30 June 2007


I have recently posted the Psalms in an effort to give thought to the reading and meditation of God's Word, sometimes lacking in my life and indeed all of our lives. We spend far too much time running from one event to another, enjoying one hobby after another, indeed, even the busyness of service to the Lord can keep us from properly meditating on Him.

George Swinnock (1627-1673) defines meditation as "a serious applying the mind to some sacred subject, till the affections be warmed and quickened, and the resolution heightened and strengthened thereby, against what is evil, and for that which is good." This being true, we need to spend time meditating on Him, which thereby induces spiritual growth in us.

Some good reading on meditation can be found here and here. Take some time to meditate on God's goodness and mercy in our lives today. ...we would do well to heed Gurnall's plea to "retire often to muse on some soul-awakening meditations," remembering that "if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasure; then you will discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God."

29 June 2007

Psalm 6 from the Scottish Psalter

Psalm 6

To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith,A Psalm of David.

1 Lord, in thy wrath rebuke me not;
Nor in thy hot rage chasten me.
2 Lord, pity me, for I am weak:
Heal me, for my bones vexed be.

3 My soul is also vexed sore;
But, Lord, how long stay wilt thou make
4 Return, O Lord, my soul set free;
O save me, for thy mercies' sake.

5 Because those that deceased are
Of thee shall no remembrance have;
And who is he that will to thee
Give praises lying in the grave?

6 I with my groaning weary am,
I also all the night my bed
Have caused for to swim; and I
With tears my couch have watered.

7 Mine eye, consumed with grief, grows old,
Because of all mine enemies.
8 Hence from me, wicked workers all;
For God hath heard my weeping cries.

9 God hath my supplication heard,
My pray'r received graciously
10 Shamed and sore vexed be all my foes,
Shamed and back turnèd suddenly.

27 June 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Q&A #10 is up this week. Let's hit it.

Q: How did God create man?
A: God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

Genesis 1:27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Revelation 4:11. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Colossians 3:10. And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him. Ephesians 4:24. And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Genesis 1:28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
We quoted Alexander Whyte last week and I think we should do it again this week.

God created man—As if to mark off and signalize the creation of man from that of all the other creatures, there is a striking change in the manner in which the sixth day's work is recorded. Hitherto the Creator had spoken "by the word of His power," and all things immediately became as he commanded. But when we are introduced to the work of the sixth day, we discover a remarkable modification in the narrative; and instead of a creative command, as on the preceding days, there is heard the language rather of counsel, deliberation, and resolution. The Creator now speaks as if a work was about to be wrought altogether distinct from, and immeasurably superior to, all that had hitherto been made. For God said : "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: . . . So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him: male and female created He them." And with more detail in another place: "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." All which produces on the reader, and must have been intended to produce, the impression that man by his peculiar creation is separated off on all sides from connection with the rest of the creatures, except as completing them and being their monarch and their end. In the posture of deliberation and mutual counsel in which God reveals Himself when proceeding to create mankind; in His so signally connecting mankind with the Godhead through putting man in possession of the Divine Image; and in the royal, and, so to speak, divine position He gave Adam over all the rest of creation—in all this there was secured for man a clear and indubitable charter of his divine origin and heavenly relationship.
man—"The sense is thinking animal, from Sanskrit man, to think; the animal with mind" (Skeat).

after his own image—An image is any imitation, resemblance, or similitude of another thing. It is anything drawn, painted, sculptured, or otherwise fashioned to represent some person or thing. And such is the capacity of the word "image", that it is applied in a great number of senses, and is put to a great variety of uses, one of the noblest of which we are now to elucidate. There was a twofold act or process in the creation of man; and accordingly two substances enter into his complex constitution. "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Now in searching in man for the divine image that was impressed upon him in his creation, we at once pass beyond all that in man which was "made of the dust of the ground." For no formation of dust, not even when it is refined and elaborated into flesh and blood, can carry an impression of the image of God. It is not therefore in man's body, erect, noble, fair, beaming with intelligence and girded with strength as it is, that the divine image stands; but in his soul, in his mind and conscience and heart, or as the Catechism has it, in his "knowledge, righteousness, and holiness." At the same time, the doctrine of the divine imsge in man cannot now be fully and thoroughly studied in Adam: we must see it preserved and exhibited in a yet greater than he, if we would understand it even as it originally existed in him. We must go above Adam to Him who made him, to Him who is eternally "the express image of the Father's person." Indeed, most that we know of Adam's state before his fall, we learn afterwards from the provision made in the "second Adam" to restore and reinstate man in his lost knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and dominion.

"So then after all the other things, Moses says that man was made in the image and likeness of God. And he says well, for nothing that is born on the earth is more resembling God than man. And let no one think that he is able to judge of this likeness from the character of the body; for neither is God a being with the form of a man, nor is the human body like the form of God, but the resemblance is spoken of with reference to the most important part of the soul, namely, the mind. . . . But as it is not every image that resembles its archetypal model, since many are unlike, Moses has shown this by adding to the words, ‘after His image' the expression, ‘in His likeness,' to prove that it means an accurate impression, having a clear and evident resemblance in form" (Philo: a contemporary of our Lord).

