28 August 2007

Westminster Wednesday

Sunset over Kirriemuir, Scotland

Question & answer 20 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism reads:

Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a Covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.

Let's once again return to Alexander Whyte's commentary on the catechism for this week's q&a:
With this question we enter on the region of Christology, the doctrine of Christ, or Soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, "the Immanuel's Land of theology." "We have already sailed over one sea, that of man's corruption, a dead sea, as I may call it; and we are now entering into another, a far vaster and deeper, of God's love and free grace" (Introduction to Goodwin's Sermon on Ephesians 2:4).

mere good pleasure—" Of His mere love and mercy" (Larger Catechism). The Scriptures always trace up man's salvation to the sovereign grace of God. Christ Himself is the gift of the Father. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." "The Apostle Paul saw as deeply as any other man the difficulty of making salvation depend on the elective love of God, but be saw more deeply the difficulty of making it depend on anything else. . . There may be difficulties in referring salvation to the election of God, but there are still greater difficulties in trying to refer it to the election of man" (Moore).

elected some to everlasting life—The first time this word occurs in the Bible, it is already put to its very highest use. It is applied by Jehovah in Isaiah to the Messiah Himself: "Mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth." And another passage taken out of the same prophet is by an apostle applied to our Lord, "Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner-stone, elect, precious." Jesus Christ is thus described in both Testaments as God's elect. The unfallen angels are also characterized by this lofty title, as in the apostolic commission to Timothy : "I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels." Israel as God's people are often called by this distinguishing name (Isaiah 45:4, 65:9). In the New Testament this designation is applied to all true believers, as in Romans 8:33 : "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" And as the designation is made a ground of comfort to the Roman Christians, so is it used as a ground of counsel to the Church at Colossae : "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies." And lastly, the word is applied to persons eminent for the display of the Christian graces, as in John's Second Epistle: "The elder unto the elect lady ;" and again : "The children of thine elect sister." "Such is the great scheme of doctrine known in history as the Pauline, Augustinian, or Calvinistic, taught, as we believe, in the Scriptures, developed by Augustine, formally sanctioned by the Latin Church, adhered to by the witnesses of the truth in the Middle Ages; repudiated by the Church of Rome in the Council of Trent, received in that Church by the Jansenists, adopted by all the Reformers, incorporated by all the creeds of the Protestant Churches of Switzerland, France, Holland, England, and Scotland, and unfolded in the Standards of the Westminster Assembly, the common representative of all Presbyterians in Europe and America" (Hodge). some — Dr. Morison's explanation in another connection is applicable here: "The distinction is not between some and many, but between some and all; for even many are only some, if they are not all." a covenant of grace—See under covenant, Answer 52.

Grace means favour, merry, pardon. (Students should see Dr. Morison's note, "Grace, Philologically viewed," in the Expositor for July 1880.) Grace and love are essentially the same, only grace is love manifesting itself and operating under certain conditions, and adapting itself to certain circumstances. As, for instance, love has no limit or law such as grace has. Love may exist between equals, or it may rise to those above us, or flow down to those in any way beneath us. But grace, from its nature, has only one direction it can take. Grace always flows down. Grace is love indeed, hut it is love humbling itself. A king's love to his equals, or to his own royal house, is love: but his love to his subjects is called grace. And thus it is that God's love to sinners is always called grace in the Scriptures. It is love indeed, but it is love to creatures, and to creatures who do not deserve His love. And therefore all He does for us in Christ, and all that is disclosed to us of His goodwill in the gospel, is called grace. (See Owen's or Goodwin's Index, under grace. See Confession, vii.)

"The covenant of grace was made with Jesus Christ, as the Second Adam, party-contractor (Psalm 89:3 ; 1 Corinthians 15:45; Romans 5:15-21; Galatians 3:16). And Christ, in this covenant, represented all the elect, as the spiritual race, the parties contracted fur. Then the covenant of redemption and the covenant of grace are not two distinct covenants, but two names of one covenant under different considerations. By a covenant of redemption is meant a bargain of buying and selling; and the second covenant was such a covenant to Christ only (1 Peter 1:18, 19). By a covenant of grace is meant a bargain whereby all is to be had freely; and it is such a covenant to poor sinners only (Isaiah 55:1)" (Boston).

