Monthly Archives: December 2012

Go Prepares Both Meal and Eaters

Go Prepares Both Meal and Eaters

At this Table, God delights to feed us. But God does not just feed us, He prepares us to be fed. He undertakes the feeding, and He undertakes the preparation for feeding.

Of course, the preparations began before the foundation of the world, when God the Father elected a people for Himself. And the preparations continued when the Lord Jesus gave Himself on the cross two thousand years ago. But what role in preparation does the Holy Spirit have? He was the one who converted you, and He is the one working in your heart in the course of every week, preparing you for this meal.

“Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: Thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear” (Ps.10:17).

Not only does God respond to us here, but He also prepares our hearts for us—so that He might respond to us as we offer up this sacrifice of praise. This means you did not just wander in. If you are baptized, you are invited. If you are not baptized, you are invited to be baptized—and the water brings with it an invitation to the Table. In short, one way or another, absolutely everyone is invited here. God prepared the meal, and in Your heart, God prepared the one who would come and eat.

So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

from Blog and Mablog See it at:


Deferred Glory is Great Glory

Deferred Glory is Great Glory

Every week, when I read the words of institution for this Supper, it includes the phrase “you show the Lord’s death till He comes.” This means that this meal has two elements in it—consummation and delay. We commune with the Lord now, and we show the Lord’s death until He comes. The showing of the Lord’s death is a present proclamation. This word comes means that there is a sense in which He is not here now; that is the delay.

This Table is a place of training. We learn how to receive God’s gifts here, but we also learn how to wait patiently. God does not answer all our prayers in the instant we offer them. He sometimes does this for younger Christians, in much the same way that little ones have their plates filled up first at the dinner table. The older children have enough strength and wit to wait more patiently.

Why does God delay in the answering of our prayers? The reason is because there is a much greater blessing in it for us if He does it that way. He receives more glory, and we receive more good. One of the goods is that we learn endurance and patience. We learn how to wait upon Him; we learn how to trust Him.

Every week that goes by in which the Lord has not come is a deferred glory. God wants us to become long term thinkers, not short range thinkers. Deferred glory is great glory.

So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

from Blog and Mablog See it at:

Well, That’s Awkward

Well, That’s Awkward

“If we ask God to forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, then it might appear that we are really asking God not to forgive us at all” (For a Glory and a Covering, p. 14).

from Blog and Mablog See it at:

And Slew the Little Childer

And Slew the Little Childer

Whenever you have to deal with something like the Connecticut shooting, something that simply crushes the heart, it is important to think carefully before speaking or writing. This is not the time to be debating gun control, drone attacks in the Middle East, and it is certainly not the time to be drawing ham-fisted comparisons to the abortion carnage. The reason for this is that the parents who are broken over this were parents who had chosen life, not parents who hadn’t. This does not mean that abortion is irrelevant to this tragedy, for it certainly is not, but we want to make sure we locate it as a clear point of gospel relevance. Otherwise we just come off as opportunists who are just looking for a chance to haul the topic of conversation over to a particular hobby horse. But in the aftermath of something sick like this, we need to reconnect with the permanent things. If we don’t point to transcendental realities in a time like this—gospel truths—then we might as well sign a peace treaty with the darkness now.

I have often said that nativity sets should include a set of Herod’s soldiers—that is as much a part of the Christmas story as the shepherds, or the star, or the wise men. These traditional figures all glorified Christ in His coming, but the reality of such bloody soldiers was the reason He came. Nothing illustrates the need for His mission to us better than that appalling loss to Ramah. An early English carol, “Unto Us is Born a Son,” has a verse that understands this juxtaposition of humility and adoration over against the haughtiness of pride and blood.

This did Herod sore affray,
And grievously bewilder
So he gave the word to slay,
And slew the little childer,
And slew the little childer.

And Rachel wept for her children, for they were no more.

Two things should stand out about this. First, while I noted that this is not the time to call out those who would use the tragedy to promote gun control—or to call them names on the Internet—we must confront those who would continue their lockdown policies of gospel control. And by gospel, I mean the whole counsel of God for a lost and sinful race—the restored order of things, repentance for sin, and true faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. If you want a society which refuses to name the name of Jesus, and yet is somehow free from these sorts of outrages, you want something that this sinful world cannot ever provide. We can have no salvation without a Savior. God sent a Savior to us, and we have no saviors of our own, just a lot of pretenders. His invitation to our generation is the same as it has been for every generation, and it is “come with me.” We cannot be saved unless we do.

It is not possible to build a culture around a denial of God-given standards, and then arbitrarily reintroduce those standards at your convenience, whenever you need a word like evil to describe what has just happened. Those words cannot just be whistled up. If we have banished them, and their definitions, and every possible support for them, we need to reckon with the fact that they are now gone. Cultural unbelief, which leads inexorably to cultural nihilism and despair, is utterly incapable of responding appropriately to things like this, while remaining fully capable of creating them. In the prophetic words of C.S. Lewis, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

This shooting was horrendous, but far worse is the fact that our blind seers have no idea what to say about it. The horror happened, and it was immediately followed by the horror of countless individuals saying wildly inappropriate things about it. We have monsters in our midst, and vapidity in our highest council chambers, not to mention the monsters there too, and all of them want to slouch toward Bethlehem. God have mercy.

