Category Archives: Catechism

The Captain’s Eight Theses: On the Biblical Basis for Infant Baptism


1. Israel is the Church–the Church is Israel.

2. God commanded Israel to circumcise their households (believers, their children and anyone else of any status in the household). 

3. Divine Commands remain in place if they are never rescinded. 

4. Israel, by the plan of God, was a mixed multitude of believers whose circumcision signified the circumcision of their hearts (their faith and repentance), and unbelievers whose circumcision was a constant reminder to them of their need to circumcise their hearts (to repent and believe).

5. In Christ, the sign of circumcision–the sign and seal of faith (Romans 4:11)–was changed to baptism (see how the one is identified with the other in Colossians 2:11-12), and this sign continued to be given not only to individuals, but also to households in the New Testament. 

6. The command to apply the sign and seal of faith to households is nowhere rescinded in the New Testament; therefore, the command remains in force. 

7. For this reason, it is biblical to baptize the infant children of believers before they make a profession of faith. 

8. In conclusion, the Bible teaches Christians to baptize their children with a view to raising them to repent and believe in the providential timing of the Lord. 

Memoir of the Rev. John Brown, part 10

Celebrated Author

But Mr. Brown was not only distinguished as a minister of the gospel, and a teacher of divinity, he is celebrated also as an author. A strong desire to contribute towards the moral and religious improvement of mankind, and that he might, in some measure, be useful to the church of Christ, when he rested from his labours, weighed down every consideration of either profit or applause connected with his writings; indeed the pecuniary reward of all his labours, in this way, was but a matter of small account, never exceeding forty pounds. It was reserved, however, for his booksellers to reap a much more bountiful harvest; several of his works having already appeared in upwards of thirty, and some even in forty editions.

His first attempt as an author was his large work on the Catechism, which appeared in the year 1758; the next was a lesser work, also on the Catechism; and the rest of his works succeeded one another as circumstances seemed to render them necessary. (A modern edition is available from Reformation Heritage Books) That the doctrines he taught might appear with all the solidity and perspicuity in his power, he was at the extraordinary pains of writing his manuscripts thrice, and occasionally four times over, before they went to press; and frequently, after all this trouble in correcting, adding, and retrenching them, to request some one of his brethren to examine, and give his candid opinion concerning them.

But on none of his works has he bestowed so much labour as on his Dictionary of the Bible; a book of such diversified information, extensive research, and generally acknowledged utility, that it is doubtful if any work, of equal size, has hitherto appeared better calculated for assisting in the study of the Holy Scriptures, although now from the increased amount of information on scientific, historical, and other subjects, it necessarily is imperfect as compared with what he doubtless would have made it, had he possessed the opportunities of our day.

Memoir of the Rev. John Brown of Haddington

Theological & Doxological Meditation #48

Theology in the First Commandment

Q. 48. What are we specially taught by these words before me in the first commandment?

A. These words before me in the first commandment
teach us that God,
who seeth all things,
taketh notice of,
and is much displeased with,
the sin of having any other god (Deuteronomy 30:17-18; Psalm 44:20-21; Ezekiel 8:12) .

Jesus, Priceless Treasure
#656, Trinity Hymnal (© 1990)
Johann Franck, 1655
Tr. By Catherine Winkworth, 1863
JESU, MEINE FREUDE
Johann Crüger, 1649

Jesus, priceless treasure,
Source of purest pleasure,
Truest Friend to me:
Ah, how long in anguish
Shall my spirit languish,
Yearning, Lord, for thee?
Thine I am, O spotless Lamb!
I will suffer naught to hide thee,
Naught I ask beside thee.

In thine arms I rest me;
Foes who would molest me
Cannot reach me here.
Though the earth be shaking,
Ev’ry heart be quaking,
Jesus calms my fear.
Lightnings flash and thunders crash;
Yet, though sin and hell assail me,
Jesus will not fail me.

