Monday, December 17, 2012

Street Smart

It is enough for us to know that he bare our infirmities, though free from sin and undefiled. Then, as to the ancient and Levitical priests, the Apostle says, that they were subject to human infirmity, and that they made atonement also for their own sins, that they might not only be kind to others when gone astray, but also condole or sympathize with them. This part ought to be so far applied to Christ as to include that exception which he mentioned before, that is, that he bare our infirmities, being yet without sin. At the same time, though ever free from sin, yet that experience of infirmities before described is alone abundantly sufficient to incline him to help us, to make him merciful and ready to pardon, to render him solicitous for us in our miseries. The sum of what is said is, that Christ is a brother to us, not only on account of unity as to flesh and nature, but also by becoming a partaker of our infirmities, so that he is led, and as it were formed, to show forbearance and kindness. (John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews 5:1-6)

The Lord Jesus Christ, as Mediator, was and is, as it were, street smart. He welcomed sinners to Himself in order to give of Himself to them, to unite them to Himself and thus redeem and transform them into His likeness. He was not a sheltered "pastor's kid" who recoiled at every sin and slight. He suffered the effects of sin without being contaminated by it, and thus was able to be a sympathetic Savior.

This aspect of His ministry is not among those exclusive to His charge as Christ. His undershepherds would do well to be street smart on account of His sheep.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

G.I. Williamson: 60 Years of Tending Christ's Sheep

A brief but edifying account of G.I. Willimason's ministry can be found here.

Ministry wisdom from the man himself, undoubtedly utilized by him all these years and ignored to a pastor's detriment, follows:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Underdogism of Geerhardus Vos

The following short bio on Vos once again brings to the fore the fact that the greats were Underdogs.

Geerhardus Vos: Life Between Two Worlds by James T. Dennison, Jr.

There were not many present that Wednesday afternoon; not many present at all. No one was there from his denomination; no one was there from the institution he had served for nearly thirty-nine years. Only one person from his family appears to have been there. A man and a woman from the local Methodist Church were there. They sang a hymn. Ironically, the institution to which he had declined to transfer at its formation in 1929 was there—in the person of her most noted Dutchman; no antithesis here—Dutchman paying tribute to Dutchman. Cornelius Van Til was there with his Dutch friend, Rev. John De Waard; John De Waard, pastor of Memorial Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Rochester, New York. Van Til of Westminster Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church; De Waard, graduate of Princeton Seminary and member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Two Dutchmen were there to bury their countryman, conducting his casket from the village Methodist Church to a simple hillside cemetery. Van Til, De Waard and the casket of Geerhardus Vos in the tiny village of Roaring Branch, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, August 17, 1949. And there in that grassy cemetery, they laid his remains next to those of his wife, Catherine; Catherine Vos who had died September 14, 1937. Geerhardus interred in the mountain village not far from the summer house where Catherine and he and their four children passed so many pleasant hours between May and September. Pleasant morning hours of study followed by the mile-long walk to the post office in town. Afternoon reading on the porch with the children followed by another walk to the post office. And evenings in the study once more, surrounded by his books and journals and papers. And on Sunday? the walk to the Methodist Church for worship—the only church in the village. The ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. worships in a Methodist Church; the Professor at the premier Old School Reformed Theological Seminary passes his summer Sabbaths in an Arminian church. And as ironic and incongruous as his church life in Roaring Branch is the surreal photograph of his open casket on that August afternoon in 1949—his open casket flanked by Van Til and De Waard. Geerhardus Vos buried in an obscure mountain village, in an obscure mountain cemetery—all but forgotten by the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., all but forgotten by Princeton Theological Seminary, all but forgotten by the evangelical and Reformed world of post-World War II boomers. At his graveside, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Westminster Seminary. But fifty years later, he remains obscure not only in the Presbyterian Church (U. S. A.) and Princeton Theological Seminary; fifty years later, he remains an enigma to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Westminster Seminary.

But not to Cornelius Van Til fifty years ago; not even to the Cornelius Van Til of his own student days at Princeton Seminary 1924-25. "Dr. Vos was the greatest pedagogue I ever sat under." That is what Dr. Van Til told me in 1981 when he visited Westminster in California for his first and only time. And yet, even at Princeton, Vos was an enigma. Never active in Presbytery; not easily understood by the majority of his students (though J. Gresham Machen said, "if I knew half of what Dr. Vos knows"); ever in the background of the seminary culture—his only prominence (besides his profound scholarship) the regular walks with his friend, B. B. Warfield. Yet after the First World War, that profound scholarship virtually disappears from the pages of the journal of the Seminary he served. And his most penetrating work, The Pauline Eschatology—privately published by the author in 1930. Imagine that—no major publisher interested in a book that revolutionized Pauline Theology for all those who penetrated it—indeed for all those who found Vos's exegesis of the mind of Paul a Copernican revolution. Was Vos marginalized because of his thick Dutch accent and his intricate Germanic style? Was Vos isolated even at Princeton after 1918 because of his sympathies for the German Kaiser during World War I? What did he do to be placed on the periphery; what didn't he do to attain a place in even Princeton's tiny spotlight? Was it too hard to follow his lectures? Was it his distinctive approach to the organic character of revelation? certainly unpopular with students demanding Sunday School level instruction at a Theological Seminary. Was it his fragile health? a metabolism racked easily by fatigue, insomnia, nervousness? Was it his retiring personality? a personality which passed up appointment to Abraham Kuyper's Free University in Amsterdam out of deference to his parents; a personality which rejected William Henry Green's initial pleas to leave the backwater of Grand Rapids and join the faculty of his Princeton alma mater in the critical year before the Briggs heresy trial reached its climax; a personality which saw him rarely invited to speak beyond the chapel of Princeton Seminary; a personality which could not move out of Princeton in 1929, nor out of the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A. in 1936; a personality which led him to board a train in Seattle, Washington in 1926, leaving his wife and children to make their way by car from Seattle to Princeton without him.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Eschatology—The Ultimate Things

I'll be teaching this Saturday on the topic of "Man in the Covenant of Works" as treated in Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology. After reading through the chapter, I decided to supplement my knowledge with some free, downloadable lectures from

The first two lectures I got were those delivered by Dr. Carl Trueman. I was only a bit surprised to find that the structure and over-all content of his presentations were almost equivalent to Berkhof's. I then got four more lectures, this time by Dr. Lane Tipton. Both men are from Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia.

