Help us, O Lord, Behold we Enter

Help us, O Lord, for now we enter
Upon another year today.
In you our hopes and thoughts now center;
Renew our courage for the way.
New life, new strength, new happiness
We ask of you — oh, hear and bless.

May ev’ry plan and undertaking
Begin this year, O Lord, with you;
When I am sleeping or am waking,
Help me, dear Lord, your will to do.
In you alone, my God, I live;
You only can my sins forgive.

And may this year to me be holy;
Your grace so fill my ev’ry thought
That all my life be pure and lowly
And truthful, as a Christian’s ought.
So make me while I’m living here
Your faithful servant through the year.

Jesus, be with me and direct me;
Jesus, my plans and hopes inspire;
Jesus, from tempting thoughts protect me;
Jesus, be all my heart’s desire;
Jesus, be in my thoughts all day
And never let me fall away.

And grant, Lord, when the year is over,
That it for me in peace may close.
In all things care for me and cover
My head in time of fear and woes.
So may I, when my life is done,
Appear with joy before your throne.

– Johann Rist

 

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Understand herein the goodness of the Creator…

Understand herein the goodness of the Creator, that so far as you by sinning have cast yourself down, so far has He descended in following you.

Rufinus, 345–411

 

While working on a paper regarding the phrase in the Apostles’ Creed “He Descended into Hell,” I came across this quote and thought I’d share it.

Another Update

I really have to think of better titles for these. It’s been a busy and fruitful number of weeks since I last posted an update. My studies continue to prove challenging and beneficial, and I’m daily reminded of how much more I have to learn. I’m also reminded of the great salvation we have in Christ as our Lord and Saviour.

I submitted two papers last week, one was a text critical assignment on 2 Corinthians 14, and the other a personality reflection paper. Both did not involve too much research, basically just the notes which I had on hand.

I’ve also helped restart a program called Moses’ Clinic. It’s basically a workshop for seminary students where we work on our public speaking skills, reading abilities, and similar things. It’s been fruitful so far and I’m hoping it will continue to help me grow in my abilities. Thankfully it doesn’t take much planning or organizing. Basically I send out an email once a week with what we’ll be covering in the workshop and then hope people show up 🙂

Yesterday, Friday November 3, I had an oral exam on the Heidelberg Catechism. In preparation I had to memorize the first 31 Lord’s Days and the major themes of the catechism. This was easily the greatest challenge for the freshman so far. I stumbled a fair bit, mainly due to the stress of the situation, but am happy with the B grade I received. Aside from reciting a number of questions and answers, one of the interesting things I was asked about was the use of Faith in the Catechism. It’s remarkable that Faith is referred to in three different ways in the catechism.

First we are told that faith is necessary for salvation and the only means by which we can be saved. It is defined in LD 7 as “a firm confidence that not only to others, but also to me, God has granted forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation, out of mere grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits. This faith the Holy Spirit works in my heart by the gospel.”

Second, it appears in Lord’s Day 23 where we confess that this faith is our righteousness before God, yet we are not righteous because of the worthiness of our faith, “for only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ is my righteousness before God. I can receive this righteousness and make it my own by faith only.”

Third, it is mentioned in Lord’s Day 25 where we confess how this faith is worked in us by the Spirit, “who works it in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and strengthens it by the use of the sacraments.”

So faith is spoken of in three ways, it’s defined as a firm confidence, confessed as our only grounds of salvation, and spoken of as the result of the Spirit’s work.

Looking ahead, I have that paper on the Descent into Hell to write over the next seven days. I think I may have bit off a bit more than I can chew with this one… It’s an incredibly interesting subject but I’m having trouble narrowing down my topic which has made things quite difficult.

I also have the last Hebrew test of the semester on Wednesday. We’ll be tested on the rest of the catechism in February, so I have a nice chunk of time to work on that yet 🙂

Lord’s Day 10

Q.
What do you understand by the providence of God?
A.
God’s providence is
his almighty and ever present power,
whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds
heaven and earth and all creatures,
and so governs them that
leaf and blade,
rain and drought,
fruitful and barren years,
food and drink,
health and sickness,
riches and poverty,
indeed, all things,
come to us not by chance
but by his fatherly hand.

Q.
What does it benefit us to know
that God has created all things
and still upholds them by his providence?
A.
We can be patient in adversity,
thankful in prosperity,
and with a view to the future
we can have a firm confidence
in our faithful God and Father
that no creature shall separate us
from his love;
for all creatures are so completely in his hand
that without his will
they cannot so much as move.

Rufinus on the Crucifixion

The Apostle Paul teaches us that we ought to have “the eyes of our understanding enlightened” “that we may understand what is the height and breadth and depth.” “The height and breadth and depth” is a description of the Cross, of which that part which is fixed in the earth he calls the depth, the height that which is erected upon the earth and reaches upward, the breadth that which is spread out to the right hand and to the left. Since, therefore, there are so many kinds of death by which it is given to men to depart this life, why does the Apostle wish us to have our understanding enlightened so as to know the reason why, of all of them, the Cross was chosen in preference for the death of the Savior.

We must know, then, that Cross was a triumph. It was a signal trophy. A triumph is a token of victory over an enemy. Since then Christ, when He came, brought three kingdoms at once into subjection under His sway (for this He signifies when he says, “That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth”), and conquered all of these by His death, a death was sought answerable to the mystery, so that being lifted up in the air, and subduing the powers of the air, He might make a display of His victory over these supernatural and celestial powers.

Moreover the holy Prophet says that “all the day long He stretched out His hands” to the people on the earth, that He might both make protestation to unbelievers and invite believers: finally, by that part which is sunk under the earth, He signified His bringing into subjection to Himself the kingdoms of the nether world.

– Rufinus, A Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed, Sage Library, ECF 3.3. pp. 1127-1128