Luther and the Reformation (1) – The Ninety-Five Theses

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This year being the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation (1517-2017) – its origin notably marked by Martin Luther’s posting of his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517 – we intend to do a series of posts throughout the year on some of the major works of Luther.

luther-theses-1And what better place to start than the Ninety-Five Theses themselves. For today, we simply refer you, first of all, to a few of them as found at the link above (and in many other places), prefaced by Luther’s purpose in posting them.

Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them in that place. Therefore he asks that those who cannot be present and dispute with him orally shall do so in their absence by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

I have selected these points of debate (theses) in particular:

 1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.

3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.

4. The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.

28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.

32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.

33. Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.

34. For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of sacramental satisfaction established by man.

35. They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.

36. Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.

37. Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.

 

Secondly, we may point you to B.B. Warfield’s fine essay, “The Ninety-Five Theses in Their Theological Significance” (found in free digital form at Monergism.com). Below is a paragraph found in the early part of that work describing the significance of Luther’s theses:

The significance of the Theses as a Reformation act emerges thus in this: that they are a bold, an astonishingly bold, and a powerful, an astonishingly powerful, assertion of the evangelical doctrine of salvation, embodied in a searching, well-compacted, and thoroughly wrought-out refutation of the sacerdotal conception, as the underlying foundation on which the edifice of the indulgence traffic was raised. This is what Walther Köhler means when he declares that we must recognize this as the fundamental idea of Luther’s Theses: “the emancipation of the believer from the tutelage of the ecclesiastical institute”; and adds, “Thus God advances for him into the foreground; He alone is Lord of death and life; and to the Church falls the modest role of agent of God on earth – only there and nowhere else.” “The most far-reaching consequences flowed from this,” he continues; “Luther smote the Pope on his crown and simply obliterated his high pretensions with reference to the salvation of souls in this world and the next, and in their place set God and the soul in a personal communion which in its whole intercourse bears the stamp of interiorness and spirituality.” Julius Köstlin puts the whole matter with his accustomed clearness and balance – though with a little wider reference than the Theses themselves – when he describes the advance in Luther’s testimony marked by the indulgence controversy thus: “As he had up to this time proclaimed salvation in Christ through faith, in opposition to all human merit, so he now proclaims it also in opposition to an external human ecclesiasticism and priesthood, whose acts are represented as conditioning the imparting of salvation itself, and as in and of themselves, even without faith, effecting salvation for those in whose interests they are performed.

Note to Self: Read (God’s Word)

Note-to-self-ThornAs a good follow-up to yesterday’s post on the importance of daily devotions, we post this final “note to self”, titled “read”, as in “read your Bible.”

Start by reading and meditating on Psalm 119:129-135.

Dear Self,

You need to stop looking at Scripture merely as a text to dissect and start reading it as God’s Word given to you – today. Do you see how the psalmist thinks about God’s Word? For him, Scripture is a wonder that imparts wisdom, and he is thirsty for it every day. Your default is to read to know, or to study to learn in less than practical, experiential ways. You are often interested in getting into the Word, but more as an isolated discipline than the pursuit of God, and this robs you of the purpose of Scripture.

…For all your longing for God to speak, to make his will plain and his plan clear, you should be daily immersed in God’s Word. That is his voice, his will, and his plan made known to you. Consider these words, ‘Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.’ God’s face shines on you when you are learning – experientially – his Word. This means his favor and blessing are upon you, and that you have sweet communion with him through Scripture, but only when you receive it for what it is: God’s life-giving Word meant to be believed, received, and obeyed – not only dissected.

Taken from Chap.45 “Read” (found in Part Three, “The Gospel and You”) in Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself by Joe Thorn (Crossway, 2011), pp. 129-30.

Why You Probably Don’t Need a Quiet Time – D. Whitney

BiblestudypicIt’s a new year! Time to establish goals, resolve to get them accomplished, and dig in with renewed zeal. Including getting your (our) spiritual disciplines in order, such as devotions. Yes, family or couple devotions, but personal devotions too.

Then, again, you probably don’t need to bother with that. Why put all that stress on yourself to spend time with the Lord in His Word and prayer? You are busy and I am busy; we can’t be in two places at one time; the Lord understands that. And besides, we are already quite mature in our faith. We know the Bible pretty well and we already pray regularly with family and church. We hear some fairly meaty sermons on Sunday each week; that’s food for the week. And isn’t it legalistic to think that if I don’t have my quiet time with the Lord I should feel guilty? This year I’m going to just relax when it comes to my spiritual life. But, man, am I going to hit the gym and get this body in shape!

