Jesus Christ

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Fix in us Thy humble dwelling...

This hymn by Charles Wesley was running through my mind as Mary Lee and I cleaned up the kitchen before going to bed early this morning. It's a good hymn for the new year. This is a pic of the hymnwriter preaching to American Indians.

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

Christians whose mothers never had to worry about their self-esteem...

(NOTE FROM TB: I've removed this post and hope to repost on the same subject, but taking a different tack that holds out hope and faith.)

Thoughts under the cross...

You're holding a sign that says "Pray for an end to abortion" and standing on the curb facing all the drivers waiting for the stoplight at one of the main intersections of your city. In the building behind you babies are being ripped apart and flushed down the disposal by Planned Parenthood. Up the sidewalk a little way are Roman Catholics praying to Mary. Also one solitary shy woman standing in the parking lot trying to talk to mothers intent on murdering their unborn child as they walk over to the abortuary.

Time passes and you notice things...

Joe Sobran's Jesus...

Joe Sobran's dear friend, Fran Griffin, has put together a collection of Joe's pieces and it's selling under the title Subtracting Christianity: Essays on American Culture and Society. Also check out the work Fran is doing to bring Joe's collected essays on the Clintons, Hustler: The Clinton Yearsback into print

It was Joe's spiritual meditations I appreciated the most. Here's a sample of his writing when he turned from politics and culture to open up his own Christian faith.

The Man They Still Hate
December 2, 1999

The world has long since forgiven Julius Caesar. Nobody today finds Socrates or Cicero irritating. Few of us resent Alexander the Great or his tutor, Aristotle.

No, only one man in the ancient world is still hated after two millennia: Jesus Christ.

This does not in itself prove the divinity of Christ...

A good fight...

Christians should be grateful for the recent debate over order and being in the Trinity. Though the debate brings painful divisions to light, it will eventually prove helpful. Disagreements between Christians reveal where God's approval lies. This will prove the main benefit of the current controversy—though we shouldn't assume that God's knife will entirely avoid us or our own position.

Positive fruits from the debate are already evident. Among these are:

  • Revision of complementarian language. Complementarianism (itself an ambiguous neologism) likes to speak of roles: roles of men and women, roles in the Trinity. But places in the Godhead are not roles, nor are men and women playing charades as men and women. Role language for the Trinity is wrong and misleading. Role language for men and women is only a bit less so. Differences within the Trinity are matters of personhood, not roles. So too with men and women. Role language reduces and dismisses fundamental differences.

Right. Got it.

Doug Wilson—31 January 2012:

Doug Wilson: "Feminism is a trinitarian heresy. Subordination is not inequality in essence." #dgpascon

— Desiring God (@desiringGod) January 31, 2012

Doug Wilson—14 June 2016: 

Doug Wilson: Subordination "does in fact play old harry with the divine simplicity, and the unity of the divine will, and eventually monotheism."

Liam Goligher and Carl Trueman...

Because I have affection and respect for Liam Goligher, and because other men are capable and willing to show the errors in the positions on God's creation order of man and woman he and Carl Trueman have staked out, I have taken down my previous post. Still, I do wait for Liam to correct his abuse of John Calvin in service of his own errors.

Liam Goligher misquotes John Calvin...

(NOTE FROM TB: In response to concern with my use of the phrase "economic subordination," I have added a footnote responding to that concern.)

Over on Carl Trueman's blog hosted by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, my friend Liam Goligher, senior minister of Philly's Tenth Presbyterian Church, has been joining Trueman in an attack upon the historic, Biblical doctrine of our Lord's economic subordination1 to His Father. Liam claims those who believe and teach that Jesus submitted to His Father before His incarnation deny the orthodox Christian faith. He tells his readers that men who hold to economic subordination cannot at the same time affirm the Nicene Creed's declaration of our Lord's equality with His Father.

Of course, Liam's declaration concerning the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity is wrong. Here, though, I simply want to correct Liam's abuse of John Calvin in support of his error.

Liam writes:

I am an unashamed biblical complementarian. The original use of that word took its cue from the biblical teaching about the differences yet complementarity of human beings made in the image of God while not running away from the challenges of applying biblical exhortations for wives to submit to their own husbands in the Lord or the prohibition on ordination for women in the church. With only those two caveats, as Calvin told John Knox, women may be princes in the state, but not pastors in the church.

John Calvin said no such thing. Rather, Calvin was consistent in declaring the teaching of Scripture concerning...

A psalm for Easter...

Let's celebrate Easter
with the rite
of laughter.
Christ died and rose
and lives.
Laugh like a woman
who holds her first baby.
Our enemy death
will soon be destroyed.
Laugh like a man
who finds he doesn't have cancer
or does but now there's a cure.
Christ opened wide the door of heaven.
Laugh like children
at Disneyland's gates.
This world is owned by God
and He'll return to rule.
Laugh like a man
who walks away uninjured
from a wreck
in which his car was totaled.
as if all the people in the whole world
were invited to a picnic
and then invite them.

-Joe Bayly

Watergate and the Resurrection of Jesus...

