CPRC Day Reformation conference

A day of blessed teaching by Prof. David J. Engelsma.

  1. Luther-Theologian of the Glory of God

Luther was a theology professor, a teacher of pastors at a seminary in Wittenburg, Germany. His nailing of his 95 protesting theses on the cathedral door was part of his calling to defend the truth of the gospel of grace. He was just obeying his call and this gave him the right to protest (Just as Christ pointed to his lawful calling as a priest by John’s baptism when asked by what authority he cleansed the temple). Teaching that glorifies God and humbles man is invariably correct. Luther’s last words (written) were,”We are beggars, this is the truth.”

God is glorified in his salvation, in granting the means (faith) and in his sovereign predestination of all things.

Two of Luther’s most important works were, “Bondage of the will” and “The Babylonian captivity of the church.”

Sin is coming short of the glory of God hence is it not sin to attend a church that in it’s teaching and practice comes short of that glory by not adhering to the regulative principle of worship, maladministration of the sacraments and lacking good Reformed preaching?

 

2. Luther on James and Paul.

Anyone who believes in salvation by works and faith has no real faith! (JK). Such a person aligns himself with the doctrine man has a free will. The Federal Vision heresy teaches that salvation depends on the faith and the works of all baptized i.e. it is conditional.

Real faith excludes works-it states faith alone! Justification comes before any good works (JK).

Basics of Biblical interpretation:

1. No contradictions in Scripture.

2. Scripture explains scripture, the clear explain the unclear.

From Rom. 3:28, 4:5 and Gal.2:16 we see faith receives Christ and his righteousness leading to assurance.  Paul’s teaching is that the legal declaration by God in heaven AND the subjective assurance in the believer are two sides of one coin (Rom.5:1).

James 2:14 ff are speaking about the public demonstration of one’s faith before others. “Show me thy faith!” (James 2:24)

Note that the final judgment will be on works that either demonstrated faith or unbelief. God’s record of people’s works will demonstrate to all whether they possessed salvation by faith (JK).

I John 2 teaches that good works in the life of a believer confirm assurance.

 

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A month to go!

Can’t run can row!

Less than a month to Scottish Indoor Rowing Champs in Wishaw on Nov.18th then Irish Champs in Limerick on 25th, then operation on Nov.29th in Warrington all DV. Training going reasonable but need to get down to 75Kg to make lightweight category.

Are you keeping fit as you can? Being a good steward of the body loaned you in this life, as God permits?

The Reformation under Josiah

Josiah as King led the Reformation of God’s people in the 7th Century BC.

 

Reformation consisted:

  • The public reading of the word of God (reading and preaching)
  • The consecration of the people to God by a covenant (confessing church membership in a true church)
  • The removal of all practices and places built contrary to God’s word (i.e. idolatry, icons)
  • The institution of pure worship according to the word of God at Passover. (regulative principle)
  • The deposition and excommunication or death of all false teachers (Church discipline)

II Kings 23 gives the details.

How does your church measure up?

Relevant book

The Covenant with Adam

The Westminster Confession, bulwark of  Reformed and Presbyterian churches states in chapter 7, “The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.”

Herman Hoeksema, theological father of the Protestant Reformed Churches states in his Reformed Dogmatics, ” Adam had life but not eternal life.  Nowhere do we find any proof in Scripture for the contention that God gave Adam the promise of eternal life if he should obey the particular commandment (not to eat of the forbidden tree). A command is no covenant.”

But was it not just continued blessed earthly life that would have been Adam’s had he not fallen?  He was earthy (I Cor.15:47). Only since, have Christians interpreted it as ETERNAL LIFE. There was no way he could attain immortal heavenly life. Hence Goodwin, one of the Westminster delegates, and others deny the possibility of eternal (spiritual) life for Adam if he obeys, and how long would he have to obey before the reward? Scripture is silent on this hypothesis.

But Adam had friendship with God which is the essence of every divine and unconditional covenant. When he sinned he incurred separation from God which is death and would physically die in time to come. He transgressed the covenant (Hosea 8:1).

