Why the Reformation Still Matters – Because of the Holy Spirit

why-reformation-matters-reeves-2016One of the books we are making our way through this year of remembering the Reformation (500th anniversary!) is Why the Reformation Still Matters, co-authored by Michael Reeves and Tim Chester (Crossway, 2016).

Each chapter touches on a significant doctrine rediscovered by the Reformers, showing why the return to that particular truth was important for that time and why it is still important for the church today. I have been pleased with and profited by each chapter so far.

The next chapter I read last night is Chapter 7, which treats the Reformation’s rediscovered doctrine of the Holy Spirit under the title, “The Spirit: Can We Truly Know God?” With ample quotes from the magisterial Reformers, the authors show just how significant the truth concerning the Third Person of the Holy Trinity was for that time – and still is.

Here is just a sample of what they say:

Deep heart metamorphosis instead of superficial behavioral change, personal communion with God instead of abstract blessing, and joy-inducing assurance: these were some of the vital benefits of the Reformers’ theology of the Holy Spirit.

But in fact the Reformers’ view of the Spirit really permeated everything they fought for. If he is the giver of life, then salvation must be by grace alone. If he, the Spirit of adoption, freely unites to Christ, salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone – and must be about knowing God with the security of the Son. In fact Calvin showed that the Spirit even keeps us from placing any other authority over that of Scripture, so protecting the principle of Scripture alone. We believe Scripture, he argued, not finally because the church tells us to or because intelligent men persuade us that we can, but because the Spirit opens our eyes and witnesses to us that Scripture is indeed God’s own Word.

Then after quoting Calvin on that point, the authors state this:

The fact that the Spirit is found in every doctrine the Reformers fought for should not be surprising. All the life-giving truths of the Reformation are life-giving because they are to do with him, the giver of life. [pp.140-41]

One more quotation I must share is this little gem from William Tyndale about the Spirit and the fruit He produces in believers – appropriate for the summer season:

Where the Spirit is, there it is always summer, and there are always good fruits, that is to say, good works.

*Nota bene: This book is still available for review if there are interested parties.

How to get our boys to read – Reformed Perspective

This short article appeared last month (July 14, 2017) on the digital version of Reformed Perspective and was written by editor Jon Dykstra.

Though brief, the article is worth your time, especially if you have boys who may not be interested in reading, or are interested in reading the kind of “potty humor” books referred to here. Dykstra calls us to aim higher with our sons and grandsons, and I couldn’t agree more.

Below is the beginning of the article; find the rest at the link below.

And if you are looking for some good ideas for children’s lit or for adult lit, check out the related site Really Good Reads for reviews and recommendations from a Christian perspective.

In a 2010 Wall Street Journal article, Thomas Spence argues that the way some “experts” were trying to encourage boys to read was all wrong. Their strategy involved pitching boys books like Goosebumps, Sir Fartsalot, Captain Underpants and The Day My Butt Went Psycho. If we want boys to read, so this line of thinking goes, then let’s give them the potty humor they adore. That’ll make them readers, right?

It might get some reading, but what it won’t do is give them any of the benefits that come from reading good books. Thomas Spence insists that instead of “meeting [boys] where they are at” we need to aim higher, and he quotes C.S. Lewis:

“The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting, and hateful.”

If we point our sons to what’s disgusting and encourage their interest, how can we expect them to learn and appreciate what is good? How can our boys become men if, instead of training them up in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6), we reinforce their childishness? Instead of the gross, we need to fill our shelves with what’s great. We need to give our boys examples to aspire to, in books like Encyclopedia Brown, Saint George and the Dragon, The Green Ember, The Hobbit, Journey Through the Night, and Wambu: The Chieftain’s Son.

Of course, it’s one thing to stock our shelves, and another to get our boys to pull books off of them. How do we get them reading?

Two tips: start early, and get rid of the distractions.

