Monday, June 30, 2014

Putting Makeup on a Corpse

This is so good - and so necessary to be said:

"Liturgy without life is like putting makeup on a corpse.  Doctrine without this same life is like spelling everything right on the tombstone." - Wilson, AC, p42.

That is said by someone who is all about robust liturgy and thick, systematic doctrines.  They are great gifts.  But they are horrible curses when they exist without evangelical faith.

"In That Day" Language

In 2:11, 12, 17, 20, 3:7, 18, the refrain "in that day" (or "day of the Lord" once in 2:12) runs over and over these judgment sections.  The judgments of Chapter 1 were followed with a vision of a glorious future in 2:1-5.  The judgments of Chapters 2-3 are followed with another glorious vision of restoration and beyond in Chapter 4.

There are many "days" of the Lord and we will see that throughout this book as many nations are judged.  But all foreshadow a particular "day."  The debate is whether the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the hinge for that day in the middle of history, or whether that day is actually at the end of all history.

If the day of the Lord is something still to come then Jesus' first advent really only procured something for the future.  But if the day of the Lord occurred 2000 years ago, then these visions of future glory in Isaiah can be understood to have been fulfilled in principle now with a "now and not yet" manifestation, like yeast working through a lump.

I believe Scripture contends for the latter interpretation.  And I believe working through Isaiah will confirm this.

Raise Your Ebenezer

– “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for thy courts above.”

Those words from Robinson’s hymn are part of what makes it such a favorite for many.  This is what we often feel, isn’t it – prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love.

And so, we come to worship Him, the One Who will never wander from us.  The One Who delivers us from sin and death and the One Who knows the very hairs on our head.  Whether you feel it or not, whether you feel prone to wander at this moment or whether you will later – you can pray now –

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for thy courts above.

That is what He has done for you who are in Jesus Christ.  That is what He will do for all who call upon the Lord Jesus, believing Him to be the Savior for their sins and their only Way to eternal life.  And when He does that, you can “raise your Ebenezer.” 

Now what does that mean?  Ebenezer is the English transliteration of the Hebrew name “the Stone of Help” which Samuel names as he set up a memorial stone to remember that God had come and magnificently delivered Israel from the hands of the Philistines, recorded in 1 Samuel 7.

Has God delivered you from the snares of sin and death?  Then come and worship Him – He is your Ebenezer, our Rock of Ages, our Stone of Help.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Looking to Abraham - or Not

Isaiah 51:1-2 commands us to "look unto Abraham" as our father, and John the Baptist chides those who were looking to Abraham but in such a way that condemned them (Matt 3:9).

Jesus made clear that there were those who claimed to have Abraham as their father in fact did not (John 8:39ff).  And Paul told some that the way they looked to Abraham actually made them sons of Hagar (Gal 4:24).

Which is it?  Are we to look to Abraham or not?

"To the unconverted heart it sure looks (as though God is trifling with us).  To the converted heart, the distance between looking to Abraham and looking to Abraham is as vast as the distance between Heaven and Hell.  There is a chasm between the two, and the bosom of Abraham on only one side of it." - Wilson, AC, p40.

Reformed Churches Guilty of Neglecting the Imperative

"Indeed, if the liberal church has been guilty of emphasizing the imperative at the expense of the indicative, the Reformed church has, to some extent, been guilty of emphasizing the indicative at the expense of the imperative." - Carrick, IP, p107.

Jesus, Paul, and the apostles, all were masters of taking the truth of God's Word and then applying it to the men and women they were speaking or writing to.  They had no problem working with application in their sermons - things to be believed, new ways to see the world and one's circumstances, and actions that needed to be taken.

The Daughters of Zion Condemned

The daughters of Zion will be as condemned for their participation in the exploitation of the poor which provided them with all of their gaudy riches (Isaiah 3:13-26).  These women may not have done the "dirty work" but they surely strut their stuff, showing no concern for the downcast, but walking their malls with all the latest fashion (v16).

The men will be lost in war (v25) and the gates of the city will lament like her women (v26).  But as a result of the siege and fall of Zion, "these women...will suffer disfiguring disease (17a), sexual abuse (17b), captivity ("a rope", v24), and bereavement (v26).  In desperation these proud women will finally be reduced to throwing themselves at any surviving male who will have them (4:1)" - Webb.

Over and over again, the words of condemnation from the Lord teach us.  It is not true that every time someone is suffering an affliction that it is directly due to some sin or rebellion as Job's accusers wrongly thought.  But if there is sin and rebellion there will be a judgment rendered.  Our righteous Judge has spoken.  And when that righteous judgement is rendered, it will all be to the praise of the glory of God.  In other words, at the end of all things, God will be honored for all the actions He took.  When it is all revealed, it will not look as though He lost His temper one day.  In fact, for all the glory of His justice revealed, the overwhelming glory revealed in that Final Day will be the glory of His mercy, for God's glory is a gracious glory.

And that is what Isaiah will reveal over and over again in His prophecies throughout the book:  overwhelming judgments and even more overwhelming mercies.

But, as this portion reveals, there will be real, harsh, overwhelming judgments.

Friday, June 27, 2014

An Institutional Church with an Evangelical Heart

Wilson makes some great warnings that those of us who commune baptized children.  If you want to have dead formalism, communing children is one good way to get there (AC, p35).  Formalism of all types is an easy way to hide hearts from people and to deaden souls from the need of true, evangelical faith.

What we need is strong, institutional churches, with a well articulated, biblically founded liturgy, robust in the Word and sacraments, in singing the Psalms and preaching that thunders.  This liturgy should regularly be studied and considered and listened to.  We need a Savior, Jesus alone is that Savior, He always was and always will be, and faith in Christ is the only way to have access to that salvation.

God Produces All and We Act All

Quoting Jonathan Edwards, Carrick notes the relationship of the indicative and the imperative reflecting the relationship between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man.

"In efficacious grace we are not merely passive, nor yet does God do some, and we do the rest.  But God does all, and we do all.  God produces all, and we act all.  For that is what he produces, viz. our own acts.  God is the only proper author and fountain; we only are the proper actors.  We are, in different respects, wholly passive and wholly active...These things are agreeable to that text, "God worketh in you both to will and to do.""

Eat or Be Eaten

Isaiah 1:19–20 (NKJV)

19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land; 20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword”; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

The pun in the warning is made clear in the Hebrew but obscured in this translation.  The Hebrew word for "eat" (v19) and "be devoured" (v20) is the same - 'akal.

The "mouth" of Yahweh says this:  either eat or be eaten.  Obey and find the fruit of the land.  Rebel and find yourself on the cutting board.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Nothing More than an Object Lesson

"Now it is quite true that an Israelite could have been saved from the Passover Angel of the Lord at the first Passover in a condition of unbelief, provided there was some blood on the door post.  This was because the Lord needed to have some covenantal unbelievers around to slay in the wilderness later so that we might have their objective example before our eyes." - Wilson, AC, p32.

Sound harsh?  Well, that is exactly what the apostle Paul said, 
1 Corinthians 10:1–6 (NKJV)

1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.

What do we learn:
1 - God is God and we are not.
2 - God will never be mocked.
3 - Let God be true and every man a liar.
4 - Believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved.  Don't try to hide from God in the covenant people; you will only up being an example the God will use to the glorious wrath of His holy name.

Isaiah for Today

When one wonders if there is a contemporary context to understand Isaiah, one has to look no further than verses 16-17 of Chapter 1, 

Isaiah 1:16–17 (NKJV)

16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, 17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.

Who are the fatherless in our country that need to be defended today?  The 3000+ children who will be murdered on American soil today, that's who.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Little Saints Growing in Worship with Us

Our practice at Trinity Church is very similar to our sister church, Christ Church (whose pastor, Douglas Wilson, wrote a book, "Against the Church" which I have been quoting and commenting on - and these thoughts parallel his in that book, pp31-32).  Our children are included with us in the worship of God on the Lord's Day.  One of my own sons said his first word in the middle of a worship service, "Adda!" He was chiming in with the rest of us as we shouted our "Amen!" at the end of a hymn.

Lifting their hands with us as we sing the Doxology (which one little saint just last Lord's Day was doing just before I led us into that part of the liturgy - as though he was sending in signals from the side like a baseball coach), they learn early on that they are a part of the people of God.

That is why it makes complete sense to bring them to the Table as well.  Baptized children should be admitted to the Table because they are little saints.  We never want to teach them at that time that "we are in" while "they are out."  We want them to join with us in the journey of learning all there is in the Lord's Supper, and we want to learn from them what it is to have childlike faith.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Death that Conquered Death

Of course, as Christians, we meditate on death all the time.  We meditate here at the Table on the death of all deaths, the death that destroyed death, the death that removed the sting of death, the death that brought forth our life and promised us eternal life in the One Who died and rose again.

