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Lord’s Day 21, 2019

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


Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus —Hebrews 10:19

Hymn XIII.
Hebrews x. 19. We have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.


O precious blood, O glorious death,
By which the sinner lives!
When stung with sin, this blood we view,
And all our joy revives.

We flourish as the water’d herb,
Who keep this blood in sight,
The blood that chases our distress,
And makes our garments white.

The blood that purchas’d our release,
And washes out our stains,
We challenge earth and hell to shew
A sin it cannot cleanse.

Our scarlet crimes are made as wool,
And we brought nigh to God:
Thanks to that wrath-appeasing death;
That heav’n-procuring blood.

The blood that makes his glorious Church
From ev’ry blemish free;
And, O the riches of his love!
He pour’d it out for me.

Guilty and worthless as I am,
It all for me was giv’n;
And boldness, through his blood, I have
To enter into heav’n.

Thither, in my great Surety’s right,
I surely shall be brought
He could not agonize in vain,
Nor spend his strength for nought.

He wills that I, and all his sheep,
Should reign with him in bliss;
And pow’r he has to execute
Whate’er his will decrees.

The Father’s everlasting love
And Jesus’ precious blood
Shall be our endless themes of praise;
In yonder blest abode.

In patience let us then possess
Our souls, ’till he appear:
Our head already is in heav’n,
And we shall soon be there.

The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady: To the Holy Spirit (Sprinkle Publications, 1987).

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: Teach Me

Teach Me, My God and King FESTAL SONG Teach me, my God and King, in all things Thee to see, and what I do in anything, to do it as for Thee. To scorn the senses’ sway, while still to Thee I tend; in all I do be Thou the Way, in all be Thou the End. All may of Thee partake; nothing so small can be, but draws, when acted for Thy sake, greatness and worth from Thee. If done t’obey Thy laws, e’en servile labors shine; hallowed is toil, if this the cause, the meanest work divine. —Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017). Right tune, wrong hymn: 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.

A Sick Story

A man was brought in to the hospital intensive care ward, put in a bed, with tubes coming out everywhere. A week later, another man was admitted, in a similar condition. Both lay there, machines pinging, fluids dripping, etc. A couple of weeks passed before one of them had the strength to turn towards the other and say: “Scottish.” The other turned his head slowly and said: “Irish.” This act tired them out so badly it was a week before the first summoned up the strength to say: “Glasgow.” Again the second replied in a frail voice: “Dublin.” Once more, the strain was too much for them both and they passed out. Days passed before the first man managed to force out the word: “Jimmy.” Replied the other: “Paddy.” A few hours later, Jimmy managed just enough strength to rasp out weakly: “Cancer.” Paddy responded: “Sagittarius.”

