27 February 2008

Westminster Wednesday #47

WSC #47

Q: What is forbidden in the first commandment?
A: The first commandment forbiddeth the denying, or not worshipping and glorifying the true God as God,and our God; and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due to him alone.

Psalm 14:1. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Romans 1:20-21. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Psalm 81:11. But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. Romans 1:25. Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Q. 1. What are the chief sins forbidden in the first commandment?A. The chief sins forbidden in the first commandment are— 1. Atheism. 2. Profaneness. 3. Idolatry.
Q. 2. What is atheism?A. Atheism is the denying, or not having a God. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."— Ps. 14:1. "At that time ye were without Christ, having no hope, and without God in the world." — Eph. 2:12.
Q. 3. What is the profaneness forbidden in this commandment?A. The profaneness forbidden in this commandment is, the not worshipping and glorifying the true God as God, and our God.
Q. 4. Wherein doth this profaneness in regard of God's worship and honour appear?A. Profaneness, in regard of God's worship and honour, doth appear-]. When persons do not know God, or have misapprehensions of him. "My people is foolish, they have not known me."— Jer. 4:22. "Thou thoughtest I was altogether such an one as thyself."— Ps. 50:21. 2. When persons are forgetful of God. "My people have forgotten me days without number."— Jer. 2:32. 3. When persons hate God, or love themselves or anything else more than God, desire creatures more than God, trust in arms of flesh more than God, delight in objects of sense more than God, when persons set their affection upon anything in the world more than God, and take off the heart, in whole or in part, from God. "The carnal mind is enmity against God."— Rom. 8:7. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." — John 2:15. "Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth."— Col. 3:2. 4. When persons omit or neglect to give that worship and glory which is due unto God, either with the inward or outward man. "But thou hast not called upon me, 0 Jacob."— Isa. 43:22.
Q. 5. What is that idolatry which is forbidden in the first commandment?A. The idolatry which is forbidden in the first commandment, is the giving that worship and glory unto any other which is due unto God alone. "Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. — Rom. 1:25.
Q. 6. How many ways may persons be guilty of the idolatry forbidden in this commandment?A. Persons may be guilty of the idolatry forbidden in this commandment 1. By having and worshipping other gods besides the true God, with the outward man; as when persons worship the heathenish gods, or angels, or saints. 2. By giving that honour and respect to any thing in the world which is due only unto God, with the inward man, which is heart-idolatry. "And covetousness, which is idolatry."— Col. 3:5. -
Thomas Vincent

Photo credit

24 February 2008

Making the Most of Your Devotional Life

I'm always on the lookout for Reformed devotional material and recently came across Making the Most of Your Devotional Life by Derek Thomas. It is a study of Psalms 120 through 134. From the introduction Thomas tells us, Another view suggests that these psalms may have been sung in turn on the fifteen steps which led from one temple court to another (the word 'ascent' is used of steps or stairs)...It is suggested that the ascent is to be understood in a spiritual way; these psalms are meant to convey a fifteen-step programme of meditative, spiritual progress from one degree to another...and they can function very easily as guides to growth and maturity in the faith. Ah, a study of the Psalms with a goal of growth and maturity, that's right up my alley. Thomas points out that there are at least five qualifiers for biblical spirituality that should be understood. First, spirituality must be theocentric & secondly it must be Bible based and Bible driven. Third, spirituality must be biblically realistic. Next, it must be twin-focused - that is, both on this world and the world which is to come. Finally, spirituality must involve effort on our part as well as empowering on God's part. After a meaty but simple to read introduction I was anxious to get started with Psalm 120.

1 In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.
2 Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.
3 What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?
4 Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.
5 Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!
6 My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace.
7 I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.

Thomas notes that Psalm 120 is often a favorite of many even though it seems gloomy. Some of the highlights from this chapter started with the author's reminder that we are never free from suffering in this world. "Losses and crosses" was the Puritan phrase for this. "We must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). Life is replete with missed opportunities and let-downs. The psalmist is remembering a time when he enjoyed worship in God's house and now he is somehow prevented from it. Do we miss it when we cannot attend? If not, we have a serious issue we must deal with directly. The way of recovery involves recognizing a few truths.

1. We must recognize that an enemy exists.

2. We must recognize our inadequacy to overcome the enemy.

3. The source of all our hope lies in the power of God.

4. Prayer is the "key that unlocks the gate to renewed fellowship with God."

This first chapter really was inspiring and motivating to make a deeper connection with God in light of the troubles in life we all encounter. There is much more I could say but I hope that if your looking for such a book as this that I have possibly interested you in this one. I look forward to reading the next chapter and meditating on Psalm 121.

23 February 2008

Beer Sites and Blogs

Just wanted to mention a few good few good beer websites and blogs. For starters, Jason has a great blog called Pilgrims Pub. Various posts on topics related to beer and an all-around good guy, too. Then we have the Better Drinking blog. Lots beer data and links. Posts are infrequent but worth reading when they appear. The Enjoying Beer blog is where we find tons of good beer information and reviews. Its great to keep up with these beer oriented blogs. A few local brewers and restaurant websites to keep up with would be the Brew Kettle, Claddagh Irish Pub & The Great Lakes Brewery. I love beer and see it as a blessing from God. I don't lust and clamour after much in this life & I try to live simply with the few pleasures, like beer, that the Lord has blessed me with. After all....For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity. There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. Ecclesiastes 2:22-24.

22 February 2008

Decent Pubs and Beer

Lately I’ve been listening to several lectures by Carl Trueman and have enjoyed nearly every second of them. If you aren’t familiar with him he’s quite an able scholar and a brilliant speaker. Every lecture on John Owen is worth a second listen. However after already being really impressed by this guy he gives the following response to the Exiled Preacher’s query on what he misses about England:
Family; Bon Accord Free Church of Scotland in Aberdeen, where I was privileged to serve as an elder. Then, in no particular order, decent pubs and beer, proper chocolate, spaghetti hoops, Indian food, Branston pickle, marmite, thoughtful newspapers, Harry Hill, Terry Wogan's Breakfast Show, orthodox Christians who are left of center in politics. Decent pubs and beer? This guy is incredible. OK, I’m really hooked on this guy now. I'll start buying his books based on that statement alone.
Read the entire interview with Carl Trueman by the Exiled Preacher here.

20 February 2008

Westminster Wednesday #46

Here we go...

Ques. What is required in the first commandment?
Ans. The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God, and to worship and glorify him accordingly.

Q. 1. How many duties are there chiefly required in the first commandment? A. There are three duties chiefly required in the first commandment. 1. To know God. "And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father."— 1 Chron. 28:9. 2. To acknowledge God. "Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God."— Deut. 26:17. 3. To worship and glorify God. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve."— Matt. 4:10.
Q. 2. What are we bound to know concerning God? A. We are bound to know— 1. That God is, or that there is a God. 2. What God is in all those glorious attributes and perfections whereby he hath made himself known.
Q. 3. How ought we to acknowledge God? A. 1. We ought to acknowledge God to be the only true God. "Unto us there is but one God "— 1 Cor. 8:6. 2. We ought to take and own God for our God. "This God is our God."— Ps. 48:14.
Q. 4. How ought we to worship and glorify God? A. We ought to worship and glorify God as the only right object of divine worship and honour— 1. In our minds, by thinking, meditating, remembering, and highly esteeming of him. "A book of remembrance was written before him, for them that thought on his name."— Mal. 3:16. "When I remember thee on my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches."— Ps. 63:6. "O God, who is like unto thee ?"— Ps. 71:19. 2. In our wills, by choosing him for our chief good, and devoting ourselves t6 his service. "Ye have chosen the Lord, to serve him." — Josh. 24:22. 3. In our hearts, by loving him, desiring him, fearing him, believing and trusting in him, grieving for our sins against him, hoping in him, delighting and rejoicing in him. "And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, and to love him?" &c.— Deut. 10:12. "The desire of our soul is to thy name."— Isa. 26:8. "And the people believed the Lord and his servant Moses."— Exod. 14:31. "Trust ye in the Lord for ever."— Isa. 26:4. "I will be sorry for my sin."— Ps. 38:18. "Let Israel hope in the Lord."— Ps. 130:7. "Delight thyself in the Lord."— Isa. 37:4. 4. In our lips, by calling upon him, and speaking well of his name. "In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God."— Phil. 4:6. "My mouth shall speak of the praise of the Lord."— Ps. 145:5. In our lives, by yielding all obedience unto him, being zealous for his glory, careful to please him, fearful of offending him, and by walking humbly before him. "This thing commanded I them, Obey my voice, and walk ye in all the ways that I commanded "— Jer. 7:23. "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up."— John 2:17. "Walk worthy of the Lord, unto all pleasing."— Col. 1:10. "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ?"— Gen. 39:9. "Walk humbly with thy God."— Micah 6:8. - Thomas Vincent

19 February 2008

Beer, Good Beer

We had a great afternoon yesterday as my wife & I took her dad out for his birthday. We went to a local establishment by the name of The Brew Kettle. This is an outstanding restaurant with an even more outstanding draft selection. Nothing but good beer here. You won't find a Miller or Bud Light in the house (you may get kicked out for asking). Check out their On Tap Now page and you'll see what I mean. Its always fum to go and try something new. For starters I had the Hoppin Frog BORIS which is brewed right here in Akron, Ohio. Absolutely wonderful - all that toasty sweetness that I can't get enough of! As a Porter and Stout guy this really hit the spot.(BORIS stands for Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout.) This fine brew is ABV 9.4 and IBU 60. Good stuff but at 9.4 ABV be sure you watch how many you imbibe or have someone drive you. I only had one - don't worry.
Next I had a Southern Tier Raspberry Porter. I wasn't sure what to expect here but as I normally like fruity brews I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I was greatly delighted! A great raspberry taste in a porter, you can be sure I'll be looking for this in the beverage store. Click on the link to read more at the Beer Advocate.
Lastly, I had my growler filled with their own Ringneck Black Jack Porter. Nice roasty flavor. I'm sipping on some now! If you're in the Cleveland area you won't go wrong stopping by. You can even brew your own beer there which is something I plan on one day soon. I already have the name picked out - Reformation Porter.

18 February 2008

Masculine Spirituality

The "men in church" issue is something that should greatly concern us. There are many haunting questions such as why don't more men attend church, how does the church retain their interest, how does the church keep from losing young men and boys and increase attendance of males in their twenties, what is being done to stop the feminization of the church and the list of like questions goes on and on. Without strong male leadership the church will suffer and I think in large part is suffering today as a result. From the current issue of Covenant, we read, According to a 2006 study by Duke University, the typical US congregation draws an adult crowd that is 61% female and 39% male with virtually no men in their twenties.

Masculinity is misunderstood these days and Biblical masculinity is no different. The author of this article* offers the following: Christ-centered masculinity entails nothing less that fighting for the cosmic cause of the Kingdom, fighting evil, accepting responsibilty, leading with radical fortitude, pursuing justice for others, showing empathy for the things that God cares about, and living out the implications of the Gospel in every area of life in ways unique to our vocation as men (Prov. 5; 1 John 2:12-14). That's a pretty tall order and I'm sure most of us fall short. Nevertheless its time we all start striving for these goals. We need to start looking to ourselves as men for ways to make us better, more Godly men, not just for our own good but for the ultimate and eternal glory of Christ.

*Masculine Spirituality by Anthony Bradley, Covenant magazine, Spring 2008, page 13.

15 February 2008

How Unreasonable....

How unreasonable and wholly inexcusable in believers is the sin of backsliding from Christ? Have you found rest in him when you found it in no other? Did he receive and give peace to your soul when all other persons and things were physicians of no value? And will you after this backslide from him? O what madness! No man in his right mind would leave the pure, cold, refreshing stream of a crystal fountain to go to a filthy puddle or an empty cistern; such are the best enjoyments of this world in comaprison with Jesus Christ. - The Method of Grace by John Flavel, page 219.

Rick Derringer on His Faith

I was always a fan of Derringer's music so I thought this was great. I don't agree with everything he says but its fantastic to hear his testimony and awesome to hear how God worked in his life.

