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Category: » The Church - Blasted Gourds

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Creeds & Confessions by Carl Trueman

While the objection to them is often couched in language that appears to be jealous for biblical authority, there are also powerful forces at work within our modern world that militate against adherence to historical statements of the Christin faith. As the goldfish swimming in the bowl is unaware of the temperature and taste of the water in which he swims, so often the most powerfully formative forces of our societies and cultures are those with which we are so familiar as to be functionally unaware of how they shape our thinking, even our thinking about what exactly it means to say that Scripture has supreme and unique authority. It would be tragic irony if the rejection of creeds and confessions by so many of those who sincerely wish to be biblically faithful turned out to be not an act of faithfulness but rather an unwitting capitulation to the spirit of the age.

In other words, we are impacted by our society more than we think.  Therefore, we should not lean on our own understanding so much or so quickly.  Trueman rightfully asserts that we all are confessional, “the difference is simply whether one adheres to a public confession, subject to public scrutiny, or to a private confession that is, but its very nature, immune to such examination.”  More simply stated, we all abide by a confession, most people today abide by a private confession of their own, rather than one that is agreed upon and tested.

Grace Filled Corporate Worship

David Mathis recently wrote a very helpful article on making the most of Corporate Worship by making sure our conduct is worthy of the Gospel.  It is also a great follow up to the lessons we have been learning from Pilgrim’s Progress encouraging us to engage one another in spiritual conversation.   Here is a brief portion/summary of what he wrote:

The principle of walking in line with the gospel (Galatians 2:14) in corporate worship looks like this: In grace consider others enough to refrain from distracting them, and extend grace to those who you find to be distracting. Here are a few suggestions for how to think well of and for others in corporate worship.

1. Arrive early.

Not only does early arrival keep you from distracting others by coming in late after the service has started, but it also enables you to greet others and extend to them a welcome as they arrive. Ain’t no shame in coming early for some social time. God’s happy when his children love each other.

2. Park far, sit close.

This is one practical way to count others more significant than yourselves, and look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). Parking far leaves the better spots in the lot for those arriving after you, and sitting close leaves the seats near the doors easily accessible.

3. Participate heartily.

“Heartily” is an attempt to communicate a balanced kind of engaged participation—not being a mere spectator and not being that guy singing with the out-of-control volume…The experience of corporate worship is enriched when all the attendees participate.

4. Smile.

Try to make the most of your morning before attending corporate worship, and let your gladness be contagious. Like George Mueller, seek to get your soul happy in Jesus, and ask God for help to spill over some of your soul satisfaction on others.

5. Stay late and engage others.

Come on the look for people, transition Godward in the worship gathering, and leave on the look for others. Some of the most significant conversations in the life of the church happen immediately after worship gatherings. Relationally, this is one of the most strategic times during the week to be available and on the lookout for

  • new faces you can make feel welcomed
  • old faces you can connect with
  • hurting people you can comfort
  • happy people you can be encouraged by.

6. Come to receive from God and give to others.

This is the banner over all the other charges. Come to corporate worship on the lookout for feeding on God and his grace, and on the lookout for giving grace to others. Come to be blessed by God, and to bless others. Receive from him, give to them.

We’re prone to get this backwards. We come to worship thinking that we’re somehow giving to God, and we subtly expect we’ll be receiving from others. We desperately need to turn that pattern on its head.

 

Why Senior Citizens Need the Gospel and Church too!

In a day and age where the church is marketed towards 35 year old families, there often is a forgotten generation, the elderly.  They are of great value to the church and the church should be of great value to them.  Because much of church life seems to be aimed at young families and doing, there is a temptation to feel they are not needed and that they do not need church as much as they did when they had their family. However, believers need the gospel whether young or old, and there are particular challenges that senior citizens face that critically demand the gospel and church life. Those of us that are younger can benefit by learning these challenges so that we can better be a part of those elderly in our congregations. David Murray speaks of these challenges in a 5 minute video, it is worth a listen.

 

Serving Seniors from HeadHeartHand Media on Vimeo.

EBC Adult Sunday School: Tough Questions Christians Face

During the Summer our Adults and teens are using a video series from Ligonier Ministries during the Sunday School hour. Each lesson can be streamed for free on Ligonier’s website. This may be helpful if anyone has missed half of a message or just wants to go back and hear it again.

We just viewed the first half of “If God is Sovereign, How can man be free” on Sunday and will finish it this coming Lord’s Day.

