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Unity of Believers

(9 posts)

Lord’s Day 34, 2008

Sunday··2008·08·24
I reioyced, when they sayd to me, We wil go into the house of the Lord. (Psalme 122:1) Who Are These, and Whence Came They? Horatius Bonar (1808–1889) “Et de Hierosolymis et de Britannia aequaliter patet aula coelestis.” —Jerome. Ep. ad Paulinum.Not from Jerusalem alone, To heaven the path ascends; As near, as sure, as straight the way That leads to the celestial day, From farthest realms extends; Frigid or torrid zone. What matters how or whence we start? One is the crown to all; One is the hard but glorious race, Whatever be our starting-place;” Kings round the earth the call That says, Arise, Depart! From the balm-breathing, sun-loved isles Of the bright Southern Sea, From the dead North’s cloud-shadow’d pole, We gather to one gladsome goal,— One common home in Thee, City of sun and smiles! The cold rough billow hinders none; Nor helps the calm, fair main; The brown rock of Norwegian gloom, The verdure of Tahitian bloom, The sands of Mizraim’s plain, Or peaks of Lebanon. As from the green lands of the vine, So from the snow-wastes pale, We find the ever open road To the dear city of our God; From Russian steppe, or Burman vale, Or terraced Palestine. Not from swift Jordan’s sacred stream Alone we mount above; Indus or Danube, Thames or Rhone, Rivers unsainted and unknown;— From each the home of love Beckons with heavenly gleam. Not from gray Olivet alone We see the gates of light; From Morven’s heath or Jungfrau’s snow We welcome the descending glow Of pearl and chrysolite, And the unsetting sun. Not from Jerusalem alone The Church ascends to God; Strangers of every tongue and clime, Pilgrims of every land and time, Throng the well-trodden road That leads up to the throne. —Hymns of Faith and Hope, First Series (James Nisbet & Co., 1876). Psalme 122 (Geneva Bible) A song of degrees, or Psalme of David. 1 I rejoiced, when they sayd to me, We wil go into the house of the Lord. 2 Our feete shall stand in thy gates, O Ierusalem. 3 Ierusalem is builded as a citie, that is compact together in it selfe: 4 Whereunto the Tribes, euen the Tribes of the Lord go vp according to the testimonie to Israel, to prayse the Name of the Lord. 5 For there are thrones set for iudgement, euen the thrones of the house of Dauid. 6 Pray for the peace of Ierusalem: let them prosper that loue thee. 7 Peace be within thy walles, and prosperitie within thy palaces. 8 For my brethren and neighbours sakes I will wish thee now prosperitie. 9 Because of the House of the Lord our God, I will procure thy wealth. Grace be with you, and Peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hymns of My Youth: The Church’s One Foundation

Saturday··2010·11·06
Today’s hymn is from the “Church” section of the Concordia. 80 The Church’s One Foundation The Church’s one foundation Is Jesus Christ her Lord; She is His new creation By water and the Word: From heaven He came and sought her To be His holy bride; With His own blood He bought her, And for her life He died. Elect from every nation, Yet one o’er all the earth; Her charter of salvation, One Lord, one faith, one birth; One holy Name she blesses, Partakes one holy food; And to one hope she presses, With ev’ry grace endued. ’Mid toil and tribulation, And tumult of her war, She waits the consummation Of peace forevermore; Till, with the vision glorious Her longing eyes are blest, And the great Church victorious, Shall be the Church at rest. Yet she on earth hath union With God the Three in One, And mystic sweet communion With those whose rest is won: Oh, happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we, Like them, the meek and lowly, On high may dwell with Thee. —The Concordia Hymnal (Augsburg Publishing House, 1960). The traditional tune for this hymn, Aurelia, was written by Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810–1876), grandson of Charles Wesley.
Phonity noun: superficial unity for which fundamental differences are ignored. I wrote several introductions to this article, but each time I found myself politely beating around the bush, which, as you will see, goes exactly opposite my purpose. So I’m just going to skip the howdies and handshakes and spill it: As long as Reformed—which I assume to be cessationist (Sola Scriptura)—and Charismatic Christians continue to pretend the differences between them are minor and sweep them under the couch, their unity is fake, false, phony, fraudulent, and fraught with failure. If a movie was made about it, it might be called Irreconcilable Differences. Here’s why: Positively, we (Cessationists) believe that God has given his Word in full, therefore, prophesy (in the divine revelation, “thus saith the Lord,” sense) is ended; the gifts of tongues and healing were given to authenticate divine revelation, therefore, since revelation is finished for our time, so are tongues and healing. Negatively, we believe that if you “speak in tongues,” you are faking it, under some kind of hypnotic influence, or under demonic influence; when you say, “God told me . . .” without following with a Scripture reference, you are delusional, fatuous, or making it up; all “faith healers” are frauds. In view of all that—and setting aside who is right and who is wrong—I can understand how Cessationists can lovingly bear with Charismatic brothers, though I cannot see how they can quietly “agree to disagree.” The latter does not seem loving at all. What really boggles my mind is how Charismatics can brush aside what Cessationists believe about those things that identify them as Charismatic—that is, that they are all fake—as though it is no big deal. But my bewilderment is of no importance to you. How this can be is less important than the question, “Should this be?” I know the current rapport between Charismatic and Reformed Christians is very fashionable and celebrated, but is it, as it stands, a good thing? Is a unity based on near silence a genuine unity? Regardless of which side you are on, you must agree that these are very serious disagreements. One of us is terribly wrong, and in serious need of correction. If we sincerely aspire to any kind of genuine unity, we need to talk about this. That is why both Cessationists and Charismatics, rather than becoming pugnatious, should welcome events like Grace Community Church’s Strange Fire conference as an opening of constructive dialogue. Charismatics should listen when the sessions become available online, and by all means, respond intelligently. (Note: “Shut up and stop ‘quenching the Spirit’” is not an intelligent response.) And if we can’t talk about it, we should stop pretending and call it quits.

