29 July 2007

Every Friday

Wow, we need to start watching for the Fabulous Friday posts over at Trophies of His Grace. Some good books there at a good discount. Thanks, Steve! I've just ordered (not from this sale) two Iain Murray books, Revival and Revivalism and Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000. I'm really looking forward to delving deep into both of these books. You can never go wrong with anything written by Iain Murray.

28 July 2007


I found a great article a few days ago by Augustus Toplady on assurance. That's one of those issues we never seem to get right as Christians or even as Reformed Christians. We tend to not be confident because that would be arrogant and therefore presumptous or we continue to try to earn our salvation through works which offers some, although false, assurance. Take a moment to read a few quotes from Toplady's article, Assurance and Perseverance:

SOME would fain persuade us that it is impossible for us to receive knowledge of salvation by the remission of sin. Such a denial is very opposite to the usual tenor of God’s proceeding with His people in all ages. The best believers, and the strongest, may indeed have their occasional fainting fits of doubt and diffidence, as to their own particular interest in Christ; nor should I have any great opinion of that man’s faith who was to tell me that he never had any doubts at all. But still there are golden seasons when the soul is on the mount of communion with God; when the Spirit of His Son shines into our hearts, giving us boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him. ...“But is it not enthusiasm to talk of holding intercourse with God, and of knowing ourselves to be objects of His special love?” No more enthusiastical (so we keep within Scripture-bounds) than it is for a favorite child to converse with his parents, and to know that they have a particular affection for him. Neither, in the strictest reason and nature of things, is it at all absurd to believe and expect that God can and does and will communicate His favor to His people, and manifest Himself to them as He does not to the world at large (John 14:21). ...I know some who have, for years together, been distressed with doubts and fears, without a single ray of spiritual comfort all the while. And yet I can no more doubt of their being true believers than I can question my own existence as a man. I am sure they are possessed not only of faith in its lowest degree, but of that which Christ Himself calls great faith (Matt 8:10); for they can at least say, Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only, and Thy servant shall be healed. Faith is the eye of the soul, and the eye is said to see almost every object but itself; so that you may have real faith without being able to discern it. Nor will God despise the day of small things.—Little faith goes to heaven no less than great faith, though not so comfortably, yet altogether as surely. If you come merely as a sinner to Jesus, and throw yourself, at all events, for salvation on His blood and righteousness alone, and the grace and promise of God in Him, you are as truly a believer as the most triumphant saint that ever lived.

...Next I shall warn you against another limb of Arminianism totally contrary to sound doctrine; I mean that tenet which asserts the possibility of falling finally from a state of real grace. God does not give, and then take away. He does indeed frequently take away what He only lent; such as health, riches, friends, and other temporal comforts: but what He gives, He gives forever. In a way of grace, the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Rom 11:29). He will never repent of bestowing them, and every attribute He has forbids Him to revoke them (Luke 10:42). In Hebrews 13:5, He says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” And in John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand.” ...As an excellent person somewhere observes, “Our own unbelief may occasionally tear the copies of the covenant given us by Christ, but unbelief cannot come at the covenant itself, Christ keeps the original deed in heaven with Himself, where it can never be lost.” ...Remember who it is that has made you to differ from others; and that a man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven (John 3:27). Not unto us, therefore O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy name alone be the praise of every gift, and of every grace ascribed; for Thy loving mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake.

You can read more about Toplady here.

24 July 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Let's move on to question 14. Seems such a simple question and yet we need to be sure we have a full understanding of what sin is.

Q: What is sin?
A: Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.

James Fisher and John Flavel both do well explaining this Q&A for us. Let's delve into Fisher first:

