Friday, June 29, 2018

180629FW Mark 15:40-16:8 - God Helps His Feeble Servants Be Faithful

Family Worship teaching time from Mark 15:40-16:8, following up upon the gospel reading from the Lord's Day morning worship service. Even in the midst of the Resurrection, which is the great action in the text, the Lord was pleased to use the women who served however they could, despite their weakness--going ahead of them to supply what was needed to equip them

Thursday, June 28, 2018

180628FW 1Corinthians 3:9-17 - God's Workers, Doing God's Work, God's Way

Family Worship teaching time from 1Corinthians 3:9-17 on how ministers belong to the Lord, not the church. And the church itself belongs to the Lord, rather than to itself, so ministry must be done according to the Word of God, not the ideas of men.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

180627FW Genesis 25:19-28 - Praying and Listening to Our Always-Good God

Family Worship teaching time from Genesis 25:19-28, following up upon the Old Testament reading from Lord's Day morning worship. We see how the Lord, in His goodness, was bringing the Savior into the world--even through the prolonged trial of Rebekah's barrenness and the intense trial of her pregnancy. And, we see how faith, because it is sure of God's goodness, responds to such trials by prayer and seeking God's Word.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

180626FW Psalm 87 - Rejoicing Over the New Birth

Family Worship teaching time, reviewing Psalm 87 from the Lord's Day morning service, and the Lord calling His people to be led by Jesus, their Forever-Priest, as they rejoice and sing over the new birth in their corporate worship

Monday, June 25, 2018

180625FW Hebrews 13:1-4

Family Worship teaching time from Hebrews 13:1-4, following up upon the morning sermon from the Lord's Day morning worship

Saturday, June 23, 2018

180623FW Hebrews 12:29

Family Worship teaching time from Hebrews 12:29, following up upon the sermon from last Lord's Day's morning worship

Friday, June 22, 2018

180622FW Mark 15:16-39

Family Worship teaching time from Mark 15:16-39, following up upon the gospel reading from Lord's Day morning's worship service

Thursday, June 21, 2018

180621FW 1Corinthians 3:1-8

Family Worship teaching time from 1Corinthians 3:1-8, following up upon the epistle reading from the Lord's Day morning worship service

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

180620FW Genesis 25:1-18

Family Worship teaching time from Genesis 25:1-18, on the surprising goodness, abundant goodness, and eternal goodness of God, following up upon the Old Testament reading from the Lord's Day morning worship service

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

180619FW Proverbs 19:1-10

Family Worship teaching time on wisdom, wealth, and words from the "Proverb of the day"

180619FW Colossians 1:9-22

Family Worship teaching time in Colossians 1:9-22, following up upon the call to worship, prayer for help, confession of sin, and assurance of the gospel from the Lord's Day morning worship service

Monday, June 18, 2018

180618FW Proverbs 18:9-13

Family Worship teaching time on Proverbs 18:9-13 from the "Proverb of the Day"

180618FW Hebrews 12:28

Family Worship teaching time from Hebrews 12:28, following up upon the Lord's Day morning sermon

Saturday, June 16, 2018

180616FW Hebrews 12:28-29

Family Worship teaching time from Hebrews 12:28-29, following up upon the Lord's Day morning sermon

Friday, June 15, 2018

Two wise pastors from yesteryear, and their concern for souls on Christmas

Truly, we do not wish to trouble or alienate anyone more than is necessary for the care of souls. This, perhaps, is why Spurgeon in his younger years accommodated the "Christian" co-opting of Saturnalia. And, it may have something to do with why Calvin, upon his return to Geneva, accepted the will of the people of that city-state regarding the day.

However, these men still loved the souls of those entrusted to their care, as I hope that the Judgment will vindicate me of having done, and so even in the observance of the day, they raised the alarm against man-made fantasies in spiritual things, and pointed people instead to the true and living Lord Jesus Christ, whom we may only know insofar as--and by those means by which--He has given Himself to us.