I was very much enriched by both men, but I got something more from Tipton on just the first lecture. What I got was the better, more biblical definition of eschatology, and how it relates to the Covenant of Works and actually to the entirety of God's economy in redemptive history as revealed in Scripture.

The default understanding of most on the meaning of "eschatology" is bound up in the phrase, the last things, which traditionally deals with death, the intermediate state, the millennium, judgment, the second coming, the new heavens and the new earth, etc. Tipton argues, taking off from Vos, that the better definition would be the ultimate things. He then offers this very helpful elaboration:

The eschatological is:

1. Eternal reality of the kingdom paradise promised to Adam in the CoW.
2. Immutable state of perfect life in the presence of God.
3. Heavenly goal of the promised kingdom under the CoW.
4. The final stage of the kingdom of God, the telos point, the omega point.

Summary: The eschatological is the eternal, immutable, heavenly, and final state of the kingdom of God.

Reproduced below are two articles that might prove helpful in the better understanding of the concept.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


If you practically grew up in a broad/mainline evangelical church like I did, it's likely that you've been charged with acting in a less than Christian-like manner—apart from actual Scriptural imperatives. This is because one of the chief commandments of the moralist is niceness.

It seems that for men, at least, less testosterone is more. While I cannot accept the cheesy posturing of a Mark Driscoll, the times, I believe, demand the employment of creational endowments that serve to augment passion in the defense and protection of orthodoxy, testosterone being one of them (the rap sheet of this hormone includes the crime of inducing un-niceness).

I'm not sure if Tim Challies' hormone levels were higher than usual at the time he wrote this post, but he sure wasn't nice to the nice men. To that I exclaim, "Nice!"

Another post on an article by someone not particularly renowed for niceness can be found here. Hehehe.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Day After

Today is post-Reformation Day day, and what better way to segue than to discuss Reformed Scholasticism!

The following is Dr. J.V. Fesko's short introduction to the topic by way of a series of posts over at the WSC blog:

An Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism: Introduction

An Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism: Scholasticism Defined

An Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism: Francis Turretin

An Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism: The Benefits for the Church

An Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism: Concluding Thoughts

And this Office Hours episode features Dr. Richard Muller, perhaps the godfather of scholarship on Reformed Scholasticism, discussing the topic with Dr. R. Scott Clark.

While I'm no Barthian, I particularly like Barth when he said this:

"The fear of scholasticism is the mark of a false prophet. The true prophet will be ready to submit his message to this test too." (Church Dogmatics I/1, 279)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Aim My Smiling Skull at You

Grungeheads may be familiar with where the title of this post hails from. Hehehehe. Like me, they may also have a peculiar taste for skull imagery, but perhaps for different reasons.

I own a couple of skull rings and a skull bracelet. My sister, misunderstanding my motivation behind the ornamentation, once remarked that I was such an ironic guy. I think what she meant was the paradox of how I could be so into theology and, at the same time, be into symbols of eviiiiiil!

What is my motivation? This post may shed some light.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rev. Allen Vander Pol on the Doctrine of Scripture at PCovRC

Dr. K. Scott Oliphint, in this wonderful ReformedForum broadcast entitled, Nature and Scripture, remarked that the Reformation's chief contribution, arguably, is the regrounding of epistemology on Scripture.

In line with this, Rev. Allen Vander Pol of Miami International Theological Seminary will be conducting a seminar at Pasig Covenant Reformed Church on the doctine of Scripture entitled, "That Word Above All Earthly Powers."

This is a FREE seminar on a very important topic, so you wouldn't want to miss it!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Personal Tragedy to Apostasy

I write this post from a position of not having experienced a personal tragedy of the magnitude that would rock the foundations of my faith to the core. In a way, I speak from ignorance, and yet the lives of some of those who have gone before me seem to speak ministration on this issue.

John Calvin lost his wife and son.

John Owen had eleven children. All died in early youth, except one daughter.

Francis Turretin had four children. Only one survived.

More recently, Michael Horton discloses in "A Place for Weakness" how one of his prematurely-born triplets, when older, experienced an accident wherein this elongated toy got jammed down the child's throat. The doctor gave a grim prognosis, but thankfully, the child survived.

As a father, I have often ruminated on the idea of the Lord taking back one of my kids. The same with Him taking back my wife. I have often wondered what my reaction would be. I do not know my heart well enough.

In a way, such thoughts are unwise, for it smacks of the attempt to peer into God's decretive will, and yet it is also wise in that reflection on one's faith, on one's devotion to the Lord, on the depth of one's love for Him, at the time when all is calm, may just be one of the ways in which stability may be had when the storms do come.

There's no minimizing the devastation of losing a family member. Imagining the possibility has often brought me to tears. But should it lead to apostasy? Should it drive one to the despair that leads to destruction? If the Lord Jesus Christ is our treasure, then we should mourn for the loss of a loved one with the passion that is due that love, but then that excruciating pain must be turned sacramental. It should lead us to Christ, whose life and death have redefined "death" for the Christian, with the promise of life forever restored in the future age of glory. Even if we think that the departed is lost by virtue of not being a Christian, our affinity with Christ and His promise of embodied eternal life should prove the stronger tug to renewed rejoicing.

May I love my Lord Jesus Christ more than my wife and children, that I may love them truly while they are here with me in this present age.

Dennison on Vos' Eschatological Sabbatarianism

To say that eschatology has primacy even over soteriology is to say that God's final goal in creation is ultimate in all our theologizing.

James T. Dennison, Jr. offers some explanation on Geerhardus Vos' view on the Sabbath and the way eschatology bears upon his understanding:

Vos on the Sabbath: A Close Reading

Geerhardus Vos provides an exposition of the Sabbath in biblical theological perspective as he comments on the fourth commandment in Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments.1

I am providing a close reading of Vos's remarks in the interest of a careful "exegesis" of his Sabbath position. The clarion call of all responsible scholarship is ad fontes—"to the sources." Thus, I define Vos's views a fontibus—"from the sources."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Seven, Sloth, and Bavinck

The movie, Seven, starring Brad Pitt and Kevin Spacey, has got to be one of the most tragic movies that has ever been made to pass before my eyes. It showcases this serial killer (Kevin Spacey) who goes about snuffing the life out of those he deems as prime incarnations of each of the classic "seven deadly sins." The movie concludes with the protagonist (Brad Pitt) putting a bullet in the antagonist's head, thereby giving the latter his desired ending, i.e., having the former succumb to rage (one of the seven deadly sins) and, consequently, suffer the legal consequences of extra-judicial killing (as if the brutal and grotesque murder of his wife and prenatal baby in the killer's hands was not suffering enough!). Of course, one of the victims was a supposedly slothful man who was tied up on his bed for a year, allowing his inactivity to kill him!