When Satan Tempts*

Satan temps not when he will, but when God pleaseth, and the same Holy Spirit which led Christ into the field, brought him off with victory. And therefore we find him marching in the power of his Spirit, after he had repulsed Satan, into Galilee, Lu. iv. 14. When Satan temps a saint he is but God’s messenger, 2 Co. xii. 7. “There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger Satan to buffet me.” So our translation. But rather as Beza, who will have it in [the nominative case] the messenger Satan, implying that his was sent of God to Paul; and indeed the errand he came about was too good and gracious to be his own, lest I should be exalted above measure. The devil never meant to do Paul such a good office, but God sends him to Paul, as David sent Uriah with letters to Joab; neither knew the contents of their message. The devil and his instruments, both are Gods instruments, therefore the wicked are called his sword, his axe; now let God alone to wield the one and handle the other. He is but a bungler that hurts and hackles his own legs with his own axe; which God should do, if his children should be the worse for Satan’s temptations. Let the devil choose his way, God is for him at every weapon. If he will try it by force of arms, and assault the saints by persecution, as the Lord of hosts he will oppose him. If by policy and subtlety, he is ready there also. The devil and his whole council are but fools to God. Nay, their wisdom, foolishness, cunning and art, commend everything but sin. The more artificial the watch, the picture, &c., the better; but the more wit and art in sin the worse, because it is employed against an all-wise God, that cannot be outwitted, and therefore will in the end but pay the workman in greater damnation. “The foolishness of God is wiser that men;” yea, than the wisdom of men and devils, that is, the means and instruments which God opposeth Satan withal. What weaker than a sermon? Who sillier than the saints in the account of the wise world? Yet God is wiser in a weak sermon, than Satan is in his deep plots, wherein the state heads of a whole conclave of profound cardinals are knocked together—wiser in his simple ones, than Satan in his Ahitophels and Sanballats. And truly God chooseth on purpose to defeat the policies of hell and earth by these, that he may put such to greater shame, 1 Co. i. 21. How is the great scholar shamed to be baffled by a plain countryman’s argument? Thus God calls forth Job to wrestle with Satan and his seconds—for such his three friends showed themselves in taking the devil’s part—and sure he is not able to hold up the cudgels against the fencing-master, who is beaten by one of the scholars. God sits laughing while hell and earth sit plotting, Ps. ii. 4; “He disappointeth the devices of the crafty,” Job v. 12, he breaketh their studied thoughts and plots, as the words import, in one moments pulling down the labors of many year’s policy. Indeed as great men keep wild beasts for game and sport, as the fox, the boar, &c., so doth God Satan and his insturments, to manifest his wisdom in the taking of them. It is observed, that the very hunting of some beast affords not only pleasure to the hunter, but also more sweetness to the eater. Indeed God, by displaying of his wisdom in the pursuit of the saint’s enemies, doth superadd a sweet relish to their deliverance at last. He brake the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gave him to be meat to his people. After he had hunted Pharaoh out of all his forms and burrows, now he breaks the very brains of all his plots, and severs him up to his people, with the garnishment of his wisdom and power about. —William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002), 1:101–102. * First posted October 10, 2007.

Let's be honest . . .

Twenty-three years ago, I moved my wife and five young children to a small town in North Dakota, in what was at that time the wealthiest county in the state. The average income was about twice the state average. I, however, did not work in one of those lucrative industries (coal mining and power plants). My income at the time was below the state average, so I wondered and worried about finding affordable housing in such a place. Things were not looking good on that front, but by the kind providence of God, we found an old house that was so ridiculously small that no one wanted it, which made the price much lower than it would have been pretty much anywhere else. We had three more children in that house (literally), the youngest of which is graduating this week. We had a few difficult years there, but no one starved or went naked. In all those years, and to this day, my wife has not had a job (I almost said “worked,” but I’d rather not get clobbered). I relate this story not to brag, or to say that it’s always wrong for a wife to have a job, but in response to the tweet below which claims that “Most women have to work for pay in order to provide for themselves and their families,” and “only the wealthy” can live without that second income. The notion that "universal womanhood" is tied up in homemaking is not an option for most women worldwide. Most women have to work for pay in order to provide for themselves and their families. Can "universal womanhood" meaningfully be universal if only the wealthy can do it?— Katelyn Beaty (@KatelynBeaty) May 13, 2019 I laugh when I read that, as I have laughed many times in the last three decades when people who earned much more than I have told me how impossible it was to raise their two or three children on one income. One man in particular, a father of three whom I happen to know (because his teenage son had a big mouth) earned four times what I did, and knew our situation, looked me in the eye and, with a perfectly straight face, told me how his wife was going to work because they just couldn’t make it on one income. I could tell at least a dozen more stories like that. We could do what he couldn’t—more, actually—for one reason: we were content to live with less. We didn’t buy the house we wanted; we bought the house we could afford. We drove old cars, and wore our clothes till they wore out. We didn’t buy our kids all the latest game systems, and we certainly didn’t buy them cars, like most of our neighbors did (why anyone, no matter how wealthy, would rob their children of the experience of working to buy their own is beyond me). We did it because we believed the value of a mother in the home was far greater than any income she could generate outside the home, and we knew it was the scriptural choice (Titus 2:5). I know there are exceptions—I’ve seen them—but let’s be honest: most Americans who say they can’t live on one income really mean they can’t live like they want to live.

