Suddenly, there were stirrings…

Hi everyone,

It would be an understatement to say that things have been quite around here. The reason is that I have recently begun full-time ministry in an OPC church plant, and have been very busy ever since. Realistically, I probably can’t commit to going forward with this particular blog because a) I just don’t have the time and b) the church’s website also has a blog which I have begun to do some posting on. Nevertheless, I think I can stand behind the work that I did on this blog and, for the time being, I am uninterested in deleting the blog.

Thanks for your interest in my blog. Honestly, this web page accomplished far more than I thought it possible. I am grateful for the various comments, positive and negative, which readers have posted.


Reading the Westminster Standards in a Month

I have created a monthly plan to read through the Westminster Standards in a month. This is a very modest attempt at helping Christians to become more familiar with the Reformed confessions. Since this was a first draft, I am quite certain that there are typos and ‘errors in judgment’ scattered throughout the document. Nevertheless, it is my hope that this will be useful in some way to bring Reformed Christians back in touch with these confessional documents.


Please do make me aware of any typos, errors, or suggestions that you have as you make use of this.

Sinai/Pentecost Parallels

“By the time of the first century, the Day of Pentecost seems to have been associated with the giving of the law at Sinai. By the time of the second century, this was thought to have taken place in the seventy languages of the world, and this tradition may have already been commonplace. But even if that association in Judaism is questioned, a Sinai-Pentecost parallel is established in the New Testament itself. The revelation of God to Moses at Sinai had been accompanied by fire, wind and a divine tongue (Heb. 12:18-21). Moses had ascended the mountain. When he descended he had in his possession the Ten Commandments, the law of God. Christ too had recently ascended. At Pentecost he comes down, not with the law written on tablets of clay, but with the gift of his own Spirit to write the law in the hearts of believers and by his power to enable them to fulfil the law’s commands. Thus the new covenant promise begins to be fulfilled (cf. Je. 31:31-34; Rom. 8:3-4; 2 Cor. 3:7-11)” (Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit, 61).

After reading this passage the other day, I thought of another interesting parallel between Sinai and Pentecost: the reception of God’s revelation. At Sinai, Israel ‘responds’ to God’s law with rebellion; they create a golden calf in direct contradiction of the law they had received. Moses sent the Levites, with sword in hand, to purge Israel of this rebellion. We are told in Exodus 32:28 that three thousand men fell that day. Interestingly, at Pentecost we read that the number who believingly received God’s word was about three thousand (Acts 2:41). Three thousand slain at Sinai because the mere external word of the law had no effect in their hearts; three thousand saved at Pentecost because the Spirit was poured out, causing God’s external word to penetrate into the heart of man (Acts 2:37).

Due Process & Presbyterianism

I was reading an article at Yahoo! about the Bishop Long scandal and, not surprisingly, I came across a reference to the Ted Haggard scandal. This was an interesting comment:

The Rev. Ted Haggard, who resigned in 2006 from the Colorado Springs, Colo., megachurch he founded after a Denver man accused him of paying for sex, said it’s better in the long run for Long and his church that the three accusers have filed lawsuits.

Haggard said courts are better than internal church bodies at establishing whether such accusations are truthful.

“At least there will be an orderly process and due process, which is a gift,” said Haggard, who has recently started a new church. “Churches struggle with due process. They have for 2,000 years.”

Respectfully, I disagree with Haggard (I think the Apostle Paul did, too). What is needed is a form of church government and due process in the church that is transparent and reliable. It is not surprising at all to me that those in a congregational polity would complain about the lack of due process; in my opinion, the so-called ‘elder rule’ congregationalism is especially liable to complaints about due process.

Of course, the church and its government is never infallible, but I am grateful to be part of a denomination that has a Book of Church Order and a clearly outlined and publicly available explanation of how disciplinary matters are to be handled. Without such transparency, objectivity, and accountability what is there to keep church officers from slipping into a ‘good ole boys’ mentality or something even more unjust when problems arise in a church?

But Haggard was right about one thing. Due process in disciplinary matters, truly, is a gift. It is one of the gifts that the ascended Christ has given to his church for her upbuilding and purity throughout the ages.

