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Lord’s Day 11, 2018

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”


For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

—Romans 5:6–11

Hymn 9. (C. M.)
Godly sorrow arising from the sufferings of Christ.


Alas! and did my Saviour bleed?
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

[Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, thine,
And bathed in its own blood,
While all expos’d to wrath divine
The glorious Suff’rer stood!]

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groan’d upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut his glories in,
When God, the mighty Maker, died
For man, the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face,
While his dear cross appears;
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
’Tis all that I can do.

The Psalms & Hymns of Isaac Watts. Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Book II: Composed on Divine Subjects (Soli Deo Gloria, 1997).

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: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts St. Athanasius Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts, Eternal King, by the heav’ns and earth adored! Angels and archangels sing, chanting everlastingly to the blessed Trinity. Since by Thee were all things made, and in Thee do all things live, be to Thee all honor paid; praise to Thee let all things give, singing everlastingly To the blessed Trinity Thousands, tens of thousands stand, spirits blest before Thy throne, speeding thence at Thy command; and, when Thy command is done, singing everlastingly to the blessed Trinity Cherubim and seraphim veil their faces with their wings; eyes of angels are too dim to behold the King of kings, while they sing eternally to the blessed Trinity Thee, apostles, prophets, Thee, Thee, the noble martyr band, praise with solemn jubilee, Thee, the Church in ev’ry land; singing everlastingly to the blessed Trinity Alleluia! Lord, to Thee, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Three in One, and One in Three, join we with the heav’nly host, singing everlastingly to the blessed Trinity. —Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017). The current hymnal for this series is Hymns to the Living God, recently 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.

When God Repents

You might ask, “Doesn’t the Bible say from time to time that God repents?” Yes, the Old Testament certainly says so. The book of Jonah tells us that God “repented of” the judgment He had planned for the people of Nineveh (Jonah 3:10, KJV). In using the concept of repentance here, the Bible is describing God, who is Spirit, in what theologians call “anthropomorphic” language. Obviously the Bible does not mean that God repented in the way we would repent; otherwise, we could rightly assume that God had sinned and therefore would need a savior Himself. What it clearly means is that God removed the threat of judgment from the people. The Hebrew word nacham, translated “repent” in the King James Version, means “comforted” or “eased” in this case. God was comforted and felt at ease that the people had turned from their sin, and therefore He revoked the sentence of judgment He had imposed. When God hangs His sword of judgment over people’s heads, and they repent and He then withholds His judgment, has He really changed His mind? —R. C. Sproul, Does Prayer Change Things? (Tyndale, 2009), 9.

If God Knows Everything

There is something erroneous in the question, “If God knows everything, why pray?” The question assumes that prayer is one-dimensional and is defined simply as supplication or intercession. On the contrary, prayer is multidimensional. God’s sovereignty casts no shadow over the prayer of adoration. God’s foreknowledge or determinate counsel does not negate the prayer of praise. The only thing it should do is give us greater reason for expressing our adoration for who God is. If God knows what I’m going to say before I say it, His knowledge, rather than limiting my prayer, enhances the beauty of my praise. . . . In what way could God’s sovereignty negatively affect the prayer of contrition, of confession? Perhaps we could draw the conclusion that our sin is ultimately God’s responsibility and that our confession is an accusation of guilt against God Himself. Every true Christian knows that he cannot blame God for his sin. I may not understand the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility, but I do realize that what stems from the wickedness of my own heart may not be assigned to the will of God. So we must pray because we are guilty, pleading the pardon of the Holy One whom we have offended. —R. C. Sproul, Does Prayer Change Things? (Tyndale, 2009), 8–9.

Pumpkin Π Day.

