October 2005


This Reformation Day weekend be mindful of the fact that the Reformation was seen as a Reformation of the doctrines of grace as well as true worship. May the Lord send Reform to His churches and may He make all of His enemies His footstool.

I would challenge all of my readers to set aside some time to read or listen to some material that deals with the 16th and 17th century Reformation of True Religion. Also spend time in meditation over the state of the church as well as the Reformation of your own spiritual life.

May the world again feel the movement of the Holy Ghost in the Revival and Reformation of the True Reformed Religion.
Discussion Points:
-What does “The Reformed church should always be reforming” mean?
-Do we still see a love for the Truth…Even within the church?
-What have been your experiences in the longing and praying for True Religion?

Soli Deo Gloria! and may God send Reform to our hearts!

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The Directory for Publick Worship, on the issue of Psalm singing, says,

“IT is the duty of Christians to praise God publickly, by singing of psalms together in the congregation, and also privately in the family. In singing of psalms, the voice is to be tunably and gravely ordered; but the chief care must be to sing with understanding, and with grace in the heart, making melody unto the Lord.”

This may be one of the most difficult parts of worship to implement in the family worship, especially for those that do not sing well. This can also be one of the greatest additions to family worship, especially when the minister gives the Psalter selections for the Next Lord’s Day. This can help the family to prepare for the next Sabbath day. Another approach would be to sing those selections that were sung at the previous Sabbath’s services as a reflection upon worship and to help bring the previous sermons to memory.

Psalm singing also serves an evangelical purpose in that it causes the worshippers to hide the word of God within their heart so that it can become part of their spiritual arsenal. Words that are set to music are generally easier to recall than those only spoken. Most teens can rattle off a variety of songs that they know from the radio, but have difficulty recalling the catechism or memory verses. Psalm singing bridges that gap. The Psalms are a fantastic way (and a commanded way) to bring praise to Jehovah as well as a way to teach each other the wonderful acts of God.

May the singing of psalms become a part of the daily worship of those who love God!




THE ADEQUACY OF THE PSALMS
by Rev. Kortering (Presbyterian Reformed Church in America)

