A Headline that I Would Love to See

I was checking on General Assembly news and came across this article by Jon Payne entitled, John Calvin Speaks to the PCA: A Timely Message from an Unexpected Guest, which made me both chuckle and think.

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Tuesday Hymns: “Fountain of Never-Ceasing Grace”

Augustus M. Toplady (1740-1778) is the author of many of my favorite hymns such as A Debtor to Mercy Alone and Rock of Ages, and is also the author of our Tuesday Hymn of the Week: Fountain of Never-Ceasing Grace. This hymn reminds us that not only did Christ die on the cross in order that our sins may be forgiven, but that He also kept God’s Law in word, thought, and deed in order that His righteousness might be imputed to our account.

The knowledge that I have been declared righteous by God with the righteousness of Jesus Christ is not “legal fiction” as some have called it, but actually a part of the glorious Gospel of grace. As Paul says in Romans 3:21-22: “21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it- 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”

May the timeless words of Pastor Toplady bless you today as you rest in God’s grace.

Fountain of never-ceasing grace,
Thy saints’ exhaustless theme,
Great object of immortal praise,
Essentially supreme;
We bless thee for the glorious fruits
Thine incarnation gives;
The righteousness which grace imputes,
And faith alone receives.

In thee we have a righteousness
By God himself approved;
Our rock, our sure foundation this,
Which never can be moved.
Our ransom by thy death was paid,
For all thy people giv’n,
The law thou perfectly obeyed,
That they might enter heav’n.

As all, when Adam sinned alone,
In his transgression died,
So by the righteousness of one
Are sinners justified;
We to thy merit, gracious Lord,
With humblest joy submit,
Again to Paradise restored,
In thee alone complete.

Excellent Article on Overture 13 by Pastor Andy Webb

If you are not a member of the Presbyterian Church in America, you will probably not be interested in this article entitled, Why I Support PCA Overture 13 on How to View Assistants to Deacons.” But, if you are a member of the PCA, and especially if you are planning to travel to Nashville for the General Assembly next week as a Commissioner, I would implore you to read Pastor Andy Webb’s excellent and straightforward article discussing the importance of Overture 13.

May the Lord’s will be done in His church.

“Theatrical Trifles”

Dr. Douglas F. Kelly is the J. Richard Jordan Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. In his essay entitled, “The Puritan Regulative Principle and Contemporary Worship,” which is found in Volume Two of The Westminster Confession into the 21st Century, he wrote the following:

I do not have statistics on this matter, but I wonder if the increase of dramatic presentations in churches may not be in direct proportion to the decrease of strong expository preaching and regular celebration of the Sacraments. As Augustine and Calvin have noted, the human heart longs for a tangible, visible word as well as an audible. To remove or play down either preaching or the Sacraments makes it all the more likely that what Calvin terms ‘theatrical trifles’ will not be long in filling the vacuum.” (page 91)

Who am I to argue with Dr. Kelly? His conjecture is, as the English would say, “spot on.”

Pray for Joni Eareckson Tada

I came across this article announcing that Joni Earickson Tada has breast cancer. She has encouraged so many down through the years by her unwavering faith in our Sovereign God, that I wanted to encourage all that read this blog to remember her as you go to the Lord in prayer. May the Lord’s grace and peace uphold her and her husband, Ken.

The Dangers of “New and Trendy”

Cornelis P. Venema, the President of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, in the first paragraph of his book, Getting the Gospel Right, wrote the following, which will bear heavily upon my mind as I head to Nashville, Tennessee next week for the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America:

“I believe it was C. S. Lewis who, commenting on the modern temptation to innovate in matters of worship and theology, wryly observed, ‘Fashions come and go, but mostly they go.’ Lewis’s point was clear enough: the Christian church, whose worship and theology represent the fruit of centuries of reflection upon Scripture, needs to beware of the contemporary fascination with the new and trendy.”

It is important to remember that today’s “new and trendy” is often tomorrow’s “old and forgotten.”

Tuesday Hymns: “Psalm 48” (from The Trinity Psalter)

I am not an Exclusive Psalmnodist (one who believes only the Psalms should be sung in corporate worship), but I love singing out of the Psalter. Many of the hymns in The Trinity Hymnal are based on metrical Psalms, but every Sunday night we sing a Psalm exclusively from The Trinity Psalter.