"Dear Charles,—My dear love to thee, and to my dear Biddy, who is a joy to my heart, for what I hear of the Lord in her. Bid her be joyful and rejoice in the Lord once and again: if she knows the covenant, she cannot but do so. For that transaction is without her: sure and stedfast, between the Father and the Mediator in His blood; therefore, leaning upon the Son, or looking to Him, thirsting after Him, and embracing Him, we are His seed : and the covenant is sure to all the seed. The compact is for the seed; God is bound in faithfulness to Christ, and in Him to us; the covenant is without us: a transaction between God and Christ. Look up to it. God engageth in it to pardon us : to write His law in our hearts: to plant His fear so as we shall never depart from Him" (Carlyle's Cromwell, Letter cxxix.).

by a Redeemer. By one who is to buy us back, ransom us, make atonement for us. Who He is, and how He does His redeeming work, will immediately appear.
"The doctrines of God's absolute sovereignty and free grace in showing mercy on whom He would show mercy, and man's absolute dependence on the operations of God's Holy Spirit, have very often appeared to me as sweet and most glorious doctrines. These doctrines have been made my delight. . . I have loved the doctrines of the gospel; they have been to my soul like green pastures. The way of salvation by Christ has appeared most glorious and excellent, most pleasant and most beautiful. It has often seemed to me that it would in a great measure spoil heaven to receive it in any other way" (Jonathan Edwards' Personal Narrative).

Alexander Whyte was born in Kurriemuir, Scotland. Read his bio here.

Photo credit

26 August 2007

Men in Church

In this American Vision article the author describes passing a church sign that read, Wonderful Wednesdays. I find this kind of stuff absolutely nauseating and I hope you do to. Men and ladies, we need to stand up and and let our church leadership know that that everything from feminized pictures of Christ to Saturday sewing circles exclude and alienate men from attending church. Be sure to read the full article on the leadership found during the War of Independence which was quoted in the article here.

(HT: Reformed Mafia)

25 August 2007

Psalm 27:1-6 Lord's Day Meditation

Psalm 27:1-6

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

24 August 2007

Evangelical Theology of Barth

Check out the Exiled Preacher's review of Evangelical Theology: An Introduction by Karl Barth. Its a fair look at Barth's thought on the subject. I have to admit that I agree with EP when referring to the book he states that his main problem area is his weak doctrine of Scripture. I think this is true of Barth in general. This is a hard stop for me as I think it should be for anyone. His views on inerrancy are less than orthodox and I'm being generous with that statement. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Barth makes us think. So what! Many good theologians do that as well. I've posted before that I don't like Barth's theology and until someone can give good reason to give any credence to what he's written in light of his views on Scripture, my view will not change. So, there's the challenge take it or leave it.

21 August 2007

Westminster Wednesday

We come now to question and answer number 19 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Q: What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A: All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever.

John Flavel tells us the following:

Q. 1. What Communion had God with Man before the Fall? A. Man then enjoyed the gracious presence and favour of God with hiim, which was better than life.
Q. 2. How doth it appear this was lost by the Fall? A. It appears by Scripture-Testimony, That Adam lost it as to himself. Genesis 3:8. And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God, among the trees of the garden. And we in him. Ephesians 2:12. At that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.
Q. 3. Was this the only misery that came by the Fall? A. No. Man did not only lose communion with God, but fell under his wrath and curse. Ephesians 2:3. And were by nature children of wrath, even as others.
Q. 4. Doth the wrath and curse of God then lie on all men? A.. It lies on all the unregenerate in the world. Galatians 3:10. Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which is written in the book of the law, to do them. But believers are delivered from it by Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:10. Even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
Q. 5. How are the MIseries of man by the Fall divided? A. They are divided into the Miseries of this world, and of the world to come.
Q. 6. What are the miseries that come on them in this world? A. The Miseries of this Life; as Sickness, Pain, Poverty on the Body; Fear, Trouble, Sorrow on the Mind, and at last Death itself. Romans 6. ult. The wages of sin is death.
Q. 7. What are the miseries after this life? A. The pains and Torments of Hell for ever. Psalm 9:17. The wicked shall be turned into hell.
Q. 8. What are the Torments of Hell? A. Pain of Loss, and Pain of Sense. Matthew 25:41. Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire.
Q. 9. What learn you from hence? A. The woeful state of the unconverted. Miserable here, adn miserable to Eternity.
Q. 10. What else learn we hence? A. The great Salvation Believers have by Christ from all this misery. Hebrews 2:3. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.

So as not to end this week's look at the catechism on a bad note, let's read how Thomas Watson concludes his exposition on the q&a:

How are all believers bound to Jesus Christ, who has freed them from that misery to which sin has exposed them! 'In whom we have redemption through his blood' (Eph. 1:7). Sin has brought trouble and a curse into the world: Christ has sanctified the trouble, and removed the curse. Nay, he has not only freed believers from misery, but purchased for them a crown of glory and immortality. 'When the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away' (1 Peter 5:4).

18 August 2007

Psalm 119:9-16

Psalm 119:9-16

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
11I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you,
O LORD; teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Always Reforming

I got home yesterday to find my copy of Always Reforming: Explorations in Systematic Theology had arrived in the mail. I quickly opened its pages to read the preface and then the introduction. It was refreshing to read Frame write in the preface, Reformed theology has often professed to be "always reforming" (semper reformanda), but it has often been to focused too much on its past achievements (reformata) at the expense of seeking new insight(reformanda). How very true. It was this thought that enticed me to purchase the work. A few pages later in the introduction A.T.B. McGowan writes, In our twenty first century we face many complex issues, which earlier generations have not been required to face and it will not do merely to restate old ideas in the old familiar words and try hide away from the modern world. It simply is not an option to create little communities of people who attempt to live as people did in earlier centuries, using seventeenth-century language and seventeenth-century Bibles and circling the wagons against the outside world. Apart from anything else, we do our children a serious disservice if we fail to address the issues that present the most serious challenges to their remaining in our churches.
McGowan goes on to state he has no problem with the Westminster Standards and neither do I. But, its time to consider writing new standards that will address todays issues. Amen to that.
I'm anxious now to delve into this work of several authors that explores the issues of todays church with the underpinnings of semper reformanda.

16 August 2007

Spend the Day With God - Richard Baxter

You may have read this before but I think it worth reading and pondering again. I refer back to it frequently.

A holy life is inclined to be made easier when we know the usual sequence and method of our duties - with everything falling into its proper place. Therefore, I shall give some brief directions for spending the day in a holy manner.
Measure the time of your sleep appropriately so that you do not waste your precious morning hours sluggishly in your bed. Let the time of your sleep be matched to your health and labour, and not to slothful pleasure.
First Thoughts
Let God have your first awaking thoughts; lift up your hearts to Him reverently and thankfully for the rest enjoyed the night before and cast yourself upon Him for the day which follows.
Familiarise yourself so consistently to this that your conscience may check you when common thoughts shall first intrude. Think of the mercy of a night's rest and of how many that have spent that night in Hell; how many in prison; how many in cold, hard lodgings; how many suffering from agonising pains and sickness, weary of their beds and of their lives.
Think of how many souls were that night called from their bodies terrifyingly to appear before God and think how quickly days and nights are rolling on! How speedily your last night and day will come! Observe that which is lacking in the preparedness of your soul for such a time and seek it without delay.
Let prayer by yourself alone (or with your partner) take place before the collective prayer of the family. If possible let it be first, before any work of the day.
Family Worship
Let family worship be performed consistently and at a time when it is most likely for the family to be free of interruptions.
Ultimate Purpose
Remember your ultimate purpose, and when you set yourself to your day's work or approach any activity in the world, let holiness to the Lord be written upon your hearts in all that you do.
Do no activity which you cannot entitle God to, and truly say that he set you about it, and do nothing in the world for any other ultimate purpose than to please, glorify and enjoy Him. "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31.
Diligence in Your Calling
Follow the tasks of your calling carefully and diligently. Thus:

