Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Precious Blood

Might this prayer remind you of both the depths of your depravity and the depths of God's mercy. And may it enrich this Lord's Day.

--A prayer from The Valley of Vision:

Blessed Lord Jesus,

Before thy cross I kneel and see
the heinousness of my sin,
my iniquity that caused thee to be "made a curse",
the evil that excites the severity of divine wrath.

Show me the enormity of my guilt by
the crown of thorns,
the pierced hands and feet,
the bruised body,
the dying cries.

Thy blood is the blood of incarnate God,
its worth infinite, its value beyond all thought.

Infinite must be the evil and guilt that demands such a price.

Sin is my malady, my monster, my foe, my viper,
born in my birth,
alive in my life,
strong in my character,
dominating my faculties,
following me as a shadow,
intermingling with my every thought,
my chain that holds me captive in the empire of my soul.

Sinner that I am, why should the sun give me light,
the air supply breath,
the earth bear my tread,
its fruits nourish me,
its creatures subserve my ends?

Yet thy compassions yearn over me,
thy heart hastens to my rescue,
thy love endured my curse,
thy mercy bore my deserved stripes.

Let me walk humbly in the lowest depths of humiliation,
bathed in thy blood,
tender of conscience,
triumphing gloriously as an heir of salvation.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

White Horse Inn Broadcasts on Preaching

For the last few weeks, the White Horse Inn radio broadcasts have all revolved around the subject of preaching. I would highly recommend listening to them all.

Interview with David Gordon, professor of Religion and Greek at Grove City College and author of Why Johnny Can't Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers.

Should Christian ministers work hard at being culturally relevant, or does the gospel of Jesus Christ create its own relevance?

Is the Bible primarily a handbook for living a happy, moral lifestyle? Or perhaps its best understood as a how-to manual showing us how to fix various problems in life? The WHI hosts make the case that the Bible is primarily about the story of redemption through Christ (originally broadcast on May 8, 2005).

What does it mean to "rightly divide the word of truth"? (2 Timothy 2:15) On this program, the WHI hosts will be taking a look at one of the most crucial and fundamental distinctions in all of Scripture, namely the contrast between justice and mercy, precept and promise; law and gospel (Originally broadcast on May 22nd, 2005).

And check out this broadcast from back in March:

Countless churches across the country offer relevant messages week after week that focus on wisdom for life, tips for marriage and family, money management, etc. But the Apostle Paul preferred a message of foolishness. Though "Greeks search for wisdom," he wrote, "we preach Christ crucified." What are the implications of this approach in our own day, and how might it transform our churches?

The Limits of the Law and the Alien Righteousness of the Gospel

This brief story by Eric Landry, executive editor of Modern Reformation, is an excellent example of how the Law can never save, in and of itself. Read it here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Pocket Puritans

John Adams once told his son, John Quincy, "You're never alone with a poet in your pocket." I would most certainly agree with Mr. Adams, and I would also add, "You're never alone with a Puritan in your pocket." And with Banner of Truth's "Pocket Puritans," you have no excuse to ever be alone.

These little books are perfect for the ten to fifteen minutes in the day that too often get wasted - waiting to get a haircut, waiting at the doctor's office, waiting for someone at a restaurant, using public transportation, etc. So stick one in your pocket and make wise use of your time.

Here's an excerpt from Samuel Ward's Living Faith that I read this week (it is well worth your time):

Use your faith always, as a necessity, as you use fire, water, salt, bread, wine, or other necessities. Faith is not just the midwife to bring you into joy and peace, and then you may let it go. It is more like a nurse or foster mother to bring you on to full maturity in them. Faith is even sweeter in its mature fruit than in its beginnings. Do you desire to have a continual feast, and to rejoice always in the Lord? I know you do desire it with all your soul. Let me prescribe a daily regimen to be strictly kept (may the Lord give both you and me grace to keep it). Just as often as you refresh your body by food and recreation, cheer up your soul by using your faith. Let your soul have two or three walks each day up to Mount Tabor, that is, to some retired place of meditation and prayer, like Isaac's field, Cornelius' walks, or David's closet.

