The Prayers of J.Calvin (13)

Praying with calvin- JeremiahWe continue on this Sunday night our posts on the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014 and now in Jan./Feb.2015), which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah (Baker reprint, 1979). Tonight we post a brief section from his twelfth lecture and the prayer that concludes it.

This lecture covers Jeremiah 3:12-18, which includes this commentary on God’s gracious word to His backsliding children in v.14 (“Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you….):

It is a wonderful forbearance and kindness that God, finding his favour neglected, and as it were rejected through the sloth of men, should yet persevere, and invite them again and again. What man would thus patiently bear the loathing of his favour and kindness? But we see that God does not immediately reject the tardy and the slothful, but adds new stimulants that he might at length move them, though this may seem more than necessary. How great is our torpidity? Were not God daily to urge us, how little attention would any of us give to his admonitions? It is therefore, no wonder that he, pardoning our tardiness, should again and again invite us to repentance; which we find is done continually in the Church (178).

Thereupon follows this prayer:

Grant, Almighty God, that as thou at this day mercifully sparest us, when yet in various ways we provoke thy displeasure, — O grant, that we may not harden ourselves against thy chastisements, but that thy forbearance may lead us to repentance, and that also thy scourges may do us good, and that we may so truly turn to thee, that our whole life may testify that we are in our hearts changed; and may we also stimulate one another, that we may unite together in rendering obedience to thy word, and each of us strive to glorify thy name, through Christ Jesus our Lord. –Amen (184).

The Prayers of J.Calvin (11)

JCalvin1We continue on this Sunday night our posts on the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014 and now in Jan./Feb.2015), which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah. Tonight we post a brief section from his tenth lecture and the prayer that concludes it.

This lecture covers Jeremiah 2:36 – 3:3,which includes this powerful comment on chap.3:1 (really the whole section), where God rebukes Israel for her spiritual harlotry and yet shows Himself ready to forgive her and receive her in the way of her repentance. This is how Calvin concludes this part (slightly edited):

God then does not mean in this place [Calvin refers here to Isaiah 50:1, ‘Shew me the bill of your mother’s divorcement.’], that he had divorced the people; for that would have been wrong and unlawful, and could not have been consistent with the character of God.

But as I have already said, there is here a twofold comparison. ‘Though a husband should fastidiously send away his wife, and she through his fault should be led to contract another marriage, and become the partner of another, as though in contempt of him, he could hardly ever bear that indignity, and become reconciled to her: but ye have not been repudiated by me, but are like a perfidious woman, who shamefully prostitutes herself to all whom she may meet with; and yet I am ready to receive you, and to forget all your base conduct.’

We now then understand the import of the words.

And this is the prayer that ends this lecture:

Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast been once pleased not only to adopt us as thy children, but also to unite us to thyself by the bond of marriage, and to give us a pledge of this sacred union in thine only-begotten Son, – O grant, that we may continue in the faith of thy Gospel, and so honestly keep the pledge given to thee, that thou mayest also show thyself to us as a Husband and as a Father, and that we may to the end find in thee that merciful kindness which is needful to retain us in the holy fear of thy name, until we shall at length enjoy fellowship with thee in thy celestial kingdom, through Christ our Lord. – Amen.

“‘Coram Deo': …Live the whole of your life as in the presence of God.” – S.Ferguson

In Christ Alone - SFergusonOnce more we take a quotation from the thirty-fourth chapter of Sinclair Ferguson’s profitable book In Christ Alone.

In this chapter, titled “Where God Looks First”, Ferguson is using the past (church) masters of the Christian life to show us how to live true, heart-religion, the one lived before and unto God and not before and unto men. His final section under this heading is overwritten with the Latin words Coram Deo, which we should learn well.

This is how he explains this principle of the Christian life:

Third, these masters learned to live visibly, even in secret. They lived coram Deo (before the face of God). That one principle is enough to transform the whole of life and to rid us of all attempts at deception – of others, of God, of self. Nothing is hid from the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (Heb.4:13).

Has that thought sufficiently gripped my mind and begun to dominate my every action, producing the quality of transparency in my life? It is the one sure way to enjoy liberty from the pressures of the world to conform to its mold, and to overcome the fear of man. Those who make it their aim to have a conscience void of offense before God are Christ’s free men. Therefore, live the whole of your life as in the presence of God.

