Monday, January 27, 2014

What is relativity?

What Is Relativity?: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein's Ideas, and Why They MatterWhat Is Relativity?: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein's Ideas, and Why They Matter by Jeffrey Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Do you know everything about the Theory of Relativity?  Then this book is not for you.  However, if you are like me, and know little-to-nothing about Relativity but are highly intrigued by the topic, then this new book by Jeffrey Bennett may be just what you are looking for.  Bennett takes the reader through the reality of the universe on a quest to understand why “black holes don’t suck”.

Bennett’s tone makes the book approachable.  He uses humor well and writes in a way that minimizes the daunting nature of this topic.  He takes the average reader though a complex subject with ease and depth.  Bennett’s use of thought experiments helps to make the topics discussed accessible but also is the one area that can get overwhelmingly complex at times.  This is to be expected.  Bennett, while writing at an introductory level, is covering a topic that is contrary to what is the common understanding of much of the universe.  Needless to say, you can get quite lost in the consequences of these ideas.

I saw comments about the mathematics in the book being complex but I couldn’t disagree more.  Add to that the fact that all of the math used is supplemental to the text and you really don’t need any grip on mathematics to completely understand the points he makes throughout.

Gravitational redshifting, time running slower in gravity, tidal forces, event horizons, singularity, Special Theory of Relativity, General Theory of Relativity, and on and on and on.  This book covers much that is quite interesting.  Why would it literally take forever to cross the event horizon?  What do ocean tides have to do with entering a black hole?  What is actually “relative” in the Theory of Relativity?  How is acceleration related to gravity and what effect does this have on our understanding of space and time?

I read mostly books from a Christian perspective so this might seem like a break from my normal routine of theology books.  But it is not really.  Too often Christians run away from the natural sciences because so many of the ideas seem to be competing or contrary to their own.  This is sad.  If the Bible is true, which it is, all truth is God’s truth.  We should never be afraid to learn something new, even if it were to contradict something we have thought we understood.   God is found in the truth and gaining a deeper understanding of His creation should only lead to greater praise and awe and worship.  Bennett’s book led me to this and I am appreciative of that.

After reading this book I am an expert on Relativity. Nah, just kidding.  But I do have a firmer grasp of much and many more questions I want to learn about.  You really cannot ask for more from an introductory text than that.  Black holes don’t suck.  Neither does this book. :-D  It is actually quite good.

***I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Heidelberg Catechism Lord's Day 4

Lord’s Day 4

9. Does not God, then, do injustice to man by
requiring of him in His Law that which he cannot

No, for God so made man that he could perform it;[1]
but man, through the instigation of the devil,[2] by
willful disobedience[3] deprived himself and all his
descendants of this power.[4]
[1] Gen 1:31; Eph 4:24; [2] Gen 3:13; Jn 8:44; 1 Tim
2:13-14; [3] Gen 3:6; [4] Rom 5:12, 18-19

10. Will God allow such disobedience and apostasy
to go unpunished?

Certainly not,[1] but He is terribly displeased with
our inborn as well as our actual sins, and will punish
them in just judgment in time and eternity,[2] as He
has declared: “Cursed is everyone that continues not
in all things which are written in the book of the law
to do them.”[3]

[1] Heb 9:27; [2] Ex 34:7; Ps 5:4-6, 7:10; Nah 1:2; Mt
25:41; Rom 1:18, 5:12; Eph 5:6; [3] Deut 27:26; Gal 3:10

11. But is not God also merciful?

God is indeed merciful,[1] but He is likewise just;[2]
His justice therefore requires that sin which is
committed against the most high majesty of God, be
punished with extreme, that is, with everlasting
punishment both of body and soul.[3]
[1] Ex 20:6, 34:6-7; Ps 103:8-9; [2] Ex 20:5, 34:7; Deut
7:9-11; Ps 5:4-6; 2 Cor 6:14-16; Heb 10:30-31; Rev
14:11; [3] Mt 25:45-46

Saturday, January 25, 2014

God Must Punish Sin by Martin Lloyd-Jones

God Must Punish Sin---MLJ

And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
It is my intention to deal with this great and important incident, the account of which, in part, is found in the sixth chapter of the book of Genesis. I want to look at the incident as a whole in order that we may learn the vitally important message that it has to teach us. It deals with two fundamental questions. The first is, what is the cause of the trouble in the world? The second question is, what can be done about it?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

By thy Mercy--Indelible Grace Music---FREE for 1 Week Only!

Indelible Grace Music is a blessing in my life.  For the next week they are giving away a full album on Noisetrade.  Do yourself a service and get this album!  Do others a service and tell them about it.  Be blessed!!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Commentary on Lord's Day 3


Question 6. Did God then create man so wicked and perverse?

Answer. By no means; but God created man good, and after his own image, in righteousness and true holiness, that he might rightly know God, his Creator heartily love him, and live with him in eternal happiness, to glorify him and praise him.


Having established the proposition that human nature is depraved, or sinful, we must now enquire, did God create man thus? and if not, with what nature did he create him? and whence does this depravity of human nature proceed? The subject of the creation of man, therefore, and of the image of God in man, belongs properly to this place.
It is also proper that we should here contrast the misery of man with his original excellence: first, that the cause and origin of our misery being known, we may not impute it unto God; and secondly, that the greatness of our misery may be the more clearly seen. In proportion as this is done, will the original excellency of man become apparent; just as the benefit of deliverance becomes the more precious in the same proportion in which we are brought to apprehend the magnitude of the evil from which we have been rescued.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 3

6. Did God create man thus, wicked and perverse?

No, but God created man good[1] and after His own
image,[2] that is, in righteousness and true
holiness,[3] that he might rightly know God his
Creator,[4] heartily love Him, and live with Him in
eternal blessedness, to praise and glorify Him.[5]
[1] Gen 1:31; [2] Gen 1:26-27 [3] Eph 4:24; 2 Cor 3:18;
[4] Col 3:10; [5] Ps 8