Lord’s Day 16, 2014

Sunday··2014·04·20
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. —Philippians 2:1–2 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. —Ephesians 4:30–32 Hymn 130. (L. M.) Love and hatred. Phil. ii. 2; Eph. iv. 30, &c. Isaac Watts (1674–1748) Now by the bowels of my God, His sharp distress, his sore complaints, By his last groans, his dying blood, I charge my soul to love the saints. Clamour, and wrath, and war, begone, Envy and spite, for ever cease; Let bitter words no more be known Amongst the saints, the sons of peace. The Spirit, like a peaceful dove, Flies from the realms of noise and strife: Why should we vex and grieve his love Who seals our souls to heav’nly life? Tender and kind be all our thoughts, Through all our lives let mercy run; So God forgives our num’rous faults, For the dear sake of Christ his Son. —The Psalms & Hymns of Isaac Watts. Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Book I: Collected from the Holy Scriptures (Soli Deo Gloria, 1997). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Splinters and Fragments

Thursday··2014·05·22 · 2 Comments
Here is my unpopular opinion for the week. I don’t like women’s Bible studies. I don’t like men’s Bible studies, either. I really don’t care for any modifier-added Bible study. It’s not just because they tend to focus narrowly on group-specific topics, losing the wider context of “the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27), and tend to drift into silliness and even heresy,* nor is it just because they are often not led by qualified teachers.† I know I risk of sounding like an old fogey longing for the good old days, but just as the past may not have been as good as remembered, the present isn’t so new and improved—and this is one example of the old days actually being better days. I remember a time when Wednesday was Bible study night, and everyone came and studied together under pastoral leadership. Now it’s a men’s study here, a women’s study there; here a small group, there a young adults class, everywhere a seniors group; Old MacDonald split his church, E-I-E-I-O. In the name of meeting specific needs—which, I’m afraid, really means catering to special interests—many churches are splintered into so many segments that they look more like collections of amputated limbs than whole bodies. I’m not pushing for the full family-integrated program, although I think it has a lot to teach us about being a body. Neither am I pushing for Wednesday night; an adult class on Sunday morning will serve just fine. But how is the church to function as a body when every part goes off in its own direction, only coming together for the formal‡ Lord’s Day worship service? Surely there are good reasons for men to gather with men, and women with women. But if those gatherings replace the integrated Elder-led Bible study, or in any way contribute to the fragmenting of the body, I’d rather see them abandoned entirely. * e.g., Wild at Heart, Beth Moore, etc. † Not every group has to be taught by an Elder, but active pastoral oversight is essential. ‡ Yes, it should be formal, and yes, it should be dominated by preaching, and no, it’s not the time for dialogue.

