Monday, March 31, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 68

Q. How may we escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin?

A. To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, we must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 3:16), trusting alone to his blood and righteousness. This faith is attended by repentance for the past (Acts 20:21) and leads to holiness in the future.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 66

Q. Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?

A. Some sins in themselves, and by reason of various aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others (Jn. 19:11; 1 Jn. 5:16).

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 65

Q. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?

A. No mere man, since the fall, is able in his life perfectly to keep the commandments of God (Eccl. 7:20), but does daily break them in thought, (Gen. 8:21) word (Jas. 3:8), and deed (Jas. 3:2).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Invocation of the Muse

Over on her blog, Sarah has shared a conversation she had with her Muse. It is a very enlightening discussion they have and those wondering about the way of the Fair Muses would do well to check it out.

(PS: I am in no way suggesting, via the photo, that I am Sarah's muse)

A Puritan Catechism: Question 64

Q. What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?

A. The tenth commandment forbids all discontentment with our own estate (1 Cor. 10:10), envying or grieving at the good of our neighbour, (Gal. 5:26) and all inordinate emotions and affections to anything that is his (Col. 3:5).

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 63

Q. What is the tenth commandment?

A. The tenth commandment is, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, or his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 62

Q. What is required in the ninth commandment?

A. The ninth commandment requires the maintaining and promoting of truth between man and man (Zech. 8:16), and of our own (1 Pet. 3:16; Acts 25:10), and our neighbour's good name (3 Jn. 1:12), especially in witness-bearing (Prov. 14:5, 25).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Whosoever and Predestination

A common objection to the doctrine of unconditional election (aka, predestination) is John 3:16. I typically get bent out of shape whenever I read or hear people using this verse as an objection to predestination, and not because it blows a hole in my theology, but because it is a mishandling of the Word of God to use it in such a fashion. I am currently reading R.C. Sproul's Chosen By God, and he has an excellent treatment of this common usage of John 3:16:

What does this famous verse teach about fallen man's ability to choose Christ? The answer, simply, is nothing. The argument used by non-Reformed people is that the text teaches that everybody in the world has it in their power to accept or reject Christ. A careful look at the text reveals, however, that it teaches nothing of the kind. What the text teaches is that everyone who believes in Christ will be saved. Whoever does A (believes) will receive B (everlasting life). The text says nothing, aboslutely nothing, about man's natural moral ability. Reformed people and non-Reformed people both heartily agree that all who believe will be saved. They heartily disagree about who as the ability to believe.
The doctrine of election has nothing to do with belief in Christ as the basis for eternal life. It concerns itself with who exactly will believe in Christ, and thus inherit eternal life. There will be no soul in Hell who professed faith in Christ, but was denied everlasting life because he was not one of the elect. True faith in Christ always saves and is itself a sign of God's adoption of you as his son or daughter. The true debate, as Sproul points out, is about who has the ability, the desire, to believe.

A Puritan Catechism: Question 61

Q. Which is the ninth commandment?

A. The ninth commandment is, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 60

Q. What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?

A. The eighth commandment forbids whatever does or may unjustly hinder our own (1 Tim. 5:8; Prov. 28:19; Prov. 21:6), or our neighbour's wealth, or outward estate (Eph. 4:28)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Novum Mandatum and Good Friday

Last night I went to a Maundy Thursday service at church. While I know I have been to several Good Friday services, I cannot remember if I have ever been to Maundy Thursday. The name is derived from the Latin novum mandatum, or "new commandment." In John 13, before instituting the Lord's Supper, Christ washes his disciples' feet and gives them a new command: love one another. It is then that they break the bread and drink the wine of their Passover meal. That Christ told his closest followers that they world would recognize them as belonging to Him by their love for each other is worth pondering.