(a) You will show that you are not sluggish and servants to your flesh (as those that cannot deny it ease), and you will further the putting to death of all the fleshly lusts and desires that are fed by ease and idleness.
(b) You will keep out idle thoughts from your mind, that swarm in the minds of idle persons.
(c) You will not lose precious time, something that idle persons are daily guilty of.
(d) You will be in a way of obedience to God when the slothful are in constant sins of omission.
(e) You may have more time to spend in holy duties if you follow your occupation diligently. Idle persons have no time for praying and reading because they lose time by loitering at their work.
(f) You may expect God's blessing and comfortable provision for both yourself and your families. (g) it may also encourage the health of your body which will increase its competence for the service of your soul.
Temptations and Things That Corrupt
Be thoroughly acquainted with your temptations and the things that may corrupt you - and watch against them all day long. You should watch especially the most dangerous of the things that corrupt, and those temptations that either your company or business will unavoidably lay before you.
Watch against the master sins of unbelief: hypocrisy, selfishness, pride, flesh pleasing and the excessive love of earthly things. Take care against being drawn into earthly mindedness and excessive cares, or covetous designs for rising in the world, under the pretence of diligence in your calling.
If you are to trade or deal with others, be vigilant against selfishness and all that smacks of injustice or uncharitableness. In all your dealings with others, watch against the temptation of empty and idle talking. Watch also against those persons who would tempt you to anger. Maintain that modesty and cleanness of speech that the laws of purity require. If you converse with flatterers, be on your guard against swelling pride.
If you converse with those that despise and injure you, strengthen yourself against impatient, revengeful pride.
At first these things will be very difficult, while sin has any strength in you, but once you have grasped a continual awareness of the poisonous danger of any one of these sins, your heart will readily and easily avoid them.
When alone in your occupations, improve the time in practical and beneficial meditations. Meditate upon the infinite goodness and perfections of God; Christ and redemption; Heaven and how unworthy you are of going there and how you deserve eternal misery in Hell.
The Only Motive
Whatever you are doing, in company or alone, do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Otherwise, it is unacceptable to God.
Redeeming The Time
Place a high value upon your time, be more careful of not losing it than you would of losing your money. Do not let worthless recreations, idle talk, unprofitable company, or sleep rob you of your precious time.
Be more careful to escape that person, action or course of life that would rob you of your time than you would be to escape thieves and robbers.
Make sure that you are not merely never idle, but rather that you are using your time in the most profitable way that you can and do not prefer a less profitable way before one of greater profit.
Eating and Drinking
Eat and drink with moderation and thankfulness for health, not for unprofitable pleasure. Never please your appetite in food or drink when it is prone to be detrimental to your health.
Remember the sin of Sodom: "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food and abundance of idleness" - Ezekiel 16:49.
The Apostle Paul wept when he mentioned those "whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame -- who set their minds on earthly things, being enemies to the cross of Christ" - Philippians 3:18-19. O then do not live according to the flesh lest you die (Romans 8:13).
Prevailing Sins
If any temptation prevails against you and you fall into any sins in addition to habitual failures, immediately lament it and confess it to God; repent quickly whatever the cost. It will certainly cost you more if you continue in sin and remain unrepentant.
Do not make light of your habitual failures, but confess them and daily strive against them, taking care not to aggravate them by unrepentance and contempt.
Remember every day the special duties of various relationships: whether as husbands, wives, children, masters, servants, pastors, people, magistrates, subjects.
Remember every relationship has its special duty and its advantage for the doing of some good. God requires your faithfulness in this matter as well as in any other duty.
Closing the Day
Before returning to sleep, it is wise and necessary to review the actions and mercies of the day past, so that you may be thankful for all the special mercies and humbled for all your sins.
This is necessary in order that you might renew your repentance as well as your resolve for obedience, and in order that you may examine yourself to see whether your soul grew better or worse, whether sin goes down and grace goes up and whether you are better prepared for suffering, death and eternity.
May these directions be engraven upon your mind and be made the daily practice of your life.
If sincerely adhered to, these will be conducive to the holiness, fruitfulness and quietness of your life and add to you a comfortable and peaceful death. -
Richard Baxter

Top Ten Christian Pick Up Lines - Not

This is just toooooo good...

Top Twenty Theological Pick-up Lines NOT to use (updated)
~ C Michael Patton ~
Seeing as how I used to be a singles pastor, I thought that I would give you some of the tips that I gave my singles on how NOT to lure the right one to your side. (Thanks to Carrie for her help!)

20. ”I am not overweight. The word ‘glory’ in Hebrew is kabod which according to HALOT literally means ‘heaviness.’ The Bible also says that we are to reflect God’s glory. Therefore, I am just doing what the Bible says.”
19. “Looking at you makes me reconsider preterism, because you are heaven on earth.”
18. “Paul said that it was better to marry than to burn. Therefore, I am under God’s mandate to marry you.”
17. “Here, let me take care of those tithes.”
16. “You may not have chosen me, but I have chosen you.”
15. “I could not help but notice you were exegeting me instead of the text during the sermon.”
14. ”Your name must be grace, because you are irresistible.”
13. ”There are six things that motivate me to talk to you, yea seven that turned my head.”
12. “Until this moment, I thought I had the gift of singleness.”
11. During communion say, “Can I get you another drink.”
10. “The Bible says that God is not concerned with outer appearance . . . neither should you.”
9. “The Good Book said that I might be visited by angels unaware, but something must be wrong with my interpretation, because I am perfectly aware of you.”
8. “I noticed you crying during alter call, can I help?”
7. While giving a her a TULIP say, ”This Totally depraved person has been Unconditionally drawn to you, Limiting himself to your Irresistible beauty that is Persevering beyond all others.”
6. “God may be the bread of life, but you are the butter.”
5. “The site of you leaves me apophatic.”
4. “Well, gouge out my eyes and cut off my hands. If I hang around you much longer, I won’t have any limbs left.”
3. “You must have missed The Fall line, because you are lookin’ righteous.”
2. Sing this to the tune of George Strait’s “Chair”: “Excuse me, but I think you’ve got my rib.”
1. “Are you homo or homoi?”

15 August 2007

Is The Catechism Worthwhile?

Having trouble understanding the Westminster Shorter Catechism? Struggling to grasp the truth contained in all those questions and answers? Do you feel like a catechism is an antiquated means to teach? Is the antiquated language turning you off? You're not alone if you've answered yes to any of these questions yet I would urge you to keep reading and studying or if you've given up to re-start the learning process. Benjamin Warfield wrote in his article, Is the Catechism Worthwhile?, The Shorter Catechism is, perhaps, not very easy to learn. And very certainly it will not teach itself. Its framers were less careful to make it easy than to make it good. As one of them, Lazarus Seaman, explained, they sought to set down in it not the knowledge the child has, but the knowledge the child ought to have. And they did not dream that anyone could expect it to teach itself. They committed it rather to faithful men who were zealous teachers of the truth, "to be," as the Scottish General Assembly puts it in the Act approving it, "a Directory for catechizing such as are of a weaker capacity," as they sent out the Larger Catechism "to be a Directory for catechizing such as have made some proficiency in the knowledge of the grounds of religion."
No doubt it requires some effort whether to teach or to learn the Shorter Catechism. It requires some effort whether to teach or to learn the grounds of any department of knowledge. Our children — some of them at least — groan over even the primary arithmetic and find sentence-analysis a burden. Even the conquest of the art of reading has proved such a task that "reading without tears" is deemed an achievement. We think, nevertheless, that the acquisition of arithmetic, grammar and reading is worth the pains it costs the teacher to teach, and the pain it costs the learner to learn them. Do we not think the acquisition of the grounds of religion worth some effort, and even, if need be, some tears?

No doubt learning anything is a struggle but true religion can be a strain. Yet the rewards far out weigh the pain of the learning process. The catechism is the most proficient means of communicating the truth of Scripture. Even if you don't commit it to memory it is still vaulable tool for understanding God's truth. There are numerous study books to further help you understand each question and answer such as Thomas Vincent's The Shorter Catechism Explained From Scripture & G.I. Williamson's The Shorter Catechism. Vincent's language is dated but Williamson's book is written in modern english. In modern English you can also refer to The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English by Douglas F. Kelly, Philip B. Rollinson, and Frederick T. Marsh. These are helpful tools to assist you in your path to understanding. Let's not forsake the the catechism, let's embrace it.

Read the rest of Warfield's article here.

Westminster Wednesday

Thomas Vincent ties numbers 17 & 18 together in his The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly Explained and Proved from Scripture. Let's read his exposition on these two vital q&a's:

17. Ques. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
Ans. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.
18. Ques. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
Ans. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fel1, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin, together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.
Q. I. How many sorts of sin are there which denote the sinfulness of the estate of man by the fall?
A. There are two sorts of sin, namely, original sin and actual sin.
Q. 2. Wherein doth original sin consist?
A. Original sin doth consist in three things. 1. In the guilt of Adam's first sin. 2. In the want of original righteousness. 3. In the corruption of the whole nature.
Q. 3. How are all the children of men guilty of Adam's first sin?
A. All the children of men are guilty of Adam's first sin by imputation: as the righteousness of Christ, the second Adam, is imputed unto all the spiritual seed, namely, to all believers; so the sin of the first Adam is imputed to all the natural seed which came forth of his loins. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."—Rom. 5:19.
Q. 4. What is included in the want of original righteousness?
A. The want of original righteousness doth include—1. Want of true spiritual knowledge in the mind. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."—1 Cor. 2:14. 2. Want of inclination and power to do good; and want of all spiritual affections in the will and heart. "In me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; but how to perform that which is good I find not."—Rom. 7:18.
Q. 5. Is the want of original righteousness a sin?
A. Yes; because it is a want of conformity to the law of God, which requireth original and habitual righteousness, as well as actual.
Q. 6. If God withhold this original righteousness, is not he the author of sin?
A. No; because though man be bound to have it, yet God is not bound to restore it when man hath lost it; and it is not a sin, but a punishment of the first sin, as God doth withhold it.
Q. 7. How could the souls of Adam's posterity, not yet created, nor having relation to Adam, be justly deprived of original righteousness?
A. The souls of Adam's posterity never had a being without relation of Adam; they being created in the infusion and conjunction of them to their body, and, through their relation to the common head, partake justly of the common punishment.
Q. 8. Wherein doth consist the corruption of the whole nature of man?
A. The corruption of the nature of man doth consist in the universal depravation which is in every part of man since the fall. 1. In the darkness and defilement of the mind. "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord."—Eph. 5:8. And, "The minds and consciences of the unbelieving are defiled."—Tit. 1:15. 2. In the crookedness and enmity of the heart and will against God and his law. "The carnal mind" (that is, the carnal heart) "is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."—Rom. 8:7. As also in the inclination of the heart unto sin, and the worst of sins, there being the seed of all manner of sins in the heart, as it is corrupted with original sin. "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies."—Matt. 15:19. 3. In the disorder and distemper of the affections, all of them being naturally set upon wrong objects through this inherent corruption. 4. The members also of the body are infected, being ready weapons and instruments of unrighteousness.—Rom. 6:13.
Q. 9. How is the corruption of nature conveyed, then, to all the children of men?
A. 1. It is not from God, who is the author of all good, but of no evil; for though he withhold original righteousness, yet he doth not infuse original corruption. 2. It is conveyed by natural generation, in the union and conjunction of soul and body; the soul, being destitute or void of original righteousness, is infected with this corruption, as liquor is tainted which is put into a tainted vessel: but the way of its conveyance is one of the most difficult things in divinity to understand.
Q. 10. Have we reason to deny this original corruption, because we have not reason clearly to understand the way of its conveyance?
A. No; because— 1. The Scripture doth assert that our natures, since the fall, are corrupt. "Adam" (though made after the likeness of God) "begat a son after his own likeness" (Gen. 5:3); that is, with a corrupt nature. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh "—John 3:6. "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."—Ps. 2:5. " You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins."—Eph. 3:1. 2. Experience doth tell us, that in every one there is a natural antipathy to good, and proneness to evil: therefore, as when a man's house is on fire, it is greater wisdom to endeavour to quench it than to inquire how it was set on fire; so it is greater wisdom to endeavour the removal of this natural corruption, than to inquire how it was conveyed.
Q. 11. Do not sanctified persons beget children without natural corruption?
A. No; because parents that are sanctified are sanctified but in part, their nature remaining in part corrupt; and they beget children according to their nature, and not according to their grace; as the winnowed corn that is sown groweth up with husks upon it, or as the circumcised Jews did beget uncircumcised children in the flesh as well as the heart.
Q. 12. Why is this sin called original sin?
A. Because we have it from our birth or original, and because all our actual transgressions do proceed from it.
Q. 13. What is actual sin?
A. Actual sin is any breach of God's law, either of omission or commission; either in thought, heart, speech, or action. Of which more in the commandments.

We can follow this up with a look at the Westminster Confession, IX, Section 3 where it states, Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.

How blessed we are to have a Savior who has gone to the cross for us, to save lost sinners who are unable to save themselves.

14 August 2007

It's Been 25 Years

It's been 25 years today since I married Cathie and I'm looking forward to the next 25. We've had a wonderful life together and I can't imagine my life without her. I've been truly blessed to have her as my wife. This photo was taken at our daughter's wedding two years ago. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. -Genesis 2:24

13 August 2007

National Healthcare

Yes, I’ve heard this argument before. It goes something like this: “We (as Christians) should endorse government programs to assist the homeless, provide healthcare, provide jobs, etc., etc. It’s what Christ would do wouldn’t he?” Well no, he wouldn’t. It all sounds nice but it is not biblical. It blurs the lines between church and state and that is what everyone is arguing for these days isn’t it, the distinction between church and state? To boot, I’ve heard this argument as way of escape from tithing, after all, "the money that would go to my church is going to the government which provides the same service, no?" Some good thoughts on this can be found here from J.P. Moreland.

09 August 2007

A Scottish Christian Heritage

I just finished reading A Scottish Christian Heritage by Iain Murray. Grant it, I’m prejudice. I like reading Murray and I like Scottish history and especially Scottish Christian history but, this work was outstanding. As always, Murray’s style is a pleasure to read and the content was illuminating, revealing and inspiring. The chapter on Chalmers alone was worth the price of the book! Get a copy, sit in your favorite chair with your favorite beverage and start consuming this book. This work is truly masterful and an absolute joy to read.

08 August 2007

Westminster Wednesday

This week we push on to number 16 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Q: Did all mankind fall in Adam's first transgression?
A: The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.

Here, we move into the nitty-gritty of sin. We need to as we must have a clear understanding of sin or we will fail to have a clear understanding of Christ's finished work on the cross.

Let's return to Whyte's commentary on the catechism for this:

AdamA Hebrew word signifying red, ground colour. But the generic term Adam becomes in the case of the first man a denominative. The name may possibly have been given to embody the history of his creation. Some scholars hold, on the other hand, that the name comes from a similar Hebrew root, meaning likeness; and that the allusion consequently is to the divine fiat: "Let us make man after our likeness."

not only for himself, but for his posterity—" With Adam as a publick person" (Larger Catechism). Read Rom. v. 12-19. "God made and appointed Adam to be a public person, yet not so out of mere will, but that it had also for its foundation so natural and necessary a ground, as it was rather a natural than a voluntary thing. . . . Now the natural necessity upon which this designation of him to be a public person was made is this: God had, as the author of nature, made this law of nature, that man should beget in his image or likeness. . . . So then, in this first man the whole nature of man being reposited, therefore what befalls this nature in him by any action of his, that nature is to be propagated from him" (Goodwin).

by ordinary generationThis exception is taken because of the extraordinary generation of our Lord in His incarnation. His birth was so ordered by God that He was the Son of man, one of the human race, and yet that the entail of original sin did not embrace Him. God, in ways we cannot fathom, but at the same time in ways that show us that a singular exception was here made to the otherwise universal traduction of original sin, sent His Eternal Son in our nature, and yet did not send Him through Adam. The birth of Christ was rather a creation of a new humanity than a propagation and sanctification of the old. His flesh was the flesh of Adam's race, sanctified and united to the personality of the Son of God. Adam was the type of Christ, but he was not His father.
"The man Christ was not included in that representation which Adam made as head of the covenant of works (1 Corinthians 15:22, 45); and that, because Christ came not in virtue of the blessing of fruitfulness, given while the covenant of works stood entire, but in virtue of a special promise made after it was broken (Genesis 1:28; 3:15). Adam's sin, then, could not be imputed to the man Christ, since Adam did not represent Him in the covenant" (Boston).
"The formation of His human nature was the effect of miraculous, supernatural creating power; therefore he was no more liable to Adam's sin, as being man, than a world of men would be, should God create them out of the dust of the ground, which would be no more miraculous or supernatural than it was to form the human nature of Christ in the womb of the Virgin. Now, as Jesus, so formed, would not be concerned in Adam's sin, or fall, whatever similitude there might be of nature; even so our Saviour was not concerned therein" (Ridgley).

all mankind. . . sinned in himThat is to say, we were so in Adam that what he did we did, not indeed as to the act, but as to its consequences. Human life is full of this vicarious, solidary way of acting and suffering, and this was the first and most terrible example of it. "To be guilty of Adam's sin, meant in the Latin anthropology, to be guilty of the Adamic sin. It implied the oneness of Adam and his posterity, and a guilt that belonged to the sum total, only because the sin was the act of the sum total" (Shedd). There are three very powerful and exhaustive articles on Imputation in the first series of the Princeton Essays. But see any high-class Calvinistic or Puritan theologian on Adam in relation to the human race. See under Imputation in any sound system of theology.

fell with him—"Fell with him in that first transgression" (Larger Catechism). "O thou Adam, what hast thou done? For though it was thou that sinned, thou art not fallen alone, but we all that come of thee" (2 Esdr. 7:48; Romans 5).

"Both death and I
Are found eternal, and incorporate both;
Nor I on my part single, in me all
Posterity stands curst. Fair patrimony
That I must leave ye, sons! "—MILTON.

"It is improper to say, Adam's eating of the forbidden fruit was personally and inherently an act of mine. It was personally his, and imputatively mine: personally his, because he did it; imputatively mine, because I was then in him. Indeed, the effects of his personal eating is found in my person; to wit, defilement and pravity" (Bunyan).

in his first transgression. Those divines who go most deeply into these matters, believe that they have sufficient scriptural and theological ground for holding that Adam's headship ceased with his fall. See Romans 5:18, Revised Version.

Use."Our very nature is sinful. Herein is the importance of the doctrine of original sin. It is very humbling, and as such the only true introduction to the preaching of the gospel. Men do not like to be told that the race from which they spring is degenerate. We know how ashamed men are of being low born or discreditably connected. This is the sort of shame forced upon every son of Adam. ‘Thy first father hath sinned' is the legend on our forehead" (Newman).

05 August 2007

Out With the Old and In With the New

So, what should we make of the following?:

From this one example, we may judge what is to be thought of the whole class—viz. that the whole sum of righteousness, and all the parts of divine worship, and everything necessary to salvation, the Lord has faithfully comprehended, and clearly unfolded, in his sacred oracles, so that in them he alone is the only Master to be heard. But as in external discipline and ceremonies, he has not been pleased to prescribe every particular that we ought to observe (he foresaw that this depended on the nature of the times, and that one form would not suit all ages), in them we must have recourse to the general rules which he has given, employing them to test whatever the necessity of the Church may require to be enjoined for order and decency. Lastly, as he has not delivered any express command, because things of this nature are not necessary to salvation, and, for the edification of the Church, should be accommodated to the varying circumstances of each age and nation, it will be proper, as the interest of the Church may require, to change and abrogate the old, as well as to introduce new forms. I confess, indeed, that we are not to innovate rashly or incessantly, or for trivial causes. Charity is the best judge of what tends to hurt or to edify: if we allow her to be guide, all things will be safe. - Institutes, Book IV, Ch. 30, paragraph 3, emphasis mine.

