The Word of God: Complete Certainty of Its Abiding Character

And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever. ~ Isaiah 59.20–2

The words which the Father has put into the mouth of the Saviour naturally embrace every other portion of the Holy Scriptures. There is no difficulty in interpreting this passage as the whole Bible.

‘My words … shall not depart out of thy mouth’ means that their significance shall never be eroded; they will never be denuded of their power; they will never disappear off the face of the earth. Such words as were put into His mouth by the Father, which remain sufficient for our salvation and were spoken by the Saviour, are ever recorded and constantly life-giving through the Holy Spirit. With John we are assured that there are ‘many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written’ (John 21.25). But the words which shall not depart out of the Saviour’s mouth are choice words such as the Father and the Holy Spirit have selected.

The covenant our Heavenly Father made with Christ’s people and Himself must and shall eternally remain.

So it follows that the words of Scripture will never be lost sight of. One generation shall effectively pass it on to the next, always and for ever. At no time subsequent to the writing of the New Testament and its conjunction with the Old will it be lost, because it is ‘from henceforth and for ever’. Never will the Saviour’s people, His seed, be without those words.

The preservation of the Holy Scriptures is founded upon the Father’s most binding covenant with His Son and thus with His people. Reasoning which concludes that we do not now possess the entirety of God’s word to His people is fighting against God. It is a threat to the life of the believer should it be once conceded that there are doubts about its contents.

There are those who have told us for the past two hundred years that we do not yet have a definitive edition of the Word of God. They are still struggling to reconstruct the original. If their assumptions are correct, nobody has ever yet possessed the true Scriptures. The folly of imagining that faith in Christ does not possess its core document, to which everything else must be brought to the test, beggars belief.

The Father emphatically states in these verses that there never was a time and never will be a time when the inspired Word of God in its totality has not been the possession of Christian believers. No matter what the scholarship of fallen men declares, what God says goes. If there is to be a battle in our hearts between the scholarship of the cleverest of men and the declaration of God Himself we should always entrust ourselves to God.

Quoted from the article “Complete Certainty” by Pastor M. Harley in the April-June 2021 issue (#635) of the Trinitarian Bible Societies’ Quarterly Record. This issue also contains the second part of the recent work of the TBS in printing and distributing Bibles in Cuba (hence the cover picture) – a fascinating story of how God opened that door!

Published in: on June 20, 2021 at 9:31 PM  Leave a Comment  

Redeemed Reader Summer Reading Program for Children

Yesterday (June 14) Redeemed Reader launched its annual summer reading program for children, and it’s not too late to join the fun.

This year the theme is “Faith & Fortitude” (logo above) and takes off on pastor Tim Challies book Epic: An Around-the-World Journey Through Christian History, a unique story of the Christian church through historic events, places, and objects. Here’s a little description of this year’s program:

This year, more than ever, we need stories that are both mirrors (showing us ourselves) and windows (helping us understand other people). We need stories that show God at work in the world and his people persevering in their callings. We need stories that point us to Truth with a capital “T.” 

We need Jesus and the hope of the gospel amidst the tensions and turmoil in our communities.

That’s why we created Faith & Fortitude: the EPIC story of God’s People.

If you wish to get your child enrolled, visit the link above and get started while you still can. And, yes, of course, you can read and learn right alongside of your child.

Published in: on June 15, 2021 at 10:32 PM  Leave a Comment  

Working Out Our Salvation by Grace – H.Hoeksema

What then does it mean to work out our own salvation?

Salvation, as you know, is the deliverance from all evil, from the guilt and dominion of sin and corruption, and from the power of death, and the being made heirs and partakers of the highest good, namely, eternal righteousness, life, and glory in God’s heavenly kingdom through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who was delivered for our transgressions, and raised for our justification. Of this salvation the saints of Philippi and all believers are partakers. They are redeemed by the blood of Christ; they possess the forgiveness of sin; and the imputed and perfect righteousness of God in Christ; they are implanted in the Savior and partake of all His benefits by faith; they are reborn children of God; they are called out of darkness into the marvelous light of God, translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son. That is “their own salvation.”

But this salvation they must work out. They must let that gift and power of salvation serve the purpose for which it was freely bestowed upon them. They must bring that glorious gift of salvation by grace to manifestation in their whole life. In their entire walk, and that, too, in the midst of the world that lies in darkness, they must reveal themselves as those who have been delivered from the dominion of sin and liberated unto righteousness. From the principle of their new life in Christ Jesus they must live in every walk of life, representing the cause of the Son of God in the world. Thus the salvation that was wrought within them will be worked out by them. In this they are imitators of God, as dear children.

This does not mean that they must now work for the improvement of this present world, which is quite impossible. They need not and they cannot “turn the world upside down.” Nor does it mean that they must all be busy in a special sense in the work of the Lord. We do not all have to be preachers or missionaries, or bring souls to Christ, or be elder or deacon in the church, or Sunday-school teacher, in order to cause our salvation to reach its purpose and to reach the end for which it was given unto us. On the contrary, the mother in her home and in the midst of her children, the father in his place of work, whatever it may be, the clerk behind the counter, the cobbler at his bench, every one in his own position and calling, will work out his own salvation when in that calling, and with his whole soul and mind and heart and strength he serves the Lord Christ and lives through faith from the principle of the regenerated life that has been wrought in his inmost heart. To let the light that is within us shine that our Father which is in heaven may be glorified – that it is to work out our own salvation. That this is, indeed, the meaning of this exhortation is evident from what follows it: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” (verses 14, 15)

You may, perhaps, remark that there is no need for an exhortation of this kind, seeing that when God works His grace in our hearts, we will naturally and spontaneously work it out and walk in sanctification of life. And there is truth in that statement. But, in the first place, we must always remember that God deals with us as His rational and moral children, and that the working out of our salvation is, therefore, a matter of obedience to His Word. “As obedient children,” writes the apostle Peter, “not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy for I am holy.” (I Peter 1: 14-16) It is Christ Who bears fruit in us when we work out our own salvation, even as the vine bears fruit through the branches; and we have nothing to boast in ourselves. But we bear this fruit, too, with joy and delight, and enjoy the privilege of being His co-workers. Hence, the Word of God treats us as God’s free and obedient children and as such addresses us: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Besides, let us not forget that as long as we are in this life and in this world, we are in constant need of hearing this word and of being reminded of our calling, of being admonished and encouraged in the good fight of faith. For we must walk as children of light and manifest the salvation of God in the midst of a world that lies in darkness. And that is not easy for the flesh. It will cause us suffering. Even as the world hated Christ, so it will hate us, if we are only faithful in working out our own salvation. For in doing so, we must needs judge the work and condemn its unfruitful works of darkness. And then, let us not forget that we have not attained to the final perfection. We carry the salvation of God in the body of this death. The old man, the sinful flesh, is always present with us. And it is always tempting us, especially when we must suffer the reproach of Christ, rather to hide our own salvation than to work it out, and to compromise and amalgamate ourselves with the evil world. That, in fact, is the great sin of those who are called believers, saints, in our day. We are more and more putting on another yoke with the unbeliever, and it appears as if there is considerable concord between Christ and Belial. Light and darkness seem to merge into the dreary gray of the fog of worldliness, in which no one discerns the direction in which he is going. We are seeking the things below rather than those that are above. We have forgotten the words of the Lord Jesus that he that shall save his life shall lose it, but he that shall lose it shall save it unto life eternal. We are in sore need, therefore, of hearing and heeding the Word of God: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

Quoted from chapter 10, “Working Out Our Salvation by Grace,” in The Wonder of Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1944), pp.84-87.

Published in: on June 12, 2021 at 8:41 PM  Leave a Comment  

“…even what [sin] has been inscribed with an iron pen and the tip of a diamond is eternally washed away.”

The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars. (Jer.17:1)

The situation comes down to this. When your conscience accuses you of sinning against your God, you should immediately recognize that you’re dealing with the living God himself. He’s registering that sin in your conscience out of his grieving heart. A conscience unattended by the living God is nothing more than a ledger of your guilt that you simply toss into a corner and forget about. No, to have a conscience requires that you hear every thought that comes to mind about wrongdoing as the voice of the living God talking to you. The conscience only does its work effectively when in communion with God’s majesty. Then it doesn’t torment you but helps you move forward.

Remember, brothers and sisters, because God inscribes their sins on the hearts of his people with an iron pen, it’s God the Holy Spirit coming to you when your conscience is troubled. He doesn’t come in his wrath. He doesn’t come to cut you off eternally. But he comes softly and with the intent of saving you. He comes exactly at the right time to admonish you and to give you exactly what you need, This is provided by him whose blood has such unlimited power that even what has been inscribed with an iron pen and the tip of a diamond is eternally washed away. It is blotted out in the power of his love. It disappears forever because of his sacred, atoning blood.