Not only did Christ give a new commandment, but he also washed the feet of his disciples. As Pastor Adams pointed out, the context of the foot-washing needs to be understood. Not long before, the disciples had been arguing amongst themselves as to who was the greatest. After arriving in the upper room, none of them had enough humility to wash the feet the rest. Yet, Christ himself, who truly was, and is, the greatest, is the one who gets up and serves them. More and more, this example of service sticks out in my mind as the spirit of Christian leadership. If my Lord and Savior can wash the smelly feet of a bunch of sinners, who am I to think myself above such a chore? How may we wash the feet of those around us? Another question worth pondering.

Finally, Christ instituted the Lord's Supper. Regardless of whether you believe the full nature of it to be, Christians can all agree that it is given to us as a memorial of what was done. For the disciples, it was a sign of what was shortly to come. In the rush of remembering the Resurrection, we must not rush past the Crucifixion. It is the work of Christ on the cross that secures our salvation. Today is Good Friday and it is today that we remember the death of Jesus Christ. Yet, this death, this good death (the eucatastrophe), must be remembered more than just every Spring. This is why we were given the Lord's Supper, that we might remember the death of Christ for our sins. Is the Crucifixion regularly in your thoughts? There are few things worth meditating on more.

A Puritan Catechism: Question 58

Q. What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?

A. The seventh commandment forbids all unchaste thoughts (Matt. 5:28; Col. 4:6), words (Eph. 5:4; 2 Tim. 2:22), and actions (Eph. 5:3).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 56

Q. What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?

A. The sixth commandment forbids the taking away of our own life (Acts 16:28), or the life of our neighbour unjustly (Gen. 9:6), or whatever tends to it (Prov. 24:11-12).

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 54

Q. What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?

A. The reason annexed to the fifth commandment is, a promise of long life and prosperity — as far as it shall serve for God's glory, and their own good — to all such as keep this commandment (Eph. 6:2-3).

Christians and Art

My friend Joshua Keel and I are discussing what a Christian view of art is over on his blog. Join the conversation here. Josh has been reading The Life You Save May Be Your Own, and was inspired to take up the topic:

"I just read a quote that sums up very well how I view art. I hope it’s the right view and the Biblical one."

So if you feel up for a conversation on what having a Christian worldview means when doing art, stop by and share your thoughts.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 53

Q. What is required in the fifth commandment?

A. The fifth commandment requires the preserving the honour, and performing the duties belonging to every one in their various positions and relationships as superiors (Eph. 5:21-22; Eph. 6:1, 5; Rom. 13:1), inferiors (Eph. 6:9), or equals (Rom. 12:10).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 52

Q. Which is the fifth commandment?

A. The fifth commandment is, "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 51

Q. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?

A. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days (Lev. 23:3), and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God's worship (Ps. 92:1-2; Isa. 58:13-14), except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Matt. 12:11-12).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 50

Q. What is required in the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment requires the keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his Word, expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself (Lev. 19:30; Deut. 5:12).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 49

Q. Which is the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment is, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor they cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 48

Q. What is required in the third commandment?

A. The third commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God's names (Ps. 29:2), titles, attributes (Rev. 15:3-4), ordinances (Eccl. 5:1), Word (Ps. 138:2), and works (Job 36:24; Deut. 28:58-59).

Monday, March 10, 2008

Reflections on Shakespeare's Henry V

I am currently reading Shakespeare's play, Henry V. Up until now, I had only read one of Shakespeare's play, Othello, although I have seen several performed, such as The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, and Twelfth Night. I was rather embarrassed by this, so I have now resolved myself to read more of the Bard. I found a used book store not long ago and purchased King Lear and Macbeth, and so I hope to read those fairly soon as well.

Currently, I am only about half way into Henry V. Those not familiar with it, King Henry V of England decides to go to war with France to assert his right to the French Crown. At the beginning of the story, however, on the eve of launching his invasion, Henry deals with a trio of his lords who have been bribed by the French to assassinate him should he invade. He sets a trap for them where he asks their opinion of a case and the lords suggest that he exercise the maximum punishment and withhold mercy. He then reveals to them their planned treachery and they suddenly urge the King to do mercy. Outraged at their betrayal, he refers to the other case where they advocated the fullest measure of the law for the transgressor, and informs them that they have swayed him in that way. Obviously there is a moral here, urging us to be careful in how we would deal with wrong-doers. Who knows when we will be called to give account and placed in the same position as those we have condemned?