What is to be done there? Faith is to be put to use! This is the chief mystery of our spiritual life. Stir up your soul in this mountain to talk with Christ. Consider all the promises and privileges you regularly enjoy. Now actually think of them, roll them under your tongue, chew on them until you feel their sweetness in the palate of your soul. View them together and individually. Sometimes contemplate one in particular, or another more deeply.

Consider how wonderful it is that your debts have been canceled, and that the wrath of God has been satisfied. Consider how happy and safe a condition you are in by being a son of God, and how pleasant a state not to fear death and hell. Consider how stately a thing it is to be an heir of glory. Mingle these thoughts with your prayers to heaven for grace and aid. Do not leave the mountain until your heart has been cheerfully warmed and revived in strength for the next day.

This is using your faith. It is living by faith. You will find your soul saying, "It is good to be here." It is good to be here daily, to come here often! The fire in unstirred coals does not glow, and does not heat the house. Sugar unstirred in the cup does not sweeten the wine. Not using your faith is almost as bad as not having it at all.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Reflecting on Repentance

It seems that much of what I have been reading lately has involved the theme of repentance, so I have been doing a lot of pondering and reflecting on that subject. Like many of my reflections, this one has turned into a hymn.

True Repentance and Contrition
M. Justin Wainscott © 2009

True repentance and contrition,
These our desp'rate need;
Help us see our ill condition
In ev'ry sinful deed.

Reveal to us our heinous crimes,
Our vile and wretched hearts;
And how we've spurned a thousand times
The good Your Law imparts.

Let us fear Your righteous anger,
That awful, holy wrath;
Cause our hearts to feel the danger,
Which haunts the crooked path.

But please remind us, and with haste,
Of Christ, the sinner's friend;
And preach to us of gospel grace,
Of pardon from our sin.

Assure us, Lord, that You are good;
Remind us of Your love,
That Christ redeemed us by His blood,
And pleads for us above.

Now help us daily die to sin,
The Spirit as our aide;
And rid us of what dwells within,
Until like Christ we're made.

D. A. Carson: A Professor and a Poet

After my previous post regarding D. A. Carson's poem on the incarnation of Christ, Ray Van Neste brought to my attention that Carson has published a book of sonnets as well as released two CDs with songs written by him (thank you, Ray, for informing me of this!).

The book, Holy Sonnets of the Twentieth Century, appears to be out of print (though it can still be found).

The two CDs, Shout with Delight (Volume 1) and For the Love of God (Volume 2), are both still available.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Unpublished Poem on the Incarnation of Christ

Most of us know D. A. Carson the professor, but few of us know Carson the poet. Thankfully, Justin Taylor has made one of Carson's unpublished poems available. His theologically rich and beautifully crafted poem on the incarnation of Christ can be read here.

9 Marks and the Southern Baptist Convention

If any of you are planning on going to the annual Southern Baptist Convention next month in Louisville, make sure you schedule time to go to 9Marks at 9 on June 22-23.

June 22 - Why the Nine Marks Are Central to the Future of the SBC, Mark Dever
June 23 - The SBC: Where We Are and Where We're Going, Danny Akin

Panel discussions will follow each evening.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This Day in Church History

May 26, 1521

The Edict of Worms formally condemns Martin Luther's teachings, which results in his being put under the ban of the Holy Roman Emperor. He is whisked away in secret to Frederick's Wartbury Castle, where he remained in hiding while working on the German translation of the Bible.

Thanks be to God for protecting Luther's life and giving him the courage to persevere under such difficult circumstances!

The Exegetical Method of "Arcing"

Ray Van Neste has a great post on the exegetical exercise of "arcing" (diagramming at the paragraph level) in which he briefly explains the method, directs us to a new website devoted to this method, and provides a brief video of John Piper discussing the value of the method.

If you are a preacher or a Bible teacher, I highly recommend you giving this some time and attention.

Soul-Winning Made Easy by C.S. Lovett

I have heard Mark Dever mention this little book before (and not in a flattering way), and now Tim Challies has posted some of the pages from it on his blog. If you want to see why evangelicals have been so inept in evangelism, this may help explain why.

