“Act like you have been there before”

Here is one more example of why coaches always say, “If you score a touchdown (or hit a home run) act like you have been there before.” If you don’t, it could be hazardous to your health. Read the story.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”

I have been reading The Genesis Debate which discusses three different interpretations of the creation account in the Book of Genesis (24 hour day, framework hypothesis, and day-age). The concluding paragraph by David Hall and Ligon Duncan on the 24 hour view states very cogently my own view of the creation account:

We side with what the Scriptures teach about the days of creation. We side with the Law and the Prophets. We side with the apostles. We side with the consensus of the Church fathers. We side with the Reformation and Puritan divines. We side with the uniform testimony of the Church until recently. We can do no other. Future generations may scoff at the once-prevailing Darwinian paradigm of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and realize that the interpretations of Witsius, Ussher, and the cloud of witnesses we have cited will long outlast the short half-life of interpretations held hostage to Darwinism’s fling. Indeed, the heavens and the earth as we know them will eventually perish, but God’s word will last forever.

Plus, it takes much more faith to believe the view of Richard Dawkins that our life came from alien life forms (And he claims to speak for science?) rather than from an omnipotent God.

Tuesday Hymns: “The Gloria Patri”

Being a “Baptist boy,” I had never heard the Gloria Patri sung (unless it was sung when I visited a Lutheran church in high school with a girlfriend), and, to be perfectly honest, I must admit that I never knew that such a doxology even existed. When we began attending Reformed Presbyterian Church back in 2005 it was sung at the close of our evening service, and it has been a blessing to me from that time to this day.

This doxology, many claim, actually goes back to the time of the Council of Nicaea, and is our Tuesday Hymn of the week. The heretical Arians changed the prepositions used, preferring to say, “Glory be to the Father, in (or through) the Son, and in (or through) the Holy Ghost,” which in their eyes, put Jesus and the Spirit on a lower plane than the Father.

The words that we sing, however, are a simple and straightforward song of praise to the Triune God that the people of God have used in their corporate worship for over a thousand years. There are several tunes to which this hymn is sung: GLORIA PATRI (MEINEKE), GLORIA PATRI (GREATOREX), and GLORIA PATRI (YOUNG). (I could not find an online media site for the last tune)

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, amen.

“There’s Nothing More Pathetic Than an Aging Hipster”

I came across an excellent article about relevant worship on the Creed, Code, Cult Blog. Jason Stellman begins his article describing most of what is called contemporary worship in our postmodern age:

But as is often the case with parents who desperately desire to appear “hip” to their teenage children, dressing Reformed theology in contemporary garb can be as silly as a fifty year-old man sporting a brand new earring and salon tan—he appears awkward and uncomfortable, while his kids roll their eyes and see right through the facade.

To quote Dr. Evil (who didn’t spend six years in evil medical school to be called Mister), “There’s nothing more pathetic than an aging hipster.”

He concludes by reminding shepherds to not “dumb down” worship, but teach the sheep of the timelessness of the “language of Zion:”

The answer is not to domesticate our faith or de-fang our worship, but to learn it and learn to love it. If there are words that we don’t understand, we must endeavor to come to understand them. If there are hymns that sound complicated to our ears that have been catechized by “Top 40” radio then we must retune them, even if but once a week, so that we can join in singing the same praises that our grandfathers and grandmothers in the faith sang long ago.

In short, Christianity has its own language and culture, and though these can never be utterly divorced from their contemporary setting, this does not change the fact that they are all inclusive; they just take a little getting used to. After all, if I have somehow picked up what “second and eight” means even though I don’t like football, it is surely not too much to ask that Christ’s people—who like Christianity—learn the meaning of “justification.”

To read all of the article go here.

Tuesday Hymns: “From All That Dwell Below the Skies”

Isaac Watts, who has been called the “Father of English Hymnody,” wrote approximately 750 hymns during his lifetime. Such hymns as Joy to the World, Jesus Shall Reign, O God, Our Help in Ages Past, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, and Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed have been staples in corporate worship for centuries. This week’s Tuesday Hymn is his adaptation of Psalm 117, From All That Dwell Below the Skies. It speaks of our glorious God as Creator and Redeemer (verse one), of the Gospel going to every land and people (verse two), and of the eternality of God’s blessings upon His people (verse three).