Rather than attempt to navigate this thorny path on my own, I leave my beloved readers in the capable hands of these faithful ministers, by words that they carefully selected in later years of ministry, having a wisdom to which I do not in this life expect to attain.

Calvin, excerpt from 1551 Christmas sermon while preaching through Micah (
Now, I see here today more people than I am accustomed to having at the sermon. Why is that? It is Christmas day. And who told you this? You poor beasts. That is a fitting euphemism for all of you who have come here today to honor Noel. Did you think you would be honoring God?

Consider what sort of obedience to God your coming displays. In your mind, you are celebrating a holiday for God, or turning today into one but so much for that. In truth, as you have often been admonished, it is good to set aside one day out of the year in which we are reminded of all the good that has occurred because of Christ’s birth in the world, and in which we hear the story of his birth retold, which will be done Sunday.

But if you think that Jesus Christ was born today, you are as crazed as wild beasts. For when you elevate one day alone for the purpose of worshiping God, you have just turned it into an idol. True, you insist that you have done so for the honor of God, but it is more for the honor of the devil.

Let us consider what our Lord has to say on the matter. Was it not Saul’s intention to worship God when he spared Agag, the king of the Amalekites, along with the best spoils and cattle? He says as much: ‘I want to worship God.’ Saul’s tongue was full of devotion and good intention. But what was the response he received? ‘You soothsayer! You heretic! You apostate! You claim to be honoring God, but God rejects you and disavows all that you have done.’

Consequently, the same is true of our actions. For no day is superior to another. It matters not whether we recall our Lord’s nativity on a Wednesday, Thursday, or some other day. But when we insist on establishing a service of worship based on our whim, we blaspheme God, and create an idol, though we have done it all in the name of God. And when you worship God in the idleness of a holiday spirit, that is a heavy sin to bear, and one which attracts others about it, until we reach the height of iniquity.

Therefore, let us pay attention to what Micah is saying here, that God must not only strip away things that are bad in themselves, but must also eliminate anything that might foster superstition. Once we have understood that, we will no longer find it strange that Noel is not being observed today, but that on Sunday we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper and recite the story of the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But all those who barely know Jesus Christ, or that we must be subject to him, and that God removes all those impediments that prevent us from coming to him, these folk, I say, will at best grit their teeth. They came here in anticipation of celebrating a wrong intention, but will leave with it wholly unfulfilled.
Spurgeon, in the introduction to his Christmas sermon in 1871, disavowing the superstition of the season and the day, and explaining that he is preaching upon the incarnation because it is a correct thing for any day of the year:
We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority.

Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Saviour’s birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it occurred. Fabricius gives a catalogue of 136 different learned opinions upon the matter; and various divines invent weighty arguments for advocating a date in every month in the year.

It was not till the middle of the third century that any part of the church celebrated the nativity of our Lord; and it was not till very long after the Western church had set the example, that the Eastern adopted it.

Because the day is not known, therefore superstition has fixed it; while, since the day of the death of our Saviour might be determined with much certainty, therefore superstition shifts the date of its observance every year. Where is the method in the madness of the superstitious? Probably the fact is that the holy days were arranged to fit in with heathen festivals.

We venture to assert, that if there be any day in the year, of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Saviour was born, it is the twenty-fifth of December. Nevertheless since, the current of men’s thoughts is led this way just now, and I see no evil in the current itself, I shall launch the bark of our discourse upon that stream, and make use of the fact, which I shall neither justify nor condemn, by endeavoring to lead your thoughts in the same direction.

Since it is lawful, and even laudable, to meditate upon the incarnation of the Lord upon any day in the year, it cannot be in the power of other men’s superstitions to render such a meditation improper for to-day. Regarding not the day, let us, nevertheless, give God thanks for the gift of his dear son.

2018.06.15 Family Friday - William Gouge's "Building a Godly Home v1 - a Holy Vision for Family Life": chapter 1 (continued), Serving Each Other in the Fear of the Lord

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

Chapter 1, part 3: the Fear of God Moving Us to Do Service to Men
Gouge proceeds to show that the fear of God is what moves a good conscience to submit to other men. He uses examples of David, Joseph, and Christ in Scripture submitting to lawful authority out of reverence for the Lord.

If it's not fear of God moving us to submit to authority, then our submission will be forced and selfish or slavish instead of free, willing, and cheerful. This is because the fear of God makes care more for what God wants than for the impulses of our heart.

This means that those in authority have a duty to teach those under them first to fear the Lord, or else their submission will do them ill. And inferiors must pray that their superiors also will fear the Lord.

Chapter 1, part 4: Limiting All Duty to Man, within the compass of the fear of God
It also means that we must only submit to those commands that can be done in fear of the Lord (meaning that we must not submit if commanded to sin).

For superiors, it means that instead of indulging their inferiors' whims, they should give such commands as will lead those beneath them in the fear of the Lord. Both must be seeking to please God rather than men.

180615FW Mark 15:1-15

Family worship teaching time, following up upon the gospel reading in Mark 15:1-15 from the Lord's Day morning worship

Thursday, June 14, 2018

180614FW 1Corinthians 2:6-16

Family Worship teaching time, following up upon the Epistle reading from Lord's Day morning worship

In Support of Simplicity in Worship

In preaching through the book of Hebrews, I've been struck again with how the Lord intentionally planned to glorify His Son by the transition that would take place in worship from something attached to a particular place and nation on earth to something that can happen among any place and nation because it now takes place primarily in Heaven.

Take especially chapters 2 and 12 together. We come to Mount Zion, God's heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, the congregation of the Firstborn, the souls of the just made perfect, God the Judge of all, Christ Jesus the (better) Mediator of the New (everlasting) Covenant. And it is there that He presents us (Behold I and the children whom You have given me) upon the basis of His own faith ("I will put my trust in Him") and proceeds to declare His Father's Name to us and sing His Father's praise in the midst of our assembly.

This transition from worship that was tied to a specific place/nation to worship that instead exults in the Person of the Christ is exactly the substance of one the most important conversations ever had in worship: Jesus, with the woman at the well. She wants to know, "where is the right place to worship?" He answers, "Well, it used to be the temple, but you actually can't walk to the right place anymore. God is Spirit, and the only transportation to the right 'place' of worship is the activity of the Holy Spirit by the instrumentality of the Scriptures." Amazingly, that woman rightly understood that this amazing transition was bound up with the coming of the Christ and the identity of the Christ! When we try to "culturally contextualize" worship, we are chafing precisely against the point that Christ was making there in John 4.

It is simply impossible to emphasize or add any earthly activity without diverting attention from the glory of the heavenly reality of Christian congregational worship.

When God has determined to glorify something by its simplicity, then whatever man adds must necessarily subtract from that glory.

2018.06.14 Theology Thursday - John Owen's "The Glory of Christ": Chapter 1, The explication of the text

On Theology Thursdays, I've am reading John Owen's The Glory of Christ. Today, after a long break from blogging through extracurricular reading, I pick up again with chapter 1.

Owen is opening the text, "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given me." John 17:24

Generous Self-Glorification
For Christ, it is not selfish that He would seek to be glorified and have that glory observed. Rather, He desires it for us precisely because beholding His glory is to our great, "advantage, benefit, satisfaction, and blessedness" (Kindle location 329).

Heaven Begun on Earth
Owen concludes that "beholding of the glory of Christ is one of the greatest privileges and advancements that believers are capable of in this world, or that which is to come" (loc 365). He notes that what will be enjoyed by sight in the next life can only be enjoyed by faith in this one (loc 372).

These two are tied together, because only those who are saved by grace now will see Christ later. So, those who claim to have a desire to see Christ's glory in heaven are self-deceived if they have no view of Christ's glory by faith already in this world (loc 387).

Christ's Glory Our only Vision of God's Glory
He then notes from John chapter 1 that, when the Word became flesh, the disciples "beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." What did they behold? Not a physically glorious man. Not the essential glory of the divine nature. But the glory of that aspect of the God-man's described as His being "full of grace and truth" (loc 393-403).

