Living Joyfully in Marriage — A Review

Living-joyfully-marriage-SKey-2022A new publication of the Reformed Free Publishing Association is the title Living Joyfully in Marriage: Reflecting the Relationship of Christ and the Church by Rev. Steven Key, pastor of Loveland Protestant Reformed Church (PRC) in Loveland, CO.

Last week Friday (June 24) the RFPA published a review of the book by Rev. J. Marcus, new pastor of Peace PRC in Dyer, IN. In his review, pastor Marcus not only summarizes the content of the book but also gives an evaluation of that content, using the Reformed principle of Scripture alone.

Below is a portion of that review, showing that evaluation. You are encouraged to follow the link at the end to read the retire review. And, of course, you are encouraged to obtain the book, read it, share it, and purchase it for the newlyweds in your family and/or church family.

“The strength of this book is that it takes Scripture as the ultimate authority as regards what is best for us in marriage (and all of life) and how properly to respond to difficulties in marriage. Each chapter is based on a specific Scripture text which is explained and applied as one would expect in a book based on a sermon series. In addition, the author takes into account many other Scripture passages to support the points he makes. When Scripture is taken as God’s revealed truth, we will know there was a first man and a first woman, who were tempted by a serpent, and ate of the forbidden fruit, and thus brought the wages of sin upon the whole human race. When Scripture is given its proper place, as the author does throughout the book, we will see our hope in Christ alone.

“As it is based on Scripture, the book expounds many important doctrines. For example, the unbreakable bond between Christ and the church points to the permanence of the marriage bond between husband and wife (Chapter 8). Another doctrine expressed is the sovereignty of God, which touches every aspect of marriage including whether we find a spouse or remain single (p.138), or whether or not we are fruitful and multiply (p.138). Another foundational doctrine is the fall of mankind into sin and the far-reaching effects that are passed down to us from Adam. The fall, of course, has devastating effects on the marriage relationship (p.32,47). Not only does the fall mean that we must we deal with the old man within us, we have to live in a fallen sinful world that affects us (p.10). The doctrine of Christ’s saving work for us and in us as well as the covenant fellowship into which God has brought us figures large throughout the book as earthly marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church. As God’s children we have been “redeemed and sanctified and brought under the dominion of Christ and his word” (p.5). Christ’s atoning sacrifice “is what it took to cleanse us and to clothe us with the white robes of righteousness, the glorious garments of Christ’s bride” (p.108). These are just a few of the doctrines taught and implied throughout the pages of this book.

“Flowing from its doctrinal footing, the author makes many practical applications. These applications include advice for married couples (whether newly married or married for many years), young adults who are dating, young adults who desire to be married but don’t see any prospect of marriage, widows and widowers, and every child of God in general.”

Source: Living Joyfully in Marriage — A Review – Reformed Free Publishing Association

Published in: on June 29, 2022 at 10:01 PM  Leave a Comment  

Immortality – A Divine Gift of Grace

The June 2022 issue of the Standard Bearer contains another special word study under the rubric “A Word Fitly Spoken” (taken from Prov.25:11). This time pastor J. Smidstra focuses on the word immortality, both as an attribute of the eternal God and as a gracious gift in Jesus Christ.

As we experience a foretaste of life everlasting on this Lord’s Day, it is good to think on this blessed gift of our Savior to us. It truly is at the heart of the precious gospel of sovereign grace. Below is the opening part of Rev. Smidstra’s explanation of this gospel word.

Immortality

“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Unbelieving man suppresses this knowledge. But he can never shake off the fear of death. More than anything man wants to live, and to keep living forever. Fallen man dreams of immortality. Not true immortality, but endless life after the imaginations of his heart. In every age he chases after this dream. He looks to all sorts of things to lengthen his days and deliver him from death: idol gods, a mythical fountain of youth, scientific progress. But none of these can give man the immortality for which he thirsts.

“For those whom the one true God has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, immortality is not a dream, but a gift of grace, merited by Jesus Christ, and revealed in the gospel. The true God is the living God (Ps. 42:2), who has life in Himself (John 5:26). He enjoys infinitely blessed life within Himself, life which is at heart fellowship among the divine three persons of the Trinity. As the living Triune God, He is the “King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God” (1 Tim. 1:17). Here immortality is placed alongside eternality and wisdom as an attribute of the divine essence. Jehovah is the God “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” (1 Tim. 6:16). God alone is immortal in the absolute sense. He possesses the eternal fount of His own being within Himself. The above two verses from Timothy explain what immortality really is. It is not endless existence. It is so much more! The word immortal in I Tim. 1:17 means “un-decaying,” i.e., imperishable, not liable to corruption.  In I Tim. 6:16 “immortal” is a different Greek word meaning “undying” or “deathless.” Immortality is deathlessness, the complete separation from every power of decay and corruption. Jehovah is the deathless and undying God!

“The God who only hath immortality alone can give immortality to men subject to death and decay such as we are. It is a wonder of grace that His eternal plan has been to do just that: to give His elect people to Christ, so that in the fullness of time Christ might merit for them and bestow upon them immortal life. This grace of God, “which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” has now been revealed “by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Tim. 1:9). By His atoning death and victorious resurrection, Jesus Christ “hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (II Tim. 1:10). He has abolished death, defeated it and broken its power over His people. He brought life and immortality to light when He burst from the tomb on the third day. Jesus arose with new life, life beyond death, life incapable of dying. Jesus arose with the same body as went into the grave. But He was changed and glorified. He shares with His people. This life far is better than even the life Adam and Eve had in Eden. It is the highest and most blessed life.”

Published in: on June 26, 2022 at 7:40 AM  Leave a Comment  

Worshiping in the Light | Tabletalk

1Jn-1-7

“Light is a good thing in the Bible, and darkness is never a good thing. The life of the Christian is a walk in the light. And nowhere else in the Christian life do we get a better picture of the Christian life than in corporate worship. We are called into His presence, we confess our sin, we are assured of pardon, we hear from His Word, and we respond in praise and thanksgiving. This is the Christian life in microcosm, and it is done in the light, for Christians do not walk in darkness. Corporate worship is a taste of heaven, an anticipation of the Sabbath rest we will enjoy in the glorious, radiant presence of the Lord.

“The Apostle John writes, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another” (1 John 1:7). If we are in the light, we are not there by ourselves. We are in fellowship with other believers. What’s happening at the front of the church is not the only thing that’s important—the people around us are important, too.

“The Westminster Confession of Faith notes:

All saints, that are united to Jesus Christ their head, by his Spirit, and by faith, have fellowship with him in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outer man. Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God. (WCF 26.1–2)

In the same breath, the confession states that we are in fellowship with other Christians just as surely as we are in fellowship with Christ. And we are to maintain that fellowship in the worship of God. This is the first and highest expression of our fellowship in Christ.

There is something meaningful and, indeed, edifying about seeing the faces of our fellow worshipers. We see the same people there every week, sitting in the same places. We see them singing, partaking of the sacraments, trying to keep their children quiet, flipping through their Bibles. And they see us likewise doing the same things. They are our fellow travelers. They are in this life with us, and that can be a source of great assurance.

“We hear the Word together, we partake of the sacraments together, we pray together, we confess our sins together. This is not by accident. To be called into fellowship with Christ is to be in fellowship with others. Worship is not about us individually; it is about us corporately. For one day, we will behold the face of God together, as the one body of Christ united to Him by faith.

“May God grant us the grace to walk in His light, to worship Him in Spirit and truth, and to enjoy fellowship with and worship alongside our fellow saints as we march—together—toward heaven.”

Source: Worshiping in the Light | Tabletalk

Published in: on June 19, 2022 at 7:27 AM  Leave a Comment  

Summer Reading Ideas: Tim Challies, Redeemed Reader, and More

When Chicago Ruled Baseball: The Cubs-White Sox World Series of 1906 by [Bernard A. Weisberger]Once again it is time to gather up some ideas for our summer reading. I hope your list includes some personal pleasure/interest books, as well as some good Christian titles that feed your mind and your heart.