Sloth may be defined as the antithesis of industry, and what I have for you below is Herman Bavinck's theology of work:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Better Than a Pre-Fall Adam

Herman Bavinck explains how Adam, in his pre-Fall state, lacked "absolute certainty" regarding his present state of bliss and its continuity, whereas the believer in Christ, now in this present sin-ravaged age, possesses it:

Still, on the other hand, the state of the first man should not be exaggeratedly glorified as is so often done in Christian doctrine and preaching. No matter how high God placed man above the animal level, man had not yet achieved his highest possible level. He was able-not-to-sin, but not yet not-able-to-sin. He did not yet possess eternal life which cannot be corrupted and cannot die, but received instead a preliminary immortality whose existence and duration depended upon the fulfillment of a condition. He was immediately created as image of God, but he could still lose this image and all its glory. He lived in paradise, it is true, but this paradise was not heaven and it could with all of its beauty be forfeited by him. One thing was lacking in all the riches, both spiritual and physical, which Adam possessed: absolute certainty. As long as we do not have that, our rest and our pleasure is not yet perfect; in fact, the contemporary world with its many efforts to insure everything that man possesses is satisfactory evidence for this. The believers are insured for this life and the next, for Christ is their Guarantor and will not allow any of them to be plucked out of His hand and be lost (John 10:28). Perfect love banishes fear in them (1 John 4:18) and persuades them that nothing shall separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus their Lord (Rom. 8:38-39). But this absolute certainty was lacking to man in paradise; he was not, together with his creation in the image of God, permanently established in the good. Irrespective of how much he had, he could lose it all, both for himself and for his posterity. His origin was Divine; his nature was related to the Divine nature; his destiny was eternal blessedness in the immediate presence of God. But whether he was to reach that appointed destination was made dependent upon his own choice and upon his own will.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, 'For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)

What a Gospel!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bavinck Contra NL2K/R2K

In this post, I argue that to be human is to be in need of both natural and special revelation.

In this article, Dr. Cornelis P. Venema discusses Herman Bavinck's view of the image of God. He quotes the following:

In this [Lutheran] theology the lines of demarcation between the spiritual and the worldly, between the heavenly and the earthly, are so sharply drawn that the result is two hemispheres, and the connection between nature and grace, between creation and re-creation is totally denied. The supernaturalist [or dualist] view is still at work here; the image of God stands alongside nature, is detached from it, and is above it. The loss of the image, which renders man totally deaf and blind in spiritual matters, still enables him in earthly matters to do much good and in a sense renders him independent from the grace of God in Christ . . . [In Reformed theology] sin, which precipitated the loss of the image of God in the narrower sense and spoiled and ruined the image of God in the broader sense, has profoundly affected the whole person, so that, consequently, also the grace of God in Christ restores the whole person, and is of the greatest significance for his or her whole life and labor, also in the family, society, the state, art, science, and so forth (RD 2:553–4)

He then makes a footnote comment:

Though it is anachronistic to put it this way, Bavinck offers in his criticism of the Lutheran view of the image of God an insightful assessment of what today is sometimes called the "two kingdom/natural law" view. Bavinck's point is that, just as sin pervasively corrupts all of human life "before God," so God's grace in Christ restores and perfects all of human life under Christ's lordship. To be restored and perfected as an image bearer of God is not to be elevated to a higher plane of supernatural life and existence, but to be perfected in the fullness of natural (that is, creaturely) human life in communion with God.

It is interesting to see how NL2K/R2K owes much to Roman Catholic nature/grace dualism.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Trueman on Bavinck as Model

I am blessed to own Herman Bavinck's 4-volume "Reformed Dogmatics" and the John Bolt-edited, "The Last Things." And though Cornelius Van Til chides Bavinck for instances of excursions into autonomous reasoning, still the latter's influence on the former is undeniable.

In this short article, Dr. Carl Trueman extols the virtues of Bavinckism.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Orthodox Prosperity Preachers?

Dr. Carl Trueman makes the case that one can vehemently trumpet confessionalism and still be a cultic, money-hungry, devourer of the sheep.

He writes:

So just because somebody preaches the gospel, uses the name of Jesus every other sentence and cries when they talk about the lost does not guarantee that they are not a cult leader or simply in it for what they can get out of it.

The key is the culture. One must ask cultural questions of such men, not simply doctrinal ones. Is the culture of their church or organisation transparent? Are there clear lines of accountability which flow both ways, from the leadership to the grassroots and from the grassroots to the leadership? Is opposition to leadership decisions addressed in an open fashion or via thuggish backroom manoeuvres and public derision and isolation of critics? And one interesting question which I remember a pastor once asking in a pulpit when I was college student: how far above the average economic level of the congregation or funding constituency does the leadership live? That little old lady putting her ten dollars in the plate each Sunday or sending in her pledge -- is she funding a lifestyle for functionally unaccountable leaders which is lavish beyond words and built on gospel rhetoric, on not-for-profit tax breaks and on an overwheening sense of entitlement? That can be quite an interesting gauge of whether the church or ministry takes seriously its role as steward of the money it receives. It is, after all, easy to prostitute yourself to the prosperity gospel when your own prophecies of material wealth are effectively underwritten by the desperate dreams of the poor and destitute which you yourself have helped to create and upon which you prey with a depraved and insatiable hunger.

Cultists and con-men are identifiable only by their culture, not by their confessions.

This is another reason for the desperate need for more confessionally Reformed churches. Why so? Because the best thing to do if you find yourself in the clutches of such a pastor is to leave.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Special Providence: Soul Alert

If Francis Turretin and the Post-Reformation Reformed theologians in general are known for their technical precision, then my sentiment that Reformed theology and progressive metal/jazz/classical music are very much analogous and complimentary may not be that far-fetched after all. LOL.

With that I leave you with the music of a band that I now consider as one of my favorites, Special Providence (what an awesome band name!):


Whenever Fridays come, the social networking sites are awash with "TGIF" posts. Notwithstanding the casual and irreverent use of God's name, the sentiment speaks of the innate longing of man for rest. While work itself is not part of the curse (work is a creational mandate), the world wherein this work is done, after the Fall, is indeed cursed and makes work not devoid of pain.