And this is what we proclaim as we partake.  We proclaim our union with Him in His death – and we proclaim our union with Him in the results of that death, in what that death procured.  It bought our salvation, our redemption, it brought forth our life – a new life – in Jesus.

Come to the Table and proclaim, memorialize, meditate, and give great thanks for a death – your death – your death in Jesus Christ and your resulting life in Him as well.

Rebelling Against the Father

Father's Day has recently come and gone.  America doesn't know what a father is or what father's are for and it shows in how we treat our fathers.  But the way we treat our fathers is a direct result of how the fathers in America have abdicated, rebelled and exploited their children.

But rebellion to fathers does not occur only when fathers first rebel.  Our heavenly Father was and is a perfect father to Israel and yet - 

Isaiah 1:2 (NKJV)

2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: “I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me;

What happened in the Garden has been repeated over and over again.  Adam represents us well and we prove it again and again.  Israel as a nation has done just that as Isaiah records the lament of the Father.

As imperfect fathers, we of course must first take responsibility for the rebellions of our children if such rebellions occur.  We must take responsibility for the sins of our children when such sins occur.  And we learn about taking responsibility from our heavenly Father for Whom there can be brought no charge of responsibility due to His own neglect or sin.  We, therefore, should show forth responsibility for the state of our families even more so - and follow in the steps of the Father in how we then go forth to redeem, restore, and reconcile.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Normal Means of Grace

Naaman, a Syrian general in the days of Elisha, riddled with the dreaded disease leprosy, was told that he would be healed if he would simply wash in the Jordan River seven times.  Naaman was ticked.  Having come so far, he was told to wash in a river probably more dirty than the waters of his homeland.  What was this tomfoolery?  If it was not for his servants, he would have returned to Syria unhealed.  “God has promised – just do it” they said.

There are very ordinary, quite dull looking, but simple plans God has for our spiritual growth.  They are His Word, primarily through preaching, and the sacraments, a splash of water, some wine and bread.  And then there is the gift of prayer – simple communication with the Father through the Son in the power of the Spirit.

There is little pizzazz, no dog and ponies, no smoke and mirrors, no hocus-pocus.  These were the means of grace by which the church saw phenomenal growth.  Acts 2:42  And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers….and Acts 2:46, “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

God does use other means to grow us in the faith.  However, most of those are simply ordained by Him in the form of His providences – trials and blessings, tribulations and more blessings, and more trials.  But the ordinary means, the means that He leaves with us to discipline ourselves and give ourselves to with faith are these – the Word, the Sacraments, and Prayer.  To neglect these is to bring about spiritual deterioration – and then often a temptation to find other means – means which have not been ordained by God as ordinary and useful.

However, this is not to say that our trust is in the means.  Baptism itself does not wash away sins.  Nor are there automatic blessings from hearing the Word or partaking of the Lord’s Table or giving oneself to prayer.  These must be done trusting in God, believing on Jesus, and humbling ourselves before Him, not the means.  Trust God, use His means, and come worshipping with faithful expectation of grace to come.

Putting Man Back "in the Dock"

Speaking of the preaching of Edwards, Whitefield, Davies, Nettleton, and Lloyd-Jones, Carrick wrote, 

"They individualized their hearers; they interrogated their hearers; at times, they almost hounded their hearers.  They put man back in the dock.  There can be no doubt that, under God and with God's blessing, the interrogative is one of the foremost weapons in the preacher's arsenal in the battle for the souls of men." - Carrick, IP, p81.

Merely a Vantage Point

Isaiah 1:1 (NKJV)
1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

"While the vision concerns a specific city and nation in the eighth century BC, we shall see when we get to the beginning of chapter 2 that this is merely the vantage point from which the prophet looks out.  The vision is in fact breathtaking in its scope, embracing all nations and reaching to the very end of time.  Here is a vision which is bound to deliver us from spiritual myopia and small-mindedness if only we can grasp it, or, better still, allow it to grasp us." - Webb

And, of course, this teaches us as well that the promises of the Old Testament for future Israel are never about old Israel in the sense of a single ethnic group.  Rather, as God works with that Israel He is teaching us about what He is doing and will do with the New Israel, the resurrected Israel, the Israel of God which is the church of Jesus Christ.