Random Selections: Until He Be Born Again (William Tyndale)

This random selection (even page, final paragraph) is from A Pathway into the Holy Scripture by William Tyndale (c. 1494–c. 1536), translator of the first English Bible—for which he was burned at the stake. The fall of Adam hath made us heirs of the vengeance and wrath of God, and heirs of eternal damnation; and hath brought us into captivity and bondage under the devil. And the devil is our lord, and our ruler, our head, our governor, our prince, yea, and our god. And our will is locked and knit faster unto the will of the devil, than could an hundred thousand chains bind a man unto a post. Unto the devil’s will consent we with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our might, power, strength, will and lusts; [so that the law and will of the devil is written in our hearts as well as in our members, and we run headlong after the devil with full zeal and the whole swing of all the power we have; as a stone cast up into the air cometh down naturally of its own self, with all the violence and swing of his own weight.] With what poison, deadly and venomous, hate hateth a man his enemy! With what great malice of mind, inwardly, do we slay and murder! With what violence and rage, yea, and with how fervent lust commit we [adultery], fornication and such like uncleanness! With what pleasure and delectation, inwardly, serveth a glutton his belly! With what diligence deceive we! How lustily seek we the things of this world! Whatsoever we do, think, or imagine, is abominable in the sight of God. [For we can refer nothing unto the honour of God; neither is his law or will written in our members or in our hearts: nor is there any more power in us to follow the will of God than there is in a stone to ascend upward of its own self.] And [besides that,] we are as it were asleep in so deep blindness, that we can neither see nor feel what misery, thralldom, and wretchedness we are in, till Moses come and wake us, and publish the law. When we hear the law truly preached, how we ought to love and honour God with all our strength and might, from the low bottom of our heart, [because he hath created us, and both heaven and earth for our sakes, and made us lord thereof;] and our neighbors (yea, our enemies) as ourselves, inwardly, from the ground of the heart . . . and how we ought to do whatsoever God biddeth, and abstain from whatsoever God forbiddeth, with all love and meekness, with a fervent and a burning lust from the center of the heart; then beginneth the conscience to rage against the law, and against God. No sea, be it ever so great a tempest, is so unquiet. For it is not possible for a natural man to consent to the law, that it should be good, or that God should be righteous which maketh the law; [inasmuch as it is contrary to his nature, and damneth him and all that he can do, and neither sheweth him where to fetch help, nor preacheth any mercy; but only setteth man at variance with God, (as witnesseth Paul, Rom. iv.) and provoketh him and stirreth him to rail on God, and to blaspheme him as a cruel tyrant. For it is not possible for a man, until he be born again, to think God is righteous to make him of so poison a nature, either for his own pleasure or for the sin of another man, or to give him a law that is impossible for him to do, or to consent to;] his wit, reason and will being so fast glued, yea, nailed and chained unto the will of the devil. Neither can any creature loose these bonds, save the blood of Christ [only]. —The Works of William Tyndale (Banner of Truth, 2010), 1:17–18.