And so this leads to the second point. The reason we need to have fixed and God-given standards is not so that we might climb up some moralistic ladder, rebuilding a mythical past where these sorts of things didn’t happen to us. No, these sorts of things have always happened. We live on a screwed-up planet. We must have a God-given, fixed standard so that we may know why we need forgiveness so much. God’s law is not to pat us on the back and tell us what fine fellows we are. God’s law is given to provide a proper shape for our repentance. In moments like this, we are aghast, but our “repentance” is formless and void. We need the shape of God’s holy Word so that we know how shapeless we have become. We need the Spirit of God to move on our waters.

And here is where abortion really is relevant, along with all the other awful things we do to children. We do not need to talk about these things as political issues—however appropriate and necessary that may be in its time and place. But before we can even think about that, we need to come to grips with the fact that, at the personal level, it is plain that an aching bloodguilt rests upon our nation. I am not talking about our officials, though they are included. I am talking about the millions of us who have occasioned it, paid for it, obtained it, provided it, and funded it. According to Scripture, blood is something that returns to those who shed it. It also returns to the land where it was shed. And our vast reservoir of guilt is larger and deeper than it has ever been.

The only blood that does not return with compounded guilt is the blood of Jesus. His blood comes to us for cleansing, and not for condemnation. His blood does not return with guilt, and it is the only way that all the other guilt can be prevented from returning to us. An old gospel song points the only way to our salvation—“nothing but the blood of Jesus.” Nothing.

So we must confess that while the spirit of Christ is alive in the world, the spirit of Herod is not yet gone. And the only way to expel that kind of darkness is to boldly proclaim that Jesus came into this world precisely to destroy this kind of darkness through His death and resurrection. He was born in Bethlehem from Mary, and He was born again in Jerusalem, the first born from the dead. His grave, just like Mary, was full of grace.

This is a darkness that must be confronted, and it can only be confronted by believers who are prepared to wield the gospel—not as a sectarian talking point, but as real gospel for real sin, real balm for real pain, real light for real darkness. So go find your children, hug the little childer, thank God for the life that is in them, and teach them the Christmas story. We need it so much.

from Blog and Mablog See it at:

Against the Caricature

Against the Caricature

“Anyone who comes away from a careful reading of the apostle Paul’s teaching on marriage with the idea that the husband is ‘the boss’ and the wife is ‘the slave’ is someone not to be trusted with any text” (For a Glory and a Covering, p. 8).

from Blog and Mablog See it at:

Having Exemplars Is Not Moralism

Having Exemplars Is Not Moralism

“The writer to the Hebrews evidently did not see any dichotomy between holding up Christ on the one had as the sole object of, and the supreme example for, faith, and holding up the Old Testament saints on the other hand as supplementary examples of faith” (Carrick, The Imperative of Preaching, p. 124).

from Blog and Mablog See it at:

How They Both Receive All

How They Both Receive All

“A godly marriage occurs when a man and a woman both die to themselves, and are raised to the life that seeks the best interest of the other in all things. This is the only kind of godly marriage there is. And when we give all away in this manner, we discover that we receive all. We learn to give in order to receive, in order to be able to give some more. And we are married to someone who is doing the same thing” (For a Glory and a Covering, p. xix).

from Blog and Mablog See it at:

Tullian keeps digging | HeadHeartHand Blog

“Here’s the worrying pattern I see in Tullian’s theology.

In Jesus + Nothing = Everything, Tullian worked hard to remove any moral or ethical link between our obedience and God’s blessing.

In Glorious Ruin, Tullian labored to sever any moral or ethical link between our sin and our suffering.

In this latest blog post, Tullian is endeavoring to sever any moral or ethical link between our works for others and our relationship with God.” See it at:

And In a Straight Line

And In a Straight Line

“It is essential that the preacher preach from the heart and that he preach to the heart” (Carrick, The Imperative of Preaching, p. 54).

from Blog and Mablog See it at:

Being Fitted

Being Fitted

The Puritans used to speak of improving their baptisms. By this they did not mean that the sacrament of baptism had any deficiencies, but rather that the sacrament of baptism was a beginning.

God is easily pleased with us, and with our improvements, but He is not easily satisfied. In fact, because we will live forever, and because He is always the infinite God, and we will always be finite, the process of growing up into Him will never be done. Because it will never be done, He will never be satisfied with us in that sense, as though we had somehow arrived. But every step along that way will be pleasure and satisfaction in another sense. This Table here is one of those steps. So come, improve your baptism.

As you do, never forget the actual journey you are on. Jonathan Edwards once said that for the unbeliever, this world will be as close to Heaven as he will ever get, while for the believer this world will be as close to Hell as he will ever get. Everything comes down to what it is we are becoming. We are being fitted for Heaven, or we (in rebellion) are insisting on being unfitted for it. Note the passive voice—we are being fitted. We are not earning.

So we improve our baptisms as we come to worship the Lord, as we hear His Word proclaimed, as we sing praises to Him, as we partake of His body and blood here at this Table, and as we walk in newness of life in the course of each week. So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

from Blog and Mablog See it at: