Thursday, December 28, 2017

Good News: Jesus Will Judge the Living and the Dead! (Acts 10:39-43)

And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”Acts 10:39-43
Jesus' role as judge is fundamental to the message of the gospel. This is true, of course, because it is a reminder of why we must flee to Him to receive remission of sins. Until those are canceled from our account, we are in no condition to appear before the Judge!

But it is also important because it reminds us that God is just. The days of evil and sorrow are numbered, and all sin will most certainly be judged. Truly, it is the view of the world of those who do not believe in Christ that cannot stand up to the "problem of evil." For, they know that evil is evil, and they know that this is a problem, but they have no solution for how it can be resolved.

For us, however, the real problem is not that evil is not dealt with in others. For surely it will be, and since that judgment is eternal, what difference does it make if it begins a couple thousand years sooner or a couple thousand years later?

The real "problem" in the equation, then, is the reasoning behind this deferred judgment. The answer? The Judge has undergone His own judgment, and extends full clemency to all who believe in Him during this period of deferment. He is patiently bringing to faith in Himself every last one for whom He died, and refuses to bring the judgment even a moment before this is fully accomplished (cf. 2Pet 3:3-9).

On that day, then, when we who have believed in Him stand before Him, we will do so with clean accounts. All sin remitted. All penalty already satisfied at His cross.
Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for usRomans 8:33-34
It is appointed for you to die once, and after that judgment. If you were to die today, and were to stand before the Judge, would you be standing before the One for whom you have rejected all other views of reality? Would you be standing before the One who is your only hope, your only purpose, your only Master, your only ultimate joy and desire?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Have I Established Myself as a Friend?

At lunchtime family worship today, we were back at the beginning of Proverbs 27 (It's Dec 27), and we worked through the first nine verses.

There's much here about our need for counsel--even, in context, the teaching in v7 that we should foster in ourselves hunger for counsel so that we will always benefit from it... no matter how poorly given.

But in making application with my children, the Lord opened my eyes to see something in v6 that I'm not quite sure I had ever noticed was in the Scripture here:
"Faithful are the wounds of a friend" (Prov 27:6)
So, I was pointing out that when a friend wounds you, even if they have timed their critique badly, even if they have worded it poorly, and used an unkind tone in the moment, that they are still a friend. And that it is still friendship to help you grow: that we should be willing to overlook everything else in there, assume the kindest intent, and not only receive it as a blessing from God but even decide to view it as a faithfulness from a friend.

Then it occurred to me: how do people know that I am a friend? I had used myself as an example to my children. For literally each one of their entire lives, there has been rejoicing with them in their joy, grieving with them in their pain, and words of affection, looks of affection, tokens of affection.

I am glad to be able to say that there is no doubt in my mind that my children know me to be not just their father but also their friend. How sad that precious few fathers can say that. And it is something that must be maintained... if there has been some lag in this maintenance, and then the wound comes in the midst of the lag, could I really fault them for wondering if I am still a friend?

But then what about members in my congregation? What about neighbors? What about people with whom I have some regular interaction and may need to be useful to them some day in the way of critique? If I had to wound them today, do I have good reason to think from our relationship as a whole, and especially our recent interactions, that they know that I am a friend?

What a blessed thing it is to foster and maintain Christian friendship! And, if we hope to be able to give wounds that are counted as faithful, what a most necessary thing it is as well!

Government Needs God's Word, Not Just Our Prayers (from Ezra 7-8)

"Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem, and has extended mercy to me before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. So I was encouraged, as the hand of the LORD my God was upon me; and I gathered leading men of Israel to go up with me." Ezra 7:27-28
We live in a day when, more and more, believers are seeing the need to cry out to God that He would give us favor in the eyes of the civil government. What a blessing it would be to see real-life, government action that can only be explained by the fact that the Lord our God had put this into their hearts!

But there is a component in this section of Ezra that could otherwise have easily escaped out notice: his ministry of the Word to the civil authorities.
Ezra "prepared his heart to seek the Law of Yahweh, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel" (Ezra 7:10). 
From cover to cover, the Bible teaches a religion of the heart, even when it comes to the Law of God. Those who set "relationship" and "religion" opposite one another make a grave error, just as those who set "heart" and "Law" opposite one another.
Later, we read Artaxerxes saying, "Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it diligently be done for the house of the God of heaven. For why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?" (7:23). 
Where did Artaxerxes get this idea? Well, he called Ezra,
"a scribe of the Law of the God of heaven" (7:12)
and Ezra himself says in the next chapter,
"we had spoken to the king, saying, 'The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.'" (8:22)
Almost certainly, Ezra had prayed for the king's response, just as he prayed for safety on the road (8:23). And as we saw above, we know with certainty that he attributed the king's response to the miraculous work of God. But Ezra's waiting upon God for a miracle was not a passive inactivity. He had also been telling Artaxerxes the truth about the God of heaven.

Even if Artaxerxes was not genuinely converted, he did respond well enough out of fear for the protection and prospering of the church. Might not the Lord do the same or better for us today? Surely, we too should be praying that the civil authoirities would be a blessing to the church in our day.

But, in addition, let us keep aware of legislation that impacts the church, and request such wise laws as would protect and prosper true churches. And let us give to our authorities the plain Word of God without shame, for the good of the land over which they rule depends upon the very God to whom we pray!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Preaching Is Miraculous Help from God! (Ezra 5-6)

"Thus the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem ceased, and it was discontinued until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. So Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them, helping them." Ezra 4:24–5:2
"So the elders of the Jews built, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the command of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia." Ezra 6:14
For years, the Jews made no progress. Then, when the Lord determined to strengthen them, He sent... preachers!

And in between these two passages above, the Lord worked in several different ways to establish the faithfulness of His people, their favor in the eyes of superiors, etc... including the glorious reversal of Tattenai's letter onto his own head--causing him to stumble into the trap of asking about Cyrus's decree, and ending with him having to give up his own local resources to fund the work that he opposed!

But then, 6:14 says that it was through the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah that the Jews prospered in building.

Often, we seek from God the kind of providence that occurs in between. But let us learn from this passage to value properly when God sends us His men with His Word. That, by itself, is already a display that He is with us, helping us. Let us love the preaching of His Word!

Monday, December 25, 2017

2017.12.25 Ministry Monday - An Able and Faithful Ministry (Garretson), pp24-32

Today being Ministry Monday, we continue in Samuel Garretson's An Able and Faithful Ministry: Samuel Miller and the Pastoral Office.

Chapter 2
"O Lord, accept of my dedication! Fill me with thy love; prepare me for thy service; help me to be more and more like Christ, and more and more to glorify Christ! [...] Oh, the unutterable importance of having the care of precious, immortal souls committed to my hands! Father, give me knowledge--give me wisdom--give me strength, to perform my duties aright. Blessed Saviour, whom I trust I have chosen as the hope of my own soul, may I be strong in thee and in the power of thy might! Oh, help me to live, and study, and preach and act, like one habitually and deeply sensible that he must give account!"
--Samuel Miller, quoted in An Able and Faithful Ministry, p24

This chapter covers Miller's pastoral ministry in New York City from 1793 to 1803. It highlights how involved he was in the local and broader community.

Garretson includes an excerpt from a paper Miller gave on the necessity of a gradual plan for manumission of slaves that would include giving them intellectual and moral training so that they could function as honest citizens and truly be freemen (p27).

In 1798, an outbreak of yellow fever brought great suffering to the city, and though many fled, Miller stayed precisely to minister in the midst of it. What troubled him the most, however was that the people were not spiritually moved by the calamity and that he did not know of a single conversion that had come by means of it (p30). It alarmed him that he grew accustomed to this, and he worried that the providence that he observed to harden others might harden himself (p31).

As a member of a literary club, he wrote a two-volume history of the eighteenth century, for which he was awarded two honorary doctorates and membership in the Philological Society of Manchester, England (p32).

Finally, on a personal note, Miller finally married on October 24, 1801. 49 years of marriage to Sarah would produce ten children, four of whom would precede him in death (p33).

This chapter reminds of how ministry takes place in real-life circumstances, and of how ministers' souls and lives are subject to all of the same ills, afflictions, and joys as the people whom they shepherd. Surely, this is a wise and helpful design of God. It enables them to understand and attend to their flock better, and it causes their labors for the flock to be available to the minister for the care of his own soul.

The paper on manumission was interesting. 60+ years before the war of Union v.s. States, before the issue was being pressed for political and financial purposes, here was a northern minister publishing a much wiser approach to manumission than was eventually foisted upon the nation. One wonders how different the nation would be today if such wisdom had been followed.

