Archive for April, 2007

JJ is DY-NO-MITE

April 29, 2007

No, I am not talking about JJ Walker from the TV show Goodtimes (man I am old).  This JJ is James Jordan and he wrote an excellent article on the proper use of the WCF.  Here is a quote but make sure you go HERE and read the whole thing:

…the Standards are often a consensus document. The men at the Westminster Assembly did not all agree with each other about everything. There was a variety of views on things like what happens at baptism, for instance, and the imputation to the elect of the “active obedience” of Jesus, for another. Often the Standards reflect an attempt to form a consensus, or to do justice to the concerns of all parties. Hence, it is often quite wrong to use the Standards to argue for only one very particular understanding of, say, baptism or imputation, and to insist that anyone disagreeing with that view is out of step with the Standards 

al sends

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Sacramentalism – What are we talking about?

April 28, 2007

If you are not familiar with the various positions on the Federal Vision let me recommend a couple of sites to you:

First, our friend Doug Wilson discusses it frequently over at Blog and Mablog. Much of Pastor Wilson’s writing is in response to charges leveled against him or a nebulous “they”, but it is well worth the read.

Second, the Federal Vision website is maintained by some folks who do not believe the Federal Vision theology is unorthodox.

Finally, Green Baggins stands in opposition.

That being said, there seems to be some discussion over the issue of what is called “Sacramentalism.” It is usually typed with a curled lip and followed by spitting on the ground, when applied to FV proponents. But, the word itself is bandied about without much definition and I would like to define here if we could.

This may not help much but here goes…

From Dictionary.com we have the following definitions of Sacramentalism:

1. a belief in or emphasis on the importance and efficacy of the sacraments for achieving salvation and conferring grace.

2. emphasis on the importance of sacramental objects and ritual actions

3. The doctrine that observance of the sacraments is necessary for salvation and that such participation can confer grace.

4. Emphasis on the efficacy of a sacramental.

—–

Let’s dispense with number three. I think that definition is closer to sacradotalism than whatever is meant by the opponents of the FV.

One, two and four seem to have promise. Is what we mean by Sacramentalism a belief that the sacraments are important and effectual? If that is the case then the Sacramentalist is in keeping with the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Here is what the WCF says about the sacraments (with highlights from your friendly poster): (more…)

Benediction in the Triune Name

April 23, 2007

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)

The benediction in the Triune name is not a prayer but what Pastor Jeffery Meyers calls “a performative utterance.”

The Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6 is just such a performative utterance. The priest raised his hands and said, “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Num 6:24-26). And then it was added in v. 27, “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” Moving all the way forward in time to the last days of our Lord on earth in Luke 24:50 we read, “And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them.” The Lord Jesus performed this ancient priestly action, this performative utterance, for His disciples as His last act before His ascension.

The benediction which you hear each Lord’s Day contains no magical power, but it is the proclamation, by God’s minister, of God’s grace for you, His people. Let’s remember that during the service of worship that we call covenant renewal, the primary movement is not our coming and serving God but God coming and serving us. God is serving us by ministering His grace to us. He is feeding us with the Bread of life. He is meeting with us to bless us. The benediction is the closing pronouncement of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’s blessing on His people, preparing them to go out into the world and mediate His grace and His Word and His gospel to the world, to go back to our homes and our communities with His blessing to live as His special people.

“So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them” (Num 6:27). This is something that happened, objectively. It took place each time the priests spoke God’s blessing over the people of God. God’s name was placed on the people; they took His name, something they were not to do in vain, and when they took that name in faith, then they were blessed.

And so it is today. This doesn’t mean that the pastor is a priest. There is nothing special about the man. But there is something special about God blessing His people. When you, God’s people who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who are looking to Christ by faith, gather, and when God’s servant stands before you as God’s representative, then something happens. God places His name on His people and blesses them. The name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is indelibly placed on the people of God. With that name on them, they are not the same. They are a peculiar people in the earth.

They have the grace of Jesus Christ resting on them. They have the love of God filling them. They have the communion of the Holy Spirit uniting them. Those are great gifts. Those are realities that shape us into a particular kind of people – a people with a Trinitarian identity, a people with the true God’s blessing for ministry, for the proclamation of the gospel, for lives that adorn the doctrine of God, for lives of truth, beauty and goodness.

Ultimately, we are prepared for the true end of our Christian lives – for being welcomed into the fellowship and love of the Trinity itself.

So, Whaddya Think?

April 19, 2007

Sign posted in front of a Lutheran church in town (no offense, Martin):

“God will never give us more than we can handle.”

Come, gentle reader, tell me if you think that is true.

The Right Honorable Senator From New York (your future president)

April 19, 2007

OK, I just threw that last part in to scare you…

This is a wonderful bit of bite from Scott Ott, scribe of Scrapple Face:

Hillary: Court Ruling Stabs Women in the Back of the Head

by Scott Ott

(2007-04-19) — Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart upholding the right of Congress and state legislatures to regulate abortion and, in particular, to ban partial-birth abortion, is “a blade to the back of the head of every woman in America,” according to Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY.

“I know I speak for my sisters across the nation,” said Sen. Clinton, “when I say that I feel like someone grabbed me by the ankles, and jammed a pair of scissors into the base of my skull and then just sucked my brains out. This is devastating to our freedoms and our sense who we are as the largest minority group in America.”

Mrs. Clinton derided the justices who comprised the majority in the 5-4 ruling as “a gang of callous right-wingers who slaughtered the civil rights of women just as we are about to experience a new birth of freedom with the election of the first female president.”