A condition, posited by followers of WCF, implies ability and any covenant of works like they posit this is, as was also the Sinaitic covenant taken on it’s own (no grace behind it) is doomed to fail because man cannot keep God’s law whether it’s “Don’t eat from that tree” or “Keep my (10) commandments and live.” In the first case because he was fallible and in the second because he is a slave to sin. Man can never merit with God as Paul points out in Romans 4:4.

Yes Adam was federal head and stands in federal headship to all humanity just as Christ does to saved humanity but I deny he failed in a covenant of works that Christ then obeyed perfectly. He transgressed a covenant of grace which would be superseded by another gracious one in which God would rekindle the friendship and put his law and Spirit in Adam’s heart that would last eternally because of Christ. THEN he possessed eternal life.

Sure and steadfast

Many of us men were at one time in the Boys’ Brigade but it’s fair to say we knew little of what their motto really meant! It is taken from Hebrews 6.

Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” Hebrews 6:17-20.

An anchor  that is properly stuck fast, is something fixed and immovable guaranteeing that the ship will remain where it is. Our hope in Christ, who is already in heaven, indeed Christ himself, is our hope, our certainty that one day we will be with him. He is fixed there, reigning in glory and all the blessedness in him is promised, indeed sworn to be given us, as it was to Abraham thousands of years ago (v18).

Covenant (a summary for those not well aquainted).

Based on Calvin’s writings.

Calvin and God’s covenant

“The Psalmist, “calling to remembrance” God’s covenant promises, especially “I will dwell in the midst of you,” and “trusting to that sacred and indissoluble bond,” does not hesitate to portray all the godly, no matter what their earthly miseries may be, “as partakers of this celestial glory in which God dwells.” Resting in the indissoluble bond of the covenant, the believer knows that all God’s “suffering” people will dwell with Him eternally in heavenly bliss, nay, are already “partakers of this celestial glory in which God dwells” (cf. John 17:20-23; Eph. 2:6). The covenant assures us that God dwells in us and we will dwell with God both now and forever.” Calvin’s commentary on Psalm 102:12.
Calvin explains God’s “spiritual covenant” as our being “join[ed],” “bound” and “united” with Him, so that we “cleave” to Him and enjoy a “real participation” in His blessedness.
Calvin considers “the very formula of the covenant,” which, he observes, is the same in every age: “For the Lord always covenanted with his servants thus: ‘I will be your God, and you shall be my people’. This covenant formula, Calvin notes, is frequently used in the Old Testament as a summary of all of salvation: “The prophets also commonly explained that life and salvation and the whole of blessedness are embraced in these words.”
For he (God) did not declare that he would be a God to their bodies alone, but especially to their souls. Still, souls, unless they be joined to God through righteousness, remain estranged from him in death. On the other hand, such a union when present will bring everlasting salvation with it.
In the Protestant Reformed Churches the truth of the covenant, as a bond of friendship and fellowship between God and His elect in Jesus Christ, has been developed and maintained most fully, consistently, antithetically and systematically. This has resulted in increased insight into and/or practical help regarding, for example, the living fellowship within the Holy Trinity, the covenant with Adam, Old Testament history, sovereign grace, infant baptism, Reformed worship, the unbreakable bond of marriage, Christian schooling, and the Christian life as one of God’s friend-servants keeping His covenant.
For Calvin, the covenant promise to be our God, applies not only to us in body and soul and in this world and the next, but it also applies to our (elect) children.
Even in the Old Testament, God’s covenant promise for body and soul, for time and eternity and for us and our children, was through Jesus Christ, the mediator
The saving benefits found in the covenant include: Christ as redeemer, salvation, eternal life, adoption, redemption, gospel, union with God, eternal salvation, life, blessedness, inheritance, privilege, access to God, reconciliation, pardon, forgiveness of sins (justification), adoption into salvation, regeneration or sanctification, resurrection, and the believer’s future and eternal happiness, all of which is due to God’s covenantal mercy and grace.
As Calvin eloquently puts it, “Since therefore this covenant contains solid and perfect blessedness, it follows that all who are excluded from it are miserable.
God has joined these two things together, viz., that he will be propitious to his sons [i.e., justification], and will also renew their hearts [i.e., sanctification]. These benefits are joined together by an everlasting and indissoluble bond, so that those whom he illumines by his wisdom, he redeems; those whom he redeems, he justifies; those whom he justifies, he sanctifies. I Cor. 1:30.
Calvin describes the sacrament of baptism (the New Testament equivalent of circumcision) as a sign and seal of both justification and sanctification: Calvin refers to the blessings of both justification and sanctification through believing partaking of the Lord’s Supper, for it is “a mirror in which we may contemplate Jesus Christ crucified to take away our offences [i.e., justification] and raised again to deliver us from corruption [i.e., sanctification].” And mentions the  third which depends on the second, and that is the illumination of the mind as to the knowledge of God” (Comm. on Heb. 8:10).
All by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, from the scripture alone and to the glory of God alone.