And so he concludes his treatment of these three points with this summary:

Here, then, are three tests that provide a good measure of where I am spiritually:

1. What am I really like in secret?

2. How do I react to the word duty?

3. Am I living with a sense of how visible my life is to God?

To which Ferguson adds this quote from the Puritan John Owen:

He suggests that to fail to deal with these issues in the heart is like leaving ‘a moth in a garment, to eat up and devour the stringed threads of it, so that though the whole hang loose together, it is easily torn to pieces.’

Wise words indeed! (Kindle ed.)

New Titles in the PRC Seminary Library

SemLib12012It is time once more to highlight a few new titles that have come into the PRC Seminary library. I am always amazed at how many good resources are being published and republished – books of great value to the faculty and students here, as well as to our members and visitors. I hope by highlighting a few you will also be able to see the quality of books that enter our library.

Like everyone else, we are on a budget here, so I have to focus on quality, not quantity (although my Thrift store shopping makes that budget go further!). I might add at this point that I am truly grateful for the monies provided the library by the Theological School Committee in its budget (and Synod, which approves that budget each year), as well as for the many gifts we receive throughout the year.

But, on to the books! Here are a few of the significant new books recently purchased and processed:

  • The Works of John Knox, Banner of Truth, 2014 – Six Volumes, hardcover (David Laing Ed., first published in 1846). This is part of the publisher’s note on this important republication:

Unfortunately for many years hardback sets of Knox’s Works have been virtually unobtainable by, and inaccessible to, the general public. Now, to mark the 500th anniversary of his birth (probably in 1514) and the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first definitive edition of the Scottish reformer’s Works (1846-64), these rare volumes have been reprinted. The present republication of the reformer’s writings provides a unique and remarkably affordable opportunity for a new generation of students to rediscover and get to know the real John Knox.

  • Reformed Dogmatics - GVosReformed Dogmatics, Geerhardus Vos, Translated and edited by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., five volumes (Lexham Press, 2012-14). Logos Bible Software has been adding this work to their digital collection as it is being translated, and now it is also being published in a good hardcover binding, with the first two volumes (theology proper and anthropology) in print. This is a classic work in Reformed theology and it is good to see it made accessible to the public.
  • John Calvin as Sixteenth-Century Prophet, Jon Balserak (Oxford University Press, 2014). This is an important new study on Calvin, focusing especially on his “sense of vocation.” Here’s more on the nature of this book from the publisher:

Beginning with an analysis of the two trajectories of thought existing within Christian discourse on prophecy from the patristic to the Early Modern era, this monograph goes on to find Calvin within a non-mystical, non-apocalyptic prophetic tradition that focused on scriptural interpretation. This study, then, demonstrates how Calvin developed a plan to win France for the gospel; a plan which included the possibility of armed conflict. To pursue his designs, he trained “prophets” who were sent into France to labor intensely to undermine the king’s authority on the grounds that he supported idolatry, convince the French Reformed congregations that they were already in a war with him, and prepare them for a possible military uprising. An additional part of this plan saw Calvin search for a French noble willing to support the evangelical religion, even if it meant initiating a coup. Calvin began ruminating over these ideas in the 1550s or possibly earlier. The war which commenced in 1562 represents, this monograph argues, the culmination of years of preparation by Calvin.

John Wood examines how Abraham Kuyper adapted the Dutch church to its modern social context through a new account of the nature of the church and its social position. The central concern of Kuyper’s ecclesiology was to re-conceive the relationship between the inner aspects of the church—the faith and commitment of the members—and the external forms of the church, such as doctrinal confessions, sacraments, and the relationship of the church to the Dutch people and state. Kuyper’s solution was to make the church less dependent on public entities such as nation and state and more dependent on private support, especially the good will of its members. This ecclesiology de-legitimated the national church and helped Kuyper justify his break with the church, but it had wider effects as well. It precipitated a change in his theology of baptism from a view of the instrumental efficacy of the sacrament to his later doctrine of presumptive regeneration wherein the external sacrament followed, rather than preceded and prepared for, the intenral work grace. This new ecclesiology also gave rise to his well-known public theology; once he achieved the private church he wanted, as the Netherlands’ foremost public figure, he had to figure out how to make Christianity public again.

  • Commentaries. One of the key areas of growth in our library is that of Biblical studies and exposition, including commentaries. These are important tools for the faculty and students, since the professors’ teaching and the seminarians’ learning centers on exegesis, the proper interpretation of God’s Word.
    • Two significant series of commentaries that we have included in our collection are the “Preaching the Word” series (Crossway, edited by R. Kent Hughes) and the “Reformed Expository Commentary” (P&R Publishing, edited by Richard D. Phillips and Philip G. Ryken).
    • 1 PeterWithin these sets we have recently added commentaries on the gospel according to John and on Acts, as well as Ecclesiastes and 1 Peter.

The Prayers of J.Calvin (10)

JCalvinPicContinuing our posts on the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014 and now in Jan.2015), which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah, today we post a brief section from his ninth lecture and the prayer that concludes it.

This lecture covers Jeremiah 2:31-35, which includes this closing comment on and application of v.35 (really the whole section), where God admonishes His people for pretending to be innocent when they were blatantly guilty of  high sins against Him. This is how Calvin concludes this part (slightly edited):

We may hence gather a profitable instruction. Let it in the first place be observed, that nothing is so displeasing to God as this headstrong presumption, that is, when we seek to appear innocent, while our own conscience condemns us.

Then in the second place observe, that all who thus perversely rebel and strive dishonestly and shamelessly to defend their own vices, contend at the same time with God: for false excuses have ever this tendency – to charge God with unjust severity.

But we see what such men gain for themselves; for God shews that he will be at length their judge, and that he will openly discover the vices of those who thought that they could excuse themselves by evasions and by false charges against himself.

They then who thus obstinately resist God, must at length, …come to this end, – that they will be constrained to acknowledge that God has not been too violently angry with them, but has only executed a just punishment.

And then follows this prayer:

Grant, Almighty God, that since we are loaded with so many vices, and provoke thee so often, yea, daily and in ways innumerable, – O grant, that we may not at last become hardened against thy godly admonitions, but be teachable and submissive and in time repent, lest our wantonness and hardness should constrain thee to put forth thy powerful hand against us; but as we have hitherto experienced thy paternal kindness, so may we in [the] future be made partakers of it, and thus become more and more accustomed to bear thy yoke, until having at length completed our warfare, we shall come to that blessed rest, which has been provided for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord. – Amen.

New & Noteworthy Books in 2015 – Reformation21

New & Noteworthy Books in 2015 – Reformation21.

Even though this was posted by Mark McDowell in December at “Reformation21″, it is certainly worth our notice because it pertains to books to be published in this year 2015.

I always appreciate lists of books to come such as this, as it helps me plan on what to order for the Seminary library  as well as perhaps add to my own personal library.

And though most of these books are geared toward the theologians among us (but then, as R.C.Sproul is fond of saying, “Everyone’s a theologian.”), there is a variety of titles here to benefit us all – including a new children’s title!

Here are two that McDowell has selected and that I highlight in this post:

Trueman_Luther.jpg

Carl Trueman, Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom (Crossway, February)
Crossway’s series, Theologians on the Christian Life, has not disappointed. Matching some of the Church’s most beloved saints with some of today’s best evangelical writers, the series puts forth books that both edify and inform. 2015 promises John Bolt on Bavinck, Bray on Augustine, Haykin and Matthew Barrett on Owen, and Trueman on Luther. It’s difficult to pick just one of them, and while I’m giving Trueman on Luther the nod, all four books have to be added to the library. Here’s what Trueman says about his own volume and it’s hard not to get a little bit excited about what’s in store:
‘This is the book I have always wanted to write: a study of Martin Luther’s theology which is connected directly to his life as a Christian and his calling as a pastor. Personally, I owe as much to Luther as to any historical Christian figure. Further, I have become increasingly irritated in recent years with the way his name is bandied about by people who clearly do not know who or what they are talking about. So much of the pop-evangelical Luther is based on the selective reading of a few texts which actually presents a picture of the Reformed which I do not think Dr Martin himself would recognise. Thus, I wanted to correct some of the caricatures of him in evangelical circles and offer him as a model of pastoral ministry and of Christian discipleship to the current generation. Was he perfect and should we follow him in every detail? Absolutely not. His errors, when he made them, were often egregious. But his focus on Word and sacrament is a real antidote to the mega-conference, Top Men and brand-dominated culture which has unfortunately swept across conservative evangelicalism in the last decade’.