Source: How to get our boys to read – Reformed Perspective

Published in: on August 16, 2017 at 7:06 AM  Leave a Comment  

Your Mind and the Quest for Holiness – J. Stott

mind-matters-stottThere is, however, a second kind of mental discipline to which we are summoned in the New Testament. We are to consider not only what we should be but what by God’s grace we already are. We are constantly to recall what God has done for us and say to ourselves: ‘God has united me with Christ in his death and resurrection, and thus obliterated my old life and given me an entirely new life in Christ. He has adopted me into his family and made me his child. He has put his Holy Spirit within me and so made my body his temple. He has also made me his heir and promised me an eternal destiny with him in heaven. This is what he has done for me and in me. This is what I am in Christ.’

Paul keeps urging us to call these things to mind. ‘I want you to know,’ he writes. ‘I don’t want you to be ignorant.’ And some ten times in his letters to the Romans and Corinthians he utters his incredulous question, ‘Don’t you know?’ Don’t you know that by being baptized into Christ you were baptized into his death? Don’t you know that you were the slaves of the one to whom you have yielded yourselves in obedience? Don’t you know that you are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Don’t you know that your bodies are members of Christ?

The apostle’s intention in this battery of questions is not just to make us feel ashamed of our ignorance. It is rather to prevail upon us to recall these great truths about ourselves, which in fact we know very well, and to talk to ourselves about them until their truth grips our mind and molds our character. This is not the self-confidence of Norman Vincent Peale. Peale’s way is to get us to pretend we are other than we are. Paul’s way is to remind us what we truly are, because God has made us that way in Christ.

Taken from Your Mind Matters: The Place of the Mind in the Christian Life (Inter-Varsity Press, 1972) by John R. W. Stott. Specifically, this is drawn from Chap.3, “The Mind in the Christian Life” and the section “The Quest for Holiness,” where Stott points us to the significant role of the Christian’s mind in his sanctification (pp.41-42).

A Little Book for New (All) Theologians – K. Kapic

little-book-theologians-kapicA small and brief book I found in a local Thrift store recently is Kelly M. Kapic’s A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology (IVP Academic, 2012).

I decided to put it into the seminary library, then took it home to read a bit in it this weekend. I read a couple of chapters and found it interesting and informative. Kapic is professor of theological studies at Covenant College (PCA) in Lookout Mountain, GA. The publisher gives this overview of the book on its website:

Whenever we read, think, hear or say anything about God, we are doing theology. Yet theology isn’t just a matter of what we think. It affects who we are.

In the tradition of Helmut Thielicke’s A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, Kelly Kapic offers a concise introduction to the study of theology for newcomers to the field. He highlights the value and importance of theological study and explains its unique nature as a serious discipline.

Not only concerned with content and method, Kapic explores the skills, attitudes and spiritual practices needed by those who take up the discipline. This brief, clear and lively primer draws out the relevance of theology for Christian life, worship, mission, witness and more.

“Theology is about life,” writes Kapic. “It is not a conversation our souls can afford to avoid.”

Today I give you a few samples from the book for your profit. I see this book as useful not only to those new to theology but also to those who want to be reminded of the significant place theology ought to have in our lives even as mature Christians. Read on and then pick up some good theology to read!

Theological questions surround our lives, whether we know it or not. A wife and husband facing infertility inevitably struggle through deep theological questions, whether or not they want to voice them. College students working through issues of identity, culture, politics and ethics struggle – in one way or another – with theological convictions and how to live them. Our concepts about the divine inform our lives more deeply than most people can trace. Whether we view God as distant or near, as gracious or capricious, as concerned or apathetic, the conclusions we reach – whether the result of careful reflection or negligent assumptions – guide our lives.

Keep in mind that Kapic is talking generally about the role of theology in that paragraph. But he goes on to say,

Christians must care deeply about theology. If the true God is renewing our lives and calling us to worship him ‘in spirit and truth’ (Jn.4:24), then such worship includes our thoughts, words, affections and actions. Do we want to worship Yahweh or waste time and effort on a deity we have constructed in our own image? [p.16]

A little later he adds:

Theological reflection is a way of examining our praise, prayers, words and worship with the goal of making sure they conform to God alone. Every age has its own idols, its own distortions that twist and pervert how we view God, ourselves and the world. …We aim not to escape our cultures, however, but to recognize that God calls us to respond faithfully to him in our place and time, whatever our particular social and philosophical climate. We, not just our ancestors, are invited to know and love God – and thus to worship him. [p.18]

Perhaps we can return to more of Kapic’s thoughts in the future. For now, that’s it for this Monday morning.

Worship of God Alone through Christ Alone

The August 2017 issue of the Standard Bearer is now available, and in it Prof. R. Cammenga (PRC Seminary) continues his exposition of the Second Helvetic Confession (written by Reformer Heinrich Bullinger) with treatment of chapter 5a, where the creed sets forth the Protestant Christian truth concerning worship through Christ alone as the saints’ only Mediator.

SB-Aug-2017

On this August 13 Lord’s Day we quote a portion of this confession and Prof. Cammenga’s exposition, as relevant for us today as when it was composed (1562/64).

Christ Alone

God alone is to be invoked through the mediation of Christ alone. In all crises and trials of our life we call upon him alone, and that by the mediation of our only mediator and intercessor, Jesus Christ. For we have been explicitly commanded, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Ps. 50:15). Moreover, we have a most generous promise from the Lord Who said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he will give it you” (John 16:23), and, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). And since it is written, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” (Rom. 10:4), and since we do believe in God alone, we assuredly call upon him alone, and we do so through Christ. For as the apostle says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5), “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1).

God alone is to be worshipped. But God is to be worshipped through the only Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ alone is the Mediator: solus Christus. Only in the name of and through the Lord Jesus Christ may men approach God in worship. All worship of God apart from Jesus Christ, all worship of God while invoking other mediators, be they saints, angels, or the virgin Mary, is damnable worship.

God alone through Christ alone—that was the gospel of the Reformation. And that is the gospel for all time and in every age and among all peoples. This is the distinctiveness of the Christian faith. This is the reason on account of which Christianity that is true to Christ cannot accommodate the false religions. The gospel is never Christ and, but is always Christ alone. Christ is the Way to the Father, and there is no other way to the Father. Christ is the way to the Father because He alone is the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is “our only mediator and intercessor” with the triune God. He alone is our “advocate with the Father.”

May our worship of the heavenly Father this day reflect this part of confession as Protestant Christians. May we seek the one true God through His only Mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ.

You may find the Second Helvetic Confession in ebook form on Monergism’s website here.

The Cub’s Way: Game 1 of the 2016 World Series

Cubs-way-Verducci-2017Yes, I am reliving last year’s Chicago Cubs’ World Series-winning season. Especially through the summer baseball book I am reading this year: Tom Verducci’s The Cubs Way; The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse (New York: Crown Archetype, 2017).

It has been a great read so far (I’m about halfway through it), and there are so many quotations from the book I would love to share. But I am going to limit myself to the chapters that treat the actual 2016 World Series’ games between the Cleveland Indians (American League champions) and the Cubs.

So we start with Game 1 (Chapter 4), titled “Game 1,” and which focuses especially on the return of injured Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber, who had torn his ACL in only the fourth game of the season. But I quote Verducci toward the end of this chapter, where he sets the stage for the Cubs’ loss against Indians’ ace Corey Kluber (6-0). here are a couple of gems:

So this is how Maddon would begin the World Series for the Cubs, their first World Series game in 71 years: with a rightfielder making only his 19th start at that position all year, his $184 million left-handed-hitting rightfielder benched against a right-handed pitcher, not talking to a pitcher who has a mental block throwing to bases [Jon Lester, the Cubs’ starting pitcher] facing a team that led the American League in stolen bases, and a designated hitter who was seeing major league pitching for the first time in 201 days. What could possibly go wrong? [p.72]

The Cubs has no chance against Kluber. None. He was that good. They lost 6-0.

Three men iced down after the game: Lester, the losing pitcher; Kluber; and Larry Vanover, the home plate umpire who practically strained a right rotator cuff calling strikes [p.73].

But Maddon, ever the upbeat manager, was still optimistic. He knew the Cubs had just faced Cleveland’s best pitcher (they would two more times yet in the series), and Kyle S had had four great at-bats – a walk, a double, and nearly a home run. Though down, things were looking up for the Cubs. Game 2 next time!

Published in: on August 11, 2017 at 7:31 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Reformation and Women – Book Feature

As we continue to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this year (1517-2017), we have been taking a glimpse at some of the new books being written and published in commemoration.

Many of these paint a broad picture of God’s reformation of the church and of Protestantism, covering its various movements and branches. Others focus on the main characters of the great Reformation – Luther, Calvin, Knox, and others of particular significance.

Not to be forgotten are the women who played an important role in this mighty reformatory event. For God, as He has throughout the history of His church, used many women – of high degree and low degree (humanly speaking) – to turn His people back to His Word during the 16th century.

And there are several old and new books that highlight the role that women played in the great Reformation. Today let’s feature some of them, so that the ladies, as well as the men, may profit from God’s work through His queens and nuns.

Reformation-Women-VanDoodewaard-2017A brand new one recently published is Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity’s Rebirth , written by Rebecca VanDoodewaard and published by Reformation Heritage Books (2017). Here is some detail on this title as found on the publisher’s website:

Women are an essential element in church history. Just as Deborah, Esther, and the New Testament Marys helped shape Bible history, so the women of the Reformed church have helped to make its history great. In Reformation Women, Rebecca Vandoodewaard introduces readers to twelve sixteenth-century women who are not as well known today as contemporaries like Katie Luther and Lady Jane Grey. Providing an example to Christians today of strong service to Christ and His church, these influential, godly women were devoted to Reformation truth, in many cases provided support for their husbands, practiced hospitality, and stewarded their intellectual abilities. Their strength and bravery will inspire you, and your understanding of church history will become richer as you learn how God used them to further the Reformation through their work and influence.

 

Table of Contents:

  1. Anna Reinhard
  2. Anna Adlischweiler
  3. Katharina Schutz
  4. Margarethe Blaurer
  5. Marguerite de Navarre
  6. Jeanne d’Albret
  7. Charlotte Arbaleste
  8. Charlotte de Bourbon
  9. Louise de Coligny
  10. Catherine Willoughby
  11. Renee of Ferrara
  12. Olympia Morata

Conclusion

Appendices

Timeline

French family tree

Dutch family tree

British family tree

Bucer’s letters to Margarethe Blaurer

Mrs-Luther-Wilson-2016Another new title is Mrs. Luther and Her Sisters: Women of the Reformation by Derek Wilson (Lion Hudson, 2016). From the publisher comes this introduction:

It is a frequent complaint that women have been airbrushed out of history, their contributions forgotten, their voices silenced. In this superbly written book, historian Derek Wilson redresses the balance, showing how women were crucial to the Reformation. Working alongside men and sometimes in opposition to them women were able to study, to speak, to write, to struggle and even to die for what they believed, and to leave behind a record of all these achievements. From Catharina Luther, through English martyr Anne Askew to Elizabeth I and onwards out into Europe this book reveals the rich threads women brought to the tapestry of history.

On Reformation Heritage’s website you also find two more titles that broadly treat women of the Reformation. One is an older work that has been reprinted by Solid Ground Christian Books – Famous Women of the Reformed Church by James I. Good. About this work we find the following:

The wives of the Reformers are an interesting study and have been an important element in the history of the Reformed Church. They received greatness from their husbands, and impart gentleness and beauty in return. Just as Deborah and Esther, with the Mary’s of the New Testament, aided in making up Bible history, so the women of the Reformed Church have helped make her history great. It is hoped that the lives of these Reformed saints will stimulate the women of our Church to greater interest in our splendid Church history, to greater activity in missions and the practical work of the Church. Some of the women considered are Anna Reinhard, Zwingli’s wife; Idelette D’Bures, Calvin’s wife; Anna Bullinger, Henry’s wife; Queen Margaret of Navarre and many others.

Table of Contents:

Part I: Women of the Reformation

1. Switzerland

Anna Reinhard, Zwingli’s Wife

Calvin’s Wife, Idelette D’Bures

Anna Bullinger

2. Germany

Catherine Zell

Margaret Blaarer

3. France

Queen Margaret of Navarre

Queen Jeanne D’Albert of Navarre

Charlotte D’Mornay

Phillipine De Luns

Charlotte D’Bourbon, Princess of Orange

Louisa De Coligny, Princess of Orange

4. Italy

Duchess Renee of Este

Olympia Morata

Part II: Women of the Seventeenth Century

1. Germany

Electress Elizabeth of the Palatinate

Electress Louisa Juliana of the Palatinate

Landgravine Amalie Elizabeth of Hesse Cassel

Countess Ursula of Hadamer

Countess Gertrude of Bentheim

Duchess Catharine Charlotte of Palatinate-Neuberg

Princess Elizabeth of the Palatinate

Electress Louisa Henrietta of Brandenburg

2. Women of Other Lands

Countess Susan Rakoczy of Hungary

The Women of the Tower of Constance

3. Women of Switzerland

Anna Lavater

Anna Schaltter and Meta Heusser Schweitzer

4. Women of America

Mrs. Thomas C. Doremus

In the same vein is this reprinted work: Ladies of the Reformation by J. H. Alexander (Westminster Discount), about which RHB says:

Throughout the history of the church of God there has been a succession of women who have been shining examples in their life and witness.

Read the story of brave Sibylla of Cleves who defied the emperor Charles V and Katherine the Heroic who held the terrible Duke of Alva at bay in her own castle. Also retold are the stories of four Reformers’ wives Anna (Zwingli), Katherine (Luther), Idelette (Calvin), & Marjorie (Knox).

The renowned author of “More Than Notion” and “From Darkness to Light”, J. H. Alexander writes the poignant stories of several outstanding ladies of this era.

five-women-english-reformation-zahlAnother broader title with narrower focus is Five Women of the English Reformation, penned by Paul F. M. Zahl (Eerdmans, 2001). The publisher includes this brief description on its website:

Books on the history of the Reformation are filled with the heroic struggles and sacrifices of men. This compelling book by Paul Zahl puts the spotlight on five women — Anne Boleyn, Katharine Parr, Jane Grey, Anne Askew, and Catherine Willoughby — who were themselves powerful theologians and who paid the cost of their reforming convictions with martyrdom, imprisonment, and exile.

As enjoyable to read as its subject matter is fascinating, this book not only portrays important women in church history but also has much to say about the relation of gender to theology, human motivation, and God. An epilogue by Mary Zahl contributes a woman’s view of these remarkable Christian women.

Titles on individual women of the Reformation include the following:

Katherine_ParrKatherine Parr: A Guided Tour of the Life and Thought of a Reformation Queen byBrandon G. Withrow (P&R, 2009). Concerning this work the publishers states:

This book examines the life of an important, but often forgotten, Protestant Reformer. Katherine Parr, one of only a handful of women to publish in a hundred-year period in England, dared to push Henry VIII toward the Reformation, nearly losing her head as a result. This volume is a guided tour of her life, her contributions to the Reformation, and her writings. Including the full text of her two books as well as select letters, Katherine Parr presents both an intimate portrait of a woman struggling to make a difference, and a reintroduction of a classic text to the contemporary church.