7. From where, then, does this depraved nature of
man come?

From the fall and disobedience of our first parents,
Adam and Eve, in Paradise,[1] whereby our nature
became so corrupt[2] that we are all conceived and
born in sin.[3]
[1] Gen 3; [2] Rom 5:12, 18-19; [3] Ps 14:2-3, 51:5

8. But are we so depraved that we are completely
incapable of any good and prone to all evil?

Yes,[1] unless we are born again by the Spirit of
[1] Gen 6:5, 8:21; Job 14:4; Isa 53:6; Jer 17:9; Jn 3:6;
Rom 7:18; [2] Jn 3:3-5

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Able to the Uttermost--by CH Spurgeon

Able to the Uttermost
Wherefore He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.—(Hebrews 7:25.)
There is great power in advocacy. Many a man has no doubt escaped from the just sentence of the law through the eloquence of the person who has pleaded for him; and let us hope that far oftener justice has been obtained, where otherwise it might not have been, through the clear and earnest pleadings of the advocate before the bar. There is a remarkable instance in Holy Scripture of the power of pleading. Benjamin and the rest of Joseph’s brethren had gone away from the Egyptian court. On their road home to their father Jacob they were overtaken by Joseph’s steward. He charged them with having stolen Joseph’s silver cup. This was, of course, denied, and an offer was made that the sacks of corn should be searched. Beginning with the eldest, the steward continued his search till he came to Benjamin’s sack; and there it was. There was no denying the evidence. The fact was proved. They themselves were all unwilling witnesses that the charge was true. The stolen goods were found upon Benjamin. They go back; they are brought into the hall of Joseph, whom they think to be the governor, and do not know to be their brother. He charges them somewhat severely with their ingratitude. They had feasted at his table; he had sent them away with provisions; and the only return they had made was that they had stolen his cup.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Gospel Transformation Bible

ESV Gospel Transformation BibleESV Gospel Transformation Bible by ESV Bibles by Crossway
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is another great resource from Crossway that I was excited to see released a while back.  I love good Bibles, and this is a good Bible.  Jesus taught explicitly that all of the Bible is about Him and it is good to see more and more teaching that not only acknowledges this as truth but sees it as a focus of Bible study.

Bryan Chappell writes in the introduction about the “twofold” purpose of this work.

The goal of the Gospel Transformation Bible is twofold: (1) to enable readers to understand that the whole Bible is a unified message of the gospel of God’s grace culminating in Christ Jesus, and (2) to help believers apply this good news to their everyday lives in a heart-transforming way. Our hope is that, as Christians throughout the world learn to see the message of salvation by grace unfolding throughout Scripture, they will respond to God with greater love, faithfulness, and power.

There has been much written recently focusing on the  continuity of the Bible, the overarching narrative of Scripture from beginning to end that frames all we find in its pages, and for that I am so thankful.  Growing up spiritually in a Dispensational world that embraced an almost Marcionite disjuncture between Old and New Testament, it was not until I was exposed to Reformed theology that I had any use for the Old Testament other than as an obstacle on my yearly pilgrimage through the Scriptures (a pilgrimage that seemed to wander in the desert with the Israelites but never seemed able to cross that Jordan River with Joshua).

My own dislike of the Old Testament stemmed from teaching that was wrought with an implied, and at times explicit, dismissal of anything beyond moral teachings and prophetic appearances of Christ in its pages.  This left the vast majority of the Old Testament irrelevant much beyond who is the fourth guy in the furnace or “What is your Goliath?”  That is why I am excited about more and more resources that seek to show the “unified message” of the Bible as “the Gospel of God’s grace culminating in Christ Jesus” and seek to teach believers how to “apply this good news to their everyday lives in a heart transforming [rather than simply conduct transforming] way.”

How does the Gospel Transformation Bible seek to accomplish this?

(T)his edition of the ESV Bible features study notes for the entire Bible that show readers, passage by passage, how each particular book carries forward God’s redemptive purposes in history, culminating in Christ. These notes enable readers to see how the gospel of grace is the overarching message of the Bible, and how it transforms the human heart.

To aid in this, The Gospel Transformation Bible offers

Introductions to each book of the Bible are also provided, which include a section called “The Gospel in [Book].” This section orients readers to the big picture of how that book develops the story line of God’s redemptive plan.  In addition, there is a full index to help readers see the unity of Scripture and how various themes course through the Bible from beginning to end. By looking up various biblical themes—such as temple, idolatry, feasting, or marriage—readers can appreciate the way the Bible picks up and develops various motifs in a coherent, unified, and progressive way.

Crossway assembled an exciting and interesting list of contributors.  If you are familiar with Crossway Publishing, most of the contributors will be familiar names.  What is unfamiliar for the production of a study Bible is the amount of contributors from outside the world of academia.  Bryan Chappell and Dane Ortlund headed up a fun group of contributors for this work including: Sean Michael Lucas, Michael Horton, Jared Wilson, Elyse Fitzpatrick, Bruce Ware, Ray Ortlund, Graeme Goldsworthy, James Hamilton, Nancy Guthrie, Darrin Patrick, Kevin DeYoung, J. D. Greear, R. Kent Hughes, and Burk Parsons, among others.