God’s Glory, Our Benefit

Augustine said that nothing happens in this universe apart from the will of God and that, in a certain sense, God ordains everything that happens. Augustine was not attempting to absolve men of responsibility for their actions, but his teaching raises a question: If God is sovereign over the actions and intents of men, why pray at all? A secondary concern revolves around the question, “Does prayer really change anything?” Let me answer the first question by stating that the sovereign God commands by His holy Word that we pray. Prayer is not optional for the Christian; it is required. We might ask, “What if it doesn’t do anything?” That is not the issue. Regardless of whether prayer does any good, if God commands us to pray, we must pray. It is reason enough that the Lord God of the universe, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, commands it. Yet He not only commands us to pray, but also invites us to make our requests known. James says that we have not because we ask not (James 4:2). He also tells us that the prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much (James 5:16). Time and again the Bible says that prayer is an effective tool. It is useful; it works. John Calvin, in the Institutes of the Christian Religion, makes some profound observations regarding prayer: But, someone will say, does God not know, even without being reminded, both in what respect we are troubled and what is expedient for us, so that it may seem in a sense superfluous that he should be stirred up by our prayers—as if he were drowsily blinking or even sleeping until he is aroused by our voice? But they who thus reason do not observe to what end the Lord instructed his people to pray, for he ordained it not so much for his own sake as for ours. Now he wills—as is right—that his due be rendered to him, in the recognition that everything men desire and account conducive to their own profit comes from him, and in the attestation of this by prayers. But the profit of this sacrifice also, by which he is worshiped, returns to us. Accordingly, the holy fathers, the more confidently they extolled God’s benefits among themselves and others, were the more keenly aroused to pray . . . Still it is very important for us to call upon him: First, that our hearts may be fired with a zealous and burning desire ever to seek, love, and serve him, while we become accustomed in every need to flee to him as to a sacred anchor. Secondly, that there may enter our hearts no desire and no wish at all of which we should be ashamed to make him a witness, while we learn to set all our wishes before his eyes, and even to pour out our whole hearts. Thirdly, that we be prepared to receive his benefits with true gratitude of heart and thanksgiving, benefits that our prayer reminds us come from his hand. (Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, ed. John T. McNeill [Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1960], Book 3, chapter 20, section 3.) Prayer, like everything else in the Christian life, is for God’s glory and for our benefit, in that order. Everything that God does, everything that God allows and ordains, is in the supreme sense for His glory. It is also true that while God seeks His own glory supremely, man benefits when God is glorified. We pray to glorify God, but we also pray in order to receive the benefits of prayer from His hand. Prayer is for our benefit, even in light of the fact that God knows the end from the beginning. It is our privilege to bring the whole of our finite existence into the glory of His infinite presence. —R. C. Sproul, Does Prayer Change Things? (Tyndale, 2009), 7–8.

Fiscal Pharisees

At this year’s Shepherds’ Conference, a new edition of the NASB was introduced and given away to each attendee. Boasting many of the features of my perfect Bible, it is now for sale at Grace to You for $200. Predictably, there has been criticism from the sect of the Fiscal Pharisees, who seem to think that an expensive premium quality Bible is in the same category as the mansions and private jets of prosperity preachers like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and Joyce Meyer. And so, to astute observations like this: I can’t help but chuckle at folks who complain about a $200 Bible; tweeting on their $700 iPhone that will need to be replaced in 2 years. — nατε picκοwicz (@NatePickowicz) March 10, 2018 We get logic-free moralizing like this: I serve pastors in Liberia, where it’s impossible to get a good quality study Bible. Paperback and “free” bibles start falling apart in months. It’s shameful. By the way, pastors here pay $10 for a phone. At what point does the cost of a Bible become excessive and indefensible? — Eric Buller (@BigEplus4) March 10, 2018 I’d like this writer—and you, if you’re of the same mind—to consider his own stewardship decisions. Most of us don’t appreciate the luxuries we enjoy every day. Compared to the standard of living in many parts of the world, “poor” Americans are quite well-off. In comparison, most of us are fabulously wealthy, and spend lavishly on luxuries to which we seldom give a second thought. So when some rich wiseguy scowls at me through his expensive, disposable internet-access device for spending $180 on a Bible that will likely last me a lifetime and be passed down to the next generation—making it, rather than a frivolous indulgence, an act of good stewardship—excuse me if I dismiss him as the fatuous Pharisee he is. To put things in perspective, if you ever consume more than the lowest priced home-cooked meat, vegetables, and tap water drive anywhere you don’t need to go or is within walking distance have a smart phone (or, honestly, for most people, any non-business cell phone or electronic gadget) own any kind of recreational equipment buy a book you could borrow from the library or do without turn on the air conditioning pay to be entertained take vacations you are, by the critics definition, an irresponsible profligate. Spare me your pseudopious pontifications and do not preach to me about buying [fill in the blank] “while [fill in the blank] in [fill in the blank] doesn’t have [fill in the blank].” Even if you’re right (you’re not), you’re in no position to look down on the brother or sister who buys a high-quality Bible for a miniscule fraction of what you’re spending on your chosen luxuries. Now, you may still repeat the question, When does spending become excessive and indefensible? to which I will answer, When does it become any of your business? Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. —Romans 14:4

Lord’s Day 10, 2018
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Holy Trinity
By God’s Decree
My Perfect Bible
Does God Repent?
A Blessed Knowledge
Providence and Responsibility

Lord’s Day 8, 2018
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name
No Chance
Creation and Providence Inseparable
From Him Alone
Jesus Told Me to Open My Bible
Jesus Told Me He’s Offended

Lord’s Day 9, 2018
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Morning & Evening Prayers
Providence, for Better or Worse
The Believer’s Solace in God’s Providence
The Secret Things
“Man’s Steps Are from the Lord”
No Idle Observer


Who Is Jesus?

The Gospel
What It Means to Be a Christian

Norma Normata
What I Believe

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