Katharina-Luther-2017Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk by Michelle DeRusha (Baker Books, 2017). About this title the publisher provides this information:

Their revolutionary marriage was arguably one of the most scandalous and intriguing in history. Yet five centuries later we still know little about Martin and Katharina Luther’s life as husband and wife. Until now.

Against all odds, the unlikely union of a runaway nun and a renegade monk worked, over time blossoming into the most tender of love stories. This unique biography tells the riveting story of two remarkable people and their extraordinary relationship, offering refreshing insights into Christian history and illuminating the Luthers’ profound impact on the institution of marriage, the effects of which still reverberate today.

Together, this legendary couple experienced joy and grief, triumph and travail. This book brings their private lives and their love story into the spotlight and offers powerful insights into our own twenty-first-century understanding of marriage.

I will stop here for today, but an Internet search on the Christian publishing sites will yield plenty of other good things to read. Be sure to include some reading on the women of the Reformation this year!

By the way, all of these titles are in the PRC Seminary library, and some can be found for sale in our Seminary bookstore. 🙂

Published in: on August 10, 2017 at 7:33 AM  Leave a Comment  

Becoming part of the “bigger story” – A. McGrath

Lunch-with-Lewis-McGrathLewis deftly shows how the stories of the individual children – particularly Lucy, who is in many ways the central human character of the series [Chronicles of Narnia] – become shaped by the story of Aslan. Lucy’s love for Aslan is expressed in her commitment to him. She wants to do what he wants; she wants her story to reflect who he is. As a result, Lewis speaks of Lucy feeling ‘lion-strength’ flowing within her. She has become part of the story of Aslan. But – and this is a hugely important ‘but’ – she has not lost her own identity. Her story remains her own. However, her story now makes more sense because Lucy has gained a sense of value and meaning. By embracing the story of Aslan as central to her story, she has gained a new sense of identity and purpose.

This McGrath further explains biblically in the next paragraph:

Lewis here develops a New Testament theme which has a long history of exploration within the Christian faith. It is stated with particular clarity in Paul’s letter to the Galatians: ‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:19-20). Faith involves putting to death the old self and rising to a new life. We do not lose our individuality; rather, we gain a new identity while still remaining individuals who are loved by God. In other words, we become new individuals without ceasing to be individuals.

And then he shows again how this works out in the Narnia series:

Lewis reworks this theme in his Chronicles of Narnia. …Lucy and the other children realise there is a ‘bigger story,’ and long to become part of it. And they die to themselves, in that they relocate and recontextualise their own stories within this ‘grand narrative.’ They die to themselves, and live for Aslan. They surrender a self-centred story, and replace it with an Aslan-centred story. This not only makes more sense of things, it also gives them purpose, value, and meaning.

Taken from If I Had Lunch With C.S. Lewis: Exploring the Ideas of C.S. Lewis by Alistair McGrath (Tyndale, 2014), a Kindle book I am continuing to read this summer. This is part of chapter 3, “A Story-Shaped World,” where McGrath treats “C.S. Lewis and the Importance of Stories.”

At the beginning of this chapter the author quotes Lewis in The Horse and His Boy: “Child,” said the Voice [of Aslan], ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

Published in: on August 9, 2017 at 7:23 AM  Leave a Comment  

Giving an Answer – August “Tabletalk”

The August issue of Tabletalk (Ligonier Ministries’ monthly devotional magazine) uses 1 Peter 3:15 as the basis for its focus on Christians’ calling to be faithful witnesses to and apologists of the gospel of our Lord.

You will remember how that text calls us to this:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

And so the theme of this issue is “Giving an Answer.” Editor Burk Parsons introduces the theme with his article “Searching for Truth.”

The ten featured articles respond to questions often raised by questioners in the world today: Is the Bible the Word of God?, Does God Care?, Is There Only One Way of Salvation?, Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?, to give you but a few.