Satan, I defy thee;
Death, I now decry thee;
Fear, I bid thee cease.
World, thou shalt not harm me
Nor thy threats alarm me while I sing of peace.
God’s great pow’r
Guards ev’ry hour;
Earth and all its depths adore him,
Silent bow before him.

Hence, with earthly treasure!
Thou art all my pleasure,
Jesus, all my choice.
Hence, thou empty glory!
Naught to me thy story,
Told with tempting voice.
Pain or loss or shame or cross
Shall not from my Savior move me,
Since he deigns to love me.

Hence, all fear and sadness!
For the Lord of gladness,
Jesus, enters in.
Those who love the Father,
Though the storms may gather,
Still have peace within.
Yea, whate’er I here must bear,
Thou art still my purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless treasure.

The Instrument of Faith

73. Q. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?

A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification, but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness (John 1:12; Philippians 3:9; Galatians 2:16).

Who will become a child of God? The one who is “in Christ.” Who will get “into Christ”? The one who receives Christ by faith, or, according to the original Greek, believing “into” him. John writes, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in (literally, “into”) his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Faith which places the sinner “in Christ” is not merely an acknowledgment that there was a historical figure named Jesus of Nazareth who embarked on an itinerant ministry which lead many first century Jews to conclude that he was the Anointed One (“Christ”) proclaimed by the Old Testament prophets. Faith in Christ does begin with such knowledge, even assenting to the truthfulness of such a proposition, but it must also result in a willingness to rest on the righteousness which Christ is proclaimed in the gospel message to have earned by his flawless observance of the law of Moses which has at its heart the moral law of God, confessing that by one’s own observance of God’s law he will not be able to earn for himself the same kind of inherent righteousness. As Paul writes in Galatians 2:16:

 “yet  we know that a person is not justified by works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ. So we also have believed in (again, “into”) Christ Jesus in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”

So being found in Christ depends on having the righteousness of Christ which comes from God, and having the righteousness which comes from God depends on faith. In Philippians 3:9 it is written, “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” So we see that when faith is imputed as righteousness, faith is not the thing that makes a person inherently righteous, but rather it is simply what the Westminster Divines call in Q&A #73 of the Larger Catechism, “an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.”

God Imputes Righteousness, Not Faith

Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?

A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification (Romans 4:5; 10:10); but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.

Believing is not a good work. It earns nothing. If there were such a thing as a righteous person other than Jesus Christ, there would be no need to impute his righteousness to him. For this hypothetical person who earns righteousness by his own good works, having Christ’s righteousness imputed or credited to him would be superfluous, redundant, and unnecessary.

Christ did not come to call those who think their righteousness is good enough. God did not send his Son to die for those who never come to admit that they deserve to die because of their sin. In Romans 4:5, Paul describes God as “him who justifies the ungodly.” The ungodly one who despairs of his inability to earn righteousness by his good works is the kind of person whom God justifies, or declares righteous in his sight.

In this same passage, Paul explains that  “his [the ungodly person’s] faith is counted as righteousness.” This is the biblical doctrine of imputation, and Paul elaborates on it in the rest of his sentence which concludes in verses 6 -8: “… just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts [imputes] righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count [impute, KJV] his sin.’” As you see, the Bible teaches that while a man’s faith may in one sense be “imputed,” or “counted” as righteousness, in a greater sense, what is really going on is that Christ’s righteousness is being imputed to the ungodly believer–the righteousness of Christ is counted as the righteousness of the ungodly believer. It is a careless misreading to interpret the Bible as teaching that God imputes faith to the ungodly; rather, God imputes the righteousness of Christ to him.