14 February 2008

Just One Book...

If you could give just one book to someone you know, what book would that be? Let’s pretend that you’ll likely never see this person again and you want to leave them something that will not just remind them of you but will positively influence him/her for the Kingdom. What would that book be? My answer will be posted in a couple of days.

12 February 2008

Westminster Wednesday #45

We come upon the first commandment this week.
Q. 45. What is the first commandment? A. The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

From Matthew Henry we read:
1. Is it an essential duty of religion to worship God? Yes: for those have no hope that are without God in the world Eph. 2:12. Are we concerned to be right in the object of our worship? Yes: We must know what we worship, John 4:22. Does the first commandment direct us in this? Yes: for the first of all the commandments is this, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, Mark 12:29.
2. Does God lay a stress upon our having him for our God? Yes: Hear, O my people, and I will speak; I am God, even thy God, Ps. 1:7. And upon our having him only? Yes: Hear, 0 my people, and I will testify unto thee; there shall no strange god be in thee, neither shall thou worship any strange god, Ps. 81:8, 9. Did Israel need this commandment? Yes: for their fathers served other gods, Josh. 24:2. And were they tempted to serve other gods? Yes: the gods of the people that were round about them, Deut. 13:7.

And let us return once again to John Flavel on this question as well:
Q. 1. What is the first duty enjoined in the first commandment? A. It is to know and acknowledge the existence or being of God, and consequently condemns all atheism, both in judgment and practice; Hebrews 11:6. For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Psalm 14:1. The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.
Q. 2. What is the second duty of the first commandment? A. It requires all men to know and acknowledge the unity of God; Deuteronomy 6:4. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. And condemns polytheism, or plurality of gods; 1 Corinthians 8:5-6. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many, and lords many;) but to us there is but one God.
Q. 3. Whence sprang the opinion of more gods than one at first in the world? A. It sprang from ignorance of God’s omnipresence and omnipotence. Hence came their vain imaginations; Romans 1:21. Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. They thought the presence and power of God might reach one place, and not another; 1 Kings 20:23. And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills, therefore they were stronger than we: But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.
Q. 4. What were the first creatures worshipped as gods? A. Probably the heavenly bodies, sun, moon, and stars, because of their splendour and influences. These as heralds, do proclaim God to the world; Psalm 19:1-2. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handy work: Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. And these messengers of God were mistaken for God himself; Job 31:26-28. If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness, and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand; this also were an iniquity, for I should have denied the God that is above.
Q. 5. What doth these words [before me] import? A. It notes God’s perfect knowledge and abhorrence of all idolatry, or worshipping of another God, as what he cannot endure to behold; Jeremiah 44:3-4. Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense to serve other gods whom they knew not, neither they, you, nor your fathers. Howbeit, I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early, and sending them, saying, Oh do not this abominable thing that I hate.
Q. 6. Are none guilty of this sin but heathenish idolaters? A. Yes; all that place their supreme love or trust in any creature, make that creature their god; and in scripture are called idolaters, Colossians 3:5. And covetousness, which is idolatry. Philippians 3:19. Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.
Q. 7. How doth the idolatry forbidden in the first, differ from that forbidden in the second commandment? A. The idolatry forbidden in the first commandment is a sin respecting the object of worship, when we set up any thing in the place of God, which by nature is not God; Galatians 4:8. Howbeit, then when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But that against the second commandment is, when we pretend to worship the true God, but do it by such means, arid in such a manner as he hath not required, or hath forbidden; Exodus 32:4. And he received them at their hands, and fashioned it with a graven tool, after he had made it a molten calf; arid they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
Q. 8. What is the first inference from the first commandment? A. That it is a special mercy to be brought forth in a land where the true God is known and worshipped; Psalm 147:20. He hath riot dealt so with any nation; and as for his judgments, they have not known them; praise ye the Lord.
Q. 9. What is the second inference from the first commandment? A. That it is a great and dreadful sin to live without the worship of God in tile world; Ephesians 2:12. That 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. 10. What is the third inference from the first commandment? A. That Christians must not comply with idolatrous and superstitious worship, when they are cast into idolatrous places, how great soever the danger be; Psalm 16:4. Their sorrows shall be multiplied, that hasten after another god; their drink-offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their name into my lips.
Q. 11. What is the fourth inference from hence? A. That supreme love, fear, and trust of the soul, is God’s peculiar right and due. Whosoever places them on any other besides God, is guilty of a very heinous arid great sin against him; 1 John 2:15. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world:
If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Compared with Job 31:24, 28. If I have made gold my hope, or have said to tile fine gold, thou art my confidence; this also were an iniquity to he punished by the judge; for I should have denied the God that is above.
Q. 12. What is the fifth inference from hence? A. That God’s eye discovers the closest idolatry in the world, whether it be in secret actions; Ezekiel 8:12. Hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark? Every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, the Lord seeth us not, the Lord hath forsaken the earth. Or inward affections; Colossians 3:5. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Q. 13. What is the sixth inference from hence? A. That an high and full condition in the world, is a dangerous condition, and lies most exposed to the danger of heart-idolatry; Proverbs 30:9. Lest I be full and deny thee, and say, who is the Lord? Mark 10:24. How hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of heaven?
Q. 14. What is the last inference? A. That in covenanting with God, and avouching him for our God, we must wholly renounce all others, and take God alone for our portion, and object of our love and dependence; Hosea 3:3. Thou shalt not be for another man; so will I also be for thee. Luke 14:33. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