The opening article is by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, and it answers the question “Is There a God?” Here is part of his excellent answer:

➝ 1 God the Creator is the only solution to Gottfried Leibniz’s and Martin Heidegger’s ultimate riddle: “Why is there something there, and not nothing?”

Ex nihilo nihil fit—“Nothing comes from nothing.” Let us note that nothing is not a “pre-something”; it is not “something reduced to a minimum.” Nothing is NO thing, no THING. Nothing—a concept impossible for the mind to comprehend precisely because nothing lacks “reality” in the first place. To transform Rene Descartes’; famous dictum Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am) we can say, Quod cogito, non cogito de nihilo (Because I am, I cannot conceive of nothing). That leads to another Descartes-esque thought: Quod cogito, ergo non possibile Deus non est (Because I think, therefore it is impossible that God does not exist). The cosmos, my existence, and my ability to reason all depend on the fact that life did not and could not come from nothing, but requires a reasonable and reasoning origin. The contrary (time + chance = reality) is impossible. Neither time nor chance is a pre-cosmic phenomenon.

➝ 2 This God must be the biblical God, for two reasons. The first is that only such a God adequately grounds the physical coherence of the cosmos as we know it. Second, His existence is the only coherent basis, whether acknowledged or otherwise, for rational thought and communication. Consequently, the nonbeliever of necessity must draw on, borrow from, indeed intellectually steal from a biblical foundation in order to think coherently and to live sanely. Thus, the secular humanist who argues that there are no ultimates must borrow from biblical premises in order to assess anything as in itself right or wrong.

Source: Is There a God? by Sinclair Ferguson

Browse around on the Tabletalk page at the Ligonier site and benefit from the variety of articles found there on our calling to “give an answer” to those with questions around us – even the atheists and skeptics.

O, and the daily devotions this month are on the Reformers’ doctrine of the church! Tolle Lege!

Who Speaks in the Psalms? – R. Godfrey

Learning-love-psalms-Godfrey-2017I am enjoying reading through the brief but packed chapters of W. Robert Godfrey’s new book Learning to Love the Psalms (Reformation Trust, 2017).

In chapter 5 he asks and answers the question, Who are the speakers in the Psalms? In other words, who are the subjects of these powerful, passionate songs and poems?

This is how he answers, in short form:

  1. David the king – the preeminent psalmist, as the “sweet psalmist of Israel”
  2. Israel as the people of God – David not only speaks to them but for them.
  3. Christians – the NT Israel of God, the church.
  4. Jesus the King – in whom Israel’s kingship and this songbook is fulfilled

It is that last point that Godfrey takes pains to demonstrate, from Jesus’ own words and the gospel records, as well as from the NT epistles, especially Hebrews.

Here is how he states it at the beginning of that section:

We should conclude that the Psalms are not only for the king, for Israel, and for the church, but that all the Psalms are also the songs of our great King, Jesus the Christ. David’s kingship and kingdom pointed forward to the coming of Christ and are fulfilled in Him. Jesus Himself declared that the Psalms are about Him: ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled’ (Luke 24:44). Throughout our study, we will see over and over again how Christ fills and fulfills the Psalter [p.23].

A bit further in this chapter, after showing how the NT book of Hebrews teaches the truth of this, the author says,

The example of the book of Hebrews encourages us to see all the Psalms as the words of Jesus, both as He is the divine King and Savior of His people and as He is their human king and representative. Here is the way we must read the Psalms. Jesus’ connection to and love of the Psalter should surely inspire ours.

This approach does not separate the Psalms from their origin in the history of Israel or from the experience of God’s people. Rather, it reminds us that all of Israel’s history pointed to and is fulfilled in Christ and that all of the experiences of God’s people are taken up and sanctified in Christ. Israel’s history is our history as the people of God. As the people of God, we can sing the Psalms and enter into every element of them because we are in Christ [pp.27-28].