Saturday, December 31, 2016

Machen, Christianity and Liberalism

Machen, Christianity and Liberlism, as pertinent today as 1923. 

The liberals of his day were in the Presbyterian Church. They are still there as well as other historic mainline denominations that have drifted away from their honest creedal past. Evangelicals have long recognized that. But do we recognize liberalism, as Machen defines it, in our large, independent Evangelical Churches? Thirty or forty years ago those churches were what we called Bible Churches and were the bastions of Biblical Orthodoxy. Now, many of them look like the very liberals that Machen was arguing against in 1923 within the Presbyterian Church. 

When will realize that true Christianity, true Christians, if you will, are, at their core, merely Bible people. And honest ones at that. The Bible is the only ultimate and infallible source of faith and practice. All other pretenders peddle a hopeless salvation.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A.D. 2017

Just wrote January 1, 2017 for the first time in preparation for my Sunday Sermon. The years don't wait for anyone, they just keep coming and going. I am so glad that they are all A.D., Anno Domini, The Year of the Lord, the Lord's years. That way, as they rush by, He holds them all in His hand and I can rest in peace.

The Puritan Dilemma

Just finished The Puritan Dilemma- the story of John Winthrop by Edmund S. Morgan. This is an excellent book. If you have Congregationalist or Presbyterian roots, then you should read this book.

It was eye opening to me in the sense that I consider myself Presbyterian. But the early stages of the battles between Congregationalists and Presbyterians show that my denomination, at least, the CREC, is more Congregational than Presbyterian. That explains a lot actually. We are a hybrid and would do better, methinks, to lean more towards true Presbyterianism in the future.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Repentance- Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson is the classic Puritan. His Doctrine of Repentance is a thorough treatment of the topic. The book is not uplifting. It hits you between the eyes.  But Repentance lifts, and that is Watson's point. It is worth the read.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Lord's Supper by Thomas Watson

Just finished the little book, The Lord's Supper by Thomas Watson.

Great book.

Christ's blood to an unbeliever is like aqua vitae in a dead man's mouth; it loses all its virtue.

Let us weep for those sins which shed His blood, yet rejoice in that blood which washes away our sins.

A weak faith can lay hold on a strong Christ.

Zeal loves truth most when it is disgraced and hated.

Wicked men, while they live, are blinded by the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). But when they are dying, the eye of the conscience will begin to be opened and they shall see the wrath of God flaming before their eyes; which sight will be a sad prologue to an external tragedy.

Christmas Eve Homily- Scripture Compilation

Christmas Eve Homily 2016
Providence Church
Lynchburg, Virginia
All Scripture (except bold italics)

Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Matt. 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
1John 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Luke 24:25 Then he (Jesus) said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
John 9:35   Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.
Jesus said, John 12:36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.
John 12:44   Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. 45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
John 14:1  Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
John 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.
John 14:29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Acts 16:31 And they (the disciples) said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Rom 3:3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? 4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar;
2Tim. 2:13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
Heb. 6:9   But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.
Rom. 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
1Th. 2:13   For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
Heb. 10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
1John 3:23  
And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
1John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Magnificat Christmas Sermon

Luke 1:46-55
Magnify the Lord
Sermon Notes
December 25, 2016
Lynchburg, Virginia

         The glory of Christmas is the work of God. It is most certainly joy to the world. The message of Christmas is that man could not save himself and so God sent His Son to save mankind, to save the world, to save your family, to save you.
         This means mounds of blessings to the Earth, to His saints forever. This means that you have the relief of suffering and sorrow over sin. There is joy on the other side of the cross.
         But from beginning to end the glory in the highest goes to God. There is no room for boasting, unless we boast in the Lord. For who could have thought up the incarnation? Or, who could have performed the work in the virgin? Or, who could despoil the enemies of God by the means of a cross? Or, could have raised from the dead? Or, who could rise in the clouds and sit down next to the eternal heavenly Father? Or, could spread His Spirit from the River to the Sea until all His enemies lie prostrate before Him?
         We know the answer to all these questions. It is God our Father through Jesus Christ. Christmas is more than a baby in a manger. It is God coming to save the world as only He can. By His grace He includes us in this salvation. And we only look on in wonder and our souls and spirits sore to give Him praise.


Luke 1:46-55 46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,  47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 
Mary speaks of her soul and her spirit. The Greek words are psuche for soul and pneuma for Spirit. She is saying that her whole life, soul and spirit rejoices in the Lord. Her mind and emotions are exulting in the Lord God.
She rejoices in Spirit that God is her Savior. We would be wise to emulate her in this. Do we have the sense of the need of the Savior? Are we sinners of low estate, like Mary, who need saving? If so and we are indeed saved by God, through Jesus Christ, is this the occasion for rejoicing? And even more particularly, do we rejoice in God our Savior?

48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 
We tend to think of Mary in high terms. She is the one chosen of God and greatly blessed. But we must remember that it was not because she was so great that she was chosen but rather, because God is so great.
The Scriptures tell us that Joseph was a just man. It also tells us that Zacharias and Elizabeth were righteous. We should not gather from these statements that these people were personally worthy of the Lord’s favor. They were sinners all.
Among them is Mary, one, whom, no doubt, is also righteous as considered to the intentions of her heart. She sought God’s means of forgiveness and godly living. But, she, too, was a sinner. She was one of low estate, low degree. She was not looked on as a highly favored individual and one likely to receive the blessing of God. In order to understand what God is doing in Christ, we must understand that Mary was exalted by God exactly because she was lowly. This is God’s way.
Do you feel as if you do not deserve God’s favor? Do you feel distant from Him because He is high and holy and you are low and sinful? Then you qualify for a savior. God picks exactly this sort of person to set His favor upon.

