30 December 2011

The Ohio Presbytery (PCA)

Check out the new Ohio Presbytery page...

The Ohio Presbytery exists for the purpose of zealously preaching Christ crucified and engaging in the work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the northern Ohio region.

28 December 2011

Praying in His Name

From Thomas Boston we read

"Secondly, More particularly, wherein praying in the name of Christ, and for his sake consists,
Thomas Boston
1. Renouncing all merit and worth in ourselves in point of access acceptance and gracious answer saying with Jacob Gen xxxii. 10  "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which thou hast shewed unto thy servant." If we stand on personal worth from the consideration of our doings or sufferings or any thing in or about ourselves we pray in our own name and will speed accordingly. Self denial is absolutely necessary to this kind of praying that stopping our eyes to all excellencies in ourselves or duties, we may betake ourselves to free grace only.
2. Believing that however great the mercies are and however unworthy we are yet we may obtain them from God through Jesus Christ Heb. iv. 15, 16 There can be no praying in faith without this. If we do not believe this, we dishonour his name whether our unbelief of it arise from the greatness of the mercy needed or from our own unworthiness or both. For nothing can be beyond the reach of his infinite merit and never failing intercession
3. Seeking in prayer the mercies we need of God for Christ's sake accordingly So we present our petitions "in his name" John xvi. 24. We are to be ashamed before God in prayer ashamed of ourselves but not ashamed to beg in the name of his Son. Our holy shame respects our unworthiness but Christ's merit and intercession are set before us as a ground of confidence.
4. Pleading on his merit and intercession Psalm lxxxiv. 9, " Behold 0 God our shield and look upon the face of thine Anointed." We are not only to seek but to plead in prayer as needy petitioners whose pinching necessity makes them fill their mouths with arguments Job xxiii. 3, 4. Christ's merit and intercession is the fountain of these arguments and to plead on mere mercy mercy for mere mercy's sake is too weak a plea. But faith founding its plea on Christ's merit urges God's covenant and promise made thereupon; Psalm lxxiv. 20, his glorious perfections shining in the face of Jesus the honour of his name manifested in Christ.
5. Lastly, Trusting that we shall obtain a gracious answer for his sake Mark xi. 24, "What things soever ye desire when ye pray believe that ye receive them and ye shall have them." The soul praying according to the will of God is to exercise a faith of particular confidence in God through Christ which is not only warrantable but necessary Jam. i 6, 7. This glorifies the Mediator and glorifies the faithfulness of God in the promise and the want of it casts dishonour on both." (Thomas Boston, Works, 11:91)

To sum up Boston's points on the critical nature of praying in Christ's name:
1. Renounce our own worth
2. Regardless of our great needs, we may obtain them through Christ
3. Though ashamed, we are to bring our requests to Him in Christ's name
4. We plead based on Christ's merit and intercession for us
5. Trust that we will receive a gracious answer for our requests

Thoughts anyone?

26 December 2011

Sanctification, Why Bother?

From the Heidelberg Catechism we read,

Q2. How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happily?
A: Three; the first, how great my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance (emphasis mine).

 And from the Westminster Catechism,

Q32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?
A. They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption, and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.


35. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness (emphasis mine).

And so we read that sanctification is neither an option or simply a recommended lifestyle. It is a requirement for every beleiver to pursue for Peter tells us, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter 2:24 ESV) and Paul,  "Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1 ESV).

And finally, John Owen offers an excellent explanation

John Owen
"He gave us a new understanding, a new heart, new affections and renewed the whole soul into the image of God. He does this by the washing of regeneration and the restoring of the image of God unto our souls.This work is the cause of our holiness. Our minds, hearts, and affections are renewed by the Holy Spirit, and he cleanses us from all spiritual and habitual pollution. If we would be further cleansed from our sins, we must labour after and endeavor to grow in this renovation of our natures by the Spirit. The more we have of his saving light in our minds, of his heavenly love in our wills and affections, and of a constant readiness unto obedience in our hearts, the more pure we become. He purifies us by strengthening our souls in grace. Having given us the principle of purity in regeneration, he now acts in us the duties of obedience in opposition to sin. By the special application of the blood of Christ, the Holy Spirit becomes the efficient cause of the purging of our souls from all the defilements of sin ( John Owen, Works, III:436-438, emphasis mine,.)

So, my friends, just how do we labor in our sanctification?

25 December 2011

Happy Christmas   

From Spurgeon's Morning and Evening for December 25th...

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 ESV)

Let us to-day go down to Bethlehem, and in company with wondering shepherds and adoring Magi, let us see him who was born King of the Jews, for we by faith can claim an interest in him, and can sing, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” Jesus is Jehovah incarnate, our Lord and our God, and yet our brother and friend; let us adore and admire. Let us notice at the very first glance his miraculous conception. It was a thing unheard of before, and unparalleled since, that a virgin should conceive and bear a Son. The first promise ran thus, “The seed of the woman,” not the offspring of the man. Since venturous woman led the way in the sin which brought forth Paradise lost, she, and she alone, ushers in the Regainer of Paradise. Our Saviour, although truly man, was as to his human nature the Holy One of God. Let us reverently bow before the holy Child whose innocence restores to manhood its ancient glory; and let us pray that he may be formed in us, the hope of glory. Fail not to note his humble parentage. His mother has been described simply as “a virgin,” not a princess, or prophetess, nor a matron of large estate. True the blood of kings ran in her veins; nor was her mind a weak and untaught one, for she could sing most sweetly a song of praise; but yet how humble her position, how poor the man to whom she stood affianced, and how miserable the accommodation afforded to the new-born King!
Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendour.

24 December 2011

Merry Christmas


    And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
(Luke 2:9-11 ESV)

Christmas on Facebook



Very well done.

And...

23 December 2011

Union and Communion part 2

"Awakening and Conviction"


    But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.
    “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
(John 16:4-11 ESV)

22 December 2011

Spurgeon on Psalm 19:14

Charles Spurgeon
    Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
        be acceptable in your sight,
        O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalm 19:14 ESV)
Spurgeon comments on this verse...

"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer." A sweet prayer, and so spiritual that it is almost as commonly used in Christian worship as the apostolic benediction. Words of the mouth are mockery if the heart does not meditate; the shell is nothing without the kernel; but both together are useless unless accepted; and even if accepted by man, it is all vanity if not acceptable in the sight of God. We must in prayer view Jehovah as our strength enabling, and our Redeemer saving, or we shall not pray aright, and it is well to feel our personal interest so as to use the word my, or our prayers will be hindered. Our near Kinsman's name, our Goel or Redeemer, makes a blessed ending to the Psalm; it began with the heavens, but it ends with him whose glory fills heaven and earth. Blessed Kinsman, give us now to meditate acceptably upon thy most sweet love and tenderness.

Spurgeon, Charles H. (2011-04-07). The Treasury of David: Charles Spurgeon Commentary on Psalms (with Active Table of Contents) [Illustrated] (Kindle Locations 9534-9540). Niche Edition. Kindle Edition.

21 December 2011

Christology Week 1

We begin a new study this quarter on Christology. Enjoy!



    “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work,
        the first of his acts of old.
    Ages ago I was set up,
        at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
    When there were no depths I was brought forth,
        when there were no springs abounding with water.
    Before the mountains had been shaped,
        before the hills, I was brought forth,
    before he had made the earth with its fields,
        or the first of the dust of the world.
    When he established the heavens, I was there;
        when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
    when he made firm the skies above,
        when he established the fountains of the deep,
    when he assigned to the sea its limit,
        so that the waters might not transgress his command,
    when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
        then I was beside him, like a master workman,
    and I was daily his delight,
        rejoicing before him always,
    rejoicing in his inhabited world
        and delighting in the children of man.
   
(Proverbs 8:22-31 ESV)


19 December 2011

LIGHT OF THE WORLD! FOREVER, EVER SHINING

In honor of Horatius Bonar's birthday today...

LIGHT OF THE WORLD! FOREVER, EVER SHINING

Light of the world! forever, ever shining,
There is no change in Thee;
True Light of life, all joy and health enshrining,
Thou canst not fade nor flee.
Thou hast arisen, but Thou descendeth never;
Today shines as the past;
All that Thou wast Thou art and shalt be ever,
Brightness from first to last.
Night visits not Thy sky, nor storm, nor sadness;
Day fills up all its blue—
Unfailing beauty, and unfaltering gladness,
And lover forever new.
Light of the world! undimming and unsetting,
O shine each mist away;
Banish the fear, the falsehood, and the fretting;
Be our unchanging Day.

by Horatius Bonar


He's Possessed Mark 3:22-30

    And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
    “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
(Mark 3:22-30 ESV)

18 December 2011

Winter has Arrived


    He gives snow like wool;
        he scatters frost like ashes.
    He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
        who can stand before his cold?
    He sends out his word, and melts them;
        he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
    He declares his word to Jacob,
        his statutes and rules to Israel.
    He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
        they do not know his rules.
    Praise the LORD!
(Psalm 147:16-20 ESV)

17 December 2011

Another look at the Imprecations in the Psalms

As a preface to looking at the imprecations found in the Psalter perhaps it should be first stated that we do not find imprecatory psalms but rather we find imprecations within the psalms. We will only find eighteen psalms that contain imprecations and in most cases they are minor. Only three psalms (Psalm 35, Psalm 69, Psalm 109) have a significant amount of imprecations and these total just twenty three verses. So, it can be justly said that we have imprecations within the psalms and not imprecatory psalms found with in the pages of Scripture.

Another critical factor in studying these "hard sayings" is these were written as poetry, not prose. Moreover, it is Oriental poetry which is filled with hyperbole, color, & over-statement which is common to its people. Recalling this fact will lead us to a proper understanding that these verses are not the ramblings of an angered psalmist.

 So then, if these hard sayings then are not wishful statements of vengeance, then what are they?

First and foremost these imprecations are a desire of the psalmist for the vindication of God's righteousness. "...[A]s to the real nature of these so-called imprecatory expressions is that they are, particularly in the mouth of David, utterances of zeal for God and God's kingdom."* As David was God's representative, his enemies were no longer his alone, but were the enemies of the Creator and all his plans. As such David could rightfully declare a desire for their fate that he could not do for his own enemies. We read of Paul ding the same in 1 Corinthians 16:22.

Secondly, these hard sayings display the ultimate hatred of sin. Similar the point above, these enemies of God were the epitome of evil* and therefore these pronouncements were fully justifiable.

Third, these imprecations are "prophetic teachings as to the attitude of God toward sin and impenitent and persistent sinners."* Hence, we gain an understanding of God's view of such sinners. A frightful understanding, indeed. "David no doubt felt it to be an important part of his duty to warn men of the Divine wrath against sin and persistent sinners."* In view of these facts then can we not understand how David penned these words?

And how did our Lord understand these particular psalms? "...'The 69th, which bears more of an imprecatory nature than any other except the 109th, is expressly quoted in five separate places, besides being alluded to in several more. ...'The nature of the quotations is even more significant than their number. It would seem that our Lord appropriated the (69th) psalm to Himself, and that we are to take it as a disclosure of thoughts and feelings which found  a place in His heart during His ministry on earth.'"*

Lastly we can say that if our Lord excepted and endorsed these hard sayings then we must also. "All this proves that, if we are not to reject the authority of Christ and His apostles, we must take this imprecatory psalm [Psalm 109] as having been spoken by David as the ancestor and type of Christ."*


*Much of this information has been gleaned from an article by Chalmers Martin in the Princeton Theological Review, 1903. For a fuller discussion on this issue, please refer to the article there.

14 December 2011

Union and Communion part 1


    “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
   
(1 Corinthians 6:12-17 ESV)

13 December 2011

12 December 2011

He's Crazy

    And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
    Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
   
(Mark 3:13-21 ESV)

10 December 2011

A Thought for Christmas


This Christmas, the challenge of preaching is to bring people into the presence of Christ, not with the unattainable ambition that fear of death, the final enemy, will be taken away; but certainly with the desire to prepare people for death. - Dr. Carl Trueman

Read Dr. Trueman's entire post here.