This list is not as scholarly as many study Bibles.  Take for instance two of my favorites, Crossway’s ESV study Bible and Zondervan’s Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible.  The first had Grudem, Packer, C John Collins and Thomas Schreiner as section editors and contributors almost entirely made up of seminary professors and leadership.  Zondervan’s Spirit of the Reformation Bible has for section editors the likes of Richard Pratt, Bruce Waltke, Poythress, Frame, GK Beale, Packer, Boice, Clowney and Roger Nicole.  This one also had contributions from almost exclusively seminary people.  The list of contributors shows that Crossway’s Gospel Transformation Bible is, like the contributors themselves, academically capable but not academically focused.  This study Bible is pastorally focused, “doctrine for life” if you will.  Not to be misunderstood, allow me to express clearly that this is not an either/or situation where seminarians know nothing about day to day pastoring or that non-seminarians are incapable of diagramming a sentence in Greek.   Both, pastors and professors, are necessary and good.  You will find much doctrine in the Gospel Transformation Bible as you will find much pastoral instruction in the ESV Study Bible, they really complement each other quite well.  I was just struck by the list of contributors being highly pastoral and I am surprised at how much I have enjoyed that.

The Gospel Transformation Bible has two goals it seeks to accomplish.  
Our goal will be to identify gospel themes through methods readers can identify and repeat in their own study of Scripture….common approach to understanding the redemptive nature of all biblical texts is to identify how God’s Word predicts, prepares for, reflects, or results from the person and/or work of Christ.

Along with that is the second goal of the Gospel Transformation Bible to
help readers apply gospel truths to their everyday lives. Faithful application typically answers four questions: 1) What to do? 2) Where to do it? 3) Why to do it? and 4) How to do it?”  It is the Gospel of God’s grace, empowered and applied by the Spirit of God, that motivates and enables faithful obedience.

I am excited about starting a little project for myself and I am going to offer a review of each book/section in the coming months to see specifically how and how well this is accomplished, but I was initially interested to see how much of the contributors voice finds its way into the notes while also keeping an eye out for how the two main goals were fleshed out in a sampling of the work.  To do this I focused on a couple of contributors that I am familiar with to see if I can distinguish their particular voice in the notes and to see how they handled the text in light of the goals of this Study Bible.

Out of all the contributors I am probably most familiar with the work of Michael Horton so I chose to look specifically at his introduction to Joshua.  As you read, it is fairly clear that this is the voice of Horton.  Some of the topics he emphasizes and the verbiage he utilizes to teach on Joshua is distinctly him.  I didn't necessarily see this as I read from other contributors, even ones I am pretty familiar with like Jared Wilson and Kevin DeYoung, but I think that has more to do with my inability to see what is probably clear to many who are more familiar with individual contributors.  I think it is fair to say, from what I read, that although I am sure there was an extensive editing process for all involved, the voice of the contributor can be found in their notes.  I like that.  It makes the work feel more like a community effort, many voices saying the same thing in many unique ways—which is, in a way, what the project intends to convey about Scripture.  Sure Paul wrote, and Moses wrote, and John wrote and you can hear each of their voices distinctly in how they write and topics they address and emphases they place, but they are all writing the same story, the story of God redeeming a people He has chosen to be His own as a display of his manifold glory.

I also wanted to see how well this work accomplished the goals set before it.  I plan on looking at that in-depth for a while, but from the parts I have focused on, it does very well.   Take for instance the work of Jared Wilson on Jude.

Wilson, in his notes on Jude, shows the Gospel Transformation type of theme that pervades this work, and the Scriptures themselves.
Seeing the Gospel from cover-to-cover, Wilson writes:

Jude reminds us of God’s saving work in Christ that echoes across all of human history. Jude startlingly remarks in verse 5 that it was Jesus who brought God’s people out of Egypt—centuries before the incarnation! Whatever Jude meant to convey here, at the least he is reminding us that Christ’s saving work is not an isolated and disconnected historical event. Rather, Christ’s work of redemption is the climax to all of God’s mighty deeds on behalf of his people.

Wilson also helps the reader see the “transformation” aspect of the Gospel, writing on verses 5-7,

Grace forgives disobedience but it does not produce disobedience, nor is it a free pass to disobey. Jude recalls God’s mighty deeds in history to remind his readers of coming judgment for the wicked…Jude displays the “photo negative” of the gospel, giving us a vivid and dark picture of those who twist the lavish grace of the gospel into a license to sin.

Horton also sticks with the goals of this work.  Commenting on the sin of Achan in Joshua 7, Horton takes the opportunity to discuss covenant headship and the believer’s position in Christ.
Achan, representing the people, deserved to be killed for his sin. Jesus, representing his people, did not. “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22). In both cases we sense both the seriousness of sin and the lengths to which God will go to preserve his people from sin’s contagion and corruption. Both Achan and Jesus were executed to turn away God’s wrath. But in a breathtaking act of substitution, we sinners, deserving the fate of Achan, are freely forgiven and welcomed into God’s family because Jesus, our representative head, has paid for our sins.

Elyse Fitzpatrick's work on Esther shows the same.

Note on 3:1–6--Many times throughout God’s story of redemption down through history, the wicked have sought to lay hands on the godly, as Haman sought to do to Mordecai and to the Jews. We see this, for example, in the lives of Joseph (Gen. 37:23–24), Moses (Ex. 2:15), David (1 Sam. 18:10–11; 24:1–2), Daniel (Dan. 2:13), and Jeremiah (Jer. 38:6). Evil may have its day, but God will have the final say. The ultimate example of this is Christ himself, whom wicked men seized and wrongfully crucified.

Graeme Goldsworthy, commenting on the call of Jeremiah, has one of the most beautiful quotes I have seen in a while.  He writes in his note on verses 1:4–10

The call of Jeremiah to be God’s prophet demonstrates the sovereignty of God. Before Jeremiah was conceived in the womb, God knew him, consecrated him, and appointed him as his prophet. This foreknowledge of the man is more than foreseeing his future. It establishes a relationship between God and his chosen one that is sure and that will fulfill God’s purpose. In this it foreshadows God’s foreknowledge of his people as expressed throughout the New Testament (e.g., Rom. 8:29; 11:2; 1 Pet. 1:2).