And in a very remarkable fragment of his lost works the same writer says: "Why, then, does God use the expression, ‘In the image of God made I man,' as if He were speaking of that of some other God, and not of having made him in the likeness of Himself? This expression is used with great beauty and wisdom. For it was impossible that anything mortal should be made in the likeness of the Most High God, the Father of the universe; but it could only be made in the likeness of the Second God, who is the Word of the other; for it was fitting that the rational type in the soul of man should receive the impression of the Word of God."

"Spirits only are made in God's image, as if of His race, or as children of His house, since they only can serve Him freely, and knowingly act in imitation of the Divine Nature. One spirit alone is worth more than a whole world, since it not only expresses that world, but knows it also, and is governed in it as God orders. So that it seems, th at whilst every substance expresses the universe, other substances express the world rather than God, but spirits express God rather than the world" (Leibnitz; see Howe's Blessedness of the Righteous, chap. iv.).

in knowledge—In man as he came from the hand of God, there was a rich fountain of knowledge springing up within him. There was in him a deep well of intuitional truth, which secretly filled his understanding, and heart, and conscience. God has all knowledge by intuition, by direct and immediate vision; and He made man in His own image in this respect, that man had immediately and intuitionally a knowledge of God, and duty, and doubtless of many other things that we now have to toil painfully after if we would attain to it. Men learned in the matters of the mind assure us that there is still a deep well of intuitional truth, a fountain of innate ideas that opens spontaneously in every human soul. Our father Adam drank of this well, and in spite of all that has been done to choke it, it still rises within the soul. The Light that shone so fully on Adam at his creation, still lighteth every man that cometh into the world. "Adam's heart was the common ark of mankind, and though the tables be lost, yet our ignorance doth not make the law of none effect. For the law of nature for ever binds; that is, all that was written in Adam's heart, because it was thereby then published in him, and to him for us" (Goodwin).

righteousness—In etymology and in fact, righteousness means rectitude, obedience. Righteousness is a relation, a relation of conformity in all respects to the law under which any one is made subject. And accordingly the text teaches that man was created in the most perfect conformity to the moral law, under which as a creature of God be was for ever to live. Measured immediately on his creation by that divine law, man was pronounced by His Maker and Lawgiver and Judge "very good." It is in this sense that our divines speak of Adam's "natural justification."

and holiness—For the root and original meaning of this noble and inward word, see Answer 4.
Man's original righteousness and holiness corresponded somewhat to his justification and sanctification in his redeemed and evangelical estate. His holiness, if it is possible to say so, was something more personal, more inward, and more spiritual than even his righteousness. His holiness was, and was to be, the hidden root of his outward righteousness; his root and sap and fatness as a tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. He would stand in righteousness, in fruitfulness, and in acceptance only as his holiness was preserved unimpaired and untainted. Bengel seems to favour this distinction when he says that righteousness corresponds to the Divine Will; holiness, as it were, to the whole of the Divine Nature. "The parts of the image of God impressed on man's soul were knowledge on his mind, righteousness on his will, and holiness on his affections" (Boston). On what it is that constitutes holiness, see a characteristically clear and powerful discussion in Jonathan Edwards' Religious Affections, Part iii. sect. iii.

dominion over the creatures. This last feature or accompaniment of the Divine Image is borrowed in as many words from God's fatherly and "prolifical benediction" pronounced over Adam and Eve: ‘‘And God blessed them, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" (see Psalm 8.).
"God appointed man lord of the world, and this authority was given to Adam's posterity as well as to himself. And hence we infer what was the end for which all things were created, namely, that none of the conveniences and necessaries of life should be wanting to man. In the very order of the creation the paternal solicitude of God for man is conspicuous, because he furnished the world with all things needful, and even with an immense profusion of wealth, before he formed man. Thus man was rich before he was born. But if God had such care for us before we existed, He will by no means leave us destitute of food and other necessaries of life, now that He has placed us in this world. And if He often keeps His hand closed toward us, to what is this to be imputed but to our sins?" (Calvin).

And here's this week's Q&A in Scots Gaelic:

Cionnas a chruthaich Dia an duine?
Chruthaich Dia an duine, fear agus bean, a rèir a iomhaigh fèin, ann an eòlas, fìreantachd, agus naomhachd, le uachdaranachd os ceann nan creutairean

Renegalia 6-27-07

It's been a busy week at the Renegade household filled with trips to the Ohio Scottish Games, seeing our grandson and a good case of the stomach flu for both me and Mrs. Renegade. As Summer is upon us the 3.5 of you that read the blog daily will notice that the posts will not be as frequent. Things will pick up again as Summer ends.

