What is the Regulative Principle?

“The fact that men seek to worship God according to their own tastes, reveals the lust and excessive pride which has always been part of human nature. Such worship flies in the face of Holy Scripture.” – John Calvin, Sermon on Galatians 3:15-18

The Regulative Principle of worship states that only what God commands is done in worship, no more, no less.

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s day 35

Q. 96. What doth God require in the second commandment?
A. That we in no wise represent God by images, nor worship Him in any other way
than He has commanded in His Word.

Reading of Scripture, preaching of the truth, singing of psalms, congregational prayer, offering, doxology (baptism/Lord’s Supper)

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Temptation (35)

 

   Owen continues in his advice on how to prevent our entering into temptation by saying:

    Pray as being helpless, rely on his keeping power believing that he will preserve us is a means of preservation; for this God will certainly do, or make a way for us to escape out of temptation, if we fall into it under such a believing frame. We are to pray for what God hath promised. He hath promised that he will keep us in all our ways; that we shall be directed in a way that, though we are fools, “we shall not err therein,” Isaiah 35: 8; that he will lead us, guide us, and deliver us from the evil one. 

He that would be little in temptation, let him be much in prayer. This calls in the suitable help and succour that is laid up in Christ for us, Heb. 4:16. This casteth our souls into a frame of opposition to every temptation. When Paul had given instruction for the taking to ourselves “the whole armour of God,” that we may resist and stand in the time of temptation, he adds this general close of the whole, Eph. 6:18, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication.”
Without this all the rest will be of no efficacy for the end proposed. And therefore consider what weight he lays on it: “Praying always,”—that is, at all times and seasons, or be always ready and prepared for the discharge of that duty.
 out to the
utmost: so shall we stand. The soul so framed is in a sure posture; and this is one of the
means without which this work will not be done. If we do not abide in prayer, we shall abide
in cursed temptations. Let this, then, be another direction:—Abide in prayer, and that expressly to this purpose, that we “enter not into temptation.” Let this be one part of our daily contending with God,—that he would preserve our souls, and keep our hearts and our ways, 
that we be not entangled; that his good and wise providence will order our ways and affairs, that no pressing temptation befall us; that he would give us diligence, carefulness, and watchfulness over our own ways. So shall we be delivered when others are held with the cords of their own folly.”

Temptation (34)

 

Owen goes on to tell us how to watch and pray:

This will make the soul be always committing itself to the care of God, resting itself on him, and to do nothing, undertake nothing, etc, without asking counsel of him.

This will mean we receive the grace and compassion of God, who hath called the fatherless and helpless to rest upon him; nor did ever soul fail of supplies, who, in a sense of want, rolled itself on him, on the account of his gracious invitation.  The keeping of (our soul) in such a frame as, on various accounts, is useful for its preservation. He that looks to God for assistance in a due manner is both sensible of his danger, and conscientiously careful in the use of means to preserve himself: this exercises faith on the promise of God for preservation. To believe that he will preserve us is a means of preservation; for this God will certainly do, or make a way for us to escape out of temptation, if we fall into it under such a believing frame. We are to pray for what God hath promised. Our requests are to be regulated by his promises and commands, which are of the same extent. Faith closes with the promises, and so finds relief in this case. This James instructs us in, chap. i. 5–7. What we want we must “ask of God;”but we must “ask in faith,” for otherwise we must not “think that we shall receive any thing of the Lord.” This then, also, is in this direction of our Saviour, that we exercise faith on the promises of God for our preservation out of temptation. He hath promised that he will keep us in all our ways; that we shall be directed in a way that, though we are fools, “we shall not err therein,” Isa. 35:8; that he will lead us, guide us, and deliver us from the evil one.  Exercise faith on work on these promises of God, and expect a good and comfortable issue. It is not easily conceived what a train of graces faith is attended withal, when it goes forth to meet Christ in the promises, nor what a power for the preservation of the soul lies in this thing; but I have spoken to this elsewhere. Weigh these things severally, and first, take prayer into consideration. To pray that we enter not into temptation is a means to preserve us from it. Glorious things are, by all men that know aught of those things, spoken of this duty; and yet the truth is, not one half of its excellency, power, and efficacy is known. It is not my business to speak of it in general; but this I say as to my present purpose,—he that would be little in temptation, let him be much in prayer. This calls in the suitable help and succour that is laid up in Christ for us, Heb. 4:16. This casteth our souls into a frame of opposition to every temptation. When Paul had given instruction for the taking to ourselves “the whole armour of God,” that we may resist and stand in the time of temptation, he adds this general close of the whole, Eph. 6:18, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary?