‘Modern Man Wants the Shortest Road to God’

“The preaching of the O.T. also has great significance for promoting the correct understanding of the historical progression of revelation. Modern man calls for the shortest road to God, meanwhile setting aside the history of redemption. Even outside the movement of modernism one notes a superficial type Christianity [sic.] which supposes it is sufficient to proclaim what God in Christ wants to be for the individual heart and life. But God, on the contrary, has given his revelation to us with a historical progression; for the nourishment and up building of the congregation. It is important that a correct understanding of this progression be propagated. (Jan Ridderbos, “Schild en Pijl” #8, Kampen: J.H. Kok, 1922)”

A Couple of Provocative Luther Quotes

On Isaiah 1:14, and the ominous nature of God’s holy convocations becoming “Your new moons and Sabbaths,” Luther says, “Satan always wants to be God’s mimic and ape, but God hates him” (Luther, Works 16:17).

On Isaiah 1:18, “Christianity is surely a constant sobbing” (Luther, Works 16:20). I actually do not fully understand how this comment fits in with the verse or Luther’s surrounding comments, but it is still quite thought-provoking.

Adam/Israel Parallels

“These first three chapters of Genesis were of particular significance to Israel on the borders of the Promised Land because Israel shared many similarities with Adam. William Dumbrell explains:

Significant for biblical eschatology are the several analogies that can be drawn between the man Adam and the nation Israel: Israel was created, as was Adam, outside the divine space to be occupied–Israel outside of Canaan and Adam outside of the garden. Both Israel and Adam were placed in divine space: Israel in Canaan and Adam in Eden. Israel was given, as was Adam, law by which the divine space could be retained.

The question for Israel was simple. Would she obey the law, or would she, like Adam, disobey and be exiled from the land? If Adam proved unfaithful to God in the perfect environment, could Israel hope to keep the law in a land surrounded by idolaters?” (Keith Mathison, From Age to Age, 27)

Can be purchased here.

Berkhof on the Sinaitic Covenant

“The Sinaitic covenant included a service that contained a positive reminder of the strict demands of the covenant of works. The law was placed very much in the foreground, giving prominence once more to the earlier legal element. But the covenant of Sinai was not a renewal of the covenant of works; in it the law was made subservient to the covenant of grace. This is indicated already in the introduction to the ten commandments, Ex. 20:2; Deut. 5:6, and further in Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:24. It is true that at Sinai a conditional element was added to the covenant, but it was not the salvation of the Israelite but his theocratic standing in the nation, and the enjoyment of external blessings that was made dependent on the keeping of the law, Deut. 28:1-14. The law served a twofold purpose in connection with the covenant of grace: (1) to increase the consciousness of sin, Rom. 3:20; 4:15; Gal. 3:19; and (2) to be a tutor unto Christ, Gal. 3:24” (Berkhof, ST, 298).

This does not seem very different from Kline’s view of the Sinaitic covenant.

The Presbyterian Guardian is Available Online

From the OPC webpage:

The Presbyterian Guardian (1935-1979) was an important voice in the early years of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in its vigorous opposition to modernism and its proclamation and defense of Reformed orthodoxy. Established on the eve of the founding of the denomination, it was closely associated with the OPC, although it remained an independent magazine.

Editors of the Guardian during its remarkable 43-year publishing history included H. McAllister Griffiths, J. Gresham Machen, Ned B. Stonehouse, Charles J. Woodbridge, Paul Woolley, Leslie W. Sloat, Robert E. Nicholas, John J. Mitchell, and J. Cameron Fraser.

Can be found (archived) here.

Vos: ‘Eschatology Precedes Soteriology’

“…second to none in its importance for the Pauline system of thought, the eschatological appears as predeterminative both [sic.] the substance and form of the soteriological.”

“It would be far more accurate to say that the eschatological strand is the most systematic in the entire fabric of the Pauline thought-world. For it now appears that the closely interwoven soteric tissue derives its pattern from the eschatological scheme, which bears all the marks of having had precedence in his mind” (Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology, 60).

Can be purchased here.