19 June 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Hitting #8 & 9 this week. Let’s get to it.

Q: How doth God execute his decrees?
A: God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence

Q: What is the work of creation?
A: The work of creation is, God's making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.

From Alexander Whyte we read:

creatlon—The act of creating: especially the divine act of bringing all things beyond the Divine Nature into existence. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
"Chaos heard His voice: him all his trainFollowed in bright succession to beholdCreation, and the wonders of His might."—Milton

"In brief, all things are artificial; for Nature is the art of God" (Religio Medici).

out of nothing—"The clause ‘out of nothing' is vital in defining a creative act "(Shedd). This is directed against those ancient heathen speculations which taught that matter was eternal: that there were two necessary and eternal beings, God and matter. But it is the teaching of the Bible and of the Catechism that there is only one necessary and eternal Being, and that He is the absolute Creator of everything beyond Himself. On Romans 11:36, Goodwin remarks: "Not so much as a first matter was existing to His hands." And in his extraordinarily able and suggestive treatise, Of the Creatures, he says: "All things were once nothing, and all afflictions and miseries are smaller vacillations or reelings of the creatures toward their first nothing. . . . The whole creation is built upon a quagmire of nothing, and is continually ready to sink into it, and to be swallowed up by it, which maketh the whole or any part of it to quake and quiver when God is angry, as Jeremiah then did (10:24)."

"The Divine Father, by the strange fecundity of His omnipotent power, first made the clay out of nothing, and then made man out of that" (Pearson). For a refutation of the Aristotelian maxim, that out of nothing nothing can be produced, see Pearson, Art. i.

in the space of six days—See Cruden's analysis under day.

"According to the commonly received chronology, our globe has existed only a few thousand years. According to geologists, it must have existed for countless ages. And again, according to the generally received interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis, the process of creation was completed in six days; whereas geology teaches that it must have been in progress through periods of time that cannot be computed. . . . It is of course admitted that, taking this account by itself, it would be most natural to understand the word day in its ordinary sense; but if that sense brings the Mosaic account into conflict with facts, and another sense avoids such conflict, then it is obligatory on us to adopt that other. Now it is urged that if the word ‘day' be taken in the sense of ‘an indefinite period of time,' a sense which it undoubtedly has in other parts of Scripture, there is not only no discrepancy between the Mosaic account of the creation and the assumed facts of geology, but there is a marvellous coincidence between them" (Hodge).

Immediate are the acts of God, more swift
Than time or motion: but to human ears
Cannot without process of speech be told;
So told as earthy notion can receive."—Milton

all very good. Manes (whence Manichaism), a Persian philosopher, taught the dualistic doctrine of creation. He held that there are two eternal principles or powers, the one good and the other evil; and that all creation, visible and invisible, material and spiritual, has sprung from those two sources. Those two sources, so ran the dualistic doctrine, were eternally and essentially contrary the one to the other, wherefore they were named light and darkness, good and evil, God and matter. This doctrine worked much mischief in patristic times: Augustine's early life was devoted to its promulgation, and the doctrines he preached were only too well illustrated in his life. The Bible doctrine of creation overturns all such speculation. "The being of God is a kind of law to His working: for that perfection which God is giveth perfection to that He doth" (Hooker).

16 June 2007

Psalm 31

Psalm 31

1In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.
2Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me.
3For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.
4Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.
5Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

13 June 2007

Calvin on Psalm 104:15

I have been debating a fellow at another blog about drinking and rather than continue on there I thought I would post something about it here. He made a few points, none of them biblical but all based on personal prejudices. He can’t seem to understand that just because someone has a drink doesn’t mean he will get drunk. He infers that after the first drink (which is not a sin) its then easier to have the second and third and then you’re drunk (which is a sin). It doesn’t work that way. He points out that if I am Reformed then I should know that all should be done to the glory of God. Amen! I agree with that.

Let’s look at what John Calvin has to say concerning this in his commentary on Psalm 104:15:

And wine that cheereth the heart of man. In these words we are taught, that God not only provides for men’s necessity, and bestows upon them as much as is sufficient for the ordinary purposes of life, but that in his goodness he deals still more bountifully with them by cheering their hearts with wine and oil. Nature would certainly be satisfied with water to drink; and therefore the addition of wine is owing to God’s superabundant liberality. The expression, and oil to make his face to shine, has been explained in different ways. As sadness spreads a gloom over the countenance, some give this exposition, That when men enjoy the commodities of wine and oil, their faces shine with gladness. Some with more refinement of interpretation, but without foundation, refer this to lamps. Others, considering the letter î, mem to be the sign of the comparative degree, take the meaning to be, that wine makes men’s faces shine more than if they were anointed with oil. But the prophet, I have no doubt, speaks of unguents, intimating that God not only bestows upon men what is sufficient for their moderate use, but that he goes beyond this, giving them even their delicacies.

