Thursday, November 24, 2011


"The earth is the LORD'S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it. For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation" (Psalm 24:1-5).

I am thankful for this beautiful creation & possession of the LORD's.

I am thankful for His Church, purchased with His blood (by which I am secure as a citizen of this bright city on a hill), filled with His holy and never-departing presence, and radiant with His eternal glory.

I am thankful for the blessing of God the Father "Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3) - how could we ask for more than the blessed everything we have in Christ?

I am thankful for the "righteousness from the God of [our] salvation," "which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith" (Philippians 3:9).

"Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 7:12). Happy thanksgiving.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Calvin and Baptism of the Believer

As a Reformed Baptist, I have always been grieved by the divide between pedobaptists and credobaptists in the beautiful and rich garden of Reformed theology. I readily admit that both branches of this family have good defences of their views based on numerous passages of Scripture. Not being much of a debater myself, I'd like to highlight this teaching by John Calvin concerning believer's baptism. By posting this selection from the "Catechism of the Church of Geneva" I'm not trying to argue that Calvin was a credobaptist. I would, however, like to suggest that in his wonderful elaboration of believer's baptism there is room for a peace in the garden of Reformed theology. May we boast only in the Lord and His cross in all things.

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Scholar Baptism is a kind of entrance into the Church; for we have in it a testimony that we who are otherwise strangers and aliens, are received into the family of God, so as to be counted of His household...

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Master ...what is the meaning of Baptism?

Scholar It consists of two parts. For, first, Forgiveness of sins, and secondly, Spiritual regeneration, is figured by it. (Ephesians 5:26; Romans 6:4).

Master What resemblance has water with these things, so as to represent them?

Scholar Forgiveness of sins is a kind of washing, by which our souls are cleansed from their defilements, just as bodily stains are washed away by water.

Master What do you say of Regeneration?

Scholar Since the mortification of our nature is its beginning, and our becoming new creatures its end, a figure of death is set before us when the water is poured upon the head, and the figure of a new life when instead of remaining immersed under water, we only enter it for a moment as a kind of grave, out of which we instantly emerge. [desert rat: notice that Calvin uses both language of affusion and immersion here.]

Master Do you think that the water is a washing of the soul?

Scholar By no means; for it were impious to snatch away this honor from the blood of Christ, which was shed in order to wipe away all our stains, and render us pure and unpolluted in the sight of God. (1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 1:7). And we receive the fruit of this cleansing when the Holy Spirit sprinkles our consciences with that sacred blood. Of this we have a seal in the Sacrament.

Master But do you attribute nothing more to the water than that it is a figure of ablution?

Scholar I understand it to be a figure, but still so that the reality is annexed to it; for God does not disappoint us when He promises us His gifts. Accordingly, it is certain that both pardon of sins and newness of life are offered to us in baptism, and received by us.

Master Is this grace bestowed on all indiscriminately?

Scholar Many precluding its entrance by their depravity, make it void to themselves. Hence the benefit extends to believers only, and yet the Sacrament loses nothing of its nature.

Master Whence is Regeneration derived?

Scholar From the Death and Resurrection of Christ taken together. His death hath this efficacy, that by means of it our old man is crucified, and the vitality of our nature in a manner buried, so as no more to be in vigor in us. Our reformation to a new life, so as to obey the righteousness of God, is the result of the resurrection.

Master How are these blessings bestowed upon us by Baptism?

Scholar If we do not render the promises there offered unfruitful by rejecting them, we are clothed with Christ, and presented with His Spirit.

Master What must we do in order to use Baptism duly?

Scholar The right use of Baptism consists in faith and repentance; that is, we must first hold with a firm heartfelt reliance that, being purified from all stains by the blood of Christ, we are pleasing to God: secondly, we must feel His Spirit dwelling in us, and declare this to others by our actions, and we must constantly exercise ourselves in aiming at the mortification of our flesh, and obedience to the righteousness of God.

Excerpts from the "Catechism of the Church of Geneva" taken from Treatises on the Sacraments (Christian Heritage, 2003), 86-87.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

And he died.

"This is the written account of the descendants of Adam.
Adam lived 930 years, and then he died.
Seth lived 912 years, and then he died.
Enosh lived 905 years, and then he died.
Kenan lived 910 years, and then he died.
Mahalalel lived 895 years, and then he died.
Jared lived 962 years, and then he died.
Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died.
Lamech lived 777 years, and then he died."
- Genesis 5:1-31 (New Living Translation)

Don't envy the centuries of life. They end just as our decades of life do today. Desire the short life span of Enoch for how his days were spent and how they ended.

"...Enoch lived in close fellowship with God...Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him" (5:22-24).

Find real life not in longer days, years, decades, but in Christ.

"Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, Who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory" (Colossians 3:1-4). Beat the last heartbeat and die to this world now. Live for Christ and never die again.

Don't Forget.

"A great eagle with broad wings and long feathers, covered with many-colored plumage...seized the top of a cedar tree and plucked off its highest branch. He carried it away to a city filled with merchants. He planted it in a city of traders. He also took a seedling from the land and planted it in fertile soil. He placed it beside a broad river, where it could grow like a willow tree. It took root there and grew into a low, spreading vine. Its branches turned up toward the eagle, and its roots grew down into the ground. It produced strong branches and put out shoots. But then another great eagle came with broad wings and full plumage. So the vine now sent its roots and branches toward him for water, even though it was already planted in good soil and had plenty of water so it could grow into a splendid vine and produce rich leaves and luscious fruit" (Ezekiel 17:3-8, New Living Translation).

Don't forget Who planted you, Church. Look to no other.

"So now the Sovereign LORD asks: Will this vine grow and prosper? No! I will pull it up, roots and all! I will cut off its fruit and let its leaves wither and die. I will pull it up easily without a strong arm or a large army. But when the vine is transplanted, will it thrive? No, it will wither away when the east wind blows against it. It will die in the same good soil where it had grown so well" (17:9,10).