Luther on Predestination*

I know it’s not quite right to call Luther a Calvinist, but it’s kind of fun. In any case, I might still be a Lutheran if Lutheranism more accurately reflected the doctrine of Luther, and if Lutherans didn’t work so hard to distance themselves from Calvin. The following commentary on Romans 8:28 sounds a lot like the Calvinist heresy I was warned about as a young Lutheran. It’s quite lengthy, but it didn’t seem right to cut it up. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (8:28.) The Greek text has the singular “works together” (sunergei), which is more fitting, since the referece is to the Holy Ghost; for this is the (Apostle’s) meaning: We must not be surprised that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, since He works together with God’s saints in all they do. That is the true exposition of the statement: “He maketh intercession for the saints.” In this (intercession) He works together with us, as He works together with us in all other things (Luther here follows the Greek reading: Panta sunergei ho Theos: in all things God works together with us for good.) The Apostle here says without any qualification: “Who are the called according to his purpose.” There is only this one purpose, namely, the purpose of God, which those recognize who recognize God. There is no other purpose than the one divine purpose (of salvation). This passage is the foundation on which rests everything that the Apostle says to the end of the chapter; for the means to show that to the elect who are loved of God and who love God, the Holy Spirit makes all things work for good even though they are evil (in themselves, e.g., sickness, persecution, etc.) He here takes up the doctrine of predestination which is not so incomprehensible as many think, but it is rather full of sweet comfort for the elect and for all who have the Holy Spirit. But it is most bitter and hard for (those who adhere to) the wisdom of the flesh. There is no other reason why the many tribulations and evils cannot separate the saints from the lover of God than the are the called “according to His purpose.” Hence God makes all things work together for good to them, and to them only. If there would not be this divine purpose, but our salvation would rest upon our will or work, it would be based upon chance. How easily in that case could one single evil hinder or destroy it! But when the Apostle says: “Who is he that condemneth?” “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (8:33, 34, 35), he shows that the elect are not saved by chance, but by God’s purpose and will. Indeed for this reason, God allows the elect to encounter to many evil things as are here named, namely, to point out that they are saved not by their merit, but by His election, His unchangeable and firm purpose (of salvation in Christ). They are saved despite their many efforts (to lead them into perdition). What then is there to our own righteousness? To our good works? To the freedom of the will? To chance in the things that occur? That (denial of all these things) is what we must preach, (as does the Apostle), for that means to preach rightly. That means to destroy the wisdom of the flesh. So far the Apostle has destroyed merely the hands, feet, and tongue of the wisdom of the flesh; now he wipes it out utterly. Now he makes us see that it amounts to nothing, and that our salvation altogether lies in His hands. God absolutely recognizes no chance; it is only men who speak of chance. Not a single leaf falls from the tree without the will of the Father. All things are essentially in His hands, and so are our times. There are yet three thoughts that should be considered in connection with the subject (of divine predestination). First there are the proofs of God’s unchangeable election, gathered from the words of Scripture and His (divine works. The Apostle says: “Who are the called according to his purpose.” “Purpose” here stands for God’s predestination, or His free election, of His (eternal) counsel (regarding the salvation to individual persons) later, in chapter 9, the Apostle illustrates God’s eternal election by referring to Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau (v. 8f.). As he clearly shows, the difference between these men rests solely upon divine predestination. Lastly, for God’s eternal election the Apostle quotes two passages: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy” (9:15); and : “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth” (9:18). Similar passages are found elsewhere in Chapters 9 and 10. There are passages treating of God’s eternal election also in other books of Scripture. Thus we read in John 13:18: “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen” and in John 10:27-29: “My sheep here my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal love; and they shall never perish. Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater that all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand’; and in II Timothy 2:19: “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knows them that are his.” A further proof of God’s eternal purpose of election we find in His works. First, in the works which God did to Ishmael and Esau, Pharaoh and the Egyptians, as they are reported in this chapter and the following, Again, in the divine acts by which He gives over His saints to so many evil and rapacious enemies and yet does not permit them to lose their salvation. This clearly proves that His election stands firm and so cannot be hindered by any creature. Then also this act of God proves the divine election that He permits may to commit great sins and yet they are brought to repentance and are saved (David: II Samuel 12:13). While others who in the beginning lead a pious life and do may good works not saved (Saul: I Samuel 13:13). Compare for this also Judas and the thief on the cross (Matt. 26:14; Luke 23:41). The second thought (that we should consider in connection with God’s eternal election) is that all objections to predestination proceed from the wisdom of the flesh (human reason). Hence, whoever does not deny himself and does not learn to keep his thoughts in subjection to the divine will, never will find an answer to his questions. And that rightly so, for the foolish wisdom of the flesh exalts itself above