deyoung_story.jpg

Kevin DeYoung and Don Clark, The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings us Back to the Garden (Crossway, August)
Christian children’s books are legion but good children’s books that captivate as well as educate are rare. Getting a pastor-theologian to take up the challenge is encouraging and I’m eager to see what DeYoung and Clark have in store for us. This is a book that promises a biblical-theological approach, connecting the dots throughout Scripture and showing our young ones the wonderful tapestry of the Bible.
DeYoung tells Ref21: ‘I know authors are always excited for their books to come out, but I’m especially eager for this one to release. The Biggest Story tells the big gospel story of salvation from the Garden of Eden to the final garden in revelation. I tried to tell the familiar story in a way that was theologically rich, but still fun and interesting for kids. It’s longer than board book for small children, but much shorter than a kids Bible. I couldn’t be more pleased with the illustrations. Don Clark has done an amazing job with the pictures–colorful, unique, interesting, and thoughtful. I can’t wait for this book to come out so I can show and tell it to my kids’.

- See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/articles/new-noteworthy-in-2015.php#sthash.qT9WQjoH.dpuf

The Prayers of J.Calvin (9)

Praying with calvin- JeremiahContinuing our posts on the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014 and now in Jan.2015), which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah, today we post a brief section from his eighth lecture and the prayer that concludes it.

This lecture covers Jeremiah 2:25-30, which includes this comment on and application of v.29, where God admonishes His people for their hypocrisy in claiming innocence in the face of blatant disobedience and idolatry. This is how Calvin points the word to us:

Now this passage deserves especial notice: for we know how prone we are by nature to hypocrisy; and when God summons us to his tribunal, hardly one in a hundred will acknowledge his guilt and humbly pray for forgiveness; but  the greater part complains, nay almost all murmur against God, and still more, they gather boldness, and proudly dare to challenge and defy God. Since, then, hypocrisy thus prevails in us and is deeply fixed in the hearts of almost all, and since hypocrisy generates insolence and pride against God, let us remember what the Prophet says here, – that all who dispute with God gain nothing by their excuses, because he will at length detect their defection and perfidy.

And so, Calvin ends this lecture with this precious prayer:

Grant, Almighty God, that since thou, in thy paternal kindness, daily invitest us to thyself, we may not harden ourselves against thy holy and salutary admonitions: and whenever thou chastisest us with scourges, may we not become obdurate against thee, but learn humbly to submit to thy word, and receive thy chastisement, and so profit by both, that we may not be exposed to the extreme judgment which thou denouncest on the obstinate; but may we, on the contrary, open a way for thy paternal goodness, so that thou mayest kindly deal with us, until thou receivest us into that blessed rest which has been prepared for us in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. -Amen

The Prayers of J.Calvin (8)

JCalvinPic1Continuing our posts on the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014 and now in Jan.2015), which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah, today we post a brief section from his seventh lecture and the prayer that concludes it.

This lecture covers Jeremiah 2:20-24, which includes this comment on and application of v.20, where God rebukes His people for turning His sin-freeing grace into license to play the harlot:

That what the Prophet means may be more evident to us, let us remember what Paul teaches us in the sixth chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, – that while we serve sin we are free from righteousness; for we go astray after our lusts, and are restrained by no bridle: but when God really sets us free from the miserable bondage of sin, we begin to be his servants, and the servants of righteousness; for being freed from sin we become the servants of righteousness: and this is the end of our redemption.

But many turn the favour of God into an occasion for licentiousness, and thus abandon themselves, as though there was no law and no rule for a holy and upright life.

God complains that this was the case with the people of Israel: Thou hast said, I will not serve. ‘It is base ingratitude, that thou hast not in the first place regarded me as thy Redeemer; and that in the second place thou hast not considered that I dealt so kindly with thee for this very purpose – that thou mightest be mine: for he who has been redeemed by another’s kindness is no longer his own.’