Since our only access to heavenly things is not the conjectures and imaginations of our minds, but only that which is specifically recorded in Scripture, we must restrict our consideration of the glory of Christ to what Scripture specifies that glory to be (loc 411, 429).

Christ's Glory Presently Apprehended by Scripture Alone
This believing of Scripture, and Scripture alone, is of the essence of faith. It is a great act of the life and power of faith to behold presently, through the lens of Scripture, the glory of Christ (loc 431).

Developing the habit of beholding the glory of Christ prepares us for our primary vocation in heaven. Those who are not already regenerated by the Spirit and desirous of Christ's glory now would not later find any advantage to heaven itself (loc 447).

Scripture says that "to be spiritually minded is life and peace" precisely because having this vision of the glory of Christ places all other things in perspective. There is an aspect to God's glory that will always be by faith. Since the divine nature cannot be seen, our vision of it will always be in the face of Jesus Christ (loc 466-8).

Owen's Plan for the Study
Owen purposes to cover the following questions:
1. What is that glory of Christ which we do or may behold by faith?
2. How do we behold it?
3. Wherein our doing so differs from immediate vision in heaven?
(loc 478)

My Reflex Reaction to the Livestream of PCAGA Report of the Ad-Interim Committee on Racial Reconciliation

Something we'll never stop addressing? Fair enough
Watching the livestream of the PCA committee on racial reconciliation. Basic message is, "this is a sanctification issue, so it's something to always be growing in, and we will never stop talking about this." So, so much more to say about specific statements that really just need to be challenged, pushed back on, or even exposed. But, I would accept that much: it's a sanctification issue.

But let's not forget to give much praise to God for what He's already done
Ok then... dismiss the committee with thanks. Is there anyone who actually doesn't believe that PCA congregations are growing in loving their neighbor--and that everyone knows that this needs to continue? I would suggest that failing to acknowledge God's merciful work in this area the last thirty plus years is actually a wicked ingratitude.

And there are a bunch of other things that need more addressing, since we're talking about things that we should never stop addressing
I transferred into the PCA in seminary, and pastored in it for a decade. I came into it in the deep south. Loving neighbors of other cultures was nowhere NEAR the top of the list of areas of sanctification that were most being ignored.

The PCA needs a Lord's Day committee. A committee on the second commandment, the regulative principle, and the current worship chaos of diversity. A committee on the imbibing of wicked entertainment. A committee on reverence in speech with the name of God and those ways in which He reveals His name. A committee on the genuine honoring of parents and other authorities. A committee on the 8th commandment and American economics. A committee on what love to neighbor in an abortion-legal culture demands of our churches and congregants. A committee on the nature of proper ministry to the poorest in our communities.

I've never had to convince someone in the PCA that racism was wrong and something that they needed to take action to fight against wherever it exists. But I have wept before God to shake us up and accelerate our sanctification in these areas, and pleaded with men just to acknowledge that something HAS to be done in these areas. Where are their study committees?

I'm not PCA anymore, but I still have a significant measure of love for and interest in the church for which the Lord had me weep and work for more than a decade. May He graciously protect, preserve, and prosper her!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

180613FW Genesis 24:50-67

Family Worship teaching time, following up upon the Old Testament reading from corporate worship on the Lord's Day morning

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

180612FW Proverbs 12:8-9

Family Worship from the "Proverb of the day" (for the 12th day of the month)

180612FW 1Peter2:4-10

Family Worship, following up upon the Epistle reading from morning worship on the Lord's Day

Saturday, June 9, 2018

180609FW Hebrews 12:22-24

Family Worship, following up upon the previous morning sermon and preparing for the next day's

Friday, June 8, 2018

180608FW Mark 14:66-72

Family Worship, following up upon the Gospel reading from morning worship on the Lord's Day

Saturday, June 2, 2018

180602FW Hebrews 12:14-17

Family Worship, following up upon the previous week's morning sermon, and preparing for the next day's

Friday, June 1, 2018

180601FW Mark 14:52-65

Family worship, following up upon the Gospel reading in worship Lord's Day morning