Fearless Faithfulness Is Built upon the Sovereignty of God (Acts 4:27-29)

“For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,
Acts 4:27-29

It is certain that the wicked can only end up accomplishing whatever good God's hand and God's purpose has determined before to be done.

Believing this ought to spare us from pragmatism, so that rather than worry about what might come to us, we would instead boldly do whatever the Lord has commanded. Therefore the apostles are committed to speak God's Word as servants.

However, even when we believe, we are still weak. And so they pray for the boldness that they ought to have.

Let us believe in the sovereignty of God. Let us be committed, therefore, to do without fear whatever He has assigned to us. And let us pray to Him for that fearless faithfulness.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hopewell @Home ▫ Thursday, October 19 ▫ Read Romans 2:25-3:18

Questions for Littles: For whom is circumcision a blessing (v25)? Who are the real Jews? What is the real circumcision (v29)?  What was the biggest blessing of being a Jew (3:2)? What do the faithfulness and justice of God mean that He must do to sin (3:3-8)? How many Jews are under sin (v9)? How many Greeks are under sin? How many are righteous (10)? How many understand (11)? How many seek after God? How many have turned aside (12)? How many do good? What are their throats, tongues, lips, and mouths like (13-14)? Where do their feet go (15-16)? What do they not know (17)? What is not before their eyes (18)?
In the epistle reading this week, we see how useless it is to have a covenant sign without covenant faith. God’s covenant promises of salvation have their yes and amen not in circumcision, nor in baptism, but only in Jesus Christ, who must be all our righteousness before God.
It was very offensive to the Jews that circumcision could be spoken of as worthless. It wasn’t. But its value was only to those who have the inward reality to which the outward sign belonged. The same is true of our baptisms.
Both are wonderful testimonies from God about what He does for us in our salvation. But the sign itself isn’t big enough to save us.
We have a huge guilt problem, that nothing but atonement as big as God can cure.
We have a huge righteousness deficit, that nothing but righteousness as perfect as God can supply.
That’s the point of all those quotes from the Psalms.
Maybe there’s something that we can say? Enough Scripture to memorize and recite? Enough praise to offer? Enough gracious words to speak to others? But only death comes out of our throat-tombs, and only lies come off our deceitful tongues, and only venom comes from under our serpent lips, and only cursing and bitterness overflow from our mouths that are full of them.
Maybe we can do some good works to make up for ourselves? But our feet are sluggish to good and swift to shed blood. We make a miserable mess out of what we do.
Maybe we can get there by sharpening our pencils and getting all our theology right? Nope. The way of peace we have not known.
Maybe we can be spiritual enough? There is no fear of God before our eyes.
The pastor in me wants to jump into next week’s text—that there is available to us Christ’s righteousness, to which we have contributed nothing, and from which we can receive everything.
But it is the sustained stress of a long passage here to take all the air out of all other possible hopes
When you feel like you need to “make it up to God” for your sin, in what do you need to hope instead?
Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face,” or HB275 “Amazing Grace

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

More of Us Do Devotions Than We Think

When as soon as we wake up, we flip our phone on and immediately check...
... Facebook?
... Latest on a sports team?
... Political commentary?
to see what has been added since we put our phones down to sleep...

... we're doing our devotions.

The better question is: to what are we devoted?

Reading Posts are coming, I promise!

Probably everyone who is "reading along" with the daily reading plan knows that I am just about two months into a new call, and getting other important balls up into the air.

Never having been a great juggler, one of the first balls to have been dropped has been that of getting my summary/response posts to the daily readings.

I apologize and thank you for your patience, gentle readers!

These are coming. I promise!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

2017.08.19 (and 26) Sanctification Saturday - Devoted to God, pp. ix-xiii, 1-14

In the last two Sanctification Saturdays, we've been reading Sinclair Ferguson's Devoted to God. If you're not a fast reader, take heart. In two 15 minute sessions, I've only made it to p14.

In the introduction, Ferguson explains that this is not so much a "how to" book as a "how God does it" book. He hopes that by pointing us at the Lord's ways and the Lord's means, he will enable us to strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Chapter 1

What does holiness mean?
Ferguson reasons that since holiness is innate to God, it cannot be defined as separation so much as it must be defined as devotion. What looks like separation from our end is really what happens when something or someone becomes wholly devoted to God (p2-3).

Ultimately, the definition at which he arrives is that holiness, in us, is a "deeply personal, intense, loving devotion to [God]--a belonging to [God] that is irreversible, unconditional, without any reserve on our part" (p4)

Can I hope for holiness?
Here, Ferguson turns us to Peter, whom he holds out as a prime example of a difficult case for being made holy. After drawing a connection between Peter and our own frustrations and failures, he quotes 1Peter 1:1-7, focusing at first on vv1-2.

Here, he points out that as Peter writes to suffering Christians, he begins with the solution to all our problems:
(1) Whose we are: God's by His election and love
(2) Who we are: those who have been cleansed by Christ's blood
(3) What we are for: obedience to our Savior

Helpfully, Ferguson points out that holiness must be important, both because of the sheer volume of ink spilled upon it in the NT, and because the NT emphasizes that salvation is impossible without it.

The necessity of a new lifestyle
This is where Ferguson deals with the difference between justification (which is worked for us, entirely outside of us, by Christ) and sanctification (which is worked into us, within us, by Christ). Justification is never based upon anything we do--even that which is done in us and through us.

However, the two are completely inseparable, because both come through faith in Christ. It is impossible genuinely to believe in Christ, and not receive both justification and sanctification (let alone receive the former but not the latter).

Since each comes through union with Christ, separating justification and sanctification would be to divide Christ Himself (p10, quoting Calvin)

The dying thief
Ferguson takes up this case, because many point to him as someone who didn't have time to be sanctified, but Ferguson flips the issue by pointing out just how drastic a change is demonstrated by the thief.

The meaning of sanctification
This seems like it could be a bit of  rehash of the beginning of the chapter, but he opens it up a little bit: sanctification is being possessed by the Lord, to become increasingly like Him. This produces His beauty in us, and causes us both to wonder at this astonishing work that is being done in us, and to praise Him for His goodness to do this for us.

Peter's teaching
Finally, Ferguson makes much out of the boisterous style with which the letter begins, to point out that this indeed is the same Peter personality, but that the Lord has done a great work in Him, and He will also do the same work in us.

Next week, Lord-willing, we'll be picking up in the middle of p14

2017.08.18 (and 25) Family Friday - Developing a Holy Vision for Family Life, Preface, Biographical Sketch, and part of Chapter 1

On Family Fridays, I'm reading William Gouge's Building a Godly Home vol 1, A Holy Vision for Family Life.

In these first two sessions, I was able to get through the Preface, the Biographical Sketch, and most of Chapter 1, which is on "Serving Each other for the Fear of the Lord."

Preface and Biographical Sketch
The Preface is a note encouraging us to read Gouge:
In these pages, we hear the voice of a wise and loving mentor, calling us to the old paths laid out for the family in the Bible. Reading it is like sitting down to coffee with a gentle grandfather and wise pastor.
(Location 53)
It makes the case (quoting Gouge) for how very important the family is for both church and the culture, and also that the family itself ought to be a display of the effective working of the grace of God.

Then, the Biographical Sketch basically says that Gouge came from and presided over just such a family. Without citation, it is difficult to know how the author knows the following, but I would be thrilled if this is how I were remembered:
Gouge led his household with great patience and kindness. He was quick to humble himself, and brokenhearted in his confessions of sin.
(Location 96)
Chapter 1, part 1: Serving each other
Gouge begins by pointing out that although we are all called to love the Lord, obey Him, know, believe, repent, etc., that each of us also has particular callings that the Lord has assigned to us by His providence.

The text from which he is working is Ephesians 5:21, which really belongs grammatically as the conclusion of what precedes, concerning the praises of God. Still, this preferring of others to the self and always seeking the good of others, belongs to the essence of corporate praise.

Gouge rightly points out the closeness of this relationship:
This shows the hypocrisy of those who make great pretense of praising God, and yet are scornful and disdainful to their brethren, and slothful to do any service to man.
(Location 143)
He then proceeds to discuss two different kinds of submission. One is the submission of respect, where we are subordinate to others in their authority, and show this both by obedience and by special expressions of honor and deference. The other is the submission of service, where everything we do aims at the good of others. The latter "is a duty which even superiors owe to subordinates" (Location 165).
a work of superiority and authority, in the manner of doing it may be a work of submission, that is, if it is done in humility and meekness of mind.
(Location 172)
He also notes several things about authorities in this life.

  • Even the highest authorities in every sphere have someone to whom they must submit. 
  • Every authority is put in his place by God, and it is never merely for himself, but especially for the good of others, namely those "over" whom he is placed. 
  • Since God has called authorities to their places for the good of others, those authorities will give an account for whether that was done and how well.
  • However this is also the reason that those in authority must not allow subordinates to ignore or usurp it. This certainly harms those under authority and rebels against God, who established it.

Chapter 1, part 2: for the fear of the Lord
The second part of the chapter begins to treat the rest of the verse.
Gouge defines the fear of God as an awe-filled respect that moves us to please God and avoid what displeases Him. He discusses the difference between filial (son-like) fear and servile (slave-like) fear. Very helpfully, he quotes from Romans 8, where these two very things are tied together.
distinction of a filial, or son-like, fear, and a servile, or slavish fear. This distinction is grounded on these words of the apostle, “ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear [this is a servile fear]; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father”
(Location 241)
Gouge also notes that God alone is the proper object of our fear, and that our fear of the Lord ought to be so great that Scripture often describes it as the condition of other duties. The Lord even sometimes refers to the whole of our duty to Him as "the fear of the Lord."

Gouge suggests that since our love is dull and cold after the Fall, the Lord has providentially made us fearful creatures so that by this fear He might encourage us beyond where our limited love would have gone.
God has fast fixed this affection of fear in man’s heart, and thereby both restrains him from sin, and also provokes him to every good duty.
(Location 273)
That's as far as I got. I look forward to beginning next Friday at the heading "The Fear of God Moving Us to Do Service to Men"

2017.08.17 (and 24) Theology Thursday - The Glory of Christ, Preface to the Reader

On Theology Thursdays, I've been reading John Owen's The Glory of ChristWith apologies to those who are reading along, I haven't been finding or making the time to post notes on the reading.

In two weeks' readings (a total of 30 minutes) of Owen, I've made it about 40% through the Preface to the Reader. Owen is usually rich, so it's not surprising that so little space has been covered nor that there has been so much good to chew on.

Scripture vs. "I like to think of Jesus as..."
Owen begins by explaining that the only way that we can genuinely know anything of Christ is through the Scriptures. The subject is so exalted that we have no other access, and that those who try "to be wise above what is written, and to raise their contemplations by fancy and imagination above Scripture revelation [...] have darkened counsel without knowledge" (location 51).

This, of course, is all the more dangerous precisely because of how important and exalted the glory of Christ is. But, if we stick to Scripture, there is absolutely nothing as valuable as the knowledge that we will receive of Him...
that real view which we may have of Christ and his glory in this world by faith,—however weak and obscure that knowledge which we may attain of them by divine revelation, — is inexpressibly to be preferred above all other wisdom, understanding, or knowledge whatever.(Location 53)
Heaven on Earth
Owen goes to point out that this is literally heaven on earth. Christ's glory is the very heavenliness of heaven, so the Bible is a most generous gift, by which we may have a true sample already of the chief glory of heaven!

He also points out that Christ, in glory, still bears our human nature, showing the heights of the glory for which we ourselves were created.

He goes on to compare what we otherwise desire and indulge in, in our flesh, to the very glory of Christ to show what an abominable thing sin really is--that we would glut ourselves upon it, to the neglect of finding our soul's satisfaction in Him!

(that's as far as I got on 17th--roughly Kindle location 87)

In the second major heading of the Preface, Owen begins to point out that Christ's being glorified in heaven has forever sealed and secured our fellowship with God there.

First, we see there that upon the resurrection, our natures that perished so easily in this age will be made so perfect that they will thrive forever in the age to come.

Second, we see there how much God has loved us with a love that can never diminish or cease--for no angel did He do this, but only for us!

The third major heading is that Christ has borne His human nature through every possible trial and attack, including the devil, death, and even the very wrath of God, and has come out victorious. By this, we know that so shall we!

The fourth is similar to the point made above about our resurrected bodies.

Making Heavy Burdens Light
He then proceeds to dwell upon the fact that 2Corinthians 4 highlights this eternal weight of glory, which is in fact the glory of Christ, as the very thing that makes our afflictions in this age endurable and even useful.

The heaviest burden is made light by the knowledge that it is God's means for carrying us along from where we have been to where we are going: full enjoyment of the glory of Christ forever.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Real Reverence and Awe: True Faith in the True God

The Visible Idolatry of Statism
A Facebook friend astutely pointed out the similarity between the temple of Zeus and the Lincoln “Memorial.” The true religion of our government is statism, and Lincoln is one of many in its pantheon. There is a difference between memorials and temples. As we have seen these last few days,those who worship at the latter sometimes abominate the former. Remembering truly can be an irritating obstacle to worshiping falsely.

Someone truly uninitiated would have no difficulty identifying the gods of our culture, because he would recognize them by their ostentatious temple buildings at the capitols, university campuses, sport team arenas, cineplexes, shopping malls, and theme parks. But only one variety of our deities has ascended to the level of being carved into the side of a mountain (?!). Can it be any wonder that continual vigilance is necessary in the civil arena to restrain our descent into socialism?

The Invisible Glory of the True God
This is one reason why it is so refreshing that the worship of the one true God takes place even in bare rooms, with little pomp, among unimpressive people, respectfully but inexpensively adorned, with little more of note on earth than simple human voices: the God who is worshiped there cannot be contained in any temple, and these unimpressive people He instead gathers to Himself in glory by faith. Those who lack faith cannot see it and "get nothing out of it."

The Silliness of Sight
Shockingly, there are those in the churches who, rather than seeing this as expected, and exerting themselves before God and in pursuit of that requisite faith for themselves and their neighbors... they instead hasten, embarrassed of our earthly unimpressiveness, accessorize their worship with all manner of things to appeal to the senses, as if the Lord of Heaven could thus be made accessible.

The Glorious Substance of Faith
But He is not accessible except through that High Priest who is God Himself, and who became the very Lamb, through whose once-for-all shed blood, we enter the true Holy of Holies in heaven. When the veil tore from top to bottom, those who entered the structure on earth found no one.

Yet those who, believing in Christ, enter Lord's Day by Lord’s Day the simple services of biblically worshiping congregations, find therein not oversized statues or sensory-overloading frenzy or magnificent architectural opulence… but the Living and True God before whom the idols of men are less than dust. We enter heaven itself by faith (Heb 12:18-29).

How Will We Respond?
As Habakkuk emerged from the confusion of sight into the clarity of faith, the clamor of human idolatry ceased to impress him: “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” (Hab 2:20)

Let us be like so many Elijah's, giving little credit to, and having no fear of, the idol worshipers in their fanatic frenzy. They have about them not a spark of power. Let us instead, in simple, humble words of faith look to Him who is invisible and hears even whispers of the heart. Whether His power manifests itself in flames on Mount Carmel, or a young man who overcomes his addiction to pornography, it is for the True God and for His almighty power alone that we seek.

The only God worth worshiping is Himself a consuming fire. And the only acceptable way of worshiping Him is by faith (not sight), in reverence and awe. Heb 12:28-29.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

2017.08.16 Worship Wednesday - The Day of Worship, Introduction and Chapter 1

On these Worship Wednesdays, we are reading The Day of Worship: Reassessing the Christian Life in Light of the Sabbath by Ryan McGraw. Today, we  got through the Introduction and Chapter 1.

I'm reading this book on the Kindle, and so trying to use my highlights for quoting. It's an experiment. It took a little longer than expected to format, so I will probably have to read a little less on future Wednesdays.

Also, I hope to get faster at it, and more established in identifying locations of citations. In the end, it may be easier just to give a couple paragraph summary instead of pasting so many quotes.

The "Location" refers to the Kindle location. Here's what I found noteworthy, with some comments...

As a new believer, I had not given particular attention to the fourth commandment, or Sabbath day. I was shocked when a minister told me that not only should I refrain from my worldly employments on the Sabbath day, but that I should abstain from recreations and conversation that would be lawful on other days. He also taught me that the Sabbath was designed by God to be a day in which the entire time was to be spent in the joyful duties of public and private worship, which is meant to be a foretaste of heaven itself. 
Location: 61.
 Almost every believer I meet today is in the position in which Dr. McGraw describes himself.
There was a time in which Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, and even some Anglicans and Dutch Reformed shared a fundamental unity on how the Lord’s Day, or Christian Sabbath, should be kept. All of these denominations held in common what is today referred to as the Puritan view of the Sabbath. The Westminster Shorter Catechism has set forth this view: “The Sabbath is to be sanctified by an holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days, and by taking up the entire time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy” 
Location: 69.
This is still the confession and position of our church, but so few resist it. God have mercy upon us! This was once the position of nearly all evangelical churches. How far we have slid!

The next series of quotes (still in the introduction) are McGraw's helpful summary of his book:
Chapters 1 and 2 address the importance of Sabbath-keeping in Scripture.
Chapters 3 and 4 are an attempt to examine the factors that affect the proper interpretation of Isaiah 58:13–14.
Chapters 5 and 6... maintain that our aversion to Sabbath-keeping is not always an exegetical or theological problem, but rather a symptom of the greater problem of worldliness that has entered into the church.
Chapter 7 then proceeds to establish the practices of Sabbath-keeping from a Reformed view of the law of God.
Chapter 8 introduces some miscellaneous practical helps.
Chapter 9,.. examine[s] the nature of legalism... lax views of Sabbath-keeping, as well as the rest of the commandments of God, are at times symptomatic of legalistic views of the gospel.
Chapter 10 presents an a posteriori argument for Sabbath-keeping by connecting the Sabbath to the biblical picture of heaven. 
The plan of the book is ambitious, especially with its small size, but I'm even more eager to read it now than before! I wish all who read it could know Ryan, and his quiet godliness, mild earnestness, and tender interest in those with whom he pleads. But, I trust that will come out in the text.
if all I do is convince you that you must set apart the Sabbath for worship, then I have failed in my purpose entirely. This book addresses much more significant issues, such as the kind of obedience required by the gospel, the relation of the believer to an unbelieving world, the relationship between the law and the gospel, and the focus of our hope of eternal life.
Location: 117
I hope that he accomplishes his purpose with me! I have known and understood the connections between Sabbath keeping and the Christian life in general for a long time, and yet, have not enjoyed the desired/biblical effect to the extent that I wish

Chapter 1
It is often the case that harmful practices are taken for granted by the masses with no suspicion that these practices are threatening to kill an entire generation.
Location: 140
And, I would add, that the more they are taken for granted, the more people squeal if you point them out!
most professing Christians will readily agree to work on the Sabbath [...] Many do not self-consciously make Sabbath-keeping a matter of worship and obedience to the Lord, even though they take it for granted that the fourth commandment is still binding upon believers.
Location: 145
It is like with so many of our duties--failure to approach them as acts of devotion and worship result in a legalistic/rote approach to them, in which we let ourselves off the hook of "the heart situation" involved, and as many of the details as we can ingeniously release ourselves from keeping as well. How much worse to take the worship attitude out of keeping the day of worship!
In Scripture, Sabbath-breaking is presented as one of the greatest causes of the weakness of the church and serves as a lightning rod that attracts the judgment of God to churches and nations.
Location: 151
The Sabbath is not a peripheral issue,
Location: 155
At this point in Chapter 1, McGraw proceeds to show the importance of the Sabbath, "demonstrated by its place among creation ordinances, because it is a sign of the covenant of grace, because of its frequent mention in Scripture (particularly the prophets), because of its relation to Israel’s exile, and because of its purpose as a day of worship." Location: 156

Creation Ordinance
Creation ordinances are independent of any written law of God and even independent of any consideration of the fall of man and of redemption. God’s creation ordinances are marriage, labor, and the Sabbath
Location: 164
[Christ's] argument was essentially this: Every ordinance that God instituted at creation is perpetually binding upon the practices of mankind;
Location: 173
That God sanctified the seventh day means He set it apart as holy. When God gave the Ten Commandments, He appealed to this sanctification to enforce the reason His people must keep the Sabbath day.
Location: 181
Sabbath-keeping is as integral to man’s life as marriage and labor.
Location: 187
Sign of the Covenant of Grace
That the Sabbath became a sign of the covenant of grace as well raises the sin of Sabbath-breaking to horrific proportions.
Location: 191
In Deuteronomy 5, however, they were instructed to “keep” (v. 12) the Sabbath for a different reason: “And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out
Location: 196
He did attach to it a new significance. All men must keep the Sabbath because God is their creator, but God’s people must keep it because He is their redeemer as well.
Location: 200
Yet there is more to this deliverance than simple freedom from slavery. Israel was delivered from the wrath and curse of God Himself. At the first Passover, the blood of a lamb had to be placed over the doors
Location: 204
The full redemptive significance of both the exodus and the Sabbath day is found in the redemption from sin and from the wrath of God that was purchased by Jesus Christ. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
Location: 213
Exodus 31:13–16: Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.
Location: 217
At the creation, the Lord had sanctified the Sabbath; now the Sabbath would serve as a sign that the Lord had sanctified the people, by virtue of a covenantal relationship.
Location: 222
When the church neglects the Sabbath, is it not an implicit declaration that she has not been sanctified by the Lord to be His people? Why do we refuse to treasure the day that is a sign that the Lord has sanctified us to be His people by the covenant of grace?[3] When we remember the Sabbath, it is a perpetual reminder to us that the Lord of the Sabbath is the one who has set us apart to be His people through the blood of the everlasting covenant (Heb. 13:20).
Location: 224
in light of the connection of the Sabbath to the glorious plan of salvation, do you not see why men were put to death for such a crime? What is at stake presently is not simply a matter of working one Sunday in order to avoid making employers uncomfortable
Location: 237
neglect of the Sabbath today actually demonstrates a form of contempt for the covenant of grace.
Location: 240
This last quote is really the nub of the whole thing: God took a particular creation ordinance and made that ordinance a sign of the covenant of grace. Everyone on earth should view the Sabbath as a holy, sacred day of delight for worshiping God. Why don't they? Because they are in bondage to their sin and in rebellion against God!

So God takes those whom He is saving from that bondage and makes their keeping of this creation ordinance a special sign of how He has saved us from our sin, and brought us into a relationship with Him in which we are sacred and special to Him, just as His day is. And what do we do? Use all of our theological reasoning powers to show how much we dislike this sign (thereby pouring contempt upon the thing that it signifies!)

O, may the God of grace yet spare us and grant us repentance for how we have been breaking this commandment and despising this sign!

Place of Prominence in Scripture

The sheer number of biblical passages dealing with the subject, coupled with the solemnity inherent in the passages,
Location: 245
Sabbath is mentioned in at least 159 verses in the Old Testament.
Location: 247
the prophets of the Old Testament did not make laws, but rather served as the prosecution, representing God and enforcing His law against His backsliding people. [...]The references to the Sabbath among the prophets are impressive; they lay great stress on the importance of the question of Sabbath-keeping.
Location: 262
McGraw proceeds to quote a small sampling. I found Jer 17:19-27 very instructive as to how God has appointed the Sabbath as a sign to which He will respond with outpouring of blessing (much the same way as we noted recently about Baptism and the Supper).

Also important was the discussion of the manner in which Jesus instructed about commandments in response to Pharisaical abuse, and that this did not take away from any of those commandments themselves. Thus...
it is not true to say that the Lord Jesus taught less about the Sabbath than the other commandments. He gave instructions concerning Sabbath-keeping more often than any other commandment. That He did so in a “negative” manner by contradicting the Pharisees does not reflect poorly upon the Sabbath, but rather upon the Pharisees.
Location: 267
Role of Sabbath in the Exile
Leviticus 26:34–35 states: “Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest [for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it].”
Location: 330
2 Chronicles 36:20–21...
Sabbath-breaking was not the only reason for the exile, but it was the sole factor that determined the length of the exile.
Location: 339
Is this only regarding letting land lie fallow? No, it is very specifically connected to keeping the creation ordinance/fourth commandment of the moral law (which is perpetual, as opposed to ceremonial or civil law). This is demonstrated by Nehemiah's argument in chastening the people in Nehemiah 13...
Israel had many “Sabbaths” (see Lev. 23), and that the summary principle enforcing all of them was the fourth commandment. The “Sabbath days,” such as the seventh-year Sabbath, were aspects of the ceremonial law and would pass away with the coming of the new covenant in Christ (Col. 3:16). However, breaking the seventh-year Sabbath violated the principle of the fourth commandment.
Location: 348
the violation of the seventh-year Sabbath was a sign of contempt for the fourth commandment as a whole
Location: 360
That Nehemiah cited Sabbath-breaking as one of the primary causes of the wrath of God in the exile makes it difficult to conclude that he did not have in view passages such as Leviticus 26 and 2 Chronicles 36. Yet Nehemiah 13 reproved those violating the weekly Sabbath, not the seventh-year Sabbath.
Location: 367
It is worth noting how the people in Nehemiah 13 broke the Sabbath.[...] “If the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath” (Neh. 10:31, my translation).
Location: 371
So many today think that Sabbath-breaking is not so bad, if it is done by employing unbelievers, but this was exactly the sin for which Nehemiah was condemning them!!
we are not only commanded to refrain from our own labors on the Sabbath, but we must not buy and sell goods on the Sabbath. How does this apply to us today? It seems indisputable that we should not do grocery shopping on the Sabbath. It should also be shameful that so many Christians rush from corporate worship to restaurants on the Sabbath. Poor planning in not making sure we have enough gas in the car on Saturday does not make buying gas on Sunday a work of necessity; it is an act of sin that must be repented of by checking the gas gauge next Saturday.
Location: 378
How can we, in good conscience, pay someone else on the Sabbath to do that for which God once demanded the death penalty?
Location: 384
Though we should not apply this penalty today, do we dare say that God chose a punishment out of proportion to the crime? How can we pay someone to perform a task that would be sin for us to perform? The reasoning of believers at this point is, frankly, appalling.
Location: 385
We forget that the Lord of the exile is the same Jesus who threatens to remove His lampstand from specific churches and regions of churches. How long can we test His patience before we find ourselves in a dark age, while the advance of the Gospel continues instead somewhere else on the earth? God have mercy upon us!
If Sabbath-breaking is cited as a cause for sending Israel into exile, how long will God patiently observe our disregard for His day before severely chastening our sins?
Location: 396
Location: 398
By her Sabbath-breaking, is the church prompting God to send her into a new “Babylonian captivity”? Or has her captivity already begun? 
I believe the last item in the list "Day of Worship" is actually given its entire chapter in Chapter 2. Next week, then!

What struck you about these chapters? How have you found the reading so far? I think it's easier to have a more recently written book, and one by a preacher who is following a logical procession while trying to plead with and convince us of the biblical position.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2017.08.15 Timeless Tuesday - Letters of Samuel Rutherford, pp1-13

On these "Timeless Tuesdays," we are reading through the Banner of Truth edition of Letters of Samuel Rutherford. Today, we began the "Sketch" of  his life by Andrew Bonar.

I only got a few pages in before it was time to quit, but we will aim to do more next week. Even a little bit at a time will soon add up.

The following quote from p5 resonated with me,
"The parish of Anwoth had no large village near the church. The people were scattered over a hilly district, and were quite a rural flock. But their shepherd knew that the Chief Shepherd counted them worth caring for; he was not one who thought that his learning and talents would be ill spent if laid out in seeking to save souls, obscure and unknown."
I am not at all claiming to be a man of learning like Rutherford, but O that the Chief Shepherd would impress upon my heart the infinite value that He attaches to each soul in the flock entrusted to my care!

The quote continues:
"He has time to visit, for he rises at three in the morning, and at that early hour meets his God in prayer and meditation, and has space for study besides. He takes occasional days for catechising. He never fails to be found at the sick-beds of his people. Men said of him, 'He is always praying, always preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechising, always writing and studying.'"
I also identify with his discouragements in the ministry, though I wonder if for him (as it has often been for me) this wasn't just the result of focusing so much upon the spiritually weak and ill that he failed to the see the evidences of a work of grace in many of the others.

One thing that I wish I would be more faithful in, we find described in the following quote from p8:
"He dealt with individual parishioners so closely and so personally as to be able to appeal to them regarding his faithfulness in this matter. He addresses one of them, Jean M'Millan: 'I did what I could to put you within grips of Christ; I told you Christ's testament and latter will plainly.'"
Also, the following quote from p12 was helpful, though it's really more the sermonizing of Bonar than anything that Rutherford said,
"It might be instructive to inquire why it is that wherever godliness is healthy and progressive, we almost invariably find learning in the Church of Christ attendant on it: while on the other hand, neglect of study is attended sooner or later by decay of vital godliness."
I had to set the book down a few lines into p13 where the section on his life in Anwoth ended. Looking forward to picking it up again next week--and especially eventually to make it into the actual letters.

How far did you get? How did you find the reading? What resonated with you?

Monday, August 14, 2017

2017.08.14 Ministry Monday - An Able and Faithful Ministry (Garretson), pp i-23

Today being Ministry Monday, we (re-)began Samuel Garretson's An Able and Faithful Ministry: Samuel Miller and the Pastoral Office.

Samuel Miller was the second founding professor of Princeton Theological Seminary. He, and that institution, were used mightily of God to preserve, strengthen, and grow the American Presbyterian churches faithfully, throughout the 19th century.

Prefatory Matters
The foreword (pp vii-ix) by William S. Barker basically whets our appetite for, and commends, the material.

Garretson does much of the same in the preface (pp xi-xiii), and also in the introduction (pp1-5), but in the latter he also helpfully outlines the book (Part 1, mostly biography; Part 2 mostly Miller's instruction on preaching and shepherding; Part 3, mostly Miller's instruction on the minister's character).

Chapter 1 content
Chapter 1, Heritage of Piety (pp8-23), begins with Miller's grandparents, then his father, John. Miller's formation came largely as a pastor's son, growing up helping his godly mother on the family farm. After his conversion at 18, he went to stay with a brother-in-law and sister while studying at the University of Pennsylvania. They, too, were very careful of his spiritual life.

As he finished his degree, and developed a sense of call to the minstry, various diary entries draw the picture of a man both well-educated and warm-hearted to God, often taking a day in fasting and prayer before the Lord. He reflected frequently upon the character of God demonstrated in His providence.

The sequence of tests and trials for him to enter even into licensure, let alone the ministry, suggest a time of much more carefulness about the quality of ministers than in the Presbyterian denominations with which I am familiar today.

The chapter concludes with Miller choosing from two calls that were available to him, deciding at last to accept the call from the United Presbyterian congregations of New York City.

The following were my favorite quotes from the chapter (they are actually from opposite the chapter's title page).

Chapter 1 quotes
"Doctrinal knowledge is apt to be undervalued by private Christians, and especially by the young. They imagine, according to the popular prejudice, that if the heart be right, and the conduct correct, the doctrines embraced are of small moment.  
This supposes that the heart of any one may be right, while his principles are essentially wrong; or that his practice may be pure, while his religious opinions are radically erroneous. But nothing can be more contrary both to Scripture and experience. The great Founder of our holy Religion declares that men are 'sanctified by the truth.'"
--Samuel Miller, quoted in An Able and Faithful Ministry, p8

"If the young, and even the thinking and serious portion of the young, were as careful to store their minds with elementary principles, and with clear, discriminating view of revealed truth, as they are with the best and most accredited elements of other sciences, we should not find so many hoary-headed Christians unable to defend their own professed principles, and led astray by the artful votaries of error."
--Samuel Miller, quoted in An Able and Faithful Ministry, p8

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Sanctification Saturday: Devoted to God

On Saturdays, I like to read something about sanctification--the putting off of the old man and putting on of the new; killing sin and nurturing the new man that I am in Christ. Growth in grace.

While you may have noticed from the list so far that I usually prefer older books, there is a book in this area that I have been eager to read, and now plan to do so, beginning August 19: Devoted to God by Sinclair Ferguson.

If you've decided to read just one book with me from my new reading plan, this is probably the one that I would recommend. I've never read a Ferguson book or listened to him preach and considered the time anything other than supremely well-spent. I believe that your experience will be the same.

Even if you don't read with me, I hope that you'll check back every once in a while to gather up some loose gems and golden nuggets from the book.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Family Friday: Building a Godly Home, v1 A Holy Vision for Family Life

William Gouge's Of Domestical Duties is one of the best books ever written on one of the most important subjects on which we will ever read: godly living in the home. But the size and style are such that it is intimidating at best, and inaccessible at worst, to this generation of Christian readers. Now Reformation Heritage Books has done the church a great service by publishing it as three volumes in updated English. Beginning August 18, I plan to take a few pages worth of volume 1 (A Holy Vision for Family Life) each week on Family Fridays. Those who are, or hope to be, Christian spouses or parents may find it useful to read along.

Theology Thursday: The Glory of Christ

Thursdays, beginning August 17, I plan to be reading John Owen's The Glory of Christ. Owen's writing can be difficult, but is worth the effort. He has written very helpfully on the love and work of the Holy Spirit, on fellowship with God, on how to kill sin, and more. Though it is book one in his collected works, the first copies of The Glory of Christ came from the printer as Owen was dying. The pastor and scholar remarked that he was about to know the subject far better than before. Though this will be a more difficult one, even those who don't read along can check in on Thursdays for a few juicy quotes each week.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Upcoming Worship Wednesday Book: The Day of Worship

What does it mean that God has given us a day to "keep holy"?

Holiness is radical separateness, radical special-ness so that something (or someone! Us!) is so reserved for, designated to, and devoted unto God that it is called sacred, consecrated.

But the emphasis isn't upon what it's separated from, but rather upon what it's separated for.

So often, we are tempted to focus upon the negatives of what we cannot do on God's holy day. When we do that, we make the mistake of viewing His day as a day of burden and deprivation, as if we are accomplishing some kind of spiritual super-work by going without for God's sake.

That is the wickedly mistaken attitude that God is correcting in the opening verses of Isaiah 58. And, where He takes us from there is, well, delightful!

So, is the Lord's Day a day set apart to ourselves, so we can finally wind down and get some R&R into the crazed and hectic lives into which we have plunged ourselves in this culture? Or is it a day set apart to something (or Someone! The LORD!) far more delightful and rejuvenating than any created thing could be?

As I get going on my new reading plan, on upcoming Worship Wednesdays I intend to read The Day of Worship: Reassessing the Christian Life in Light of the Sabbath by Ryan McGraw, in which we hope to recover a biblical heart toward the Lord and His day, delighting in it and treasuring it as a glorious and miraculously re-creating gift.

This one will be starting August 16, God-willing.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Timeless Tuesday: The Letters of Samuel Rutherford

What do godly ministers do, when they are expelled from their pulpits and spend much of their life on the run?

Well, in some respects, they do what they would have done week by week in the ministry: delight themselves daily in Christ, and shepherd Christ's people to do the same.

Part of God's blessing to the church through the difficult circumstances of Samuel Rutherford's life, and the lives of ordinary Presbyterian folk being persecuted in Scotland in the first half of the 17th century is the glimpse of the beauty of Christ that has been preserved in The Letters of Samuel Rutherford.

Writing as a persecuted pastor to persecuted people, Rutherford sets Christ before us so sweetly that as Christians, we are strengthened to endure almost anything "for the joy set before us."

This is one big reason why I've made this book my first selection for "Timeless Tuesdays" in my new reading program. Won't you join me?

I hope that, beginning August 15th, you will start checking back in on for choice morsels selected from these letters. In fact, I hope that you will be reading them along with me!

Ministry Monday: An Able and Faithful Ministry by James Garretson

I realize that it's not Monday, but sometimes Mondays (like all other kinds of days) don't go as planned. When that happens, I'll try to catch up on Tuesday. Then Wednesday. Etc.

So, this week, I am introducing the books that we will be starting on the week of the 14th.

An Able and Faithful Ministry is kind of cheating for "Ministry Monday" because it's a pastoral theology disguised as a biography. So, really, we'll get two "Timeless Tuesdays" each week for a while!

Samuel Miller was a godly Presbyterian pastor at the turn of the 19th century, and one of the first great professors at what became Princeton Seminary and included greats like Hodge and Warfield.

This book will take us through Miller's life and ministry as a backdrop for learning from him what a faithful pastor should look like.

If you like biographies, or if you are a minister or elder (or hope to be), I think that you will find this book especially helpful.

Daily Reading

Time to read!
As I settle back into the routine of being a pastor, one of the things that I hope to do is to read widely in a variety of subjects that are selected at keeping my mind fresh and fertile for preaching.

In God's providence, that also means that these subjects are also, generally speaking, useful for the minds and hearts of all believers.

New books begin the week of the 14th
This week, I plan to introduce the books that I will begin (or re-begin) soon. 

Then, on Monday the 14th, I hope to actually start the reading. It'll only be a few pages a day, 15-30 minutes for me, not more than an hour for even a slower reader.

I'll read, and blog a short summary or comment on what I've read.

I would be delighted if others took me up on my invitation to read along, and added their own observations and questions from that section of reading in the comments section on the blog article

Join me!
Reading all of the books along with me would end up being quite a commitment, but you could pick one or two of them.

Surely, every one of us has some 15 minutes per week that could be re-assigned to reading good books!

If you are not in the habit of reading good material in addition to Scripture, I strongly recommend that you pick something easy (Saturday), pragmatic (Friday), or both (Tuesday), and read along.

Often, we don't do it because we lack incentive. This is where having a schedule, and interaction can help move us along.

Sometimes, we don't do it because we feel like we aren't understanding what we read. This is where the blog summary, and the opportunity to make observations and ask questions, can help.

And, if it's just going to be a couple pages a week, it'd be difficult to convince ourselves of the excuse that we don't have enough time!

"The List"
The following is the list that I propose to begin soon:

Ministry Monday
An Able and Faithful Ministry by James Garretson

Timeless Tuesday (history and biography)
The Letters of Samuel Rutherford (note that although I will be reading the Banner of Truth edition, other editions may possibly serve as well. I don't have them in order to compare)

Worship Wednesday (focused mainly upon the Lord's Day assemblies)

Theology Thursday (more formal theological reading; usually a tougher slog through, but worth it)
The Glory of Christ by John Owen (volume one, if you have a set of his works)

Family Friday (family, marriage, parenting, etc.)

Sanctification Saturday
Devoted to God by Sinclair Ferguson

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Observations upon Hearing Some Good Sermons and Some Almost Good Ones

If you are going to tell me that we don't need to dwelling upon Abram, but rather upon Abram's God, spend more than 2% of the next two hours of teaching showing me Abram's God and less than 98% showing me Abram.

Illustrations separate the almost good from the truly excellent. There is a world of difference between great stories and word pictures that enable me to understand clearly the most challenging truths of great texts.

If you have arrived at a contestable conclusion that the text itself doesn't clearly state, don't build a significant portion of your sermon upon it. Don't go on to make a habit of this.

If you are going to scold people for obeying Scripture in a particular way, take them to that Scripture, and explain how it is actually asking to be obeyed. If you can't do that clearly, don't scold in the first place.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Ac 13:6-10 - What a Spirit-filled Response to Charismatic Distraction Sounds Like

Paul and Barnabas were plainly speaking the words of God (cf. 2Cor 4:1-2). But one of these over-dramatic types with a moment of sensational revelation was distracting from it. What does a Spirit-filled response sound like in such a situation?

It sounds like, "O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?"

Sounds a bit harsh to our culturally enfeebled ears, but it's Scriptural!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Esther 3:3-6 - Suffering for Christ's Sake

Then the king’s servants who were within the king’s gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress the king’s command?” Now it happened, when they spoke to him daily and he would not listen to them, that they told it to Haman, to see whether Mordecai’s words would stand; for Mordecai had told them that he was a Jew. When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had told him of the people of Mordecai. Instead, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews who were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus—the people of Mordecai.
Esther 3:3-6

This reminded me of a recent interchange between an American Senator and a Christian man. The Senator was castigating the man for believing something that is central to the gospel. In a series of attacks, formed as questions, the believer kept responding, "Well, I'm a Christian, and..." Several consecutive times, he would be interrupted and silenced at that point.

Well, here is something similar. Mordecai could worship no mere man. When the king's servants challenged him on it, Mordecai's answer was that he is a Jew. It is interesting that, in v4, it seems that the king's servants at least considered the possibility that he might be given a religious exception. Even by the common grace light of nature, they seemed to know that Mordecai ought to be permitted an exemption, but they apparently knew something of Haman's nature as well.

Sure enough, Haman was so far from willing to grant an exemption that he concluded that if following the religion of the one true and living God meant that they would not bow to him, then he would simply destroy all followers of that religion.

This is the mindset that is developing against genuine, biblical Christianity in America. Never mind that these true disciples of Christ love their enemies and are even willing to sacrifice themselves for those who hate them. Unless Christians are willing to approve that which is wicked and immoral, and unless they are willing to bow and worship as soon as those in the current positions of cultural power appear, they can expect the fiercest responses. There are no religious exemptions, except perhaps for those whose religion it actually is to hate and kill us. Instead, Christians can expect that their quiet and conscientious devotion to Christ and His Word may sooner or later result in a determination to expunge us all.

Are we ready for this? Do we love our enemies precisely because we love Christ? And are we willing to be hated and hunted for His sake? We can be comforted that no one can ever take us from His and the Father's hand. We can be sure that nothing that He has earned for us can ever be lost. And, as is the main doctrine of the book of Esther, we can know that God is ruling and overruling everything for the good of His people, for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Ezra 4:1-2 - Unity Not Always Desirable

"Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the LORD God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel and the heads of the fathers' houses, and said to them, 'Let us build with you, for we seek your God as you do; and we have sacrificed to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here."
Ezra 4:1-2

Sometimes, opposition to Reformation presents itself not as direct resistance, but as a "Unity Party," trying to join with the faithful in a way that will hinder them, dilute them, or slow them down.

"Unity without the Gospel is a worthless unity; it is the very unity of hell." - J.C. Ryle

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Matt 21:1-5 - Beholding Our King

"All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying"
Matt 21:4

Here, we see that Scripture must always be fulfilled.

It is impossible that God should lie. Whatever He has predicted or promised is absolutely certain to happen. Let us have confidence in every single thing that the Bible says.

    “Tell the daughter of Zion,
    ‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
    Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
    A colt, the foal of a donkey.’
Matt 21:5

Here, the prophecy that Christ fulfilled shows Him in both His kingship and His humility.

He is our King.

He subdues us to Himself, so let us yield to Him first head and heart, and then indeed all that we are, all that we have, and all that we do.

He provides for us, protects us, and defends us, so let us commit ourselves to His care. Literally, "by all means," let us make diligent and zealous use of all the means that He has given us, but let us always rest our confidence upon Him, rather than upon the means that He has given us.

He restrains and conquers all of His and our enemies, so let us never grumble, whine, or complain, but know that even the devil can only do what Jesus has planned for our good. And then, Jesus will punish every last wrong done to us--which He already used for our good!

And He has humbled Himself for us.

He became a man, and that in a low condition. Even as our King, He rode at first not on a great white horse, but on a donkey--and an adolescent donkey at that. He came lowly. And went so low as the cursed death of the cross. Such is the distance to which our God, Lord, Creator, and King stooped for our poor sake.

Let us behold here His love, and dwell upon it, that it might kindle in our hearts the flames of love toward Him. If we love Him because He first loved us, then let us drink deeply of these displays of His love to stir up our own reciprocal love!

And let us be glad to stoop and go low ourselves, for this path has been made beautiful, having been taken first by our Redeemer. Let us consider it an honor to stoop ever so low, to perform the lowest tasks, to receive the lowest gifts, to suffer those conditions and positions that worldlings consider to be far beneath them. They were not beneath our King, and we shall follow Him in them!

2Chr 36:15-16 - The Great Mercy (and Potential Danger) of Hearing Biblical Preaching

"And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, till there was no remedy."
2Chr 36:15-16

Surely, we ought to pray that God would grant that His servant would preach His Word faithfully in each of our churches. Here, He describes such preaching as an act of His compassion. Indeed, those who wish for less preaching, or less biblical preaching, or no preaching at all... are actually asking that God would not have compassion upon them. This is a horrifying thought!

But, let us seek more than just this compassion from Him. For, if the preacher is mocked, and the words are considered of little value or importance, we shall find that we have made God's display of His compassion the occasion by which we have stirred up great wrath against His church.

O, the greatness of the mercy, and potential danger in hearing biblical preaching!

2Chr 32:1-8 - A Biblical Confidence in God's Sovereign Action Leads to Believers' Vigorous Action

Sometimes, I have heard it said of confidence in God's sovereign action that it will stifle believers' activity.

And indeed, I have heard believers describe their laziness or passiveness as "giving the situation over to God"--as if their acting was somehow preventing Him from doing so, or an indication that they did not trust Him to do so.

While it is perhaps true that believers who speak like this were not trusting God previously, their newfound passivity and inaction does not mean that they have now begun to trust Him.

Look at the flurry of Hezekiah's action here:
"And he strengthened himself, built up all the wall that was broken, raised it up to the towers, and built another wall outside; also he repaired the Millo in the City of David, and made weapons and shields in abundance. Then he set military captains over the people, gathered them together to him in the open square of the city gate, and gave them encouragement, saying" (vv5-6)

What drove such a frenzy of action? Was it because he was not "trusting God to work"? By no means! Notice the very next verses:
"“Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah" (vv7-8)

Simply put, when Christian's believe it in a biblical way, they do not do less, but rather more, when they possess the certainty that the Lord is working and will continue to work.

Do I believe this about the Lord, according to His promises and character? Then it will not be demonstrated merely by a warm, ethereal feeling while I fold my hands. Rather, it will be seen by my vigorously pursuing all of the means that God has placed at my disposal. After all, if our Father is working, then so shall we!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Jn 14:31 - O how Christ loves the Father!

"But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here."
John 14:31

If we are not amazed at Christ's love for the Father, we have not fully understood the cross.

And it is this love that is reckoned to us through faith in Christ, as if we ourselves had so kept the first great commandment!

Jn 14:8-9 - O that we would see Christ, by faith, in the preaching of the Word!

"Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?"
John 14:8-9

How glorious it is to see Christ! So exactly and completely is He the imprint of the Father that, once having seen Him, there is nothing more of the Father that we may see! Indeed there is nothing un-Christlike in the Father.

But what of us? Coming so long after Philip, have we missed our opportunity in this world for this glorious vision? By no means. For when the apostle Paul defends plain preaching and teaching as his strategem for ministry, he​ argues that it is God's means for doing something that no device of man could ever do:

"Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
2Co 4:1-6

O, let us wrestle at the throne of grace for this: that God the Holy Spirit would attend the preaching in our churches, granting to us to see Christ Himself by faith!

2Chr 19:6-7 - How the godly approach government jobs

Romans 13 makes it plain that this holds up for all governments in every age.

and said to the judges, “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment. Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.”

While v11 makes clear that the "general equity principle" is how this must operate, that principle itself means that the godly magistrate will be seeking biblical instruction for how he is to rule.

God grant, in every nation, men who govern thus, by grace in Christ!

Friday, June 2, 2017

John 13:34 - Lay your life down for the church

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?”
Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”
Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.”
John 13:34-37

Peter thought that he would outdo Christ. He thought that Christ had merely washed their feet, but Peter was determined to love Him back by laying down his life. By the end of that evening, and especially the next afternoon, Peter would realize just how backwards he had it.

But when Christ restored the apostle, He brought him back to this conversation, reminding him (and us with him) of the chief way in which we are to "love Him because He first loved us": love one another as He has loved us.

Do you love Him, dear Christian readers? Love one another! This, most of all, is how our Redeemer tells us to reciprocate His love to us.

2Chronicles 12:14 - Preparation of the Heart

Truly, reading through the flawed kings of Judah makes one to confess that Christ alone is King of kings and Lord of lords.

And the Lord holds before us in 2Ch 12:14 how it was that Rheoboam's sinful flesh maintained the upper hand with him, "And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD."

(See also 2Chr 19:3, "Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God." ... and 2Chr 30:18b-19a But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good LORD provide atonement for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers" ... and Ezra 7:10 "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel" ... and 1Sam 7:3 "Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines")

The word means to prepare or make ready, with a connotation of strengthening, establishing, and steeling the heart in a particular posture or attitude. God knows our dullness, and He has provided us this instruction: hearts such as ours must be intentionally conditioned to know and love and obey Him. Our hearts will not naturally do so merely because we wish they would. Moreover, He warns us of what we are wont to do if we do not prepare our hearts to seek Him. We are likely to end up rejecting all sound wisdom and indulging the folly and sin of our original, fleshly nature.

We who long that kings would be righteous, and that we ourselves would be upright in all that we do... Here is a biblical prescription for us: we must prepare our hearts to seek the Lord!

Let us be eager at the Word, sacraments, and prayer... these means through which we have Christ's own heart by grace.

2Chronicles 9:8 - One Greater than Solomon

How have you responded to Christ? There are many who demand something from Christ  before they will believe.

Of those Pharisees that insisted that Jesus satisfy their demands, He said, "The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here." (Mt 12:42)

And how had she responded?

"Blessed be the Lord your God, who delighted in you, setting you on His throne to be king for the Lord your God! Because your God has loved Israel, to establish them forever, therefore He made you king over them, to do justice and righteousness." (2Ch 9:8)

The Lord grant to you, dear reader, that this is how you respond to encountering Jesus Christ in His Word! Truly, He is the one greater than Solomon.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Samuel Miller, upon Resolving to Pursue Gospel Ministry

O my Father's and my Mother's God, I yield myself to Thee! Yet, what an office for a poor, polluted, weak creature, who is helpless in himself, to aspire unto! Lord, help me to realize my own weakness and unworthiness; to lie in the dust of abasement, and habitually to look for strength to Him who can "make me strong in the power of His might." Lord, I, this day, devote myself to Thy most worthy service. I am Thine by creation and preservation; I ought to be Thine by a holy regeneration and a gracious adoption; and I would humbly devote myself to the promotion of Thy glory to my latest breath.
Quoted from The Life of Samuel Miller on p17 of An Able and Faithful Ministry

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I Cannot Wait to See Him

A Good Article on the 2nd Commandment
Tim Challies has a good post on the second commandment over at

Praise the Lord that Mr. Challies is speaking plainly about a simple issue upon which the "Reformed" in our day have equivocated so unhelpfully. It's good to see that the increasing breadth of his audience and 'fame' has not shortened the range of issues to which he is willing to put his keyboard plainly.

Now, I would love to see him do the same with the 4th Commandment!