Classic Roman Catholic portrayal.

Letter Published in Limerick Post on 23 June 2018

The occasion of Limerick’s Novena prompts me to point out three myths about Mary. First, Mary is not “full of grace,” at least not in the sense that she is a fountain of grace for others. Only Jesus is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Instead, Mary was highly favoured because, first, she was chosen to bear the Saviour; and second, she is the recipient of God’s salvation: “my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Luke 1:47). If Mary had a Savior, she had sin, both original and actual sin, from which she needed to be saved.

Second, Mary is not the “Mother of God.” More accurately, she was the mother of Jesus, who is the divine Son; she was theotokos (literally, God-bearer), says the Creed of Chalcedon (451 AD), “according to the manhood.” The same creed declares Jesus as “begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead.” The aim of the creed is not to exalt Mary, but to stress the deity of Jesus.

Third, Mary is not able to obtain blessings for poor sinners with Jesus or with the Father: Jesus is the Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5) and the Advocate (1 John 2:1), not Mary. The Bible commands us to “come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace” from Jesus (Heb. 4:16). Jesus, not Mary, died on the cross for sinners; and Jesus, not Mary, intercedes for those sinners. How dreadful to bypass Jesus Christ in order to seek mercy with Mary!

None of this is a slight on Mary, for she does not need, require, or want veneration. Instead, she says to us, “Whatsoever he [Jesus] saith unto you, do it” (John 2:5).

Martyn McGeown

Limerick Reformed Fellowship

 

Heatwave!

Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK are experiencing an unprecedented heatwave with top temperatures near the Irish record of 33.3C in 1887. To prevent burning limit yourself to 20 minutes in the sun with a high factor 20-50 sun cream and hat (especially if short on hair!) If you are fair or a red head better keep covered up! Drink cool sweet liquids.

How does your body regulate temperature?*

Temperature is a function of heat production and heat loss. When we get too warm heat loss must be increased. Normal body temp is 35.5 to 37.5C. If your core (inside) temperature goes above this body chemical processes are affected and nerves can’t function (why you feel weak and tire easily in the heat). Heat exhaustion (which I experienced on the Sea of Galilee marathon 1990) is lack of fluid and temperature over 40C. You feel faint and may collapse. Above 41 or 42C you get heat stroke and may die! This has often happened to army recruits made to yomp (a running march) during exercises on Dartmoor.

This little part of the brain is where temperature is regulated. It receives information from heat sensors in skin, nose and mouth as well as detecting the temperature of blood flowing into it. Inside it there is a heat-losing and heat-promoting centre. When we get too hot it sends impulses to blood vessels to dilate (veins) and to sweat glands to make sweat which evaporates and cools us (up to 2L an hour!). This centre is vital to survival, put in place by the divine creator. Babies can’t sweat like adults so are more liable to heat stroke.

* Acknowledging article by Randy Guliuzza in Bible League Quarterly Oct 2010.

The Sacrifices (3)

The Sacrifices

 

Sung Psalm 44:17-26 (note reference to slaughter)

Read II Chronicles 29:20-36

These verses outlining the temple worship in Hezekiah’s day describe all six stages* in the animal sacrifices except eating because they were whole burnt offerings viz.

  • Presenting, Laying (hands), Slaughtering, Application (of blood), Burning, Eating.
  • These steps are ordered by necessity but also theologically e.g. imputed sin demands the death of the sacrifice (wages of sin).
  • The tool was a sharp knife (see Genesis 22:10).
  • By the cutting of the throat of the animal, through the major artery and vein, death was swift and blood was obtained.
  • Generally, the offeror did the slaughtering (vv15-17), helped by priest and Levites (note that in Ezekiel 44:11 the law was changed that Levites did it). The priests (v24) killed the goats which were for the nation.
  • We surmise that the change from offeror to Levite to priest doing the slaughtering was a progression in rank and importance.
  • In certain cases the King provided all the offerings which would avoid any envy or comparisons between those offering.
  • In the ultimate offering which was typified by all these the Priest-King Jesus Christ not only offers the sacrifice but is himself the sacrifice which alone atoned for all the sins of his people in OT and NT.
  • We discussed without conclusion how the wives, widows, singles and children were represented in these male-led sacrifices.

