The Acts of the Lord - Miracles

Notes on John Frame's Systematic Theology, chapter 7

God acts in His world so we will know He is the Lord (Exodus 7:17 for just one example of many).  Knowing who God is (attributes) depends on knowing what He has done (acts).  We look first at what God has done.

A miracle is "an extraordinary [highly unusual, impossible] manifestation of God's covenant lordship."  Many define it as an exception to natural processes, but this isn't always true (Ex 14:21).  They aren't always immediate, either (lacking a secondary instrument besides God's direct power).  Miracles almost always prove a prophet is really from God, but there are other purposes of miracles in Scripture (Flood for judgment, incarnation for salvation, healing out of compassion, etc.).  Miracles don't just prove revelation; they actually reveal God's control, authority and presence to us.

Miracles occur today, but "only at God's own initiative."  They aren't a normal experience for a believer, but rare even in the Bible.  Believers shouldn't feel guilty for not experiencing them.

Miracles don't so much prove God exists, as they assume God to make sense.  We cannot demand them before we believe in God.  David Hume ruled miracles impossible by definition, and many modern liberal theologians follow suit.  Miracles  are evidence, though, that call and obligate us to believe in Jesus as the Christ.  Miracles are a kind of revelation.  Those found in Scripture are historically true and accurate, because Scripture is.

Review: Is Jesus in the Old Testament?

Is Jesus in the Old Testament?
Is Jesus in the Old Testament? by Iain M. Duduid

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Solid treatment by Westminster's newest professor.

After some basics, like avoiding allegory and moralism, he gives three classes of OT Scripture: history, prophetic and wisdom literature. This left out the law, noticeably!

The strength of the booklet is the last third or so: how Jesus fulfills the OT. He is historian, prophet and sage. He is the last Adam, and the new Israel who lives the story Israel should have lived but didn't. That last was my favorite two pages (32-33). Excellent.

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Review: All My Holy Mountain

All My Holy Mountain
All My Holy Mountain by L.B. Graham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This last in the series was substantially better than the middle books.
Not the greatest writing, yet, but the biblical analogies grew in depth and some great plot twists added excitement as well.

I'll take back my last assessment: you need not be desperate to give these to your kids!

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Frame chapter 6 - The Family of God

Systematic Theology, by John Frame

As Lord, God is the normative and authoritative head of His covenant with us.
As king, God pursues His purposes in history.
As Father, God relates to His people intimately.

God is Father and we are brothers and sisters as believers in Christ.  We are part of a royal family.  The promised Deliverer comes through birth.  We are adopted into God's family, made joint heirs with Jesus.  God extends His covenant blessings to the children of believers.

Some modern theologians argue for gender neutral language referring to God, or even feminine pronouns.  The Bible does occasionally use feminine metaphors to describe God's relationship to us, but the overwhelming and significant descriptions are masculine (Lord, husband, Jesus is male, priests were, church as bride, etc.).

This was he most disappointing chapter so far.  Frame spent too much time rejecting a fringe "God is female" view, instead of enveloping the idea of family as he did kingdom and covenant.  Some of this, like adoption, he will cover later, though.


Book deals

Hanegraff and easy History of the Church, for a steal.

A Prayer for Muslims

This is from 1923, and still relevant.

Goodness, Leading to Repentance

Romans 2:1-4
"Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"

We are a Romans 1 people, and rightly so.  It is true that ungodly people suppress the truth in their ingratitude.  God turns them over to their sinful desires as part of His judgment.  We accurately assess unbelievers in this.  But as believers we are targeted in Rom 2.  We are without excuse.  The difference between believers and unbelievers isn’t that we don’t sin and they do.  It isn’t even that we admit the truth and they don’t.  The difference is that we repent and admit our wrong and seek God’s forgiveness.  We need lots of training and reminding to do this, and so we pause and think about it at this point in the service.

It is God’s goodness that leads us to repent.  He holds back judgment to give us opportunity to admit our fault.  We easily take this as God letting it go.  But He is waiting for repentance, not letting it slide.  Don’t take God as one who overlooks sin.  He wants you sanctified.

But also don’t take God as an angry, frowning, scolding God.  Psalm 103 says He will not always chide.  It is God’s goodness that helps us have the boldness to admit our wrong and hope for favor from Him anyway.  He is not a hard master, but a loving Father.