Full articles here:

Passover (3)

Sung Psalm 34:16-22

Read Numbers 9:1-14

This is the third repetition of the command to keep the Passover (first Ex.12, second Lev.23:4-5).

The date 14/1/1 when they left Egypt in the Exodus.

Second Passover was in wilderness of Sinai 14/1/2 with a number of differences e.g. no houses, no blood on door posts. We reckon they kept it in their tents. Where did they get bread or grain to make it? Perhaps bought, perhaps plundered, perhaps brought out of Egypt.

This second Passover took place in two groups. First the vast majority and then a month later (14/2/2) for the men defiled by a dead body who would have needed at least one week to become ceremonially clean.

The Tabernacle was erected 1/1/2 so just a fortnight before and the priests consecrated (Lev.8).

First numbering of people 1/2/2 (Numbers 1).

According to my reckoning Sinai and the giving of the Law was 1/3/1.

Failing to keep the Passover (v13) was the equivalent of church excommunication. We were unsure if it mandated the death penalty or just being put completely out of the camp. Foreigners could partake as long as they were circumcised (typifying the entrance of Gentiles into the church).

Covenantal thought.

My most loved Scriptural doctrine which permeates the whole Bible is that of the COVENANT. This book, written by a faithful local pastor from Crumlin is full of gems in tracing  covenant theology through the ages……e.g.” The origin of  this grace and the benefits enjoyed by those in covenant were always rooted in the election of God. The evidence of the covenant of grace depended on God alone. He answered for both parties in the covenant and worked both willingness and enabling in man by the Holy Spirit…God everywhere reserves to Himself and exercises the right independently of fixing the terms of the relation between Himself and man.” Fellow Christian seek out the truth of the covenant, God’s friendship with man.

Articles

Oh that so many in Roman Catholicism and other false religions would grasp this truth that underlay the Reformation namely salvation from sin is by GRACE ALONE, through FAITH ALONE, in CHRIST ALONE, revealed in SCRIPTURE ALONE and to the GLORY OF GOD ALONE.

Upcoming conference

O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways.

 

Isaiah 63:17                                                                                                                                          “O Lord, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear?…. These are the words, not of wicked men among the Jews, charging all their errors, hardness of heart, and wickedness they were guilty of, upon the Lord, as if he was the author and occasion of them, and led them into them; but of the truly godly, lamenting and confessing their wandering from the ways, commands, and ordinances of God, the hardness of their hearts; their want of devotion and affection for God; and their neglect of his worship; not blaming him for these things, or complaining of him as having done anything amiss or wrong; but expostulating with him, and wondering at it, that he, who was their loving and tender Father, that he should suffer them to err from his ways, and to wander from his worship, by withholding his grace and withdrawing his presence from them; by leaving them to the corruptions and hardness of their hearts; by chastising them sorely, and suffering the enemy to afflict them in such a severe manner as laid them under temptation to desert the worship of God, and cast off the fear of him.” John Gill Commentary.

Featured picture the broad and narrow ways of Pilgrim’s Progress.

 

The Master Builder

 

You need the right tools for every job in D.I.Y. and building. It makes everything so much easier. In like manner, God, in building his church, needs to have prepared and deployed the right tools, his servants, for the jobs in his church, some are unique special tools for the few special jobs, some are commoner but none-the-less necessary tools for everyday use, and others multi-purpose tools for several ministries. We all are tools in his hands with which he accomplished his ends.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10.