“All that potential, all that hope is now tossed down the garbage chute,” she said, “and all because five selfish judges decided that their so-called ‘right to choose’ supersedes the life of the women’s movement. It’s despicable.”

A Momentous Moment

April 18, 2007

Around one million babies are murdered in our nation every year. Abortion is a holocaust unprecedented in the history of human civilization, and I truly believe that is no overstatement. Our nation will not thumb its collective nose at the law of Almighty God for much longer, and in fact I believe we are seeing His opposition to us. Judgment is not coming; it’s here.

But perhaps today’s news is a glimmer of hope. Not repentance, but a movement in the right direction. Toward honoring God’s law by sparing the most vulnerable of God’s image bearers among us. Read here how the Supreme Court banned the evil practice of partial birth abortion. The more the abortion defenders scream, the more little ones are spared.

Praise the Lord and keep praying, beloved.

Faith Through Love

April 17, 2007

I am studying in preparation for my sermon next Sunday… The title will be something like: You are Lovely and Your Father Dresses You Funny… My primary text is 1 John 4. John’s presentation of Love as the defining characteristic of a believer (for God is Love) is bracketed by a belief that Jesus came in the flesh (verses 1-3 of chapter 4) and that Jesus is the Christ in the first two verses of chapter 5. Our love for one another is tied to our faith.

Does it work the other way? Is our faith tied to our love? In other words does our faith, justifying faith, posses love? Here are a couple of quotes by two reformed guys looking at Galatians 5:6:“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love ”

Guess the two luminaries and cast your votes in the meta (No fair Googling)

Quote 1

We, again, refuse to admit that, in any case, faith can be separated from the Spirit of regeneration; but when the question comes to be in what manner we are justified, we then set aside all works.

With respect to the present passage, Paul enters into no dispute whether love cooperates with faith in justification; but, in order to avoid the appearance of representing Christians as idle and as resembling blocks of wood, he points out what are the true exercises of believers. When you are engaged in discussing the question of justification, beware of allowing any mention to be made of love or of works, but resolutely adhere to the exclusive particle.

Quote 2:

Faith has a concern in justification and salvation, not by way of causal influence, but as it is that grace which receives the righteousness of Christ, through which we are saved, and kept by the power of God unto salvation; yet not any sort of faith, but that which is operative, is attended with good works; and which works itself by love to God, to Christ, to his people, ways, worship, truths, and ordinances.

Which quote would you deem more helpful? Would either of these guys espouse a faith that is void of love? Does that fit with Scripture?

al sends

These Are Mountains to a Floridian

April 16, 2007

Ok, so you might think that I’m just ripping off Al — “Hey, I saw mountains when my family went on vacation last week, too!” — well, maybe. But we found a particularly beautiful corner of God’s green earth in North Georgia at Red Top Mountain State Park on Lake Allatoona. The foreground in the bottom pic is a little suspect, but the background is breathtaking. That’s my sweet wife Ashley and my seven year old Lindley in the other pic.

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Tired Puppy

April 16, 2007

Just to offer some proof of my announced vacation… Here are a couple of pictures taken in foothills MOUNTAINS of North Cakalacky…

Me and the Wife –A large picture but has a nice water fall in it… Oh, and my wife looks lovely too!

The Family

We also climbed the steepest part of the Appalachian Trail. I would show you a picture of that but I did not look so good after that climb. Everyone else did fine but I seemed to suffer some altitude sickness. That and I am hopelessly out of shape.

More substance later… unless you like this fluff

Good to be home. God bless

al sends

You’ve Been Summoned…

April 16, 2007

It is easy for us to forget or get distracted from what is really going on in our worship as the people of God on the Lord’s Day. We have been summoned to appear before the Sovereign of the universe, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We have been ushered into an audience with the grandest and most glorious of beings in all the world. We are in the presence of God right now. We have been swept up into heaven, into the glory cloud of Almighty God Himself.

Now if this is true – and it is – then we must overcome distraction.

There are many things that would fill our minds and many things that would draw us away us from the weightiness of this moment when we are in the presence of God. But we must fix our minds on the glory of God in Jesus Christ. We must dismiss thoughts of lesser things and fill our minds with thoughts of that which is true and good and beautiful. We must rest our minds and hearts in Christ and His cross. We must seek wisdom and understanding. We must let the Holy Scriptures direct our thoughts and our intentions right now.

So I exhort you to do just that this morning in worship. As you sing and pray and confess and hear the Word and take up the bread and cup, do so with full awareness that you are in the presence of God Almighty. And be thankful. Let your hearts rejoice that God has been so gracious to you through His Son Jesus Christ and by His Spirit.

All you who trust the Lord, come, let us rejoice in Him. Let us love His name and proclaim His glory. Let us approach Him full of faith and seeking understanding.

Prayer:
Holy Father, we praise you, for you created all things and you sustain all things and you are greater than all things.

Loving Son, we adore you because you humbled yourself and were found in appearance as a man in order to be an atoning sacrifice for our sin.

Powerful Spirit, we ask for your aid as we enter into worship so that we would know Christ and grow in Him.

Lord, you have sent forth your royal summons to us, calling us to come and appear before you so that you can forgive us and cleanse us and make us new. We trust in Christ Jesus alone for our all things.

Abide with us in love and grace and mercy this morning. We give ourselves up to you, in faith and repentance, ready to praise you and ready to yield up our lives to you and to your Son, who is our Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit.