. Now, these and the like miracles were from the immediate hand of God; and the relation we have faithfully handed down unto us, as appeareth by the writings still amongst us, of several holy men upon them and concerning them, as also by the several copies of them (which could not be forged, and not be found out) agreeing in the same relation. And as surely as God did effect those miracles, so surely is God the author of the Scriptures, which are confirmed by them.

John Flavel, my favorite Puritan, has written the following concerning this question:

What is their [the Scriptures] Authority and Efficacy on the Soul? and how doth that prove them Divine?A. Their Authority and Efficacy on the Soul, consists in three things: First, In the power they have to search and discover the secrets of men. Hebrews 5:12. The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged Sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of Soul and Spirit, of the Joints and Marrow; and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the Heart. Secondly, In their converting Efficacy, changing and renewing the Soul. Psalm 19:7. The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the Soul. Thirdly, in their cheering and restoring Efficacy, when the soul is cast down under any inward or outward trouble. Psalm 19:8. The Statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the Heart. No human Power can do such things as these. John 17:17. Sanctify them through they truth, thy word is truth.

And finally, Thomas Watson reminds us to Be exhorted to prize the written Word (Job 23:12). David valued the Word more than gold. What would the martyrs have given for a leaf of the Bible! The Word is the field where Christ the pearl of price is hid. In this sacred mine we dig, not for a wedge of gold, but for a weight of glory. The Scripture is a sacred collyrium, or eye-salve to illuminate us. 'The commandment is a lamp, and the law is light' (Prov. 6:23). The Scripture is the chart and compass by which we sail to the new Jerusalem. It is a sovereign cordial in all distresses. What are the promises but the water of life to renew fainting spirits? Is it sin that troubles? Here is a Scripture cordial. 'Iniquities prevail against me; as for our transgressions thou shalt purge them away' (Ps. 65:3); or, as it is in the Hebrew, 'thou shalt cover them.' Do outward afflictions disquiet thee? Here is a Scripture cordial. 'I will be with him in trouble' (Ps. 91:15); not only to behold, but to uphold. Thus, as in the ark manna was laid up, so promises are laid up in the ark of Scripture. The Scripture will make us wise. Wisdom is above rubies. 'By thy precepts I get understanding' (Ps. 119:104). What made Eve desire the tree of knowledge? 'It was a tree to make one wise' (Gen. 3:6). The Scriptures teach a man to know himself. They discover Satan's snares and stratagems (2 Cor. 2:11). 'They make one wise to salvation' (2 Tim. 3:15). Oh, then, highly prize the Scriptures. I have read of Queen Elizabeth, that at her coronation, she received the Bible presented to her, with both her hands, and kissing it, laid it to her breast, saying, that that book had ever been her chief delight.

How we must savor and enjoy God's Word that He has given us. With our easy access to the Word in this age we often take it far too lightly. Let us all learn to prize the written Word.