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Lord’s Day 33, 2019

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


As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go along with the throng and lead them
in procession to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude
keeping festival.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.
O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

—Psalm 42

Hymn XL.
Why art thou cast down?


Be still my heart! these anxious cares
To thee are burdens, thorns, and snares,
They cast dishonor on thy Lord,
And contradict his gracious word!

Brought safely by his hand thus far,
Why wilt thou now give place to fear?
How canst thou want if he provide,
Or lose thy way with such a guide?

When first before his mercy-seat,
Thou didst to him thy all commit;
He gave thee warrant, from that hour,
To trust his wisdom, love, and pow’r.

Did ever trouble yet befall,
And he refuse to hear thy call?
And has he not his promise past,
That thou shalt overcome at last?

Like David, thou may’st comfort draw,
Sav’d from the bear’s and lion’s paw;
Goliath’s rage I may defy,
For God, my Saviour, still is nigh.

He who has help’d me hitherto,
Will help me all my journey thro’;
And give me daily cause to raise
New Ebenezers to his praise.

Tho’ rough and thorny be the road,
It leads thee home, apace, to God;
Then count thy present trials small,
For heav’n will make amends for all.

—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.

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In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Amidst Us Our Beloved Stands

Amidst Us Our Beloved Stands ROCKINGHAM Amidst us our Beloved stands, and bids us view His pierced hands; points to the wounded feet and side, blest emblems of the Crucified. What food luxurious loads the board, when, at His table, sits the Lord! The cup how rich, the bread how sweet, when Jesus deigns the guests to meet! If now, with eyes defiled and dim, we see the signs, but see not Him; O may His love the scales displace, and bid us see Him face to face! Our former transports we recount, when with Him in the holy mount: these cause our souls to thirst anew His marred but lovely face to view. —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.

A man left work early one day to get a haircut. Afterwards, it was still a little early, so he decided to stop for bit of refreshment on the way home. He walked across the street to a bar, sat down, and took off his hat. “Nice haircut,” someone said. “Thanks,” he replied. “Thanks for what? You haven’t ordered yet.” said the bartender. “Didn’t you just . . . ? Oh, never mind. Give me a beer.” He scooped up a few peanuts from a bowl on the bar. A few sips, and he heard, “Love the tie!” He looked quickly behind him. No one was there. In fact, he was the only one in the bar. Strange, he thought. He scooped up a few more peanuts. “Hey, that’s a nice-looking watch! Is it a Rolex?” That same voice again, and no one in sight! Now he was getting nervous. “Hey, bartender!” he called. The bartender appeared from the back room. “Is there someone else in this bar?” “Just you, sir. It’s been slow all afternoon. It’s still early, though,” he replied. “OK, then, what’s the joke?” the man demanded, somewhat irritated. “Joke? What are you talking about?” “Oh, come on! Someone keeps talking to me—telling me I look good, ‘nice tie,’ stuff like that. You’re the only one here, so what’s the joke?” he demanded. “Oh, that; that’s the peanuts,” the bartender said. “The peanuts? How stupid do I look?” “I’m telling you, it’s the peanuts,” he insisted. “They’re complimentary.”

Eyes Closed Shut

A good warning for those who are negligent in examining the teachers and teachings they encounter: To lack discernment is to sin against God. It is an inevitable result of turning from him. It is easy to look at those who have turned from God and look at their lustful and angry hearts and affirm that this is a result of their sin. When a Christian falls into moral sin he may well examine his life to determine how he has turned his back on God, but is the same true when he exhibits a lack of discernment? A wise pastor writes, “to willingly neglect the truth and to walk with our eyes closed shut while good and evil stare us in the face is to sin against God, ourselves, our families, and our church. . . . Again, this is worth stating over and over again. It is the responsibility of every Christian to learn, to be disciplined in the Word, so that we can know how to be discerning. To fail to discern is to walk in darkness.” This is the bad news. Scripture portrays those who lack spiritual discernment in three ways: they are spiritually immature, they are backslidden, and they are dead. Those who lack discernment or do not care for it will fit into one of these three categories. These are the dangers of ignoring discernment. But there is good news, too. The Bible declares that there are many benefits stored up for those who desire discernment, those who seek after and practice it. —Tim Challies, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment (Crossway, 2007), 27. First posted January 17, 2008.

Not an Opinion

Pontius Pilate famously asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Postmodernism asks the same question, and the answer is the same now as it was then. Truth is that word to which Jesus came to testify (v. 37), beginning with the Law and the Prophets, fulfilled in the Gospels, and expounded by the Apostles. What is truth? . . . Truth is not any individual’s opinion or imagination. Truth is what God decrees. And He has given us an infallible source of saving truth in His revealed Word. For the true Christian, this should not be a complex issue. God’s Word is what all pastors and Church leaders are commanded to proclaim, in season and out of season—when it is well received and even when it is not (2 Timothy 4:2). It is what every Christian is commanded to read, study, meditate on, and divide rightly. It is what we are called and commissioned by Christ to teach and proclaim to the uttermost parts of the earth. Is there mystery even in the truth God has revealed? Of course. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). In 1 Corinthians 2:16, Paul paraphrased Isaiah 40:13–14: “Who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But then Paul immediately added this: “We have the mind of Christ.” Christ has graciously given us enough truth and enough understanding to equip us for every good deed—including the work of earnestly contending for the faith against deceivers who try to twist the truth of the gospel. Although we cannot know the mind of God exhaustively, we certainly can know it sufficiently to be warriors for the cause of truth against the lies of the kingdom of darkness. And we are commanded to participate in that battle. God Himself sounded the call to battle when His spirit moved Jude to write his short epistle and it permanently entered the canon of Scripture. This is not a duty any faithful Christian can shirk. Earthly life for the faithful Christian can never be a perpetual state of ease and peace. That’s why the New Testament includes so may descriptions of the Christian life as nonstop warfare: Ephesians 6:11–18; 2 Timothy 2:1–4; 2 Timothy 4:7; 2 Corinthians 6:7; 10:3–5; 1 Thessalonians 5:8. I hope by now you understand that those unwilling to join the fight against untruth and false religion are no true friends of Christ. —John MacArthur, The Truth War (Thomas Nelson, 2007), 183–184. First posted January 16, 2008.