Besides my annual summer baseball read (When Chicago Ruled Baseball by Bernard A. Weisberger – more on that in another post) and a good library read (The Vanished Library by Luciano Canfora – about the Library of Alexandria in the ancient world), I am working my way through several Christian titles, some of which I have posted about here.

Pastor-author Tim Challies recently posted some suggestions for students (college, high school, seminary), which includes a variety of subjects that should interest many. Here’s one that is significant:

You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News by Kelly Kapic. “Work. Family. Church. Exercise. Sleep. The list of demands on our time seems to be never ending. It can leave you feeling a little guilty–like you should always be doing one more thing. Rather than sharing better time-management tips to squeeze more hours out of the day, Kelly Kapic takes a different approach in You’re Only Human. He offers a better way to make peace with the fact that God didn’t create us to do it all. Kapic explores the theology behind seeing our human limitations as a gift rather than a deficiency. He lays out a path to holistic living with healthy self-understanding, life-giving relationships, and meaningful contributions to the world. He frees us from confusing our limitations with sin and instead invites us to rest in the joy and relief of knowing that God can use our limitations to foster freedom, joy, growth, and community. Readers will emerge better equipped to cultivate a life that fosters gratitude, rest, and faithful service to God.”

And for the younger crowd, Redeemed Reader always has good suggestions for children and young teens.

And, don’t forget Reformed Perspective’s book reviews and reading guides as well. How about this post about 90+ wordless books (or pure picture books for those challenged readers or just for fun!).

See the source image

Have a great reading summer!

Published in: on June 14, 2022 at 10:29 PM  Leave a Comment  

Amazed at His Free Grace

Back on May 20 this was the “Grace Gems” quote of the day. I saved it for a future post and tonight is that opportunity to do so for your benefit too. I was struck by the simple outline of this wonderful summary of salvation by God’s sovereign grace.

O stand amazed at His free grace!

(Thomas Sherman, “Divine Breathings; Or, a Pious Soul Thirsting after Christ”)

O precious saint! Three questions call for your answer:
   1. What were you?
   2. What are you?
   3. What shall you be?

1. What were you?
  Dead in your transgressions and sins,
  a rebel to your God,
  a prodigal to your Father,
  a slave to your lust,
  the devil’s captive,
  on the highway to Hell!

2. What are you?
  Redeemed by Christ,
  a royal child of God,
  the spouse of Christ,
  the temple of the Holy Spirit,
  the heir of a priceless eternal inheritance!

3. What shall you be?
  A glorious saint,
  a companion of angels,
  a triumphant victor,
  a crowned king,
  an attendant on the Lamb,
  a participant in those soul-ravishing and ineffable excellencies that are in God!
You shall behold the King of Glory face to face, and enjoy immediate communion with Jesus Christ!

Nay more, you are made one with Him:
  clothed with His excellencies,
  enthroned with His glories,
  crowned with His eternity,
  and filled with His felicity!

“No eye has seen,
 no ear has heard, and
 no mind has imagined . . .
what God has prepared for those who love Him!” 1 Corinthians 2:9

O stand amazed at His free grace–and render all the glory to God!

Published in: on June 11, 2022 at 10:00 PM  Leave a Comment  

Reigniting Our Longing to Pray Through the Lord’s Prayer

Another review book I received recently (by request) is Kevin DeYoung’s The Lord’s Prayer: Learning from Jesus on What, Why and How to Pray (Crossway, 2022). The publisher provides this summary description on its website:

“Christians know the importance of prayer, but the act of praying can be a real challenge. Some have the desire, but not always the will; others worry they don’t do it well. Books about prayer usually emphasize spiritual discipline, but that can foster more guilt than reassurance. So how can Christians improve their prayer life, embracing the privilege of communicating with God? 