Jeremiah’s timid response, echoed so often in our own hearts, is countered by the divine assurance that God’s purpose will be fulfilled. Many times in Scripture we see God choosing the weak, the aged (Abraham), the inarticulate (Moses), the morally blemished (Jacob), the obscure (Gideon), and the persecuted (the suffering servant in Isaiah)—all culminating ultimately in the true suffering servant, Jesus. The apostle Paul also had to learn that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:5–10). Jeremiah needs to be assured that his words will be God’s words because his message will have universal significance and will bring both destruction and renewal. The assurance God gives him strikes a theme consistent with the gospel—that God has chosen what is weak to confound the strong (1 Cor. 1:27), for the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16). This gospel, like Jeremiah’s message, speaks of both judgment and redemption.

In Jeremiah’s weakness—not despite his weakness—God will be with him and will deliver him (Jer. 1:8, 19). This is good news for weak people today who know they need God more than anything else and who cry out for his all-sufficient grace. Such are the ones whom God uses in supernatural way.

James Hamilton, highlighting God’s faithfulness, comments on Hosea 4,

Hosea often uses Ephraim (the most prominent tribe in Israel) to personify both the sin of Israel and the undeserved deliverance the nation will receive—even as Ephraim’s original blessing was undeserved (cf. v. 17 and Gen. 48:15–17). This literary tie to the nation’s origins reminds us that the grace of God is never out of sight even when Hosea cites the nation for her sin and prophesies coming judgment. The unrest in our hearts caused by the prophet’s disturbing allusions to Israel’s sin (and our similar patterns of unfaithfulness) can be settled only by the grace of God glimmering in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the ministry of Christ, to whom Hosea points. The accusing voice of the Lord in Hosea 4, so right in its denunciation, will ultimately be directed toward God’s own Son, on behalf of those who trust in him.

I really could go on and on.  The Gospel Transformation Bible becomes more and more encouraging and edifying the more time I spend with it.  It is a work that sees the glory of God, as manifested in the person and work of the Son of God, on every page of the Bible.  This is a work I look forward to spending a lot of time with.

I love my 82,000 page ESV Study Bible.  I love that it seeks to tell you everything about everything.  How many miles is Nazareth from Jerusalem?  I don’t know, but I am pretty sure I can find it in the ESV Study Bible along with how many DOT camel-weighing stations and 7-Elevens you would find on your trip from one to the other.  The ESV Study Bible wants to show you every tree, shrub, animal, and flower in the forest and I will never cease to enjoy that.  However, sometimes I need to step back and take a good look at the forest and the Gospel Transformation Bible really attempts to make sure you see the forest, the big picture.  I look forward to being blessed by this work for some time to come!

I received a copy of this from Crossway for my honest review.  I already had a hard copy because it’s awesome and am happy now that I can bless someone else with it.  Grab one of these and enjoy!

View all my reviews

Monday, January 13, 2014

Commentary on the Second Lord's Day




Question 3. Whence knowest thou thy misery?

Answer. Out of the law of God.


In this division of the catechism which treats of the misery of man, we are to consider principally the subject of sin, together with the effects or punishment of sin. Other subjects of a subordinate nature are connected with this, such as the creation of man, the image of God in man, the fall and first sin of man, original sin, the liberty of the will, and afflictions In regard to our misery, we must consider in general, what it is, whence and how it may be known!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 2

3. From where do you know your misery?

From the Law of God.[1]
[1] Rom 3:20, 7:7

4. What does the Law of God require of us?

Christ teaches us in sum, Matthew 22: “You shall
love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with
all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all
your strength.[1] This is the first and great
commandment. And the second is like unto it, You
shall love your neighbor as yourself.[2] On these two
commandments hang all the law and the
[1] Deut 6:5; [2] Lev 19:18; Gal 5:14; [3] Lk 10:27

5. Can you keep all this perfectly?
No,[1] for I am prone by nature to hate God and my
[1] Rom 3:10-12, 23; 1 Jn 1:8, 10; [2] Gen 6:5, 8:21; Jer
17:9; Rom 7:23, 8:7; Eph 2:3; Tit 2:3

Saturday, January 11, 2014


The Pastor’s Need of the People’s Prayers
Ye also helping together by prayer for us.”—2 Cor. 1:11.
THERE is a short sentence, written by the apostle Paul, which I very earnestly commend to your serious attention, though I shall only speak upon it briefly. In the second Epistle to the Corinthians, the first chapter, and the eleventh verse, you will find these words,—
“ye also helping together by prayer for us”
Dear friends, we are most of us members of one church, we are enlisted under one banner, and we are sworn to be faithful to one great purpose, namely, to live for Jesus, and to seek to glorify God. Now, we cannot all of us do the same thing for our Lord; we have each one some office, differing from all the rest of our brethren and sisters in Christ. Here let me pause, and say that everyone who has a work to do for Christ needs the prayers of his fellow-Christians, therefore I urge you all to ask for them. You may be the teacher of the infant class in the Sunday-school, or you may be only able to talk with one or two individuals now and then about your Saviour; but, whatever your service is, do not neglect to entreat the prayers of your brethren for a blessing upon your work; however limited may be your sphere, you will not get on without the supplications of others. “Ye also helping together by prayer for us,” may be the utterance of the weakest and feeblest brother; and he may, because of his weakness and feebleness, all the more powerfully appeal to his Christian brethren and sisters to help together by prayer for him.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Embrace Brasil!!!


How to Donate:

Follow the link to complete the form for a one time donation or to set up monthly automatic donations. Your donation will go through the financial department of First Melissa Church   Your donation is an allowable tax write off

       Thank you for your embrace!

