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Monday
Jul042011

Round the Sphere Again: Three Points x 2

On Redemptive History
from Jonathan Edwards.  

  1. All of history is redemptive history.
  2. This great work is carried on through the application of redemption to individuals throughout history.
  3. God has been steadily saving a people through one great plan worked out in successive eras of history.

Read the whole piece by Joe Rigney at Desiring God Blog.

On OT Sacrifices
from Hebrews 10. 

  1. The OT sacrifices shadowed good things to come.
  2. The OT sacrifices never saved anyone.
  3. The OT sacrifices reminded of sin.

Read the whole piece by David Murray at Head Heart Hand.

Monday
Jul042011

A Catechism for Girls and Boys

Part II: Questions about The Ten Commandments

41. Q. Is God pleased with those who do not love and obey him?
       A. No. ‘God is angry with the wicked every day’ 1 Cor 16:22).

(Click through to read scriptural proof.)

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jul032011

Sunday Hymn: Join All the Glorious Names

Join all the glorious names
Of wisdom, love, and power,
That ever mortals knew,
That angels ever bore:
All are too mean to speak His worth,
To poor to set my Savior forth.

But O what gentle terms,
What condescending ways,
Doth our Redeemer use
To teach his heav’nly grace!
Mine eyes with joy and wonder see
What forms of love He bears for me.

Arrayed in mortal flesh,
He like an angel stands,
And holds the promises
And pardons in His hands;
Commissioned from His Father’s throne
To make His grace to mortals known.

Great prophet of my God,
My tongue would bless Thy name,
By Thee the joyful news
Of our salvation came,
The joyful news of sin forgiv’n
Of hell subdued, and peace with Heav’n.

Be Thou my counselor,
My pattern, and my guide,
And through this desert land
Still keep me near thy side:
Nor let my feet e’er run astray
Nor rove nor seek the crooked way.

I love my Shepherd’s voice,
His watchful eyes shall keep
My wand’ring soul among
The thousands of His sheep:
He feeds His flock, He calls their names,
His bosom bears the tender lambs.

To this dear surety’s hand
Will I commit my cause;
He answers and fulfils
His Father’s broken laws:
Behold my soul at freedom set!
My surety paid the dreadful debt.

Jesus, my great high priest,
Offered His blood, and died;
My guilty conscience seeks
No sacrifice beside:
His powerful blood did once atone,
And now it pleads before the throne.

My advocate appears
For my defense on high;
The Father bows His ears,
And lays His thunder by:
Not all that hell or sin can say
Shall turn His heart, His love away.

My dear almighty Lord,
My conqueror and my King,
Thy scepter and Thy sword,
Thy reigning grace I sing:
Thine is the power; behold I sit
In willing bonds beneath Thy feet.

Now let my soul arise,
And tread the tempter down;
My captain leads me forth
To conquest and a crown:
A feeble saint shall win the day,
Though death and hell obstruct the way.

Should all the hosts of death,
And powers of hell unknown,
Put their most dreadful forms
Of rage and mischief on,
I shall be safe, for Christ displays
Superior power, and guardian grace.

—Isaac Watts

Other hymns, worship songs, sermons etc. posted today:

Have you posted a hymn (or sermon, sermon notes, prayer, etc.) today and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by contacting me using the contact form linked above, and I’ll add your post to the list.

Friday
Jul012011

Round the Sphere Again: Terminology

Today was Canada Day, Canada’s holiday that’s the equivalent to (sort of) American Independence Day. We celebrate in much the same way, but there’ll be no fireworks where I live. It’s too light at any decent hour for that.

Here are a couple of interesting links dealing with one of my favorite subjects—words and word meaning.

Brokenness
This is one of my pet peeve words, at least when it’s used to describe the human condition since the fall. And I’ve been hearing it used that way a lot lately. The trouble with brokenness is that it downplays our problem; it’s true as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. 