We, at RPC, normally sing this song to the tune, DUKE STREET, but the Blue Trinity Hymnal also attaches it to the tune, LASST UNS ERFRUEN. “Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol Him, all you peoples.” (Psalm 117:1)

From all that dwell below the skies
Let the Creator’s praise arise:
Let the Redeemer’s name be sung
Through every land, by every tongue.

In every land begin the song;
To every land the strains belong.
In cheerful sound all voices raise
And fill the world with joyful praise.

Eternal are thy mercies, Lord;
Eternal truth attends thy Word:
Thy praise shall sound from shore to shore
Till suns shall rise and set no more.

The Lion of the Tribe of Judah is Now Roaring

Iain Murray relates the following story from the lives of James V of Scotland (who later became James I of England, of King James Bible fame) and Pastor Robert Bruce of Edinburgh in his excellent book, A Scottish Christian Heritage:

At times, seated in the royal gallery of the Great Kirk, the King disguised the unease he felt by indulging in conversation with his courtiers in tones that could be heard even in the pulpit. On one such occasion, it is said, the preacher deliberately paused until the King was quiet. But when Bruce resumed speaking so did the King, at which there was silence again in the pulpit. When this happened for the third time, Bruce addressed these words to the talkers:

“It is said to have been an expression of the wisest of kings, ‘When the lion roars, all the beasts of the field are at ease [quiet]:’ the Lion of the tribe of Judah is now roaring in the voice of his Gospel, and it becomes all the petty kings of the earth to be silent.”

The Law: God’s True Standard of Evaluation

In an excellent article on the dangers of monocovenantalism, Wes White, PCA pastor in South Dakota, wrote two sentences which jumped off the page at me: “The natural man tends to measure God’s requirement by his own actions. God gives the law to show us the true standard of God’s evaluation.” (To read all of the article, go to the Johannes Weslianus Blog).

I thought to myself, “How true. How true.” Man always has a good reason for his sin. The present Governor of South Carolina can commit adultery with a woman in Argentina because he has convinced himself that she is his soul mate. A businessman can lie about the details in a deal he is trying to close because that is just the way business is conducted in the good old USA. A man can convince himself that he does not need to worship God with God’s people on the Lord’s Day, because he can worship just as well at home or on the lake (and that “Sunday stuff” is just legalism, anyway). And the list goes on and on and on…

However, if one compares his thoughts, words, and deeds to God’s Law, he discovers very quickly that he is a vile sinner at the very core of his being, and desperately needs God’s amazing grace in his life. The Law is actually his friend. It can be used by God’s Spirit to drive him to the cross, in order that he can rest his hope in what Christ has done for him through His perfect life and sacrificial death.

Our hope is not to be found in our own righteousness (for the Bible says that they are nothing but “filthy rags”), but in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. His is the only righteousness that is sufficient, so I say a hearty, “Amen,” to the words of J. Gresham Machen, “I’m so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism: Question Three.

Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach, what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

The Bible was never meant to teach us everything. It doesn’t teach us when Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of Great Britain, it doesn’t teach us that light moves at the speed of 186,000 miles a second, it doesn’t teach us about the principles of electricity, or the fact that a country can not borrow its way out of a financial recession. However, the Bible does teach us everything that we need to know about life and godliness. Moreover, Question #3 of the Catechism tells us that the Bible principally teaches us two truths that are the foundation of our knowledge of everything else: (1) What man is to believe concerning God, and (2) what duty God requires of man.

G. I. Williamson explains in his The Westminster Shorter Catechism for Study Classes that “this Catechism question introduces the basic outline of the rest of the Catechism. For in Question 4-38 we have a summary of what the Bible teaches us to believe concerning God. And in Questions 39-107 (the law, the means of grace, and prayer) we have a summary of the duty which God requires of man.” (p. 13)

Thus, the Bible teaches us who God is, what are His attributes, how He relates to His creation, how He has chosen to reveal Himself to man, along with who man is, how has sin effected his standing with God, and what is his ultimate end through Christ, and what would be his ultimate end apart from Christ. It is paramount that we believe what the Bible says since it “is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The Scriptures also teach us about how we should live. Since God “formed [our] inward parts;” and “knitted us together” in our mother’s wombs, He has the authority to determine how we should live. (Psa. 139) Thus, the Bible tells us in Deuteronomy 10:12-13:And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” If we desire to know right from wrong, and sin from righteousness, we must look not to our culture, not to our government, and not even to our own inklings, but to the Scriptures that God has so graciously given to us.