God's provision and blessing are overwhelming. He is able to do more than all we ask or imagine... (Ephesians 3:20) Your prayers for the families and individuals of Lamarão sustain our mission.
Your willingness to temporarily come and serve will create relationships and share love they have never experienced before.
Your giving allows us to spend quality time with the people in need and provides tools and equipment to offer an experience that is life changing for so many.
Thank you for listening to God and obeying!



Why give?

Finances are still needed to:
  • Continue feeding 4 meals a week to teens of Lamarão.
  • Improve recreation facilities to allow interaction with teens in Lamarão and take them off the streets.
  • Purchase Bibles for every involved teen in Lamarão.
  • Wood and materials are continuously needed for projects.
  • Materials and resources are needed for Girls' Club studies and gatherings.
  • Continue translating, filtering, and delivering  messages.

Click here to learn more about Embrace Brasil

Because you give...

Because you give...Vitor, Amanda, and Lilia are able to leave the comfort of their lives in Tx, USA and go in faith to Brazil.

Because you give...Pituba's existing structure in Lamarão is able to be renovated adding a garden and hen houses.

Because you give... 4 meals a week are being shared with 25-55 teens in Lamarão.

Because you give...Vitor and Amanda are able to actively participate in Pituba Baptist Church of Salvador and carry out the daily ministry in Lamarão - you provide gas money

God is Changing Lives


A Faith Worth Teaching

The manner in which Ursinus and Olevianus provide brief answers to various complex theological questions in the HC needs to be understood in light of basic theological axioms they held as Reformed orthodox theologians. In the Western church theologians from the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed traditions all affirm the distinction between the two natures of Christ, but they do not agree on the precise relation between the two natures. For Roman Catholic theologians, Christ possessed the beatific vision of God from the moment of His incarnation because the divine attributes completely permeated the human nature. On earth Christ was both a pilgrim and one who fully understood (comprehensor ac viator); in contrast to believers, He walked by sight, not faith. For these theologians, then, the gifts that Christ’s human nature could receive happened at once at His incarnation.16 Lutheran theologians went even further by positing not only a communication of graces (communicatio gratiarum) but also a communication of attributes to the human nature and thus elevated the human nature above the boundaries set for it according to Reformed theologians. A basic axiom of Reformed theology in the Reformation and post-Reformation period was the concept that the finite cannot comprehend the infinite (finitum non capax infiniti). Thus the human nature possessed limitations; hence there was a real possibility for Christ to move from a state of humiliation to a state of exaltation (Phil. 2:5–11). Even in Christ’s exalted state His human nature remained distinct from His divine nature, and the principle that the finite cannot comprehend the infinite remained true of Christ in heaven. These are the principles that Ursinus and Olevianus are operating on in their questions and answers.

Payne, J. (editor). A Faith Worth Teaching.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Commentary on Lord's Day 1


Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer. That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ, who, with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that, without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation: and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready henceforth to live unto him.


The question of comfort is placed, and treated first, because it embodies the design and substance of the catechism. The design is, that we may be led to the attainment of sure and solid comfort, both in life and death. On this account, all divine truth has been revealed by God, and is especially to be studied by us. The substance of this comfort consists in this that we are ingrafted into Christ by faith, that through him we are reconciled to, and beloved of God, that thus he may care for and save us eternally.
Concerning this comfort, we must enquire:

          I.      What is it?
          II.      In how many parts does it consist?
          III.      Why is it alone solid and sure?
          IV.      Why is it necessary?
          V.      How many things are necessary for its attainment?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Heidelberg as a map.

If you’ve ever found understanding the Bible a bit like exploring America on foot, interesting but overwhelming and slow-going, why not use the Heidelberg Catechism as a map? The Catechism can help show you the main attractions others have discovered in the Bible and lead you to the best, most important truths of our faith. As the saying goes (to change our metaphors once again), you can see farther when standing on the shoulders of giants. And the Heidelberg Catechism is a giant of mind-sharpening, Christ-worshiping, soul-inspiring devotion. Stand on its shoulders and see more of Christ who saves us from our guilt by His grace and makes us, through His Spirit, wholeheartedly willing and ready to live for Him.

DeYoung, K. (2010). The good news we almost forgot: rediscovering the gospel in a 16th century catechism. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

A Great Little Book on a Great Big Issue

P & R has fast become one of my favorite publishers.  I am always challenged by work they out out and have appreciated especially some of their booklet-type publications that are aimed at succinctly presenting a particular topic or doctrine and equipping and preparing the reader to deal with it at a basic level and move on to further, more in-depth, study.  The series includes books on: What Is Spiritual Warfare?, What Is the Atonement?, What Is the Bible?, What Is the ChristianWorldview?, What Is the Doctrine of Adoption?, What Is the Incarnation?, What Is the Lord’s Supper?, What Is the Trinity?, What Is True Conversion?, and many more.  As someone who has spent the vast majority of their Christian life immersed in Southern Baptist thought but feeling more and more drawn towards Reformed doctrine, I am especially interested in a few of the titles like: What is Church Government?, What is the Lord’s Supper?, and Why do we Bapitzed Infants?  This series, “Basics of the Faith”, seems set to be great little books on great big issues and that is what Matthew Barrett’s treatment on regeneration most definitely is.

Barrett starts his book where we all start our life, human bondage to sin.  Barrett shows, briefly of course as all topics have to be addressed in a 35 page booklet, that man’s will is not autonomously free but rather is enslaved to the sinful passions, desires, and inability of man.

Barrett then makes a helpful and clear distinction between the “Gospel Call” given to all and the “effectual call” given to the elect.  This leads Barrett into a discussion of regeneration proper.  Barrett covers passages from Deuteronomy to Ezekiel to John to Paul to James and John in order to show the reader that regeneration is a monergistic work of God done to the elect sinner in order to bring about spiritual life. 
He also deals with “problem texts”, or better yet-“problematic interpretations”, that are often levied against the reformed teaching on regeneration.  