“In The Lord’s Prayer, Kevin DeYoung closely examines Christ’s model for prayer, giving readers a deeper understanding of its content and meaning, and how it works in the lives of God’s people. Walking through the Lord’s Prayer word by word, DeYoung helps believers gain the conviction to develop a stronger prayer life and a sense of freedom to do so.”

And in a recent online article referencing this new title (“The Lord’s Prayer Reignites Our Desire to Want to Pray”), Crossway quotes DeYoung about how the prayer our Lord gave us as a model reignites our desire to pray:

“Over the many years that I’ve been a Christian, there are times I’ve heard sermons or talks or read books that really pound on my will and I feel like I should pray more. And that’s okay; that helps for a short time. But the better sermons and books and resources have inspired me and encouraged me. I really want to pray, and I can pray. And the best prayer—and the best means to do that—is the Lord’s Prayer.

It’s encouraging to me in that Jesus gives us a model to pray. The disciples want to know how should we be praying. It’s striking that Jesus doesn’t tell them what time of the day they should pray or how many minutes they should pray. He doesn’t give them a specific formula, but he gives them some broad points.

“He says, This is how you should pray. And at one level, the simplicity of it is an encouragement to pray and helps me want to pray because I think, I can do this by God’s grace. I can do this. Even though my prayers are always imperfect, I can pray that God’s glory would be revealed and his name would be praised. I can pray for God’s will to be done, his kingdom to come. I can pray through forgiveness and that needs are met. I can pray these sorts of things.

So, Jesus is not giving an impossibly high standard. It’s lofty, and none of us will do it perfectly, but he’s giving us something that we can do.”

There’s more there for you to read that will show you how the Lord’s Prayer encourages us to pray. Follow the link above to finish reading that article.

If you are interested in reading this short paperback and writing a brief review for the Standard Bearer, send me a note. As always, the book will be yours to keep.

Published in: on June 7, 2022 at 9:56 PM  Leave a Comment  

Keeping Sunday Special – Derek Thomas

“Having established the requirement to observe the keeping of the Lord’s Day as special in the rhythm of the Christian life, we now need to explore the manner in which this is to be done.

“First, we should be careful about dismissing the fourth commandment by the use of the word legalism.

“Christians sometimes use the word legalism as a synonym for ‘this is inconvenient.’ Knowing that compliance with the fourth commandment may cause one to alter lifestyle habits or behavior, our conscience finds temporary relief under the shade of the term legalism. When this is done, Christians are not using the term in its strict and accurate sense, which is requiring obedience for the sake of gaining favor with God or requiring obedience to man-made laws. In both of these instances, legalism is the correct word. However, it is not legalistic to require compliance with something God requires of us.

“Second, Sunday is a day for public worship. Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is holy in a way that other days are not. It is a day set apart for the public gathering of God’s people. As we saw in the previous chapter, we are urged in Hebrews not to neglect public gathering on the Lord’s Day (Heb.10:25).

“Sundays provide opportunities for worship and the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise in Matthew 18:20: ‘For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.’ There is nothing quite like the experience of the presence of Christ in our gathered worship. The Lord’s Day also provides opportunities for Sunday schools where the Bible is studied and a venue to enjoy some more informal fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ.

“Whenever we gather as a church on the Lord’s Day, we are participating in the greatest mystery and most wonderful experience that any individual or group of redeemed human beings could ever know – the experience of the unity of the body and bride of Christ with Him who was slain and rose again for sins.”

Taken from the new book by Derek W.H. Thomas, Let Us Worship: Why We Worship the Way We Do (Ligonier Ministries, 2021), pp.25-26.

Good thoughts for us as we end this week and anticipate the sabbath tomorrow. May we find God’s appointed day of rest and worship in Christ our Savior to be a delight.

I received this as a review copy. If any reader would be interested in reading this and writing a short review for the Standard Bearer, send me a note.

Published in: on June 4, 2022 at 9:23 PM  Leave a Comment