Al Mohler on the Scandalous Loss of Doctrinal Conviction

Al Mohler's thoughts on Richard Holloway, an agnostic bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and what such a lack of doctrinal conviction means for the Church.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Hymn of Praise for the Work of Christ

To Christ My Praise Shall Ever Be
M. Justin Wainscott, © 2008

To Christ my praise shall ever be,
For by his blood he rescued me
From sin's accursed, wretched spell,
And from the grips of death and hell.

My sin incurred a hopeless debt,
But Christ hath all my payment met.
By Jesus' blood I've been set free;
To him my praise shall ever be.

It was my cross that Christ did bear,
And mine the sin that sent him there.
And still he suffered willingly;
To him my praise shall ever be.

How oft sin's damning voice is heard,
But Jesus speaks a better word.
His blood assures and comforts me;
To him my praise shall ever be.

You fleshly passions, which I fight,
You chains of sin, which hold me tight,
From you one day I shall be free
To praise my Lord more perfectly!

And when his lovely face I see,
The Lamb of God who died for me,
My lips shall sing repeatedly,
To Christ my praise shall ever be.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Wit and Wisdom of Wendell Berry

One of my favorite contemporary writers is Wendell Berry. I love his novels, his short stories, his essays, and his poetry. Sadly though, he does not seem to be widely known or appreciated. And therefore, I try to take advantage of any opportunity to introduce his work to people and encourage them to read him. Allow me to introduce you to a sampling of Berry's poetry.


Now that you have gone
and I am alone and quiet,
my contentment would be
complete, if I did not wish
you were here so I could say,
"How good it is, Tanya,
to be alone and quiet."

The Plan

My old friend, the owner
of a new boat, stops by
to ask me to fish with him,

and I say I will - both of us
knowing that we may never
get around to it, it may be

years before we're both
idle again on the same day.
But we make a plan, anyhow,

in honor of friendship
and the fine spring weather
and the new boat

and our sudden thought
of the water shining
under the morning fog.

Throwing Away the Mail

Nothing is simple,
not even simplification.
Thus, throwing away
the mail, I exchange
the complexity of duty
for the simplicity of guilt.

Three Elegiac Poems


Let him escape hospital and doctor,
the manners and odors of strange places,
the dispassionate skills of experts.

Let him go free of tubes and needles,
public corridors, the surgical white
of life dwindled to poor pain.

Foreseeing the possibility of life without
possibility of joy, let him give it up.

Let him die in one of the old rooms
of his living, no stranger near him.

Let him go in peace out of the bodies
of his life -
flesh and marriage and household.

From the wide vision of his own windows
let him go out of sight; and the final

time and light of his life's place be
last seen before his eyes' slow
opening in the earth.

Let him go like one familiar with the way
into the wooded and tracked and
furrowed hill, his body.


I stand at the cistern in front of the old barn
in the darkness, in the dead of winter,
the night strangely warm, the wind blowing,
rattling an unlatched door.
I draw the cold water up out of the ground, and drink.

At the house the light is still waiting.
An old man I've loved all my life is dying
in his bed there. He is going
slowly down from himself.
In final obedience to his life, he follows
his body out of our knowing.
Only his hands, quiet on the sheet, keep
a painful resemblance to what they no longer are.


He goes free of the earth.
The sun of his last day sets
clear in the sweetness of his liberty.

The earth recovers from his dying,
the hallow of his life remaining
in all his death leaves.

Radiances know him. Grown lighter
than breath, he is set free
in our remembering. Grown brighter

than vision, he goes dark
into the life of the hill
that holds his peace.

He's hidden among all that is,
and cannot be lost.

We Who Prayed and Wept

We who prayed and wept
for liberty from kings
and the yoke of liberty
accept the tyranny of things
we do not need.
In plenitude too free,
we have become adept
beneath the yoke of greed.

Those who will not learn
in plenty to keep their place
must learn it by their need
when they have had their way
and the fields spurn their seed.
We have failed Thy grace.
Lord, I flinch and pray,
send Thy necessity.

--All poems taken from Collected Poems of Wendell Berry (1957-1982)

Reformed Humor

I always enjoy the good humor over at The Sacred Sandwich, especially the "Dubious Photojournalism." Check out "Reformed and Smitten" here, which is just too funny.