Neither Familiarity nor Contempt

But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. —1 Corinthians 5:11 Calvin explains what it means—and does not mean—to shun an excommunicated brother. With such an one not even to take food. In the first place, we must ascertain whether he addresses here the whole Church, or merely individuals. I answer, that this is said, indeed, to individuals, but, at the same time, it is connected with their discipline in common; for the power of excommunicating is not allowed to any individual member, but to the entire body. When, therefore, the Church has excommunicated any one, no believer ought to receive him into terms of intimacy with him; otherwise the authority of the Church would be brought into contempt, if each individual were at liberty to admit to his table those who have been excluded from the table of the Lord. By partaking of food here, is meant either living together, or familiar association in meals. For if, on going into an inn, I see one who has been excommunicated sitting at table, there is nothing to hinder me from dining with him;* for I have not authority to exclude him. What Paul means is, that, in so far as it is in our power, we are to shun the society of those whom the Church has cut off from her communion. The Roman antichrist, not content with this severity, has burst forth into interdicts, prohibiting any one from helping one that has been excommunicated to food, or fuel, or drink, or any other of the supports of life. Now, that is not strictness of discipline, but tyrannical and barbarous cruelty, that is altogether at variance with Paul’s intention. For he means not that he should be counted as an enemy, but as a brother (2 Thes. iii. 15), for in putting this public mark of disgrace upon him, the intention is, that he may be filled with shame, and brought to repentance. —Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XX, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Baker Books, 2009), 1:194–197. * The inn of which Calvin writes would most likely have a common table at which all guests would eat, rather than the private tables and booths to which we are accustomed.

The Perspicuous Word

Protestant Christianity has always affirmed the perspicuity of Scripture. That means we believe God has spoken distinctly in His word. Not everything in the Bible is equally clear, of course (2 Peter 3:16). But God’s Word is plain enough for the average reader to know and understand everything necessary for a saving knowledge of Christ. Scripture is also sufficiently clear to enable us to obey the Great Commission, which expressly requires us to teach others “all things” that Christ has commanded (Matthew 28:18–20). Two thousand years of accumulated Christian scholarship has been basically consistent on all the major issues: the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, containing every spiritual truth essential to God’s glory, our salvation, faith, and eternal life. Scripture tells us that all humanity fell in Adam and our sin is a perfect bondage from which we cannot extricate ourselves. Jesus is God incarnate, having taken on human flesh to pay the price of sin and redeem believing men and women from sin’s bondage. Salvation is by grace through faith, and not a result of any works we do. Christ is the only Savior for the whole world, and apart from faith in Him, there is no hope of redemption for any sinner. So the gospel message needs to be carried to the uttermost parts of the earth. True Christianity have always been in full agreement on all those vital points of biblical truth. As a matter of fact, the postmodernized notion that everything should be perpetually up for discussion and nothing is ever really sure or settled is a plain and simple denial of both the perspicuity of Scripture and the unanimous testimony of the people of God throughout redemptive history. In one sense, the contemporary denial for the Bible’s clarity represents a regression to medieval thinking, when the papal hierarchy insisted that the Bible is too unclear for laypeople to interpret it for themselves. (This belief led to much fierce persecution against those who worked to translate the Bible into common languages.) In another sense, however, the postmodern denial of Scripture’s clarity is even worse that the darkness of medieval religious superstition, because postmodernism in effect says no one can reliably understand what the Bible means, Postmodernism leaves people permanently in the dark about practically everything. That, too, is a denial of Christ’s lordship over the church. How could He exercise His headship over His church if His own people could never truly know what he meant by what He said? Jesus Himself settled the question of whether his truth is sufficiently clear in John 10:27–28, when He said “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” —John MacArthur, The Truth War (Thomas Nelson, 2007), 157–158. First posted January 15, 2008.

Lord’s Day 32, 2019
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Here, O My Lord, I See Thee Face to Face
By Any Other Name
A Remedy to Tyranny
Hymn to the Zeitgeist
It’s a Humpty Dumpty World
Forgetting Who Is Lord*

Lord’s Day 30, 2019
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Thy Broken Body
Ignorant Judges
Distrust Yourself
Postmodern Apostates
Theological Terrorism*

Lord’s Day 31, 2019
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: To Avert from Men God s Wrath
Otro Chiste Estúpido*
Everyone’s Burden
Gospel Power Is from the Spirit, not the Preacher
Can Your Jesus Be Found in the Bible?*


Who Is Jesus?

The Gospel
What It Means to Be a Christian

Norma Normata
What I Believe

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