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Heidelberg Catechism

Question 63. How can you say that our good works don’t merit anything when God promised to reward them in this life and the next?

Answer: This reward is not merited, but is a gift of grace. (a)

Question 64. But doesn’t this doctrine make people careless and wicked?

Answer: No. It is impossible for those who are grafted into Christ by true faith not to produce fruits of gratitude. (b)

(Scriptural proofs after the fold.)

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Sunday's Hymn: I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art

I greet thee, who my sure Redeemer art,
My only trust and Saviour of my heart,
Who pain didst undergo for my poor sake;
I pray thee from our hearts all cares to take.

Thou art the King of mercy and of grace,
Reigning omnipotent in every place:
So come, O King, and our whole being sway;
Shine on us with the light of thy pure day.

Thou art the life, by which alone we live,
And all our substance and our strength receive;
O comfort us in death’s approaching hour,
Strong-hearted then to face it by thy pow’r.

Thou hast the true and perfect gentleness,
No harshness hast thou and no bitterness:
Make us to taste the sweet grace found in thee
And ever stay in thy sweet unity.

Our hope is in no other save in thee;
Our faith is built upon thy promise free;
O grant to us such stronger hope and sure
That we can boldly conquer and endure.

Attributed to John Calvin or Jean Garnier

Other hymns, worship songs, prayers, sermons excerpts, or quotes 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.


Linked Together: In Scripture

Two pieces of recommended reading for your weekend.

Most Important Passage
Michael Kruger says Romans 3:21-22 is the most important passage the whole of scripture

This passage is the basis for the great Reformation doctrine of sola fide–the idea that we are saved by faith alone and not by the works of the law… .

Romans 3:21-22 explains how sola-fide works, teaching us that faith in Christ is the sole instrument through which we receive a righteous status before God. Which is good news

[f]or those who doubt their faith and find their faith to be weak … Our hope is not in how strong our faith is, but in how strong and righteous our Savior is.

Read Kruger’s explanation of this passage.

The Psalms
Three reasons to study the Psalms:

  1. They are God-inspired poetry: “Studying the Psalms is a wonderful way to enter into the world of God’s inspired and inspiring poems!”
  2. They teach us how to talk to God: “The Psalms cover the full range of human emotions, spilling out in praise, thanksgiving, and lament. And in this way, they model for us how to approach our transcendent but imminent God in prayer.”
  3. They point to Jesus: “[The Psalms] point to the salvation found in Jesus Christ (as Jesus himself put it, Luke 24:44). A careful Christological reading of the Psalms can “make [us] wise for salvation” (2 Tim. 3:15).”

Read the whole piece by Douglas Sean O’Donnell.


Thankful Thursday

On top of our short daylight hours, lately we’ve had clouds so low the sun might as well not bother rising because it’s going to be gloomier than gloomy anyway. But I’ve learned there’s no better time to acknowledge God’s good gifts to me than when I’m feeling grumpy. 

I’m thankful 

  • for something important that came in the mail. My sister and I are still working to settle my dad’s estate, and we’ve been frustrated with mail service between the U.S and Canada. But today, a piece of mail came right when it was expected. 

  • for a craft project done with the grandchildren. No one cried, no one died, and there’s a finshed project, to boot. As far as three-toddler craft projects go, that’s extremely successful—and something to be thankful for.

  • for trusty winter tires and safe driving on icy roads.

  • lamps and candles and a string of white mini-lights. 

  • that Jesus is the light of the world and will be the light of the New Jerusalem.

Also thankful today:

What are you thankful for? Leave a comment with your thanksgiving, post your thanksgiving on your blog, or tweet it. Give me the link by email or in a comment and I’ll add your thanksgiving to the list in the post.


Theological Term of the Week

religious syncretism
The incorporation of different and sometimes conflicting practices and beliefs from one religion into another religion, forming a hybrid religion that is fundamentally different than the original one.

  • Syncretism in the Bible: 

    Thus says the LORD, “Go, buy a potter’s earthenware flask, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests, and go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom at the entry of the Potsherd Gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you. You shall say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind … . (Jeremiah 19:1-5 ESV)

    For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace… .

    You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. (Galatians 5:1-4, 7-9 ESV)

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