This is an  important topic for many reasons and Barrett’s work is beneficial because it is simple and clear.  More than that, it is biblically accurate and quite accessible.  Barrett leaves the reader with a greater confidence in monergistic regeneration and a greater desire to understand this topic more.  Important topic, helpful little book.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The joy of belonging to another

You are not your own,for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.--1 Corinthians 6:19-20

            A. That I am not my own, but belong - body and soul, in life and in death - to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

A. Three things: first, how great my sin and misery are; second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery; third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.[1]

I love the Heidelberg Catechism.  I really do.  I especially love question and answer 1.  It is my testimony.

If you are unfamiliar with someone’s “testimony”, allow me to elaborate.  In Evangelical circles there is a bit of jargon that is helpful to understand.  The question is often posed to a person of, “What is your testimony?”  That is usually answered with some dramatic before and after story of debauchery and drunkenness met by some catastrophic calamity that led way to more respectable sins and a forsaking of evil stuff like wine and secular music.  “What is your testimony?” is often paired with the other question of “When were you saved?” I have made a long habit of offering the answer of “2000 years ago, on a hill outside of Jerusalem” to the latter question but have also recently embraced using “I am not my own…” as an answer to the former.  Beyond being slightly annoying and intriguing to the questioner--both of which are beneficial in their own ways!!—both answers have the unique quality of being completely true and biblically based. 

I remember filling out a questionnaire to be part of a pen-pal type ministry my friends were starting to go along with their ministry in Brazil and it had a section to tell them about you.  Since these were good friends who already knew me, I decided to put the answer to the first catechism question because it said what was more true about me than anything I could have thought of.  The lady running it was blown away by my answer, so I told her that I was too. :-D  Then I told her it was written a couple of centuries ago but I have adopted it as my own.

What peace and joy to know that I am not my own.  What comfort to rest in the truth that I belong to Another, one who is infinitely good and infinitely capable.  To love me, to care for me, to provide for me, He knows no need, He lacks nothing.   I am not my own.  I was created by Another.  I was purchased by Another.  I belong to Another.

To whom do you belong? If you belong to yourself, there is no one but you to make sure you have all you need. If you belong to yourself, you have to make all the choices about what is best for you. You have to keep yourself well and safe. If you belong to yourself, you have to find some way on your own to pay for all your sin and to be so good that you please God. What a dreadful burden it would be to belong to yourself alone. It is so much better to know we belong to our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He loved us and willingly suffered God’s wrath at sin so we wouldn’t have to. If we belong to Jesus, he has bought us, paying for us with his own blood. Having paid so great a price, he will never allow us to perish. Our bodies and our souls, whether we live or whether we die, are safe in the hands of one who loves us with so great a love. [2]--Starr Meade

What responsibility to realize that I am not my own.  It is comforting, yes, but it does remind me that my decisions matter.  My choices are important.  I have obligations because I am not an autonomous being, but a created one.  I operate in freedom, yes, but it is a creaturely freedom that is bound to the will of the Creator.  I do not have the right or the ability to usurp control and power from the one to whom I belong.  I am not my own. 

“We are not our own: let not our reason nor our will, therefore, sway our plans and deeds. We are not our own: let us therefore not set it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us according to the flesh. We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us therefore forget ourselves and all that is ours. Conversely, we are God’s: let us therefore live for him and die for him. We are God’s: let his wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions. We are God’s: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our only lawful goal.[3]

This is my comfort, and my only comfort.  Does that mean that there is nothing else that comforts me?  No, but it does mean that this is the only thing that will ultimately and eternally comfort me.  All other comforts fall under the umbrella of this greatest comfort—the fact that I belong to Another, the greatest Other there is, at that.  I belong to Him, in life and in death.  I belong to Him, both my body and my soul.  I belong to Him because He freed me from the tyranny of the devil, tyranny I willingly subjected myself to.  He freed me by purchasing my redemption with His sinless blood.  I belong to Another, One who is constantly seeking my good as His child and His friend.  This is the truth that will sustain me through all of life’s ebbs and flows, a truth that will take me from “life’s first cry to final breath.”  That is my hope, my comfort, and it is the comfort and hope of all who trust in the risen and reigning Messiah, the Lamb who was slain but lives again.  This Jesus, who is the Christ. 

We live in a world where we expect to find comfort in possessions, pride, power, and position. But the Catechism teaches us that our only true comfort comes from the fact that we don’t even belong to ourselves. How countercultural and counterintuitive! We can endure suffering and disappointment in life and face death and the life to come without fear of judgment, not because of what we’ve done or what we own or who we are, but because of what we do not possess, namely, our own selves.[4]
If you trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ for your salvation, answer #1 is not just my testimony, it is yours as well.  Thank God we belong to Another, the only One worth belonging to!

[1] Ursinus, Z. Heidelberg Catechism.
[2] Meade, S. Comforting hearts, teaching minds : family devotions based on the Heidelberg catechism .
[3] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, III, vii. 1
[4] DeYoung, K. The good news we almost forgot: rediscovering the gospel in a 16th century catechism.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Brief History of the Heidelberg Catechism

Brief History

of the

Heidelberg Catechism

One of the symbolical books of the Reformed Church. Its name is derived from the city in which it was compiled and first printed. It is also sometimes styled the Palatinate Catechism, from the territory (the Palatinate) of the prince (Frederick III) under whose auspices it was prepared.
The original German title (of the editio princeps) is Catechismus, oder Christlicher Underricht, wie der in Kirchen und Schulen der Churfürstlichen Pfalz getrieben wirdt: Gedruckt in der Churfürstlichen Stad Heydelberg, dulrch Johannemr llayer, 1563 (Catechism, or Christian Instruction, according to the Usages of the Churches and Schools of the Electoral Palatinate).