What, then, is the source of this faith by which we are justified by the imputed righteousness of Christ?  “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:10). In the song, “Rock of Ages,” Christians sing, “Nothing in my hand I bring/Simply to the cross I cling.” It is not the work of our hands by which we are justified, but the gracious gift of faith which emerges from a regenerate, spiritually living heart which has been newly freed from sin and empowered to rest on the finished work of his righteous Savior who has been crucified and risen for him. We may be justified by a righteousness that is not our own, but that righteousness is received by a faith that is very much our own, graciously enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Answer #73 of the Westminster Larger Catechism, then, further denies that the faith by which he is justified was not imputed to him—it was not the faith of another, but his own faith which arises by God’s grace from his own regenerate heart. His faith is the fruit grown on the good tree of his own regenerate heart.

How Faith Does NOT Justify

 Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?

 A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it (Gal. 3:11; Rom. 3:28), nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.

Faith is the means which God has ordained for the elect in order that he may declare them righteous in his sight. Man, unfortunately, assumes he must perform, to achieve a perfect score when it comes to keeping God’s moral law. In this assumption, he is sadly mistaken. Paul writes in Galatians 3:11,  “no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” Later  in his great exposition of the gospel in his epistle to the Romans, Paul echoes this truth when he writes, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28).

In keeping with this Pauline distinction between faith and the law, the framers of the Westminster Standards of 1649 write in their Larger Catechism, “Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it…” (Westminster Larger Catechism, Q&A #73). Here they write that good works are the fruit of faith, not the condition the elect must meet so God will declare them righteous in his sight (justify them). The catechism answer also denies  that the other graces that accompany faith are the way we receive God’s justifying declaration of righteousness. For example, graces such as hope, love, joy, or any others are excluded, along with good works, as the basis on which faith justifies the sinner.

In short, faith does not justify because of good works; rather, good works are the result of justification by faith alone.

The Biblical Basis of the Reformed Confessions and Catechisms

As a member of a local confessional Presbyterian church and coming from my background as an Independent Baptist, I can’t help but notice how easy it is to confirm the common accusation that “Presbyterians often seem to cite the Confession more readily than they do the Bible.” As I listen to teaching (that of no one in particular, and this is not restricted to my own congregation), I often find myself listening to it as if I were a Baptist who was hearing this presentation for the first time. It doesn’t take long before all the biblicist defenses go up. A Reformed teacher will teach a vital biblical truth and then they will cite the Westminster Standards or something from the Three Forms of Unity (click on the “Creeds, Etc.” link at the top of this webpage for more information on these Reformed doctrinal standards). The response a self-respecting biblicist is trained to make to a presentation like this is, “That’s nice, now what does the Bible say about it?” or, more boldly, they might declare, “I don’t care what your confession or catechism says, what does the Bible say?”

It occurs to me that if Presbyterians and those of other confessional Reformed denominations want to persuade those from outside their tradition, like Baptists, to believe that what Reformed confessions and catechisms teach is based on the Bible, then perhaps it would be time well spent to express their biblically based confessional statements by first disclosing what the Bible says and working from this to showing how what the confession or catechism says is solidly based on what the Bible says.

After all, a “Confession” is not intended to be a rival for the Bible, but an expression of what Reformed churches believe the Bible teaches. To use the word “Confession” alone does not necessarily communicate this ultimate point to those from outside the tradition. That’s why when I personally explain things related to the Confession of Faith, I will put the word “Confession” in a sentence that attempts to fully express what a Confession of Faith is. For example, “This biblical truth (whatever it may be) is worded this way, or that way, in the Confession of what Reformed churches believe best summarizes the teaching of the Bible.”

Now I realize there are many good Reformed teachers who are careful to base their arguments on Scripture, but the stereotype that the Reformed in general have a bad habit of quoting the confession more than they do the Bible is grounded in verifiable reality. I love hearing an explanation of what the Confession teaches, but then, I have already gotten over the hurdle of being persuaded that what the Confession teaches is what the Bible teaches, although not infallibly, of course.

