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.


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


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


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)