Lord’s Day 29, 2014

Sunday··2014·07·20
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:31–39 Hymn LIX. Communion with the saints in glory. John Newton (1725–1806) Refreshed by the bread and wine, The pledges of our Saviour’s love; Now let our hearts and voices join In songs of praise with those above. Do they sing, “Worthy is the Lamb?” Altho’ we cannot reach their strains, Yet we, thro’ grace, can sing the same, For us he dy’d, for us he reigns. If they behold him face to face, While we a glimpse can only see; Yet equal debtors to his grace, As safe and as belov’d are we. They had, like us a suff’ring time, Our cares and fears, and griefs they knew; But they have conquer’d all thro’ him, And we, ere long, shall conquer too. Tho’ all the songs of saints in light, Are far beneath his matchless worth; His grace is such, he will not slight The poor attempts of worms on earth. —Olney Hymns. Book II: On Occasional Subjects. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");
Our Father who is in heaven . . . —Matthew 6:9 The Scripture passage commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer”—which is not actually a prayer, but a pattern for prayer—begins with the salutation, “Our Father.” This form of words expresses the fact that our “personal” relationships with Christ are neither private nor exclusive. God is the father, and Christ is the savior, of all the elect, in all times and in all places. There are no lone Christians on their own personal islands. The church is a “communion of saints,” and Jesus placed that fact at the front of his model prayer so that we would not pray as representatives of our own interests alone. Thomas Manton expands this truth thus: Christ put this in this perfect pattern and form of prayer To quicken our love to the saints in prayer. In a fellow-feeling of their miseries, in being touched with their necessities, as we would be with our own. It must be expressed in wishing the same good to others as to ourselves. It checketh many carnal dispositions which we are guilty of . . . It checks strife and contention; we are brethren—have one common Father. [A]ll the saints have a common interest in the same God; therefore Christ taught us to say, ‘Our Father.’ They have one Father, as well as one Spirit—one Christ, one hope, and one heaven: Eph. iv. 6. Questionless, it is lawful to say, My Father. . . . But here Christ, when he giveth us this perfect form, teacheth us to say, ‘Our Father.’ As the sun in the firmament is every man’s, and all the world’s, so God is every single believer’s God—the God of all the elect. But why would Christ put this in this perfect pattern and form of prayer? [1.] To quicken our love to the saints in prayer. When we come to pray, there must be a brotherly love expressed; now that is a distinct thing from common love: ‘Add to brotherly kindness, charity,’ 2 Pet i. 7. When we are dealing with God in prayer, we must express somewhat of this brotherly love. How must we express it? In praying for others, as well as for ourselves. Necessity will put men upon praying for themselves, but brotherly love will put them upon praying for others. Wherein must brotherly kindness be expressed in prayer? In two things:— (1.) In a fellow-feeling of their miseries, in being touched with their necessities, as we would be with our own. To be senseless, it is a spiritual excommunication, a casting ourselves out of the body. Members must take care for one another. We must be grieved with their pains. ‘Who is offended,’ saith the apostle, ‘and I burn not?’ If there be any power in such a confession or title of a Father, we must be wrestling with God, how well soever it be with us, remembering we speak to him in whom others have a joint interest with ourselves. (2.) It must be expressed in wishing the same good to others as to ourselves. Many that pray in their own case, with what earnestness and importunity are they carried out! but how flat and cold in the case of others! Now, a good Christian must be as earnest with God for others as for himself Look, what earnestness and heedfulness of soul he showeth when he puts up prayers for himself; the same must he do ‘for all saints:’ Eph. vi. 18. . . . [2.] Again, as it showeth us what brotherly love we should express in prayer, so it checketh many carnal dispositions which we are guilty of, and Christ would mind us of them. It checks strife and contention; we are brethren—have one common Father. Everywhere meekness and love: it is a qualification for prayer. ‘Let the husband live with his wife according to knowledge, that their prayers be not hindered:’ 1 Pet. iii. 7. If there be such brawls in the family, how can the husband and wife call upon God with such a united heart as is requisite? So, 1 Tim. ii. 8, ‘I will that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.’ Not only lift up ‘pure’ hands to God, and that ‘without doubting;’ there must be confidence in our prayers. But that is not all: but ‘without wrath;’ there must be nothing of revenge and passion mingled with your supplication. And then it checketh pride and disdain. Christ teacheth all, in all conditions, whether masters or servants, fathers or children, kings or beggars, all to say ‘Our Father;’ for we have all one Father. Thou hast not a better Christ, nor a better Father in heaven, than they have. The rich and the poor were to give one ransom under the law, Exod. xxx., to show they have all the same Redeemer. The weak should not despise nor disdain the strong, nor the rich he ashamed to own the poor as hrethren. We should never be ashamed to own him as a brother whom God will own as a son. —Thomas Manton, An Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer, The Works of Thomas Manton (Banner of Truth, 1993), 1:55–57.

On the Lord’s Day

Sunday··2016·08·21
I am an oddball. I know it, and if you know me at all, you know it. I’ve always been something of a social misfit, a square peg in a round hole. My interests are eccentric and sometimes esoteric; it’s likely that you and I have little in common. In spite of all that, I can go anywhere, be it Africa, China, or even (God preserve me) California, and, if I can find a congregation of biblical Christians, share the one commonality that matters—salvation in Jesus Christ. This is a wonderful thing. I can sit amongst all the normal folks, along with others who are weirdos in their own ways, knowing that we are fundamentally all the same: sinners saved by grace, come together to worship the one who lived and died in our place, in whom we have died and now live. Do not take this lightly. Do not squander this gift. Be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s Day. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. —Hebrews 10:23–25 Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: For All the Saints

Saturday··2017·12·30
For All the Saints And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.” Revelation 14:13 For all the saints, who from their labors rest, Who Thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed: Alleluia, Alleluia! Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might, Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight; Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light: Alleluia, Alleluia! O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold, Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old, And win with them the victor’s crown of gold. Alleluia, Alleluia! O blest communion, fellowship divine! We feebly struggle, they in glory shine; All are one in Thee, for all are Thine. Alleluia, Alleluia! But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day: The saints triumphant rise in bright array; The King of glory passes on His way: Alleluia, Alleluia! From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast, Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host, And singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: Alleluia, Alleluia! —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

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