Interesting Thoughts on Preaching Twice in a Week

Here is an interesting post on the profits and perils of preaching twice in the same week from the Unashamed Workman blog.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Speak the Gospel

We've all heard the quote "Preach the gospel always; when necessary, use words" attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. But did he actually say it? And regardless of whether he did or didn't, should we celebrate this quote?

Mark Galli, senior managing editor at Christianity Today, answers these questions in a helpful article that can be read here.

Here are a few excerpts:

I've heard the quote once too often. It's time to set the record straight—about the quote, and about the gospel.

Francis of Assisi is said to have said, "Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words."

This saying is carted out whenever someone wants to suggest that Christians talk about the gospel too much, and live the gospel too little. Fair enough—that can be a problem. Much of the rhetorical power of the quotation comes from the assumption that Francis not only said it but lived it.

The problem is that he did not say it. Nor did he live it. And those two contra-facts tell us something about the spirit of our age....

"Preach the gospel; use words if necessary" goes hand in hand with a postmodern assumption that words are finally empty of meaning. It subtly denigrates the high value that the prophets and Jesus and Paul put on preaching. Of course we want our actions to match our words as much as possible. But the gospel is a message, news about an event and a person upon which the history of the planet turns....

That being said, a better saying (which you can attribute to anyone you like) is this: Preach the gospel—use actions when necessary; use words always.

Great Deal on New Park Street Pulpit 3 Volume Set

Reformation Heritage Books is offering Spurgeon's New Park Street Pulpit (3 Volumes) at an incredibly low price of $35 (80% off).

A dynamic collection of classic sermons from the Prince of Preachers! Written in 1854 just five years after his conversion, these memorable messages reflect Spurgeon's considerable gifts: word pictures, pointed applications, concern for people, and a heart for God. Preachers will value these early messages as excellent models, and laypeople will enjoy them as devotional reading.

A Surgeon in the Pulpit

I have a friend who has recently left Roman Catholicism and entered the world of Protestant Christianity. Because of his former tradition, he had never really heard expository preaching. The thought that the preacher would stand in the pulpit and explain the Word of God to the people is a novelty to him, but one that was instrumental in his leaving the Catholic Church. It is so encouraging and refreshing to hear him talk about how much he actually enjoys hearing the Scriptures proclaimed with clarity.

He made a comment the other day that I cannot get out of my head. He had been listening to a certain preacher, and he was extremely fascinated by the way this preacher unpacked the text he was preaching. He was trying to find the words to describe it to me when he finally said, "He's...he's a surgeon in the pulpit. He dissects the passage and lays it all out there for people to see, but before he's done he puts everything back together again!"

I'm not sure he could have paid a higher compliment to that preacher. Is that not what true, expository preaching is - dissecting a passage of Scripture, laying it bare before God's people so that they see it in all its parts, and then sewing it back up in a healthy, whole, and unified way?

May the Lord give us more surgeons in the pulpit!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Christians and Culture with Ken Myers

The 9Marks interview that Mark Dever had with Ken Myers, founder and host of Mars Hill Audio, on how Christians should be thinking about and engaging with culture can be heard or downloaded here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Very Encouraging Resolution Proposed by Russell Moore

For those of you who are not Southern Baptists, this will obviously not have as much appeal to you (though I hope you will still appreciate it). But for those of us who are, the resolution being proposed for the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention by Dr. Russell Moore, Dean of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is very encouraging. While so many of the resolutions voted on at the SBC seem to be concerned with peripheral issues, this one involves a genuine gospel issue - adoption and orphan care.

Read Moore's resolution here.

And read his new book, Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches.

Let God Be True and Every Man a Liar

The God I Trust Is True and Just
Joseph Hart

The God I trust is true and just;
His mercy has no end;
Himself has said my ransom's paid,
And on him I depend.

Then why so sad, my soul? Though bad,
Thou hast a Friend that's good;
He bought thee dear (abandon fear);
He bought thee with his blood.

So rich a cost can ne'er be lost,
Though faith be tried by fire;
Keep Christ in view; let God be true;
And every man a liar.

The Pastoral Heart of Moses

When we think of the great models of pastoral ministry in Scripture, rarely do we turn to the Old Testament. But I believe Moses clearly demonstrates a pastor's heart at the end of Numbers 27 (though certainly not in this passage alone). He is told by the LORD that he will die because of his rebellion at Meribah - "you also shall be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, because you rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Zin when the congregation quarreled, failing to uphold me as holy at the waters before their eyes" (Num. 27:13-14).