I. History. — Soon after the introduction of Protestantism into the Palatinate in 1546, the controversy between Lutherans and Calvinists broke out, and for years, especially under the elector Otto Heinrich (1556-59), it raged with great violence in Heidelberg. Frederick III, who came into power in 1559, adopted the Calvinistic view on the Lord's Supper, and favored that side with all his princely power. He reorganized the Sapienz College (founded by his predecessor) as a theological school, and put at its head (1562) Zacharias Ursinus, a pupil and friend of Melancthon, who had adopted the Reformed opinions. In order to put an end to religious disputes in his dominions, he determined to put forth a Catechism, or Confession of Faith, and laid the duty of preparing it upon Zacharias Ursinus (just named) and Caspar Olevianus, for a time professor in the University of Heidelberg, then court preacher to Frederick III. They made use, of course, of the existing catechetical literature, especially of the catechisms of Calvin and of John Lasco. Each prepared sketches or drafts, and "the final preparation was a the work of both theologians, with the constant co-operation of Frederick III. Ursinus has always been regarded as the principal author, as he was afterwards the chief defender and interpreter of the Catechism; still, it would appear that the nervous German style, the division into three parts (as distinguished from the five parts in the Catechism of Calvin and the previous draft of Ursinus), and the genial warmth and unction of the whole work, are chiefly due to Olevianus." (Schaff, in. Am. Presb. Rev. July 1863, p. 379).
When the Catechism was completed, Frederick laid it before a synod of the superintendents of the Palatinate (December, 1562). After careful examination it was approved. The first edition, whose full title is given above, appeared in 1563. The preface is dated January 19 of that year, and runs in the name of the elector Frederick, who probably wrote it. A Latin version appeared in the same year, translated by Johannes Lagus and Lambertus Pithopeus. The German version is the authentic standard. Two other editions of the German version appeared in 1563. What is now the eightieth question (What difference is there between the Lord's Supper and the Roman Mass?) is not to be found an the first edition; part of it appears in the second edition; and in the third, of 1563 — it is given in full as follows: "What difference is there between the Lord's Supper and the Popish Mass? The Lord's Supper testifies to us that we have full forgiveness of all our sins by the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself has once accomplished on the cross; and that by the Holy Ghost we are engrafted into Christ, who with his true body is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father, and is to be there worshipped. But the Mass teaches that the living and the dead have not forgiveness of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is still daily offered for them by the priest; and that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and is therefore to be worshipped in them. (And thus the Mass at bottom is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and passion of Christ, and an accursed idolatry.)" The occasion for the introduction of this eightieth question appears to have been the decree of the Council of Trent "touching the sacrifice of the Mass," Sept. 17, 1562. This declaration, and the anathemas pronounced at Trent against the Protestant doctrine of the sacraments, had not time to produce their effect before the issue of the first edition of the Catechism. But the elector soon saw the necessity for a strong and clear declaration on the Protestant side, and such a declaration is furnished in this eightieth question, which was added to the Catechism in 1563. The first edition of 1563 was for a long time lost; that given by Niemeyer (Collectio Confessionum, p. 390) is the third of that year. But in 1864 pastor Wolters found a copy and reprinted it, with a history of the text (Der Heidelb. Katechismus in seiner ursprüzglichen Gestalt, Bonn, 1864, sm. 8vo), which cleared up all doubt as to the various editions of 1563. In 1866 professor Schaff published a very valuable edition, revised after the first edition of 1563, with an excellent history of the Catechism (Der Heidelb. Kat. nach d. ersten Ausgabe von 1563 revidirt, Philad. 18mo). — Other editions appeared in 1571 and 1573, and in this last the questions are divided, as now, into lessons for fifty-two Sundays, and the questions are numbered. An abstract of the Catechism appeared in 1585. The larger Catechism has since been republished by millions; no book, perhaps, has gone through more editions, except the Bible, Bunyan's Pilgrim, and Kempis. It has been translated into nearly every spoken language. It was, of course, at once used throughout the Palatinate by command of the elector. But it soon spread abroad wherever the Reformed Church had found footing, especially in North Germany and parts of Switzerland. It was early received in the Netherlands, and formally adopted at the Synod of Dort, 1618. Long and bitter controversies with Roman Catholics and Lutherans on the Catechism only endeared it the more to the Reformed. It is to this day an authoritative confession for the Reformed churches (German and Dutch). The (Dutch) Reformed Church directs all her ministers to explain the Catechism regularly before the congregations on the Sabbath day.
II. Contents. The Catechism, in its present form, consists of 129 questions and answers. It is divided into three parts:
1. Of the misery of man.
2. Of the redemption of man.
3. Of the gratitude due from man (duties, etc.).
The arrangement of the matter is admirable, looking not simply to logical order, but also to practical edification. The book is not simply dogmatic, but devotional. It assumes that all who use it are Christians, and is thus not adapted for missionary work. As to the theology taught by the book, it is, in the main, that of pure evangelical Protestantism. On the doctrine of predestination it is so reticent that it was opposed, on the one hand, by the Synod of Dort, the most extreme Calvinistic body perhaps ever assembled, and, on the other (though not without qualification), by James Arminius, the greatest of all the opponents of Calvinism. On the nature of the sacraments the Catechism is Calvinistic, as opposed to the Lutheran doctrine. Dr. Heppe (deutscher Protestantismus, 1, 443 sq.) goes too far in asserting that the Catechism is thoroughly Melancthonian, and in no sense Calvinistic. Sudhoff answers this in his article in Herzog's Real- Encyklopadie, 5, 658 sq.; but he himself goes too far, on the other side, in finding that the Calvinistic theory of predestination, though not expressly stated, is implied and involved in the view of Sin and grace set forth in the Catechism (see Gerhart's article in the Tercentenary Monument, p. 387 sq., and also his statement in this Cyclopaedia, 3, 827). Olevianus, it will be remembered, was educated under the influence of Calvin; Ursinus under that of Melancthon. Dr. Schaff remarks judiciously that "the Catechism is a true expression of the convictions of its authors; but it communicates only so much of these as is in harmony with the public faith of the Church, and observes a certain reticence or reservation and moderation on such doctrines (as the twofold predestination), which belong rather to scientific theology and private conviction than to a public Church confession and the instruction of youth" (American Presb. Review, July, 1863, p. 371).
Literature. — The 300th anniversary of the formation and adoption of the Heidelberg Catechism was celebrated in 1863 both in Europe and America. One of the permanent fruits of this celebration was the publication of The Heidelberg Catechism, Tercentenary Edition (New York, 1863, sm. 4to). This noble volume gives a comprehensive Introduction (by Dr. Nevin), and a critical edition of the Catechism in four texts Old German, Latin, Modern German, and English-printed in parallel columns. The Introduction gives an admirable account of the literature and history of the Catechism. The text used is that given by Niemeyer, and not that of the first edition of 1563, which, as has been stated above, was reprinted in 1864. See also Dr. Schaff as edition cited above, and an article by him in the American Presbyterian Review for 1863. The Latin text (with the German of the 3rd ed. of 1563) is given in Niemeyer, Collectio Confessionum, p. 390 sq.; also in an edition by Dr. Steiner, Catechesis Religionis Christianae seu Catechismus Heidelbergensis (Baltimore, 1862). Another valuable fruit of the anniversary is The Tercentenary Monument (Chambersburg, 1863, 8vo), containing twenty essays by eminent Reformed theologians of Germany, Holland, and America, on the Catechism, its origin, history, its special relations to the German Reformed Church, and cognate subjects. For the older literary history, see Alting, Historia Ecclesiae Palatinae (Frankf. 1701); Struve, Pfilzische Kirchenhistorie (Frankfort, 1721); Mundt, Grundriss der pfalzischen Kirchengeschichte bis 1742 (Heidelb. 1798); Kocher, Katechetische Geschichte der Reformirten Kirche (Jena, 1756); Planck, Geschichte d. prot. Theologie, 2, 2,. 475-491; Van Alpen, Geschichte u. Litteratur d. Heidelb. Katechismus (Frankf. 1800); Augusti, Einleitung in die beiden Haupt-Katechismen d. Evang. Kirche (Elberf. 1824); Ersch und Gruber's A11. Encykl. 2, 4. 386 sq.; Nevin, Hist. and Genius of the Heidelberg Catechism (Chambersburg, 1847); Sudhoff, Theologisches Handbuch zur Auslegung d. Heidelb. Kat. (Frankf. 1862). An elaborate article on the literature of the Catechism, by Dr. Harbaugh, is given in the Mercersburg Review, October, 1860. A copious list of writers on the Catechism (covering twelve pages) is given at the end of Bethune, Expository Lectures on the Heidelberg Catechism (N. York, Sheldon and Co., 2 vols. 12mo), an admirable practical commentary, with a valuable historical introduction. Among the older commentators are Ursinus, Explicationes Catechesis Palatinae (Opera, 1612, vol. — 1); Ursinus, Apologia Catechismi Palatinae (Opera, vol. 2). Translations-- Ursinus, The Summe of Christian Religion, lectures on the Catechism, transl. by H. Parrie (Lond. 1617 4to). The best transl. of Ursinus's Commentary is that of the Rev. G.W. Williard (Columbus, 1852, 8vo, 2nd ed.), with Introduction by Dr. J. W. Nevin. See also Cocceius, Heid. Cat. explicata et illustrata (Lugd. Bat. 1671, Amst. 1673); Driesseln. Ad Cct. Heid. Malnuductio (Gron. 1724, 4to), Kemp. Fifty-three Sermons on the Heidelberg Catechism, trans. by Van Harlingen (New Brunswick, N. J., 1810, 8vo). For the views of the early Dutch Arminians on the Catechism, see Considerationes Remonstrantinum in Cat. Heidelb. (in Act. et Script. Synod. Harderwlyk, 1620). See also Wolters, Zur Urgeschichte d. Heidelb. Kat., in Stud. u. Krit. 1867, Heft 1; Trechsel, in Stud. u. Krit. 1867, Heft 3; Plitt, Stud. u. Krit. 1863, Heft 1: Mercersburg Review, October, 1860.
From: Cyclopedia Of Biblical, Theological And Ecclesiastical Literature, by James Strong & John McClintock