For this reason, I have decided to engage in a little exercise for a while, which I will share with my readers. In the spirit of how I would like to hear the teaching of the Reformed confessions and catechisms expressed, I’m simply going to take the Scripture Proofs cited for almost any given phrase in the Westminster Larger Catechism (which my church currently happens to being going through), summarize the point being highlighted in the verses, cite the verses themselves, then explain that this is the reason the Catechism reads the way it reads.

Sound like fun? I hope you’ll join me! In the following post, I will give this treatment to the first clause in Question and Answer #73 of the Westminster Larger Catechism.

 

Theology, Ethics and . . . What?

I am currently reading Michael Horton’s Thanksgiving post at Out of the Horse’s Mouth (the White Horse Inn blog), “Joining the Thanksgiving Parade.” In his introduction, he brings up a famous quote–sort of a theological proverb. Here’s Horton’s words:

The Heidelberg Catechism, in fact, is structured in terms of Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude, leading G. C. Berkouwer to conclude, “The essence of theology is grace; the essence of ethics is gratitude.” Or, as we have say around here, duties (imperatives) are always grounded in gospel promise (indicatives). The appropriate response to a gift is thankfulness. (emphasis mine)

In light of this reminder, I simply have a question for students of Reformed theology in general, and the Heidelberg Catechism in particular:

  • If grace is the essence of theology, and gratitude is the essence of ethics, then guilt is the essence of what?

Please submit your answers in the comments thread.

May the grace of God in Christ crucified and risen to atone for your guilt inspire much gratitude in you this Thanksgiving!

Sermon Notes: “Invited to the Supper” (Matthew 22:1-14)

The following sermon was preached by Rev. Joe Troutman at Mid-Cities Presbyterian Church in Bedford, Texas. Listen online or subscribe to the podcast.

God calls all to repent and believe and many refuse, but others believe and are welcome to the feast.

The parable of the wedding feast is the third parable of judgment spoken by Jesus on the week leading to his crucifixion. While the first two primarily targeted the Pharisees, Saducees and Jewish priesthood, this parable applies to all in the nation of Israel who do not follow Christ in faith, but are guilty of rebellion against God.

God will judge everyone who refuses to repent and believe, but will show mercy by bringing to himself repentant believers who had not previously been associated with his covenant people.

Rejection of the Call (Matthew 22:1-7) And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 

 

  • The setting of the parable of the wedding feast is a feast thrown in a kingdom by the king for his son.
  • It was customary to send invitations with the expectation of a response of intention to attend, followed by a second call—an announcement that the meal is now ready, and that those invited are to now come to the feast.
  • Historically it was often a crime for those who promise to attend to then refuse to do so.
  • Jesus’ parable portrays an absurd exaggeration of this scenario.
  • In verses 5 and 6, the rejection of the invited guests evidences their ingratitude: some ignored the servant sent to call them, others mistreated and killed him, just as the Israelites always did the Old Testament prophets.
  • In verse 7, the king is rightfully angry and sends troops to kill the invited guests and burns down their city.
  • The guests reflect what Israel had been doing to God for generations. The king’s judgment in the parable reflects the wrath to come both in AD 70 and the Final Judgment upon Christ’s return.

Invitation to All (Matthew 22:8-10) Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

 

  • In verse 8, the food is made ready.
  • In verse 9, the servants are sent to anyone who will come, who demonstrate a faith not found among the invited guests, as the Centurion whose servant Jesus healed in Matthew 8, of which Jesus said “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith     I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:10-12).
  • Throughout all of the Scriptures, one plan of salvation is revealed: both Jew and Gentile must have faith in the Messiah of Israel. Just as Old Testament Judaism sometimes included Gentiles, so Christianity does not exclude all Jews—for example, first century Christianity was largely Jewish—but all who respond to the invitation are welcome to the wedding feast.
  • Thus the invitation in the parable is what is expressed in the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q&A 31) as “the free offer of the gospel.”
  • The church offers salvation to all—God sorts out those who respond from those who do not respond. The church gives a general call which may be rejected or falsely received. The Holy Spirit gives an effectual call by which those who respond will necessarily be saved.