Josh Harris on Why We Should Love the Church

Acts 20:28 tells us that Jesus obtained the church with his own blood. Is this what your love for the church is based on? If it’s anything less, it won’t last long.

    • Don’t love the church because of what it does for you. Because sooner or later it won’t do enough.
    • Don’t love the church because of a leader. Because human leaders are fallible and will let you down.
    • Don’t love the church because of a program or a building or activities because all those things get old.
    • Don’t love the church because of a certain group of friends because friendships change and people move.

Love the church because of who shed his blood to obtain the church. Love the church because of who the church belongs to. Love the church because of who the church worships. Love the church because you love Jesus Christ and his glory. Love the church because Jesus is worthy and faithful and true. Love the church because Jesus loves the church.

The whole article can be found here.

25 Days of Christmas Music: Dec 19

The Children at EBC performed music and quoted scripture they have been learning in Children’s Worship. Here is “The Wondrous Gift” in HD.

New Ministry Opportunity At Edgewood

This is from the 9Marks blog, but this ministry opportunity also exists at Edgewood. Special thanks to those already participating in it.

At the Trellis and Vine Workshop in DC today, Colin Marshall shared ways that ordinary church members can serve the church on Sunday mornings.

Before the Service

* Read the passage in advance
* Pray for the gathering
* Greet newcomers (act like you are the host)
* Think strategically about who you should sit with
* Arrive Early

During the Service

* Sing with gusto (even if you can’t sing)
* Help with logistics (if there’s a problem, help fix it)
* Don’t be distracted
* Listen carefully
* Be aware of your facial expressions (you may affect others and discourage preachers)

After the Service

* Connect newcomers with others
* Get newcomers information
* Start a conversation about the sermon
* Ask someone how they became a Christian
* Stay late

Protect Your Minister of God’s Word

The intent of sharing this is not self-serving, but for the good of all Christians. There is nothing more healthy or important for a Christian than to protect the authority of God’s Word in their own life. One of the means, in fact a major means, of the activity of God’s Word in our life is to be the preaching of God’s Word. Protect that context. If you under the care of faithful teaching, do not take it lightly. Do not assume you can treat the church lightly in one place and expect to find depth in another place. Do not assume you can be critical of a faithful minister of the gospel and expect to be well fed.

Calvin, commenting on 1 Timothy 5:19:

None are more exposed to slanders and insults than godly teachers.

This comes not only from the difficulty of their duties, which are so great that sometimes they sink under them, or stagger or halt or take a false step, so that wicked men find many occasions of finding fault with them; but added to that, even when they do all their duties correctly and commit not even the smallest error, they never avoid a thousand criticisms.

It is indeed a trick of Satan to estrange men from their ministers so as gradually to bring their teaching into contempt. In this way not only is wrong done to innocent people whose reputation is undeservedly injured, but the authority of God’s holy teaching is diminished. . . .

[T]he more sincerely any pastor strives to further Christ’s kingdom, the more he is loaded with spite, the more fierce do the attacks upon him become.

And not only so, but as soon as any charge is made against ministers of the Word, it is believed as surely and firmly as if it had been already proved. This happens not only because a higher standard of integrity is required from them, but because Satan makes most people, in fact nearly everyone, over credulous so that without investigation, they eagerly condemn their pastors whose good name they ought to be defending.

—John Calvin, Second Corinthians, Timothy, Titus and Philemon (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1996), p. 263; emphasis added.

HT:JT

Dispensationalism versus Covenant Theology

I found this brief list to be a helpful beginning or overview of understanding some of the differences between Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology.

Chart: Dispensationalism vs Covenantalism, comparing the two theologies and providing a short list of proponents.