10 February 2008

On this day...

On this day, February 10, 1723, John Witherspoon, signatory of the Declaration of Independence and President of Princeton College was baptised at Yester. You can read a bit about him here.

09 February 2008

Guitars, Harmonicas and Worship Music

Since I’ve never blogged about it many of you don’t realize I’m an amateur musician. Perhaps extremely amateur or pathetically amateur would be a better description but at least I’m not a rank beginner. :-) I play guitar and harmonica and love both instruments. For about 4 years or so I played on the worship team of my former church and enjoyed every minute of it. I miss that very much but for the time being I’m not attending a church that allows me the opportunity to play. In the meantime I practice when I can which is usually in between reading all those dusty Puritan works I go on about. I don’t know which instrument I have more of a passion for, guitar or harmonica. I play a bit of the blues, jazz and worship styles on guitar. I have three electric guitars, one acoustic and a bass guitar. I’ve most likely spread myself a little to thin to get really good at one of these or in one genre but I enjoy playing all of them nonetheless. My harmonicas number somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-100; all different brands, keys, tunings & types. For the last several years I've been the moderator of the Christian Harmonica discussion group on Yahoo where currently there is roughly 120 members and several who do at least occasionaly play on their church worship team. I don’t play harmonica as much as I once did as it has become somewhat of a “back-up” instrument to me and playing on one's own after playing with others can get to be a drag. Yet I still love the harp and have been working lately on playing in a rack with guitar.

So, hey, if you're into worship music or like to discuss music, i.e., blues, Celtic, rock or worship music, guitars or harmonicas leave a message. If you like the blues give me a listen on guitar here. The photo here is of one of my guitars which is a solid body, blond Squier '51. Its great for blues and rock.

Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. - Psalm 150:4

The LORD was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the LORD. - Isaiah 38:20

Around the web this week....

The issue of Islam is high on everyone's watch list. If its not on your's it should be. Stephen at the Reformed Christian UK posted this excellent observation on Islam this week. Closely related to that Guy, the Exiled Preacher, posted this concerning the Archbishop of Canterbury and Sharia Law. The views of the Archbishop are just astounding; I don't have the words to express my dismay for this man's views.

The good folks at the Monergism blog have posted the Puritan Library. If you're into the Puritans this is the place to go. Links for tons of the works by Owen , Flavel and Baxter just to name three. All can be read or downloaded free.

And finally, for poking fun at WTS there is this humorous blog.

Photo is of John Flavel. You can read his Keeping The Heart here.

