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Weekly Thoughts

Anniversaries, Gratitude, and World Changing Events…

Anniversaries, Gratitude, and World Changing Events…

Instead of a weekly thought this week, I have some weekly thoughts that I hope link together: Continue reading “Anniversaries, Gratitude, and World Changing Events…”

Reformation Reading

Reformation Reading

I came across a good article yesterday on some suggested readings on the Reformation that I want to share with you.

The title of the article is: 9.5 Theses: Suggested Readings on the Reformation.  I encourage you to take time right now and read this article and then come back here for some thoughts and additional suggested readings.

I like articles like this that provide resources that I may learn from and grow in my faith.  I dislike articles like this because my Amazon wish list tends to grow longer and longer.  I think it is vitally important for us to study Church History so that we know better the faith once delivered to the saints.  It is easy to have the idea that reality and church life consists of where I live on the planet and what year I was born and what year it is now.  If church is only my concept of reality and time, I will distort truth and Scripture.

I have read many of these selections that Barry York has put together in his article and I look forward to reading more of them.  Here are a few selections I would like to suggest to you:

The Betrayal by Douglas Bond.  This is a historical fiction novel based on the life of John Calvin.  It is one thing to study Calvin’s theology, it is another to read about the man and when he lived and the experiences he had.  I found this a fascinating book and it made me appreciate Calvin a lot more.  This is a very easy to read book for all ages.

The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.  This is more advanced reading than a historical fiction book, but well worth the time.  A lengthy volume that Calvin himself divides into four books.  There are reading plans where you can read bite sized portions of the Institutes throughout the year.  If you are interested in a reading plan let me know and I’ll send you a link.  I have benefitted by reading Calvin’s theology and I hope to finish a complete reading of this by the end of the year.

Reformation Heroes by Diana Klein and Joel R. Beeke.  This is a children’s level book but of great benefit to adults as well.  Each chapter is about a different person during the time of the Reformation.  A great overview of people who influenced the Reformation before and after Martin Luther.

Luther and Erasmus, Free Will and Salvation edited by E. Gordon Rupp and Philip S. Watson.  The reason I chose this volume instead of just suggesting Martin Luther’s, Bondage of the Will, is that this includes Erasmus’: On the Freedom of the Will, followed by Luther’s response.  I think it is helpful to read from both authors regarding free will.  I can honestly say this is one of the best books I have ever read.

One final recommendation is: Confessing the Faith, a Readers Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith by Chad Van Dixhoorn.  Out of the commentaries and study guides I have read on the Westminster Confession of Faith this one takes the confession from the mid 17th century and places it into the 21st century and yet gives great historical insight into issues the Westminster Divines were dealing with.  What Voddie Baucham does in his book Expository Apologetics by placing Van Til’s apologetic thought into simple words and application, Van Dixhoorn does with the Confession of Faith.  A new study guide has just come out for the book that I have not looked at yet, but the book itself would allow families to take bite sized portions of the confession each day and learn great theology.

I know those are five, out of hundreds of choices to read regarding the Reformation and how reformation thought changed our world.  If you have any suggestions of books on reformers or the reformation that you would like to recommend to me, I would love to hear them.  I can always add to them to my Amazon wish list.

The Inspiration of Scripture

The Inspiration of Scripture

This is our first Friday of the month look at one of the booklets that are provided by The Committee on Christian Education (CCE) of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Today’s booklet is, The Inspiration of Scripture.  There are a few copies of this booklet in the bookcase at the church building in the foyer if you would like a hard copy.  This booklet is not available to read online at this time.

Today’s booklet ties into last weeks sermon on The Blessing of God’s Word,   The booklet is divided into four sections: What is Scripture?  What is Inspiration?  The Implications of Inspiration and The Challenge of Faith.

What is Scripture?

The author, James W. Scott writes, “Scripture, then, consists of the writings (usually called “books”) that are contained in the Bible, both the Old Testament (originally written in Hebrew, during the time of the old covenant) and the New Testament (originally written in Greek, during the time of the new covenant).”  Protestants recognize 27 books in the New Testament and 39 books in the Old Testament for a total of 66 books in the Bible.  Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox include additional books, called Apocrypha, in their Old Testament canon.  The author speaks of how we recognize these 66 books as Scripture.

The author also speaks of the original text of Scripture and discusses translation and copying issues that have taken place over the centuries.  Copyists are not always perfect in their copying, but we can trust in the providence of God to preserve His Word for His people.  Scripture is “God-Breathed,” 1 Timothy 3:16.  “Scripture, then, is the written word of God, consisting of the written oracles of God, which have been given to us by divine inspiration.”

What is Inspiration?

“One of the most important texts on inspiration, 2 Peter 1:20-21, clearly states that “men spoke” when Scripture was being written.”  God used human writers to convey His words to men.  In inspiration, the Holy Spirit works in various ways upon the mind of the inspired person.  The Holy Spirit can simply cause the recollection of information, or the Spirit may simply select, organize and formulate things already known to the writer.  “This divine acting upon the mind of the writer of Scripture is described by Peter as being “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21).”  The author also points out that the inspired writers of Scripture were not random people, but they were people God had prepared and called to receive inspiration and to be conveyors of God’s Word.

The Implications of Inspiration

Because God knows everything and always speaks the truth and does not change, His written word is free from all inconsistencies and contradictions.  God’s message unfolded over the centuries as redemptive history unfolded.  “Because the author of Scripture is all-knowing, truthful, and unchangeable, it follows that Scripture cannot contain any error; that is, it is infallible.  And because it cannot contain any error, it does not contain any error; that is, it is inerrant.”  To have a Bible with error would be inconsistent with the very nature of God.

The Challenge of Faith

The unbeliever finds the words of Scripture foolish.  The believer finds redemptive words of life.  How we view Scripture says a lot about how we view God.  Reason alone will never convince a person that the Bible is the very Word of God.  Only the Holy Spirit can do that.

The author ends this booklet by speaking of “apparent” problem passages in Scripture and states that God has placed them there to: 1) Test the faith of readers (believers from unbelievers), and  2) To deepen the faith of believers.  May we ask God, the giver of wisdom, for the wisdom to read and understand His Word better.  I encourage you to take a few minutes and read this booklet on, The Inspiration of Scripture.

Reformation 500

Reformation 500

Many of you may be aware that October 31st marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, where Martin Luther, a German monk, posted ninety-five theses for debate on the  door of the Castle Church  in  Wittenberg.

We look to the cross of Christ as the center of history.  As Christians, we look at history as moving in a linear direction from creation to consummation, with the cross of Christ and the power of the Gospel as being central to God’s story.

We look back to Martin Luther and the other Reformers not because they came up with something new, but because they rediscovered a message that was buried in tradition, ritual, and performance.

Michael Reeves in his booklet, Freedom Movement, writes; “Five hundred years on, we remember the Reformation because it was not just another call to do better.  It was the recovery of a message that has got buried — a world changing message good for all centuries.”

That message of good news is the still the same message we proclaim today.  This October we have several opportunities to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

First, our morning messages in October will focus on those five “solas” of the Reformation looking at these great blessings of God.

October 1 — The Blessing of God’s Word.Sola Scriptura

October 8 — The Blessing of Faith Sola Fide

October 15 — The Blessing of GraceSola Gratia

October 22 — The Blessing of Christ Sola Christus

October 29 — To God Alone be the GlorySoli Deo Gloria

Second, in celebration of the Reformation, each October our fellowship meal at the manse has a German theme to remember Martin Luther and the beginnings of Reformation.

Third, we have been invited by our sister church in Westfield to join them on the evening of October 31st for a Reformation Celebration.  This begins at 6PM with dinner, followed by the movie Luther (2003), and activities for the whole family.

I hope you will take some time in October to reflect back to the Reformation and the simple things in our faith that you and I take for granted as Christians in the year of our Lord, 2017.  Also in the early 1500’s William Tyndale set about his life’s work of translating the Bible from its original Greek and Hebrew into English.  At that time it was illegal in England to own or even read such a translation.  The penalty was death.  The next time you open your Bible, give thanks to God for the courage of those who gave their very lives so that you and I may read and believe the truth of God’s Word.

Evangelism in the Local Church

Evangelism in the Local Church

This is our first Friday of the month look at one of the booklets that are provided by The Committee on Christian Education (CCE) of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Today’s booklet is, Evangelism in the Local Church.  There are a few copies of this booklet in the bookcase at the church building in the foyer if you would like a hard copy.  This booklet is not available to read online at this time.  We will also be using this booklet in our Apologetics class that starts September 27th.   Continue reading “Evangelism in the Local Church”

Why Christians Need Confessions, Part 11

Why Christians Need Confessions, Part 11

This is the final weekly thought on Creeds and Confessions. I hope that you enjoyed a look at why we are a Confessional Church and why Creeds and Confessions are important for Christians. There is a lot more that you could read on the subject. I chose to try and take the thoughts of Samuel Miller, a professor from Princeton Seminary, who gave an address to the student body in 1824 entitled, The Utility and Importance of Creeds and Confessions. The word utility there meaning, “usefulness.” Continue reading “Why Christians Need Confessions, Part 11”

Why Christians Need Confessions, Part 10

Why Christians Need Confessions, Part 10

In his address Miller lists five main objections to Creeds and Confessions and then he gives a response to those objections.  In this weekly thought I am going to summarize the objections and the response given.   Continue reading “Why Christians Need Confessions, Part 10”

Why Christians Need Confessions, Part 9

Why Christians Need Confessions, Part 9

Why do Christians need creeds and confessions?  “7.  The only further argument in support of Creeds on which I shall dwell, is, that their most zealous opposers do themselves virtually employ them in all their ecclesiastical proceedings.”  (Samuel Miller, The Utility and Importance of Creeds and Confessions; an 1824 address to the students of Princeton Seminary.) Continue reading “Why Christians Need Confessions, Part 9”

A Report from General Assembly, Part 9

A Report from General Assembly, Part 9

This is the final report from General Assembly.  I hope you have enjoyed getting to know a little bit more about our denomination over the summer.  Sometimes we can be a part of a Church and not realize how we interact with different Reformed Churches, and even the mission work that is taking place at home and abroad.  By looking outside of the walls of the local Church we see that this family of Churches to which we belong, while still a small denomination in the world’s eyes, is involved in a whole lot of ministry.  I encourage you to keep reading our monthly magazine New Horizons, when it comes to your home so that you can remember to pray for all the different things that God is doing around the world.   Continue reading “A Report from General Assembly, Part 9”

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