What may not be privy to many who spew this banal phrase is that the weekend heralded by it is actually founded on another creational principle: the Sabbath. The 4th Commandment was kept by the Israelites even before the Mosaic Covenant was ratified, which speaks of its enduring validity, going beyond the abrogation of the said covenant.

The following posts speak of what the Sabbath is for the worn-out pilgrim: Westminster Wednesday: Refreshment for the Weary and The Weekly Antidote to Worldliness

Whereas the unbeliever exults in the opportunity to indulge more of his autonomy over the weekend, the Christian sees this time as a privilege and blessing afforded by God for making His people have a foretaste of heaven, to which they may exclaim with true reverence and gratitude, "Thank God It's Sunday!"

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Antithesis a New Species Doth Not Make

Man, as made in the image of God, is intrinsically (by default) "wired" as a covenantal being. He knows of himself as a covenantal being and, though after the Fall, the sinner lives and moves in suppression of this fact, still he cannot escape it in the voice of his conscience and in the testimony of creation all around him.

What this covenatalism further presupposes is that both natural and special revelation bear upon man's conception of anything. Natural revelation both reveal the grace and wrath of God in the consistency of life-support systems in creation as well as the death dynamic that is at work in it, just as special revelation reveal the grace and wrath of God in the person and work of Christ and in the final, eschatological death that is alluded to by physical, temporal death. Man, as man, needs both natural and special revelation.

This realization has given me pause about NL2K (Natural Law Two Kingdoms Theology, or sometimes R2K). Sure, the baker does not need special revelation in order to engage in his baking, but this is merely speaking at a practical level. The baker, as an ontological human being made in the image of God, has upon himself the covenantal duty to reckon with both God's natural and special revelation at every turn. Is there an occasion wherein the baker does not bake as a human being? If not, then even in his baking, special revelation is required if he is to bake as a human being. What NL2K seems to imply is that there are two species of human beings, one for whom both natural and special revelation are of import and another wherein natural revelation will do. But the Fall did not create two different ontological classes of human beings but two different covenant relations to God in which man could either be a covenant-keeper or covenant-breaker (the antithesis). So when the baker bakes unmindful of God in special revelation, he bakes as a covenant-breaker and in fact sins in his baking.

To be sure, God uses the covenant-breaking baker to provide carbohydrate energy to both sinner and saint alike, but this is merely an outworking of His patience, intending the order and consistency in the present age to facilitate the smooth unfolding of redemptive history that will culminate in the age of glory characterized by revelational integrity.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Jay E. Adams on the Organic Dynamics of Church Eldership

The Word of God, through Paul, states the following as the qualifications of church elders (Christ's undershepherds, functioning at the local church level, ministering to His sheep):

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

But what now after the church leadership (session or consistory) has been organized? Jay E. Adams offers valuable wisdom (sourced from Ordained Servant [vol. 1, no. 2 (April 1992)]):

Come Share In Our Joy

Pasig Covenant Reformed Church's 4th Anniversary pictures.

See last year's anniversary greetings from Dr. R. Scott Clark and Dr. Michael Horton.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sinclair Ferguson's "A Preacher's Decalogue"

I've been teaching in my church's Saturday theology and Sunday School classes for about a month now and I still can't shake off the feeling of inadequacy. Perhaps this is actually a good thing, as it keeps me begging for fresh supplies of God's grace and enablement every time I wear the teacher's moccasins. I am greatly encouraged (and surprised!) that my pastor is very supportive and has told me that the congregation actually enjoys my Sunday School classes—surprised because I can't see why. I feel that my oral communication sorely needs improvement (I have a stutter), and to hear that the people of my church profit from my blunderings is a great consolation.

Dr. R. Scott Clark told me the following, after I asked for advice following a Sunday School class wherein I particularly felt that I did a poor job: "Teaching requires practice & trust in the Lord's mercy. Real teaching is a dying to self." Needless to say, this was just what the doctor ordered. I realized that teaching is a giving of oneself to the student, done in the spirit of service, with his edification in heart and mind. From then on, I resolved to approach teaching mindful of the fact that I am serving my Lord and tending to His sheep, and performance anxiety introspection is best countered by assuming the humble posture of a servant.

The following article by Sinclair Ferguson, from Themelios (Vol. 36, Issue 2, Aug 2011), although about the preacher and preaching, I believe has wisdom to impart even to the mere teacher:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dr. Carl Trueman's Reaction...

...when asked about what he thought of Brian McLaren's solemnization of his son's same-sex marriage:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Brian McLaren Blesses Son's Swordfighting

Even an unbelieving father, who has the light of nature soundly lit in his life, would take pride in a son that exhibits masculinity and would consider himself a world-shattering failure if this did not become so. Imagine someone claiming to be a believer in Christ, and a supposed "minister" at that, officiating in his son's same-sex "marriage"!

Imagine no more! Emergent, soul-damning heretic, Brian McLaren, did just that.

A couple of pertinent links on homosexuality: The Pagan Roots of Homosexuality and Effeminacy in Leadership: More the Effect Than the Cause of God's Judgment

Monday, September 24, 2012

You'll Love THIS Room

So "The Elephant Room" made you puke so hard you had to eat a second lunch? Fret not. "No Compromise: Ever" will not only fill your heart and mind with sound, theological meat, it's bound to go well with whatever you're having for that second lunch.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Swingin' Zwingli?

If any Christian man would be honest with himself, he might readily agree with me when I say that the sin of sexual lust just might be the "final frontier" in the lifelong process of mortification of sin. It has reduced many great men to loaves of bread (Prov. 6:26), the likes of which figure in the roster of those labelled as heroes of the faith. Can we mention the more prominent names, like Samson, David, and Solomon, and forget their trysts with unchastity? Arguably the greatest theologian since the Apostle Paul, Augustine himself is known to have been weighed down heavily by this struggle.

On the Reformation front, we read this of Huldrych Zwingli:

Zwingli apparently struggled early in life with sexual temptation. By his own admission he broke his vow of chastity on several occasions and often spoke of the shame that overshadowed his life. In fact, his appointment to the church in Zurich in 1519 was challenged based on rumors that he had seduced the daughter of an influential citizen. As it turned out, this "lady" had seduced many in Zurich, Zwingli among them. The charge of immorality was finally dropped when it was discovered that Zwingli's only rival for the post openly lived with several mistresses and had six illegitimate children! Zwingli himself lived with a widow, Anna Reinhart, and finally married her in 1524 shortly before the birth of their child. (Zwingli and Anabaptists)


Like many in his day, Zwingli's morals didn't always stand up to scrutiny. In January, 1519, a church called him to Zurich. When the call came, a young woman in Einsiedeln charged him with getting her pregnant. Zwingli admitted his guilt. In his admission, Zwingli said he made an early vow not to touch a woman but found it difficult to keep. He said, "Alas, I fell and became like the dog, who according to the Apostle Peter, turned back to his own vomit." He tried some self-justification by pointing out that the girl was not the daughter of a prominent citizen but the daughter of a barber. In those days barbers had poor reputations. He also said she possessed a poor reputation and had seduced him!