Randy Newman of The Gospel Coalition Blog writes: 

God describes our sin many ways—almost all of which are far worse than “broken.” We’re rebellious, idolatrous, lost, enslaved, disobedient, adulterous, and—in case the point wasn’t pressed far enough—dead. If we see our sin as mere brokenness, our repentance and abhorrence at sin won’t push us in the opposite direction hard enough. And our appreciation of the cross as the only cure will be replaced with self-effort and legalism.

You really must read the whole piece—and the discussion in the comments, too.

Omnibenevolence
I first heard this term a few years ago. I’ve never seen it defined and it isn’t one of God’s attributes in any of the systematic theologies I have. When I first heard it, it was used to mean something like this: to only, always, and ever wish good things, and only good things, for everyone.

Brandon Watson at Siris discusses the history of this word, its possible meanings, and its use for stating the problem of evil.

Thursday
Jun302011

Christianity and Liberalism: Chapter 5

So I was wrong. This week’s chapter of Christianity and Liberalism, which I am reading because I am participating in this round Tim Challies’ Reading Classics Together, is not about the message of Christianity, but about “the person upon whom the message is based. The Person is Jesus.”

Machen starts the chapter by making this point: In true Christianity, Jesus is the object of faith, while in liberalism, he is merely an example of faith. In other words, a Christian will put his faith in Jesus. He will, to use Machen’s words, stand “in a truly religious relation to Jesus.” The modern liberal, on the other hand, “tries to have faith in God like the faith which he supposes Jesus had in God; but he does not have faith in Jesus.”

I have to admit that I found this chapter more difficult to follow than the previous chapters. (And while I’m complaining, let me say that it’s long, too.) It wasn’t that any of it was hard to understand, but that I couldn’t always see how Machen was fitting it all together, so I put some points into bulleted lists to help me see the overall structure of the chapter. I’m using those lists here  and adding a few notes to them.

Reasons Jesus should be the object of the Christian’s faith:

  • For Paul, faith in Jesus was the primary thing. 
  • The original apostles made Jesus the object of their faith.
  • Jesus presented himself as  the object of faith.

Machen summarizes:

The truth is, the witness of the New Testament, with regard to Jesus as the object of faith, is an absolutely unitary witness. The thing is rooted far too deep in the records of primitive Christianity ever to be removed by any critical process. The Jesus spoken of in the New Testament was no mere teacher of righteousness, no mere pioneer in the new type of religious life, but One who was regarded, and regarded Himself, as the Saviour whom men could trust.

Reasons Jesus can’t be simply an example for us: 

  • Jesus considered himself to be the Messiah; we can hardly imitate him there. What’s more, if, as modern liberals believe, this claim is untrue, it’s a “moral stain upon Jesus’ character.” How can he then be a good example for us? 
  • Jesus had no sense of sin, and if Jesus is sinless, then he isn’t just one of us. There is a big difference between what Jesus experienced and what we experience. “That difference prevents the religious experience of Jesus from serving as the sole basis of the Christian life.”

That Jesus didn’t need to rid himself of sin and can’t, then, be our complete example doesn’t mean he isn’t human, nor does it mean he isn’t our example in any way. He is our ethical example and he is also our example when it comes to our relationship with God. But most of all, he is our Saviour. 

These contrasting views of the primary role of Jesus—Saviour or example?—come because Christianity and liberalism see the nature of Jesus differently. “[L]iberalism regards Jesus as the fairest flower of humanity; Christianity regards Him as a supernatural Person.” Liberalism rejects miracles, “and with the miracles the entirety of the supernatural Person of our Lord.”

Reject the miracles and you have in Jesus the fairest glower of humanity who made such an impression upon His followers that after His death they could not believe that He had perished but experienced hallucinations in which they thought they saw Him risen from the dead; accept the miracles, and you have a Saviour who came voluntarily into this world for our salvation, suffered for our sins upon the Cross, rose again from the dead by the power of God, and ever lives to make intercession for us. 

Once again, we see that Christianity and modern liberalism are really two different religions: first, in the presuppositions (chapter 3); next, in the authority by which the Christian message is received (chapter 4); and now in the central person upon whom the message is based (chapter 5). Coming up, it’s  the sixth chapter which discusses the message of Christianity, the gospel itself.