Calvin, here, is approving of change, advancement, improvement in the church. We cannot continue to worship as we once did in the 17th, 18th, 19th centuries or we shall fail in our mission to evangelize the world. We must adapt, we must "as the interest of the Church may require, to change and abrogate the old, as well as to introduce new forms." To cling to forms or traditions for the sake of them is defeating God's purposes and therefore our own. We must forge ahead and modernize our forms of worship, albeit carefully, but modernize we must. We should not, as Calvin states above, "innovate rashly or incessantly, or for trivial causes." Innovation should come cautiously and through much prayer.

Modern theologian John Frame concurs. Some time ago I posted from his Worship in Spirit and Truth where he wrote on page 8, ...And we should make sure that our worship is edifying to believers (1 Cor. 14:26). First Corinthians 14 emphasizes the importance of conducting worship, not in unintelligible "tongues," but in language understandable to all. Even an unbeliever, when he enters the assembly, should be able to understand what is taking place, so that he will fall down and worship, exclaiming, "God is really among you" (vs. 25). So, worship has a horizontal dimension as well as vertical focus. It is to be God-centered, but also to be both edifying and evangelistic. Worship that is unedifying or unevangelistic may not properly claim to be God-centered. Further he points out on page 67, ...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.

Church leaders should give careful thought to and make much prayer over this issue. Change is necessary, it is part of life. As we change, society changes and the world changes the church cannot allow herself to be left behind.

Too Funny

The minister at Auchengonnie Parish Church really should have had new reading glasses and occasionally misread the church notices he had to announce. Like the week when he said "The church elders would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend them their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday." Fortunately, the ladies supplied their griddles instead.

Thanks to Scottie for the joke.

03 August 2007

John Piper on the Bridge Collapse

As the Desiring God offices are so close to the bridge collapse in Minnesota, I'm glad John Piper choose to blog on this tragedy. He has such a good perspective in these situations. Here's just a bit of what Piper had to say: The meaning of the collapse of this bridge is that John Piper is a sinner and should repent or forfeit his life forever. That means I should turn from the silly preoccupations of my life and focus my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection on God and embrace Jesus Christ as my only hope for the forgiveness of my sins and for the hope of eternal life. That is God’s message in the collapse of this bridge. That is his most merciful message: there is still time to turn from sin and unbelief and destruction for those of us who live. If we could see the eternal calamity from which he is offering escape we would hear this as the most precious message in the world.

Take a few moments to read the whole post here.

01 August 2007

Westminster Wednesday

This week we come to Q&A #15:

Ques. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
Ans. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eatmg the forbidden fruit.

Thomas Vincent instructs us:

Q. 1. Why did God forbid our first parents to eat of this fruit?A. Not because there was any intrinsical evil in the fruit of the forbidden tree, it being as indifferent in itself to eat of this tree as any other tree in the garden; but God did forbid them to eat of the fruit of this tree, to try their obedience.
Q. 2. Could this sin, of eating the forbidden fruit, be very heinous, when the thing in itself was indifferent?A. 1. Though the eating the fruit was indifferent in itself, yet when so expressly forbidden by God it ceased to be indifferent, but was absolutely unlawful, and a great sin. 2. This sin of eating the forbidden fruit was such a sin as included many other sins, as it was circumstantiated.
Q. 3. What sins did the eating of the forbidden fruit include?A. The sins included in our first parents' eating the forbidden fruit were—1. Rebellion against God their sovereign, who had expressly forbidden them to eat of this tree. 2. Treason, in conspiring with the devil, God's enemy, against God. 3. Ambition, in aspiring to a higher state, namely, to be as God. 4. Luxury, in indulging so much to please the sense of taste, which did inordinately desire this fruit. 5. Ingratitude to God, who had given them leave to eat of any tree of the garden besides. 6. Unbelief, in not giving credit to the threatening of death, but believing the devil, who said they should not die, rather than God, who told them they should surely die, did they eat of this fruit. 7. Murder, in bringing death, by this sin, upon themselves, and all their posterity. These, and many other sins, were included in this sin of our first parents' eating of the forbidden fruit; which did render it exceeding heinous in the sight of God.