But instead of turning introspective or beginning to feel sorry for himself (as many of us would do in a similar situation), his thoughts turn immediately towards the people he has been leading - the same people who have constantly murmured against him and complained about him. And yet, he still has their best intentions at heart. He longs for them to be taken care of and given provision and leadership. Numbers 27:15-17 says, "Moses spoke to the LORD, saying, 'Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.'" He did not want God's people to be left without a leader, without a shepherd, without a pastor! And of course, the LORD provided in the person of Joshua.

May God give to his Church pastors with a heart like that of Moses.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Why Calvin Still Matters...500 Years Later

It is the year of Calvin, and Robert Godfrey, president and professor of church history at Westminster Seminary California, has recently written a new (and very readable) biography of the great sixteenth century reformer, John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor. He also has a great article on why Calvin still matters on the seminary's website. Check out the article here.

And check out Christianity Today's interview with Godfrey about Calvin and the book, which can be found here.

Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology

The manuscripts of each sermon and/or address from Together for the Gospel 2008 will be published by Crossway as a compilation titled, Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology. The publication date is, appropriately for a book on the theology of the cross, Reformation Day 2009 (October 31).

The publisher's description reads as follows:

Loving, teaching, and rightly dividing the Word of God is every pastor’s privilege and responsibility. If a pastor understands what the Word says about God, man, and the curse, about Christ and his substitutionary atonement, and about the call to repentance and sacrifice, he will develop and preach a sound theology. And sound theology is, in the words of J. Ligon Duncan, essential to faithful pastoral ministry.

Proclaiming a theology that is centered on Christ’s atonement is especially critical, for by this atonement, Christians have been brought from death to life, and by it a church lives or dies. In this penetrating sequel to Preaching the Cross, John Piper, R. C. Sproul, John MacArthur, and Thabiti Anyabwile join authors Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, C. J. Mahaney, and Albert Mohler in exploring the church’s need for faithful proclamation and calling pastors and churches to cross-centered, scripturally saturated thinking.

And in case you were wondering, registration has already opened for Together for the Gospel 2010.

Calvin on the Need for the Spirit to Accompany the Word

A simple external manifestation of the Word ought to be amply sufficient to produce faith, did not our own blindness and perverseness prevent it. But such is the proneness of our mind to vanity, that it can never adhere to the truth of God, and such its dullness, that it is always blind even in his light. Hence without the illumination of the Spirit the Word has no effect; and hence also it is obvious that faith is something higher than human understanding.

The Word is, in regard to those to whom it is preached, like the sun which shines upon all, but is of no use to the blind. In this matter we are all naturally blind; and hence the Word cannot penetrate our mind unless the Spirit, that internal teacher, by his enlightening power make an entrance for it.

--John Calvin, Institutes (3.2.33-34)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday with Samuel Rutherford

Grace withereth without adversity. The devil is but God's master fencer, to teach us to handle our weapons.

O, what I owe to the file, to the hammer, to the furnace of my Lord Jesus!

Every day we may see some new thing in Christ. His love hath neither brim nor bottom.

Whether God come to his children with a rod or a crown, if he come himself with it, it is well.

There are many heads lying in Christ's bosom, but there is room for yours among the rest.

-- All quotes taken from The Loveliness of Christ: Extracts from the Letters of Samuel Rutherford

If you are unfamiliar with Samuel Rutherford, you can read more about him here and here. Reading his letters is good for the soul!

Friday, May 15, 2009

New Hymn on the Priesthood of Christ

Several weeks ago, I heard D.A. Carson mention that one of the themes that has been overlooked and neglected in our songs and hymnody is the priesthood of Christ. Ever since then, I have wanted to try my hand at crafting a hymn text on that very theme. This week, I finally had the time to sit down, ponder, meditate, and write. Here is my meager attempt.

Jesus Christ, Our Priestly Savior
M. Justin Wainscott, © 2009

Jesus Christ, our priestly Savior,
Melchizedek's true line;
Though on us God looks with favor,
The work was wholly Thine.

The debt of sin required a price
Your blood has fully paid;
In your great priestly sacrifice,
Atonement has been made.

With voices strong we sing these notes,
Of mercy's cleansing flood;
No more the need for bulls and goats,
Sufficient is your blood!

Your sacrifice was once for all,
Yet lasts forevermore;
Our risen Lamb reversed the fall,
And opened heaven's door.

And now for us you intercede,
Our great high priest on high;
For ransomed sinners you do plead,
And offer up your cry.

With full assurance we can trust
Your ev'ry plea is heard;
The Father shall, indeed, he must
Accept your ev'ry word.

So give us confidence to know,
Our hope's secure in Thee;
And let your priestly blessings flow,
Through all eternity.

Michael Horton on the Gospel-Driven Life

Michael Horton's newest book, The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World, which serves as a follow-up to Christless Christianity, will not be released until October. But you can hear lectures that form the content of this new book now.

He spoke on this subject at the Spring Theology Conference of the Reformation Society of Oregon, and they have graciously made the MP3s of his lectures available. Click here to download them.

Southern Baptists, Evangelicals, and the Future of Denominationalism

Union University just announced this week that they will be hosting what looks to be a very promising and considerably interesting conference in October - "Southern Baptists, Evangelicals, and the Future of Denominationalism." The conference will feature Duane Litfin, Michael Lindsay, Timothy George, Al Mohler, Danny Akin, David Dockery, Ed Stetzer, Robert Smith, Steve Harmon, Mark Devine, Ray Van Neste, Hal Poe, Jim Patterson, and Jerry Tidwell.

For more details, click here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Singing the Psalms

Though psalm singing has played a central role in the life and worship of God's people (both old and new covenant believers), that tradition has sadly been neglected by many churches today. Thankfully, there are people who are calling the Church to return to this great practice.

Here is one such example. Ray Van Neste discusses James Grant's recent address at Union University on "How I Introduced Psalm Singing to My Church...Without Getting Fired!" He also includes a link to the audio of Grant's address.

Interceding for Our Wives

I just saw this post over at Between Two Worlds (the blog of Justin Taylor), and it is too good not to mention. It is a recommendation for Andrew Case's book, Water of the Word: Intercession for Her. The book is a collection of biblical passages turned into prayers for wives (though the pronouns could be changed so as to make them prayers for husbands and/or children). However you use it, this looks to be a very helpful resource as we intercede for those dear to us.

Honest Hymnody

Self Applause
John Newton, 1841

My God, how perfect are Thy ways,
But mine polluted are;
Sin twines itself about my praise,
And slides into my prayer.

When I would speak what Thou hast done
To save me from my sin,
I cannot make Thy mercies known,
But self-applause creeps in.

Divine desire, that holy flame
Thy grace creates in me,
Alas, impatience is its name,
When it returns to Thee.

This heart a fountain of vile thoughts,
How does it overflow!
While self upon the surface floats,
Still bubbling from below.

Let others in the gaudy dress,
Of fancied merit shine,
The Lord shall be my righteousness,
The Lord forever mine.

Early Evangelical Poetry

The Glory of God in Christ
Ralph Erskine, 1863

All nature spreads, with open blaze,
Her Maker's name abroad;
And every work of His displays
The power and skill of God.

But in the grace that rescued man,
His brightest glory shines;
Here on the cross 'tis fairest drawn,
In precious bloody lines.

Here His whole name appears complete;
And who can guess or prove,
Which of the letters best are writ,
The wisdom, power, or love?

Justice and mercy, truth and grace,
In all their sweetest charms,
Here met, and joined their kind embrace,
With everlasting arms.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Preaching as Expository Exultation

If you've ever wondered what preaching is or what preaching should be, here is a great answer. It is a vignette of John Piper from the introduction to his sermon this past Sunday on what he means by preaching. I commend it to you, whether you are primarily a preacher of God's Word or primarily a hearer of God's Word.

Grammar as a Means of Grace

Upon recently reading A. T. Robertson's little classic, The Minister and His Greek New Testament, I was struck by a section in the opening chapter titled "Grammar as a Means of Grace." I was reminded afresh of the vast importance of words and the way they are used, especially the living and active words of Almighty God. Here are just a few of the statements that stood out to me.

...[H]e is no theologian who is not first a grammarian...