(TB: Chuck Colson wrote this helpful piece on the Resurrection of Jesus.)

After I became a Christian, my lawyer’s mind demanded evidence regarding the Bible. Was it legend, or could it really be taken as God’s revelation?

I read some excellent books. But ultimately it was my experience in Watergate, strange as that will sound, that convinced me the Bible is the authoritative, inerrant revelation of God. Let me explain...

Rome is anti-Semitic...

On December 10, 2015, one month ago, the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews released a statement on the relationship of Roman Catholicism and Judaism titled, The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable (Romans 11:29): A Reflection on Theological Questions Pertaining to Catholic-Jewish Relations on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of "Nostra Aetate" (No. 4).

What is this document whose 50th anniversary is being celebrated?

Nostra Aetate is a statement on interreligious relations which came out of Roman Catholicism's most recent ecumenical council, Vatican II. Nostra Aetate is most notable for laying a groundwork for the Vatican's recent and growing repudiation of evangelism of the Jews. Nostra Aetate exhibits the typical post-Holocaust pandering to the Jews in its declarations that "what happened in [Christ's] passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today."

Tell that to the Apostles preaching in the book of Acts.

Nostra Aetate also declares: "the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God." Also, "the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles. making both one in Himself."

Since Nostra Aetate, the Vatican has been undercutting the Church's historic call to Jews to repent of their part in the persecution and murder of their Messiah, and to turn and believe in His Name. Historically, the Christian Church has patterned our witness to the Jews after the Apostolic sermons preached to the Jews which are recorded for us in Acts. Take, for instance, this record of the sermon preached by the Apostle Peter...

Reformation Sunday: Luther's Ninety-five Theses...

Most years we've made it a habit to read some (and one or two years, all) of the 95 Theses that were posted on the door of the All Saints' Church of Wittenberg by Martin Luther. Read them to your family or church today, two years before the theses' 500th anniversary. Twenty of the theses (the ones in italics) will be read during our sermon this morning.

* * *

Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences (Commonly Known as the 95 Theses)

by Dr. Martin Luther

Posted October 31, 1517 on the Door of the All Saints' Church of Wittenberg

Out of love and concern for the truth, and with the object of eliciting it, the following heads will be the subject of a public discussion at Wittenberg under the presidency of the reverend father, Martin Luther, Augustinian, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and duly appointed Lecturer on these subjects in that place. He requests that whoever cannot be present personally to debate the matter orally will do so in absence in writing.

  1. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of penitence.

If your church doesn't teach you to fear God and obey Him, run for your life!

Romans begins and ends with the phrase, "obedience of faith." Chapter one, verse five reads, "we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles." Then the Apostle Paul brings the letter to an end with these words:

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.  - Romans 16: 25-27

Intriguing, isn't it, that the Apostle Paul starts and ends his letter with this pairing "obedience of faith?"

We'd never word it this way. We'd speak of the confession of faith, the grace of faith, the blessing of faith, the certainty of faith, justification by faith, the assurance of faith—anything but the obedience of faith. As we see it, in Christianity faith has displaced obedience from the pride of position it holds in all man's religious schemes of salvation. Further, any talk of obedience is dangerous because man's pride is always chomping at the bit to turn away from dependence upon God's grace, returning to dependence on his own self-righteousness.

"It's all of grace! That's what it means to be Protestant and Reformed! Catholics and Arminians talk about obedience because they believe in salvation by works, but all of us know they're wrong. Grace is everything!"

And yet, there the phrase is at the beginning and end of the book of Romans: the obedience of faith. We must admit it surprises us. If we didn't know it was there, we'd not think it wise for the Apostle Paul to speak this way. We'd warn him that a phrase like this will be used by some people...

Ashley Madison and the Apostle Paul's "gospel"...

...on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.  - Romans 2:16

They say pornography has been the engine driving technological advances the past few decades, starting with the VCR and DVD, but continuing to the present with the latest video codecs of pornography sites. Add to this the superficiality of tweets (esp. from Christians) and the extreme narcissism, vanity, and deception at the heart of FB, and it's easy to understand why believers would view technology as only evil.

But yes, there are good things about the internet, and one that may not be mentioned very often. Among the infinite number of Scripture's warnings, that one about "every idle word" makes me tremble. You too?

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12:36)

Incomprehensible, isn't it; that our Lord keeps track, not just of every hair on our head (comforting), but every thoughtless word? And this is where the internet is helpful...

Intown's Brian Prentiss comes out of the closet...

For those of us who find the SCOTUS decision something to be celebrated, we should remember Romans 14, where the Apostle Paul advises those of us with less scruples to be gracious towards our brothers and sisters with more. (The "weaker" brother language is unfortunate here, because it seems to suggest one is right and the other is wrong...)

- Brian Prentiss, pastor of Intown Presbyterian Church, Portland; member of Pacific Northwest Presbytery, Presbyterian Church in America; M.Div. Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi; former Campus Director at Campus Outreach and Collegiate Director at Briarwood Presbyterian Church. (On LinkedIn, Prentiss is commended for his pastoral leadership by Andrew Field, former pastor at Redeemer (NYC) and present board member of CCEF—David Powlison, Steve Estes, Ed Welch, etc.)

The above is excerpted from a post on the Intown Presbyterian Church (PCA) web site written by her pastor, Brian Prentiss. The post is scandalous. When the Supreme Court issued its pro-sodomy ruling, Bergefell v. Rhodes, Pastor Prentiss decided not to battle the wolf in defense of the sheep, so he wrote a bunch of gobbledigook to cover his abandonment...

Independence Day...

If you’re a Christian and a patriot mourning this week over the unjust weights and balances of our nation’s highest law court, now’s a good time to remember there is one kingdom that will be left standing after all others fall. 

Take comfort this Independence Day in the inevitable, the irrepressible, the inexorable, the indomitable, and the interminable rule of Christ promised us in Psalm 2 (versified for singing by some of our Clearnote musicians).

Listen and be wise…

With thanks to Phil, Jake, Nathan, and Nate

[Download the audio free at Noisetrade]

The death of Samuel Johnson, sinner...

Just finished Boswell's Life of Johnson. After recounting Johnson's death, Boswell speaks of pious Johnson's sin, and this short section from the end of the greatest biography in the English language is God's gift to those of us who tremble at our sin as we face death clinging to the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It reminds me of Machen's last words: "I’m so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it."

* * *

My readers are now, at last, to behold SAMUEL JOHNSON preparing himself for that doom, from which the most exalted powers afford no exemption to man. Death had always been to him an object of terrour; so that, though by no means happy, he still clung to life with an eagerness at which many have wondered....

On the death of Reformed celebrity pastor, Robert Schuller...

An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?  - Jeremiah 5:30, 31

Lately I had been thinking about the terrible betrayal of Gospel ministry by Robert Schuller. And then, yesterday, he died.

Back in seminary, one day our campus mailboxes had a gift placed in them. It was the latest book by Dr. Robert Schuller titled, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation.

Taking the book out, I glanced at the title as I walked out of the mailroom and it stopped me short. It seemed inconceivable the seminary had allowed Dr. Schuller to distribute a book with this title through our campus mailroom! I'd never heard of the book, but the title clearly communicated Dr. Schuller's grand pretensions.

Riding the wave of Southern California's infatuation with all things superficial, Dr. Schuller was a celebrity Reformed pastor of national reputation before anyone had heard of Tim Keller or Mark Driscoll. Dr. Schuller had built a mega church on his particular seventies and eighties brand of glib preaching of the Word of God and his tickling the ears of his parishioners was unbelievably lucrative. Like every mega church pastor, Dr. Schuller had a keen eye for marketing and Evangelicals swooned over him and poured money into his church and ministry through television donations, book sales, and conferences. Americans have their super-heroes. Reformed Evangelicals have our super-apostles...

Christmas voices...


It’s cold and drafty. She’s cold. Why couldn’t the boy have been born while we were still in Nazareth, instead of here, alone, no one to help. Only me, and I’ve never delivered a baby.

Fear not, Joseph.

I do believe God. I take him at his word. A baby. But not mine.

Take unto thee Mary.

Mary—how I love her. I love you, Mary. Here. Hold my hand. I’ll see that nothing goes wrong. No, God will see to that, he’ll take care of you. He’s got to—it’s his baby. Don’t be afraid.

She shall bring forth a son.

He’ll work beside me, help me smooth a yoke, build a house. I’ll get him a little saw, the boy and I will work together.

Call his name Jesus.

I like that name: Jesus, Joshua—he brought our people to this land. He was a leader, Joshua was. He was God’s man.

He shall save his people.

It’s beyond me. I’m just a carpenter, not a rabbi. How can he save, even after he comes of age? When Messiah comes…

…from their sins.

Things are so bad. People are so bad, not just the Romans, either. For that matter, I’m bad—I need a Savior. Mary, I’m here. Don’t be afraid—cry out, if you feel like it.

Pope Benedict XVI and the limits of papal infallibility...

In the meantime, Israel retains its own mission. Israel is in the hands of God, who will save it ‘as a whole’ at the proper time when the number of Gentiles is complete. - Pope-Benedict-XVI-writing-under-the-pen-name-Joseph-Ratzinger in his Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two, page 46.

Under another post, a longtime Roman Catholic correspondent called into question the accuracy of Calvin's frequent use of Bernard of Clairvaux in his Institutes.

To which I respond:

Pope Benedict XVI wrote Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two under his former name, Joseph Ratzinger, so readers would feel free to disagree with him despite the doctrine of papal infallibility. He says his book "is precisely not a book of the Magisterium. It is not a book that I wrote with my authority as Pope...," but that he "very intentionally wanted the book to be, not an act of the Magisterium, but an effort to participate in the scholarly discussion." Thus Joseph Ratzinger tells those reading his book:

everyone is free... to contradict me.

Interesting, that.

It is in this Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two that Pope Benedict quotes Bernard of Clairvaux in support of his own opposition1 to the evangelization of the Jews, today. Here's the text from Bernard that Benedict/Ratzinger claims in support of...