It is well worth noting that for an offering to be effective it had to be maid in faith, formal sacrifices was useless as all the prophets said but see Amos 5:21ff. So Abel, Abraham, David, Hezekiah and all the rest of the O.T. saints had their eye of faith on the future sacrifice of Messiah when they offered and THAT was their salvation and righteousness-JK

Older, Lower, Slower!

These last 8 months in which I have had two operations have taught me two things at least. First, my increasing frailty or decrepitude as joints give bother, nerves get pinched, skin thins and mind forgets. Second, the detailed love and care of God for me through the treatments, the carers, the recovery, the travelling etc. I would never have thought I’d be in Riga, the capital of Latvia some months back but the Good Shepherd leads me in ways I could never foresee and they are all part of his perfect plan for me (Psalm 138:8). This fits with the recent message (see below) at our church on the immensity of Christ’s love * and the unsearchable riches of Christ of which I will highlight access in prayer and grace to help in time of need. Picture above is of myself recently acting as guide to our blind walker at Ecos parkrun. These verses perfectly describe my experience: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 and “ And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Romans 5:3-5.

 

Temptation (33)

Owen says that it is very evident that it is not a thing in our own power, to keep and preserve ourselves from entering into temptation.

Therefore are we to pray that we may be preserved from it, because we cannot save ourselves. This is another means of preservation. As we have no strength to resist a temptation when it doth come, when we are entered into it, but shall fall under it, without a supply of sufficiency of grace from God; so to reckon that we have no power or wisdom to keep ourselves from entering into temptation, but must be kept by the power and wisdom of God, is a preserving principle, 1 Pet. 1: 5. We are in all things “kept by the power of God.”

This our Saviour instructs us in, not only by directing us to pray that we be not led into temptation, but also by his own praying for us, that we may be kept from it: John 17:15, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil,”—that is, the temptations of the world unto evil, unto sin; or from the evil one, who in the world makes use of the world unto temptation. Christ prays his Father to keep us, and instructs us to pray that we be so kept. It is not, then, a thing in our own power. The ways of our entering into temptation are so many, various, and imperceptible,—the means of it so efficacious and powerful,—our weakness our unwatchfulness, so unspeakable,—that we cannot in the least keep or preserve ourselves from it. We fail both in wisdom and power for this work. Let the heart, then commune with itself and say, “I am poor and weak; Satan is subtle, cunning, powerful, watching constantly for advantages against my soul; the world earnest, pressing, and full of specious pleas, innumerable pretences, and ways of deceit; my own corruption violent and restless, enticing, entangling, conceiving sin, and warring in me, against me; occasions and advantages of temptation innumerable in all things I have done or suffer, in all businesses and persons with whom I converse; the first beginnings of temptation insensible and plausible, so that, left unto myself, I shall not know I am ensnared, until my bonds be made strong, and sin hath got ground in my heart: therefore on God alone will I rely for preservation, and continually will I look up to him on that account.” This will make the soul be always committing itself to the care of God, resting itself on him, and to do nothing, undertake nothing, etc, without asking counsel of him.

Romans 13:14

 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Romans 13:14

The first part of this verse refers to the wonderful imputed righteousness of our Saviour and then John Gill says regarding the second half that it refers to, “The body: not but that due care is to be taken of it, both for food and clothing; and for its health, and the continuance and preservation of it by all lawful methods; but not so as

to fulfil the lusts thereof;
to indulge and gratify them, by luxury and uncleanness: it is a saying of Hillell “he that increases flesh, increases worms”; the sense his commentators  give of it is, that

“he that increases by eating and drinking, until he becomes fat and fleshy, increases for himself worms in the grave:”

the design of the sentence is, that voluptuous men, who care for nothing else but the flesh, should consider, that ere long they will be a repast for worms: we should not provide, or be caterers for the flesh; and, by pampering it, stir up and satisfy its corrupt inclinations and desires.” Solemn warning-JK.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:7,8.