Q. 1. In what consisted man's apostasy from God?
A. In sinning against him, Lam. 5:16.
Q. 2. How does it appear that there is such a thing as sin in the world?
A. The God of truth declares, that all have sinned, Rom. 3:23; the broken law cries for vengeance against transgressors, and by it is the knowledge of sin, Gal. 3:10; Rom. 3:20; conscience, God's deputy in every man's bosom, tells him he is guilty, Jer. 14:7; the reign of death, and the groans of the creatures round about us, Rom. 8:22, all bear testimony that there is such a thing as sin in the world.
Q. 3. Can there be any sin, where there is no law?
A. No; "for where there is no law there is no transgression," Rom. 4:15.
Q. 4. Of whose law is sin a transgression?
A. Of the law of God.
Q. 5. What may be understood by the law of God?
A. All the precepts, or commandments, God has given to man as a rule of his obedience.
Q. 6. Where is this law of God to be found?
A. There was a bright and fair copy of it written upon the heart of man in innocence; but that being, in a great measure, lost by the fall, God has written again to us the great things of his law, in the scriptures of truth, Psalm 147:19, 20.
Q. 7. Are all the laws of God mentioned in scripture, of binding force now under the New Testament?
A. No; the ceremonial law, which was a shadow of good things to come, is now abrogated since the coming of Christ in the flesh; and many of the judicial laws, in so far as they had a particular relation to the state of the Jewish nation, are laid aside; but the moral law is perpetually binding on all mankind, in all ages and periods of the world, Psalm 119:160.
Q. 8. Does God require a perfect conformity to this law?
A. Yes; for there is a curse pronounced against every one that continues not in all things written in the book of the law to do them, Gal. 3:10.
Q. 9. Why is the nature of sin expressed by a want of conformity to the law?
A. To let us know that our very natures, since the fall, are sinful, Isa. 1:5, 6; that we are now quite destitute of that original righteousness and holiness, which we had at our creation, Gen. 6:5; and that every swerving from the holy law, even in omitting what it commands is sin, as well as in committing what it forbids, Isa. 43:22.
Q. 10. Why is sin called a transgression of the law?
A. Because the law is the boundary of all our actions; and whenever we sin, we break the boundary and limit that God has set us, and so are exposed to the curse of the law, Eccl. 10:8; Gal. 3:10.
Q. 11. Does the law of God extend to the first motions of sin in the heart?
A. Yes; for, says the apostle, Rom. 7:7 -- "I had not known lust, except the law had said, `Thou shalt not covet,'"
Q. 12. How many kinds of sin are there?
A. Two kinds; original and actual.
Q. 13. What do you understand by original sin?
A. The sin of our nature, which is called original sin, because we were "shapen in iniquity, and conceived in sin," Psalm 51:5; and because it was the first sin of man, and is the original and fountain of all actual sin, Matt, 15:19.
Q. 14. What do you understand by actual sin?
A. Every thing that is inconsistent with, and contrary to the law, in thought, word, or deed, 1 John 3:4.
Q. 15. How are actual sins divided?
A. Into sins of omission and commission.
Q. 16. What is a sin of omission?
A. It is a neglecting, or forgetting to do that good which the law commands, James 4:17.
Q. 17. What is a sin of commission?
A. It is a doing of what the law of God forbids, Psalm 51:4.

This is quite excellent. And now Flavel's exposition:

Q. 1. What is meant by the Law?
A. The commands and Rules flowing from God's Sovereignty, whereby his will is manifested, and the Creature bound to obedience.
Q. 2. Where is this Law written?
A. It is written either in the heart. Romans 2:15. Which shows the work of the law written in their hearts, which we call the law of nature. Or in the Bible, which we call the written Moral Law.
Q. 3. What conformity is due to this Law of God?
A. A twofold conformity is due to it. First, Internal, in our hearts. Secondly, External in our lives; and the want of either is sin. 1 John 3:4. Whosoever commiteth sin, transgresseth the also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law.
Q. 4. How doth it appear that the want of internal conformity is sin?
A. Because the law requires it. Mark 12:30. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength; for this is the first commandment. And condemns the want of it. Romans 7:7. What shall we say then? is the law sin? God forbid: nay, I had not know sin but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Q. 5. Is nothing a sin but what is against God's law?
A. No, nothing can be a sin but what God hath either expressly , or by consequence forbidden in his word.
Q. 6. Wherein lies the evil of transgressing God's law?
A. The evil of sin principally lies in the offence and wrong done to God, whose sovereignty it labours to shake off, and despises his will. Psalm 51:4. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.
Q. 7. What further evil is sin?
A. It highly wrongs the Sinner's Soul, by defacing, defiling, and damning it. Proverbs 8:36. But he that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own soul, all they that hate me, love death.
Q. 8. Wherein is the evil of sin manifested?
A. It's manifested in the death of Christ, the Terrors of Conscience, and Torments of Hell.
Q. 9. What course must the sinner take to recover himself out of his misery?
A. Repentance towards God, Faith towards Christ; and both evidenced by new obedience. Acts 20:21. Testifying both to the Jew, and also the Greeks, repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.
Q. 10. What may we infer from hence?
A. That we have infinite cause to bless God for Christ's Satisfaction of the Law for our sins.