Isaiah's "Israel" is merely a vantage point for us to see the world and all of God's plans for it.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Uncomfortable Interrogative

Carrick recalls how Lloyd-Jones spoke about the use of asking questions, probing questions, in the midst of a sermon.  He regarded it as "the element of attack."

Oftentimes, simply stating the facts, an indicative, leaves the listener without a sense of probing himself about what he actually believes or is doing, how he is responding.  The question, delivered with skill, can leave a listener intrinsically uncomfortable and motivated to think deeply and consider or reconsider.

A Single Vision

Isaiah 1:1 (NKJV)

1 The vision of Isaiah...which he saw...

The book of Isaiah is the recording of a single vision, according to the words of 1:1.  While brimming with all kinds of judgments and promises upon and to multiple nations and peoples, and while collected and then recorded over the reigns of multiple kings, Isaiah is a single message of the glory of God in His salvation of the world.

In the vision, Isaiah sees what God was doing, why he was doing it, and how it was all playing out under His perfect sovereign control to reveal the glory of His name.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dispassionate Preaching: An Oxymoron

Preaching the Word of God is essentially a passionate, not a dispassionate, activity (Carrick p51).  Lloyd-Jones says, "A sermon is not an not to be confused with giving a lecture."  

Nor should it be a cozy, fireside chat.  Carrick notes that J.I. Packer has expressed his concern over the "calm and chatty intimacy" which the pulpit has learned from the media.

We are discussing the eternal destinies of the ones to whom we are preaching.  We are discipling those who have been purchased with the blood of the Son of God.  We are exhorting, admonishing, wooing, pleading, and encouraging the very children of God or those who should respond in faith as new children of God.  Therefore, these times of communication should be filled with zeal, passion, concern, and great personal emotion.

Dispassionate preaching is an oxymoron.

Never Thwarted

The use of two phrases from Isaiah in the middle of John's gospel introduce the time of Jesus' passion.  His suffering is about to come about as He gives Himself away for those who are rejecting Him.

John 12:37–40 (NKJV)

37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.”

This is a sad commentary on the people who witnessed firsthand the signs and teachings of the Messiah.  But this is just what Isaiah had predicted in Isaiah 6 and in Isaiah 53.  But John's next comment reveals the glory - God's intentions are never thwarted by man's rebellion - 

John 12:41 (NKJV)
41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

Of course, John is referring particularly to the vision Isaiah had of the Lord in Isaiah 6.  That is the center of the first section of Isaiah, chapters 1-12.  Chapter 6 is the center of the chiastic structure and so the main idea of the section - the glory of God revealed.  And while 1-12 are filled with judgments, both upon Judah and Israel - it is chock full of promises of God's salvation despite their rejections.  Chapter 12 ends it all beautifully and hopefully - 

Isaiah 12:1–2 (NKJV)
1 And in that day you will say: “O Lord, I will praise You; Though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me. 2 Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’ ”

And so, in John's gospel, the passion begins - and the glory of the Lord will be revealed in the cross and resurrection.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Denunciation with Lamentation

Jesus preaches eight "woes" upon unbelieving Israel in Matthew 23, and He does not hold back any punches in the kind of language He uses to denounce them.  But then, He concludes, 

Matthew 23:37–38  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  See! Your house is left to you desolate;"

Denunciation mingled with lamentation.  This is a great caution and warning to the preacher if He employs the use of condemning or rebuking the listener.  It should be filled with great and intense emotion that pleads with the listeners in Christ's stead to turn and believe the Good News.

The Euangelion in Isaiah and Isaiah in the New Testament

Second only to the Book of Psalms, Isaiah is quoted "no fewer than sixty-six times in the New Testament" (Webb) with many more transparent allusions throughout the gospels and epistles.  Of course, the climax of the New Testament in Revelation, the declaration of death conquered, of tears wiped away, of the new heavens and earth, are all drawn from language found in Isaiah.

In the LXX, the words for "good tidings" in 40:9 give us the first use of the word "gospel" - euangelion.  For this and many other reasons, Isaiah is often referred to as "the Gospel according to Isaiah."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Good Works at the Table

Let us make clear again the necessity of good works in order to come to the Table of our Lord.  There is a necessity of good works which qualifies each one of us to come and participate in communion.

