More than a Conclusion (The Means of Grace #3)

What is the high point of worship? The preaching of the word? The singing? What if there is an even higher pinnacle—a moment where God speaks, not so much to tell us something, but actually to do something? To speak with the same creative force with which he said “Let there be light.”

What if we missed it because we weren’t listening, we weren’t hearing by faith, and so missed the power of what happened?

The sermon finishes—final psalm—Who will I speak to, what’s for lunch, need to see so and so about… “…and the fellowship of Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.”

The Benediction—It’s not a prayer. It’s not a wish. It’s not even the minister speaking. God is.

We didn’t finish dealing with the worship service in our last article—there is yet more flowing from the fountain of grace—more to be drunk by faith.

Listen to the first great congregation benediction in Numbers 6:22.

‘The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

“So they will […]

For Beauty and Glory

Why do I love the way that Vermeer painted yellow? Can I describe the joy produced by concentric circles on an Art Deco water pitcher? What attracts people to spend thousands of dollars on an Eames designed Herman Miller chair? Why does the Chrysler Building’s crown make me smile? What accounts for the sensation produced by the visual elegance and dramatic displays in a Bierstadt painting of Yellowstone or a photograph of Yosemite by Ansel Adams? Why do lines on a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air produce happiness?

There are so many beautiful things in this world.

You may believe the answer to these experiences of joy and satisfaction are the product of an un-sanctified worldly-mindedness. You may call for the repentance of one who places value on such earthly things. But what if enjoyment of beautiful things is part of our sanctification as believers? What if the appreciation of beauty, design, and craftsmanship is a reflection of something heavenly, and in itself is a reflection of God’s character?

Though Dead He Still Speaks–C.H.S

Hanging on my wall just to the left of my desk is a small framed sheet of paper. The fragile paper is the palette upon which in faded purple ink are scribbled the almost unintelligible handwritten notes of a sermon entitled, “The Joyous Return.” Everything about it bears the marks of age. And rightly so! For the sermon was preached on March 1, 1891 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London by the Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon. The name and influence of Spurgeon has attained near ubiquity among contemporary preachers and students of preaching—and that’s to say nothing of the impact he has had on thousands who have read his sermons. It’s probably not advisable to try and quantify who is or is not the greatest preacher, but I don’t think it’s overly ambitious to agree with the consensus of many that he remains the Prince of Preachers.

It was a little over ten years ago that I was first introduced to Charles Spurgeon. At a very pivotal and difficult time in my life my brother recommended that I try reading some of his sermons. I quickly began to devour them as I read under the conviction of sin, the joy of […]

Browse Worthy: In the Trenches of the Cultural War

Ashers’ Daniel McArthur Speaks Outside Court

A bakery in Northern Ireland owned by a Christian family has been sued by homosexuals for refusing to bake a cake with Bert & Ernie on it promoting gay marriage. Listen to the faithful testimony of the MacArthurs, members of the congregation where fellow blogger Warren Peel is the pastor. You can read more about the case here and Pastor Peel’s thoughts about this subject here.

Yet Another Planned Parenthood Video

Watch more footage on how Planned Parenthood deceives as it deals in the murder of the unborn and the selling of body parts. Two of the people from the Center for Medical Progress who made the videos have been sued by Planned Parenthood and indicted by a grand jury in Texas.

Counseling Wives of Addicts

I listened this week to an excellent and compassionate podcast by the folks at Mortification of Spin on pornography addiction. They interviewed Ellen Dykas of Harvest USA, and her counsel combined with that of the hosts offers a great deal of wisdom in a short amount of time on handling issues of pornography, adultery, and care for victims.

Sex, Sin, & Salvation

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary are hosting a conference April […]

This Post is Nothing New

Here I am staring at a blank screen. I have a blog post due today, but I don’t really have anything new to write. So let’s go with that: much of the Christian life and the Christian ministry isn’t new and doesn’t need to be. 

If you’ve been a Christian for a little while, maybe you haven’t learned anything new about God or faith in quite some time. This is not usually a sign of a problem. There’s no commandment that you have to be constantly finding something new. Further and thankfully, we aren’t under any compulsion to be discovering new songs for worship or unexplored realms of theology.

Because Biblical Christianity isn’t about what’s new, but what’s old. 

