Archive for January 2009

What’s In Your Wallet?

January 29, 2009

After the raging hordes, in the Capital One credit card commercial, have pillaged and plundered the peasant village, an animal skin draped warrior asks, “What’s in your wallet?”

In Wednesday’s reading of the Institutes, 1.11.7 – 1.11.12, Calvin doesn’t ask about what is in our wallet, he asks, “What’s in your mind?”

Calvin addresses a belief current at his time that said that “images are the books of the unlearned.” This is absurd because images and idols are “forged” in the human mind that is “stuffed with presumptuous rashness,” daring “to imagine a god suited to its own capacity; as it labours under dullness, nay, is sunk in the grossest ignorance, it substitutes vanity and an empty phantom in the place of God.”

When divine honors are paid to dumb idols that are intended to represent God, or any other god for that matter, whether made out of wood, stone or precious jewels and metals, the LORD is robbed of all honor, glory and majesty that is due His Name.

So the question is begged: What kind of a god that I can contrive in my vain imaginings can compare with the God of the Bible? The God Who is:

  • Elohim – God of creation, Source and Sovereign
  • Jehovah – “Self-Existent”, never changing and faithful to His own nature
  • Adonai – Master and Owner of everything (implying His dominion and my submission)
  • El Shaddai – God of power, inexhaustible in resource
  • Holy and full of grace
  • Savior, Redeemer

“You shall have no other gods before Me, … for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:2,5)

Reformed Book List

January 28, 2009

Are you like me? Do you enjoy reading books while, at the same time, you books113are making a list of more books to read sometime in the future? Oh! if I only had enough money and time to read everything that I would like to!

Right now I am reading through the Institutes as I follow along with the Reformation21 blog posts. I am reading the Institutes off of the Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics website. I have also begun reading the The Cross of Christ by John R.W. Stott, but that reading is going slowly due to time constraints.

Below are a number of books that I would like to add to my bookshelf. I have become aware of them while reading blogs, websites and magazines. They all pertain to the Reformation and Reformation-related issues and are written by Reformed men, past and present.

If you are familiar with any of these books, or have read them, I would appreciate your comments on them. Also, if you would like to suggest any titles or authors for my consideration, I would appreciate that as well.

~ Blessings ~

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Check out the the books above by clicking on their links to the WTS Book Store.

You can find other Reformed and Puritan books at Monergism Books.

No Comparison

January 27, 2009

In Monday’s reading of the Institutes, 1.9.3 – 1.11.1, two statements stood out to me.

The first one, in 1.9.3, is to me somewhat of a summary statement to what Calvin has been talking about in the previous readings regarding the Word and the Holy Spirit.

For the Lord has so knit together the certainty of his word and his Spirit, that our minds are duly imbued with reverence for the word when the Spirit shining upon it enables us there to behold the face of God; and, on the other hand, we embrace the Spirit with no danger of delusion when we recognize him in his image, that is, his word.”

The Word and the Holy Spirit are not in opposition to one another. God speaks to us in and through His Word, revealing Himself, His Son and His will.  His Holy Spirit enlightens the eyes of our understanding so that His Son is glorified and that we might know, be taught and led in God’s will.

The second statement has to do with idols. It comes from 1.11.1.

” … God makes no comparison between images, as if one were more, and another less befitting; he rejects, without exception, all shapes and pictures, and other symbols by which the superstitious imagine they can bring him near to them.”

Calvin elaborates on the subject of idols in Tuesday’s reading, 1.11.2  – 1.11.6, when he says that it is absurd to think that the God who “fills all space” can be represented by a “bit of paltry wood, stone, or gold.” (1.11.2) To make an idol that supposedly represents God is “indecorous fiction”, detestable and an insult to His majesty. (1.11.4) To do so diminishes “reverential fear” of the Lord and “encourages error.”

We must, therefore, understand what the Bible’s teaching is regarding this matter of idols, understand “how prone our nature is to idolatry” (1.11.3) and guard ourselves from all such vain worship.

Our worship must be of the God of the Bible as He is revealed there, without any vain image or representation whatsoever.

Chinese New Year

January 26, 2009

Happy Chinese New Year, the Year of the Ox. chinese_new_year_deco1

According to the Chinese zodiac, people born in the Year of the Ox are patient, speak little and inspire confidence in others. Generally easy-going and conservative, they are natural born leaders. People born in the years 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, and 2009 are Ox.

If you live in or near Houston, you may want to check out the Chinese Community Center of Houston’s website to see what will be happening there this coming Saturday as they celebrate the Chinese New Year. Their site is www.ccchouston.org.

My family and I went last year and we had a great time – food, displays and entertainment. Afterwards we went further into China Town for some shopping and more food. We are planning to go again this Saturday.

Fill My Cup, Lord

January 25, 2009

Fill My Cup, LORD

 “Take your emptiness to His fullness. There is an infinite supply with Him for everything you need, at the very moment you need it.”