From time to time the question is raised as to the adequacy of the Psalms for the New Testament church. Is perhaps the Old Testament view of God different from the New Testament? This is the position taken by the hymn writer Isaac Watts, who gave us such hymns as “Joy to the World” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” His view of the Old Testament God cautions us concerning the use of hymns. Speaking of the Psalms he writes,
Some of them are almost opposite the spirit of the gospel. There are a thousand lines in the Book of Psalms which were not made for a church in our day to assume as its own. I should rejoice to see David converted into a Christian. There are many hundred verses in the Book of Psalms which a Christian cannot properly assume in singing. Psalms 13, 16, 36, 68, 69, and 109 are so full of cursings that they hardly become a follower of the blessed Jesus. (The Psalms In Worship, p.472, index p.570.)
No, the Psalms reveal to us the one true God, surely in His fiery wrath against the workers of iniquity, yet also in His grace and mercy as the God of our salvation.
Does the Old Testament give a view of Christ that the New Testament church cannot appreciate or is inadequate? This is perhaps the most common charge brought against the use of the Psalms today. Yet, if we study the Psalms carefully we find quite a different picture. The Holy Spirit was correct when He through Paul reminded the church that by singing Psalms, “the Word of Christ dwells in us” (Col. 3:16). Christ Himself made great use of the Psalms, impressing upon His disciples that the Psalms spoke of Him: “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44). The Psalms did speak concerning Christ. Think of those which spoke directly to Him –e.g., Psalm 22 and 110. Some spoke typically of Him — e.g., Psalm 16,18, 21, 61, 72, 118. His offices were explained: prophet (Ps. 22), priest (Ps. 110), and king (Ps. 2). Details of His ministry were indicated: His eternity (Ps. 90), His incarnation (Ps. 40 and 22), His rejection (Ps. 22), His triumphal entry (Ps. 8 and 118), His being beaten (Ps. 41), His cross (Ps. 22), His dying words (Ps. 31), His resurrection (Ps. 60), His ascension (Ps. 16), His return in judgment (Ps. 50, 72, 98). The prophetic character of these Psalms does not make them inadequate for the New Testament church. Frequently they were written from the viewpoint of Christ’s work as already finished, and always they lift the church beyond the earthly ministry of Christ to His majestic return at the end of the world when His kingdom shall be established forever. Even in heaven we will sing the song of Moses and the Lamb.
One more point as far as the adequacy of the use of the Psalms is concerned. The Holy Spirit worked in the lives of the authors of the Psalms in such a way that they expressed their inner longing, their grief over sin, their cry for forgiveness, their hope in God. Surely, if worship is for praise and edification, the Psalms give God His due, for they present God to us, not from the subjective, emotional, even unreliable experience that God’s people may have in their dealings with God, but rather, the Psalms extol the one true God, and cause us to fall on our knees in repentance and praise. Similarly, they express deep feelings on behalf of God’s people. But these emotions of worship are not those of mere men, grappling with the Divine Being; they are true emotions that flow from a proper encounter with God. We identify with the grief, the heartache, the burden which the Psalmist expresses in the Psalms. These are true and correct for they have their origin in God, not man. Through such cries for need, we are lifted up to Jehovah, to view His mercy in Christ, His forgiving love that did not cancel out His justice, but satisfied it in the Person of His own Son. The cries of the children of God blend with the groans of the Son of God which rise unto the ears of the Lord of Hosts. He knows and He delivers. He is the Sovereign God of our salvation.
Do we limit the work of the Holy Spirit if we limit ourselves to singing the Psalms? Granted that the Holy Spirit inspired the Psalms, does this mean that the Holy Spirit cannot use other people to compose proper songs for the church to sing? These songs may be of different kinds. Indeed, gifted men have written spiritually edifying songs about the Christian experience which extol God. Others have written songs, or if you will, set to music passages of the Holy Scripture. Is there not a place to make use of these in the worship services? In answering this question, we must recognize that the songs we sing, the versifications of the Psalms as, e.g., in The Psalter are not themselves inspired. There is a long and interesting history as to Psalm tunes, versifications written by the reformers themselves and by others throughout the history of the church. Some of these are well done, others poorly done. In this area there is room for constant improvement and re-evaluation. The point is this, can we not add to the Psalms other themes and passages of Scripture? Admittedly, the idea of adding other Scripture passages set to music has much appeal. This is a very limited application of the idea of introducing “hymns” into the church. Could we not limit ourselves to Scripture, whether Old or New Testament? In dealing with this, we must approach it from the viewpoint that we limit the work of the Holy Spirit. Surely, He is able to give the church gifted men and able to guide them in the production. Yet, the question is more basic: has not the Holy Spirit given to us such a book already, the Psalms, and should we not consider this adequate? If the Spirit saw the need for a New Testament book of praise, He could have given that to us as He did with the Psalms. The fact is that He did not. We must not be wiser than God. If we are going to be bound by the regulative principle of the Word of God, limiting our worship to what God has given us, we do well to consider the adequacy of the Psalms for such worship.

Discussion Points:

-What Psalter selections should we start our youngest family members with?

-What Psalters do you prefer to sing from, and why?

-What use do uninspired hymns play in the teaching of Christian doctrine and experience?

Thursday, October 22nd, 2005, marked a great day for Puritan Reformed Seminary, as well as the greater Reformed and Presbyterian community. Rev. Dr. Sinclair Ferguson addressed the Puritan Reformed Seminary in dedicating the “Puritan Resource Center”.

Here is how the Puritan Resource Center is being advertised by the Seminary:

The Puritan Resource Center houses one of the world’s largest collections of seventeenth and eighteenth century antiquarian volumes written by Puritans, as well as numerous modern-day Puritan reprints and secondary sources about the Puritans. Seminary professors, theological students, and ministers are welcome to use these valuable resources under certain conditions. Those doing doctoral studies or on sabbatical leave are also welcome to study in the Resource Center. For further details, please contact the registrar, Henk Kleyn (616-977-0599, ext 120; henk.kleyn@puritanseminary.org; Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, 2965 Leonard NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525 ). Visit our website at www.puritanseminary.org

Here are the four points that Dr. Ferguson made in his adress, What can the Puritans teach us today?

1. The significance of spiritual brotherhood in the movements of the Holy Spirit.

2. The vital significance of the recovery of the pulpit in the Church.

3. They developed an understanding of the gospel that was deeply Trinitarian.

4. They recognized the centrality and the significance of the Church in the purposes of God.

Discussion Point:

-What has been the most influential Puritan work to your Christian life?

Family worship, as I have stated before, begins with a strong Corporate worship on the Lord’s Day. Families need to be trained in the proper methods of worship by the Elders of the church for the edification of the home. Worship needs to be taught to the congregation since the natural man tends to worship that which is created instead of the Creator when left to his own devices.
I have a course this semester, taught by Dr. Joel Beeke entitled, Ministers in Ministry. We have many great works to read in the course including Spurgeon, Bridges, Logan, and Murphey. All of the books deal with Pastoral Theology but this one deals with some more current theological trends as well.

Armstrong has a paragraph that is written in passing that I would like to share with you concerning family worship:

“In addition, we must teach God’s people to discipline their minds in worship, so that wandering thoughts will not disrupt them during their worship. However, if such thoughts do invade their worship, we must teach them that their response must be, ‘bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name’. Finally we must faithfully instruct the whole assembly on how to implement and maintain daily private and family worship times in their homes. In so doing, we will teach them that their preparation for the next Lord’s Day begins Monday morning and continues throughout their week, in both private and family worship. One of the many great ways that daily family worship benefits public worship is in helping God’s people to sing out with joy. A mark of a congregation’s God-centeredness in public worship is how they sing from their hearts.” (p139)

Notice that the the first line says, “we must teach God’s people..” The we mentioned is the ministry. This is your ruling and teaching elders. It is their responsibility before God to teach the congregation how to worship privately.

Discussion Points:
-Have your elders ever taught you how to conduct family worship? Have they questioned you on your practices?
-What model would elders use to implement family worship in the home?
-If this is not being taught by your congregation what are some tactful ways to bring this to their attention?


When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Timothy, the early church minister of the gospel, he told him not let people despise him for his youth. Timothy must have been a very young minister which fell under criticism for being too young to lead the church of Christ.

In evangelical churches this verse is the battle cry of an ever youthful milieu of people called “youth ministers”. These people are generally cooler, better looking, more energetic, and more “down to earth” than the rest of us Theologians and Pastors. The typical youth minister will, without purpose, divide the youth from the rest of the congregation based upon the notion that “Pastor Tom understands me!” Teens love these people.

Yesterday I got my copy of World magazine in the mail. I always go to the section called Quick Takes first. (I am a very large man…it’s like eating dessert first!) Below you will find the Quick Take that once again proves my point that “youth ministry” is not something that ordained men should be doing, nor the to-be-ordained aspiring to.

Flee fear and fish-flinging youth pastors
First Assembly of God church in Florence, Ala., launched a Fear Factor–type ministry modeled after the hit television show in which contestants complete extreme tasks for cash prizes. In the first round, the voluntary participants—parental consent required—swallow between one and three live comet goldfish to help conquer fears and possibly win the $250 cash prize. “We need to be realistic about what the Bible says about fear and not be afraid to share our faith in school,” youth minister Anthony Martin told the Florence TimesDaily. For the second round of elimination, Mr. Martin said students would race to get free from a coffin covered in chains. Good thing, too. Once the pet store owner found out how Mr. Martin used the goldfish, she declared it animal cruelty.


Discussion Points:
-What biblical basis is their for the office of youth minister?
-How should a minister of the Gospel reach out to teens?
-How can Pentecostals even take themselves seriously when they pull stunts like this?

A non-Discussion Point:
-I am not for “animal rights”, but I am for this man being charged with cruelty to animals, child abuse, and good old stupidity!

I have heard people, even in Presbyterian churches, complain that Reformed Christians spend too much time in the Catechism and not enough time in the Bible. Not only do I find this to be untrue, but I find it to be sad as well.

The purpose of the catechism is to teach children to think in biblical categories and to begin to train their minds to organize and to think in doctrinal terms. The proof text should always be taught and memorized along with the Catechism so that children do not attempt to learn doctrine without “owning it” through biblical evidence.

Catechism needs to become a regular part of the Christian home’s worship experience. Teaching has been a part of the Christian home’s worship since the days of old. We know that Moses required the catechising of children when he wrote in Deuteronomy that children are to be taught the ways of God. (Deut. 6)

Below you will find a short history of Catechising from Zacherius Ursinus (the co-author of the Heidelberg Catechism). You will find it to be both encouraging as well as thoughtful. Catechising needs to be seen as a priority in the lives of our children if we are serious about the Reformation of the Church.

WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF CATECHISATION, AND HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN PRACTICED IN THE CHURCH?

The same thing may be said of the origin of catechisation which is said of the whole economy or service of the church, that it was instituted by God himself, and has always been practiced in the church. For, since from the very beginning of the world God has been the God, not only of those of adult age, but also of those of young and tender years, according to the covenant which he made with Abraham, saying, “ I will be a God unto thee and thy seed after thee; “ he has also ordained that both classes should be instructed in the doctrine of salvation according to their capacity; the adults by the public voice of the ministry, and the children by being catechised in the family and school. As it respects the institution designed for the instruction of adults, the case is clear and admits of no doubt.
Touching the catechisation of children in the Jewish church, the Old Testament abounds in many explicit commands. In the 12th and 13th chapters of Exodus, God commands the Jews to give particular instruction to their children and families in relation to the institution and benefits of the Passover. In the fourth chapter of the book of Deut., he enjoins it upon parents to repeat to their children the entire history of the law which he had given them. In the sixth chapter of the same book, he requires that the doctrine of the unity of God, and of perfect love to him should be inculcated and impressed upon the minds of their children; and in the eleventh he commands them to explain the Decalogue to their children. Hence, under the Old Testament dispensation, children were taught in the family by their parents, and in the schools by the teachers of religion, the principal things contained in the prophets, viz: such as respects God, the law, the promise of the gospel, the use of the sacraments, and sacrifices, which were types of the Messiah that was to come, and of the benefits which he was to purchase; for there can be no doubt but that the schools of the prophets Elijah, Elisha, etc., were established for this very purpose. It was also with this design that God delivered his law in the short and condensed form in which it is. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,” etc., “and thy neighbor as thyself.” So also as it respects the gospel; it was briefly comprehended in the promises, “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.” And in thy seed shall “all the nations be blessed.” They had, likewise, sacrifices, prayers, and other things which God required Abraham and his posterity to teach their children and families. Hence it is that this doctrine is presented in such a plain and simple form as to meet the capacity of children and such as are unlearned.

In the New Testament we are, told that Christ laid his hands upon little children and blessed them, and commanded that they should be brought unto him. Hence he says, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.” That the catechisation of children was diligently attended to in the times of the apostles, is evident from the example of Timothy, of whom it is said that he knew the holy Scriptures from infancy; and from what is said in the epistle to the Hebrews, where mention is made of some of the principal heads included in the catechism of the apostles, such as repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, of the doctrine of baptism, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection from the dead, and of eternal judgment which the apostle terms milk for babes. These and similar points of doctrine were required from the Catechumens of adult age at the time of their baptism, and of children at the time of their confirmation by the laying on of hands. Hence, the apostle calls them the doctrine of baptism and laying on of hands. So likewise the Fathers wrote short summaries of doctrine, some fragments of which may still be seen in the Papal church. Eusebius writes of Origen, that he restored the custom of catechising in Alexandria, which had been suffered to grow out of use during the times of persecution. Socrates writes thus in relation to the system of catechising in the primitive church: “Our form of catechising,” says he, “is in accordance with the mode which we have received from the Bishops who have preceded us, and according as we were taught when we laid the foundation of faith and were baptized, and according as we have learned from the Scriptures,” etc. Pope Gregory caused images and idols to be placed in the churches, that they might serve as books for the laity and children. After this period the doctrine of the church, through the negligence of the bishops and the subtlety of the Romish priests, became gradually more and more corrupt, and the custom of catechising grew more and more into disuse, until at length it was changed into the ridiculous ceremony which to this day they call confirmation. So much concerning the origin and practice of catechisation in the church.

Discussion Points:

-How young should children be before they begin the memorization of the Catechism?

-What advantages/disadvantages do you see in catechising?

-Should one begin with a simplified catechism (childrens, compendium) for toddlers and preschoolers?

One of the duties of the Christian family is to come together to worship God on a daily basis. Our Puritan forefathers referred to this as family worship. In a post-Christian society a lot of families have lost this means of grace in their homes. The Puritans understood the home as a “little church” with the father being the minister to the home.

As minister of the home, the father is to lead his family in the duty of family worship. The family is to read the scriptures, sing Psalms, catechising, as well as prayer. All of this needs to done solemnly and without a feeling of being rushed. It really is a time for the family to commune with Christ and to be strengthened to face an unbelieving world. A daily Sabbath, if you will allow me the term.
For those of us who came out of non-Christian families, this duty can be difficult to establish in the home. It is very important though for maintaining a God fearing family that loves the Lord Jesus Christ and his Word. Below is a family worship prayer that was written by the Puritan Lewis Bayley. This prayer can help us to see how far we have fallen in the praying of men for their homes. This is full of more meat than a modern minister’s “long” prayer. May the Lord revive the worship of Jesus Christ in the homes of the faithful!

Morning Prayer for a Family.

O Lord our God and heavenly Father, who art the only Creator and Governor of heaven and earth, and all things contained therein, we confess that we are unworthy to appear in thy sight and presence, considering our manifold sins which we have committed against Heaven and before thee; and that we have been born in sin, and daily break thy holy laws and commandments, contrary to our knowledge and consciences; although we know that thou art our Creator, who hast made us our Redeemer, who hast bought us with the blood of thine only-begotten Son and our Comforter, who bestowest upon us all the good and holy graces which we enjoy in our souls and bodies. And if thou shouldst but deal with us as our wickedness and unthankfulness have deserved, what other thing might we, O Lord, expect from thee but shame and confusion in this life, and in the world to come, wrath and everlasting condemnation?

Yet, O Lord, in the obedience of thy commandment, and in the confidence which we have in thy unspeakable and endless mercy in thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, we thy poor servants, appealing from thy throne of justice, where we are justly lost and condemned, to thy throne of grace, where mercy reigneth to pardon abounding sin, do from the bottom of our hearts most humbly beseech thee to remit and forgive unto us all our offences and misdeeds; that by the virtue of the precious blood of Jesus Christ, thine innocent Lamb, which he so abundantly shed to take away the sins of the world, all our sins, both original and actual, may be so cleansed and washed from us, as that they may never be laid to our charge, nor ever have power to rise up in judgment against us.

And we beseech thee, good Father, for Christ’s death and passion’s sake, that thou wilt not suffer to fall upon us that fearful curse and vengeance which thy law hath threatened, and our sins have justly deserved. And forasmuch, O Lord, as we are taught by thy word, that idolaters, adulterers, covetous men, contentious persons, drunkards, gluttons, and such-like inordinate livers, shall not inherit the kingdom of God, pour the grace of thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, whereby we may be enlightened to see the filthiness of our sins, to abhor them, and may be more and more stirred up to live in newness of life, and love of thy majesty, so that we may daily increase in the obedience of thy word, and in a conscientious care of keeping thy commandments.