Dispensational Theology Covenant Theology
Most are Arminian, but many are Amyraldian (4-point Calvinist). Usually Calvinist.
Usually does not accept the idea of the ‘Analogy of Faith.’  There are many systems of hermeneutics utilized by Dispensationlists from hyper-symbolic to hyper-literal. Accepts the idea of the ‘Analogy of Faith’ (allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture)
The Baptist Confession, Article 1.9: The infallible rule for the interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself. Therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any [part of] Scripture (which is not a miscellany, but a unity) it must be understood in the light of other passages that speak more clearly.
‘Israel’ always means the literal, physical descendants of Jacob (ethnic Jews). Depending on the context, ‘Israel’ may mean either physical descendants of Jacob, or “spiritual Israel” (who are people with faith in Christ like Abraham).
‘Israel of God’ in Galatians 6:16 means physical (national, ethnic) Israel alone. ‘Israel of God’ in Galatians 6:16 means spiritual Israel, parallel to Galatians 3:29; Romans 2:28-29; 9:6; Philippians 3:3.
God has 2 peoples with 2 separate destinies: Israel (earthly) and the Church (heavenly).  Many do not believe in God’s sovereign election.  But for those who do believe that God has an elect, they divide the elect by ethnicity (ie Jew, Gentile). God always had only one people, the Church who gradually developed through the ages, in accordance with a Covenant worked out in eternity past between the “Three Persons of the Godhead.” (The Cov. of Redemption)
The Church was born at Pentecost after the Ascention of Christ. The Church began in the Garden of Eden and grew in the Old Testament with the OT covenants and reached fulfillment in the New Testament with the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. God has one family, one church, one flock, one baptism, one way of salvation whether before the Cross or after – by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.
The Church was not prophesied as such in the OT but was a “mystery”, hidden until the NT. Recognizes that there are many OT prophecies of the NT Church, and that the NT writers also affirmed this fact (1 Peter 1:10-12; Acts 2:16-35; 3:22-25).
All OT prophecies for ‘Israel’ are for the physical nation of Israel (ethnic Jews), not the Church. Some OT prophecies are for national Israel, others for spiritual Israel based on context.
God’s main purpose in history is national, ethnic Israel. God’s main purpose is His own glory, which is revealed in Christ and then through the Body of Christ – the New Covenant Church.
The Church is a parenthesis in God’s program for the ages. The Church is the culmination of God’s saving purpose for the ages.
The main heir to Abraham’s covenant was Isaac and literal Israel (ethnic Jews). The main heir to Abraham’s covenant was Christ, the Seed, and spiritual Israel which is “in Christ” (Galatians 3:16).  Thus all who have faith in Christ (are “in Christ”) are the participants in the Abrahamic Covenant.
God’s program in history is mainly through separate dispensations. God’s program is history is mainly through related covenants, but all those covenants were derived from the eternal covenant that the Trinity made in eternity, the Covenant of Redemption.
Most teach that men in the OT were saved by faith in a revelation peculiar to their Dispensation. All men who have ever been saved have been saved by faith in Christ as their sin-bearer, which has been progressively revealed in every age.
The Holy Spirit indwells only believers in the Dispensation of Grace, not OT and not after the “Secret Rapture.” The Holy Spirit has indwelt believers in all ages, and He indwells the Body of Christ in a special way in the present NT era as an anointing upon the Church for ministry from the glorified Head of the Church who is established on the Throne in heaven, and the Spirit will not be withdrawn from God’s people.
Jesus made an offer of an earthly Kingdom that is defined nationally/ethnically to Israel.  Since Israel rejected it, it is postponed till a future time when God will remove the Church from the world, and then God will reinstitute OT Israel via a Great Tribulation for seven years, and then Christ will return.  At which time, God will send glorified OT saints to join living Jews on the earth to have national dominion over the world for 1000 years.  Then Christ will judge the living and dead, destroy creation and make a new earth and bring a golden heaven down to sit upon it. Jesus’ Kingdom is not defined nationally/ethnically but morally and spiritually.  That Kingdom was rejected by national Israel but has been accepted by spiritual Israel who are Jews and Gentiles who believe in Christ (Galatians 3:29).  Christ rules and reigns over His kingdom now as King of kings and Lord of lords.  His kingdom will be consummated and fully realized at the Second Advent, in which all the unbelievers will be judged and removed from the earth.  The curse of the Fall will be removed from the earth resulting in a “new heavens and new earth” of which believers will enjoy as their inheritance for all eternity.
OT believers were not ‘in Christ,’ nor part of the Body or Bride of Christ even now. Believers in all ages are all ‘in Christ’ and part of the Body and Bride of Christ now.
God’s laws as given in the Old Testament are no longer in effect unless repeated in the New Testament. God’s moral laws are eternal and are thus in effect forever.  OT laws for the government of Israel and temple activity are no longer useful since the inauguration of the New Covenant.
Proponents:
Craig Blaising
Darrell Bock
John Nelson Darby
John Feinberg
John Hagee
Ed Hindson
Carl Hock
David Hocking
Dave Hunt
Thomas Ice
Harry Ironside
Tim LaHaye
David Larsen
Hal Lindsey
John MacArthur
Chuck Missler
J. Dwight Pentecost
Charles Ryrie
Robert Saucy
C. I. Scofield
Henry Thiessen
Robert Thomas
Jeffrey Townsend
Jack Van Impe
Michael Vlach
John Walvoord
Kenneth Wuest
Proponents:
Jay Adams
Eric Alexander
Tom Ascol
Augustine*
Isaac Backus
Greg Bahnsen
Richard Barcellos
Rolfe Barnard
S. M. Baugh
Herman Bavinck
G. K. Beale
Alistair Begg
Richard Belcher
James Montgomery Boice
James P. Boyce
John A. Broadus
F. F. Bruce
B. B. Caldwell
John Calvin*
William Carey
R. Scott Clark
Johannes Cocceius
Gene Cook, Jr.
R. L. Dabney
John L. Dagg
Mark Dever
J. Ligon Duncan, III
Jonathan Edwards
Sinclair Ferguson
John Frame
Richard Fuller
John Gill
Robert Godfrey
Robert Hall, Sr.
Charles Hodge
Anthony A. Hoekema
Michael Horton
Dennis E. Johnson
Benjamin Keach
Elias Keach
Tim Keller
Meredith Kline
Abraham Kuyper
J. Gresham Machen
C. J. Mahaney
Fred Malone
Basil Manley, Sr.
Basil Manley, Jr.
Albert Martin
Peter Masters
Keith Mathison
Russell Moore
Iain Murray
John Murray
Tom Nettles
Roger Nicole
Caspar Olevianus
John Owen
J. I. Packer
A. W. Pink
John Piper
Kim Riddlebarger
Jason E. Robertson
O. Palmer Robertson
Robert Rollock
Ernest Reisinger
Robert Reymond
Samuel Rutherford
Philip Ryken
L. R. Shelton, Jr.
Richard Sibbs
R. C. Sproul
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Derek Thomas
Cornelius Van Til
Carl Trueman
Francis Turretin
Geerhardus Vos
Samuel Waldron
B. B. Warfield
Hermann Witsius
James White

*Writings are consistent with CT

Other Resources

The Covenants of Works and Grace (.pdf) Walter J. Chantryicon

A Comparison of Dispensationalism & Covenant Theology Richard P. Belchericon

Covenant Theology (This one is Presbyterian though).  J. Ligon Duncan, III – 12 Lectures on the biblical, theological, and historical study of God’s Covenantsicon

Testing Faith to Prove it is Genuine

Those at Edgewood heard a sermon on Abraham’s faith and the order of trial and testing.  These testings increased in their difficulty and intensity.  However, for years,  God had been proving Abraham’s faith was of Him and genuine.

I received this email today and thought it was a good reminder that God’s still works to prove our faith genuine.

Special Message From Joni

Joni and Ken together, reflecting

You have always been so faithful to pray for Ken and me – especially for my health. But today I bring before you a new concern. I have breast cancer. Ken and I have been assured by our doctors that there are many new treatments for breast cancer, and we are very hopeful for a successful surgery and a full recovery.

You have heard me often say that our afflictions come from the hand of our all-wise and sovereign God, and although cancer is something new, I am content to receive from God whatever He deems fit for me – even if it is from His left hand (better from His left hand, than no hand at all, right?!). Yes, it’s alarming, but rest assured that Ken and I are utterly convinced that God is going to use this to stretch our faith, brighten our hope, and strengthen our witness to others…

Especially at Joni and Friends. We’ve always prized the ministry God has given Joni and Friends to people facing a variety of disabilities; everything from autism to Alzheimer’s, from spina bifida to spinal cord injury. For years I have hoped that my quadriplegia might encourage people struggling with cancer… now I have a chance to truly empathize and journey alongside, affirming that God’s grace is always sufficient for whatever the disease or disability.

I will be undergoing tests the rest of this week, after which, I will have surgery on the afternoon of Monday, June 28th. Please pray that the upcoming tests, surgery and subsequent treatment will be successful (thankfully, my quadriplegia has no bearing on either the surgery or the treatment; I’m like any other woman with breast cancer — I simply want to focus my energies on getting better).

Of course, I believe that God can and does heal and I covet your prayers to that end. Most of all, please pray that God will pour out grace-upon-grace on Ken and me. We’ll be posting regular updates on “Joni’s Corner” here on our website – also posted here you will find an article called “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” by John Piper and David Powlison, both of whom are cancer survivors. I can’t begin to describe how encouraged I’ve been just reading their insights – I’m sure you’ll say the same after you read it. We join you in resting in the assurance of Psalm 62:5-6, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”

Yours in His sovereign care,

Joni's  Signature

Joni Eareckson Tada