Friday, October 31, 2008

Calvin's Commentaries on Isaiah

I read the following poem this morning in Calvin's Commentary on Isaiah. I wanted to share it with you.

An Epigram vpon the Translation of
M. Caluins Commentarie vpon the Prophecie of Isaiah.

THRICE happie (England) if thou knew'st thy blisse,
Since Christs eternall Gospell in thee shin'd
Thou art. H'is beetle-blind that sees not this,
Brutishly ingrate that with a thankfull mind
Doth not acknowledge Gods great Grace herein,
And learne thereby for to forsake his sinne.

Gods word hat long in thee been soundly taught,
The sound thereof hath rung throughout the Land,
And many a Soule by Fishers net been caught,
Which erst lay thrall in Satans cruell band:
This fauour great by none can be exprest,
But such as haue it felt in their owne brest.

Thy natiue sonnes in thine owne bowels bred,
Like faithfull Shepheards haue done worthilie,
And thee with store of heauenlie Manna fed,
Forcing the Wolues to leaue their crueltie,
To slinke aside, and hide themselues in holes,
In caues and dens, like pur-blind Backs and Moles.

The Gospell preacht by word, by life, by death:
To second them haue spent their vitall breath.
In hot pursuit of that great Romish Bore,
Who spoiled quite this English vine before.

I spare to speake of DEERINGS siluer voice,
Of GREENHAMS zeale, of PERKINS labours sound,
Of hundreds moe of Zion-builders choice,
The like whereof can scarce elsewhere be found:
Such ground-worke they of Gods truth here haue plac'd
As neuer shall by Hels whole force be razt.

Besides all these, of forren Lights the chiefe,
BEZA, and VRSINUS, many other moe,
MARTYR, MUSCULUS, for thy more reliefe
Are seene in English weed abroade to goe
From place to place in euery Shire and Towne,
To teach the Truth and throw all Errors downe.

And here presented is vnto thy sight
The Roiall Prophet Esaias Euangel:
For so me thinkes I may it terme aright,
That Prince of holy Prophets doth so well,
So liuely Christs whole historie presage,
As if h'had liu'd in that same very Age.

Whose Oracles great CALUIN doth vnfold
In thine owne natiue Tongue for thy Soules health.
Here maist thou gather precious Stones and Gold,
And store vp heapes of Heauenly lasting wealth;
Here maist thou find with very little paine
Which would'st not lose for thousand Worlds againe.

Here maist thou see the black-mouth'd Atheists
Confounded quite by Demonstration cleare;
The cunning Papist put vnto his shifts,
And made in his right Colours to appeare;
Her's Christ, his Truth, and Life, thee set before,
Heauens Gates set open wide: what would'st thou more?

By FRANCIS HERING, Doctor in Physicke.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Bell

Stately situated atop its wooden frame “The Bell” watches over the old home place. Long since removed from its original lofty height, its job changed from summoning parishioners or schoolchildren to the meeting at hand to the more menial duty of calling home a loving husband for the mid-day meal known as “dinner.” While my grandmother’s home cooking sat cooling on the stove, she would make her way out to “The Bell” and give it a tug with all the might her feeble frame could yield. In an age before cell phones commanded instant communication, the tolling of the bell wafted across the golden fields of grain. Its voice was loud enough to be heard over the rumble of the old red tractor. A smile appeared on the gentle farmer’s face as he stepped down from the tractor and into the old truck that would carry him to his table to meet the woman and the meal that awaited him.

“The Bell” not only signaled a home cooked meal for grandpa, as a child we also used it to call in the cows. A much more vibrant ringing by grandchildren, and later in life, great-grandchildren, would cause the ears of our bovine friends to perk up. It was quite a sight to see these plump land blimps run at full trot to receive the reward of white bread that the children would feed them from their hands. Very thankful for the fence between us and the cattle, my two year old always wanted to “feed the cows” but she did it from the safety of Daddy’s arms.

“The Bell” is silent now. The wrinkled hands that once prepared the meals and tugged at the rope are folded in peace. The tough, but gentle, grandpa farmer parked his tractor in the barn for the last time. The once open fields are now strewn with homes and businesses. Yet “The Bell” eagerly waits to make new memories in the lives of its next trustees.

What will the tolling of “The Bell” signal for you? Will it be a grand noisemaker for a new generation of children unaccustomed to items that last for several lifetimes? Will it regain its place of prominence in the bell tower of a local church or school house? Will it simply serve as a reminder of better days gone by? Regardless of the use you find for it, its ring is as strong as it ever was. May the tolling of “The Bell” signify to you and your family the blessings and the memories it has given to us.

“The Bell” is 27 inches high, 30 inch diameter with a 36 inch width for mounting. It is marked with “THE C.S. BELL CO” on one side of the mounting support and “HILLSBORO O.” on the other. The number “30” is on the top.

Because of its size and weight this auction is listed as “local pickup” only. But don’t let that discourage you. The charm of its full toned ring and its antiqued iron fa├žade will make the trip to Ovilla, Texas (about 30 miles south of Dallas) worth every minute. Don’t let this auction pass you by. Bid right now while you still can!

View the auction here

Friday, October 17, 2008

Total Depravity Presentation

Last Wednesday I presented a speech in my Toastmasters club on Total Depravity. I'm posting it here for your review, both in recorded form (WAV) and the transcript.

Click here for the WAV file.