07 February 2008

Derek Thomas, John Owen and Learning

I spend a fair amount of time reading and listening to well known theologians. I like learning and studying theology but I’m always cautious so as not to just make all this learning purely an intellectual endeavor. Rather, I try to also incorporate all of this theology I’ve been absorbing over the years and incorporate it into my devotional life. Thus, for all these smarter-than-me living and dead theologians that I’ve been reading and listening to over the years I have to admit that I also enjoy learning about their personal life just as much. What was their life like, how did they grow up, what physical difficulties did they experience, how did they come to know the Lord and how did they spend time with the Lord? Often if I want to buy one of their books I usually lean towards buying one of their devotional works first over anything else they may have published.
I’ve taken a break recently from some other studies to spend some time on the Puritans (again) and John Owen particularly. I’ve been listening to some lectures by Derek Thomas on John Owen given at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. Its fascinating and enlightening stuff and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. At one point, Thomas, in connection with his talk on Owen, relates his own conversion experience which I liked hearing about and I’m glad he shared it. For all his knowledge, Thomas, like all of us, was saved by simple grace. A friend gave him a book by John Stott which he read followed by his own reading of the Bible (the first he Bible he ever owned). Sensing his need he prayed, he can’t remember his exact words but it was something like what a “drowning man would say when the waters were coming upon him, 'Lord save me’.” He went on to say that he could not have “formulated anything that was theologically sound…” but he simply believed Matthew 11:28-30 and that’s all there was to it. What a simple and yet profound story of God’s grace working in a man’s heart. Of all the issues he spoke about this was just as encouraging and interesting and a great little diversion from the focus of the lecture. It really brought home his point about Owen’s view on conviction of sin.
It was Herman Bavinck, who, on his death bed, said "My dogmatics avails me nothing nor my knowledge but I have my faith and in this I have all.” May we all remember this sentiment as we travel the life-long road of learning.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

More on Derek Thomas here & his Owen lectures are here.

06 February 2008

Westminster Wednesday #43 & #44

This week's q's & a's:

Q. 43. What is the preface to the ten commandments? A. The preface to the ten commandments is in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Q. 44. What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us? A. The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us that because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments.
Q. 1. Why doth God use arguments and inducements to win men to the obedience of his laws? A. Because he loves to work on man as a rational creature, according to the principles of his nature; Hosea 11:4. 1 drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: And because he delights in none but free and cheerful obedience; Psalm 110:3. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.
Q. 2. What is the first argument in this preface? A. It is the sovereignty of the Lawgiver, [I am the Lord,] which should awe the heart of every man to obedience; James 4:12. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy.
Q. 3. What is the second argument to obedience? A. Our propriety in God by covenant, [I am the Lord thy God;] this obligeth to obedience, and aggravateth disobedience; Psalm 50:7. Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee; I am God, even thy God. Hosea 9:1. For thou hast gone a whoring from thy God.
Q. 4. What is the third argument unto obedience? A. The benefits of redemption that they receive from God. Benefits persuade to duty; and the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance, Romans 2:4.
Q. 5. How can deliverance out of Egypt be an argument to them that never were in Egypt? A. As that deliverance was a type of our deliverance, so it is an argument to us, and an argument from the less to the greater; for it obligeth us more than them; Luke 1:74-75. That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
Q. 6. What is that deliverance we have? and how doth it oblige us to obedience? A. Our deliverance is not from Egypt, but from hell; Colossians 1:13. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. And our persons are bought by the Redeemer to glorify God; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. What know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you? For ye are bought with a price: Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Q. 7. Is it not mercenary to serve God upon the account of benefits received, or to be received? A. He that maketh religious duties mediums to attain carnal advantages only, is of a worse than mercenary spirit; Hosea 7:14. And they have not cried unto me with their hearts, when they howled upon their beds: They assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me. But to be quickened by mercy to duty is not mercenary, but evangelical; Hosea 3:5. They shall fear the Lord, and his goodness.
Q. 8. What is the first inference from hence? A. That great is the condescension of God to man, that he will use arguments to induce him to obedience, who might exact it only by his sovereignty, and justly damn us for our disobedience; 2 Corinthians 5:20. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: We pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
Q. 9. What is the second inference front hence? A. That the more mercy any receive from God, the more obligations are laid on them to obey him; Psalm 116:1-2. I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice, and my supplications: Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.
Q. 10. What is the third inference from hence? A. The more mercies and favours any man sins against, the greater is that man's sin, and the sorer will be his punishment; Amos 3:2. You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
Q. 11. What is the fourth inference from hence? A. That God’s expectations are greater, where his mercies and favours have been so; Isaiah 5:4. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not (lone in it? Wherefore when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes.
Q. 12. What is the last inference from hence? A. That memorials of God’s mercies are to be kept by us, to provoke us to constant and cheerful duties of obedience; Exodus 17:14. And the Lord said unto Moses, write this for a memorial in a hook, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua. Psalm 103:2-3. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. -
John Flavel