Peace for All With Whom He is Pleased

    And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
    “Glory to God in the highest,
        and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
(Luke 2:8-14 ESV)


08 December 2011

The Mind of Christ



    Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
   
(Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)


06 December 2011

The Son of God

    Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great crowd followed, from Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem and Idumea and from beyond the Jordan and from around Tyre and Sidon. When the great crowd heard all that he was doing, they came to him. And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him. And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.
(Mark 3:7-12 ESV)


St. Mark


03 December 2011

A More Balanced View

The has been much written on Facebook and many Christian/Reformed blogs about the Christmas holiday and its observance. Several seem to have an erroneous understanding of Reformed church history. Allow me to direct you to a a post by Danny Hyde of Oceanside United Reformed Church which unscrambles some of these misconceptions.


Most often than not, the charge is that observing any days other than the Lord’s Day is a violation of the Reformed regulative principle of worship. This principle comes from the second Commandment, which teaches, “That we in no wise make any image of God, nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded in His Word” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 96). However, ...The purpose of these festivals was twofold: to increase godliness by means of meditating upon the work of Christ and to give thanks for this work.

After dealing with some historical documents and quoting some well known theologians, Hyde concludes with four excellent reasons why we can and should observe these holidays provided it is done so properly. Read the post here and learn how we can enjoy these holidays and honor our Lord and Savior.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Presbyterian Church Government?

St. Giles, Edinburgh
The Presbyterian church follows neither the "democratic" nor the "monarchical," form of government. This form we believe accords with the New Testament pattern. In our system, elders are elected by the congregation for the purpose of governing. Once ordained and installed, they assume full spiritual authority. This order, upon which the government of the U.S. is based, expresses the view that certain spiritual "specialists," by virtue of experience, spiritual maturity and godly piety, are better qualified to interpret the Word of God and discern the will of the Lord for the congregation than the congregation as a whole or any single person, cleric or lay.

Looking for an accurate but understandable explanation of Presbyterian church government? Search no more. Check out this link from which the above quote has been taken and where you'll find a brief and informative statement on the subject.  Why is this important? There are numerous reasons for accepting Presbyterianism as the correct form of church government which are laid out in the article. Conversely, allow me to put forward  just two of many errors that can be avoided. First, it will avoid a dictatorship by the minister. He will not be permitted to turn the church in his own kingdom wittingly, or not. It will keep him humble and he will be obligated to work with the presbytery and his fellow elders on church matters. Secondly, as in Congregationalism, members do not vote on every issue within the walls of the church and especially on spiritual issues. Spiritual issues are dealt with by those called called to the office of elder. What could be worse than new believers or possibly unbelievers within the membership voting on deep Biblical issues of faith for the congregation? Those issues are better dealt with by the spiritual leaders of the body, the elders.

For even more information on the issue, check out this brief article as well by Greg Bahnsen.

02 December 2011

God's Decree: The Improvement


    Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! 
How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
    “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
        or who has been his counselor?”
    “Or who has given a gift to him
        that he might be repaid?”
    For from him and through him and to him are all things. 
To him be glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11:33-36 ESV)

30 November 2011

Sermon on the Mount Week 12 - The Lord's Prayer pt. 3

We conclude our study of the Sermon on the Mount this week with an examination of the final petitions of the Lord's Prayer.

Today is St Andrew's Day in Scotland


November 30th is St Andrew's Day in Scotland. The patronage of the saint whose name means 'manly' also covers fishmongers, gout, singers, sore throats, spinsters, maidens, old maids and women wishing to become mothers. But just who was Saint Andrew and how did he become the patron saint of Scotland? Read all about it here.

