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Ad Fontes

A new young monk arrived at the monastery.

He was assigned to help the other monks in copying the old canons and laws of the church by hand. He noticed, however, that all of the monks were copying from copies, not from the original manuscript. Concerned, he went to the head abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error in the first copy, it would never be picked up. In fact, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.

The head monk replied, “We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son.”

So, the abbot went down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscripts were held in a locked vault that hadn’t been opened for hundreds of years. Hours went by.

The young monk got worried and went downstairs to look for him. Finally, he found the old man sitting at a table with a dusty old manuscript spread before him, holding his head in his hands. He was weeping uncontrollably.

The young monk asked, “What is wrong, Father?”

“Look at the manuscript!” he bawled.

The monk did so. The particular document before him was on the marriage of priests. “Yes, Father? What have you found?”

With a choking voice, the old abbot whispered, “The word is ‘celebrate.’”

The Benefit of the Doubt

[Love] . . . believes all things . . . —1 Corinthians 13:7 Love is not ignorant or naïve, but when in doubt, it gives the benefit of that doubt. Furthermore, the one who loves would rather take the chance of being wronged than wrong another (1 Corinthians 6:7). Love believeth all things.—not that the Christian knowingly and willingly allows himself to be imposed upon—not that he divests himself of prudence and judgment, that he may be the more easily taken advantage of—not that he unlearns the way of distinguishing black from white. What then? He requires here, as I have already said, simplicity and kindness in judging of things; and he declares that these are the invariable accompaniments of love. The consequence will be, that a Christian man will reckon it better to be imposed upon by his own kindness and easy temper, than to wrong his brother by an unfriendly suspicion. —Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XX, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Baker Books, 2009), 1:425.

Tongues of Angels

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. —1 Corinthians 13:1 What language do angels speak? I wouldn’t even try to guess, but if I did, I’d say Hebrew. Hebrew, after all, is the first language through which God has revealed himself to us, and I think it’s safe to say (though not with complete confidence) that it was Adam’s language, which he learned from God, but even if that is so, it doesn’t prove that Hebrew is the language of heaven. That’s one discussion we could have over this verse. Or, if we’re a little loopy, we could claim it as proof that “tongues” in the New Testament aren’t limited to known languages. But none of that is remotely relevant. It simply is not the point. When he speaks of the tongues of angels, he uses a hyperbolical expression to denote what is singular, or distinguished. At the same time, I explain it rather as referring to the diversity of languages, which the Corinthians held in much esteem, measuring everything by ambition—not by fruit. “Make yourself master,” says he, “of all the languages, not of men merely, but even of Angels. You have, in that case, no reason to think that you are of higher estimation in the sight of God than a mere cymbal, if you have not love.” —Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XX, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Baker Books, 2009), 1:419.

Neither Envy nor Contempt

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. —1 Corinthians 12:26 A former United States President famously said, “I feel your pain.” That, of course, was mere political posturing. But for those of us who are members of the body of Christ, it ought to be a reality. In fact, we take it further yet: Your pain is my pain; how can I not care? Your gain is my gain; how can I be jealous? “Such a measure of fellow-feeling,” says he, “is to be seen in the human body, that, if any inconvenience is felt by any member, all the others grieve along with it, and, on the other hand, rejoice along with it, in its prosperity. Hence there is no room there for envy or contempt.” To be honoured, here, is taken in a large sense, as meaning, to be in prosperity and happiness. Nothing, however, is better fitted to promote harmony than this community of interest, when every one feels that, by the prosperity of others, he is proportionally enriched, and, by their penury, impoverished. —Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XX, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Baker Books, 2009), 1:412.

Indistinct Sounds

Since I’ve been complaining a lot lately about the current state of “Christian” “music,” this is as good a time as any to post this excerpt from the archives. On singing: Rebecca shared a nice hymn on Sunday, complete with a performance of said hymn by Fernando Ortega. She commented that it was “one of the few versions I could find that was not sung in a breathy female voice.” She almost set me off on my own list of irritations with popular singers, but I saved it for you. Rebecca already mentioned breathy (kiss me, baby!) singing. I’ll add: growling, whining, moaning, groaning, panting, yelling, screaming, and any other vocal affectation. Just because your favorite pop singers do it doesn't mean you should. They shouldn’t, either. Please—sing with the voice God gave you. It might not be a great one, but trust me, it’s better than the one you’re faking. My most hated musical crime is poor enunciation. I’m not referring to the careless kind, although that’s bad enough, nor do I mean variations attributable to local dialects (although singing seems to neutralize those to a large extent). I mean the intentional kind, in which the singer pronounces words in ways he never would if he was speaking, because it’s cool. Come on, people. Get Hooked on Phonics. In conclusion, let me add a couple of verses ripped completely out of context: Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? —1 Corinthians 14:7–8

Lord’s Day 39, 2019

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. —Hebrews 4:12–13 Hymn XLI. The way of access. One glance of thine, eternal Lord, Pierces all nature thro’; Nor heav’n, nor earth, nor hell, afford A shelter from thy view! The mighty whole, each smaller part, At once before thee lies; And ev’ry thought, of ev’ry heart, Is open to thine eyes. Tho’ greatly from myself conceal’d, Thou see’st my inward frame; To thee I always stand reveal’d, Exactly as I am. Since therefore I can hardly bear What in myself I see; How vile and black must I appear, Most holy God, to thee. But since my Saviour stands between, In garments dy’d in blood; ’Tis he, instead of me, is seen, When I approach to God. Thus, tho’ a sinner, I am safe; He pleads before the throne, His life and death, in my behalf, And calls my sins his own. What wond’rous love, what mysteries, In this appointment shine! My breaches of the Law are his And his obedience mine. —John Newton, Olney Hymns. Book III: On the Rise, Progress, Changes, and Comforts of the Spiritual Life. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Built on the Rock

Built on the Rock KIRKEN DEN ER ET Built on the Rock, the church shall stand even when steeples are falling; Christ builds His church in ev’ry land; bells still are chiming and calling, calling the young and old to rest, calling the souls of those distressed, longing for life everlasting. Not in a temple made with hands God the Almighty is dwelling; high in the heav’ns His temple stands, all earthly temples excelling. Yet He who dwells in heaven above chooses to live with us in love, making our body His temple. We are God’s house of living stones, built for His own habitation; He fills our hearts, His humble thrones, granting us life and salvation. Yet to the place, an earthly frame, we come with thanks to praise His name; God grants His people true blessing. Thro’ all the passing years, O Lord, grant that, when church bells are ringing, many may come to hear God’s Word where He the promise is bringing: “I know My own, My own know Me, you, not the world, My face shall see; My peace I leave with you. Amen.” —Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017). The current hymnal for this series is Hymns to the Living God, published by Religious Affections Ministries. This is such a good hymnal that I’m pretty sure I could happily post every hymn it contains, but I’ll be limiting selections to hymns I have never posted here before, especially those unfamiliar to me (of which there are many). For more information and to purchase this hymnal, visit Religious Affections Ministries.

Yes, I am aware of the theological difficulties with this one.
A Lifelong Process
Wanted: Andrews
Opinions, I Got
The Goal of a Faithful Christian Witness
Lord’s Day 38, 2019
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: On Christ Salvation Rests Secure

So, Maybe You Can Divide by Zero
The Real Reason You Can’t Divide by Zero
The Content of a Faithful Christian Witness
God Is Faithful
Christians and Politics
Lord’s Day 36, 2019
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Jesus, Thou Joy

In the News
Equality with Inequality
The Manner of a Faithful Christian Witness
Lord’s Day 37, 2019
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation


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