Are you a good person? Most of us would like to think that we are. After all, we’ve never killed anyone. We have jobs. We pay our taxes. But I ask you again, are you really good? Mr. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and guests, I’m going to speak to you today about a topic that used to be commonly taught in the pulpits across our land. Sadly, though, it is more and more frequently being replaced with self-help and pop psychology messages whose purpose it is to make you feel good about yourselves.

What is it about Christianity that sets it so far apart from all the other religions of the world? I hope that by the end of this speech I will have answered that question for you.

According to the Westminster Confession of Faith (and backed up by many scriptural references), sin is defined as any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God. In other words, sin is either not doing what God commands or doing what He commands you not to do. God’s law can be summarized in the Ten Commandments.

They are:
1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor: which is lying
10. You shall not covet.

The scripture says in James 2:10:

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
(Jas 2:10)

Don’t raise your hands in answer to these questions, but I want to ask you a few questions to see how you measure up. Have you ever, even once in your lifetime, told a lie? That would make you a liar, wouldn’t it? Have you ever, even once in your lifetime, stolen anything? Think about it. Anything from a piece of candy when you were a child to a ball point pen from your office? If so, you’d be a thief, wouldn’t you? Have you ever committed adultery? Some of you may be thinking: Well I haven’t done that! Are you sure men? Jesus said in Matthew 5:28 that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Finally, have you ever murdered anyone? I bet everyone in this room would be quick to deny this. Yet, once again, our Lord in Matthew 5:21-22 equates being angry with your brother without a cause with murder. So, I tell all of you that by that standard, I am a murderer.

The fact of the matter is that we are all born with a sin nature that we inherit from Adam. How many of you have children? Those who do, know what I’m talking about. We have seven, and I’ve seen it in every one of them. When they get to the age where they can speak just a few words, what is one of the first words they speak? “NO!” It’s usually said with a defiant frown on their face in response to your command. Now, did you ever sit down and teach them how to be rebellious? Did you ever have to teach your children how *not* to share with others? I think not. These things come naturally to our sin nature. Each and every one of us was born with a wicked sin nature. The Bible says that this sinfulness was imputed unto us from Adam. So, in God’s eyes, it’s as if we had disobeyed Him in the garden, right along with Adam. He was our representative and sinned on our behalf. Now, before any of you self righteously think that if you had been there, you would have made different choices, think again. You’ve just acknowledged that you are all lying, thieving, adulterers and murderers. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only man who has ever lived a perfect life here on this Earth. Yet, in order to give us an example on how we should live, listen to his response to a man who called Him, “good.”
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
(Mat 19:16-22)

Look at the contrast offered in this passage. The Lord Jesus, who was very God Himself, refused to take on the label of “Good” as an example to us on how we should view ourselves. Next, you have a guy who was bold enough to answer the questions I asked you earlier with a proud response of, “I have done everything perfectly.” The point that Jesus is making here is not that everyone has to live in poverty in order to be holy. His point is that none of us live a truly holy life. The Lord knew that this man had not performed even the limited number of commandments that Jesus had mentioned. When the rich young ruler tried to claim that he had perfectly carried these out, the Lord Jesus simply showed him how he violated the first commandment to “have no other gods before me.” This young man’s god was money, and the Lord knew it. This man’s original question was flawed. “What good thing shall I do?” He completely missed the point. There is *nothing* he could do to gain eternal life on his own efforts.

Let’s look at some more scriptures to see what God’s view of man really is:

God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
(Psa 53:2-3)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
(Jer 17:9)

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
(Isa 64:6)

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.
(Rom 3:10-18)

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
(1Jn 1:8)

So, have I convinced you of the wickedness of man? I hope so, for I have only scratched the surface of scripture in showing this to you. We must now ask the fearful question. That question is “So what?” Mike, you’ve told us, and convinced us that we are all desperately wicked and totally depraved. So what does all this mean?

God is a holy God. He hates sin and will not tolerate it in His presence. Consider the following:

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
(Rev 21:8)

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
(Mat 25:41)

This is terrible news! We have read that we are utterly wicked and depraved. We have read that we hate God and His judgment awaits! Listen to the agony expressed by the Apostle Paul over this very subject:

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
(Rom 7:15-25)

Thus in verse 25 we get the message of the Gospel. It is through Jesus Christ our Lord that we can escape this judgment!

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Rom 6:23)

Remember earlier how I told you that we have all sinned through Adam? Some of you may not have liked that. It didn’t seem fair. However, by the same way that Adam’s sin was imputed unto us, Christ’s righteousness is also imputed unto His people.

For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
(Rom 5:19)

This is glorious news! And this is what sets Christianity apart from every other religion. Every other religion involves man working, as hard as he can, to measure up to the standard that his god has set before him. In Christianity, on the other hand, God in His infinite justice set the standard so high that no one can attain it. Then God, in His infinite mercy, sent His own Son to perfectly fulfill that same standard on behalf, in the place of, those whom He has foreordained from the foundation of the world to enter into His kingdom.

So, I urge you today to repent! Throw yourself on the mercy of God and beg His imputed righteousness on your behalf. It is the only way you will ever overcome your very own total depravity.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Want to Be a Vision Forum Affiliate?

Vision Forum (both their ministry and their business) is one of the most outstanding organizations I have had the pleasure of associating with. They are a "voice crying in the wilderness" calling fathers to turn their hearts to their children and the hearts of children toward their fathers.

I was very excited when I learned that I could be an affiliate and promote their God honoring and family friendly books and products on my own website. From time to time I will post a special in one of these blog entries. You may have seen these links.

If you would like to become an affiliate as well, and earn a bit of extra cash by sharing these wonderful products, click on the link below to set up your own affiliate account:

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- Mike