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.

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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.

Depending on God

(I can’t remember where exactly I found this prayer)

O Jesus Christ, Thou Son of the Blessed, Lamb of God, Which takest away the sins of the world : In Thy all-sufficient merits alone we trust for the remission of our sins. Through the Blood of Thy Cross we hope for peace with God, for strength against the powers of darkness, for safety, and help, and salvation ; the communion of Thy Holy Spirit here, and everlasting bliss with Thee hereafter. In Thy unfathomable grace, and the unsearchable depths of Thy love, is our trust. In Thy Name standeth our help. Have mercy on all broken hearts, and heal them ; all struggling with temptation, and rescue them ; all fainting in despair, and raise them up. Have mercy on all that groan beneath their sins ; on all that fall away from Thee ; on all that waver in their faith, and stablish, strengthen, settle them. O Blessed Jesus, Who didst shed Thy Blood for our souls to save them, shed Thy Holy Spirit upon all, and heal them. Have mercy on all in misery, or peril, or pain. Preserve them, Thou Who didst on earth so mercifully relieve and succour the distressed. Thou God of all help and comfort, take us to Thy tender care, and save and succour both our bodies and our souls. Thou that didst redeem us all, keep us for ever Thine, we pray Thee, for Thine infinite mercy’s sake ; and keep us in the love of God, until we come with all the multitude of Thy redeemed saints to those eternal mansions which Thou hast prepared in the kingdom of Thy Father. Bring us in Thine own good time to share Thy glory, and to praise Thee, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, One God for evermore. Amen.

Man’s Maker was Made Man

Man’s maker was made man,
that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast;
that the Bread might hunger,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired on its journey;
that the Truth might be accused of false witness,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the Foundation be suspended on wood;
that Strength might grow weak;
that the Healer might be wounded;
that Life might die.
– Augustine of Hippo (Sermons 191.1)

That bitter root, indwelling sin!

By John Newton:

The righteous are said to be scarcely saved, not with respect to the certainty of the event, for the purpose of God in their favor cannot be disappointed—but in respect of their own apprehensions, and the great difficulties they are brought through! But when, after a long experience of their own deceitful hearts, after repeated proofs of their weakness, willfulness, ingratitude, and insensibility, they find that none of these things can separate them from the love of Jesus—He becomes more and more precious to their souls. They love much, because much has been forgiven them. They dare not, they will not ascribe anything to themselves—but are glad to acknowledge, that they must have perished (humanly speaking) a thousand times over, if Jesus had not been their Savior, their shepherd, and their shield. When they were wandering—he brought them back; when fallen—he raised them; when wounded—he healed them; when fainting—he revived them! By him, out of weakness—they have been made strong! He has taught their hands to war, and covered their heads in the day of battle. In a word, some of the clearest proofs they have had of his excellence, have been occasioned by the humiliating proofs they have had of their own vileness. They would not have known so much of him—if they had not known so much of themselves!

Further, a spirit of humiliation, which is both the strength and beauty of our profession, is greatly promoted by our feeling, as well as reading, that when we would do good, evil is present with us. A broken and contrite spirit is pleasing to the Lord—he has promised to dwell with those who have it. Experience shows, that the exercise of all our graces, is in proportion to the humbling sense we have of the depravity of our nature.

That we are so totally depraved, is a truth which no one ever truly learned by being only taught it. Indeed, if we could receive, and habitually maintain, a right judgment of ourselves, by what is plainly declared in Scripture, it would probably save us many a mournful hour! But experience is the Lord’s school, and those who are taught by him usually learn that they have no wisdom—by the mistakes they make; and that they have no strength—by the slips and falls they meet with. Every day draws forth some new corruption, which before was little observed, or at least discovers it in a stronger light than before. Thus by degrees, they are weaned from leaning to any supposed wisdom, power, or goodness in themselves! They feel the truth of our Lord’s words, “without me—you can do nothing;” and the necessity of crying with David, “O lead me and guide me!”