Another thing that stood out in my mind from the event is how seriously Henry took their betrayal. These were not men he hardly knew: they were friends and companions and advisers. In the Medieval world, betrayal was a heinous sin. In Dante's Inferno, the ninth circle of Hell is reserved for traitors. Indeed, Judas Iscariot, Brutus and Cassius, who are eternally being devoured by Satan himself in the very bottom of Hell. These men were not just traitors, but they were close friends of those whom they turned against. I find it fascinating that here in Shakespeare, we can see the reflection of such a strong cultural view against traitors. In a society where stability was dependent, in part, on those in power to keep their oaths to those over them, it is understandable why such condemnation would be reserved for those who break trust.

I wonder if this scene from Henry V sticks out in my mind because of how greatly I value loyalty and steadfastness. I am always bothered when people speak ill of my friends around me (not only for obvious reasons, but also because I wonder what they say of me). While there are some circumstances in which there is need to address certain character flaws, more often than not, it is simply the human ability to put down others for the sake of feeling better about one's own (equally questionable) character. I cannot say that I have not been guilty of this, much as I would like to say otherwise, but in recent years, I have been convicted that such speech and conduct is not proper in most circumstances and have made a point of avoiding it, and when possible, coming to the defense of those I count as friends. Lord willing, I will escape the Ninth Circle!

A Puritan Catechism: Question 47

Q. Which is the third commandment?

A. The third commandment is, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 46

Q. What is forbidden in the second commandment?

A. The second commandment forbids the worshipping of God by images, (Deut. 4:15-16) or any other way not appointed in his Word (Col. 2:18).

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 45

Q. What is required in the second commandment?

A. The second commandment requires the receiving, observing (Deut. 32:46; Matt. 28:20), and keeping pure and entire all such religious worship and ordinances as God has appointed in his Word (Deut. 12:32).

Friday, March 07, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 44

Q. Which is the second commandment?

A. The second commandment is, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Benedict XVI and Martin Luther

On the Reformation21 blog, Ligon Duncan asked the question: "Is the Pope set to rehabilitate Martin Luther?" and then linked to this news story: "That Martin Luther? He wasn't so bad, says Pope." It would seem that Pope Benedict XVI is finally going to say what many Protestant scholars (and, even a few RC ones) have been saying all along: Luther never intended to start his own church, but merely to reform the existing establishment.

It leaves me to wonder what a conversation between Martin Luther and Benedict XVI would be like?

A Puritan Catechism: Question 43

Q. What is required in the first commandment?

A. The first commandment requires us to know (1 Chron. 28:9) and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God (Deut. 26:17), and to worship and glorify him accordingly (Matt. 4:10).

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 41

Q. What is the sum of the ten commandments?

A. The sum of the ten commandments is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbour as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40).

Monday, March 03, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 40

Q. What did God reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?

A. The rule which God first revealed to man for his obedience, is the moral law (Deut. 10:4; Matt. 19:17), which is summarised in the ten commandments.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 39

Q. What shall be done to the wicked at the day of judgment?

A. At the day of judgment the bodies of the wicked being raised out of their graves, shall be sentenced, together with their souls, to unspeakable torments with the devil and his angels for ever (Dan. 12:2; Jn. 5:28-29; 2 Thess. 1:9; Matt. 25:41).

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Puritan Catechism: Question 38

Q. What shall be done to the wicked at their death?

A. The souls of the wicked shall at their death be cast into the torments of hell (Lk. 16:22-24), and their bodies lie in their graves till the resurrection, and judgement of the great day (Ps. 49:14).