Taken from the new translation by James A. De Jong of Abraham Kuyper’s Honey from the Rock (Lexham Press, 2018), pp.448.

This particular meditation (#32 of Volume 2) is titled “With an Iron Point!” and is based on the passage quoted at the top of this post.

Published in: on June 5, 2021 at 10:10 PM  Leave a Comment  

1st Quarter 2021 Book Additions (2) – PRC Seminary Library

In this post we finish the list of significant book acquisitions to the PRC Seminary library for the first quarter of this year year – January to March 2021. In the previous post we gave you the first sections of the list; in this one we give you the last three sections, which includes dogmatics and practical theology.

Keep in mind that these lists are not exhaustive but representative of what has been added to the library in the last few months. And, remember, that I post these lists believing that there are books here not just for seminary faculty and students, but also for the layman in the church – even for young people. And I hope you get some ideas for your own library – personal, family, and church. Browse and then take up and read – feed your mind and your soul!

Cover for 

Grace and Freedom

Dogmatics, Biblical Theology, Historical Theology

  • Synopsis Purioris Theologiae: Synopsis of a Purer Theology. Latin Text and English Translation; Volume 3, Disputations 43 –52. Harm Goris; Riemer Faber, Transl.; Andreas J. Beck, William den Boer, Riemer Faber. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2020 (Studies In Medieval And Reformation Traditions,Texts & Sources), vol. 222
  • Scripture and the People of God: Essays in Honor of Wayne Grudem. Wayne A. Grudem, honouree; John DelHousaye, editor. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018.
  • A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith. Robert L. Reymond. (2nd-revised, updated ed.) Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2001.
  • Middle Knowledge and Biblical Interpretation: Luis De Molina, Herman Bavinck, and William Lane Craig. Sze Sze Chiew. Frankfurt am Main; New York: Peter Lang, 2016 (Contributions to Philosophical Theology), vol. 13
  • A Brief Introduction to Martin Luther. Steven D. Paulson. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017.
  • Remembering the Reformation: Martin Luther and Catholic Theology. Gesa Elsbeth Thiessen, editor; Salvador Ryan, editor; Declan Marmion, editor. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2017.
  • Westminster Conference Papers,1997-2016 (filled in a gap in our holdings of these Puritan & Reformed conference speeches in print–many good topics): The Power of God in the Life of Man; The Faith That Saves; Old Paths – New Shoes; Standing Firm: Still Protestant?, etc.
  • Anthropological Reformations: Anthropology in the Era of Reformation. Anne Eusterschulte; Hannah Walzholz; Kyle J. Dieleman. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015 (Refo500 Academic Studies), vol. 28.
  • Grace and Freedom: William Perkins and the Early Modern Reformed Understanding of Free Choice and Divine Grace. Richard A. (Richard Alfred) Muller. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2020.
  • Reforming Free Will: A Conversation on the History of Reformed Views on Compatibilism. Paul Helm; J. V. Fesko and Matthew Barrett, eds.Fearn, Ross-shire, GB: Mentor, 2020 (Reformed Exegetical Doctrinal Studies Series (R.E.D.S.)
  • Providence: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Account. M. W. (Mark W.) Elliott. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020.
  • Calvin on Sovereignty, Providence, & Predestination. Joel R. Beeke. Conway, AR: Free Grace Press, 2020.
  • The Task of Dogmatics: Explorations in Theological Method. Oliver Crisp, ed.; Fred Sanders, ed.; Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017.
  • Duplex Regnum Christi: Christ’s Twofold Kingdom in Reformed Theology. Jonathon D. Beeke; Eddy Van der Borght. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2021 (Studies in Reformed Theology), vol. 40.
  • The Nature and Function of Faith in the Theology of John Calvin. Victor A. Shepherd. Vancouver, BC: Regent College Press, c1983 (NABPR Dissertation Series) vol. 2.
  • Evangelical Repentance. John Colquhoun, 1748-1827; John J. Murray. Las Vegas, NV: P.O.D., 2012.
  • Tom Wright and the Search for Truth: A Theological Evaluation. Tom Holland. London: Apiary Publishing, c2017, 2020.
  • Christ Freely Offered: A Discussion of the General Offer of Salvation in the Light of Particular Atonement. (3rd ed.) Ken W. Stebbins; Peter Barnes. Lansvale, NSW, Australia: Tulip Publishing, 2020.
Cover Art

Practical Theology (1) –Christian Living, Family, Marriage, Missions, Prayer

  • Short Discourses to be Read in Families. William Jay, 1769-1853. Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, c1805/2000 (reprint).
  • The End of the Christian Life: How Embracing Our Mortality Frees Us to Truly Live. J. Todd Billings. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2020.
  • You Cannot Escape from God: A Primer on Evangelism. Dennis J. Prutow; Keith Evans. Pittsburgh, PA: Westminster Evangelistic Ministries, c1987, 2014.
  • Saints, Sufferers, and Sinners: Loving Others as God Loves Us. Michael R. Emlet. Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2021.
  • The J.H. Bavinck Reader. J. H. (Johan Herman) Bavinck, 1895-1964; John Bolt; James D. Bratt, Transl. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2013.
40 Questions About Pastoral Ministry  -     By: Phil A. Newton

Practical Theology (2) -Church Government/Leadership, Counseling, Pastoral Ministry, Preaching, Sermons, Worship

  • On Christian Teaching. St. Augustine of Hippo, 354-430; R.P.H. Green, Transl. Oxford [England]; New York: Oxford University Press, 1997 (World Classics).
  • Kerkelijke Tucht Bij Calvijn, [Ecclesiastical Discipline with Calvin] De.J. Plomp. Kampen: J.H. Kok, 1969.
  • Ministerium: Een Introductie in de Reformatorische Leer Van Het Ambt. [Ministerium: An Introduction to the Reformation Doctrine of the Office] C. Trimp. Groningen: Vuurbaak, c1982.
  • Courageous Churchmen: Leaders Compelling Enough to Follow. Jerry Wragg. The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2018.
  • Pastoral Care and Western Medicine. Christopher W. Bogosh. Xulon Press, 2009.
  • Caring for Widows: Ministering God’s Grace. Brian Croft; Austin. Walker; Mike McKinley. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015.
  • Leadership in Christian Perspective: Biblical Foundations and Contemporary Practices for Servant Leaders. Justin A. Irving; Mark L. Strauss. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019.
  • 40 Questions about Pastoral Ministry. Phil A. Newton; Benjamin L. Merkle. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2021.
  • Reading and Hearing the Word from Text to Sermon: Essays in Honor of John H. Stek. John H. Stek; Arie C. Leder; John Bolt. Grand Rapids, MI: Calvin Theological Seminary / CRC Publications, c1998.
  • A Workman Not Ashamed: Essays in Honor of Albert N. Martin. Joel R. Beeke; David Charles; Rob Ventura. Conway, AR: Free Grace Press, 2021

Misc. (Apologetics, Culture, Dutch History, Education, Music, Politics, Science, Work, World Religions, etc.)

  • Understanding the Times: The Story of the Biblical Christian, Marxist/Leninist, and Secular Humanist Worldviews. David A. Noebel. Manitou Springs, CO: Summit Press, 1991.
  • The Christian Teacher as Office-Bearer. Joel R. Beeke. Conway, AR: Free Grace Press, 2020
Published in: on June 2, 2021 at 9:31 PM  Leave a Comment  

1st Quarter 2021 Book Additions – PRC Seminary Library

I keep forgetting to post the list of significant book acquisitions to the PRC Seminary library for the first quarter of this year year – January to March 2021. Today I remembered, so in this post I will give you the first sections of the list, which includes biblical studies, church history, and creeds.

Keep in mind that these lists are not exhaustive but representative of what has been added to the library in the last few months. And, as always, there is something here for most every Christian reader. Ideas for your own library, perhaps. What’s on your bookshelf? Tolle lege – take up and read!

ExodusGod’s Kingdom of Priests

Biblical studies/ Commentaries/ Biblical Theology

Commentary Series

  • Focus on the Bible (Christian Focus)
    • Exodus, A.Harman, 2017
    • Deuteronomy, A.Harman, 2007
    • 1 Kings, D.Davis, 2016
    • Jeremiah and Lamentations, M.Wilcock, 2013
    • Hosea, T.Chester, 2014
    • Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, J.Mackay, 2019
    • Luke (2 vols.), D.Davis, 2021
    • 1 Peter, D.Cleave, 1999
    • Revelation, P.Gardner
  • Teach the Text Commentary (Baker, M. Strauss & J.Walton, eds.)
    • Leviticus and Numbers, J.Sprinkle (2015)
    • 1 Corinthians, P.Vang (2014)
    • 2 Corinthians, M.Hubbard (2017)

Other Commentaries (Individual)

  • Considering Job: Reconciling Sovereignty and Suffering. Anthony T. Selvaggio. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2021.
  • Haggai and Malachi. Herbert Wolf. Chicago: Moody Press, c1976 (Everyman’s Bible Commentary)
  • From the Mouth of Lions: Sermons on the Book of Daniel. Hugh M. Cartwright. Stornoway, Scotland: Reformation Press, 2020.
  • Called to Be Saints: An Exposition of 1 Corinthians. Robert Gromacki. The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2002 (reprint).
  • Stand Firm in the Faith: An Exposition of 2 Corinthians. Robert G. Gromacki. The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2002(reprint).
  • The Thessalonian Epistles: A Call to Readiness. D. Edmond Hiebert, 1910-1995. Chicago: Moody Press, 1971.
  • The Epistles of John. Oliver B. Greene. Greenville, SC: The Gospel Hour, 1966.

Individual Biblical Studies Titles

  • The Old Testament Yesterday and Today: Essays in Honor of Michael P.V. Barrett. Michael P. V. Barrett, honouree; Rhett Dodson, editor; John D. Currid. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2019.
  • The Psalms: A Primer for Prayer. William D. Barrick; Eric Kress. Kress Biblical Resources, 2020.
  • The Historical Reliability of the New Testament: Countering the Challenges to Evangelical Christian Beliefs. Craig L. Blomberg; Robert B. Stewart. Nashville: B & H Academic, 2016 (B & H Studies in Christian Apologetics)
  • Jesus the Lord According to Paul the Apostle: A Concise Introduction. Gordon D. Fee. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018.

Language Tools

  • The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary – Volumes1-3-The Five Books of Moses, The Writings, The Prophets. Robert Alter, translator and commentator. New York; London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2019.

Church History, General and Biography

  • A Brief Introduction to Martin Luther. Steven D. Paulson. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017.
  • A Brief Introduction to John Calvin. Christopher Elwood. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2017.
  • The Consistory and Social Discipline in Calvin’s Geneva. Jeffrey R. Watt; James B. Collins and Mack P. Holt. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2020 (Changing Perspectives on Early Modern Europe,) vol. 22
  • Watchman on the Walls of Zion: The Life and Influence of Simon Van Velzen. Joshua Engelsma. Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2021.
  • Dr. Abraham Kuyper En De Vrije Universiteit. [Abraham Kuyper and the Free University] Johannes Stellingwerff. Kampen: Kok, 1987.
  • The Remnant Remains!: The 125 Year’s History of the True Dutch Reformed Church (Netherlands Reformed Congregation) of South Holland, Illinois, January 27, 1865 -January 27, 1990. Gerrit Bieze. South Holland, IL: True Dutch Reformed Church, 1990.
  • Conflict and Christianity in Northern Ireland. Brian Mawhinney; Ronald Wells. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1975.
  • I Remember Herman Hoeksema: Personal Remembrances of a Great Man. David J. Engelsma. Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2020.
  • R.C. Sproul: A Life. Stephen J. Nichols. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021.

Creeds, Confessions, History of

  • Essential Truths for Christians: A Commentary on the Anglican Thirty-Nine articles and an Introduction to Systematic Theology. John H. Rodgers; J. I. (James Innell) Packer. Blue Bell, PA: Classical Anglican Press, 2011.
  • Authentic Christianity: The Theology and Ethics of the Westminster Larger Catechism. Joseph C. Morecraft, III. Centreville, AL: Four Falls Press, Inc., c2009, 2019 (8 vols.).
Published in: on May 29, 2021 at 8:31 AM  Leave a Comment  

What Does Literature Offer? Refreshment

Literature’s refreshment value extends like an umbrella over all that we have discussed so far in this chapter. The break from out immediate physical world and its weight upon us, the temporary residence in an imagined world, the return to life with new equipment for living – all combine to refresh the human spirit. Other activities also refresh us. But literature’s multiple levels of pleasure and refreshment elevate reading over most leisure activities.

What are the levels at which reading literature pleases and refreshes us? Reading intensifies our involvement with life and our understanding of it. Having vicariously experienced life under an author’s expert guidance, we carry away clarity of vision. Many leisure activities offer something only during the time we spend on them. Along with increased understanding from seeing life portrayed accurately, we derive intellectual pleasure from pondering and interacting with the embedded ideas of literature. To be a thinking person is useful as well as pleasurable and something God expects of us.

Imagination is at the very heart of the literary enterprise. An author exercises creative imagination, but the creation exists initially as a potential. It comes into being only as we create in our imagination what the author places before us as a prompt. Eighteenth-century essayist Joseph Addison did a good thing in writing several papers addressing the pleasures of the imagination. Literature is a triumph of the imagination.

Additionally, literature is an art form. An essential part of the author’s task is creating beauty, which is a product of creativity and craft. Beauty can be as large as a novel’s unifying structure or as small as lovely phrases and precise words. Artistic beauty manifests itself in forms, so whatever we enjoy about the how of a story or poem can be regarded as art and beauty. We can enjoy beauty even if we do not consider exactly how the effects are achieved, although such analysis also provides pleasure.

Finally, literature can be a source of spiritual refreshment. Some literary works express and commend a Christian attitude. We most naturally think of devotional poetry as providing devotional refreshment, but all literature of Christian affirmation can be read devotionally. In fact, nearly any reading experience can become an encounter with God and his truth. We simply need to activate a devotional stance.

What does reading literature offer us? It offers us meaningful leisure at contemplative, intellectual, imaginative, and spiritual levels. As a total package, reading literature is impossible to surpass as a recreational activity.

The joy is before you. Open a book and enter.

Taken from the new book from Crossway (2021) titled Recovering the Lost Art of Reading: A Quest for the True, the Good, and the Beautiful (pp.77-78. I continue to make my way chapter by chapter through this book and am highly appreciating its wonderful perspective on and incentive to reading. The above section is just one example.

What’s on your reading list this spring and summer?

Published in: on May 21, 2021 at 9:37 PM  Leave a Comment  

Casting All Your Care upon Him: Anxiety – May 2021 Tabletalk

The May 2021 issue of Tabletalk centers on the theme of anxiety – certainly relevant in our times – for many reasons. Editor Burk Parsons in his introductory article “The Antidote to Anxiety” speaks to the heart of the issue:

God commands us to love Him above all other loves, and He calls us to cast all our anxieties upon Him because He cares for us. He doesn’t tell us to cast some of our anxieties upon Him, but all of them, even the ones we think we have under control—to cast them upon Him and leave them with Him. When we become anxious, it is often because we think we are in control. So, when we experience anxiety, let us remember that God cares more for us than we could ever care for ourselves. Let us run to Him in prayer, because going to our Father in prayer is the antidote to anxiety. When we pray, we are admitting that we are not God and that we are not in control but that He is and that He is working all things together for our good. For I have found that those who pray the most worry the least.

There are many helpful articles in this issue as this subject is treated from many points of view. The one from which I quote this evening is titled “The Solution to Anxiety.” by Dr. Eric Watkins. He focuses on that marvelous chapter of Romans 8 and directs us to its confidence-producing hope in our God and His Son Jesus Christ. Read on and find the peace that God promises us in the midst of all our worries and cares.

But it is the tension of the “already and not yet” nature of Christ’s kingdom that creates so much difficulty for us. We expect what is “not yet” now—we expect heaven on earth—and when we are forced to live by patience and perseverance, we often worry and fret instead. We expect the crown of glory now and are too easily derailed in our faith when God places on us the cross of suffering instead. As Martin Luther said, we have spent far more time cultivating our theologies of glory than our theology of the cross. This was not a uniquely first-century problem. Our modern conveniences have trained us to expect immediate results in almost a blink of an eye. Thus, learning to live patiently between the “already” of Christ’s kingdom and the “not yet” of its eschatological consummation may be difficult. Paul helpfully directs the church’s attention back to creation (which has been waiting patiently for quite some time), but he also points our eyes forward toward the new creation as he says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18). What we endure now so pales in comparison to what will be revealed in us later that Paul says the former is not even worthy to be compared with the latter.

Christians are a chronological paradox. We live on earth but belong in heaven. Our lives are lived in this age but are ultimately defined by the age to come. Our King is both with us and yet coming to us. God is not simply our travel partner; He is also our destination. We are already in Christ but not yet what we will fully be in Him when we are with Him in heaven. These truths may not be easily understood, but they are at the heart of what it means to be a Christian—to be in Christ—and to have Christ in us.

This leads us to Romans 8:28–30, which in many ways is Paul’s comfort crescendo. Many things could be said about this section, but we will focus on only one: conformity to Christ’s image. Paul ends this uplifting section by directing the church’s attention to the great “good” that God is continuing to do, even in this present evil age, which is to conform those whom He loves (the church) to the image of Christ. The sufferings that we endure in this present evil age are a tool that God uses to mold us to the image of Christ. They are not outside His providential care; nor are they capricious. Rather, even the hard things that we endure have a good goal—they conform us to the image of Christ.

Who we are in Christ informs our response to trials and adversity. Rather than leading us to anxiety or despair, trials should remind us that heaven will be better, that Christ is sufficient, and that these momentary, light afflictions that we endure now are incomparable to the eternal weight of glory that awaits us with Christ in heaven. Thus, we do not worry; we do not fear; we have no need to be anxious. As the hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God reminds us: “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also. The body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still. His kingdom is forever.”

Published in: on May 18, 2021 at 10:25 PM  Leave a Comment  

R.C. Sproul: The Influence of Dr. John Gerstner

R.C. described Dr. Gerstner as a lifeline through seminary [Pittsburgh Theological Seminary]. Many could see the influence Gerstner had on R. C. Many even heard it. No doubt R.C. was the brightest shining star in the constellation of Gerstner’s students over decades of teaching. You might recall, however, that R.C. began his time at PTS not all that impressed with Gerstner. That changed almost immediately.

In a fall class in his first year, Gerstner was offering a critique of the presuppositional apologetics of Cornelius Van Til of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, when R.C. rose in defense. Earlier that spring, for a college class, R.C. had written a paper critiquing the classical arguments for the existence of God from a presuppositional viewpoint. R.C. had become a presuppositionalist under the influence of Dr. Thomas Gregory, who had been taught by Van Til himself. R.C. made his case. Then Gerstner spent the next ten minutes dismantling R.C. Or, as R.C. put it, it took Gerstner ten minutes ‘to wipe off the spot where I stood. And not only did he dismantle my arguments and destroy them, but the thing was I knew it… I lost, and I knew I lost.’ In that instant, R.C. had a deep-seated respect for Gerstner that continued to grow over the years.

Gerstner was the champion of orthodoxy at Pittsburgh. Jeffrey S. McDonald, Gerstner’s biographer, speaks of Gerstner’s isolation among the faculty…. Gerstner would often simply stay quiet in faculty meetings. He knew his vote would not matter, and he also knew his colleagues ‘appreciated my not talking too much, because it was a waste of time.’ But he was never quiet in class, or on the debate stage, or in the many pulpits he filled.

R.C. sensed a similar theological isolation. He recalls that there were about five other theologically conservative students at PTS at that time…. R.C. also felt the tension in his classes from the theologically liberal faculty. The seminary curriculum had one course that surveyed all of the New Testament books. As they finished Acts, the professor said, ‘Most theologicans get excited about Romans, but I don’t. Let’s go now to 1 Corinthians.’ These students were studying to be pastors, yet they were not taught even one minute’s worth of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans’ It’s easy to see why R.C. called Gerstner a ‘lifeline’ during his seminary days. Of Thomas Gregory, R.C. said succinctly, ‘He was precise, and he knew his stuff.’ The exact same could be said of Gerstner. Precision and a high level of competency, mastery, would come to be similar hallmarks of their protege.

Taken from the brand new biography R.C. Sproul; A Life by Stephen Nichols (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021), pp.60-62.

Published in: on May 15, 2021 at 9:32 PM  Leave a Comment  

Ascension Day 2021: “My Soul Is Anchored in Heaven”

What does the ascension of Jesus into heaven mean? 

        The Scriptures are full of its significance.  Colossians 3:1, 2:  “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”  Or, I Peter 3:22:  “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God.”  That is, because He ascended into heaven, Jesus is our King, who rules the world.

        But the main, central, blessing of the ascension is the certainty of the believers’ salvation, the absolute surety of the hope that is to be found in Jesus Christ.  Jesus’ entrance into heaven means that all who, by the grace of God, belong to Him are secure in Him and have the absolute certainty of being fully glorified.  All who are in Christ are now in heaven.  Our soul is anchored in heaven.  Jesus Christ cast an anchor into heaven when He ascended.  And He will draw us there to be with Him.  And now, as we are in the tides of this life with so many things pulling us away and working against our faith, or as we endure stormy waves of this life that would dash us and destroy our faith, we, through the ascension of Jesus Christ, are anchored in heaven.

        There are the tides of grief that pull, and despair, and depression, and loss, and loneliness, and rejection of friends.  And, like a boat, we can be pulled away from Christ.  There are the stormy winds of evil lusts and temptations and greed as great waves seeking to cast us upon the rocks of wickedness.  What will hold us?

        Jesus Christ is ascended into heaven.  The anchor of our faith and hope is secure in Him.