So, it is lawful and indeed an added blessing, if you will, to enjoy the gift of wine. God wants us to enjoy wine, it’s explicit in this verse. How can someone argue that? God gives us what we need and then even more.

Calvin continues:
The words in the last clause, and bread that sustains man’s heart, I interpret thus:...“Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof;”for if we give full scope to the desires of the flesh, there will be no bounds. As God bountifully provides for us, so he has appointed a law of temperance, that each may voluntarily restrain himself in his abundance. He sends out oxen and asses into pastures, and they content themselves with a sufficiency; but while furnishing us with more than we need, he enjoins upon us an observance of the rules of moderation, that we may not voraciously devour his benefits; and in lavishing upon us a more abundant supply of good things than our necessities require, he puts our moderation to the test. The proper rule with respect to the use of bodily sustenance, is to partake of it that it may sustain, but not oppress us. The mutual communication of the things needful for the support of the body, which God has enjoined upon us, is a very good check to intemperance; for the condition upon which the rich are favored with their abundance is, that they should relieve the wants of their brethren. As the prophet in this account of the divine goodness in providence makes no reference to the excesses of men, we gather from his words that it is lawful to use wine not only in cases of necessity, but also thereby to make us merry. This mirth must however be tempered with sobriety, first, that men may not forget themselves, drown their senses, and destroy their strength, but rejoice before their God, according to the injunction of Moses, (Leviticus 23:40;) and, secondly, that they may exhilarate their minds under a sense of gratitude, so as to be rendered more active in the service of God. He who rejoices in this way will also be always prepared to endure sadness,whenever God is pleased to send it. That rule of Paul ought to be kept in mind, (Philippians 4:12,) “I have learned to abound, — I have learned to suffer want.”

So here we see that when God so blesses us we are not to over indulge, i.e., get drunk. With blessing comes responsibility. God has given us wine to “make us merry. This mirth must however be tempered with sobriety, first, that men may not forget themselves, drown their senses, and destroy their strength, but rejoice before their God, according to the injunction of Moses, (Leviticus 23:40;).” Well said! Thus, it is not a forgone conclusion that drinking, sooner or later, will lead to drunkenness or even to just one episode of drunkenness. When we drink we are to employ self-control. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that if you do not drink, then you are missing out on an intended blessing from God. Perhaps its time for the non-drinking Christian crowd to re-think their non drinking position.

What better way to end this post then with the conclusion of Calvin's commentary on this verse:

Moreover, when men have been carefully taught to bridle their lust, it is important for them to know, that God permits them to enjoy pleasures in moderation, where there is the ability to provide them; else they will never partake even of bread and wine with a tranquil conscience; yea, they will begin to scruple about the tasting of water, at least they will never come to the table but in fearfulness. Meanwhile, the greater part of the world will wallow in pleasures without discrimination, because they do not consider what God permits them; for his fatherly kindness should be to us the best mistress to teach us moderation.

12 June 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Let’s hit #7 this week.

Q: What are the decrees of God?
A: The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

From The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly Explained and Proved from Scripture by Thomas Vincent we read,

Q. 1. What is it for God to decree?
A. For God to decree, is eternally to purpose and fore-ordain, to appoint and determine, what things shall be.
Q. 2. How did God decree things that come to pass?
A. God decreed all things according to the counsel of his will; according to his will, and therefore most freely-according to the counsel of his will, and therefore most wisely. "Being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will."— Eph. 1:11.
Q. 3. Wherefore did God decree all things that come to pass?
A. God decreed all things for his own glory.
Q. 4. What sorts are there of God's decrees?
A. There are God's general decrees, and God's special decrees.
Q. 5. What are God's general decrees?
A. God's general decrees are his eternal purpose, whereby he hath fore-ordained whatever comes to pass; not only the being of all creatures which he doth make, but also all their motions and actions; not only good actions, which he doth effect, but also the permission of all evil actions. "Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."— Eph. 1:11. "Against thy holy child Jesus, Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel , were gathered together, for to do whatever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done."— Acts 4:27-28.
Q. 6. What are God's special decrees?
A. God's special decrees are his decrees of predestination of angels and men, especially his decrees of election. and reprobation of men.
Q. 7. What is God's decree of election of men?
A. God's decree of election of men, is his eternal and unchangeable purpose, whereby, out of his mere good pleasure, he hath in Christ chosen some men unto everlasting life and happiness, as the end, and unto faith and holiness, as the necessary means in order hereunto, for the praise of his most rich and free grace. "According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love, being predestinated according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace."— Eph. 1:6. "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."— 2 Thess. 2:13.
Q. 8. What is God's decree of reprobation of men?
A. God's decree of reprobation, is his eternal purpose (according to his sovereignty, and the unsearchable counsel of his own will) of passing by all the rest of the children of men who are not elected, and leaving them to perish in their sins, unto the praise of the power of his wrath and infinite justice, in their everlasting punishment. "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction ?"— Rom 9:21-22.
Q. 9. Whence is it that God doth decree the election of some, and the reprobation of others, of the children of men?
A. It was neither the good works foreseen in the one which moved him to choose them, nor the evil works foreseen in the other which moved him to pass them by; but only because he would, he choose some, and because he would not, he did not choose the rest, but decreed to withhold that grace which he was nowise bound to give unto them, and to punish them justly for their sins, as he might have punished all, if he had so pleased. " The children being not yet born, neither having done good nor evil, that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand, Rot of works, but of him that calleth, it was said, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. For he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardeneth."— Rom. 9:11, 13, 19.
Q. 10. May any know whether they are elected or reprobated in this life?
A. 1. Those who are elected, may know their election by their effectual calling. "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure."— 2 Pet. 1:10. But, 2. None can know certainly in this life (except such as have sinned against the Holy Ghost) that they are reprobated, because the greatest sinners (except such as have committed that sin) may be called. "Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor thieves," &c.,"shall inherit the kingdom of God : and such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."— 1 Cor. 6:9-11. And we read of some called at the eleventh hour.— Matt. 20:6-7.