But Aren't the Reformed Just Overreacting to Roman Catholicism?
To think further about the right way to worship God, approach Him, and even think about Him, may I suggest considering Nadab and Abihu? Only, this time, begin at Leviticus 8:1, and immerse yourself slowly in the context that leads up to the more famous portion in 10:1-3.

They were two of the five men ordained to do it; they had just completed the full process for their ordination and installation; there is no indication of a lack of sincerity--in fact, after that week's worth of sacrifice and being repeatedly stained with animal blood, it is highly likely that they took this very seriously and were very sincere.

And yet God burned them up. Why? Because they were creative about worship. Worship is not a place for creativity or innovation. Only what God has commanded may be called true worship, and everything else offends Him. When we are creative with worship, we take upon ourselves the prerogative of God Himself.

I am repeatedly shocked to observe candidates for the ministry, whose education included being steeped in the kind of sophistry that permits of images of the second person of the Trinity.

We have lost a sense of the holiness of God.

Even Well-Instructed Children Understand Better the Holiness of God
As one 7th grader recently answered, when his youth leader asked, "what would you do if Jesus were here?"... the lad answered, "I would faint, of course."

Even the apostle fell on his face as though dead. It is precisely because we cannot conceive of the great holiness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, that we must never "image" Him, not even in our minds. Shall we invite our young ones to imagine Christ? They will only create for themselves an idolatrous caricature! Or to imagine what they "would do" in His presence? They would of course do whatever He commanded!

His glory is no longer veiled.

Or as a five year old girl, who had already been catechized, once told the dear and sincere Christian grandma who was babysitting her... the Grandma had brought over a Bible story book, and they were happily reading along, until they came to a page with a picture that was obviously purporting to include the second person of the Trinity.

The little girl froze, not wanting to participate in breaking the second commandment, but keenly aware that she needed to honor the grandma to keep the fifth commandment. The dear lady from church was now seriously concerned for the soul of a five year old who apparently could not identify the picture... "don't you know who that is? That's Jesus!"

"Oh no, ma'am. That cannot be Jesus. Jesus is in heaven, and He is so glorious that we cannot imagine what He looks like. I can't wait to see Him!"

If We Do Not Have the Faith of These Children, We Impoverish Our View of the Gospel
It is this Holy One, who alone defines worship, and this Terrifyingly Glorious One, before whom apostles fall on their faces as though dead... this one, God the Creator, and Almighty King, and Terrifying Judge of all, who dwells in unapproachable light who suffered humiliation, submitting Himself to humanity, and to death--even that of the cross.

He before whom angels cover their faces endured the mocking of men and demons and suffered the wrath of God for me.

For all eternity, I will wonder at this, never fully understanding it. In my current condition, if I were to see Him, I would fall down as though dead. But, He is sitting on His throne, and fitting me for glory. I cannot imagine, now, what He looks like, but I cannot wait to see Him!

For Further Study
For more Christ-exalting, affections-stirring understanding of Holy Scripture on this issue, I recommend that you read and digest

Friday, January 27, 2017

Ask the Pastor: Does the Holy Spirit Talk to My Wife?

Q: Does the Holy Spirit talk to my wife? She claims that the Holy Spirit tells her things like to turn left instead of right and so forth.

A: This "ask the Pastor" began to be answered in person, with reference to how God speaks clearly when He speaks (Deut 29:29), and that the "speaking" ministry of the Holy Spirit was a completion of the speaking ministry of Jesus Christ to the apostles (John 16:12-15). I also recommended that he listen to the "Strange Fire" conference talks, put on by Grace to You a few years ago...

Monday, January 23, 2017

Spirit-Powered Men and Women

"I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works." 1Timothy 2:8-10

As we often do, when we are rebelling, recent reference to this passage has focused upon attempts to reject that which is forbidden. vv11-12 receive the bulk of the attention.

What is missed is that the lead-in from the beginning of the chapter is the astoundingly gracious plan of God, the only Savior, to redeem people from all walks of life through Jesus Christ, the only Mediator.

And although God is the alone Savior through Christ the alone Mediator, we learn here what will be those means, humanly speaking, through which He does this. Do we wish to see the nations saved? Do we wish to see our nation come to the knowledge of the truth? Do we wish to see our community transformed by Christ? Let us pay attention to the role that God has assigned to us in this.

Men of Prayer. This isn't optional. It's not a program that one church might have and another not. Everywhere there are Christians, the men should be praying. The men should be leaders in prayer. Wives should have the familiar experience of being led in prayer by their husbands. Children should also, by their fathers. The church should be accustomed to seasons of hearing the deeper voices of the congregation calling upon the Lord for the government, for the nations, for the church, for the second-coming.

Men of Holy Hands. We are not our own. We are bought with a price. Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. He who wishes to be great must be a servant of all. Holy hands is much more than "be careful little hands what you do." It is the identifying of hands as sacrifices--no longer possessed by him at the end of whose arms the hands reside, but now having been handed over unto God.

Work done with diligence as an act of worship. Devotion to service rather than leisure or entertainment. Recreation that is an enjoyment of God, and a refreshment for the purpose of more worship and service. The hands of a husband, of a father, of the men in the congregation should be hands that have been offered once and for all, and continuously, as living sacrifices.

Not only will such hands refuse to be wasted in self-service, but they will not be found idle. Idle? Hands that have been devoted to the Lord and His service? May it never be!

If we desire to see another generation of the church follow in this--and we do!--then let us first see the men of this generation with holy hands.

Men Without Wrath. Wrath is not strength, and the wrath of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. The fruit of the Spirit is... joy, peace, patience... gentleness, and self-control. Too often, passivity and self-service have gone hand-in-hand with fury at being inconvenienced by others.

There is little real interaction until the issue is forced by some crisis or unpleasantness, and then comes an explosion, followed by the fearful scurrying of those around, and then a return to the "peace" of non-action and non-interaction.

This is not strength. This is an over-sized, over-aged temper tantrum. And, in the church, it often masquerades as self-righteousness. But there is nothing further from true righteousness than a man who is given to wrath.

Joyful, peaceful, gentle, self-controlled men are an appointed means by which God our Savior brings men to the knowledge of the truth through the only Mediator, the Man, Christ Jesus.

Men Without Doubting. This, of course, goes hand in hand with being a gentle-man: unshakeable certainty that God, who is full of saving mercy, is working all things according to the counsel of His will. That God is working all things together for the good of His people. That God, who did not spare His own Son, is also together with Him, giving us all things.

How it would change the face of our homes if they are led with a perpetually cheerful, sure confidence in the love, wisdom, and power of God our Savior! How it would change the face of our churches. Of our communities.

It would undoubtedly diminish the revenue of news channels and conspiracy theory websites, but there is really only one conspiracy that ultimately matters: the conspiracy of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the salvation of the elect, and the bending of literally everything that occurs, everywhere, at every moment, to that end.

Beautiful Women. What about the women? Their primary command is to be adorned. How odd that the negative "not with..." gets so much attention, when the command is primarily positive.

Adorned with modest apparel.

Adorned with good works.

The modest apparel here indicates a condition of the heart: propriety and moderation. These are women who (like the hands of their men) know what they are about: they have been devoted to the Lord. They are living sacrifices. They are not scurrying after attention or admiration. They have been loved with everlasting love, bought at infinite price, and appointed to work of infinite value. There is no reason for the pleading, panicked dress or drama of worldly women.

No, these are women who profess godliness. They have declared with their mouths that Christ is Savior, that Jesus is Master. And now they are declaring it with their actions, with good works. They are not making gaudy displays of themselves, but rather they are always ready for another one of those good works that their Redeemer has prepared beforehand for them to walk in.

Such a woman is beautiful beyond comparison. A thousand seductively (un)dressed, glaringly painted, attention-seeking starlets of the world don't begin to have the beauty of a single woman whose heart has rested in Christ, and whose hands therefore are full of diligence in His service.

Yes, there is more in the passage about what are "not" the good works of a godly woman, just as there was some about what are "not" the adornments of a godly woman. And there is a particular commendation for the good work of persevering motherhood. But here remains the main point: a life of service to others for the sake of Christ makes a lady stunningly beautiful.

And this beauty is appointed of God as a characteristic of His plan to save all kinds of people through the only Mediator, the Man, Christ Jesus.

Again, this comes only by the work of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is... love, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.

We must see this: that a godly woman is made truly lovely (just as a godly man is made truly manly) only by the life of Jesus Christ in her, worked out by the Holy Spirit, until in due season the fruit appears and demonstrates that she is abiding in the Vine.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And the work of the Spirit, who produces this fruit in godly men and women, is to bring the salvation of God through the only Mediator, Jesus Christ.