That’s the tongue-in-cheek approach Donald Whitney takes in his article for the rubric “Heart Aflame” in the January 2017 Tabletalk. Which is why it has the title it does: “Why You Probably Don’t Need a Quiet Time.” But to each of these poor reasons to pass on a regular devotional time, Whitney gives a solid biblical answer. And that is why you ought to read his article. So that you can determine to have a quiet time on a regular basis in 2017.

I needed this article, and I trust you do too. Read it and be motivated to start the new year with the godly resolve to be in the Word and in prayer daily.

Here is how he ends his article:

Third, even until death, the Apostle Paul wanted to saturate his soul in Scripture. In the last inspired letter he wrote, Paul pleaded with Timothy, “When you come, bring . . . the books, and above all the parchments” (2 Tim. 4:13). These writings almost certainly included a copy of the Old Testament. If a Christian as spiritually mature as the Apostle Paul required the regular intake of Scripture until death, dare we ever think we’ve “outgrown” the need for it?

Fourth, we are called to imitate spiritual heroes. In Hebrews 13:7, God commands us to remember, consider, and imitate Christian leaders of the past. We’re told, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” The consensus of the spiritual giants of Christian history that testifies to the indispensability of a believer’s devotional life should not be forgotten nor their example forsaken.

Fifth, rightly motivated devotional habits are never legalistic. Neither the strictest obedience to the Word of God nor the most zealous pursuit of holiness is ever legalistic if one’s motives are right. The measurement of legalism is not the consistency of one’s devotional practices but the heart’s reason for doing them.

Finally, you’ll likely never be less busy. If you can’t make time to meet God through the Bible and prayer now, it’s very unlikely you will when—if—life does slow down.

Significant changes in your life may indeed be needed. But think: How can less time with God be the answer?

 

Source: Why You Probably Don’t Need a Quiet Time by Donald Whitney

Spiritual Warfare: the Belt of Truth

SpiritualWarfare-Borgman&VenturaTonight we are hosting discussion groups in our home and we will be continuing our study of spiritual warfare using the book Spiritual Warfare: A Biblical & Balanced Perspective by Brian Borgman & Rob Ventura (RHB, 2014). This valuable book is basically an exposition of Ephesians 6:10-18, the classic NT passage on the Christian’s spiritual battles against his spiritual enemies.

As we resume our study this year, we are up to the chapters treating the armor of God as laid out in Eph.6:13-17:

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Tonight we look at the first part of the armor – the girdle or belt of truth (v.14a). In the book this is explained in chapter 5 – “The Belt of Truth.” For your benefit as well, I post a few of the authors’ comments on this piece of our armor.

Clearly, the apostle uses this imagery to call Christians to stand ready for the fight. His words signify a transition from a relaxed to an action mode.In other words, the apostle is calling us to spiritual arms. War is upon us. The alarm has sounded. The battle lines have been drawn; therefore, we must responsibly gird ourselves for holy, active combat. Paul hands us our first piece of equipment, and we must put it on to be ready.

They continue with more detail:

The truth is our first line of spiritual defense against the devil. Truth is an indispensable piece of armor; it functions spiritually as the believer’s belt. We can imagine Paul the prisoner glancing over at his guard as he wrote this letter. Undoubtedly, he noticed the thick leather belt around the soldier’s waist, the central piece of equipment he wore. So the apostle begins his list of spiritual armor by writing metaphorically about the belt that we are to wear: As the soldier’s belt was placed at the center of his body, so truth must be central in our lives, encompassing all that we do if we are to be prepared for the fight with Satan, our crafty foe.

Which leads them to add:

By truth we bind up everything in our lives that is loose that might cause us to stumble in spiritual battle. Without truth girded about us, we will stumble and be overtaken. …It [the belt of truth] is strategic in the spiritual sense because without it, nothing else will stay in place. Without the belt of truth, we are exposed and utterly vulnerable to the devil’s schemes and are unable to stand against him (pp.43-44).