05 February 2008

The Good & the Bad

I'm home from a hard days labor enjoying a favorite brew when I came across this and almost lost my cookies. So, I popped over to my new friend's blog to remind myself (not that I really need to) why I enjoy imbibing my favorite beverage (that's beer for those of you who don't know). Pilgrim's Pub is a great new blog that focuses on beer and the consumption of it from a Christain perspective. My hats off to ya Jason!

03 February 2008

Thoughts on the Lord's Day

Yes, its Super Bowl Sunday. Yuch! Gag me with a spoon. I know, I'm a man but I'm sick to death of sports. Sports in this country are highly over-rated and those who play & coach are over paid. That fact alone has ruined sports for me. Here is my humorous but likely effective way to control NFL payroll costs. OK, Mr. Football, I'll pay you the $5, 000, 000 you're asking for on just a few conditions. Every missed tackle is $10, 000 back to me, every dropped catch is $10,000 back to me, every fumble is $10,000 back to me and generally any other mistake you make on the field is $10,000 back to me except when we're within 20 yards of our opponent's goal, then multipy this figure by 2. How do you think these guys would respond? Money, I think, has ruined sports and I know that opinon is not popular even with those who would agree that the financial aspect of professional sports has damaged the game.

But I think he real issue for me and Christian men everywhere is the fact that I can't think of a worse way to spend a Lord's Day afternoon than glued to the idiot box watching these mutants get paid a ton of dough to play a game. It is the Lord's Day after all. I'd rather spend some time focusing on the "unseen" rather than the "seen". I'm not claiming to be the worlds best Sabbatarian and, in fact, I'm still working out what it means to keep the Sabbath Day holy without stepping into legalistic territory which, in my humble experience, many good folks do. I'm certainly not saying all sports are wrong especially on the other 6 days of the week. I am, however, advocating that we as men take another look at how we spend our Sunday's, that is, are we immersed in sports or immersed in thoughts of our Saviour.

From the Westminster Shorter Catechism:
Q. 60. How is the sabbath to be sanctified?
A. The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful in other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God's worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

Gentlemen, any thoughts?

02 February 2008

John Owen on Scripture

Recently I've been studying a bit on John Owen and came across some good stuff on his views on Scripture. For example, Scripture is received in the twofold manner work of the Holy Spirit, i.e., an internal witness and an external witness. The internal witness is the Spirit's work on men's minds allowing them to believe. The external witness is the Spirit giving evidence through the Scriptures that it is true. J.I.Packer delineates this for us by offering three points how the Spirit works this out. 1. By Light. Scripture, through the covenanted action of the Holy Spirit, constantly "shines", in the sense of giving spiritual illumination and insight as to who and what on is in the sight of God, and who and what Jesus Christ is, both in humself and in relation to one's own self and finally, in the broadest and most inclusive sense, how one ought to live. (A Quest for Godliness, by J.I. Packer, page 91.) 2. The Spirit makes Scripture powerful. We see this in verses such as Hebrews 4:12 ?& 1 Corinthians 1:18. 3. The Spirit makes the Scriptures to work on each person individually to see God's majesty. Therefore, ...through the action of the Holy Spirit, Scripture evidences and authenticates itself as the Word of God. (A Quest for Godliness, by J.I. Packer, page 91.) The power with which the Scriptures approach us is the public testimony of the Holy Spirit given to us all, of the Word, by and in the Word. (John Owen as quoted in A Quest for Godliness, by J.I. Packer, page 91.)