A pastor’s plea to not sit on the sidelines and hope this horrific genocide of the unborn works itself out

Actively engaged in the abortion battle

ABORTION | A pastor’s plea to not sit on the sidelines and hope this horrific genocide of the unborn works itself out

Jan. 22 will be the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Our Saturday Series this month will have sermons and articles related to abortion. To start the month off, here is an excerpt from a sermon preached by Matt Chandler last year on the day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Chandler is the lead pastor of teaching at The Village Church in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and president of the Acts 29 Network of churches. —Marvin Olasky
If you’re a young woman in here, or maybe an older woman—I didn’t say old; I said older woman—and you were pregnant in your first or second trimester, and you were driving toward the abortion clinic to have an abortion, and on the way to the abortion clinic you were hit by a drunk driver, that person is charged with involuntary manslaughter of your baby. But if you make it to the clinic, the doctor in the clinic is legally allowed to take a vacuum pump and rip that baby to shreds in your womb.
This is a seared conscience. This is madness, and this is the air we breathe as a society and a culture. So what are we to do? I think looking back on history there are these moments in time that I’m so baffled by why more people weren’t in the fight. Several years ago I was preaching out of the book of Colossians. We got to that part near the end of Colossians—Chapter 3, I believe—where he begins to say, “Slaves, be obedient to your masters.”  Follow link for rest of the article.