At the end of this lecture comes this fitting prayer:

Grant, Almighty God,  that, as it pleased thee, when thou didst deliver us from the tyranny of Satan, to lay on our necks thy yoke: – O grant, that we may be influenced by the spirit of docility, and of obedience, and of meekness, and willingly submit ourselves to thee through the whole course of our life, so that thou mayest gather from us the fruit of thy redemption: and may we so renounce sin that we may devote ourselves to thy service, and become the servants of righteousness, until having finished the course of our warfare, we shall be gathered into that blessed rest, which has been obtained for us by the blood of thine only-begotten Son. -Amen

The Prayers of J.Calvin (7)

Praying with calvin- JeremiahContinuing our posts of the prayers of John Calvin (see my previous Sunday posts in Nov./Dec., 2014), which follow his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah, today we post a brief section from his sixth lecture and the prayer that concludes it. This covers Jeremiah 2:12-19, which includes this familiar rebuke: “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (v.13).

In his exposition of this verse Calvin has this to say for our instruction and admonition:

When any one forsakes an old friend and connects himself with a new one, it is an iniquitous and a base conduct: but when there is no compensation, there is in it united together, folly, levity, and madness. If I despise what I know to be profitable to me, and embrace what I understand will be to my hurt, does not such a choice prove madness? This then is what the Prophet now means, when he says, that the people had sinned not only by departing from the true God, but also by going over, without any compensation, unto idols, which could confer no good on them.

…We now perceive what the Prophet meant, – that we cannot possibly be free from guilt when we leave the only true God, as in him is found for us a fulness of all blessings, and  from him we may draw what may fully satisfy us. When therefore we despise the bounty of God, which is sufficient to make us in every way happy, how great must be our ingratitude and wickedness? Yet God remains ever like himself; as then he has called himself the fountain of living waters, we shall at this day find him to be so, except he is prevented by our wickedness and neglect.

But the Prophet adds another crime; for when we fall away from God, our own conceits deceive us; and whatever may appear to us at the first view to be wells or fountains, yet when thirst shall come, we shall not find a drop of water in all our devices, they being nothing else but dry cavities (pp.92-94).

And then at the end of his lecture on this section of the prophet Calvin has this prayer:

Grant, Almighty God, that as thou hast hitherto shewn to us so many favours, since the time thou hast been pleased to adopt us as thy people, – O grant, that we may not forget so great a kindness, nor be led away by the allurements of Satan, nor seek for ourselves inventions, which may at length turn to our ruin; but [grant] that we may continue fixed in our obedience to thee, and daily call on thee, and drink of the fulness of thy bounty, and at the same time strive to serve thee from the heart, and to glorify thy name, and thus to prove that we are wholly devoted to thee, according to the great obligations under which thou hast laid us, when it pleased thee to adopt us in thine only-begotten Son. – Amen (p.106).

The Prayers of J.Calvin – Jeremiah Lectures (6)

JCalvinPicContinuing our posts of the prayers of John Calvin following his lectures on the OT prophecy of Jeremiah, today we post a brief section from his fifth lecture and the prayer that concludes it. This covers Jeremiah 2:6-11.

The section from which I quote pertains especially to v.9 where the Lord says to His apostatizing people, “Wherefore I will yet plead (i.e., contend) with you, saith the LORD, and with your children’s children will I plead.” Here is one application Calvin makes to us:

Let us then learn from this passage, that whenever God reproves us, not only in words, but in reality, and reminds us of our sins, we do not so suffer for one fault as to be free for the future, but that until we from the heart repent, he ever sounds in our ears these words, ‘Still God will contend with you;’ and a real contention is meant; for Jeremiah speaks not of naked doctrine, but intimates that the Jews were to be led before God’s tribunal, because they ceased not to provoke his wrath….

And then this prayer ends this section:

Grant, Almighty God, that since thou hast made thyself known to us in so plain a manner, not only by thy law and prophets, but also by thine only-begotten Son, that the knowledge of thy truth ought to have already struck deep roots in us, — O grant, that we may continue firm and constant in thy holy vocation, and make continual progress in it, and ever hasten forward to the goal: and do thou so humble us under thy mighty hand, that we may know that we are paternally chastised by thee, and profit under thy discipline, until being at length purified from all our vices we shall come to enjoy that immortal life, which has been made known to us by Christ, when we shall be able fully to rejoice in thee. -Amen

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