John Newton, April 1772

The Great Birthday

The shepherds were keeping their flocks by night. Probably a calm, peaceful night, wherein they felt the usual difficulty of keeping their weary eyelids open as sleep demanded its due of them. All of a sudden, to their amazement, a mighty blaze lit up the heavens and turned midnight into midday! The glory of the Lord, by which, according to the idiom of the language, is meant the greatest conceivable glory as well as a divine glory, surrounded and alarmed them! And in the midst of it they saw a shining spirit, a form, the like of which they had never beheld before, but of which they had heard their fathers speak, and of which they had read in the books of the prophets so that they knew it to be an angel. It was, indeed, no common messenger from heaven, but “the angel of the Lord,” that choice presence angel, whose privilege it is to stand nearest the heavenly majesty, “’mid the bright ones doubly bright,” and to be employed on weightiest errands from the eternal throne of God. “The angel of the Lord came upon them.” Are you astonished that at first they were afraid? Would you not be alarmed if such a thing should happen to you? The stillness of the night, the suddenness of the apparition, the extraordinary splendor of the light, the supernatural appearance of the angel—all would tend to astound them and to put them into a quiver of reverential alarm—for I doubt not there was a mixture both of reverence and of fear in that feeling which is described as being “sorely afraid.” They would have fallen on their faces to the ground in fright had there not dropped out of that, “glory of the Lord,” a gentle voice, which said, “Fear not.” They were calmed by that sweet comfort and enabled to listen to the announcement which followed. Then that voice, in accents sweet as the notes of a silver bell, proceeded to say, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” They were bid to shake off all thoughts of fear and to give themselves up to joy! Doubtless they did so and, among all mankind, there were none so happy at that dead of night as were these shepherds who had seen an amazing sight! They would never forget that night and now were consulting whether they should not hasten away to gaze upon a sight which would be more delightful still, namely, the Babe of which the angel spoke!

Mark well that believing what they did, these simple-minded shepherds desired to approach nearer the marvelous babe. What did they do but consult together and say, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing which has come to pass”? O beloved, if you want to get the joy of Christ, come near to Him! Whatever you hear about Him from His own book, believe it! But then say, “I will go and find Him.” When you hear the voice of the Lord from Sinai, draw not near unto the flaming mountain—the law condemns you, the justice of God overwhelms you. Bow at a humble distance and adore with solemn awe. But when you hear of God in Christ, hasten there! Hasten there with all confidence, for you are not come unto the mountain that might not be touched, and that burned with fire—you are come unto the blood of sprinkling, which speaks better things than that of Abel! Come near, come nearer, nearer still! “Come,” is His own word to those who labor and are heavy laden, and that same word He will address to you at the last—“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world.” If you want joy in Christ, come and find it in His bosom, or at His feet! There John and Mary found it long ago. And then, my brothers and sisters do what the shepherds did when they came near. They rejoiced to see the babe of whom they had been told! You cannot see with the physical eye, but you must meditate—and so see with the mental eyes this great, grand and glorious truth of God that the word was made flesh and dwelt among us! This is the way to have joy today, joy such as fitly descends from heaven with the descent of heaven’s King! Believe! Draw near! And then fixedly gaze upon Him, and so be blest!

The Great Birthday Sermon #1330 http://www.spurgeongems.org Volume 22 2 2

The Lord’s Prayer

O, God, who has become our Father through Christ. We give thanks that you have taught us to pray and promised us that you will much less deny us what we ask in faith than our fathers would refuse us earthly things.  Teach us not to think of your heavenly majesty in an earthly manner, and to expect from your almighty power all things we need for body and soul. Grant us first of all that we may rightly know you, and sanctify, glorify, and praise you in all your works, in which shine forth your almighty power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy, and truth. Grant us also that we may so direct our whole life – our thoughts, words, and actions – that your name is not blasphemed because of us but always honoured and praised. 

By your Word and Spirit, govern us that more and more we would submit to you. Grant that your Church would be preserved and increased here on earth. Destroy the works of the devil, every power that raises itself against you, and every conspiracy against your holy Word. Do all this until the fullness of your kingdom comes, wherein you shall be all in all.

Assist us that we and all men may deny our own will, and without any murmuring obey your will, for it alone is good. Grant also that everyone may carry out the duties of his office and calling as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.

Provide us with all our bodily needs so that we may acknowledge that you are the only fountain of all good, and that our care and labour, and also your gifts, cannot do us any good without your blessing. Grant, therefore, that we may withdraw our trust from all creatures and place it only in you.

For the sake of Christ’s blood,do not impute to us, wretched sinners; any of our transgressions, nor the evil which still clings to us, as we also find this evidence of your grace in us that we are fully determined wholeheartedly to forgive our neighbour.

In ourselves we are so weak that we cannot stand even for a moment. Moreover, our sworn enemies – the devil, the world, and our own flesh – do not cease to attack us. Therefore, uphold and strengthen us by the power of Your Holy Spirit, so that we may not go down to defeat, but always firmly resist our enemies, until we finally obtain the complete victory.

All this we ask knowing that as our King, having power over all things, You are both willing and able to give us all that is good, and because your holy name will be forever glorified. We confess and take comfort that you have much more certainly heard our prayer than we feel in our hearts that we desire this of you. Amen.

-Based on the Heidelberg Catechism, LD 46-52