And all of those good works were accomplished for us by our Savior and Lord – that is why His body was broken; that is why His blood was shed.  There is nothing you or I can add to this table.  This is a table of good works – but someone else’s not our own.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing you can do to deserve to be here.  This is a Table of grace.  And at this Table, we will be fed with good works – and then we will go out from here and walk in the good works that we have been united to – and all to the glory of our God and Savior Who is working in us.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Father's Day Call to Worship - 2014

This Sunday, we are going to change from reciting the Apostles Creed to reciting the answer to the first question in the Heidelberg Catechism.  You may want to make sure you have a copy of the bulletin if you have not yet memorized this wonderful statement.

It just so happens to be Father’s Day today as well – and so a Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads.  The Heidelberg Catechism does a wonderful job extolling the faithfulness of God our Father and the whole Trinity.  We are owned by Jesus Christ, who redeemed us.  We are preserved by our heavenly Father in such a way that not a hair can fall from our heads outside of His predetermined will.  And He has given us His Holy Spirit as our assurance of eternal life with Him.

Our culture is in dire need of father figures.  Half of the children in our country will go to bed tonight in a home without a father.  Fathers have neglected their calling and their privilege –and so we do not know, as a culture, what it is to be a father or to have a father.

The answer is here.  Fatherhood is found here, in the church.  And it is as easy as looking to Jesus Christ and you will know what the Father is like – and you will learn what a Father is for.

This land will only come to full repentance when it learns that it needs a Father and that it has a Father.  But that will only happen when they come to the Father in the name of His Son – even Jesus Christ.

Come and worship this Father, our God, Who has called you, has provided a way of salvation, has given His Son out of love for you, has and will preserve you and will assure you for the rest of your days of eternal life, eternal redemption, eternal reconciliation with Him.  You do have a Father.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Holy Spirit at Communion

The Trinity is evident at the Lord’s Table.  We are summoned to the Table by God the Father, we partake of the elements of the once-for-all sacrificed Lamb of God, and we do so by the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is the Spirit by which we partake of Christ by faith here at the Table.  God would not have us go through a lifeless ritual – rather, here, the means of grace is placed before us.  But it will be useless unless God’s Spirit does His work.  It is the same with the preaching of the Word.  Word and Sacrament.  Both are instruments which God uses and commands us to use as His church.  But both require His active work with them in the hearts of the hearers, in the hearts of the partakers.  And He promises to do so here and now.  Come and welcome to Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pentecost and the End of Shame

As we celebrate the glorious day of Pentecost where the church was baptized in the Holy Spirit, reborn in the midst of a fallen world to be ambassadors of Christ’s reconstruction of the world which He redeemed, we bear the message, the only message, of hope to a world crushed not only in her sin, but in her shame.

Shame crushes.  And everyone knows they are under the guilt of their sin, their lawlessness.  The law of God is written into the conscience of every image-bearer and he or she cannot escape that sense of right and wrong his or her Creator placed in his or her heart.  When we are guilty of transgressions, we are ashamed and, just like our original parents in Eden, we try to hide from God.

We hide from God by refusing to acknowledge Him, by refusing to give Him thanks, and by building institutions, whole-sale K-12 programs across a country, at the cost of billions and billions of dollars, to tell our children that God is dead or irrelevant, or only some trinket to hold on to in the privacy of your own heart.  We write thick books proving that Darwin was right (at least on the point that we have evolved from other species – we of course don’t want to argue alongside Darwin that therefore there are races of men which are lower forms of that evolutionary process than others – which was the point of his book – and the reason Planned Parenthood makes its millions and millions by chopping up little black babies at a far greater rate per capita than little white babies).

But I digress…. – all of our sin, even the unacknowledged, hidden, self-justified sin – just won’t go away.  The guilt won’t go away no matter how long we shout that right is wrong and wrong is right and that it just doesn’t matter what reproductive parts you were born with, everyone has a right to redetermine their gender or preferences because, hey, there is no God, this is all simply a matter of chance plus time.

But the guilt won’t go away.  The shame won’t leave.  The loneliness from being so far away from your Maker, your Creator, and the One who calls on you to come and be healed, forgiven and restored, keeps nagging and nagging at your blackened heart.

Hear the good news!  The Savior has bled and died.  He has died and risen again.  He has risen and ascended.  He has ascended and been enthroned.  He is enthroned and gives gifts to men – nothing greater than Himself in the Holy Spirit – poured out on this world, in this world.  Glory that takes away all shame.  Light that shatters darkness.  Forgiveness that washes deep.  Resurrection that makes all things new.  Come and worship this Jesus – come and worship the LORD.

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Triumphant Indicative

"Christianity begins with a triumphant indicative; Christianity does not begin with an urgent imperative."- Carrick, IP, p27.