Listen Up! How to Listen to Sermons (Intro)

One of the short books (really a booklet) I am reading this year is that by Christopher Ash, titled Listen Up! A Practical Guide to  Listening to Sermons (Good Book Co., 2009).

listen-up-ashYes, this is indeed a book on how to listen to sermons, because in the words of the author “there are books and courses to help people preach sermons… [lots of them, I might add!] but I’ve not read anything written in the last 200 years on how to listen to sermons” (p.2).

We expect good preaching of our pastors. That is as it should be. They are so trained during all the years of their Seminary education. Preaching is the heart and core of their work, as required by the Lord Himself. The King demands the best of His heralds – clear, accurate, powerful proclamation of His message. We know the standards are high – in the minds of elders and congregations too.

But we are often soft on ourselves as hearers of the Word. What we demand strictly of our preachers, we relax for ourselves. But that is not right. If what we believe preaching to be is true, then our standard for hearing ought to be just as high as it for making good sermons.The King demands the best of those who receive His message too.

If I may put it that way, listening to sermons is simply the other half of preaching. Without good listening – that is, without diligent, faith-ful, obedient hearing of the Word of God through the preacher – the best preaching does not profit us. In fact, it does the opposite: it hardens us and renders us inexcusable before the Lord, more ripe for judgment (condemnation). Yes,that’s hard, but it’s true. The Word of God says so.

So, some help in learning how to listen to sermons (better) is in order, no matter how long we have heard them and how experienced we may be in discerning good ones from not so good ones (Yes, I am being charitable. I was once on the other end.). Ash’s little book is a place to start, so we will work our way through it this year.

His first section is headed by the words “seven ingredients for healthy sermon listening.” Here they are listed in order:

  1. Expect God to speak
  2. Admit God knows better than you
  3. Check the preacher says what the passage says
  4. Hear the sermon in church
  5. Be there week by week
  6. Do what the Bible says
  7. Do what the Bible says today – and rejoice!

Ash then has a short section on how to listen to bad sermons (Bet you can’t wait to get to that part!). He ends with a page giving seven (7) “suggestions for encouraging good preaching.”

Now you have the “big picture.” In this short introduction, let’s ask ourselves two questions:

  1. Did you pray for your pastor’s sermon preparation this week and will you pray for him tomorrow as he enters the pulpit?
  2. Will you pray for yourself (and for your wife, if you are married, and for your children, if you have them) and for your (and their) listening tomorrow?

We may start tonight. Let us do so.

Morning has Broken – January 6, 2017

A glorious sunrise appeared on Seminary hill this morning. With the white coat of freshly fallen, lake-effect snow, it was beautiful. I captured these out the front windows. Yes, it was cold (around 5 F) and I stayed in! 🙂

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On December 27, 2016, during our thaw period, these deer and turkey were roaming and grazing in the green grass up front. Always a treat to see them. Well, the deer at least. Those turkeys, well, they are a tad messier, if you know what I mean. 🙂

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Published in: on January 6, 2017 at 12:03 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Being one of the editors (managing) for the Standard Bearer magazine, I have to know my rules of English grammar and punctuation.

When I first took over that position from Mr. Don Doezema three years ago, I had to re-learn a lot of rules. I learned much from asking “Mr. D” those first few years too. And, of course, one of the things he advised me to do was to buy the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, which sits right at my elbow when I work on the latest issue of the SB. There isn’t an issue that goes by that I don’t have to consult that grammar “Bible”.

But I also look for other quick sources for grammar help. Yesterday I stumbled on the website linked below – GrammarBook.com, associated with Jane Straus and her Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.

You can sign up for their newsletter of grammar tips and helps, which I did, and today I received this first one. It points out the number one grammar error, and it may surprise you.

Since we can all use a little help with proper English grammar, I share this first tip with you.

#1 Grammar Error

Would you like to know the #1 Grammar Error?
Hint:
The word involved is small and it’s contained in this sentence.

That’s right: its vs. it’s
Yet the two rules are actually quite easy to remember.

Rule 1: When you mean it is or it has, use an apostrophe.

Examples:
It’s a nice day.
It’s your right to refuse the invitation.
It’s been great getting to know you.

Rule 2: When you are using its as a possessive, don’t use the apostrophe.

Examples:
The cat hurt its paw.
The furniture store celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Note: From what we understand, the possessive was also written it’s until a couple of hundred years ago. While we don’t know for certain, it is possible that the apostrophe was dropped in order to parallel possessive personal pronouns like hers, theirs, yours, ours, etc.

To see more and to sign up for this newsletter, visit the link below.

Source: Grammar and Punctuation | The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

The 2017 Christian Reading Challenge – Tim Challies

Do you love to read? Do you want to learn to love to read? Do you love to read Christian books? The 2017 Christian Reading Challenge may be perfect for you!

Whether you are a light reader or completely obsessed, this 2017 Christian Reading Challenge is designed to help you read more and to broaden the scope of your reading.

Such is the way Tim Challies opens his Christian Reading Challenge for this new year. Using his great organizational skills and graphics abilities, he challenges readers to choose to read consistently at one of four (4) levels (cf. the chart imbedded below).

I am going to commit to the “avid reader” level, knowing that I will read beyond this, and because I want the freedom to grab those “special” reads that always come along when browsing at a bookstore, thrift store, or online (besides the good things that come into the Seminary library!).

How about you? Will you join me and many others and at least commit to the “light reader” level? That’s still substantial! And yes, a challenge! But, that’s the idea. 🙂 Let’s read more and better in 2017!

Here’s Challies’ chart. Print your own copy at the link  below!

Source: The 2017 Christian Reading Challenge – Tim Challies

Published in: on January 4, 2017 at 8:59 PM  Leave a Comment  

New and Noteworthy in the PRC Seminary Library for 2016

SemLibrary2Even though it is the beginning of a new year and the first new books of 2017 are already being highlighted, today I want to call attention to some more of the significant books that were added to the PRC Seminary library in 2016.

For the benefit of the Theological School Committee that oversees all aspects of the PRC Seminary, including the library, as well as for the benefit of the faculty and student body I have compiled a list of significant titles obtained in the last year.

I divided the list into categories so that it is easier to keep track of the kinds of books we look for. I hope this helps you see the quality of titles we strive to add each year. Keep in mind, that as long as this list appears, it is only a sampling of what is actually added.

Which makes me think that it is time for another Seminary library guessing content. How many books were actually added in 2016? And how many total resources do we have in our library now? Look for that post in the near future! 🙂

96693a98-7a59-497a-9646-1909b11a2d17For now, enjoy this list of significant books for 2016. And maybe you will find a title or two (or more!) for your own reading edification in 2017.

Biblical studies

  • IVP Reformation Commentaries (OT & NT)
  • IVP Ancient Christian Commentaries (OT & NT)
  • Preach the Word Series (Crossway)
  • Reformed Expository Commentary Series (P&R)

Church History

  • A Century of Church History : The Legacy Of Philip Schaff / Philip Schaff, 1819-1893.. ; Henry Warner. Bowden. ; David W. Lotz, 1937-. — 1st-hc. — Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press, 1988.
  • Church And School In Early Modern Protestantism : Studies In Honor Of Richard A. Muller On The Maturation Of A Theological Tradition / Jordan J. (Jordan Joseph) Ballor. ; David S. Sytsma. ; Jason. Zuidema. ; Robert J. (Series) Bast . — 1st. — Leiden/Boston : Brill, 2013. (Studies In The History Of Christian Traditions)
  • Brand Luther: 1517, Printing, And The Making Of The Reformation / Pettegree. — 1st-hc. — New York : Penguin Press, 2015.
  • October 31, 1517: Martin Luther And The Day That Changed The World /  Martin E. Marty, 1928- author.. ; James Martin. — 1st-hc. — Brewster, MA : Paraclete Press, 2016.
  • Martin Luther : Visionary Reformer / Scott H. Hendrix. — 1st-hc. — New Haven, CT : Yale University Press, 2015.
  • Luther’s Fortress : Martin Luther And His Reformation Under Siege / James Reston, Jr., 1941-. — 1st-hc. — New York : Basic Books, 2015.
  • Martin Luther And The Enduring Word Of God : The Wittenberg School And Its Scripture- Centered Proclamation / Robert Kolb, 1941-. — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Academic, 2016.
  • John Knox / Jane E. A. Dawson. — 1st-pb. — New Haven ;London : Yale Univ. Press, 2016.
  • Tyndale : The Man Who Gave God An English Voice / Teems. — 1st-pb. — Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 2012.
  • Handbook of Dutch Church History / J. Selderhuis, 1961-. ; Frank Van Der Pol. ; George Harinck, 1958-. — 1st Engl.-hc. — Gottingen/Bristol, CT : Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015.
  • The Pastor Bonus : Papers Read At The British-Dutch Colloquium At Utrecht, 18-21 September 2002 / Clemens. ; Wim. Janse. ; Peter Raedts. ; Theo and Wim Janse Clemens . — 1st-hc. — Leiden ;Boston : Brill, 2004.
  • The Literature of the Arminian Controversy: Religion, Politics, and the Stage in the Dutch Republic, Freya Sierhuis. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2015. 294pp.
  • Rescuing The Gospel : The Story And Significance Of The Reformation / Erwin W. Lutzer. — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Books, 2016.
  • John Newton / Richard Cecil. ; John Pollock. ; Marylynne Rouse . — reprint-hc. — Fearn, Ross-shire, GB : Christian Focus, 2000.
  • All Things Made New : The Reformation And Its Legacy / MacCulloch. — 1st-hc. — New York : Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • Augustine : Conversions To Confessions / Robin Lane Fox, 1946-. — 1st US-hc. — New York : Basic Books, 2015.
  • Reformations : The Early Modern World, 1450-1650 / Carlos M. N. Eire. — 1st-hc. — New Haven and London : Yale University Press, 2016.