 

Responsibiltiy (11-14) “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

 

  • The king of the parable goes in disguise to inquire of one who attends the wedding feast without a wedding garment, and throws him out into outer darkness.
  • The wedding garment represents the fruit of faith: grateful, obedient works.
  • In the local church, all respond to the call to worship, but not all truly believe, evidenced by a life of unrepentant disobedience. Thus, some in the local church will be found to be without their “wedding garment.”
  • In verse 14, God’s choice is shown to be the ultimate factor. If God doesn’t effectually call his chosen, all would refuse to come as the invited guests at the beginning of the parable, and as the citizens of Israel who will not have Jesus to be their Messiah.
  • Though many be called, few are chosen. True believers must humbly and charitably receive all who profess faith in Christ, they must not proudly exclude those who differ on non-essentials, as if they belonged to the one true church.
  • There is a visible church comprised of all professing believers (all who have responded to the general call), and there is an invisible church comprised of the elect (all brought effectively to Christ by the Holy Spirit’s effectual call).
  • Thus, church membership alone is not saving; renewal of the heart by the Holy Spirit to repent and believe is necessary.
  • Without faith, there is no hope. With faith comes true membership in the invisible church, which the parable portrays by those who come to the wedding feast wearing their wedding garment.

Theological & Doxological Meditations #48

Theology in the First Commandment

Q. What are we specially taught by these words, before me, in the first commandment?

 A. These words, before me, in the first commandment, teach us, that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other God (Deuteronomy 30:17-18; Psalm 44:20-21; Ezekiel 8:12)

Now Blessed Be the Lord Our God

#11, Trinity Hymnal (© 1990)

Psalm 72:8,11,12,18,19

Scottish Psalter, 1650 Mod.

McKEE C.M.

Spiritual

Arr. By Harry T. Burleigh, 1939

Now blessed be the Lord our God,

The God of Israel,

For he alone does wondrous works

In glory that excel.

And blessed be his glorious name

To all eternity;

The whole earth let his glory fill.

Amen, so let it be.

His wide dominion shall extend

From sea to utmost sea,

And unto earth’s remotest bounds

His peaceful rule shall be.

Yea, all the kings shall bow to him,

His rule all nations hail;

He will regard the poor man’s cry

When other helpers fail.

The Once and Future King (Matthew 21:1-11)

Sermon Notes from Sunday, October 9, 2011. Delivered by Rev. Joe Troutman at Mid-Cities Presbyterian Church (OPC). Listen online.

Jesus comes into Jerusalem as king, but in a week’s time he will have been crucified and raised from the dead for sinners like you and me.

Westminster Shorter Catechism 26

Q. How doth Christ execute the office of a king?

A. Christ executeth the office of a king, in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us (Psalm 110:3; Matthew 28:18-20; John 17:2; Colossians 1:13), and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies (Psalm 2:6-9; Psalm 110:1-2; Matthew 12:28; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Colossians 2:15).

“The Lord Has Need of Them” (Matthew 21:1-5) Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”

  • Jesus demonstrates that he is Israel’s Messiah by fulfilling Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9
    • Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.”(Isaiah 62:11 ESV)
    • Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9 ESV)
  • What was this need? To show us that “[our] salvation comes” (Is. 62:11)
    • “By sending for the donkey and colt, Jesus is giving us what we need to believe in him as our Savior.”
    • Our need was for a Passover Lamb—we need Someone to die in our place; to wash us clean; to be protected and redeemed from our captivity to sin.
    • To those who need God to show that he is real, he has done so by these prophecies of Israel’s Messiah, and their fulfillment hundreds of years later in Jesus of Nazareth.
      • God shows us that he is the true God of Israel: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that Jesus is the true King of Israel, who subdues sinners to himself, rules and defends us who believe, and restrains and conquers all his and our enemies.

 “Hosanna” (Matthew 21:6-9) The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

  • Foreshadowed in Jehu’s servants’ response to Jehu’s anointing as King of Israel, and prophecy to defeat the evil king Ahab
    • Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.”  (2 Kings 9:13 ESV).
    • In crying “Hosanna (Heb. “O Save!” ) to the Son of David!”, the people declare who Jesus is, the rightful King of Israel.
    • In crying “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” the people sing a portion of the Hallel (Psalms 113-118)—a portion of which is sung after the drinking of “the Cup of Redemption” during the Passover seder (see Psalm 118:26a). Jesus comes to redeem his people from sin, as God redeemed Israel from Egypt.
  • Parallels between Israel’s captivity in Egypt and their present occupation by Rome spark strong Jewish nationalism during the Passover season. Rome watches for seditious behavior. The notion of a pretender to the throne of Israel is the very kind of threat for which they watch, and this makes Christ’s entry into Jerusalem especially dangerous. But notice the humility of this King who enters triumphantly, not on a warhorse, but rather on a lowly donkey.

“The King Enters His City” (Matthew 21:10-11)   And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

  • Christ enters Jerusalem but is not recognized by her citizens as their long-awaited King.
    • The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (John 1:9-11 ESV)
      • Foreshadows Christ’s rejection by the people at the end of this Passion Week. Jesus comes to Jerusalem as King, but Jerusalem was not his Kingdom.
      • When Jesus walked the earth, his Kingdom was located wherever he went. Jesus wasn’t entering his Kingdom in his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, he brought his Kingdom with him. Christ’s Kingdom is “not of this world” (see John 18:36).
  •  Christ does triumphantly enter to conquer, but not to conquer the Romans.
    •  The Triumphal Entry clearly showed that Jesus was Messiah according to Zechariah 9:9.
    •  The Triumphal Entry set in motion the events that would lead to his crucifixion.
    •  The Triumphal Entry threatens Rome, but Christ’s act in the following passage will be a threat to the Jewish priests and other religious leaders.
  •  Christ did not come to overthrow the Romans and reign in Jerusalem, but to die on a cross for the very people who sent him there: sinners like you and me. He went willingly, but it was yours and my sins which drove him to the cross. He went lovingly to suffer and to die for those who will come to believe. In his crucifixion, the King of Israel will conquer by accomplishing the salvation of his people.
  •  The King came once riding on the foal of a donkey; he went unrecognized by some, met with indifference by others and still others met him with hostility. He was openly rejected and nailed to a cross.
  • But the King will come again riding on the clouds with power and glory (Matthew 24:30). The time of his return remains hidden but he will come to judge as the Ruler of the earth.
    • At this time, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (see Philippians 2:9-11).
      • Those who already believe, trust and love Jesus will rejoice at his coming and will kneel again.
      • Those who refuse to humbly submit to the Lord in response to his first coming will be humbled and bowed against their wills when he returns to judge.

Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will bow his knee willingly, lovingly, obediently and instantly. Repent, believe in him—today—now!—while it’s still called today (see Hebrews 3:13), so that when he comes in glory he will know you as his own and you will rejoice at his coming and not be fearful.

Theological & Doxological Meditation #46

The First Requirement

 Q. What is required in the first commandment?

A. The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly (1 Chronicles 28:9; Isaiah 45:20-25; Matthew4:10).

O People Blest, Whose Sons in Youth

 (play file 362 in “T&D mp3″ sidebar widget)

 #362, Trinity Hymnal (© 1990)
From Psalm 144:12-15
The Psalter, 1912; alt. 1961
SHORTLE 8.8.6.D rep.
Charles G. Goodrich, 1905

O people blest, whose sons in youth,
in sturdy strength and noble truth,
Like plants in vigor spring;
Whose daughters fair, A queenly race,
are like the cornerstones that grace
the palace of a king, the palace of a king.

