Friday, January 27, 2023

Please Pray for B———

Please pray for B——— to be given the new birth, saving faith in Jesus Christ, and repentance unto life.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Persistence in Holding Fast to a Person

 Joshua 22:2,5 (NKJV)

     2 and said to them: “You have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you. […] But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Persistence in faithfulness and obedience is a work that is never done. But it is more than a work. It is holding fast to a Person.

You Have Heard of Perseverance, and Compassion, and Mercy!

James 5:11 (NKJV)
     11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

Genesis 50:20 (NKJV) 
     20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

Neither Job nor Joseph knew, in the midst of their trials, the purpose of their trials. But the Lord recorded them so that we might “hear” of them. In them, we hear the primary message: “the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” And in them, we learn to look to God for the same thing that He produced in them “perseverance.” May the Lord give us the perseverance of Job! 

The Danger of Hearts Fattened upon Temporal, Earthly Things, Rather Than upon Christ

James 5:1–8 (NKJV) 
     1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.
     Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 

When one is “rich” (v1), he is in great danger of having his treasure (v3) or nourishment (“fattened,” v5) be in something other than Christ Himself. How dangerous! As we prepare to meet the Lord of Hosts (v4, 8), let us learn to have hearts that treasure Him and are nourished by Him (v8).

Is Your Guru's Mouth Full of Christ?

One of the features of my life (maybe I'll write a bit about my life one day; it's my personal blog, after all) is trudging back and forth past the front desk at the gym in order to prolong my time in the sauna non-lethally, by means of the one drinking fountain in the entire building.

Yesterday, over the course of five of these trips in one hour, one of the fitness instructors was regaling the very patient front desk staff with her sagacious counsel on every aspect of life, health, fruitfulness, and fulfillment. Maybe it's a fitness instructor thing. Her mouth was full. Full of ideas. Full of techniques. Full of motivations. But it wasn't full of Christ. How refreshing it was to return to the oppressive climate of the sauna and find the streams of the living water of Christ again in the little calfskin book!

God's mouth is full of Christ. And if you have an earthly teacher and example whom you follow, I hope his mouth is similarly full of Christ. Since ministers of the gospel are called to be such teachers and examples, let our mouths always be full of Christ!

I know a thing or two about a thing or two. But I have learned, over the years, not to have my mouth full of everything that I know (Pr 14:33, 29:11). One reason is that I don't want to create other avenues for resistance, when so much of the flock's health and growth relies (instrumentally under sovereign providence) upon how they receive my words. Another reason is that I don't want to weaken by diffusion the flock's resting upon Christ through His means by their attempting to do many wise things, however prudent and beneficial they may be. But the biggest reason is this: I hope for my mouth to be as full of Christ as possible. It's more aimed at than realized thus far, but I do wish to be able to say,

"I resolved to know nothing among you, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."

Ministers, too, have those whom they listen to and those whom they emulate. I hope that mine will be those whose mouths are always full of Christ. Christ Himself. The glory of His person and nature. The excellence and effectiveness of all His works. The sweetness and gladness of knowing Him. The restfulness and invigoration of serving Him. Whatever is of Him. Let it just be of Him!

Is your guru's mouth full of Christ?

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Why Man-Made Holy Days Are Wrong (Along with Any Other Complications of Worship)

'Tis the season to answer again the most important question: what is the right way of coming to God? Answer: "Only the way that He says to come." Any answer beyond this inevitably means adding something to Christ. 

There are of course circumstance and selection questions that must be answered in the course of doing what God has commanded as the worship that comes through Christ. But anything that we add, or that we sneak in by way of "circumstances and forms," is a man-made complication to the simplicity that was "just as the LORD had commanded" under Moses and is now an even simpler simplicity under Jesus.

So, what is wrong with any man-made complication of worship?
1. Only worship that God seeks actually finds God. John 4:16–26; Heb 8:1–6. 
2. God Himself says that man-complicated worship treats Him as common and creaturely instead of as holy. Lev 9:18–10:7; Heb 12:28–29.
3. Jesus Himself says that man-complicated worship is vain and heartless (regardless of how we feel about it). Matt 15:1–20; Isa 29:9–16.
4. Man-complicated worship departs from the worship service that is led by Christ from heaven. It thus fails to come to God through Christ. Heb chs. 1–12.
5. God calls those who offer it, "Them that hate Me." Deut 5:8–10; Deut 4:1–24.

Monday, December 26, 2022

Why Do We Do the Religious Things That We Do?

 "I mean for this to be about Jesus" or "I feel that this is about Jesus" or "This 'makes me feel' about Jesus" are no substitute for "Jesus says that this is about Himself."

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Where to Begin: God [Dec, 2022, Contribution to Seventeen82]

This article first appeared at Seventeen82

As ARPs, it is by means of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms that we obey the Scriptural mandate to maintain a pattern of sound words. By the Confession’s own viewof the Holy Scriptures, such patterns of sound words must be servants of Scripture, not substitutes, or even supplements. This is what we might call the preliminary principle of Reformed Presbyterianism.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Our Pattern of Sound Words: the Westminster Confession’s View of Itself in the Light of Scripture [Nov, 2022, Contribution to Seventeen82]

This article first appeared at Seventeen82.

As we’ve seen from Scripture, the Lord’s people must remember Him and His Word to themselves and their children for perpetual generations. And the Spirit’s method for this features the use of patterns of sound words (e.g. confessions and catechisms). As ARPs, we obviously think that the Westminster Confession and Catechisms are such patterns. What makes them so?

The first answer is that our confession acknowledges that Scripture alone is the rule of faith and practice. The reason that the truth in chapters 2–33 is sound and profitable is found in chapter 1, “Of the Holy Scripture.” This little article will be most helpful to you if read side-by-side with that chapter.

Holy Scripture is God’s Self-revelation. WCF 1.1 teaches that God has committed His revelation

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

An Island of Grace in a Season of Judgment

Joshua 14:7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ 10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old.

The wilderness wandering was one of the great seasons of judgment in all of human history. In the midst of it, Caleb was an island of God’s grace. So we may look to the Lord to work in us, even if the general disposition of heaven toward the church at the time is one of exposing and chastising hardness to the Word.

The Danger of Envy

Acts 13:44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.

How great is the danger of a heart poisoned by envy! By it, the Jews in v45 cut themselves off from giving a hearing to the very gospel preaching by which faith comes; instead, they became contradictors and blasphemers of Christ.

The Role of Diligence in the Battles of Ai

Joshua 7:3 And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the people there, for the people of Ai are few.”

Joshua 8:3 So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai; and Joshua chose thirty thousand mighty men of valor and sent them away by night.

Note the difference in diligence. God didn’t give victory as a reward for diligence. He gave it by way of diligence that He gave as a gift, His own blessing upon the repentance that He had given by way of judging Achan. Diligence is valuable, but if we lack it, then perhaps what we are first needy of is to clear our conscience before the Lord from Whom diligence comes by grace.