Creeds/Confessions

  • In God’s School : Foundations For A Christian Life / Pierre Charles. Marcel. ; Howard Griffith. ; William Edgar. — 1st-Engl-pb. — Eugene OR : Wipf & Stock Pub, 2008.
  • Lest Any Man Should Boast : The Canons of Dort Simply Explained / Arthur Van Delden. — 1st-hc. — Armadale, W.A. : Pro Ecclesia Publishers, 2004. 353 p.
  • Truths We Confess: Volume I – The Triune God (Chapters 1-8 of the Confession) : A Layman’s Guide to the Westminster Confession Of Faith / C. (Robert Charles) Sproul, 1939-. — 1st-hc. — Phillipsburg, N.J. : P & R Pub., 2006-07. (all 3 volumes added)
  • A Defense Of Confessionalism : Biblical Foundations & Confessional Considerations / Arden L. Hodgins. ; James M. Renihan . — 1st-pb. — Palmdale, CA : Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2016. (Recovering Our Confessional Heritage) vols. 1-3

Dogmatics/Theology/Historical Theology

  • Knowing Christ / Mark Jones. ; J. I. Packer, (James Innell). — 1st-pb. — Edinburgh ; Carlisle, PA : Banner of Truth, 2015.
  • The Glory Of Christ / Peter Lewis, 1945 February 6-. — reprint-pb. — Chicago, Ill. : Moody Press, c1997.
  • Historic Christianity And The Federal Vision : A Theological Analysis And Practical Evaluation / Dewey Roberts. ; Michael A. Milton. ; Morton H. Smith. — 1st-hc. — Destin, FL : Sola Fide Publications, 2016.
  • The Beauty And Glory Of Christ’s Bride / Joel R. Beeke. ; Conrad Mbewe. ; Gerald M. Bilkes. ; Joel R. Beeke . — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapids, MI : Reformation Heritage Books, 2015.
  • The Beauty And Glory Of The Word Of God / Joel R. Beeke. ; Michael Barrett. ; Geoff Thomas. ; Joel R. Beeke, 1952- . — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapids, MI : Reformation Heritage Books, 2016.
  • Common Grace : God’s Gifts For A Fallen World, Volume 1: The Historical Section / Abraham Kuyper, 1837-1920.. ; Nelson D. Kloosterman, Transl.. ; Richard J. Mouw. ; Jordan J. and Stephen J. Grabill Ballor . — 1st-hc. — Bellingham, WA : Lexham Press, 2016. 632 p.  — (Collected Works in Public Theology)
  • Pro Rege : Living Under Christ The King, Volume 1 / Abraham Kuyper, 1837-1920.. ; Albert Gootjes, Transl.. ; John Kok. ; John and Nelson D. Kloosterman Kok . — 1st Eng-hc. — Bellingham, WA : Lexham Press, 2016. 507 p.  — (Collected Works in Public Theology) vol. 1
  • The Oxford Handbook Of Martin Luther’s Theology / Robert Kolb, 1941- , editor of compilation.. ; Irene Dingel, 1956- , editor of compilation.. ; Lubomir Batka, 1974- , editor of compilation.. — 1st-pb. — Oxford : Oxford University Press, c2014.
  • James Durham (1622-1658) : And The Gospel Offer In Its Seventeenth-century Context / Donald John. MacLean. — 1st-hc. — Gottingen, Bristol : Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015.
  • Corrupting The Word Of God : The History of The Well-meant Offer / Herman C. Hanko, 1930-. ; Mark H. Hoeksema. — 1st-hc. — Jenison, MI : Reformed Free Pub Assn, 2016.
  • The Doctrines Of Election And Justification / Arthur Walkington Pink, 1886-1952.. — reprint-pb. — New Ipswich, NH : Pietan Publications, 1997.
  • Biblical Theology : Volume 1: The Common Grace Covenants / Jeffrey Jay. Niehaus. — 1st-pb. — Wooster, OH : Weaver Book Company, 2014.
  • Biblical Authority After Babel : Retrieving The Solas In The Spirit Of Mere Protestant Christianity / Kevin J. Vanhoozer. — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapids, MI : Brazos Press, 2016.

