Jonathan Edwards in Northampton…

cover_issue_27_en_USThere is some fascinating reading in the Jonathan Edwards Studies journal from Yale. University of Richmond professor Douglas Winiarski has worked through a mass of documents and detailed the events surrounding Edwards’ dismissal from the church in Northampton. A number of things stand out in the articles, not the least of which is to see congregational polity working in a very presbyterian manner. And, did you know that Edwards was open to and very close to affiliating with the Scots-Irish Presbyterians to set-up a new church in Northampton? The first four of five articles have been published…

New Perspectives on the Northampton Communion Controversy I: David Hall’s Diary & Letter to Edward Billing

New Perspectives on the Northampton Communion Controversy II: Relations, Professions, & Experiences, 1748-1760

New Perspectives on the Northampton Communion Controversy III: Count Vivasor’s Tirade & The Second Council, 1751

New Perspectives on the Northampton Communion Controversy IV: Experience Mayhew’s Dissertation on Edwards’s Humble Inquiry 


What to pray for on a Lord's Day morning (Thomas Watson)…

51XAQ3X7RWL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Along with the previous thoughts on Lord’s Day meditation, Watson gives us some specific ways to pray each Sunday morning:

The things we should pray for in the morning of the Sabbath. Let us beg a blessing upon the word which is to be preached; that it may be a savour of life to us; that by it our minds may be more illuminated, our corruptions more weakened, and our stock of grace more increased. Let us pray that God’s special presence may be with us, that our hearts may burn within us while God speaks, that we may receive the word into meek and humble hearts, and that we may submit to it, and bring forth fruits. James i 21. Nor should we only pray for ourselves, but for others.

Pray for him who dispenses the word; that his tongue my be touched with a coal from God’s altar; that God would warm his heart who is to help to warm others. Your prayers may be a means to quicken the minister. Some complain they find no benefit by the word preached; perhaps they did not pray for their minister as they should. Prayer is like the whetting and sharpening of an instrument, which makes it cut better. Pray with and for your family. Yea, pray for all the congregations that meet on this day in the fear of the Lord; that the dew of the Spirit may fall with the manna of the word; that some souls may be converted, and others strengthened; that gospel ordinances may be continued, and have no restraint put upon them. These are the things we should pray for. The tree of mercy will not drop it’s fruit, unless it be shaken by the hand of prayer.

NewSpring at the Movies (our "local" #giftedcommunicator)…

Here’s the next “sermon” series at our “local” mega(lomaniacal) church (viewer discretion is advised):

Meanwhile, up the road a piece at Trinity Presbyterian Church, we’ll be opening our Bibles—God’s Word—to Luke 7. #novideos #noproductionvalue #uncool #1Cor2:1-5 #churchforthosewholovechurch #willheeverfinishluke

The end justifies the means (our "local" #giftedcommunicator, part 2)…

NewSpringBuildingThe numbers-obsessed evangelical church will do anything to produce results—and those results are understood to be only and always the blessing of God. Stephen Furtick, pastor of Charlotte’s Elevation Church, revealed the magic behind the massive number of “spontaneous” baptisms at his church: put 15 planted people in the audience who quickly rise up just after he gives a call for people to come forward during the service. Here’s the plan of attack, outlined in “Spontaneous Baptisms How-To Guide“:

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 8.56.36 AMWhen this came to light was Furtick ashamed or repentant? Of course not. Out came the explanations (denials and indignation)…

When they started talking this week on the news about our baptisms, I got hot. Yes, sir. I got hot. They were saying that we manipulate our baptisms, that we have people planted in the audience who pretend to go get baptized. For the record, we have never planted anybody in our church to pretend to be baptized. I am too scared of God to do something like that. Please. Please. … And to take the fact that we have volunteers who get up and lead the way so that people know where to go and to act as if they were pretending to be baptized and to negate the sincere faith decision of precious people who had one of the most meaningful experiences of their life, that’s just sick.

Essentially what he is saying is that none of the 15 plants were actually baptized. They certainly did make people think they were going forward to get baptized. It’s manipulation and Elevation Church continues to practice and promote it. It results in people having “one of the most meaningful experiences of their life” and so a little dishonesty is not so bad. The end justifies the means.

Then there is this which is worse… Continue reading

Fearless, faithless, blind wimps…

In his book Knowing God, written back in 1973, J.I. Packer laments the feebleness of faith and worship demonstrated by Christians of his day. I’d argue Christians of 2014 can add flaccidness to 1973’s feebleness. Packer writes,

“When you start reading Luther, or Edwards, or Whitefield, though your doctrine may be theirs, you soon find yourself wondering whether you have any acquaintance at all with the mighty God whom they knew so intimately” (83).

When I worked through Luther’s Bondage of the Will, I had that impression. Every time I read a sermon by Edwards, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Calvin, or Lloyd-Jones I have the same impression. They knew and therefore feared God in a way that few in the church know and fear Him today, particularly those who speak from her pulpits. When I compare my sermons with these men, I am forced to examine my calling and my faith. Just now I stumbled on an example of a godly forefather’s sobriety that caused me to think again about today’s abhorrence of discipline and fearlessness before God Almighty… Continue reading

Calvin's Prayer of Illumination…

Let us call upon our God and Father, beseeching Him, since all fullness of wisdom and light is found in Him, mercifully to enlighten us by His Holy Spirit in the true understanding of His word, and to give us grace to receive it in true fear and humility. May we be taught by His word to place our trust only in Him and to serve and honor Him as we ought, so that we may glorify His holy name in all our living and edify our neighbor by our good example, rendering to God the love and the obedience which faithful servants owe their masters, and children, their parents, since it has pleased Him graciously to receive us among the number of His servants and children.*

-from Songs of the Nativity: Selected Sermons on Luke 1 & 2 by John Calvin, translated by Robert White.

*Note on above text: “The Genevan liturgy of 1542 allowed, in the Sunday services, for a prayer of illumination to be said by the minister immediately before the sermon, but prescribed no set form of words. Calvin’s practice was to use a prayer which he had already employed in the French church in Strasbourg, and which was modeled on Bucer’s German liturgy. Text in CO 23.741-42; cf. OS 2.19-20.”

As many as a dozen babies were killed in Greenville this morning…

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The abortuary was very busy this morning. By our count a dozen or more women entered the clinic to put their children to death.

Brothers in the area: That platform you see in the picture above is there all the time, built to hold the weight of those who preach the Word and fulfill Jesus Christ’s command to love your neighbor. The abortuary schedules abortions six days a week from 9 – 11 a.m M – F, and 8-10 Saturdays. Choose a day. “Deliver those who are being taken away to death, and those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back” (Proverbs 24:11).

Calvin would have mentioned the false god of football…

There is a way a man can preach that is very safe for himself and very damaging for the souls under his care. We can preach redemptive-historically and always and ever avoid warning souls of the dangers of sin. Our pulpits will be safe and everybody will go home happy, having avoided any self-examination or repentance or any such negativity. It is simple negligence and all pastors and teachers should guard themselves against such cowardice.

Here is a good example of loving shepherding from the pulpit of John Calvin. He knows his sheep. The following is a short chunk of his sermon on the rape of Tamar, 2 Sam. 13

…let everyone pay very careful attention to their own situation. Those who wish to safeguard the honour of their house will sometimes seriously ruin it, even though they are quite vigilant in doing good, for it only takes a day, or even a minute, to reverse what they have faithfully carried out for one or two, or even ten years. Hence, the example which we are given here should instruct us, so that we may be on our guard, and may give no opportunity to Satan to find any unguarded breach to enter, but rather close the gap against him, as far as we can do. This is (I believe) good instruction which we should carefully put into practice—if, in fact, we are wise. But in actual fact, we see that it is much more likely for people to give themselves licence. Now how many husbands are there—I am not talking about somewhere far off, but in this very city—who would like there to be dances! Now what does such a request mean, if not that they are wanting to open a bawdy house, which are seen around here only too often? That is the real reason that there are husbands who would like their wives and daughters to dance. Why? So that they can fornicate, which means that they will go to perdition, and receive perpetual shame. Even though we can see that fornication is forbidden before both God and man, how many people, in fact, are there who go to all lengths for their wives and daughters to be in style? Yet we know that this kind of thing tempts people to fornication. Thus, it is obvious to me that they are ultimately wanting to be pimps for their wives, and along with them, they must want to be covered with an awful shame that there is nothing that they could ever do to blot it out.

Hard words, I know. But what sinner doesn’t need hard words to wake us up from our slumber and alert us to the dangers that surround our souls and the souls of our loved ones?

[By the way, if you have not read the sermons of John Calvin, I can’t recommend them highly enough. The commentaries were written for the training of pastors while his sermons were preached to all the people of the city of Geneva. They are simple and strong.]

"If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been saved?"

Convicting words…

To rule is to be in the midst of our enemies. There they find their mission, their work. And whoever will not suffer this does not want to be part of the rule of Christ; such a person wants to be among friends and sit among the roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the religious people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been saved?

-Luther, quoted by Bonhoeffer in Life Together