God and judges His will, just as though this were of little importance. It should rather let itself be judged by God. For this reason the Apostle refutes all objections with two brief statements. First, he checks our arrogance by asking: “O man, who art thou that thou replies against God?” (Rom. 9:20) Then he defends the divine election by asking: “Hath not the potter power over the clay?” (v.21) The first and most flimsy objection against divine election is this, that man has been given a free will by which he can earn for himself either merit or demerit. To this I reply: Man’s free will without divine grace has not the least ability to secure righteousness, but is totally corrupt. The second objection is this: “Who will have all men to be saved” (I Tim. 2:4); that is, God gave His Son into death for us, as He has created us for life eternal. Again: All things exist on account of man; but he himself exists for God’s sake to enjoy first; for all these statements are realized properly in the elect, as the Apostle writes in II Timothy 2:10: “I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that thy may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” A third objection reads: Where there is not sin, there God does not condemn. But whoever is a sinner of necessity is condemned unjustly. To this I reply: We are all sinners of necessity and so under condemnation, but no one is a sinner by coercion, or against his will. A fourth objection is this: God hardens the will of man so that he desires to transgress the divine Law all the more. Hence, God is the cause why men sin and are condemned. This is the strongest and most weighty objection. But the Apostle meets it by saying that so it is God’s will, and that if God so wills He does not act unjustly, for all things belong to Him as the clay belongs to the potter. He thus establishes His law in order that the elect may obey it, but the reprobates may be caught in it, and so He may show both His wrath and His mercy. Here indeed the wisdom of the flesh objects saying: “It is cruel and regrettable that God seeks His glorification in my misery.” Ah, it is the voice of the flesh that says: “My, my!” strike out this “my, my” and say instead: “Glory be to Thee, O Lord!” Then you will be saved. The wisdom of the flesh seeks its own glory and is more afraid of suffering than of desecrating God. Hence it follows its own will rather than the divine will. We must think differently of God than we do of men; for He owes us nothing. That is what the Apostle teaches at the close of the eleventh chapter: “Who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?” (11:35) The third thought (that we could consider in connection with God’s eternal election) is that this doctrine is indeed most bitter to the wisdom of the flesh, which revolts against it and even becomes guilty of blasphemy on this point. But it is fully defeated when we learn to know that our salvation rests in no wise upon ourselves and our e conduct, but is founded only upon what is outside us, namely on God’s election. Those who have the wisdom of the Spirit become ineffably happy through the doctrine, as the Apostle himself illustrates this. To them, (His elect), Christ says: Fear not , little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). So also God says in Isaiah 35:4: “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.” Everywhere in Scripture those are praised and encouraged who listen to Gods Word with trembling. As they despair of themselves, the Word of God performs its work in them. If we anxiously tremble at God’s Word and are terrified by it, this is indeed a good sign. If one fears that he is not elected or is otherwise troubled about his election, he should be thankful that he has such fear; for then he should surely know that God cannot lie when in Psalm 51:17 He says: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken on contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Thus he should cheerfully cast himself on the faithfulness of God who gives this promise, and turn away from the foreknowledge the threatening God. Then he will be saved as one who is elected. It is not the characteristic of reprobates to tremble at the secret counsel of God; but that is the characteristic of the elect. The reprobates despise it, or at least pay no attention to it, or else they declare in the arrogance of their despair: “Well, if I am damned, all right, then I am damned.” With reference to the elect we might distinguish between three classes. First, there are those who are satisfied with God’s will, as it is, and do not murmur against God, but rather believe that they are elected. They do not want to be damned. Secondly, there are those who submit to God’s will and are satisfied with it in their hearts. At least they desire to be satisfied, if God does not wish to save, but reject them. Thirdly, there are those who really are ready to be condemned if God should will this. These are cleansed most of all of their own will and carnal wisdom. And these experience the truth of Canticles 8:6: “Set me a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death.” Such love is always joined with cross and tribulation, for without it the soul should becomes lax, and does not seek after God, nor thirst after God, who is the Fountain of Life. —Martin Luther, Luther’s Commentary on Romans, trans. J. Theodore Mueller (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1954), 111–116. * First published September 28, 2007.

Lord’s Day 20, 2019
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: What Shall I Render
True Story
The Sanctified Mind*
Love for God’s Sake*
The Pilgrim’s Problem
Growing through Tribulation*

Lord’s Day 18, 2019
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Thy Word Sheds Light
Calvin on Worship (2)
Calvin on Worship (1)
Luther on Works versus Faith*
Random Selections: Free Will (Augustus Toplady, James Ussher)

Lord’s Day 19, 2019
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: All That I Am
This Bus Runs on Time
Imputed Obedience
The Knowledge of Salvation
Random Selections: The Focus of Hope (John Murray)
Abraham Believed*


Who Is Jesus?

The Gospel
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Norma Normata
What I Believe

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