Poem: The Calvinist

Justin Taylor writes, “Calvinism, they say, is making a comeback. But poetry? We rarely hear traditional poems today, apart from rhyming couplets in songs or greeting cards or spoken-word pieces with a beat. So I am thankful to hear and watch this robust, life-giving poem from John Piper—read by Piper with the help of friends Matt Chandler, R. C. Sproul, D. A. Carson, Thabiti Anyabwile, Alistair Begg, and Sinclair Ferguson—showing that Calvinism is not an arcane point of theology but a tough-and-tender approach to all of life before the face of God.”

The Calvinist from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Sulva Productions
Jeremiah Rounds, Lisa Michelle Rounds, Ophelia Rounds
Poem Written by: John Piper
Directed & Edited by: Tristan Carnahan
Music by: AJ Hochhalter, Tony Anderson
Cinematography by: Tristan Carnahan, Jeremiah Rounds, Gabriel Leake
Sound Design & Mix by: Defacto Sound
Project Managed by: Stefan Green
Produced by: Desiring God

Poem – The Book of Life

bookoflifeThe Book of Life, by John Piper

Before the night he was betrayed,
The Lord of glory died;
Indeed before the world was made,
The Lamb was crucified.

Before the sin, the spear, the lash
(Eternal was the flood!)
God put his inkwell at the gash,
And filled it with his blood;

Then with his crimson ink and quill,
A holy world compiled,
And wrote his kind and costly will:
The name of ev’ry child.

Then, finally, with tears, he took
A blade to foreordain,
And graved the title of the book:
The Life, the Lamb, the Slain.

* * *

And if your name is written there,
Though you may be the least,
You will not fall to any snare,
Nor bow before the Beast.

You will not marvel when it roars,
Nor any feat admire,
Nor drink the poison that it pours,
Nor taste the Lake of Fire.

But you will live forevermore,
Where dusk and dawn are done.
The Lamb will be the moon, and soar
Around an endless Sun.

And if, lamblike, you taste his shame
And finish life abased,
Remember, written one, your name
Will never be erased.

* * *

And so you ask, “How may I know
My name is in the Book?
May I beseech my God to show
The page where I may look?”

No. None may peer within by prayer,
Nor if he wait, or strive.
You know your name is written there,
Because you are alive.

Rejoice, my child, all heaven sings
When you make demons fall.
And yet to be inscribed with kings
In heav’n surpasses all.

* * * * * * *

Revelation 13:7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear…

When I read my Bible through

Yes I thought I knew my Bible
Reading piecemeal, the twenty-third.
First of Proverbs, twelfth of Romans
Yes, I thought I knew the Word

But I found that thorough reading
Was a different thing to do
And the way was unfamiliar
When I read my Bible through.

You who like to play at Bible
Dip and dabble here and there
Just before you kneel all weary
Yawning through a hurried prayer.

You who treat this crown of writings
As you treat no other book
Just a paragraph disjointed
Just a crude impatient look.

Try a worthier proceedure
Try a broad and steady view;
You will kneel in awesome wonder
When you read the Bible through.

Author unknown

My Lord, I did not choose You

Jo­si­ah Con­der, 1836.

My Lord, I did not choose You,
For that could never be;
My heart would still refuse You,
Had You not chosen me.
You took the sin that stained me,
You cleansed me, made me new;
Of old You have ordained me,
That I should live in You.

Unless Your grace had called me
And taught my op’ning mind,
The world would have enthralled me,
To heav’nly glories blind.
My heart knows none above You;
For Your rich grace I thirst;
I know that if I love You,
You must have loved me first.

Do It Anyway

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered; Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God; It was never between you and them anyway.

– Kent M. Keith

Paul and the Pagan Poets

From virginiahuguenot.blogspot.com

There are interesting passages in the New Testament that demonstrate the Apostle Paul’s willingness to employ verses from pagan poetry to speak Biblical truth. There may be others; some trace 1 Timothy 5.4 to a line from Terence (195/185–159 BC), Andria IV. Be that as it may, it is clear that Paul was learned in pagan poetry, and found good uses for it, even apart from the idolatrous intentions of the poets themselves. Without adopting the whole false system of belief represented by the sources he quoted, Paul with discernment and for godly purposes, was able, because of his familiarity with pagan poems, to find the good within and bring it to light to God’s glory.

Acts 17.28: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

This verse spoken during his famous speech at Mars Hill in Athens shows the apologetic use that such acquaintance with pagan poetry can provide. The first quote seems derived from a work on Crete by Epimenides in which he rebukes the Cretians for building a tomb to Zeus, whom he believed to be immortal.

Epimenides (6th century BC), Cretica:

They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one—
The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!
But thou art not dead: thou livest and abidest forever,
For in thee we live and move and have our being.

Paul also may have in mind Cleanthes, who said something similar.

Cleanthes (c. 330 BC – c. 230 BC), Hymn to Zeus:

Most glorious of the immortals, invoked by many names, ever all-powerful,
Zeus, the First Cause of Nature, who rules all things with Law,
Hail! It is right for mortals to call upon you,
since from you we have our being, we whose lot it is to be God’s image,
we alone of all mortal creatures that live and move upon the earth.

The latter quote seems to come from a work by Aratus again in praise of Zeus.

Aratus (c. 315 BC/310 BC – 240 BC), Phaenomena 1-5:

From Zeus let us begin; him do we mortals never leave unnamed;
full of Zeus are all the streets and all the market-places of men;
full is the sea and the havens thereof;
always we all have need of Zeus.
For we are also his offspring;

It is interesting to see how Paul borrowed expressions intended to glorify a false God, which his hearers would have recognized, and applied them to the true God. Eusebius records (Preparation for the Gospel 13.12) how Aristobulus of Paneas, a Jewish philosopher (c. 160 BC) had similarly quoted from the same beginning lines of Aratus, Phaenomena, but to demonstrate that the praise of Zeus was rightly given to God instead. Aristobulus thus: ‘It is clearly shown, I think, that all things are pervaded by the power of God: and this I have properly represented by taking away the name of Zeus which runs through the poems; for it is to God that their thought is sent up, and for that reason I have so expressed it.’ The apologetic purpose of Paul — and Aristobulus — thus finds truth in a pagan poem and employs it for godly ends.

1 Cor. 15.32-33: If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

The phrase “let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die” may be an allusion to both Isa. 22.13 and Eccl. 8.15. However, it is not unreasonable to suppose that Paul may have had in mind the philosophy of Epicurus (341 BC – 270 BC), who put forth a similar view of life.

The phrase “evil communications corrupt good manners” is apparently a direct quote from either Menander or Euripides (John Milton attributes it to Euripides in the preface to his Samson Agonistes). Paul thus bears witness to the maxim of a heathen poet.

Menander (ca. 342–291 BC), Thais: Bad company corrupts good character.

Euripides (c. 480 BC – 406 BC) (fr. 609): Evil communications corrupt good manners.

Titus 1.12-13a: One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true.

The quotation here seems to be from Epimenides, cited already above, or perhaps from Callimachus. Again, Paul shows his extensive knowledge of pagan poetry, and selectively quotes as appropriate to demonstrate a true statement found within an idolatrous poem.

Callimachus (310/305–240 BC), Hymn I. To Zeus: “Cretans are ever liars.”

The Apostle Paul by these examples shows that indeed, as I have noted before, “all truth is God’s truth,” wherever we may find it. The words of Charles Spurgeon on this point are worth heeding.

Charles Spurgeon, Exposition of 1 Corinthians 15:

“Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.” Oh! wicked Paul! to quote from a heathen poet! How disgraceful. If I were to repeat a verse, and it looked as if Shakespere or any profane author ever wrote such a thing, how criminal! say you. But I like good things wherever I find them. I have often quoted from the devil, and I dare say I shall often quote from his people. Paul quoted this from Meander, and another heathen poet, who wrote far worse things than have been written by modern poets, and if any of us who may have stored our minds with the contents of books we wish we had never read, and if there be some choice gems in them which may be used for the service of God, by his help we will so use them.

Law and Gospel

The Law is good. The Law is perfect and holy. There is no defect in the Law of God. The problem is not the Law itself but that man is a sinner by nature and cannot keep the Law. Through the law comes the knowledge of sin. Rather than curb sin, revealing to us the depths of our human, sinful depravity.

Imagine a large plane glass window. You can break it by driving a tank through it, or you can simply fire the smallest pellet from a gun through the glass, but in both cases, the glass is broken and needs to be replaced. In the same way, to break even one of God’s commandments makes a person guilty of breaking it all. As James 2:10 reminds us, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”

Man as a sinner cannot keep the Law and to fail to keep it in one part makes us guilty of breaking it all. That’s because the law is a complete set of requirements and we have broken it. We have all commited high treason deliberately.