Grace before Sin?

Here's a well done but heavily theological article on the covenant of works.

Many have sought to ostracize this position in the Reformed world today, yet it appears to be a respectable position among the Reformed historically.

Lots of theology humor going on, too...


Effectiveness of worship music

Bob Kauflin at a Desiring God conference.  This is really good.

:45-1:30 is actually why I dislike RUF and Sovereign Grace melody re-writes of classic hymns.

Turn Your Family to God, instead of Just Shaking Your Head

The early church didn’t say, “Look what the world is coming to!”
They said, “Look what has come into the world!” —Carl Henry

Here are two articles on family worship.  Practical.



Frame chapter 5 - The Kingdom of God

The Bible as a story of God's covenants with man shows us the norms and structure by which we are to live.  The Bible can also be told as the story of the kingdom of God, showing us the historical situation we find ourselves in.  God takes millennia to fulfill His purposes, not according to the timeline of human kings.

We live in two ages.  The present age will pass away at Christ's return, but for now sin is still present and people live without thought of God.  The coming kingdom of Christ is already here since His resurrection, but not yet fulfilled.  So this is a time of suffering for the church, but also victory.

God is king and lord of His kingdom (Ex 15:18; Ps 93-99; 1 Sam 8:7).  The ark is His throne.  Jesus is God's appointed king of his kingdom (Ps 2), the greater King than David (Matt 22:41-46), who told Pilate he was a king and welcomed the crowd's praises as their king at His triumphal entry.  He has all authority as the highest king of all kings (Phil 2:9-11; Matt 28:18; Rev 19:16).  Now that He ascended, His people carry on His kingdom work in evangelism, discipleship, cultural and social change, seeking to bring all the world to keep His ways in all things.

Heralds announce good news in God's kingdom - the Gospel of God's favor to us in Christ's death and resurrection.  God's vengeance on His rebellious enemies is part of His Kingdom work.  Proclaiming God's law is also important.  We aren't saved by keeping it, but it does more than drive us to Christ for having broken it.  It also shows us how to live in the present and future.

There is not a kingdom of law (the state) ruled by a religiously neutral natural law, and a kingdom of grace/gospel (church).  There is one kingdom of God, and the social order beyond the church either acknowledges and submits to God or it doesn't.  Modern secular society is not neutral in religion, but rebellious against the true God.  [Another way of saying this: God is not okay with governments trying to be neutral regarding Him.  He expects kings to bend the knee to Him in this world (Ps 2:10-12).]

Jesus describes kingdom life in the sermon on the mount.  The church is kingdom headquarters, but isn't the boundary of the kingdom.  The kingdom has deeply shaped human cultures in the past, as it should.

Review: Father of Dragons

Father of Dragons
Father of Dragons by L.B. Graham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Worldview is solidly Biblical, but the writing isn't the highest quality. It's long and it plods. If you're desperate for something for your kids to read, you could do worse, but I wouldn't pay more than the kindle prices.

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Review: Shadow in the Deep

Shadow in the Deep
Shadow in the Deep by L.B. Graham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Decent reading for 8-14 age range.

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Strolling the links

2 minutes of Tim Keller summarizing the Bible as "Jesus is the true and better ___________."

The marriage bed for the exhausted wife.  Helpful, practical, and short.

7 signs you're spending too much time looking at your phone.  Yup.

What to do when you feel disconnected at church.

On Patriarchy and Legalism

Mike Farris has distanced himself (and HSLDA, I guess) from patriarchy and legalism, focusing on Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard.

It's a good article - I had no outright disagreements with it.

On patriarchy, Farris' summary " that women in general should be subject to men in general" is accurate and rightly rejected.  I've noticed certain cultures pursuing old-style deference of all men to all ladies in manners and protocol.  This is usually a good thing, but can be read wrongly as an assertion that women in general should be subject to men in general.  Farris may be a bit off target to summarize patriarchy with a list of things women can't or shouldn't do, though.  

Farris' section on women not voting is the weakest part of the article.  This is a fairly minor aspect of patriarchy, and the Bible is pretty much silent on women's suffrage in a democracy.  Farris argues mainly from disgust that women should vote.  (He would have done better to point to the daughters of Zelophehad, perhaps.)  He seems unaware here of the impulse among patriarchy folks to reconstruct a biblical society, regardless of the political or cultural situation and assumptions today.  If the Bible infers a patriachal system where only heads of families or clans speak or vote, then that's what we should have, is the thought.  Anyway, I'm with Farris in the end.  I don't think the Bible forbids women from voting as a standing norm today.

The discussion of legalism, too, could have been a bit more careful.  It's true that "personal views are [not] universal commands of God."  And Farris' main point is right: teaching as "God's way" views that go beyond Scripture is the main problem.  But what do we do with differing interpretations of Scripture?  One person thinks Deuteronomy 6 forbids public education, while another person doesn't think that inference is valid.  Is the first person a legalist, if they honestly think the Bible teaches their view?  Is the less-conservative person who is offended by that interpretation the right person to judge whether they are legalistic?  Do we just go by common consensus (or scandals?) to judge whether a person's teaching is extra-biblical?

On the main point, I have seen Gothard adherents vacillate between saying "It's God's way," and saying "It's just a choice we've made for our family."  Maybe they are confused.  Or they just know when they can assert extra-biblical teaching as God's way, and when they have to back off because their audience rejects their position.

Ultimately, this will shake out in what the next generation does on their own.  Farris makes a striking statement toward the end: "I’ve come in contact with many young people who were raised in patriarchal or legalistic homes.  Almost none of them are following these philosophies today."  Too often, patriarchy folks have relied on authority to advance their cause, when they need instead to persuade their older children that their inferences from Scripture are reasonable, sound and wise.  Sometimes they can't make that case, because they arrived at their position out of fear and/or seeking too much control, not from the Scriptures.  Other times there is a Scriptural case that should be made.

The positive thing patriarchy contributes to the Christian world today is getting men to take responsibility for their lives and families.  Overzealous advocates sometimes argue that if a woman does x, it makes it hard for the man to take responsibility, so she should not do it (example: looking down on a wife who does most of the finances, because she has more of a knack for it).

I just reread Vision Forum's Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy.  90% of it is really good.  There are a couple paragraphs, where I would disagree with an extra-biblical implication they seem to be trying to make.  A lot of those assertions are made in situ instead of on paper.  I'm fine calling myself a biblical patriarchy guy, as long as I have 15 minutes to clarify and explain what that means.  This is probably why Farris rejects the term.  There is a bad patriarchy (patriarchalism?) to avoid as Farris describes it.  But the general principle that husbands should lead is biblical and good.

As a pastor, it's important to equip men to lead their homes well.  It's just as critical to call them on the carpet if they are over-doing it to the detriment of their family.

My main prayer is that

  • Christians will help each other look to Scripture as we make discipleship and family/parenting choices,
  • we don't over-react to a straying culture by insisting on extra-biblical practices,
  • we filter all teaching through the grid of Scripture,
  • we teach and show our children the Lord's ways in our loving lives as well as our true words and boundaries


See the Savior through His Stewards

Matt 20:26-28
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

The Lord Jesus gave his apostles authority in the church, to teach and write down inspired Scripture, to give us truth to remember Him rightly.  Those apostles appointed elders in the churches and passed on the stewardship of the church to them.  So you see elders preaching and serving the Supper now.  This is a stewardship.  It isn’t our table, it is the Lord’s.  See through us to see Jesus giving you bread and wine.  Don’t get stuck on the stewards – how silly or smart, or simple or sophisticated you think we are.  See the Servant instead, who gave His life as a ransom for many.

Do not see your Master as a hard man.  He is not.  He lavishes us with grace and daily bread.  We see that every week here.  He will entrust us with much more in the consummation.  We will enter into His joy.  Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross and despised its shame.  So trust Him, and go serve Him with all your might.  Your strength may be small, but the main thing is that you use it.  Take and eat, take and drink.  And go in the strength of this food to serve the Lord.  But first

Receive and rest on Christ alone today.


Thankful Refuge-seeking, not grudging duty

One mistake we can make when we think about stewardship is to think that we’re doing God a favor by being at church or giving money to church.  These things are good in themselves – God does ask them of us as NT sacrifices.  But He doesn’t need our money.  What we have to do is in vs 14 – thank Him.  Like pride, ingratitude is a root cause of many sins.  But thankfulness will lead to right worship.  God loves a cheerful giver, not a grudging one.  We are to thank God.  And we are to Call on Him when we’re in trouble.  When things are going fine, we forget we are in trouble with God apart from Christ.  We have to call on God in Christ for mercy.



Some Explanation Required

St Francis of Assissi is famous for saying, “Preach the gospel at all times.  If necessary, use words.”  Paul puts it strongly about communion in 1 Corinthians 11, too:  “as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”  Our actions, our lives, proclaim the gospel.  Celebrating Communion as we do, shows or re-enacts the Gospel story.  Christ’s sacrifice, restored fellowship with God.

But I’m starting to think Francis went too far.  One hallmark of the way we do the sacraments, is that the Word of God must accompany, explain and ground those sacraments.  Actions do speak louder than words, but we shouldn’t rely on actions alone, and think we never have to speak.  When God sent a famine on Israel or some other judgment, He sent prophets to explain why.  When God acted for us at the cross of Christ, He made sure to write down an explanation in the NT.

This Supper needs some explaining.  The basics are easy and found in 1 Cor 11:23-26 – the same night Jesus was betrayed, He gave His disciples bread and wine to eat and drink, telling them to do it to remember Him.  And there is much rich truth to explore in this sacrament every week, connecting it to the word.  As you share bread, and pass the tray of wine, share the life of Jesus with your neighbor as well. 

Receive and rest on Christ alone today.



Fellowship at the Table

A theological point, and an encouraging one, about fellowship and the Lord’s Supper.

Theological.  When I adapt 1 Cor 10:16 and say the bread we break is the communion of the body of Christ; that word communion is synonymous with fellowship.  Koinonia.  We are sharing in, taking part in, the body and blood of Jesus.  The theological point there is this.  Not to figure out the metaphysics of how we can partake of the body of Christ.  But that we have a share in Him.  With the sulfur and brimstone of God’s wrath pouring down around us, we have a part in the only effective umbrella – the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  Part of the umbrella is for you.  You have a seat reserved for you in the shade from the blistering sunburn of God's punishment.  You have fellowship in Christ.

The encouraging point
John 14:23 - If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
Rev 3:20 - Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Family dinner time is less common at home these days.  So is Church meal time.  One important way we share life together is eating together.  Jesus ate the Passover with his disciples in the Upper Room, and established this sacrament there.  Although God is holy and we are not, He has made a way back to Him.  We no longer need to stand trembling in His presence, as the high priest did on the day of atonement.  The final atonement has been made.  We can sit and eat in His presence.  It is astounding, really, the fellowship God has given us.  

Eating slows you down, you have time to think about the person across the table from you.  It’s very intimate to let someone else watch you eat, watch how you treat your family while they eat.  We have close fellowship with Jesus.  We are His friends, not just His servants.  Christ is our older brother, even.

So let us take heart.  Though our hearts condemn us, and our faith can falter, God receives you, right into His home, His dining room, to sit with His Son, to have His Spirit live in your heart.  What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms!

Receive and rest on Christ alone today.


Keep Your Brother

Cain fell out with Abel.  He seems to have blamed Abel for his own problems with God.  There’s a close connection there.  If we aren’t dealing with our sin properly, we will wind up sinning against others.  If we wrong God, we will wrong others.  Anyone who claims to love God, but hates his brother is a liar.

Working through problems with others gives us a clue to honest repentance before God.  Cain was supposed to keep his brother.  Not just keep track of where he was, but protect and help him.  Instead he killed him.  He needed humility to admit his wrong, but got angry and took it out on others.  He needed to resist the urge to envy and hate and condemn.  We need write off our sins to the cross account, so we can receive and keep our brothers.  If we cling to our sins, we will wind up writing off our fellow brothers and sisters.

Let us confess our sins before the Lord.


Opening Prayer

[Psalm 133]

Lord, we are glad to gather before You.  We pray for the peace of Your people.  For the sake of our brothers and companions, grant us peace in the prince of peace.  We remember on this Lord’s Day that you raised Jesus to new life, and to bring peace between yourself and a rebellious humanity, peace between Jew and Gentile, peace between warring tribes and nations.  You will bring this about in Your good time.  

Show your church how to lead the way.  How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.  We thank you for the picture of oil in the Bible, running down Aaron’s beard, a symbol of Your healing Holy Spirit flowing down to us.  You’ve given us life, like dew dripping down to sustain us.  Let this worship service be a time of refreshing, we pray.


Frame Chapter 4 - The Lord's Covenants

Chapters 4-6, Frame takes a biblical theology approach, surveying Scripture for the themes of covenant, kingdom, and family of God.  This fits his 3-perspective grid of norms (top of triangle - covenant), situation and experience (sides of triangle - kingdom and family).

"Proof-texting" is legit, when you are backing up your theological assertions with Scripture, but we must pay attention to the contexts of every verse.

We don't interpret the Bible like any other book.  The epistles of Paul are like non-biblical letters in one sense, but not in another.  The Bible isn't a story to be interpreted like any other.

Covenants involve
- God's sovereignty and our obedience
- Individuals and groups
- Word (norm), land (situation) and seed (experience)

Eternal Covenant of Redemption
The Father and Son agreed together to give a people to the Son to be adopted children of God (Eph 1:4-5; John 17:5-6).  The Son agrees to serve toward this end (Isaiah 42, 52-53).  The Spirit is part of this, coming to us, regenerating us, bearing witness of Christ to us (John 15:26; Rom. 2:29).

  • Sovereignty and obedience: the Father plans and decrees, the Son and Spirit submit, serve and obey, though they are equals.
  • Individuals and groups: a particular people is saved, but also all creation that fell into frustration is restored.
  • Word (blessing on God's people received), land (restoration of world), seed (Father gives Son a people)
Universal Covenant with Creation
God is Lord of all the earth (Isa 66:1).  We have an obligation to serve the Lord, simply because we are His creatures (Ps 33:5-9; 104; Isa 24:5).

Edenic Covenant (of works, or of life)
God calls Adam and Eve to a specific relationship and role in His creation (Gen 1:28).  Blessing, land and seed are all in this one verse!  It is worldwide, but with individual responsibility.  There is one command calling for obedience: not to eat the fruit.  We can call this a covenant of works, but shouldn't say Adam was autonomous.  This covenant continues in creation ordinances that still apply to us: work (2 Thess 3:10), marriage (1 Cor 7), and Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28; Luke 4:16).  Adam's breaking of this covenant is our own (Romans 5:16-19).

Covenant of Grace
Adam couldn't regain God's favor just by obedience.  God promises a serpent-crusher (Gen 3:15).  This called for faith and obedience, which Scripture says Abel had (Heb. 11:4).  Frame quotes Norm Shepherd positively here, a controversial thing these days.  We need a living faith (James 2:14-26), or we receive the curse.

Covenants with Noah
Here God promises to His creation a stable world.  This is not a secular order, or natural law, but it is common grace.  We see faith in Noah's building and entering the ark and his sacrifices; we see curses for disobedience in Ham and Canaan, and obviously in the flood, a negative type of our baptism (1 Pet. 3:20).  We see the life from death theme in the flood, renewing the dominion mandate (land), and Noah's descendants spread (seed).

Covenant with Abraham
God promises to bless Abraham with land and children if he trusts Him and goes where He says.  This is a conditional covenant (Gen 26:5), as all covenants are, in requiring faith.  That doesn't earn God's blessing by our works, of course.  The covenant is unconditional in that God will see it fulfilled in Christ.  This covenant is universal and individual: Abraham will bless all nations.

Covenant with Israel through Moses
God graciously initiates redeeming Israel from Egypt.  God expects faith from Israel, but does NOT reward them on earth according to their works.  Rather, it's the same as other covenants: God brings curses on those who do not believe and who disobey Him.  This covenant is NOT a revised covenant of works - Israel's salvation is based NOT on her works, but on "the grace of Christ mediated through the priesthood and temple sacrifices."  This covenant is individual to each Israelite, and also international in that promises to Israel extend even to other nations (Isa 19:23-25).  This is the only biblical covenant that comes to an end (Heb 8:13).  Many of the laws remain in effect, Jesus or Paul restating them (Matt 5:17-48; Rom 13:9-10; Eph 6:1-3).  "But some of the specific laws given for Israel's ceremonial and judicial life are obsolete" (75).  Still, the church is the new Israel, and the promises given her are rightly claimed by Christ's people (Gal 3:9; 6:16).

Covenant with David
God promises David and his descendants an eternal throne (2 Sam 7:8-16).  God will chasten disobedience, but unconditionally grant dominion to his Son, "from sea to sea" (Ps 72:8).  Solomon fails, the kingdom divides, the prophets confront sin but also promise grace and restoration.  Jesus is the Son of David, and we will reign with Christ (Rev 5:10; 22:5).  We sing David's songs.

New Covenant
Jesus fulfills all the covenants as the greater prophet (Deut 18:15), priest (Heb 4:14-5:10), and king (Mark 12:35-37).  Jesus comes as head of the new covenant, Lord of the sabbath, a role only God can take.  His work is the basis of all earlier covenants: Israel's sins were removed by His atonement, not sacrificial animals'.  This is unconditional in that God freely gives a new heart to His people.  It is conditional in that we must have true faith to receive eternal life.  You can be in the new covenant externally without having its blessings - we see warnings of this in Heb 6:1-12; 10:26-39.  It is universal in that we go to disciple the nations (blessing = Jesus' presence, land = nations, seed = disciples).

Three of these covenants are timeless, and fit into the 3-fold grid:
Eternal covenant is normative.
Universal covenant (creation) is the situation we find ourselves in.
New covenant is our experience of salvation in Christ.

Life in covenant has several elements
The personal Lord - He is the ruler
The historical fact of our redemption (Ex 20:2) - grace
The law - what we should do
The blessings and curses - consequences for following the law or not
The administrators - real people like judges, parents, and elders - it isn't just you and God


Lord's Prayer, Lord's Table

The Lord’s Prayer fits at the Lord’s Table.  It is our Father who provided this meal for us.  He is in heaven.  We elders and deacons standing up here are stand-in hosts for Him.  His name was kept holy by the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.  Jesus showed us what God’s justice requires against sin.  He brought the kingdom near, since He is the king.  He did God’s will on earth.  

Jesus is the bread of life that comes down from heaven.  How could God not give us all things, since He has already given us Jesus?  By this sacrifice, He has forgiven us our sins, and shown us how to forgive others.  As we eat at this table, the Spirit keeps us from the table of wickedness.  This table gives us a glimpse of Christ’s kingdom coming, His power and glory.  Let our prayers ascend as we think on His grace given to us.



Hear now the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the Gospel to all who believe.  Our Lord Jesus Christ says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Therefore, I say to every one of you beloved brothers and sisters, who abhor yourselves and your sins, and believe that the only way you may be pardoned is through the merits of Jesus Christ, and who resolve daily to abstain from your sins and to serve the Lord in true holiness and righteousness:

I declare, according to the command of God, that from heaven you are released from all your sins (as Christ has promised in His Gospel), through the perfect satisfaction of the most holy passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.



Fighting the Wrong War?

A 25 year veteran of the political trenches looks back.

"Politically, we've lost nearly every major battle.  We had lost before we started - we had lost the culture."

This is a really excellent article.  Careful with the Ben Franklin quote near the end, though.  It looks like it was manufactured by his political enemies in the French Revolution.

No Condemnation

Romans 8:1a
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus

Are you in Christ Jesus?  Well, did you confess your sins to Him? Do you trust that His sacrifice made on the cross covers the punishment you deserved?  Do you trust God to forgive you?  Then there is no condemnation for you.  You wonder if you confess and trust completely enough?  When the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith, He didn’t reject them but described what great things a tiny bit of faith can do.  When the father of an epileptic brought him to Jesus, he cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  Jesus didn’t reject his imperfect faith, but healed the boy.  Whatever fear, pain, or discouragement is left in you from your sin, the tiniest trust in Jesus takes away God’s condemnation from you.


Coming to God

Heavenly Father, we gather to worship You on this day, when You raised Your Son Jesus Christ from death to life.  Lift us out of the death of our trespasses and sins, out of our gloom and apathy, our obsession with lesser things.  Let us strain with every nerve of our being to serve You.  

We praise you with whole heart, Lord, as David wrote in the Psalm.  We do this because You have exalted Your Word above all Your name.  Your Son, the living Word, You have given the name above every name.  Your Spirit He sent to remind the apostles of what He said and to write them down for future generations.  

Lord, let our worship of You be driven by Your Word, guided by Your Spirit, as we draw near to You, the 3 in 1 and 1 in 3, Eternal Father, Spirit, and Word.  In this Triune name we pray, Amen.