O people blest, when flock and field
Their rich, abundant increase yield,
And blessings multiply;
When plenty all thy children share,
And no invading foe is there,
And no distressful cry, and no distressful cry.

O happy people, favored land,
To whom the Lord with lib’ral hand
Has thus his goodness shown;
Yea, surely is that people blest
By whom Jehovah is confessed
To be their God alone, to be their God alone.

A Case Study in Sin

The following long, tedious post is a small way of demonstrating just how comprehensively God’s law condemns the sin of man. It highlights the depth and breadth of our fallen nature that is bent on violating God’s law in every conceivable manner, and shows just how much we all, believer and unbeliever alike, deserve God’s eternal anger and torment.

 The following extensive description of what it means to keep God’s law also shows us just how thoroughly successful the Lord Jesus Christ was in keeping God’s law in every conceivable manner for his elect—those who come to believe.

 Finally, it shows the many-faceted way in which we who believe and have been forgiven for such egregious, heinous sin, can express our gratitude for the active obedience of Christ in perfectly keeping God’s law for us, and for his passive obedience in suffering the penalty of divine wrath which such deep, dark, extensive sin deserves.

 The church my family has been attending for the past year or more, has recently been going through the Heidelberg Catechism. Last Lord’s Day evening we recited, received instruction on, and discussed Lord’s Day 40, which consists of Question & Answer numbers 105-107, regarding what is required in the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder.”

 Last night, the Lord showed me just how easy it is to violate the spirit of God’s command against murder. Several ladies converged on my house to carpool to a ladies meeting. One of those ladies brought her husband with her to stay with me and share a pizza and a movie while they are away. My wife and I used to attend another church with this couple, which church has a distinct reputation for hurting many of its members, and used to be a little more legalistic than it is today. In fact, in some ways, it appears to be changing into the very kind of church it used to stand against. Being a wounded former member of such a church provides many temptations to violate the spirit of God’s command against murder, namely by “dishonoring” and “hating” it in our “thoughts,” “words,” and “gestures” and “deeds,” as we neglect to “lay aside all desire of revenge.”

 This kind of sin has become such a habit for me, in particular, that it didn’t dawn on me that this was what we were doing, not even when one of the other members who were in attendance last Sunday evening during the catechism discussion walked in, and I felt compelled to jokingly explain that we were having a little fun at our former church’s expense. It didn’t dawn on me until several hours later. Hence the occasion for the following post.

 While it may appear so, this is not an exercise in self-flagellation, but, as I explained above, an amplification of the Heidelberg Catechism’s explanation of what the Bible teaches about what all God requires of us in the sixth commandment. May it open your eyes to the depth of your sin, the extent of Christ’s righteousness and grace, and may it guide you in expressing your loving gratitude for his free gift of righteousness which can only be received by faith in Christ.

 

Question 105. What does God require in the sixth commandment?

Answer: That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonour, hate, wound, or kill my neighbour, by myself or by another: (Matt. 5:21-22;26:52; Gen. 9:6) but that I lay aside all desire of revenge: (Eph. 4:26; Rom. 12:19; Matt. 5:25; 18:35) also, that I hurt not myself, nor wilfully expose myself to any danger. (Rom. 13:14; Col. 2:23; Matt. 4:7) Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword, to prevent murder. (Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:14; Matt. 26:52; Rom. 13:4)

 

Question 106. But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?

Answer: In forbidding murder, God teaches us, that he abhors the causes thereof, such as envy, (Pr. 14:30; Rom. 1:29) hatred, (1 John 2:9,11) anger, (James 1:20; Gal. 5:19-21) and desire of revenge; and that he accounts all these as murder. (1 John 3:15)

 

Question 107. But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?

Answer: No: for when God forbids envy, hatred, and anger, he commands us to love our neighbour as ourselves; (Matt. 7:12; 22:39; Rom. 12:10) to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness, towards him, (Eph. 4:2; Gal. 6:1-2; Matt. 5:5,7,9; Rom. 12:18; Luke 6:36; 1 Peter 3:8; Col. 3:12; Rom. 12:10,15) and prevent his hurt as much as in us lies; (Ex. 23:5) and that we do good, even to our enemies. (Matt. 5:44-45; Rom. 12:20-21)

 

What does God require in the sixth commandment?

 In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not dishonor my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hate my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not wound my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not murder my neighbor in my deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his thoughts, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his words, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his gestures, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would dishonor my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would hate my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would wound my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not be a party to another who would murder my neighbor in his deeds, but that I rather lay aside all desire of revenge;

 In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not hurt myself;

In the sixth commandment, God requires that I not willfully expose myself to any danger;

 For this reason, God has granted the right to human government alone to put murderers to death, as the just punishment of murder, and as a deterrent to murder by others.

But this commandment seems only to speak of murder?

 In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors envy as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors hatred as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors anger as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

In forbidding murder, God teaches us that he abhors desire of revenge as the cause of murder, and that he accounts it as murder;

But is it enough that we do not kill any man in the manner mentioned above?

 No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show patience towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show peace towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show meekness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show mercy towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to show all kindness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to prevent his hurt as much as lies in us;

No: for when God forbids envy, he commands us to to do good to our neighbor, even to our enemy;

 

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show patience towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show peace towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show meekness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show mercy towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to show all kindness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to prevent his hurt as much as lies in us;

No: for when God forbids hatred, he commands us to to do good to our neighbor, even to our enemy;

 

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show patience towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show peace towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show meekness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show mercy towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to show all kindness towards our neighbor;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to prevent his hurt as much as lies in us;

No: for when God forbids anger, he commands us to to do good to our neighbor, even to our enemy.

Theological & Doxological Meditation #45

The First Commandment: Worship the Right God

Q. Which is the first commandment?

A. The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7).

God Is Known Among His People
(play file 066 in “T&D mp3″ sidebar widget)
#66, Trinity Hymnal (© 1990)
From Psalm 76
The Psalter 1912; alt. 1990, mod.

God is known among his people,
every mouth his praises fill;
From of old he has established
his abode onZion’s hill;
There he broke the sword and arrow,
bade the noise of war be still.

Excellent and glorious are you,
With your trophies from the fray;
You have slain the mighty warriors,
Wrapped in sleep of death are they;
When your anger once is risen,
Who can stand in that dread day?

When from heav’n your sentence sounded,
All the earth in fear was still,
While to save the meek and lowly
God in judgment wrought his will;
e’en the wrath of man shall praise you,
your designs it shall fulfill.

Vow and pay unto Jehovah,
Him your God forever own;
All men, bring your gifts before him,
Worship him, and him alone;
Mighty kings obey and fear him,
Princes bow before his throne.

Theological & Doxological Meditation #44

Teaching of the Decalogue’s Preface

44. What doth the preface to the Ten Commandments teach us?

A. The preface to the Ten Commandments teacheth us, that because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all of his commandments (Luke 1:74-75; 1 Peter1:14-19).

Blest Are the Undefiled

(play file 557 in “T&D mp3″ sidebar widget)

 #557, Trinity Hymnal (© 1990)
From Psalm 119
Isaac Watts, 1719; mod.
DOWNS C.M.
Lowell Mason, 1832

Blest are the undefiled in heart,
Whose ways are right and clean,
Who never from the law depart,
But fly from ev’ry sin.

Blest are the men who keep your word
And practice your commands;
With their whole heart they seek the Lord,
And serve you with their hands.

Great is their peace who love your law;
How firm their souls abide!
Nor can a bold temptation draw
Their steady feet aside.

Then shall my heart have inward joy,
And keep my face from shame,
When all your statutes I obey,
And honor all your name.

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