Sing the 46th!

I am not alone in considering the Protestant Reformation the greatest move of God in Church history (outside of the New Testament), yet it came with a great price. It was not uncommon for precious saints to be rounded up and burnt at the stake, as Roman Catholic authorities sought to prevent the spread of the gospel.

On such occassions, as men and women were marched through the streets and facing certain death in the flames, sympathizers in the crowd would shout out words of courage. An oft repeated refrain was “Sing the 46th!” – a reference to Martin Luther’s hymn “A Mighty Fortress” which was based on Psalm 46. It became the battle cry of the Reformation. For many saints of God now in their heavenly rest, the words of this hymn were their last recorded words on earth.

Unlike the very superfical songs which fill the landscape of the visible Church in our day, this is a hymn with depth and passion, inspiring courage to stand for the truth of God in a day of much milktoast, politically correct, spineless Christianity. As many of our departed saints would no doubt testify, this, in contrast, is a hymn to die to.

A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD
1. A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevaling.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.

2. Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.

3. And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.

4. That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God’s truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.

Build your nest in no tree here…

The heart conquered by His love is a heart filled with strong desire. Above all else, the saint longs to see the smiling face of Jesus, and the visible, tangible manifestation of His Sovereign Kingly rule in a new heaven and a new earth.

In light of this future hope, may we always know and remember this: Babylon, with all its wealth and power; with all its commerce and false religion; every last vestage of it, will one day be no more. When it falls (and fall it will), let us not be seen to be weeping, in dismay because all our heart’s investments are now vanished away. Instead, on that day, may each of us be able to say without even a moment’s hesitation, “Hallelujah, for the Lord God almighty reigns.”

In the words of Samuel Rutherford, “Build your nest in no tree here… for the Lord of the forest has condemned the whole woods to be demolished.” Continue reading

Friday Round Up

Ligonier has a few excellent deals in this week’s $5 Friday sale, including books and teaching series by R.C. Sproul. It’s a good day to stock up on some of these for yourself or your church library here.

(Remember, if you do decide to purchase material, you can claim a 10% discount as a reader of this blog by using the coupon code: EGRACE10)

I read this today by Kevin DeYoung… I agree entirely. Its an article worth reading a few times and absorbing:

Though few would put it this way, it’s easy for Christians to think the cross is where love overcame holiness. Or to put it more prosaically: God saved us because he loves us so much he decided to look past our sins. God is love and he loves to forgive our sins.

But that’s not exactly how justification works. We are not justified because God’s mercy triumphed over God’s justice. We are justified because in divine mercy, God sent his Son to the cross to satisfy divine justice. Mercy triumphs over judgment, but it does not remove the need for justice. We were saved not by the removal of justice, but by the satisfaction of it.

A Loud Declaration
The resurrection, then, is the loud declaration that there is nothing left to pay (cf. Rom. 4:25). Peter says in Acts 2:24, “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” Why was it impossible for Jesus to remain dead? Because God is more powerful than death and the devil? That’s certainly true, but there’s another reason. The grave could not hold the Son of Man because it had no claim on him. The wages of sin is death. So when sin is paid for, there is no obligation to pay the wages of sin.

Here’s how Charles Hodge puts it: Our sins were the judicial ground of the sufferings of Christ, so that they were a satisfaction of justice; and his righteousness is the judicial ground of our acceptance with God, so that our pardon is an act of justice.

Think about that. Our justification is not an act of legal fiction, but an act of justice. God would be unjust if he did not pardon those who belong to Christ. It would be a denial of his name, his character, his own justice.

I believe many of us have not begun to grasp just how good the good news is, just how secure our salvation is, just how completely and unalterably justified we are through faith in Christ. Mark this: God did not set aside the law in judging us; he fulfilled it. Christ bore the curse of the law so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Not because we possess this righteousness, but because God credits it to our account. So that, in one sense, at the moment when Christ died, it was what he deserved (by imputation). And now by faith, blessing and mercy and favor are what we deserve (by imputation).

Justice is shot through the entire plan of redemption. People go to hell because God is just, and people go to heaven because God is just. We are not forgiven and justified because God waved his magic wand and decided to whitewash your faults. He has not overlooked the smallest speck of your sin. He demands justice for all of your iniquities. He demands justice for every last lustful look and proud thought and spiteful word. He demands justice for all of it. But praise God: the resurrection of the crucified Son of God assures us the demands of justice have been met.

The Resurrection Gospel
The resurrection is not a sentimental story about never giving up, or the possibility of good coming from evil. It is not first of all a story about how suffering can be sanctified, or a story of how Jesus suffered for all of humanity so we can suffer with the rest of humanity. The resurrection is the loud declaration that Jesus is enough–enough to atone for your sins, enough to reconcile you to God, enough to present you holy in God’s presence, enough to free you from the curse of the law, enough to promise you there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Something objectively happened on the cross, and that objective work was broadcast to the whole world by an empty tomb. The good news is not a generic message of love for everyone or hope for all. The gospel is the theological interpretation of historical fact. You might put the good news like this: Faith will be counted to us as righteousness when we believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (Rom. 4:24-25).

The Light of the World

Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

I love both the words and the very Irish feel to this song. It features Cathy Burton.

The Light of the World
Made history begin,
Spoke time into being,
Caused planets to spin;
Flung galaxies wide
Through infinite space
To sing of His splendour
And fathomless grace.

(Chorus)
Come, come,
Daughters and sons,
Look to the Light of the World.
Sing, sing
Praises to Him.
Simply believe,
You will receive
Mercy and love without measure.

The Light of the World
Now shone as a man,
And walked through the valleys
He’d carved with His hands.
A servant to those
He’d breathed into life,
He felt our injustice
And shared in our strife.

The Light of the World
Preached justice for all,
Defying the proud
And defending the poor;
Then humbled Himself
To death on a cross,
To crush the oppressor
And rescue the lost.

The Light of the World
Still shines on the earth,
With gifts of forgiveness,
The hope of new birth.
So open your heart,
Don’t hide in the night;
Step out of the darkness
And into His light.

Stuart Townend & J K Jamieson – Copyright © 2009 Thankyou Music

Just Married!

Yes, that’s me, age 7.

Joining with many millions around the world, I want to congratulate Prince William and Princess Catherine, their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; God willing, the one day future King and Queen of England.

ESV Greek Tools

This online resource is an excellent way to interact with the Greek text of the New Testament with advanced searches, parsing, interlinears, etc. It’s only $10 for lifetime access, and can do most of the things that you’d pay hundreds of dollars for elsewhere. (The price goes up to $14.99 on May 1).

You can try it for free at ESV Online, under the Content tab. Or you can purchase it at crossway.org/GRKTLS.

You can see a video introduction and some explanation below:

ESV GreekTools from Crossway on Vimeo.

ESV GreekTools puts the original language of the New Testament into the hands of beginning and advanced students, as well as seasoned pastors, scholars, and laymen looking for an affordable and accessible Greek reference tool. Intuitive, easy-to-use, and fully customizable, ESV GreekTools is an online application available through the ESVBible.org platform. Now you can do serious work with the Greek text, at home or on the go, no matter your level of proficiency. Continue reading

I Got You Covered!

Four quotes from Martin Luther:

“Justification by faith alone is the article of the standing or falling Church.”

“This doctrine [justification by faith alone] is the head and the cornerstone. It alone begets, preserves, and defends the church of God; and without it the church of God cannot exist for one hour. For no one who does not hold this article or, to use Paul’s expression, this ‘sound doctrine’ (Titus 2:1) is able to teach aright in the church or successfully to resist any adversary… this is the heel of the Seed that opposes the old serpent and crushes its head. That is why Satan, in turn, cannot but persecute it.”

“Whoever departs from the article of justification does not know God and is an idolater… For when this article has been taken away, nothing remains but error, hypocrisy, godlessness, and idolatry, although it may seem to be the height of truth, worship of God, holiness, etc… If the article of justification is lost, all Christian doctrine is lost at the same time.”