  I call your attention today to a very beautiful passage concerning the ascension of Jesus.  It is Hebrews 6:19 and 20.  There we read:  “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

The Holy Spirit is giving to us here a figure of speech, a picture, which is very striking.  When we think of the ascension of Jesus Christ, says the apostle, we must think of an anchor that is sure and steadfast.  We must think of massive hooks and weights, like the anchor pulled up on the aircraft-carrier Abraham Lincoln.  Only this anchor is not cast down into the depths of the water to hold a ship.  It is cast up into heaven to hold our souls.  This anchor, says the apostle, has been cast into that which is within the veil.  Therefore, we have a hope in us that is as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.  Our hope is the future glory, the complete blessings in Jesus Christ, the inheritance and the promises of eternal life and salvation when we shall be with Him.  That is our hope.  He says that this hope is an anchor of our soul.  It keeps our soul from drifting off into unbelief or wickedness.  Our hope of heaven anchors us in this present world.

        And he says that this anchor is sure and steadfast, for it has entered into that within the veil.  The idea, as I said, is not a chain, an anchor on the end of a chain, going clang, clang, clang down into the bottom of the harbor or lake, into its mud.  But the idea is of a grappling hook being thrown up.  This hook (anchor) goes beyond the veil and catches fast hold of what is within the veil.  It is not an anchor down in the rocks of the sea or on the sandy bottom.  But it is an anchor that is cast into that which is in heaven, the very throne of God.

        The Holy Spirit is referring to the Old Testament tabernacle in the time of Moses, which had its veil separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.  That Most Holy Place, and in it the ark of the covenant, was the symbol of the presence of God.  You will remember that the veil in the Old Testament temple was torn in half when Jesus Christ died upon the cross, thereby signifying that our entrance into heaven has been secured through His blood-letting upon the cross.

        Now, the apostle says, in the ascension of Jesus Christ, the anchor has been cast beyond that veil and it is hooked into the ark of the covenant of God.  It is hooked into the very throne of God.  It is sure and steadfast.  When Christ ascended into heaven He became the anchor of our soul, so that we are held sure and steadfast to the throne of God.  That anchor is not going anywhere.  It is sure and steadfast. 

        And all of this is based on the glorious truth of Christ’s ascension into heaven.  The apostle says, “Whither [that is, into heaven behind the veil] the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”  Jesus’ ascension is the casting of the anchor of our soul into heaven.  As a ship is anchored, our souls are anchored in heaven by His ascension.  We are moored there.  He is the forerunner, “Whither the forerunner is for us entered,” the One who has gone before us, the One who has come to appear for us in heaven.  He is the One who is the forerunner for us.  He represents the people of God.  He represents God’s children.  And He has gone ahead of us now into heaven.  And His presence in heaven is as the anchor of our souls.

        The point is this.  By His infinitely precious blood, Jesus Christ has opened heaven for us, and now, as the ascended Lord Jesus, He has gone before us.  His presence in heaven at the throne of God is an anchor for us so that we may say that our hope of going to heaven is sure and steadfast.  United to Christ who is in heaven, our soul is anchored.  Our hope is sure and steadfast. 

        We need, desperately, this anchor of the soul.

        A ship in the harbor or in the inlet needs anchorage so that it is not pulled out by the tide.  And a boat off a rocky shore, off cliffs, needs an anchor so that it is not pushed by the waves upon and up onto the rocks to be destroyed.

        So our souls, which belong to Jesus Christ, are now in this world and we need an anchorage.  We need something reliable.  We need something sure.  The tides of grief pull upon our hearts to sweep us into despair and hopelessness.  There are the currents of trials and struggles that cause us to say, “What’s the use?  It’s no good.  I can’t believe anymore.  Why should we keep trying?  We’re going to quit.”

         And then there are waves.  The stormy winds of temptations blow.  They come upon us.  Or those sudden, sinful urgings of the flesh appear within our mind as a storm to cast us upon the rocks of sin and destruction.  I need an anchor.  My soul otherwise would be swept away into despair or crashed upon the rocks. 

        Now I have an anchor in Jesus Christ.  Christ has ascended.  He is the One to whom we belong by the grace of God.  He is ascended and is in heaven.  He is not going anywhere.  That anchor holds.  It is sure and steadfast.  For a certainty, our hope of life eternal is sure and steadfast.  For Jesus has ascended there for us.

Taken from a Reformed Witness Hour message of Rev. Carl Haak for Ascension Day.

Published in: on May 13, 2021 at 9:58 PM  Leave a Comment