It is crucial to understand sin as a Christian. Without a proper understanding of sin, it's history, it's nature, how it works in us and how Christ has saved us from it, we cannot truly know the joy of the Christian life as God would have for us. We need to meditate on the richness of the finished work of Christ on the cross so that we can fathom the depths of His mercy and grace.

21 July 2007

Speaking of God...

“…Theology has become a bad word in Christian circles. It seems that theology is linked in people’s minds with cold, dead religion that cares more about principles and matters of the head than deeds and matters of the heart. It is associated with fundamentalism and with cold conservatism. Yet if we look at the meaning and etymology of the word we cannot help but conclude that God requires all Christians to be theologians.
Theology is good. And not only is it good, but it is critical to the Christian walk and is an expectation of God. The word theology is derived from two Greek words. The root “theos” means God and the suffix “-ology” comes from the Greek word for speak. So what theology really means is “speaking of God” or as has become the more accurate definition, “the study of God.” It is impossible for us to grow closer to God (ie “sanctification”) if we do not learn more about Him. While all we need to know to be saved is our own depravity and God’s grace, to grow in that grace we need to learn more about God - about His character and attributes, about our place before Him, and about His will for our lives…”

20 July 2007

Christ and Wine

The Rev. Jim West has written:
Wine should be enjoyed as a gift from God. Why did Jesus turn the water into wine? Because the drinking water was bad-was that the main reason? This is the thinking of many. …We may also turn the speculation about bad water around. If the water was bad, and if the governor of the feast thought that only the worse wine remained, why did not Christ turn the bad water into good water? Instead, our Lord created wine.
Jesus created wine so that the attendees at the wedding might have a good time! He did it so that they might be refreshed and rejoice in the gift of God! According to the writer in Christianity Today [pg. 26, June 18, 1990], only a sick person would want someone to drink. Jesus Himself wanted His disciples to drink, to enjoy wine as God’s gift.
Beer and wine are enjoyable gifts of God. This is the teaching of Psalm 104 which is a praise psalm. The Psalmist writes:
You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earthand wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart. [vss.14-15].
Wine makes us glad. Wine refreshes. Both wine and beer are given by God as creation gifts. If we despise wine, we are snubbing the Lord’s gifts. In Jotham’s Parable of the Trees the vine says to the trees, “Should I lave my wine, which cheers God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?” (Judges 9”13). Wine cheers the heart of man, but it especially chhers the heart of God Himself! When Christ made the wine, He rejoiced in His creation. But when Christ drank the wine, He Himself was cheered by it. - From Drinking with Calvin and Luther, pages 40-41.

There are so many small blessings in life that we enjoy or can enjoy if we open ourselves up to them. Wine and beer (good beer) are just such a blessing. We are told not to be drunk, but there are numerous scriptural citings of enjoying wine or being permitted to enjoy wine.

Ken Gentry sums up his article, Does Scripture Permit us to Drink Alcoholic Beverages this way, When all is said and done, we must distinguish the use of wine from its abuse. Sometimes in Scripture gluttonous partaking of food is paralleled with immoderate drinking of wine (Deut. 21:20 ; Prov. 23:21). But food is not universally prohibited! Sometimes in Scripture sexual perversion is paralleled with drunkenness (Rom. 13:13 ; 1 Pet. 4:3). But all sexual activity is not condemned! Wealth often becomes a snare to the sinner (1 Tim. 6:9–11), but the Scripture does not universally decry its acquisition (Job 42:10–17)! Each of these factors in life is intended by God to be a blessing for man, when used according to His righteous Law.
It would seem abundantly clear, then, that the Scriptures do allow the moderate partaking of alcoholic beverages. There is no hesitancy in Scripture in commending wine, or embarrassment in portraying its consumption among the righteous of Biblical days. Wine is set before the saints as blessing and gladness (Deut. 14:26; Ps. 104:14–15), even though it may be to the immoderate and wicked a mocker and curse (Prov. 20:1; 23:29–35).

We need to stop calling alcohol consumption sinful. This in itself is sinful. I believe this misconception is part of the larger question of just what does it mean to live a holy life?

Take some time to read West's book. Think through the issue and let Scripture, not what you've been told, not what you've heard in sermons and not you're presuppositions, be your guide.

19 July 2007

What I Have Learned Attending Church

Perhaps that title should read What I have Learned Attending Some Churches as not all churches inculcate the following but far too many do. Here’s the list of things I’ve learned:

To contemplate my sin more than the mercy of God
To be a legalist even in a Reformed church
To be overly introspective
To fear God’s wrath more than enjoy His mercy and forgiveness
To live in the past rather than in the present

Obvioulsy, those things are wrong & I have come to see that I must learn from the past, live in the present (under God's forgiveness) and look to a bright future (with God's mercy). God is not sitting in heaven just waiting for me to sin to send me the holy zap. Conversely, we read in Hebrews 4 that we can “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Yes, we need to spend some time examining ourselves however, in our darkest hour we should remember the mercy of God and that He is working all things together for our good. In John Piper’s Pleasures of God he writes concerning this:

He [God] will keep on doing good. He doesn't do good to his children sometimes and bad to them other times. He keeps on doing good and he never will stop doing good for ten thousand ages of ages. When things are going "bad" that does not mean God has stopped doing good. It means he is shifting things around to get them in place for more good, if you will go on loving him. He works all things together for good "for those who love him" (Romans 8:28). "No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:11). "It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes" (Psalm 119:71)....
But the promise is greater yet. Not only does God promise not to turn away from doing good to us, he says, "I will rejoice in doing them good" (Jeremiah 32:41). "The Lord will again take delight in prospering you" (Deuteronomy 30:9). He does not bless us begrudgingly. There is a kind of eagerness about the beneficence of God. God is not waiting for us, he is pursuing us. That, in fact, is the literal translation of Psalm 23:6, "Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life." God loves to show mercy. He is not hesitant or indecisive or tentative in his desires to do good to his people. His anger must be released by a stiff safety lock, but his mercy has a hair trigger. . . .
But still the promise is greater. Finally, God promises that this rejoicing over the good of his people will be with all his heart and with all his soul. . . . When God does good to his people it is not so much like a reluctant judge showing kindness to a criminal whom he finds despicable; it is like a bridegroom showing affection to his bride. And add to this, that with God the honeymoon never ends. He is infinite in power and wisdom and creativity and love. And so he has no trouble sustaining a honeymoon level of intensity; he can foresee all the future quirks of our personality and has decided he will keep what's good for us and change what isn't; he will always be as handsome as he ever was, and will see to it that we get more and more beautiful forever; and he is infinitely creative to think of new things to do together so that there will be no boredom for the next trillion ages of millenniums. . . .
There is a condition we must meet in order to know him as our God and be a part of the wonderful covenant in which he never turns away from doing us good but rejoices over us with all his heart and all his soul. That condition is to put our hope in him as the all-satisfying Refuge and Treasure. God takes pleasure in this response with all his heart, because it magnifies the glory of his grace and satisfies the longing of our soul.

It’s time for change. Living a holy life does not mean living an unhappy life. It’s time to revisit Q&A #1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. It’s time to start enjoying Him now, enjoying His mercy, His forgiveness, His promises and His constant care and oversight.

18 July 2007

Westminster Wednesday

WSC #13
Q: Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A: Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

Thomas Vincent's expostion on the Shorter Catechism is as good a commentary on the catechism as can be found and inexpensive, too. Its certainly worth the few bucks to purchase this book and keep it handy. On Q&A #13 he expounds, Q. 1. What is meant by the freedom of the will?A. By the freedom of the will is meant, a liberty in the will of its own accord to choose or refuse; to do or not to do; to do this, or to do that, without any constraint or force from any one.
Q. 2. How many ways may the will be said to be free?A. The will may be said to be free three ways. 1. When the will is free only to good; when the will is not compelled or forced, but freely chooseth only such things as are good. Thus, the will of God (to speak after the manner of men) is free only to good; he can neither do nor will any thing that is evil. Such also is the freedom of the wills of angels, and such will be the freedom of all the glorified saints in heaven; there neither is, nor will be, any inclination of the will unto any evil thing for eve; and yet good will be of free choice. 2. He will may be said to be free only unto evil, when the will is not constrained, but freely chooseth such things as are evil and sinful. Thus, the will of the devil is free only unto Sin; and thus the wills of all the children of men in the world, whilst in a state of nature, are free only unto sin. 3. The will may be said to be free both unto good and evil, when it sometimes chooseth that which is good, sometimes chooseth that which is evil. Such is the freedom of the wills of all regenerate persons, who have in some measure recovered the image of God; they choose good freely, through a principle of grace wrought in them by the Spirit; yet, through the remainder of corruption, at some times their wills are inclined to that which is sinful.
Q. 3. What freedom of will had man at his first creation?A. The freedom of will which man had at his first creation, was a freedom both to good and evil. Though the natural inclination and disposition of his will was only to good, yet, being mutable or changeable, through temptation it might be altered, and might become inclinable into evil.
Q. 4. How were Our first parents left to the freedom of their own wills?A. Our first parents were left by God to the freedom of their own wills, when God withheld that further grace (which he was nowise bound to give unto them) which would have strengthened them against the temptation, and preserved them from falling into sin.
Q. 5. How did our first parents fall, when they were left to the freedom of their own wills?A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own wills, through the temptation of the devil, who spake unto them in the serpent; through the desirableness of the fruit of the forbidden tree to their sensual appetite; and through the desirableness of being made wise, and like unto God, by eating thereof' under their rational appetite; and through the hopes of escaping the punishment of death threatened by God; they did venture, against the express command of God, to eat of this tree. The woman being first beguiled and perverted by the devil, did eat; and then the mall, being persuaded by his wife and the devil too, did eat also. "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof' and did eat; and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat."— Gen. 3:4-6. "The serpent beguiled Eve, through his subtlety." — 2 Cor. 11:3. "The woman being deceived, was in the transgression."— 1 Tim. 2:14.
Q. 6. What was the state in which our first parents were created, from whence they fell?A. The state wherein our first parents were created, and from whence they fell, was a state of innocency. "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions."— Eccles. 7:29.
Q. 7. Whereby did our first parents fall from the state wherein they were created?A. Our first parents fell from the state wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

16 July 2007

Encouraging a Blogger

This is a great post on Encouraging a Blogger. If you have not read it please take moment to do so. I find the first point the most encouraging and try to do this myself.

A Few Thoughts on Suffering

I was privileged to hear a very fine sermon on suffering yesterday by Dr. Dave Collings at Christ Church, Columbia Station, Ohio. A couple of take-aways for me were 1) we live in a world that does everything that it can to avoid suffering. It believes more knowledge will help avoid suffering but just the opposite is true. A simple example of this is that to be healthy we must exercise and for many of us exercise is suffering. The point is, though, more knowledge actually brings more suffering. 2) Suffering is difficult to live through whether it be mental or physical suffering. But when it is over we can say that it was sweet as it drew us nearer to the Lord in some way and we experienced God's grace to a new degree. I experienced this myself some years ago going through a painful back surgery. Looking back I see God's grace in that time, drawing me nearer to Him and our family closer together.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5.

15 July 2007

Entering the Realm of the Imponderable

To declare that calling God "He" or "Lord" would encourage wife beating is so foolish and ridiculous it's just unbelievable. To quote the Daily Mail article, Church of England leaders warned yesterday that calling God 'He' encourages men to beat their wives.
They told churchgoers they must think twice before they refer to God as 'He' or 'Lord' because of the dangers that it will lead to domestic abuse.
And later we read, Church of England leaders warned yesterday that calling God 'He' encourages men to beat their wives.
Finally, a voice of reason, Simon Calvert declares, The Bible says God has both female and male characteristics but it does not feel inhibited about referring to God as male." Simon Calvert of the evangelical Christian Institute think tank, said: "They appear to suggest seriously that we should ditch many centuries of Judaeo-Christian teaching because of some half-baked feminist theory." The guidelines - Responding to Domestic Abuse -say that centuries of Christian teaching have led to "questionable assumptions" about the Bible and moral teaching.