Practical Theology

  • Pulpit Aflame : Essays In Honor Of Steven J. Lawson / Joel R. Beeke, 1952- editor.. ; Ian Hamilton. ; Dustin W. Benge. ; Joel R. and Benge Beeke, Dustin W. . — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapids, MI : Reformation Heritage Books, 2016.
  • The Pastor’s Book : A Comprehensive And Practical Guide To Pastoral Ministry / Kent Hughes, 1942-. ; Douglas Sean O’Donnell, 1972-. — 1st-hc. — Wheaton, IL : Crossway, 2015.
  • The Pastor As Public Theologian : Reclaiming A Lost Vision / Kevin J. Vanhoozer. ; Owen. Strachan. — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapids : Baker Academic, 2015.
  • A Clear And Simple Treatise On The Lord’s Supper : In Which The Published Slanders Of Joachim Westphal Are Finally Refuted / Theodore Beza, 1519-1605. ; David C. Noe, (David Craig) , translator.. ; Martin I. Klauber. — 1st-hc. — Grand Rapid, Mich. : Reformation Heritage Books, 2016.
  • The Reformed Baptism Form : A Commentary / Wielenga. ; Annemie Godbehere, Transl.. ; David J. Engelsma, ed.. ; David J. Engelsma . — 1st English-hc. — Jenison, MI : Reformed Free Pub Assn, 2016.
  • Church Polity in the Canadian Reformed Churches and the Christian Reformed Church : A Comparative Study of Two Dutch Immigrant Churches / William J. Van Oene, 1920-. — bound-hc. — Fergus, ON : Knox College / Toronto School of Theology, 1973.
Published in: on January 3, 2017 at 9:15 PM  Leave a Comment  

New Year’s Thoughts – Grace Gems

This meditation was posted yesterday (Jan.1, 2017) on the Grace Gems devotional website. It is drawn from “Morning Thoughts” by Octavius Winslow (1808-1878), and, as you will see, is fitting for the outset of a new year.

May God grant us a blessed 2017 of spiritual advance as we continue our journey to our everlasting home!

This year I may be in Heaven!

(Octavius Winslow, “Morning Thoughts”)

“You have not traveled this way before!” Joshua 3:4

How solemn is the reflection that each traveler to Zion is commencing a new and untrodden path!

New events in his history will transpire;
new scenes in the panorama of life will unfold;
new phases of character will develop;
new temptations will assail;
new duties will devolve;
new trials will be experienced;
new sorrows will be felt;
new friendships will be formed
new mercies will be bestowed.

How truly may it be said of the pilgrim journeying through the wilderness to his eternal home, as he stands upon the threshold of this untried period of his existence, pondering the unknown and uncertain future: “You have not traveled this way before!”

Reader! if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, you will enter upon a new stage of your journey by a renewed surrender of yourself to the Lord. You will make the cross the starting-point of a fresh setting out in the Heavenly race.

Oh, to begin the year with a broken heart for sin, beneath the cross of Immanuel–looking through that cross to the heart of a loving, forgiving Father!

Do not be anxious about the future–all that future God has provided for:
“All my times are in Your hands.”
“Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”
“Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you.”

Let it be a year of more spiritual advance: “Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward.”
Forward in the path of duty;
forward in the path of suffering;
forward in the path of conflict;
forward in the path of labor; and
forward in the path to eternal rest and glory!

Soon will that rest be reached, and that glory appear! This new year may be the jubilee year of your soul–the year of your release. Oh spirit-stirring, ecstatic thought–this year I may be in Heaven!