The lexicon may point the way to life.

The preacher is of necessity a student of words.

Schisms have arisen around misiniterpretations of single words.

Grammar is a means of grace.

Theological and philospohical crudities have always played an important part in the history of heresy.

Church Discipline

Matt Schmucker, executive director of 9Marks and an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., was interviewed by Moody Radio on the topic of church discipline. Listen to the brief conversation (only 7:30 long) here.

Encouragement for Weary and Wounded Souls

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. --Psalm 94:19 (ESV)

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. --Psalm 43:5 (ESV)

Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come...
--Psalm 71:3a (ESV)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Preaching Justification Undiminished

Fellow preachers, listen to John Piper's message on "Preaching Justification Undiminished" from yesterday at the Basics Conference. He discusses why this doctrine has gripped him more than any other and how neglecting this doctrine diminishes the glory of Christ.

Precious Blood

Crossway has just recently published Precious Blood: The Atoning Work of Christ, edited by Richard Phillips. It looks to be another great book on the cross, which should be a welcomed addition to any believer's library. Here is the publisher's description:

In this second volume of essays from the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, several noted preachers join editor Richard Phillips in exploring the doctrine of Christ’s atonement and its history in Christian thought.

At the very heart of Christian faith is the blood of Jesus. His sin-atoning death is the divine work on which the entire structure of salvation rests and the truth on which the Christian doctrine of salvation must be built. Yet recent years have seen a pastoral neglect of the cross and a doctrinal assault from the academy.

With these concerns in mind, R. C. Sproul, Philip Ryken, Joel Beeke, Derek Thomas, Carl Trueman, and Robert Godfrey have joined editor Richard Phillips in exploring the doctrine of Christ’s atonement. These noted pastors proclaim the (1) necessary, (2) redeeming, (3) cleansing, (4) atoning, (5) offensive, and (6) precious blood of our Savior in a series of essays that set the cross in its rightful place—at the forefront of salvation.

You can purchase it here.

A Reader's Guide for the Christian Life

While you may not agree with every single selection (and you might add a few titles that they left off), Monergism Books has offered a great place to start when compiling a recommended reading list for the Christian life. You can view their list here (and even make copies of it to distribute to others).

MacArthur on the Necessity of the Local Church

Here is a brief but poignant article by John MacArthur on the need for the local church, published in Pulpit Magazine.

Monday, May 11, 2009

By Faith

By Faith
M. Justin Wainscott © 2009

By faith I look to Christ my Lord,
Who paid the debt I'd ne'er afford;
I look beyond myself to see,
The One whose blood shall plead for me.

By faith I daily fly to Thee,
The spotless Lamb of Calvary;
Who took my sins and bore them all,
Redeeming me from Adam's fall.

By faith I trust in God's own Son,
And humbly plead what He has done;
I run to Christ my Savior's side,
Believing 'twas for me He died.

By faith I rest assured and free,
The risen Lord now speaks for me;
What charge to me can e'er be laid,
Since Jesus has atonement made?

By faith I'll enter heaven's joy,
Receiving sight to there employ;
And when I see Him face to face,
I'll truly know His saving grace!

Calvin on the Necessity and Authority of the Word

...[W]e must remember, that there is an inseparable connection between faith and the Word, and that these can no more be disconnnected from each other than the rays of light from the sun.

Take away the Word, therefore, and no faith will remain.

...[W]hether God uses the agency of man, or works immediately by his own power, it is always by his Word that he manifests himself to those he designs to draw to himself.

So long as your mind entertains any misgivings as to the certainity of the Word, its authority will be weak and dubious, or rather it will have no authority at all. Nor is it sufficient to believe that God is true, and cannot lie or deceive, unless you feel firmly persuaded that every word which proceeds from him is sacred, inviolable truth.

--John Calvin, Institutes (3.2.6)

Puritan Paperback Bundle

Here's your chance to get 37 of the books in the Puritan Paperbacks series from Banner of Truth at 50% off the regular price. Monergism Books has the sale here.

This would make a great gift for a seminary graduate!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Puritan Wisdom

"Not only the worst of my sins, but the best of my duties speak me a child of Adam."