49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 
Mary does not fail to exalt God. Our subsequent generations have called her blessed, even exalted her beyond measure. She knew it would be so. But Mary would have none of it. She granted God all the credit. He who is mighty is the one who has done great things.
He is the holy one. Mary is not the holy one. But God chose her for a great and mighty work, to bear His only begotten Son.

50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 
God’s covenant is an everlasting Covenant. God’s promises extend from generation to generation. Mary is realizing the promises of God from old times. They extend as far back as Genesis, the promise to Eve that one day the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. Mary knows that it is only God’s mercy that has kept these promises alive for 4000 years.

The promise to Eve Gen. 3:15,

The promise to Abraham.
“I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant,” (Genesis 17:7)
 “who keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations,” (Deuteronomy 7:9.)

John Calvin points out that God’s covenant is not on those who are descended from the seed of Abraham, but rather, as David says in the 103rd Psalm, on those who fear Him.
“The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them,” (Psalm 103:17,18.)

51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 
The Lord has shown strength by watching over history in such a way that His story produced Jesus at the right place and right time to conquer the world. Caesar had imagined himself the ruler of the world but scattered this vain imagination in a baby king.
The arm of God, particularly, his right arm, is the place of power. Jesus has sat down at the right hand of God. God shows His mighty power, the strength of His arm, in Jesus.

52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 
Herod was another local ruler who was put from his seat. The Davidic line had fallen low, even as a poor man named Joseph and a poor woman named Mary. But the Herods had usurped the ruling seats in Israel. Herod knew the prophecies. He had a presage of the danger of baby Jesus. He was even willing to murder all the babies in the city to keep himself exalted. But it was not enough. The Lord brought him low and exalted lowly Mary’s Son to the highest exalted throne.

53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 
What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? It will profit him nothing. Those rich in the world’s good and poor of soul will be sent away empty in the end.
But those who are needy at the most basic level. Those whose very food and drink is the Lord Jesus, Himself, will be filled with good things. To such as these, their profit is the whole world, indeed.
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be filled. The Lord is our righteousness.

         1 Samuel 2:1-10   
And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.  2 There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.  3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.  4 The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.  5 They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.  6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.  7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.  8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them.  9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.  10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.

54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;  55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
God spoke to Abraham a couple thousand years before He spoke to Mary. He spoke to Moses a 1500 years before He spoke to Mary. He spoke to David about 1000 years before He spoke to Mary. He spoke to the exilic prophets about 500 years before He spoke to Mary.
Israel had waited for God to act since the days of Abraham. The faithful believed that He would do so, as He spoke to Abraham and to his seed, forever.
Who are his seed, forever? Of course, the Bible answers that question for us. The long expected seed is Jesus. But then Jesus bears seed, children of the Kingdom, innumerable.
And these are not people in a grand wide photo. Well, they are that. I heard the number of them and looked but lo, it was too high to count. There is an innumerable host of Jesus’s children. But we can zoom that picture in. There are countries who worship in Jesus’s name. And states and cities, and churches and families and individuals. We can zoom that picture in all the way to you.
And when we do this, what does your heart do? Uh, oh, God is looking at me? I am undone? Or, like Mary, do you exalt His great name. Does your soul and spirit sore and magnify the Lord? For He has done great things for you and Holy is His name.
Holy is His name. Holy is His name. What do we mean by this? We mean that He is the sinless one. He is the one who has everything to hold against us and we have nothing to offer for our broken and sinful selves.
Holy, holy, holy, thrice holy.
Yes, when God’s camera is zoomed in on you, it is an undoing. Unless you behold the Savior come. Unless, like Mary, you rejoice in God, your Savior. Our God is a judge but for His saints, He judges righteously on their behalf. He can do this because He sent His Son to Earth for us.
We fully embrace our holy God and the holy child Jesus for in Him we are saved from our sins. This was the long awaited consolation to Israel, to the New Israel, the saints who are in Christ Jesus, now and ever more. How can we fail to magnify the Lord? We will exult in God our Savior. Amen.

Fruit of Gratitude

Gratitude returns love. It is the source of joy. Gratitude brings peace, develops patience and encourages kindness. Gratitude creates goodness and strengthens faithfulness. Gratitude makes a man gentle and it even produces self-control.

You may have noticed that this is the fruit of the Spirit. A spirit-filled man is a grateful man. He knows that all that he possesses, from Jesus Christ to his spouse and children, his home, his car, and his job is all gift. Let us remember this on this Christmas Day and remind ourselves daily about the life altering power of gratitude.

Communion Preparation

Father, we break bread after giving thanks. Thus, we recognize that this bread of life that we share is a gift from You. We acknowledge our need of the Savior Jesus. We gladly submit to Him and ask that as we eat this bread and drink this wine, that You would work in us by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Grant us Your grace and grant that we would learn this graciousness and give it to others, forgiving sins and seeking peace and reconciliation, just as You have made peace with us and reconciled us through Your Holy Son, Jesus, in whose name we pray. Amen.