Sunday, May 11, 2014

Let all mortal flesh keep silence

Check out this hymn, great for use in before/during communion.  Also, its an appropriate topic, given the frequency with which I've posted in the past few months:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand 

King of kings, yet born of Mary, 
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture, 
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of Light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye, 
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Silence to praise, fall to redemption, confession to assurance, the cross to the table.    

Monday, March 10, 2014

More than a matter of the mind

Jonathan Edwards on the importance of the heart and its affections:
I am bold to assert, that there never was any considerable change wrought in the mind or conversation of any person, by anything of a religious nature, that ever he read, hear, or saw, that had not his affection moved.  Never was a natural man engaged earnestly to seek his salvation; never were any such brought to cry after wisdom, and lift up their voice for understanding, and to wrestle with God in prayer for mercy; and never was one humbled, and brought to the foot of God, from anything that ever he heard or imagined of his own unworthiness and deserving of God's displeasure; nor was ever one induced to fly for refuge unto Christ, while his heart remained unaffected.  Nor was there ever a saint awakened out of a cold, lifeless flame, or recovered from a declining state in religion, and brought back from a lamentable departure from God, without have his heart affected.  And in a word, there was never anything considerable brought to pass in the heart or life of any man living, by the things of religion, that had not his heart deeply affected by those things.  
In other words:
...he that has doctrinal knowledge and speculation only, without affection, never is engaged in the business of religion. 
Also see Ezekiel 36:26.  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The cross or glory?

Check out Dan Ortlund's perfect critique of one problem with Christianity's attempt to break into Hollywood production.

Carson and Moo explain:
Because in 1 and 2 Corinthians Paul passionately develops a theology of the cross that shapes Christian ethics, Christian priorities, and Christian attitudes, the apostle directly confronts all approaches to Christianity that happily seek to integrate a generally orthodox confession with pagan values of self-promotion.  The cross not only justifies, it teaches us how to live and die, how to lead and follow, how to love and serve.  These two letters therefore speak volumes to contemporary Western Christianity, which often prides itself in its orthodoxy but is far more comfortable with twenty-first-century secularism than it has any right to be.
-Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 450-451

Also, see theology of the cross vs. theology of glory.  

All of which raises the question: to what extent is this blog an integration of "orthodox confession with pagan values of self-promotion"?  Yikes.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

The direction of discipleship

Samuel Rutherford applies Matthew 5:3-4:
When I am in the cellar of affliction, I look for the Lord's choicest wines.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Emmanuel, God with us

Advent: the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

Look back and celebrate the first:
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. 
Truly, truly I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice.  You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.  And they worshiped him...
 And look forward with anticipation to the second:
Oh come, desire of nations, bind into one the hearts of all mankind; oh bid our sad divisions cease, and be yourself our King of Peace. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Less theatrics, more nourishment

Calvin's opinion on the Eucharist:
For Calvin, the Supper is not a theatrical miracle at which the people of God are spectators, but a living encounter with the glorious person of the ascended Christ; the elements are given not to gaze upon but to consume.
Peter Leithart,  "What's wrong with transubstantiation? An evaluation of theological models." Westminster Theological Journal 53 (1991): p. 318.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Whole holiness

The best thing I've ever read on how sanctification works: 
Without sincerity and diligence in a universality of obedience, there is not mortification of any one perplexing lust to be obtained...He that has a running sore upon him, arising from an ill habit of body, contracted by intemperance and ill diet, let him apply himself with what diligence an skill he can to the cure of his sore, if he leave the general habit of his body under distempers, his labor and travail will be in vain.  So will his that shall endeavor to stop a bloody issue of sin and filth in his soul, and is not equally careful of his universal spiritual temperature and constitution.  
-John Owen, Overcoming Sin and Temptation, eds. Kelly M. Kapic, Justin Taylor (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006), pp. 86-87.

In other words, to grow in holiness we must care for our whole person and pursue spiritual health in every way, rather than spending all of our energy eliminating one or two habitual sins.