f The Wittenberg Door: April 2012

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Notable Quote: R.C. Sproul

R.C. Sproul on sin and our standing with God . . .

Our peace with God is not fragile; it is stable. When we sin, God is displeased, and He will move to correct us and convict us of our sin. But he does not go to war against us.

His bow is no longer bent, and the arrows of His wrath are no longer aimed at our hearts. He does not rattle His sword every time we break the treaty.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Come, Eat and Drink Judgment Upon Yourself!

Over at Christianity Today’s Web site (subscription required), popular pastor Jack Hayford of The Church on the Way fame offers a few ideas on how to make unbelievers feel more comfortable in church . . .

We invite all the people to gather around the Lord's Table and partake in small groups. We believe it is the Lord's Table we are invited to, the Lord is doing the inviting, and no one is excluded. To us that means unbelievers are invited, as well . . . we want people to know that they are welcome. For example, I might say, "If you are visiting with us today, you are not only welcome to participate, you are urged to. If you were at my house and it came dinnertime, I wouldn't leave you sitting in the other room while I went to the dining room . . .

It sounds as if pastor Hayford desires to be a good host. I’m sure that if I were invited to his dinner table he wouldn’t want to make me feel uncomfortable by telling me that there’s arsenic in the food and that I might get sick and/or die if I partake. No, that would be rude.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as thoughtful as pastor Hayford. Here’s two noted examples of inhospitality:

John Calvin

A man in Calvin’s congregation refused to repent of his sins and was consequently denied the Table of the Lord. Not feeling “welcomed,” the man complained to the Genevean Council. Ruling in the man’s favor, the council ordered Calvin to grant him the supper.

As the man, and his sword-bearing friends, began to approach the table on the following Lord’s Day, Calvin threw his arms over the table and proclaimed, “These hands you may crush, these arms you may lop off, my life you may take, my blood is yours, you may shed it; but you shall never force me to give holy things to the profaned, and dishonor the table of my God.”

How rude!

Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul was definitely not very welcoming when it came to granting access to the Lord’s Table to those in sin. In the later portion of 1 Corinthians 11, Paul explains the significance of the occasion (vs. 23-26). He also explains the consequence of partaking in an unworthy manner, or not exercising proper discernment—the possibility of sickness and death ( vs. 27, 29, 30). For this reason, Paul tells us to examine ourselves (vs. 28). “But if we judge ourselves rightly, we would not be judged” (vs. 31).

Furthermore, Paul tells us that if we exercise proper discernment that we (believers) will not be “condemned along with the world” (unbelievers, vs. 32). Paul also points out that this simply isn’t another meal: “If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment . . .” Paul is certainly excluding unbelievers here. Ms. Manners would be scandalized!

Good Host/Bad Host?

So there you have it. You can follow Calvin’s and Paul’s example and guard the Table of the Lord, or you can follow pastor Hayford’s example and open the gates wide. A word of caution, though: If you decide to follow pastor Hayford’s example, I’d recommend that your church purchase extra insurance.

To gain a proper understanding of the Lord’s Supper, including who should and should not partake, I recommend reading questions and answers 75 through 82 of the Heidelberg Catechism.

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Sunday, April 08, 2012

Notable Quote: John Calvin

John Calvin on how we ought to view the noetic achievemenst of the ungodly . . .

Therefore, in reading profane authors, the admirable light of truth displayed in them should remind us, that the human mind, however much fallen and perverted from its original integrity, is still adorned and invested with admirable gifts from its Creator. If we reflect that the Spirit of God is the only fountain of truth, we will be careful, as we would avoid offering insult to him, not to reject or condemn truth wherever it appears. In despising the gifts, we insult the Giver. How, then, can we deny that truth must have beamed on those ancient lawgivers who arranged civil order and discipline with so much equity? Shall we say that the philosophers, in their exquisite researches and skilful description of nature, were blind? Shall we deny the possession of intellect to those who drew up rules for discourse, and taught us to speak in accordance with reason? Shall we say that those who, by the cultivation of the medical art, expended their industry in our behalf were only raving? What shall we say of the mathematical sciences? Shall we deem them to be the dreams of madmen? Nay, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without the highest admiration; an admiration which their excellence will not allow us to withhold.

But shall we deem anything to be noble and praiseworthy, without tracing it to the hand of God? Far from us be such ingratitude; an ingratitude not chargeable even on heathen poets, who acknowledged that philosophy and laws, and all useful arts were the inventions of the gods. Therefore, since it is manifest that men whom the Scriptures term carnal, are so acute and clear-sighted in the investigation of inferior things, their example should teach us how many gifts the Lord has left in possession of human nature, notwithstanding of its having been despoiled of the true good.


Saturday, April 07, 2012

Notable Quote: C.H. Spurgeon and the Westminster Confession

Charles Spurgeon and the Westminster Confession on God’s sovereignty:

There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most aderse circumstances, in the most sever trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought to more earnestly contend to than the doctrine of their Master over all creation—– the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—–the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne . . . for it is God upon the Throne whom we trust

C.H. Spurgeon (1834 - 1892)

God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

Westminster Confession of Faith, 3.1

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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Notable Quote: Kim Riddlebarger

Kim Riddlebarger, pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim, CA, and a cohost of the White Horse Inn radio program, on discerning the sings heralding the end of the age . . .

Given the nature of these signs that herald the end of the age, and the great delay in seeing them realized, what is the relationship between these signs of the end and the ability of believers to discern the times? What do we do with those scriptural statements regarding the imminence of Christ’s return, in light of those passages that speak of a delay regarding Christ’s second coming (i.e., Matt. 25:1–13)? We are told that specific signs clearly precede the end (Matt. 24:32), yet we are also told that the Lord can return at any moment (Matt. 24:37). No doubt, the tension between signs preceding the end and the suddenness of the Lord’s eventual return is intentional . For one thing, this tension prevents date-setting, since no man knows the date or the hour of the Lord’s return (Matt. 24:36). For another, this tension also prevents idleness on the part of God’s people. Since we do not know when the Lord will return, we must watch and wait just as Jesus instructed us to do (Matt. 24:42–44).

“You Are Here”: The Map of Redemptive History, Modern Reformation magazine, Volume 20, Number 1, Feb/Jan 2011

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