28 November 2011

Arise O Lord, Save Me

Psalm 3 
  O LORD, how many are my foes!
        Many are rising against me;
    many are saying of my soul,
        there is no salvation for him in God. Selah
    But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
        my glory, and the lifter of my head.
    I cried aloud to the LORD,
        and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
    I lay down and slept;
        I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
    I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
        who have set themselves against me all around.
    Arise, O LORD!
        Save me, O my God!
    For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
        you break the teeth of the wicked.
    Salvation belongs to the LORD;
        your blessing be on your people! Selah
(Psalm 3 ESV)


Elder James Pavlic

27 November 2011

Family Time During the Holidays

All too often the holidays are painful times when they really should be times of grace and happiness. Sinfulness of rears its ugly head and those happy hours are spoiled. So, for a few helpful and Biblical tips on navigating the holidays with friends and family allow me to recommend Justin Taylor's post here and Russell Moore's post here.  Let's enjoy the holidays and keep the Gospel in the forefront of all we do and say.

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10 ESV)

...with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
(Ephesians 4:2 ESV)

 ...and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,
(1 Thessalonians 3:12 ESV)

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, (1 Thessalonians 4:9 ESV)

26 November 2011

The Psalms as a Mirror

 The Psalms are truly a reflection upon our souls. In times of deepest need and greatest happiness they can mirror the inward thoughts and feelings of us all as Calvin and Luther explicate below.

There is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. The Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are often agitated. The other parts of Scripture contain the commandments which God enjoined his servants to announce to us, but here the prophets themselves seeing they are exhibited to us as speaking to God and laying open all their innermost thoughts and affections call, or rather draw, each of us to the examination of himself in particular in order that none of the many infirmities to which we are subject and of the many vices with which we abound may remain concealed. It is certainly a rare and singular advantage when all lurking places are discovered and the heart is brought into the light, purged from that most painful infection, hypocrisy. In short, as calling
upon God is one of the principle means of securing our safety and as a better and more unerring
rule for guiding us as in this exercise cannot be found elsewhere than in the Psalms, it follows
that in proportion to the proficiency which a man shall have attained in understanding them will
be the knowledge of his most important part of celestial doctrine. Genuine and earnest prayer
proceeds first from a sense of our need and next from faith in the promises of God. It is by
perusing these inspired compositions that men will be most effectually awakened to a sense of
their maladies and, at the same time, instructed in seeking remedies for their cure. In a word,
whatever may serve to encourage us when we are about to pray to God is taught us in this book.

- Taken from Calvin's preface to his commentary on the Psalms.

...Wouldest thou see the Holy Christian Church portrayed in living form and color, as it were in miniature? Open the Psalter. Thus thou shalt have before thee a fine, bright, spotless mirror, that will shew thee what kind of thing Christianity is. Yea, thou shalt therein find thine own self, and the right "know thyself"; God himself also and all his creatures. - From the preface of  Martin Luther's Commentary on the First Twenty-Two Psalms.

25 November 2011

God's Decree: The Others

    So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—
if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
    As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
    “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
        a cornerstone chosen and precious,
    and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
    So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
    “The stone that the builders rejected
        has become the cornerstone,” and
    “A stone of stumbling,
        and a rock of offense.”
    They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
   
(1 Peter 2:1-8 ESV)

23 November 2011

Sermon on the Mount Week 11 - The Lord's Prayer pt. 2

We study the 2nd and 3rd petition of The Lord's Prayer this week in our class on the Sermon on the Mount.

    Pray then like this:
    “Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
    Your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.

    Give us this day our daily bread,
    and forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    And lead us not into temptation,
        but deliver us from evil.
(Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)



21 November 2011

Hard Hearts, Withered Hand



    Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
   
(Mark 3:1-6 ESV)

19 November 2011

God without Parts: The Doctrine of Divine Simplicity

More great stuff from the Christ the Center guys...

Cultural Transformation or Forgiveness of Sins?

Carl Trueman brings out some interesting and critical points in the debate over transforming culture or individual forgiveness of sins. He blogs

The gospel-centred world seems divided over whether the gospel is primarily about transforming culture or individual forgiveness for sins.  Of course, there is a spectrum of opinion on this matter and not everyone is at one end of it or the other.  Yet the passions generated by DeYoung and Gilbert highlight the problem and indicate that it cannot be ignored.  Indeed, it seems likely that the gospel-centred world is set to become more, not less, polarized on this issue.  After all, how one answers the question of the mission of the church reflects how one understands the gospel and shapes everything that the church does.

Like Trueman, I have yet to read DeYoung's and Gilbert's new book but it is now pushed to the top of the reading list. I look forward to reading their new work, What is the Mission of the Church? and gaining insight on this difficult issue. Where each of us stand on this issue has serious implications.

Read the entire post by Trueman here.

18 November 2011

God’s Decree: The Means

    But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
   
(2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 ESV)


17 November 2011

Leaders Need to Reiterate Their Vision

Do we have a leaky vision bucket?


The Work of a Christian Leader from Desiring God on Vimeo.


Redeemer Church (PCA) in Hudson, Ohio exists for

...all who are spiritually weary and seek rest, who mourn and long for comfort, who struggle and desire hope, who sin and need a Savior, who are lonely and need fellowship, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, this church opens its doors wide and bids welcome in the name of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

16 November 2011

Sermon on the Mount Week 10 - The Lord's Prayer


    Pray then like this:
    “Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
    Your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread,
    and forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    And lead us not into temptation,
        but deliver us from evil.
(Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)

15 November 2011

New Issue of Themelios


The new issue of Themelios is out. Catch it here.

Taken a Risk Lately?

Something that's been on my mind in recent days is just what does it mean to take a risk. Maybe we should define that as a calculated, Biblical risk. To get an understanding I referred back to John Piper's book, Don't Waste Your Life where on page 90 we read

The strength to risk losing money for the cause of the Gospel is the faith that we have a treasure in the heavens that cannot fail. ...When we risk losing face or money or life because we believe God will always help us and use our loss, in the end, to make us more glad in his glory, then it's not we who get the praise because of our courage; it's God who gets the praise because of his care.

Even to those of us who are security minded,  risk is ever present. Every time we drive our car, witness to a friend or a stranger, take a vacation, or whatever it is, it will be a risk. Even staying sealed up in our homes is a risk. We cannot escape risk because we don't know what  the Lord will bring us. Illness, loss of income, death of our spouse, our Father controls it all. We wouldn't have our Pastors and certainly not our missionaries without someone to take a risk. Moreover, we all took a risk when we became believers. Being a Christian is a huge risk. So I ask myself, when did I last take a risk? When did you, my friend, last take a risk for the cause of the Gospel? Let's not waste our lives living out the myth of security.

14 November 2011

An Officer's Ordination


    Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
    If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
    Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
   
(1 Timothy 4 ESV)

11 November 2011

God’s Decree: The Choice

        Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. 
(Ephesians 1:3-4 ESV)




10 November 2011

The Renegade's Book Cellar

Check out the new Reformed Renegade book site here. If you're looking for something Reformed, please consider shopping here first. And thanks in advance!

09 November 2011

Sermon on the Mount Week 9

We march on in the study of the Sermon on the Mount as we look at Matthew 6:1-8 in this lesson.


    “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
    “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
    “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
(Matthew 6:1-8 ESV)

08 November 2011

07 November 2011

An Officer's Qualifications


We make a slight detour from our sermon series on the book of Mark for this week and next as we look at the qualifications of officers and ordination.

03 November 2011

A Prayer

Thanks be to you, my Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits you have won for me.
For all the pains and insults you have borne for me.

O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother,
may I know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.
-Richard of Chichester, 1197-1253

02 November 2011

Sermon on the Mount Week 8



    “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
   
(Matthew 5:38-48 ESV)

01 November 2011

A Prayer for our Daily Work

O Lord,  give your blessing, we pray, to our daily work, that we may do it in faith and heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

All our powers of body and mind are yours, and we devote them to your service. Sanctify them, and the work in which we are engaged; and, Lord, so bless our efforts that they may bring forth in us the fruits of true wisdom.

Teach us to seek after truth and enable us to gain it; and grant that while we know earthly things, we may know you, and be known by you, through and in your Son Jesus Christ.
-Thomas Arnold, 1795-1842

29 October 2011

There is a problem?

...There is a problem with pastors who make videos which ape the aesthetics of the mainstream media and focus on the pastor, not the pastor's God; there is a problem with churches of thousands of people, few of whom ever get to meet an elder, let alone the pastor; there is a problem with church planting strategy that is so wedded to the cult of the one man that he has to be skyped in to the community; there is a problem when a man has to phone the librarian at Westminster Seminary with a pastoral issue because nobody at his home church of thousands has the time to speak to an ordinary church member about his crisis of faith. - Carl Trueman

For some very thoughtful insight on the hot topic of "celebrity" pastors check out Trueman's post here.

28 October 2011

Yeah, we all do...

Yeah, we all underestimate the Gospel....


Evangelicals Underestimate the Gospel - Al Mohler from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

God’s Decree: The Divide


    You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
(Romans 9:19-24 ESV)

27 October 2011

Getting to Know the Bible Personally

An amazing and distinguished panel of speakers...

Getting to Know the Bible Personally as One Grand Narrative from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Psalm 36 from the Scottish Psalter

Psalm 36

 

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord.

1The wicked man’s transgression
within my heart thus says,
Undoubtedly the fear of God
is not before his eyes.
2Because himself he flattereth
in his own blinded eye,
Until the hatefulness be found
of his iniquity.
3Words from his mouth proceeding are,
fraud and iniquity:
He to be wise, and to do good,
hath left off utterly.
4He mischief, lying on his bed,
most cunningly doth plot:
He sets himself in ways not good,
ill he abhorreth not.
5Thy mercy, Lord, is in the heav’ns;
thy truth doth reach the clouds:
6Thy justice is like mountains great;
thy judgments deep as floods:
Lord, thou preservest man and beast.
7How precious is thy grace!
Therefore in shadow of thy wings
men’s sons their trust shall place.
8They with the fatness of thy house
shall be well satisfy’d;
From rivers of thy pleasures thou
wilt drink to them provide.
9Because of life the fountain pure
remains alone with thee;
And in that purest light of thine
we clearly light shall see.
10Thy loving-kindness unto them
continue that thee know;
And still on men upright in heart
thy righteousness bestow.
11Let not the foot of cruel pride
come, and against me stand;
And let me not removed be,
Lord, by the wicked’s hand.
12There fallen are they, and ruined,
that work iniquities:
Cast down they are, and never shall
be able to arise.


26 October 2011

Sermon on the Mount Week 7

    “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
    “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
   
(Matthew 5:31-37 ESV)



Piety and Confessionalism

Really excellent discussion...


Piety and Confessionalism: Friends or Enemies? from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

25 October 2011

Scottish Psalter - Psalm 32

Psalm 32

A Psalm of David, Maschil.

1O blessed is the man to whom
is freely pardoned
All the transgression he hath done,
whose sin is covered.
2Bless’d is the man to whom the Lord
imputeth not his sin,
And in whose sp’rit there is no guile,
nor fraud is found therein.
3When as I did refrain my speech,
and silent was my tongue,
My bones then waxed old, because
I roared all day long.
4For upon me both day and night
thine hand did heavy lie,
So that my moisture turned is
in summer’s drought thereby.
5I thereupon have unto thee
my sin acknowledged,
And likewise mine iniquity
I have not covered:
I will confess unto the Lord
my trespasses, said I;
And of my sin thou freely didst
forgive th’ iniquity.
6For this shall ev’ry godly one
his prayer make to thee;
In such a time he shall thee seek,
as found thou mayest be.
Surely, when floods of waters great
do swell up to the brim,
They shall not overwhelm his soul,
nor once come near to him.
7Thou art my hiding-place, thou shalt
from trouble keep me free:
Thou with songs of deliverance
about shalt compass me.
8I will instruct thee, and thee teach
the way that thou shalt go;
And, with mine eye upon thee set,
I will direction show.
9Then be not like the horse or mule,
which do not understand;
Whose mouth, lest they come near to thee,
a bridle must command.
10Unto the man that wicked is
his sorrows shall abound;
But him that trusteth in the Lord
mercy shall compass round.
11Ye righteous, in the Lord be glad,
in him do ye rejoice:
All ye that upright are in heart,
for joy lift up your voice.