“When the article of justification has fallen, everything has fallen. Therefore it is necessary constantly to inculcate and impress it, as Moses says of his Law (Deut. 6:7); for it cannot be inculcated and urged enough or too much. Indeed, even though we learn it well and hold to it, yet there is no one who apprehends it perfectly or believes it with a full affection and heart. So very trickish is our flesh, fighting as it does against the obedience of the spirit.”

Justification by faith alone is the article upon which the church stands or falls, the main hinge on which religion turns. Yet as important as justification is, many Christians remain confused about it, and others actively blur its features. This is the case not merely with Christians in general but so called evangelical leaders also.

Over the last few months I have had private correspondence with a number of Christian leaders and ministers, both here in the USA and oversees, as I have challenged them to be clear on this issue. Sadly, I have not been successful at all. In many churches and ministries, the Gospel is often assumed but not proclaimed. That is a great scandal as well as a great tragedy. Continue reading

Rev. David Wilkerson died today

Rev. David Wilkerson, founder of Teen Challenge, founding pastor of the 8,000 member Times Square Church in New York City and author of the popular book “The Cross and the Switchblade”, was killed Wednesday in a car crash in Texas. He was 79.

His wife was also involved in the crash but as yet there is no news on her condition. Please pray for the Wilkerson family.

What a specter, what a horrible thing death is to most of us. We regard it as a terrible monster that is going to grip us. Death, we say, is the most terrible thing of all, the thing to avoid. No, says Christ, death is nothing but the door of entry to my Father’s house for his followers–‘In my Father’s house are many mansions.’

We tend to think of ourselves after death, do we not, as in some disembodied state in some great eternity where all is strange and terrible. But it is really to go home, if you are a child of God, if you are a brother or sister of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is not some terrible awful power, away in some distant eternity; he is your Father. He is one who loves you with a love you cannot imagine. Thank God for human love, but, my dear friends, our human love pales into insignificance and nothingness by the side of the love of God toward those who belong to him. ‘My Father’s house’ is a glorious home.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled (Crossway, 2009), 73

Update: A few minutes after posting this I received a message from a friend named Rodger, saying, “Wow how tragic. I will be eternally grateful to my Heavenly Father for this man of God! My wife, my father and my sister all received Christ at one of his crusades many years ago.”

Clearly, God has used Brother Wilkerson tremendously over the years.

False Prophecies of the Watchtower

From his blog at aomin.org, Dr. James White writes:

I used to spend a lot of time on the subject of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. It was the second major group I tackled and studied. I still have a huge number of their old, old books, shelves of them, actually. I also have a whole set of what are called “bound volumes,” yearly compilations of all of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. Of course, much of this is now available digitally on the Watchtower Library CD Rom (which isn’t easy to get hold of, but not impossible). Anyone, I just checked the dark corner of one of my shelves and pulled out the bound volume for the Watchtowers of 1984. On the cover of the May 15, 1984 publication (repeated on page 4) is a picture of a group of elderly people, all looking upward. The title given is “1914: The Generation That Will Not Pass Away.” You will look in vain for such confident promises in today’s Watchtower publications, as they have effectively buried the 1914 prophecy, but it was front and center for many decades. In fact, on page 5 of this same publication we read, “If Jesus used ‘generation’ in that sense and we apply it to 1914, then the babies of that generation are now 70 years old or older. And others alive in 1914 are in their 80’s or 90’s, a few even having reached a hundred. There are still many millions of that generation alive. Some of them ‘will by no means pass away until all things occur.’—Luke 21:32.”

Well, I was sent this graphic a few days ago. It contains that same cover picture (I double checked it in my own printed edition), but identifies each and every person in the picture by name, and gives the date when they all passed away. A tremendous testimony to the status of the Watchtower Society as a false prophet—just like Harold Camping already is (1994), and will be proven yet again in about three weeks. False prophets come, false prophets go, but Christ continues to build His church, not by the popularity of His teachings, but by the changing of the heart.