Perhaps impressed with his honesty, the Zurichers called him anyway. (The Zwinglian Revolt)

What all this tells us is that we, strugglers with lust, are in good company, the realization of which must not lull us into complacency but motivate us further into more vigilant watching and praying (Matt. 26:41) for "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13). The knowledge that our heroes' hearts were broken as much as ours on account of lust may just be one of these escape hatches.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Important Essay from Geerhardus Vos' Boy

The Bible Doctrine of the Separated Life by Johannes G. Vos

The question of the separated life is a very important one, not only because it is a practical question which must be faced by every thoughtful Christian, but also because of the doctrinal ramifications that it has. Insistence upon the obligation to live what is called "the separated life" is very prevalent in some circles of earnest Christians today. The details of the separation demanded vary greatly; practices which are tolerated by some groups are denounced by others as inconsistent with Christian duty and fellowship, and vice versa. In general, "the separated life," as the term is commonly used, may be understood to be a life which is separated not only from what can be proved by Scripture to be sinful, but also from various other practices which may be indifferent in themselves; and this separation is regarded as binding on the conscience of the Christian, and is sometimes made a term or condition of ecclesiastical or even of Christian fellowship.

This problem is far more important than is at first apparent. It is far more important than the mere question whether Christians ought to participate in or to abstain from certain particular kinds of conduct. Other problems of the greatest importance are involved. If we give a wrong answer to the question, "What is the Bible doctrine of the separated life?" we are certain to fall into serious errors in other doctrines. Using the term "separated life" in the Biblical, not the popular, sense, we may say that the separated life is an ethical implication of the covenant of grace and is related to the doctrine of sanctification as the latter deals with the nature and place of good works in the Christian life. The other doctrines which are involved in the question of the separated life are: (1) Christian liberty in the use of things indifferent; (2) liberty of conscience from the commandments of men; (3) the sufficiency of Scripture as the standard of faith and conduct; (4) the nature and limits of the authority of the Christian church. The purpose of the present paper is to set forth the teaching of Scripture concerning the separated life, and then to show how erroneous teaching about the separated life affects the four doctrines enumerated above.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Beard of Brotherly Unity

I dedicate this post to my beloved pastor, Nollie Malabuyo, and fellow elder, Albert Medina, with whom the bond of brotherly unity is both a pleasure and a privilege.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. (Psalm 133)

A body in the process of disintegration is a grotesque sight. The order with which God has stamped nature impels us to recoil at disease, especially those of the kind that leaves the physical body disfigured. So it is in matters spiritual.

The church militant, that part of the body of Christ still embroiled in the warfare and struggles of this age, is at its comeliest when those that comprise it are integrated. The disease of disunity leaves it scarred and ugly. What is the foundation of this unity? Calvin writes in his commentary on the passage cited above:

All true union among brethren [is] to take its rise from God, and to have this for its legitimate object, that all may be brought to worship God in purity, and call upon his name with one consent. Would the similitude have been borrowed from holy ointment if it had not been to denote, that religion must always hold the first place? Any concord, it is thus insinuated, which may prevail amongst men, is insipid, if not pervaded by a sweet savor of God’s worship. We maintain, therefore, that men are to be united amongst themselves in mutual affection, with this as the great end, that they may be placed together under the government of God...We must hold, that when mention is made of the Priest, it is to intimate, that concord takes its rise in the true and pure worship of God, while by the beard and skirts of the garments, we are led to understand that the peace which springs from Christ as the head, is diffused through the whole length and breadth of the Church.

Unity is first and foremost founded on true religion, i.e., the pure and undefiled religion passed down from Christ, to the apostles, to the early church, and reclaimed by the Reformation. There may be unity in the basest essential doctrines shared by other professors, but the Christian religion permeates all of life, and all of life can only come under the righteous rule of Christ if true religion is the foundation. We do not aim for a "passing grade" in the school of Christ, we aim for excellence, to the glory of His name.

It must also be observed that unity promotes the fruitfulness of the church. As the sweet moisture of dew hastens the growth of vegetation, so does unity among the elders and constituency of the church provide the fertile soil upon which maturity in Christ is attained. Once more, Calvin observes:

David suggests, that the life of man would be sapless, unprofitable, and wretched, unless sustained by brotherly harmony. It is evident, that mount Hermon must have been rich and fruitful, being famed amongst places for pasture. Mountains depend principally for fertility upon the dews of heaven, and this was shown in the case of mount Zion. David adds in the close, that God commands his blessing where peace is cultivated; by which is meant, that he testifies how much tie is pleased with concord amongst men, by showering down blessings upon them. The same sentiment is expressed by Paul in other words, (2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 4:9,) 'Live in peace, and the God of peace shall be with you.' Let us then, as much as lies in us, study to walk in brotherly love, that we may secure the divine blessing.

For the glory of the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the health and growth of His body, the Church, let the elders of the local body be united in doctrinal purity and love, and as they are such, the members shall in turn be united with them, and so shall Christ be "all and in all" (Colossians 3:11).

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Church: The Place Where People Have It All Together?

I stumbled across this post over at "The Christian Curmudgeon" and it struck me as a pretty poignant observation, especially since I wrote in the same vein just recently.

TCC observes:

"While the church requires honesty, it may show it does not know quite what to do when there is transparent honesty.

Honesty is particularly dangerous when Christians admit to two struggles – struggles with doubt and struggles with sin."

It is a sad irony that awkwardness should characterize the church in its two chief mandates: orthodoxy and orthopraxy. But I believe the concession lies in one key realization that must occur both on the part of the church leadership and the church members, i.e., the realization that both parties still struggle with sin and that though biblical ideals are in place, the substantial fulfillment of them is reserved for the future age.

In other words, the church leadership should extend more grace to the members, and the members should extend more grace to the former when they fail to extend more grace to them.