The Law was given not to make people righteous but in fact to forever shut men’s mouths regarding any attempt at self justification before God. The Law reveals sin, and knowing the holiness and righteousness of God, it shows us our desperate condition before Him. When the Law does it work, it reveals sin to the point that we understand the justice we deserve and cry out for intervention from a Savior. That is why even in the Old Covenant Law system, there were sacrifices of atonement for sin, pointing us to One who would come and remove sin by His perfect sacrifice as the Lamb of God.

The Law reveals the holiness of God, the exceeding sinfulness of our sin, and its remedy in the sin bearing substitute lamb.

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

The good news of the Gospel is that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He took the punishment we deserved as He was punished in our place as our sin bearing Substitute, and the righteous life He lived, is then credited to the account of anyone who believes in Him.

In anticipating the work of the Savior to come, Isaiah wrote, “Surely he has borne our griefs (lit. sicknesses) and carried our sorrows (lit. pains); yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:4-6

The cross was no accident, but the center point of a plan devised by God before time began. The plan culminated in a divinely ordained exchange which would take place at Calvary. All the wrath and punishment due to us for our sinfulness was to come upon Jesus; and the good due to Jesus due to His sinless obedience was to come upon us. The innocent would bear the just punishment of the guilty, and the guilty would receive all the benefits due to the just.
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Haste the day

A Poem to my Savior

Like a vapor, sincerity escapes me as I contemplate my sin
How I long for the day when my flesh no longer rages its wearisome, ugly head
When sin no longer is my daily rite
When my thoughts words and deeds instead reveal only love for You

And yet, even as I long for this, another desire is present in me still
Though I hunger for the sweet joy of pleasing You
Of a holiness that is Spirit borne and Spirit driven
Even now a part of me thirsts for the bitter waters of independence from You

Knowing it was my sin that put my Savior on the tree
Makes my heart soar in gratitude at the extent of Your love for me
and yet, I love my sin enough to still cling to it, hoping that this time, it will provide the satisfaction I crave
How my heart grieves with this knowledge
For it is indeed true, or else, sin would not even tempt me with her foul and temporary pleasures

Oh God, this wretch you saved is known fully to You
I cannot hide from You
All is naked and open before You

I long for You and I long for sin
and yet, I long to be free from sin
I am the complicated one, Oh give me a sincere sincerity
A passion for You that is greater than all others

Haste the day when my flesh melts away
Swallowed up in the beauty of the glory of the One I do truly love
Come quickly Lord, for I need you more than I know
Come be the sweet satisfaction of my heart
Conquer my coldness, master my lukewarmness
Deliver me from my greatest enemy
Deliver me from me

While others see a man walking a straight road to Zion
I know my heart is prone to wonder from the path
Enticed by the amusements of this world
Enamored by fleshly desire
Seduced by the thoughts that plague my mind
Deadly darts thrown by the wicked one

Guard my mind with Your helmet
Saved by a righteousness not my own
May the pursuit of all that is holy consume my heart
Make me know Your truth in my inward parts
Help me take my sword and wield it in Your name
May Your beautiful good news adorn my feet as sandals
Trust, the shield

Oh haste the day when my faith will be sight and the fleeting passions of my flesh will be gone
Almost forgotten, except that in the reminder of the One who forgave me of every sin and the Most Holy One who freed me from trivial desires to find my rest, comfort and satisfaction in His presence forever.

Haste the day Lord. Haste the day.

Invitation to the Table

A Poem by Nathan Pitchford

And in fine linens wrapped, as white as shrouds;
And you who healthy are, and wise, and strong,
Who have full-stuffed with minted coin your purse,
You are not welcome here, howe’er so long
You thumb your ros’ry or bejewel your hearse;
Get hence! your fond excesses all are wrong,
Your feigned good deeds and penances are worse.
Feigned-free, you ‘re slaves; feigned-blest, you are a curse.

But come, stooped-over, come grotesque and maimed;
All naked, come, and halt and blind and poor;
Come, feast, who guilty are, and pale-ashamed,
And covered with full many an oozing sore.
You will not stain this table with your slime
Nor turn the cup to salt with bitter tears,
Convicted though you be of many a crime,
And tortured by grim-stalking doubts and fears, –
You are welcome here, who’ve squandered all your time,
And left your whole estate in sad arrears!
Come, enemies, come – and leave God’s choicest dears. Continue reading