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Discouraged? He is your hope. Fearful? He is your security. Troubled? He is your peace. Uncertain? He is your confidence. Unforgiven? He is your Savior. Backslidden? He is your Restorer.

Whatever your need might be this morning, He is able to meet it for He is the All-Sufficient One.

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The quote above is taken from Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s sermon, “The Cry For Revival”, based on Psalm 85:6.

M’Cheyne, 1813-1843, was a Scottish pastor who was known for the love of his congregation and Israel. I have read that he was considered the “most Christian man” in Scotland at his time.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

January 25, 2009

Institutes 1.8.10 – 1.9.2

I really enjoyed Friday’s reading from the Institutes. Calvin’s commentary about the Maccabees’ attempts to “impugn the credibility of Scripture” and the Jew’s, to whom the Law and the Prophets had been given, but made no use of it and thus missed the Messiah, made me think about the many ways that people today malign, discount and ignore the Word.

The fact that no man or power or government has been able to extinguish the flame of God’s Word is surely evidence of the “divine origin” and superintendence of His very own Word.

It’s character and authority is revealed and recorded in the New Testament Gospels and Epistles as the Lord uses the Word to change the lives of and then use men in His service. The examples of the simple and humble men the Lord used as His instruments to pen the Scripure are provided as evidence of the life-changing power of the Word.

Men and women down through the ages have given their lives for the Word and its proclamation, and continue to do so in nations like China and Sudan, because the Spirit has confirmed and sealed the truth of the Word in their hearts. Their conviction has been, and continues to be, that the Word and the Lord that It reveals is worthy of dying for.

The Spirit, promised and given to us, has not come “to form new and unheard -of revelations, or to coin a new form of doctrine, by which we may be led away from the received doctrine of the gospel, but to seal on our minds the very doctrine which the gospel recommends.” (1.9.1)

We must then, both read and hear the Scripture and depend on the Spirit to enlighten and guide our understanding and application of It in a daily lives and relationships.

Confirming Evidence

January 23, 2009

Institutes 1.8.2 – 1.8.9

In Thursday’s reading, Calvin presents a number of evidences from Scripture that testify to the fact that the Scriptures are the Word of God.

These evidences are:

  1. The Content Is Decisive – Whether the style of the writing contained in Scripture is elegant and eloquent or rude and homely, “the majesty of the Spirit … appears conspicuous in all.” (1.8.2) In whatever style the Scripture was penned, the message is consistently the same throughout.
  2. The Antiquity of Scripture – “Now, if Moses … traces the tradition of his doctrine from so remote a period (Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant), it is obvious how far the Holy Scriptures must in point of antiquity surpass all other writings.” (1.8.3)
  3. The Truthfulness of Scripture Shown By Moses’ Example – In his writing, Moses is very honest about his ancestors (Jacob, Simeon and Levi), his family members (Aaron and Miriam) and himself. Who would be so honest unless he was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. ” … the Law itself contains throughout numerous proofs, which fully vindicate the credibility of Moses, and place it beyond dispute, that he was in truth a messenger sent forth from God. (1.8.4)
  4. Miracles Strengthen the Authority of God’s Messengers – “The many striking miracles which Moses relates are so many sanctions of the law delivered, and the doctrine propunded, by him.” (1.8.5)
  5. Moses’ Miracles Are Incontestable – “When (as often happened) the people proudly and petulantly rose up against him (Moses), when individuals conspired, and attempted to overthrow him, how could any impostures have enabled him to elude their rage? The event plainly shows that by these means (the miracles God performed through Moses) his doctrine was attested to all succeeding ages.” (1.8.6)
  6. Prophesies That Are Fulfilled Contrary To All Human Expectation – Prophesies uttered by Moses were realized. Calvin refers to Moses’ “assigning first place to the tribe of Judah in the person of Jacob” and “… though obscure, the admission of the Gentiles into the divine covenant … ” (1.8.7)
  7. God Has Confirmed the Prophetic Words – Isaiah and Jeremiah are cited as examples of prophets that the LORD used to make prophetic statements, all of which have been fulfilled. (1.8.8 )
  8. The Transmission of the Law Is To Be Trusted – ” … it is certain beyond dispute, that these writings passed down, if I may so express it, from hand to hand, being transmitted in an unbroken series from the fathers, who either with their own ears heard them spoken, or learned from those who had, while the remembrance of them was fresh.” (1.8.9)

Under paragraph 8 Calvin refers to an event that took place during the reign of Josiah (II Kings 22). While Hilkiah the high priest was searching the house of the LORD for money, he discovered the Book of the Law. While the Book had been preserved, it had been hidden and overlooked for years. The Book was not unknown or new to the priests and the people; the priests has simply “ceased to publish the law itself in due form, and the people also had neglected the wonted reading of it.”

In an age of itching ears and feel-good preaching, may we never be found guilty of failure to desire or preach the whole counsel of the LORD, the Word of God.

“And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book …. ” (Nehemiah 8:1)

“Preach the word.” (II Timothy 4:2)