--William Beveridge

Identifying and Confronting Heresy

In the May issue of Touchstone, S. M. Hutchens has a great editorial on a difficult subject - identifying and confronting heresy. He handles the subject with humility but also with courage. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he gives it an excellent title: "The War on Error." Here are a few brief excerpts:

Reading the last few weeks in the church fathers and reformers, I was struck by what we would call their rudeness. It is hard to go far in their writings without finding them bluntly identifying their opponents as heretics, perverts, madmen, liars, and tools of the devil.

Identifying heresy and falsehood and those who teach it is a duty which, if shirked, will subject the souls under one's influence to the tender mercy of the wolves and one's own soul to the judgment reserved for the shepherd who did not protect his flock. How many pastors and teachers I have known who have been called upon to decide whether to break with their peers by speaking the truth about doctrine or conduct, or with God, and how many appear to break with God.

One must be very sure the accusation is right. This means work: education to competence on what one is talking about.

--S. M. Hutchens

You can read the entire editorial here.

And by the way, if you don't currently subscribe to or read Touchstone, you are depriving yourself of one of the best publications in print.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sproul on the Need for the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness

Justin Taylor, on his blog, has posted an old video of R.C. Sproul teaching about our need for more than just the forgiveness of sin but also the alien righteousness of Jesus Christ. It's only 5:37 long, and it gets right to the heart of what the apostle Paul was communicating in 2 Corinthians 5:21. Check it out here.

Westminster Theological Seminary Audio Archives

Westminster Theological Seminary (PA) has graciously made its audio archives available for free. If you are interested, sign up here to access lectures, sermons, talks, and other various addresses by the WTS faculty throughout its eighty year history.

The Right Kind of Tolerance

It is certainly no secret that the chief virtue of postmodernism is tolerance - a tolerance that Christians often (and rightfully) criticize. But in the most recent issue of Modern Reformation, editor-in-chief Michael Horton, argues that there is a right kind of tolerance that we must celebrate in order to be genuinely and distinctly Christian. He says we must be "culturally tolerant" but never theologically tolerant.

We have to stop thinking in terms of "our Judeo-Christian culture" and acknowledge the value of political pluralism and toleration. And then we can talk about the unique, non-negotiable, and true claims of the gospel. In other words, we must be culturally tolerant of other religions (including secularism), but theologically and spiritually intolerant of assimilating Christian faith and practice to the idols of our age.

--Michael Horton, "Final Thoughts"

Word Within the Word Conference

The audio is now available from the Word Within the Word Conference hosted by the Ryan Center for Biblical Studies at Union University. The three plenary sessions with D.A. Carson as well as all the breakout sessions have been posted on the Union University website.

Plenary Sessions with Carson
  • Plenary 3: D.A. Carson - How The Book of Hebrews Makes Use of Old Testament Passages - Genesis 14 and Psalm 110 in Hebrews 7
  • Plenary 2: D.A. Carson - How The Book of Hebrews Makes Use of Old Testament Passages - Psalm 95 in Hebrews 3-4
  • Plenary 1: D.A. Carson - How The Book of Hebrews Makes Use of Old Testament Passages - Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14 in Hebrews 1
Breakout Sessions

Friday, May 8, 2009

How Slow and Dull of Heart Are We

How Slow and Dull of Heart Are We

M. Justin Wainscott, © 2009

How slow and dull of heart are we,

Held fast by sin’s dread sway;

That we would gaze on Calv’ry’s tree,

And want to look away.

But oh! how beautiful the sight

Of sin in gross defeat;

Of darkness bowing to the Light,

And victory complete!

How feebly do our souls believe

The gospel’s saving grace;

That Christ would all God’s wrath receive,

And suffer in our place.

But oh! how wonderful the thought

Of pardon full and free;

Of knowing that by Christ we’re bought,

And His we’ll ever be!

How little do our minds perceive,

The depths of what it cost

For Christ our Savior to relieve

Our burden on the cross.

But oh! how glorious the plan

That saved our wretched race;

Conceived before the world began,

Secured by sov’reign grace!

How weakly do our praises ring,

Cause we’ve not understood

That efficacious mercy springs

From Christ’s atoning blood.

But oh! the day when we shall know,

In full and not in part;

The saving pow’r his blood bestows

On ev’ry ransomed heart!