And so, God is not looking for the best salesman for the gospel, someone who would do a great job working for one of those time-share vacation spots.  He is calling for heralds; servants who faithfully proclaim what God has said and done through Jesus Christ.

No doubt, these heralds must proclaim what God has said, and some of what God has said, quite a bit actually, is in the form of urgent imperatives.  Nevertheless, as a faithful study through the flow of the book of Ephesians so wonderfully illustrates, we only obey imperatives after we have believed indicatives.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Honorary Paedobaptists

"Baptist parents who bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord are honorary paedobaptists - however much they dislike the accolade (Rom 2:26).  They are like the son in the parable who says he will not go, and then he does (Matt 21:28-31).  Paedobaptists who bring up their children in the kind of serenity that only high presumption can provide are the other son.  And, as it turns out, that other son, the one with the big talk, has an uncircumcised and unbaptized heart." - Wilson, Against the Church, p31.

It is funny when I think about it.  I grew up, early in my Christian walk, around those kind of baptists, the ones who were believing the promises of God for their children, treating them like covenant members (although keeping them dry for the time being), nurturing them, admonishing them, and so on.  Glory be, so many of those children growing up professed faith early in their childhood, were often baptized quite young, and walked faithfully.  They were doing everything the faithful paedobaptist is supposed to be doing and believing.  Over time, these baptists led me to a paedobaptist belief - it was just a matter of putting the sign of belief in God's promises declared on the one I believed He had said those promises about.

The only thing keeping me away from becoming a paedobaptist, experientially, were all of the high-presumptive paedos I knew.  The little bit of church life in my early years was in a church just like that.  Infants baptized by parents who did not know or obey the Lord but went to some liberal presby church.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Infant Baptism and Nominalism

"Those who object to infant baptism because of the invitation it presents to nominalism and presumption have a strong argument.  If circumcision was the precursor to baptism, as paedobaptists like to argue, then the temptations that came with circumcision will also come with infant baptism." - Wilson, Against the Church, p30.

I completely agree with this.  In fact, this was one of my "strong" arguments against paedobaptism.  But I am a paedobaptist and so is Wilson.  What gives?  I came to see that the problem of nominalism and presumption does not go away when we wait until the nominalist is twelve years old, has learned the "ropes" for being in church, walks the aisle at the appointed time, and gives his testimony.  Parents still presume and even pressure their kids to "make a decision" when the agreed upon "age of accountability" has occurred.  Worse, afraid to not push the kids to make a decision, they might never call them to Christ, leaving the child doubting whether or not he is or could be saved far too long.

How is nominalism and presumption solved then?  Hot gospel preaching and faithful church discipline - in both the baptist and Presbyterian churches.  And ultimately, by a glorious work of the Spirit on all of our churches.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Hell is Justice

Frame identifies the three uses of the law (p97) - 

1 - to restrain evil in society
2 - to terrify sinners in order to drive them to Christ
3 - to provide guidance for the Christian life

It struck me that such language of the second use, "to terrify sinners" doesn't get much good press among most Christians today.  Is that the correct use of the law?  The right kind of "fire and brimstone" preaching is profitable for the world.  Preachers must not shun their responsibilities of declaring the full rights of King Jesus and His law over the world.  They must not be afraid of the response when they declare that outside the saving work of Christ, all men will find themselves under a terrible judgment and the law has plainly revealed the justice of that judgment.

We must always remember that the difficult thing to resolve is not why God would send someone to Hell for an eternity.  The question is always how could a holy God ever allow anyone into Heaven with Him?

Hell is Justice.

A Second Isaiah?

Liberal scholars continue to put forth the "evidences" for multiple authors over multiple generations for the book of Isaiah.

Webb makes several criticisms of such an idea.  One of the best that struck me:  "Equally difficult for the majority view is the need to maintain that the author of chapters 40-55 should have had his name either completely forgotten or deliberately suppressed...In every other instance of prophetic commissioning in the Old Testament, the prophet is either addressed by name or clearly identified in the framing narrative, and the names of those so called are revered and honoured.  Even where there is a close 'master-disciple' relationship between two prophets, as with Elijah and Elisha, each is remembered by name.  but in the case of 'Second Isaiah', we are required to believe that a disciple who receives a separate commissioning almost a century and a half after the death of his master, and whose own ministry rivals or even surpasses that of his mentor, has had his identity completely suppressed!" - Webb, p36.