Numbers 8 & 9 are a hard pill to swallow for some. They see this as describing God as some kind of ogre, making unfair judgments – saving some and not others. Four point Calvinists fall into the realm. Conversely, we should see this as very humbling that God chose us before time began and not because any of us deserve His choosing but rather we were chosen simply out of His good providence. This should give his elect cause for rejoicing. Let’s face it, if we had the power to “make a decision for Christ” we would not make it. We do not understand the depths of our sin. If indeed we did have the power to chose or not chose Christ then we have the power and not God. Therefore I have no desire to serve a god that has less power than I do for he is no god at all. Let us therefore rejoice in our salvation for it only comes from our Lord.

10 June 2007

So, What Do We Sing, Then?

John Frame, in his book Worship In Spirit and Truth, makes the following suggestion for worship music as it relates to the CWM movement, The younger generations should learn to sympathize with this sense of loss and to accommodate their desires to the spiritual needs of their father and mothers in Christ. But the opposite is also true: if the older do not bend somewhat, the younger will be deprived of their own language of worship - those forms of God's word intelligible to them, by which they can best grow in Christ. In this respect, both sides should defer to one another in love, in the Spirit of Christ (Matthew 20:20-26).

I once attended a church that accomplished this mix very well. Often the hymns were updated but at times they were sung as written. More than half the songs were contemporary and played with keyboards, guitars and drums (and often myself on harmonica, too).

Again Frame comments, To those who object to the use of guitars and drums in worship, I would comment that the instruments mentioned in the psalm headings look more like modern guitars and percussion than modern pianos and organs. I do not believe that we are limited to the instruments mentioned in Scripture, but in considering how to set hymns to music, the biblical instrumentation can give us some clues.

God's praise also included, as we have seen, dance and clapping. Some texts urge us to praise God with a loud noise or shout (Pss. 33:3: 98:4; 100:1), or with "resounding cymbals" (Ps. 150:5). God's approach is typically accompanied by loud noises (see Ex. 19:16; Is 6:4). From these data, and from instruments mentioned above, I would conclude that the ancient music was often strongly rhythmic and loud. ...Yet there are Psalms, and parts of Psalms, which by the nature of their words seem to demand a more quiet setting, such as Ps 23; 46:10; 131:1-3.

So, we see that music is varied and wisdom is required to determine how to use music in a worship setting.

Remembering the key text in all of this is 1 Cor 14, we should make wise choices in worship music so that no one is left out and the language of music is understandable to all who may attend.

1 Cor. 14:24-25
But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

09 June 2007

Mercy - A Prayer For a Sabbath Eve

Torrin, Isle of Skye, Scotland

O holy God, make me such a creature as thou canst
take pleasure in,
and such a being that I can take pleasure in thee.
May I consent to and delight in thy law
after the inner man,
Never complain over the strictness of thy demands,
but mourn over my want of conformity to them;
never question thy commandments,
but esteem them to be right.
By thy Sprit within me
may my practice spring from principle, and
my disposition be comfortable with duty.

From The Valley of Vision, pg. 171

Photo Credit

04 June 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Bass Rock

Let's forge ahead to Q&A #6:

Q: How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A: There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