The overarching unity in all of this is that we have been saved by grace, through faith, in Christ. As John Owen alludes to in his work on temptation, it is the patience of Christ (Rev. 3:10) that keeps us all together:

A soul acquainted with the gospel knows that there is no property of Christ rendered more glorious therein than that of his patience. (Overcoming Sin & Temptation, eds. Kelly Kapic & Justin Taylor [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2006], 204)

The Lord of Non-Contradiction

The beautiful aspects of creation reflect (analogize) the perfections of God. Behind our finite appreciation of the wonders of God's creation is the consistency which undergird the latter. Imagine your horror when you wake up one morning to find that the wheels on your car had morphed into the shape of a square! A square wheel. LOL.

The absence of such an absurdity in reality is by virtue of the fact that the Creator of reality is all throughout consistent in His being, and He has imparted this attribute of consistency to His handiwork.

The following paper by James N. Anderson and Greg Welty explore the relationship of God with logic and is a very profitable read:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Baboon Stress: The Perichoresis of Natural and Special Revelation

This is a pretty interesting National Geographic documentary on stress.

The initial findings consisted of the observation that one's placement in the social strata determined one's stress levels. So the bosses had lower stress levels than the subordinates, and hence, had less of the risk of stress-related disease. The scientific data gathering came from many fronts, but the video highlighted the research on baboons.

Near the end of the video, after data on genetic study revealed that stress shortened one's telomeres, it was revealed that positive, caring—loving—social interaction actually promoted the regrowth of these telomeres (it should be noted that the shortening of telomeres corresponds to aging). So, here, a premise emerges: love combats stress and its deadly consequences. The case of a baboon troop, whose aggressive alpha males were decimated by disease, that began to be characterized by gentle and caring social interaction by virtue of the survival of predominantly females and docile young males, and which utopian conditions prevailed across succeeding generations, somehow lends further credence to the argument.

The video ends with the resounding conclusion that the way to combat stress is not to claw one's way up the social ladder, but to be contented in one's life sphere, thereby feeling and experiencing the control which bosses posses, and to cultivate a loving social dynamic with others. Sounds very familiar!

"But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." (1 Timothy 6:6-10)


"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another." (Galatians 5:14-15)

Natural revelation and special revelation holding hands? Sure!

The Filial Ground of Salvation

Whenever I come across pictures of soldiers on the way to a tour of duty, holding their children in their arms, weeping for the impending separation (possibly for a lifetime), my heart is broken. As a father myself, I vicariously feel their pain. A parent longs to always be with his child, to commune with him, to raise him up—to personally love him. If such noble virtues exist in finite, created man, it is but fitting to ground them eminently on the infinite Creator.

It is said that God is merciful, but the kind of mercy that He lavishly bestows on His children is properly borne out of love, a love that has its moorings in God's eternal being. Plainly said, God is merciful to the elect because He loved them as His children before the foundation of the world, coddled in His eternal affections. This adequately negates any notion of worthiness on the part of the objects of love. In fact, God is able to show mercy to His evil, debauched, and sinful foreloved children because they are precisely that—His children.

Geerhardus Vos, in his sermon on Ephesians 2:4,5 entitled, The Spiritual Resurrection of Believers, comments:

Imagine for a moment that you seek the good of someone with whom you do not have a relationship, that you do everything in your power to advance his welfare; you sacrifice yourself for him. But look! Instead of thankfully acknowledging that, he remains indifferent, begins to hate you, and ends up by cursing you. What do you think? Would the miserable condition of such a person be likely to evoke your mercy?

But now, imagine for a moment that all the circumstances just mentioned are the same, except that this time the scoundrel is not a stranger but your own son. Could you stop loving him because he hates you? Could you cease praying for him because he curses you? Could you restrain the urgings of your fatherly mercy because he has seared his conscience? I think not! You will say: He is still my son, whom I have carried in my arms. The more such a rogue causes you shame and heartbreak, all the more will you watch, moved by deep pity for him, how he willfully throws himself into ruin.

Where now is the distinction? Why can't you show mercy to a stranger who behaves like this but can towards your own child, although he may be ten times more vile than the stranger? The answer is simple: in the first case, no love drove you to pity; in the second, a great love had to be expressed in rich mercy.

Our case is no different. In themselves sinners are not objects of mercy but vessels of wrath. Sin is enmity and enmity as such does not fall within the scope of pity. But from eternity God had loved those sinners, those enemies, those spiritually dead, with a fatherly love. This love was the foundation of everything and was before everything. It is useless to ask after its origin. It came from the inscrutable being of God and embraced the objects of its free choice even before they had existence. It determined to make them in such a way as to reflect that love. And look what happened! Those children fell, sank into sin and death. Instead of sons they became devils. Love was answered with hate. Nevertheless—and here lies the precious core of our text—all this was not able to extinguish that love, because it is impossible to tear the son from the heart of the father. On the contrary, it now first came to light clearly that it was love and not just kindness. Where the latter would have stopped it went further and emerged triumphant. It did not love the righteous and virtuous, but the godless. In this "God demonstrates his love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." This is the deepest reason why Paul knows to ascribe to no other cause than a great, divine love the fact that those who lay in the midst of sin and death and were enemies of God were nevertheless endowed with the greatest benefits that could befall them, namely that God, according to his rich mercy, made them alive together with Christ, the Lord.

These truths brought home by Vos hit me like a freight train. Though they are truths often considered as "common knowledge," the peculiar twist of grounding God's mercy on His parental love flooded me with Gospel comfort.

The Heavenly Father loved me before a single atom of my being became reality, and it is precisely by virtue of this love that He created me, sustains me, pitied me in my wretched state of sinfulness, and brought me to Christ, whose union ensures the continuity of the fatherly love that had no beginning and will have no end.

"I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:18).

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Law and Gospel—the Superiority of the Latter in Dealing with Sin and Temptation

In the Christian's lifelong battle against indwelling sin, his heart is the prize defended and assaulted. Proverbs 4:23 and John Owen agree when the former states, "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life" and the latter, "Our hearts, as our Savior speaks, are our treasury. There we lay up whatsoever we have, good or bad; and thence do we draw it for our use." [1]

When the heart is filled up with good, the Law and the Gospel are its contents. But Owen makes the very important point that of the two, the Gospel is the superior antidote to temptation and its fruit, sin. He writes:

For the provision to be laid up it is that which is provided in the gospel for us. Gospel provisions will do this work; that is, keep the heart full of a sense of the love of God in Christ. This is the greatest preservative against the power of temptation in the world...Store the heart with a sense of the love of God in Christ, and his love in the shedding of it; get a relish of the privileges we have thereby—our adoption, justification, acceptance with God; fill the heart with thoughts of the beauty of his death—and you will, in an ordinary course of walking with God, have great peace and security as to the disturbance of temptations...A sense of his love and favor in Jesus Christ. Let this abide in you, and it shall garrison you against all assaults whatsoever...Contending to obtain and keep a sense of the love of God in Christ, in the nature of it, obviates all the workings and insinuations of temptation. [2]

He does not discount the utility of the Law, however:

A man may, nay, he ought to lay in provisions of the law also—fear of death, hell, punishment, with the terror of the Lord in them. But these are far more easily conquered than the other; nay, they will never stand alone against a vigorous assault. They are conquered in convinced persons every day; hearts stored with them will struggle for a while, but quickly give over. [3]

So it is the nature of the case that in dealing with sin and temptation, the Christian needs both the Law and the Gospel, with the Gospel as wielding greater efficacy. Churches who neglect one or the other, or both, benefit their members in no way.

Pastorally, however, a key application must not be missed. Pastors who emphasize the Law inordinately debilitate the sheep. Could it be that accountability of the members towards their elders is impaired by virtue of a fundamentalist, legalist bent in the latter? The erring member is predisposed to keeping quiet and left to dealing with his sin on his own because he foresees that acknowledging the error to his pastor would most likely result in humiliating condescension.

The gracious and Gospel-driven pastor would have the opposite outcome—members who are open to him and adequately mortifying sin in their lives.

1. Overcoming Sin & Temptation, eds. Kelly Kapic & Justin Taylor [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2006], 204.
2. Idid., 205.
3. Ibid., 204.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Calling the Bluff on Anger

I almost figured in a road altercation this morning. I had just finished dropping my wife off to her usual shuttle service terminal, where she gets her ride to work, and was on my way home. I was about to make a left onto the main road that would take me home, having signaled my intention at the proper distance, when this car at the opposite lane suddenly shot up. I did make my left before this car could pass through, but not without having my ears blared at by an irate horn. In what I perceived was an injustice, I slowed my van just enough to give the offending car a look of taunting defiance. What I got in turn was the finger.

This incident taught me something about righteous indignation—I am often unable to discern the situations that call for it, and I often lack the good sense that makes one slow to anger, rendering me unfit for receiving the glory of the one who overlooks an offense (Proverbs 19:11).

Instead of having my temper blow up at my face when someone just as foolish calls my bluff, I must consider the One who never has the fear of meeting His match and yet prescribes patience, meekness, and longsuffering for His people because He Himself is the archetype of these virtues.

Perhaps, a deeper consideration of the decretive will of God would help me curb the anger that is often directed at mere trifles. The circumstances of life fall into their assigned places by design, and what haughty presumption would it be on my part to fume at instances wherein no explicit violation of God's prescriptive will is evident.

Indeed, be angry and sin not (Eph. 4:26), but this assumes an anger that is excited by infractions of God's revealed will, and even then the setting of the sun lays down the boundary beyond which even anger of the good kind has the potential of becoming bad.

With that said, I think easing off of metal music would do me good, too. LOL.

A good resource on anger by Ed Welch: The Madness of Anger

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Effeminacy in Leadership: More the Effect Than the Cause of God's Judgment

Reproduced below is a very keen and penetrating analysis of the nature of the deplorable upsurge of effeminacy in the church, with the locus of the phenomenon placed not primarily on its consideration as being the cause of God's judgment but, conversely, on it, i.e., the phenomenon, as being the effect.

Recently I was asked whether it would be correct to say that, in the history of the world, whole dynasties and indeed civilisations have foundered on the rock of homosexuality. My answer was that I would not put it this way. Of course I believe that homosexual practices are immoral, and forbidden by God's law. However, in Rom. 1:21-32 Paul puts it this way: Men turned away from serving God to serving the creature. As a consequence God gave them over to impure passions. Homosexuality is God's judgement on a society that has turned away from God and worships the creature rather than the Creator. Spiritual apostasy is the rock upon which cultures, including our own, founder, and homosexuality is God's judgement on that apostasy. This is why homosexuality was a common practice among the pagan cultures of antiquity, indeed is a common practice among most pagan cultures, including now our own increasingly neo-pagan culture. In short, the idea that the toleration of homosexuality is an evil that will lead to God's judgement is unbiblical because it puts the cart before the horse. It is the other way round. The prevalence of homosexuality in a culture is a sure sign that God has already executed or is in the process of executing his wrath upon society for its apostasy. The cause of this judgement is not the immoral practices of homosexuals (immoral though homosexual acts are); rather it is spiritual apostasy. The prevalence of homosexuality is the effect, not the cause of God's wrath being visited upon society. And in a Christian (or perhaps I should say "post- Christian") society this means, inevitably, that the prevalence of homosexuality in society is God's judgement on the church for her apostasy, her unfaithfulness to God, because judgement begins with the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17).

Monday, June 11, 2012

An Aesthetically-Burdened Theology

Man, as made in the image of God, is a connoisseur of beauty. Every eminent feature of the created order is reflective of the perfections of God; hence, it is but fitting for man to appreciate His various creaturely analogies. However, when the comeliness of natural revelation begins to impose upon one's apprehension of special revelation, problems arise.

Somehow, the recent anomalies of "conversions" to Rome by prominent names in Reformed circles are instances of a specific kind of swimming goggles already worn years in advance, even before the Tiber was actually swum. A certain predisposition to beauty, commingled with religious convictions, lends these people weak to the transcendent, and what is it that Roman pomp and pageantry offer but the transcendent mediated through architecture and ritual. Given the almost irresistible tug of these sense-pleasers, the mind, and the theology it once held dear and defended, give in and conform (mutate), in accommodation to the aesthetic presupposition.

But are we promised grace from the both-immanent-and-transcendent God through such means? No. The presumptuously immanentistic trajectory of the low-church modern evangelical is no better countered by the awe-inspiring transcendentalism of the high-church Romanist.

But how is grace from God mediated to His worshippers? Through the Word of God.

The Word of God is communicated to God's people as grace through its faithful preaching and its proper administration as the Sacraments (the tangible/material Word).

I think it is in keeping with the humility of God that present age grace is delivered in a package of meekness, i.e., weak and faltering human ministers and the mundaneness of water, bread, and wine. However, thrill-seekers will not be disappointed at the glory and grandeur that will accompany Christ's second coming—something that will reduce today's incredible cathedrals to yesterday's crumbled bastions of idolatry.

But that is for a future day. Today, those faithful to the Gospel must content themselves with the beauty of holiness as it is presented in a run-down church.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Best from Warfield's Pen

The following may represent the greatest product of B.B. Warfield's ruminations:

It belongs to the very essence of the type of Christianity propagated by the Reformation that the believer should feel himself continuously unworthy of the grace by which he lives. At the center of this type of Christianity lies the contrast of sin and grace; and about this center everything else revolves. This is in large part the meaning of the emphasis put in this type of Christianity on justification by faith. It is its conviction that there is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ's sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only "when we believe." It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in Christian behavior may be. It is always on His "blood and righteousness" alone that we can rest. There is never anything that we are or have or do that can take His place, or that can take a place along with Him. We are always unworthy, and all that we have or do of good is always of pure grace. Though blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, we are still in ourselves just "miserable sinners": "miserable sinners" saved by grace to be sure, but "miserable sinners" still, deserving in ourselves nothing but everlasting wrath. That is the attitude which the Reformers took, and that is the attitude which the Protestant world has learned from the Reformers to take, toward the relation of believers to Christ.

Sourced from Dr. Carl Trueman's post at Ref21.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hammock: Breathturn

"Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God." (Luke 18:16)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Cost Is Everything

I would like to believe that every Christian family man shares my dilemma.

I love my wife and children more than myself, but I must love Christ above them.

I often find myself wondering what my reaction would be if God, in His sovereignty, decides to take back His gift of any member of my family. I do not know my heart well enough.

But the witness of men of God of ages past must instruct me. Job tearfully exclaimed, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). Abraham went through the same convulsions of soul, and the following by Edmund Clowney on the former's convictions serves as wise encouragement:

Abraham was ready to give everything in devoted obedience. Because he feared God, he would pay the price. The Angel stayed his hand. On the mount, Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. He took the ram and offered it in the place of his Isaac. Abraham called the place 'The Lord Will See (to It).'

The cost to Abraham was everything, yet as he clung to the Lord in faith, the cost was nothing. He declared that the Lord would provide, and the Lord did provide. Abraham’s obedience was the obedience of faith. Isaac was given to Abraham a second time. He was his by birth and his by redemption. The offering of the sheep symbolized not only consecration but atonement in the blood of a substitute.

In the total commitment of faith the cost is everything, but in the simple trust of faith, the cost is nothing. Abraham worshiped as God renewed his covenant with him.

The demand that the Lord made of Abraham is not unthinkable. He makes that same total demand of you. Jesus asks it of everyone who would follow him. Whoever loves father, mother, son, or daughter more than the Lord is not worthy of him. Indeed, only as we are ready to receive our own death sentence and take up our cross do we receive everlasting life (Matt. 10:37-39). Much as we need the power of his grace to deny ourselves and follow him, his demand has not changed. Look at the cost: it’s everything. (Preaching Christ in All of Scripture [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2003, 75, emphasis mine)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Of Nice and Men

By virtue of the generosity of two men, namely, Dr. D. G. Hart and Dr. R. S. Clark, do I present to you this article on a perennially relevant topic that once appeared nowhere outside of the Nicotine Theological Journal. The article was featured in the October 2005 issue.

Of Nice and Men

In a recent foreword to a book advocating Norman Shepherd's peculiar brand of covenant theology, John Frame attacks some of Shepherd's critics as "stupid, irresponsible and divisive." Apparently, someone complained about Frame's lack of civility, so he issued an apology, which the publisher slipped into the front cover of the book, a sort of moral errata sheet, saying that he should not have described those (including "official statements of two small denominations,") who say that Shepherd's doctrine denies the gospel as stupid. By way of mitigation, he appeals to Calvin, "who used such expressions rather freely." He says that he knows he is risking his reputation as a "peacemaker" by using strong language.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

All Things Every Year

I began last year, 2011, with some reflections on divine providence.

I was full of care at the time, especially in the area of material provision, but God saw us through. The piece of real estate that I was selling finally got sold to good people, and our youngest, Cauvin Caleb Antonio Cruz, was born in August, big and healthy. I even got promoted at work! The year ended with a big smile on my face.

This year, 2012, I expect divine providence to be no different.

Allow me to share with you this absolutely edifying piece from John MacDuff (1818-1895) entitled, The Greatest Gift:

"He who spared not His own Son — but delivered him up for us all; how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Romans 8:32

These are amazing words! God — the Infinite God — identifying Himself (so to speak) with the experiences of human sorrow; silencing every murmur with the unanswerable argument "I spared not my own Son. I gave my greatest gift for you! Will you not cheerfully surrender your best to Me? Can you refuse to trust Me in lesser things — after this unspeakable gift of My love? My greater gift is surely be a pledge for My bestowment of all needed subordinate good!"

He promised to give "all things" — and these "all things" are in His hand. They will be selected and allotted by His loving wisdom: crosses — as well as comforts; sorrows and tears — as well as smiles and joys. Mourning one, this very trial which now dims your eye, is one of these "all things." Trust His faithfulness. He would as soon wound the Son of His love — as wound you!

"Will not God, who gave us His beloved Son — also give us all lesser things?" There is a "blessed impossibility," after the bestowment of the Gift of Gifts, that He will inflict one unnecessary trial, or withhold one needed benefit! Think of His love when He offered His beloved Isaac on the cruel altar. It is the same at this hour, infinite and immutable! Yes! We may well be reconciled, even to the denial of any earthly blessedness, because all is ordered by Him who gave Jesus to die for us! Lying meekly in the arms of His mercy, be it ours to say in filial confidence, "Lord, anything with Your love; anything but Your frown!"

"All things." The whole range of human needs and necessities is known to Him. The care He invites me to cast upon Him — is "all my care"; the need "all my need!" This is His own special promise. "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work." He will give me nothing, and deny me nothing — but what is for my good! Let me not question the appointments of infinite wisdom. Let me not wound Him by one dishonoring doubt. Let me lean upon Him in little things — as well as in great things. After the pledge of His love in Jesus, nothing can come wrong — which comes from His hands! If tempted at times to harbor some unkind misgivings, let the sight of the cross dispel it. Looking to the Rainbow in the cloud gleaming with the words, "He loved me — and gave Himself for me!" be it mine to say:

Lord, though You bend my spirit low,
Love only will I see;
The very hand that strikes the blow,
Was wounded once for me.

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