Yes, the Bible may not tell us which car to buy, or when to put our house on the market, but it does tell us what to believe, and what our Creator requires of us.

Tuesday Hymns: “God, in the Gospel of His Son”

Man can learn much by looking at God’s Creation. The heavens truly do declare the glory of God and show us that God is a God of order and great power, yet, as the Westminster Confession of Faith reminds us, nature is “not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation.” (WCF I.i.) God has chosen to reveal Himself to man through His written Word, the Holy Scriptures. Our Tuesday Hymn for this week, God, in the Gospel of His Son, reminds us that it is through the Bible that man discovers what is right and wrong, the truth that he is a sinner, the need that he has for a Saviour, and that God has provided that salvation through the perfect life and the sacrificial death of His only Son. Benjamin Beddome, an eighteenth century Baptist pastor, for a long period of time actually wrote a hymn every week to be sung by the congregation after he preached God’s message. This is one of those hymns. It is sung to the tune of GERMANY.

God, in the gospel of his Son,
Makes his eternal counsels known;
Where love in all its glory shines,
And truth is drawn in fairest lines.

Here sinners of a humble frame
May taste his grace, and learn his Name;
May read, in characters of blood,
The wisdom, pow’r, and grace of God.

The pris’ner here may break his chains;
The weary rest from all his pains;
The captive feel his bondage cease;
The mourner find the way of peace.

Here faith reveals to mortal eyes
A brighter world beyond the skies;
Here shines the light which guides our way
From earth to realms of endless day.

O grant us grace, Almighty Lord,
To read and mark thy holy Word;
Its truths with meekness to receive,
And by its holy precepts live.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism: Question Two.

Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

Question Two of the catechism tells the Christian where he can find direction in glorifying and enjoying God. This direction is not to be found within in one’s inner feelings or desires, but within the Scriptures themselves. God, in His Word (The Bible), has given to us everything that we need that pertains to “life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)

God has given man His Law to show him what is righteousness and what is sin; what is right and what is wrong; what one should do and what one should refrain from doing. This moral law has been summarized in the ten statements that are called “The Ten Commandments.” The first four of these commands speak of the way in which people should relate to God, and the last six speak of the way in which people should relate to each other. These commands are unchanging. It was sin to commit adultery during the time of Moses, and it is sin today, and it will be sin tomorrow, no matter what the culture in which one lives believes. It was sin not to remember the Sabbath Day in the time of Moses, it is sin today, and it will be sin tomorrow, no matter what the culture in which one lives believes. This is true of every one of those ten commands given in Exodus 20.

Man, however, can not keep God’s Law. He was born “dead in trespasses and sins” and is by nature “a child of wrath.” (Ephesians 2) Therefore, he is not able to glorify nor enjoy God as he was created to do. That is why God has not just given man His Law, but He has also given him His Gospel:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-10)

It is only through God’s grace that man is able to glorify and enjoy Him. Christ has kept God’s Law on His elect’s behalf, and it is through faith in Him, that His righteousness is accredited to man’s account. As Paul says in Romans 5:17, “If, because of one man’s [Adam’s] trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” The Scriptures tells us that it is through resting in what Christ has done for man that he is finally able to do what he was created to do, “glorify and enjoy God.”

By the way, there is at least one other truth that one can glean from this catechism question: it is both the Old and New Testaments that are God’s Word. Don’t ignore the Old Testament. It consists of thirty-nine books that all point to Christ as the only way of salvation. Remember what Jesus did for the two men traveling the road to Emmaus on the day of His Resurrection:

25 And he [Jesus] said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:25-27)

Don’t rob yourself of the blessing that comes from discovering the truth of God’s grace through Christ found in the Old Testament.

« Older entries