We need to pray for the COE and those who seriously distort Scripture in this fashion. Pray that the light of God's truth will shine in their hearts so they may understand that that the real issue in domestic abuse is sin and not referring to the Lord in the male gender.

14 July 2007

Calvin Quote

I believe the Reformed anti-drinking crowd would do well to study their Reformed history particularly where it comes to the personal views of the likes Luther, Calvin and many of the Puritans. Here is another example of Calvin's opinion of wine:

We are nowhere forbidden to laugh, or to be satisfied with food, or to annex new possessions to those already enjoyed by ourselves or our ancestors, or to be delighted with music, or to drink wine (III, XIX, 9).

Alexander Whyte

Besides Thomas Boston I have been quoting Alexander Whyte off & on in the Westminster Wednesday series of this blog. He was a great and interesting man. You can read a bit about him here and buy his book, “Lord teach Us To Pray” from this ministry for only $5. (I have no affliation with this website or ministry.) For more information on Whyte and his story, which I find inspiring, click here.

12 July 2007

Thomas Boston

Thomas Boston has long been a favorite of mine. Reading his memoirs is inspiring, encouraging and convicting. The picture above is of the Ettrick Valley where Thomas Boston served a good many years. From the ccel.org website we read of Boston, In 1707, Boston was transferred to the parish of Ettrick, where he found the people sadly divided by separatism. The Cameronians, who repudiated the Revolution Settlement of 1688, stood aloof from his ministry, and, while among the parishioners generally there was much zeal for the church, there was but little vital godliness. Not until 1710, three years after his induction to Ettrick, did Boston dispense the sacrament of the Lord's Supper there; and, indeed, even after laboring for a further five years there, he concluded that all had been in vain. But when, in 1716, he received a call to Closeburn, his people at Ettrick showed the utmost anxiety at the prospect of losing their minister. But the transferral never took place. Boston stayed at Ettrick and witnessed a great work of grace in what had been a spiritual wilderness. It is noteworthy that whereas at his first dispensation of the Lord's Supper there, only some 60 persons communicated, at his last communion, in 1731, the number of participants was 777.

It was during his Ettrick ministry that his Fourfold State was first published, and by it his ministry was extended far and wide. But the doctrinal content of those discourses had been greatly influenced by his discovery, in a humble home in Simprin, of Edward Fisher's treatise The Marrow of Modern Divinity. This little book had the effect of giving Boston a fuller insight into the grace of God as the sole cause of salvation; and it immediately "gave a tincture," as he put it, to his preaching.

You can read more about Boston's life here.

11 July 2007

Books, Books and More Books

Just a point of clarification for the few readers I have. The links to Amazon for books I mention are purely for your convenience. Should you avail yourself of them is solely up to you. I’m not trying to make a killing on books, in fact, I’ve made very little, I mean very little, on the sale of books through the links. When I’m reading about a book or an article that quotes a book I find that I appreciate the web or blog author having a link on their site for my convenience. Hence, I do the same for the 3.5 (or is it 3.7 now?) of you that read this blog.


Westminster Wednesday

Wednesday is here again - what a fast week it's been. Here we go with #12...

Q: What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created?
A: When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.

Here we begin to see the working of God's plan for us. Matthew Henry laid this out for us when he wrote:

1. Did God make man happy as well as holy? Yes: for he put him into the garden of Eden, Gen. 2:15. Did he provide comfortably for him? Yes: for he said, I will make him a help meet for him, Gen. 2:18. Did he admit him into communion with himself? Yes: for he then blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, Gen. 2:3. Was God well pleased in him? Yes: for his delights were with the sons of men, Prov. 8: 31.
2. Did God give him a law? Yes: The Lord God commanded the man, Gen. 2:16. Did he give him a command of trial? Yes: Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it, Gen. 2:17. Did he assure him of happiness, if he obeyed? Yes: for of every tree in the garden (even the tree of life,) thou mayest freely eat, Gen. 2:16. Did he threaten death upon his disobedience? Yes: for in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die, Gen. 2:17.
3. Was this God's covenant with Adam? Yes: for we read of those who, like Adam, transgressed the covenant, Hos. 6:7 (margin). Was, Do this and live, one branch of that covenant? Yes: for the man that doeth them, shall live, in them, Gal. 3:12. Was, Fail and die the other branch of the covenant? Yes: the soul that sinneth, it shall die, Ezek. 18:4. Was this the covenant of innocency? Yes: for the law was ot of faith, Gal 3:12. Was there a mediator of this covenant? No: for it is the better covenant that is established in the hands of a Mediator, Heb 8:6.

08 July 2007

Psalm 37 from the Scottish Psalter

Psalm 37:1-5

A Psalm of David

1 For evil-doers fret thou not
thyself unquietly;
Nor do thou envy bear to those
that work iniquity.
2 For, even like unto the grass,
soon be cut down shall they;
And, like the green and tender herb,
they wither shall away.
3 Set thou thy trust upon the Lord,
and be thou doing good;
And so thou in the land shalt dwell,
and verily have food.
4 Delight thyself in God; he'll give
thine heart's desire to thee.
5 Thy way to God commit, him trust,
it bring to pass shall he.

03 July 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Trusting Providence is crucial in the Christian's life. Hence, this is one of my favorite Q&A's.

Q: What are God's works of providence?
A: God's works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures and all their actions.

Thomas Boston has written some encouraging words on this for us:

1. Beware of drawing an excuse for your sin from the providence of God; for it is most holy, and has not the least efficiency in any sin you commit. Every sin is an act of rebellion against God; a breach of his holy law, and deserves his wrath and curse; and therefore cannot be authorised by an infinitely-holy God, who is of purer eyes that to behold iniquity without detestation and abhorrence. Though he has by a permissive decree allowed moral evil to be in the world, yet that has no influence on the sinner to commit it. For it is not the fulfilling of God's decree, which is an absolute secret to every mortal, but he gratification of their own lusts and perverse inclinations, that men intend and mind in the commission of sin.
2. Beware of murmuring and fretting under any dispensations of providence that ye meet with; remembering that nothing falls out without a wise and holy providence, which knows best what is fit and proper for you. And in all cases, even amidst the most afflicting incidents that befall you, learn submission to the will of God; as Job did, when he said, in consequence of a train of the heaviest calamities that happened to him, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord," Job 1:21. In the most distressing case say with the disciples, "The will of the Lord be done, Acts 21:14.
3. Beware of anxious cares and diffidence about your throughbearing in the world. This our Lord has cautioned his followers against, Matt. 6:31. "Take no thought (that is, anxious and perplexing thought), saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?" Never let the fear of man stop you from duty, Matt. 10:28, 29.; but let your souls learn to trust in God, who guides and superintends all the events and administrations of providence, by whatever hands they are performed.
4. Do not slight means, seeing God worketh by them; and he that hath appointed the end orders the means necessary for gaining the end. Do not rely upon means, for they can do nothing without God, Matt. 4:4. Do not despond if there be no means, for God can work without them, as well as with them; Hos. 1:7. "I will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen." If the means be unlikely, he can work above them, Rom. 4:19. "He considered not his own body now dead, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb." If the means be contrary, he can work by contrary means, as he saved Jonah by the whale that devoured him. That fish swallowed up the prophet, but by the direction of providence, it vomited him out upon dry land.
5. Lastly, Happy is the people whose God the Lord is: for all things shall work together for their good. They may sit secure in exercising faith upon God, come what will. They have ground for prayer; for God is a prayer-hearing God, and will be inquired of by his people as to all their concerns in the world. And they have ground for the greatest encouragement and comfort amidst all the events of providence, seeing they are managed by their covenant God and gracious friend, who will never neglect or overlook his dear people, and whatever concerns them. For he hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," Heb. 13:5.
The second admonition above is so important for us as it's so easy to slip into murmuring and complaining when things don't go our way. We must stop and remember who God really is in the midst of life's most difficult moments. We must place all our confidence in Him and submit our will to His so we can affirm God's promise that He will never leave us or forsake us.