And now, O Lord, we render unto thee most hearty thanks for that thou hast elected, created, redeemed, called, justified, and sanctified us in good measure in this life, and given us an assured hope that thou wilt glorify us in thy heavenly kingdom when this mortal life is ended. Likewise we thank thee for our life, health, wealth, liberty, prosperity, and peace; especially, O Lord, for the continuance of thy holy gospel among us, and for sparing us so long, and granting us so gracious a time of repentance. Also we praise thee for all other mercies bestowed upon us, more especially for preserving us this night past, from all danger that might have befallen our souls or bodies. And seeing thou hast now brought us safe to the beginning of this day, we beseech thee protect and direct us in the same. Bless and defend us in our going out and coming in this day, and evermore. Shield us, O Lord, from the temptations of the devil, and grant us the custody of thy holy angels to defend and direct us in all our ways.

And to this end we recommend ourselves, and all those that belong to us, and are abroad from us, into thy hands and almighty tuition. Lord, defend them from all evil, prosper them in all graces, and fill them with thy goodness. Preserve us likewise this day from falling into any gross sin, especially those to which our natures are most prone. Set a watch before the door of our lips, that we offend not thy majesty by any rash or false oaths, or by any lewd or lying speeches. Give to us patient minds, pure hearts, and all other graces of thy Spirit which thou knowest to be needful for us, that we may the better be enabled to serve thee in holiness and righteousness. And seeing that all man’s labour without thy blessing is in vain, bless every one of us in our several places and callings; direct thou the work of our hands upon us, even prosper thou our handiwork; for except thou guide us with thy grace, our endeavours can have no good success. And provide for us all things which thou, O Father, knowest to be needful for every one of us, in our souls and bodies, this day. And grant that we may so pass through the pilgrimage of this short life, that our hearts being not settled upon any transitory things which we meet with in the way, our souls may every day be more and more ravished with the love of our home, and thy everlasting kingdom.

Defend likewise, O Lord, thy universal church, and every particular member thereof: especially we beseech thee to continue the peace and prosperity of these churches and kingdoms wherein we live. Preserve and defend from all evils and dangers our gracious Queen, with all the royal family; multiply their days in bliss and felicity, and afterwards crown them with everlasting joy and glory. Bless all our ministers and magistrates, with all graces needful for their places; and govern thou them, that they may govern us in peace and godliness. And of thy mercy, O Lord, comfort all our brethren that are distressed, sick, or any way comfortless, especially those who are afflicted either with an evil conscience, because they have sinned against thy word, or for a good conscience, because they will not sin against thy truth. Make the first to know, that not one drop of the blood of Christ was a drop of vengeance, but all drops of grace, powerful to procure pardon upon repentance, for the greatest sins of the chiefest sinner in the world. And for the other, let not, O Lord, thy long sufferance either too much discourage them, or too much encourage their enemies: but grant them patience in suffering, and a gracious and speedy deliverance, which way may stand best with their comfort and thy glory. Give every one of us grace to be always mindful of his last end, and to be prepared with faith and repentance, as with a wedding-garment, against the time that thou shalt call for us out of this sinful world. And that in the meanwhile we may so in all things, and above all things, seek thy glory, that when this mortal life is ended, we may then be made partakers of immortality and life eternal, in thy most blessed and glorious kingdom.

These, and all other graces, which thou, O Father, seest to be necessary for us, and for thy whole church, we humbly beg and crave at thy hands; concluding this our imperfect prayer, in that absolute form of prayer which Christ himself hath taught us, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,” &c.

Discussion Points:
-How do have family worship in your home?
-Do you have a family liturgy that you follow?
-What are some ways to improve our family worship?

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