Thomas Vincent lays this out as clear and as concise as anyone ever has (take note on #10):
Q. 1. What is meant by the Godhead?A. By the Godhead is meant the divine nature or essence. Q. 2. Are there three divine natures or essences, or are there three Gods?A. No; for though the three persons be God, the Father God, the Son God, and the Holy Ghost God, yet they are rot three Gods, but one God. The essence of God is the same in all the three persons. "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word [that is, the Son], and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one."— 1 John 5:7.
Q. 3 What is meant by the three persons in the Godhead?A. By the three persons in the Godhead, we are to. understand the same nature of God with three ways of subsisting, each person having its distinct personal properties.
Q. 4. What is the personal property of the Father?A. The personal property of the Father is to beget the Son, and that from all eternity. "Unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever."— Heb. 1:5, 8.
Q. 5. What is the personal property of the Son?A. The personal property of the Son is to be begotten of the Father. "We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father."— John 1:14.
Q. 6. What is the personal property of the Holy Ghost?A. The personal property of the Holy Ghost is to proceed from the Father and the Son. "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me."— John 15:26.
Q. 7. How doth it appear that the Father is God?A. Because the Father is the original of the other persons, and of every thing else, and because divine attributes and worship are ascribed to him.
Q. 8. How doth it appear that the Son is God?A. 1. Because he is called God in the Scriptures. "And the Word was God."— John 1:1. "Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever."— Rom. 9:5. 2. Because the attributes of God are ascribed unto him. Eternity. "Before Abraham was, I am."— John 8:58. Omniscience. "Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee."— John 21:17. Omnipresence. "Where two or three are gathered together in my liame, there am I in the midst of them."— Matt. 18:20. Divine power. "He uphoideth all things by the word of his power."— Heb. 1:3.3. Because the honour and worship which is due only to God, do belong to him. In him we must believe. "Believe also in me."— John 14:1. In his name we must be baptized. "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. "— Matt. 28:19. Upon his name we must call. "With all that call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."— 1 Cor. 1:2. Because if the Son were not God, he could not have been a fit Mediator.
Q. 9. How doth it appear that the Holy Ghost is God?A. 1. Because the Holy Ghost is called God. "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost! Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God "— Acts 5:3-4. 2. Because the attributes of God are ascribed unto him. Omnipresence. "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit I"— Ps. 139:7. Especially, he is present in the hearts of all believers. "He dwelleth in you, and shall be in you." — John 14:17. Omniscience. "The Spirit searcheth all things."— 1 Cor. 2:10. 3. Because of the powerful works of the Spirit, which none but God can effect: such as— Regeneration. "Except a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."— John 3:5. Guiding believers into all truth. "Howbeit, when the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you jute all truth."— John 16:13. Sanctification. "That the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost."— Rom. 15:16. Comfort, called therefore the Comforter. "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me."— John 15:26. Communion. "The communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all"— 2 Cor. 13:14. 4. Because the honour and worship due only to God, do belong unto the Spirit, we must believe in him. This is an article of the creed (commonly called the Apostles' Creed), "I believe in the Holy Ghost." We must be baptized in his name. "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."— Matt. 28:19.
Q. 10. How doth it appear that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, being one God, are three distinct persons?A. 1. The Father begetting, is called a person in the Scripture.— Heb. 1:3. Christ is said to be the express image of his person; and by the same reason, the Son begotten of the Father, is a person, and the Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son is a person. 2. That the Father and the Son are distinct persons, is evident from John 18:16-18 "I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself; and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me." 3. That the Holy Ghost is a distinct person from the Father and the Son, appeareth from John 14:16-17. "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth," &c. 4. That the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three distinct persons, in one essence, may be gathered from 1 John 5:7. "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. These three are either three substances, or three manifestations, or three persons, or something else besides persons; but— (l.) They are not three substances, because in the same verse they are called one. (2.) They are not three manifestations, because all the attributes of God are manifestations, and so there would be more than three or thirteen; and then one manifestation would be said to beget and send another, which is absurd. (3.) They are not something else besides persons; therefore, they are three distinct persons, distinguished by their relations and distinct personal properties.
Q. 11. What should we Judge of them that deny that there are three distinct persons in one Godhead?A. 1. We ought to judge them to be blasphemers, because they speak against the ever-glorious God, who hath Set forth himself in this distinction in the Scripture. 2. To be damnable heretics; this doctrine of the distinction of persons in the unity of essence being a fundamental truth, denied of old by the Sabellians, Arians, Photineans and of late by the Socinians, who were against the Godhead of Christ the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; amongst whom the Quakers are also to be numbered, who deny this distinction.

As Vincent notes, They are not three substances. Thus, we can rule out any analogy that attempts to explain the Trinity has been used such as the one about its the same as steam, water & ice or the three leaf clover. These are ridiculous. We must must explain the Godhead in the best terms possible and yet remember that our understanding is finite. We will never be able to comprehend the Godhead fully. Faith must be our guide and Scripture the ultimate teacher.

03 June 2007

Not Again....?

For the second time I find myself writing about cussing preachers. First, it was Piper who said ass during a lecture. Now we have Chuck Swindoll who has said, crap, buns, heck and balls. Oh no, what is this world coming to if Swindoll uses this language? Read the article here. For crying out loud, it was during a talk to men titled, Male Leadership 101. Someone is finally communicating to men on their level, i.e., humorously (not with vulgarity) and he is being punished for it. VCY Radio has pulled the plug on Insight For Living. I'm not a big fan of Swindoll's but here is a respected guy talking to the average Joe on the street on his level. It's just another case of men being excluded. We're never going to reach men if we don't start communicating with them where they're at. I'm not suggesting any of us tell off-color jokes about prostitutes or drop the f-bomb in every sentence. But reading the quotes in this article made me laugh. We'll do far better by being genuine with men then by using god-talk. God-talk will scare men away faster than anything. Read the article, laugh and thank our good Lord for giving us humor.

And, for what it's worth, Swindoll's story on his prostrate exam was hilarious.

John Frame on the Regulative Principle and Music

Continuing on from the post on 5-26, Contemporary Worship Music - A Starting Point, let's look at Frame's view on the Regulative Principle (RP) in so much as it relates to music in the worship service. Before we begin, Frame's basis, and I heartily agree, is 1 Cor 14. Music, as in all parts of worship, must be understandable to anyone who may join the service. So, not only the spoken word but also the music must be in the vernacular.

From the WCF 21.1, ...But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.

Frame does not deviate from the accepted and applied understanding of the confession here at 21.1. Where he would differ in understanding is in 1.6 as it would apply to 21.1. 1.6 states, ... there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed. Here there is not even agreement of past or current adherents to the confession of the definition of "circumstances." Regardless, these decisions should still be made to the Glory of God. Further he writes concerning this, ...the term best suited to describe the sphere of human judgment is not "circumstance," but "application" (pg. 41, Worship In Spirit and Truth). Applications would include issues such as Scripture instructing us to pray, but does tell us what words to pray. Scripture instructs us to meet, but not when or where. We must us our best judgment in these issues. So, some issues are and some are not common to human actions and societies. Hence, the RP for worship applies here as well. This does not give us carte blanche to do as we please in worship. We must exercise godly judgment. We must, however, recognize that Scripture draws distinctions in different situations. Such as, to use Frame's examples again, the Lord's Supper is not an common meal, if some are hungry let them eat at home, not at the worship service. He advocates that in the decision making process that we are always subject to Scripture whether about worship or any other sphere of life. Lastly, he adds, Human wisdom may never presume to add to its [Scripture] commands. The only job of human wisdom is to apply those commands to specific situations.

Carrying this into the realm of music, Scripture does not in my opinion, based again on 1 Cor. 14, define what we are to sing. Often, I believe we should sing the Psalms or other portions of the Bible, but that's based on pragmatic reasons rather than biblical. It would be great to sing the Psalms to modern music. Frame in his book Contemporary Worship Music expertly lays out his position on this.

Returning to the first principle, he rightfully claims on page 67 of WISAT, ...Scripture also tells us, and more explicitly and emphatically, that worship should be intelligible. It should be understandable, to the worshipers, and even to non-Christian visitors (1 Cor. 14, especially vv. 24-25). And intelligibility requires contemporaneity. When churches use archaic language and follow practices that are little understood today, they compromise that biblical principle.

I hope I have accurately portrayed Frame's views here. To be sure, buy the book, give it a read and let's explore this area of RP and CWM.

Lovin' the Blues

Blind Willie Johnson

As a long time lover of the blues, I found this piece at Reformation 21 engaging. Not alot of new information for someone who listens to the blues but possibly for someone who has been under the impression, like many, that the blues is the Devil's music. In The "Spirituals and the Blues," James Cone debunks the thesis that while the spirituals are church music, the blues is the Devil’s music. In some ways, as Cone readily admits, the disjuncture is legitimate. For instance, Son House was confronted with a crossroads decision: Should he take up the guitar and be a bluesman or should he pick up his Bible and be a preacher? He chose the former, but at least he sang about the latter in his song “Preachin’ Blues.” Cone quickly points out, however, how overdrawn the disjuncture is and argues instead for a symbiosis of the two. To put the matter directly, the blues wouldn’t be the blues without the spirituals. Continuing....The spirituals provided the blues artists with the musical experience out of which they could craft their art. The spirituals further provided the blues artists with the content out of which they would craft their lyrics. The spirituals were filled with hope and longing, all the while facing head on the realities of sin and the harshness of life. Faulkner titled his work on the conflicts in the Delta during the exact same decades as the birth of the blues Go Down, Moses (1942). Through the spirituals, the people of the Delta had become one with the grand story of redemption in Exodus. They had appropriated it so often that it had become their story. They also knew all too well the biblical theme of exile, a dynamic sociologists refer to as marginalization, a sterile term for oppression. Blues artists appropriated the themes of exile, bondage, and oppression (sin) against the theme of hope and promise (redemption) throughout their music. “They call it stormy Monday,” but, the song continues, “Tuesday’s just as bad, Wednesday’s even worse, Thursday’s awfully sad.” But then, “Sunday I go to church where I kneel down to pray,” adding, as if taking a line from The Book of Common Prayer, “Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy on me.” The blues artists may have left the church, but the church, and especially the spirituals, hadn’t left them. They were developing a distinct theology, a theology, like their music, that was set in a minor key.

