Every Tribe and Language and People and Nation

every-tribe

We had three young people visit our church this morning from the Netherlands (when I say “young,” I’m guessing mid-twenties). They were visiting Texas and in the next day or two would be flying back to their native land. As we attempted to communicate through their thick Dutch accents and my deep southeast Texas twang, I discovered that they belonged to a free Dutch Reformed denomination, and although I am a “Westminster guy,” we discovered that we all shared a love for the Heidelberg Catechism. Although separated by miles, cultures, countries, years (no one would guess that I am in my mid-twenties and I no longer have to ask for the senior discount, they know), and Confession of Faiths we joined together and sang of Christ’s Gospel, heard His Word preached, and shared the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” It gave the four of us a glimpse of that future day when around God’s throne we will sing to our Lord and Savior, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:9-10)

But today, in time and space we sang Isaac Watt’s beautiful hymn about the love and sacrifice of a holy God for sinners:

Alas! and did my Saviour bleed,
And did my Sovereign die!
Would he devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I!

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree!
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker, died
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While his dear cross appears;
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes in tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
‘Tis all that I can do.

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The Importance of Christ’s Church

I am Day 3 into a seven-day vacation (yeah, I am weird, I started on Thursday) and my wife informed me I should not be posting to my blog while I am on vacation, but since she has headed off to Beaumont (nails, hair, etc.—you know, fun stuff for girls), before I head out to clear some brush, I thought I would wax eloquently for a paragraph or two.

Much has been made about Harold Camping’s prediction of the rapture taking place today (we know he was wrong, at least, about it starting in New Zealand, Australia, etc, and going around the globe) for the time has come and gone in those areas without any end-of-time earthquakes. However, as Biblically in error as Camping was about the Second Advent of our Lord, his error about Christ’s Church is far worse. His teaching that the Church Age has come to an end is abject heresy. The church is Christ’s bride, as Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5:25-27:

“25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

He will always have a church, and He will continue to care for her, and sanctify her until the initiating of the New Heavens and the New Earth (then His sanctifying work will be complete). The Westminster Confession of Faith’s chapter on the church is so precise that I would simply like to post it without comment as a reminder to us all that outside of His church, there “is no ordinary possibility of salvation.”

CHAPTER 25
OF THE CHURCH
1. The catholic or universal church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.

2. The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

3. Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto.

4. This catholic church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less visible. And particular churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.

5. The purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a church on earth, to worship God according to his will.

6. There is no other head of the church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof.

William Miller Redux

The decades of the 1830s and 1840s were exciting times for the followers of a Baptist pastor from New York, William Miller. Through diligent self-study of the Scriptures, he came to the conclusion that Jesus would return to the earth sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844. He declined to set a firmer date although many of his followers pushed him to do so. When March 1844 came and went with no Second Advent of the Lord, a new date was set: October 22, 1844. Since I am writing this in 2011, it makes sense that this day was called by the estimated 50,000 followers of William Miller, the “Great Disappointment.” (Many of these disappointed followers eventually became the Seventh-Day Adventist Church after a reinterpretation of what actually happened on that fateful day.)

It is not unusual for people to attempt to set dates for the return of Christ. The Jehovah Witnesses have set several of these dates down through the years and as one candidly said to me as I was trying to share the good news of the Gospel with him, “Those were not our finest days.” Edgar Whisenant published, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988, and then recalculated the return for 1989…then 1993…and then 1994 (Well, I think you get the picture), and probably all of us know people who still have dried beans and ammunition stored up from the Y2K scare of eleven years ago.

I have mentioned all of that since we have now entered the week of the latest “setting of the date” by Harold Camping: May, 21, 2011. Of course, Christ will return in glory on the day of His choice, and if that happens to be May 21, I, personally, will have no complaint. However, I guarantee that Harold Camping’s purported numerological equations have no bearing on the date of the beginning of the New heavens and the New earth (any more than the Mayan calendar prediction of 2012). He has already set one date that did not come to fruition (September 1994) and his HERESY of calling upon people to leave the church that Christ said “that the gates of hell would not prevail” against, should warn us to steer clear of such drivel.

However, we must ask ourselves the question, “How do we deal with the people that we know who have been caught up in this scam?” on May 22, 2011. First, pray for them. Pray that the Lord will open the eyes of their heart to see that they have been deceived, and pray that He will give them the desire to return to Christ’s church. Second, do all that you can to remind them of God’s grace, and that there is forgiveness for all who “call upon the name of the Lord.” Third, never forget that “the household of God, which is the church of the living God, [is] a pillar and buttress of truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15) Granted, there are those churches which according to the Confession of Faith have become no better than “synagogues of Satan,” but the churches who preach the true Gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone are a refuge from and protection against those who indulge in “irreverent babble” which leads “people into more and more ungodliness,” and whose “talk spreads like gangrene.” (2 Timothy 2:16-17) Last of all, when tempted to chase after date setters and newspaper interpreters remember, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36)

Tuesday Hymns: “Jesus Lives, and So Shall I”

Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (July 4, 1715 – December 13, 1769) was a German poet and philosophy professor at the University of Leipzig in Germany. Although he earned a degree in theology, he never entered the ministry because of extreme shyness and health problems. However, those maladies did not hinder him from writing our Tuesday Hymn for this week, Jesus Lives, and So Shall I. This wonderful hymn (which we sang Sunday) speaks to us of our need for Christ in this life and the next. The Bible does not speak of eternal life for all (sorry, Rob Bell, there is a hell), but life for those who are resting in Jesus Christ as their only hope. That is the reason why each verse (except the last) ends with that glorious confession, “Jesus is my hope and trust.” It is sung to Johann Crüger’s tune, JESUS, MEINE ZUVERSICHT.

Jesus lives, and so shall I.
Death! thy sting is gone forever!
He who deigned for me to die,
Lives, the bands of death to sever.
He shall raise me from the dust:
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and reigns supreme,
And, his kingdom still remaining,
I shall also be with him,
Ever living, ever reigning.
God has promised: be it must:
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and by his grace,
Vict’ry o’er my passions giving,
I will cleanse my heart and ways,
Ever to his glory living.
Me he raises from the dust.
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, I know full well
Nought from him my heart can sever,
Life nor death nor powers of hell,
Joy nor grief, hence forth forever.
None of all his saints is lost;
Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives, and death is now
But my entrance into glory.
Courage, then, my soul, for thou
Hast a crown of life before thee;
Thou shalt find thy hopes were just;
Jesus is the Christian’s Trust.

The Man Behind the Billboards, Part V

Dr. W. Robert Godfrey has published part five of his series of blog posts about the aberrant teaching of Harold Camping’s declaration that May 21, 2011 will be Judgment Day. Dr. Godfrey is the President of Westminster Seminary California and gives a personal glimpse into the life of this man who has led so many astray. I appreciate Dr. Godfrey’s cogent analysis of Camping’s failure to “rightly divide the Word of Truth.” This article can be found at the Westminster Seminary California site.

The Man Behind the Billboards, Part IV

Dr. W. Robert Godfrey has published part four of his series of blog posts about the aberrant teaching of Harold Camping’s declaration that May 21, 2011 will be Judgment Day. Dr. Godfrey is the President of Westminster Seminary California and gives a personal glimpse of the life of this man who has led so many astray. One can read the full article here.

Tuesday Hymns: “When This Passing World is Done”

This past Sunday I preached about the Christian’s glorification, so accordingly, we sang our Tuesday Hymn of the Week, Robert Murray McCheyne’s, “When This Passing World is Done.” McCheyne was a pastor in the Church of Scotland from 1835 until his death in 1843. He is maybe best known for his Bible reading plan followed by many (such as I), and can be found online at this site.

This hymn is a wonderful reminder that our salvation is by grace alone. Although we are aware of that as we live between “the Already” and “the Not Yet,” it will be even clearer to us on that glorious day, when, because of what Christ has done on our behalf, we hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” We sang it to the tune of REDHEAD.

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon radiant sun,
When I stand with Christ on high,
Looking o’er life’s history,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe.

When I stand before the throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe.

Chosen not for good in me,
Wakened up from wrath to flee,
Hidden in the Saviour’s side,
By the Spirit sanctified,
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show
By my love how much I owe.

Oft I walk beneath a cloud,
Dark as midnight’s gloomy shroud;
But, when fear is at its height,
Jesus comes, and all is light;
Blessed Jesus, bid me show
Doubting saints how much I owe.

When the praise of heav’n I hear,
Loud as thunders to the ear,
Loud as many waters’ noise,
Sweet as harp’s melodious voice,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe.

The Man Behind the Billboards, Part III

W. Robert Godfrey has published part three of his series of blog posts about the aberrant teaching of Harold Camping’s declaration that May 21, 2011 will be Judgment Day. Dr. Godfrey is the President of Westminster Seminary California and gives a personal glimpse of the life of this man who has led so many astray. One can read the full article here.

The Man Behind the Billboards, Part II

W. Robert Godfrey has published part two of his series of blog posts about the aberrant teaching of Harold Camping’s declaration that May 21, 2011 will be Judgment Day. He says in part that “Jesus may of course return on May 21, 2011. Since we do not and cannot know when he is returning, May 21 is a possibility. But if Jesus does come then, Harold Camping will not have calculated it correctly. “Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come….Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Mt. 24:42, 25:13).”

To read all of Dr. Godfrey’s article go to the Westminster Seminary California Blog.

HT: The Heidelblog

The Man Behind the Billboards

If you have been driving down Interstate 10 between Beaumont and Orange over the last few months, I would assume that you have seen the billboards declaring that Judgment Day will take place on May 21, 2011. You may have wondered who is behind such a declaration since the Bible clearly states “concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36) Well, wonder no more; W. Robert Godfrey, the President of Westminster Seminary California in Escondido, California has started a series of Blog posts detailing the life of Harold Camping, the man ultimately behind this aberrant teaching, entitled, The End of the World According to Harold Camping: Part 1.

HT: Heidelblog

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