God’s Great Gift of Ice Cream

Vishal Mangalwadi’s work The Book That Made Your World; How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization (Thomas Nelson, 2011) is a treasure. Ice cream lovers like me will appreciate God’s grace in the gift of readily available ice cream in the West just a little more after reading the book.

From India, Mangalwadi offers unique insights on the Western world through the eyes of an Easterner who has studied the West. A disciple of Francis Schaeffer, he shows Westerners the benefits we have received but often fail to appreciate. In a time when many Christians see the weaknesses in American culture, Mangalwadi reflects on the great things the Lord has done here that we ought to cherish and cultivate.

The book is part philosophy and worldview, part history, part economic treatise, and part missionary biography. He paints a broad brush. One might wish his scholarship were a little tighter in places or might disagree with his analysis of history and conclusions. But he provides a refreshing perspective that is not mere theory from a man writing from a leather chair at a mahogany desk; he’s boldly tried to work out the implications on the ground in rural India in the face […]

Children at the Lord’s Table?

Frequently I am asked by seminary students or pastors about the question of children and the Lord’s Supper. Several years ago, after some members asked questions about the teaching dubbed “paedocommunion” (the practice of allowing baptized children to come to the Lord’s Table without a necessary profession of faith), I sought to find help from others on the subject.  I encountered an abundance of materials by those promoting paedocommunion, with titles such as Feed My Lambs or the even more emotively-labeled Daddy, Why Was I Excommunicated?  Often those producing and promoting these books and messages were associated with the aberrant teachings of the Auburn Avenue Conferences and Federal Vision Theology.

At the time, all I found on the historic, Reformed practice of requiring profession of faith before admission to the Lord’s Table were a few passing references in the confessions and theological books, and a helpful though somewhat poorly recorded tape series by Kenneth Gentry.  Thankfully, Dr. Cornelius Venema’s scholarly yet accessible work Children at the Lord’s Table? Assessing the Case for Paedocommunion does much to stand in the gap, providing a Biblically-grounded and confession-honoring answer to those who espouse a hyper-covenantal theology that promotes this practice.

In this book Dr. Venema poses and answers this question: “Does […]

Life in Twenty Year Stages

“For some, life’s years are seventy; perhaps the strong may eighty see” Moses wrote in Psalm 90. We should daily remember the brevity of life in order to “count our days and set our hearts on wisdom’s ways.”

How do we count our days that usually amount to seventy or eighty years? One of many ways is to count by twenty year increments. These time blocks give us a general roadmap and help to order our expectations and sense of responsibility in life as we walk before the Lord and ask him to establish the work of our hands here on earth. Of course, we must remember that our value is not ultimately found in what we do but in what Christ has already done for us; we are called to abide in him all of our days. In real life, the division of life’s stages are not this clean; each person’s experience will be different. Take these for what they are – broad generalities. I stand at year forty – halfway; no doubt, others could write more helpfully on the last forty years of life. The basic outline I took from a sermon (I have forgotten the source) some years ago […]

Satan’s Awful Idea (Free PDF Book Version)

Forgive my shameless plug, but I’d like to make my book (in PDF form) available for free.

For those who would like to think further about Satan’s fall and God’s peculiar response to the kingdom of darkness (from a distinctly Reformed perspective), I’d encourage you to consider this book.

Here are some questions that emerge and seek to be answered in this work:

What could possibly convince angels to follow Satan in his mutinous designs?  Would a mere expression of pride somehow persuade?
1 John 3:8b says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”  That is an incredible statement.  What are these works?  And how did Christ destroy them?
Why is sin ironic?  Why does it purchase the opposite of what it promises?
Did Satan know that the cross would undue him?  Did he foresee its effects?
Knowing what terrible things would come to pass, why did God create the angel we now know as Satan?
When were the elect angels confirmed in holiness?

Many other questions are raised and explored.  So if your interest is at all piqued, I’d encourage you to give it a look.  Merely click the image for the PDF.  Or you can download it here.

Do share […]

3GT Episode 10: Boldly Ordinary

Two main topics in this episode.  In the first segment, we ask whether Satan, when he offered the kingdoms of the world to Christ, could in fact do just that- offer the kingdoms.  Was a big fat lie?  Or was it a genuine offer?  In the second segment, we discuss the matter of the ordinary Christian life.  What shall we say about those Christians who lead a quiet life and don’t conquer nations with one hand tied behind their back?  Are they failing in some significant way?  Are they falling short of the glory of radical?

For more information, go to www.3GT.FM