Certainly, like many things, there are the blues today that are very far removed from what this article is describing. Yet, the root of all blues (and rock) is a theology set in a minor key. Give this piece a read and listen to some blues because...The blues invites us not only to embrace the curse but also simultaneously to embrace the cross. To see the broken made whole, the lost found. We see the exile and stranger make their way back home. “I was blind, but now I see,” goes the classic. Not through some cheap happy ending, but in the identification and the defeat of all sorrow and sin in the Man of Sorrows on the cross, the most solemn minor key ever sounded in human history. In short, the blues helps us understand what theologians call redemption, all of the realities of life under the cross.

02 June 2007

Kosmos in John 3:16

Stornoway Harbour

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

So often is the case the "world" in John 3:16 is taken as everyone in the the world. The simplist and finest explication to correct this erroneous view comes from A.W. Pink. The word kosmos from which we get our English word world in employed by Scripture in several ways. He explains:
"Kosmos" is used of the Universe as a whole: Acts 17: 24 - "God that made the world and all things therein seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth." is used of the Universe as a whole: Acts 17: 24 - "God that made the world and all things therein seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth."
"Kosmos" is used of the earth: John 13:1; Eph. 1:4, etc., etc.- "When Jesus knew that his hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world He loved them unto the end." "Depart out of this world" signifies, leave this earth. "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world." This expression signifies, before the earth was founded-compare Job 38:4 etc.
"Kosmos" is used of the world-system: John 12:31 etc. "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the Prince of this world be cast out"- compare Matt. 4:8 and I John 5:19, R. V.
"Kosmos" is used of the whole human race: Rom. 3: 19, etc.-"Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."
"Kosmos" is used of humanity minus believers: John 15:18; Rom. 3:6 "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you." Believers do not "hate" Christ, so that "the world" here must signify the world of unbelievers in contrast from believers who love Christ. "God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world." Here is another passage where "the world" cannot mean "you, me, and everybody," for believers will not be "judged" by God, see John 5:24. So that here, too, it must be the world of unbelievers which is in view. is used of humanity minus believers: John 15:18; Rom. 3:6 "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you." Believers do not "hate" Christ, so that "the world" here must signify the world of unbelievers in contrast from believers who love Christ. "God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world." Here is another passage where "the world" cannot mean "you, me, and everybody," for believers will not be "judged" by God, see John 5:24. So that here, too, it must be the world of unbelievers which is in view.
"Kosmos" is used of Gentiles in contrast from Jews: Rom. 11:12 etc. "Now if the fall of them (Israel) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them (Israel) the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their (Israel's) fulness." Note how the first clause in italics is defined by the latter clause placed in italics. Here, again, "the world" cannot signify all humanity for it excludes Israel! "Kosmos" is used of believers only: John 1:29; 3:16, 17; 6:33; 12;47; I Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 5:19. We leave our readers to turn to these passages, asking them to note, carefully, exactly what is said and predicated of "the world" in each place. is used of believers only: John 1:29; 3:16, 17; 6:33; 12;47; I Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 5:19.
Pink concludes with these final words:
Thus it will be seen that "kosmos" has at least seven clearly defined different meanings in the New Testament. It may be asked, Has then God used a word thus to confuse and confound those who read the Scriptures? We answer, No! nor has He written His Word for lazy people who are too dilatory, or too busy with the things of this world, or, like Martha, so much occupied with "serving," they have no time and no heart to "search" and "study" Holy Writ! Should it be asked further, But how is a searcher of the Scriptures to know which of the above meanings the term "world" has in any given passage? The answer is: This may be ascertained by a careful study of the context, by diligently noting what is predicated of "the world" in each passage, and by prayer fully consulting other parallel passages to the one being studied. The principal subject of John 3:16 is Christ as the Gift of God.
The first clause tells us what moved God to "give" His only begotten Son, and that was His great "love;" the second clause informs us for whom God "gave" His Son, and that is for, "whosoever (or, better, 'every one') believeth;" while the last clause makes known why God "gave" His Son (His purpose), and that is, that everyone that believeth "should not perish but have everlasting life." That "the world" in John 3:16 refers to the world of believers (God's elect), in contradistinction from "the world of the ungodly" (2 Pet. 2:5), is established, unequivocally established, by a comparison of the other passages which speak of God's "love." "God commendeth His love toward US"-the saints, Rom. 5:8. "Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth"-every son, Heb. 12:6. "We love Him, because He first loved US"-believers, I John 4:19. The wicked God "pities" (see Matt. 18:33). Unto the unthankful and evil God is "kind" (see Luke 6:35). The vessels of wrath He endures "with much long-suffering" (see Rom. 9:22). But "His own" God "loves"!!

Photo credit
Stornoway Harbour, Pink lived and served in Stornoway for many years.