I enjoy singing out of the Psalter because unlike many of the contemporary “worship choruses” which take only a phrase from a Psalm (which is sometimes sung over and over and over and over and…well, you get the idea), in the Psalter, one gets the full context of the message of the particular Psalm that is being sung. Sunday night we sang Psalm 48 which speaks of our Mighty God who is the only One who perfectly protects the “peace and purity” of His church. The Psalm is usually sung to the tune of WAREHAM LM, but we sang it Sunday to the tune of WINCHESTER NEW.

The Lord is great! Much to be praised
In our God’s city, and
Where stands
Most fair upon His holy hill
Mount Zion, joy of all the earth!

She is the place where
God resides,
The city of the Mighty King.
God in her fortresses is known
To be a refuge safe and sure.

For, lo, the kings their
Forces joined,
Advancing, marched, with
Confidence,
But, seeing her, they were amazed;
In terror they were put to flight.

There trembling seized its hold
On them,
Pangs like a woman giving birth.
For You with wind out of the east
The mighty Tarshish ships destroy.

As we have heard, so we
Have seen
Within the Mighty Lord’s abode,
Within the city of our God:
God keeps her safe for evermore.

O God, Your cov’nant love to us
We’ve thought on in Your temple’s courts.
O God, Your praise, just like
Your name,
Extends to earth’s remotest bounds.

Your right hand’s full
Of righteousness.
O let Mount Zion now rejoice;
Let Judah’s villages be glad,
For all Your judgments are
Most just.

Encircle Zion, walk about;
Her towers count, her ramparts
Note;
Go through her fortresses with care,
And to your sons their story tell.

The one true God, He is our God,
And evermore He is the same;
He surely will us safely keep
And He will guide us on
Through death.

Words of Wisdom from One of My Favorite Postmillennialists

Lorraine Boettner was an author and theologian, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary (back when Princeton was still Princeton in 1929) and a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Although he worked for the Bureau of Internal Revenue (please don’t hold that against him), his books, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination and The Millennium are often taken down from my bookshelves and used in serious theological study. Although I am Amillennial in my eschatology, he is one of my favorite Postmillennial authors.

I would probably differ with Mr. Boettner on some of the details of how God will work his final purpose in this present age, but the following paragraph is a wonderful description of the growth of God’s kingdom leading to God’s eternal rule:

What a striking contrast there is between the dispensational idea of the Kingdom, on the one hand, with Christ as an earthly King, once rejected but yet to set up His throne in the city of Jerusalem, and on the other the Scriptural idea that Christ did establish His Kingdom as planned, that His Kingdom is a spiritual Kingdom in the hearts of men, the Church being the outward and visible manifestation of that Kingdom during this age as the nation of Israel was in Old Testament times, that Christ is now ruling from His throne in Heaven directing the program of His advancing Kingdom, and that He is to go on conquering and to conquer until the whole world has been brought into subjection to Him!” (The Millennium, page 228)

More Words from “My Favorite Anglican”

Another short quote from my favorite Anglican, J. C. Ryle:

Why are we told so pointedly about the “first day of the week” and the “Lord’s Day,” if the Apostles kept no one day more holy than another, is to my mind inexplicable.”

Tuesday Hymns: “Hallelujah! Raise, O Raise”

This past Sunday, as we sang, Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, and I glanced across the page and noticed a hymn with which I was not familiar, Hallelujah! Raise, O Raise. The phrase that caught my eye was, “Yet to view the heav’ns He bends; yea, to earth He condescends.” The phrase reminded me of John Calvin’s explanation of the eternal God “being so indulgent to us that He prattles for our sake.” The finite can never truly comprehend the infinite, but our gracious God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in language that we can understand. Yes, it is true that the “the secret things belong to the LORD our God,” but it is just as true that “the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29)

I am so grateful that the Lord has chosen to reveal Himself to us through His Word, and I am also grateful that Josiah Conder’s adaptation of Psalm 113 found its way into The Trinity Hymnal. It is sung to the tune, ALCESTER.

Hallelujah! raise, O raise
To our God the song of praise;
All His servants join to sing
God our Savior and our King.

Blessèd be forevermore
That dread Name which we adore;
Round the world His praise be sung
Through all lands, in every tongue.

O’er all nations God alone,
Higher than the heav’ns His throne;
Who is like to God most high,
Infinite in majesty!

Yet to view the heav’ns He bends;
Yea, to earth He condescends;
Passing by the rich and great,
For the low and desolate.

He can raise the poor to stand
With the princes of the land;
Wealth upon the needy shower;
Set him with the high in power.

He the broken spirit cheers:
Turns to joy the mourner’s tears;
Such the wonders of His ways;
Praise His Name, forever praise!

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