Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Hymn about Our Use of Baptism

Praise the Father who Does Offer

To the tune: NETTLETON. Based on Lord’s Days 25-27 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 91-95, 20). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Praise the Father who does offer,
ev’ry blessing in His Son.
In the gospel He does promise
all the riches Jesus won.
In the water there’s a promise,
added by our Lord and Christ.
“Come to Me for your forgiveness,
for I give eternal life.”

v. 2
Use the water to remind you
of the gospel ev’ry day.
For to live to God most pleasing,
you must live in daily grace.
For the water marks and claims you,
baptized into Jesus’ name.
You belong now to the Father,
chosen by His sov’reign grace.

v. 3
Baptized into Jesus’ story,
baptized into Jesus’ death.
Sign of blessing and of judgment,
sign that calls to die to self.
Let His story shape and mold you;
glory in His love and grace.
Follow Him whose yoke is easy,
walk with Him in humble faith.

v. 4
O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be.
May the water now remind me
of the gospel victory.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
for my heart is cold and chill.
Let the water, warm, remind me
of my Father’s gracious will.


History's Definition and our Vulnerability --- Quote from Steven Keillor

From a book I am currently reading. Found it interesting:

"'Americans holiday from history is over,' wrote columnist George F. Will after the tragic attacks on September 11. His comment intrigued me then and still does today. Our cultural mindset hinders us from seeing ourselves as vulnerable human beings caught up in a stream of events over which we have little or no control. So pervasive is this mindset that it is highly unlikely even a major event like Sepember 11 can reawaken in us a sense of our vulnerability and end our self-proclaimed 'holiday from history.' By the word history, Will did not mean 'past events,' for September 11 did not awaken us to the importance of the Treaty of Westphalia (1648). I believe that he meant by it what I mean by it: the human condition of having our lives caught up in a stream of events---past, present and future---that can crash in on our lives from the outside, as it were, without our ability to initiate, prevent or control them. We know that past persons such as Christopher Columbus or George Washington were caught in this vunerable condition, but we dismiss our own vulnerability (as we do our own mortality) from our minds. Our culture makes this mental dismissal relatively easy.

"History has two primary meanings: the sum total of past events, or some part of them; a written account of past events. Yet it also has a third, all-encompassing meaning, as the one stream of events from the distant past to the unknown future: past events continue to affect the present, as present ones will the future, in one ongoing stream. That may seem academic when we are calmly navigating the stream, but when we realize we have lost control and are bobbing up and own in it, then our vulnerability becomes the chief fact of our existence."

I'm just beginning this book, but just the paragraphs above point to our need to know the fear of the Lord and realize that our lives are in His hands---that His favor is life and his judgments are true.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Hymn about Baptism --- Based on Lord's Day 26

My Baptism Reminds, Assures

To the tune: ALL SAINTS NEW. Based on Lord’s Day 26 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 94). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
My baptism reminds, assures
that I belong to Christ;
that Jesus poured His precious blood
to wash and give me life.
As sure as water washes clean
the dirt from my body,
so certainly His precious blood
will cleanse impurity.

v. 2
My baptism reminds, assures
in Christ I am set free.
My sin was taken by my Lord,
who gave His life for me.
The Holy Spirit sets apart
my life for Jesus Christ.
I am created new in Him,
my God to glorify.

v. 3
My baptism reminds, assures
that I have died with Christ,
that I was with Him at the cross,
when Jesus bled and died.
So more and more I die to sin,
and live a thankful life.
My baptism is calling me
to live for Jesus Christ.

v. 4
O Father of my precious Lord,
please listen as I pray:
my sinful nature clings to me,
I need You ev’ry day.
Remind, assure this heart of mine
of what You’ve done in grace,
and may I use my baptism
to strengthen my weak faith.


Lord's Day 26

Q & A 69

Q. How does baptism
remind you and assure you
that Christ's one sacrifice on the cross
is for you personally?

A. In this way:
Christ instituted this outward washing^1
and with it gave the promise that,
as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body,
so certainly his blood and his Spirit
wash away my soul's impurity,
in other words, all my sins.^2

^1 Acts 2:38
^2 Matt. 3:11; Rom. 6:3-10; 1 Pet. 3:21

Q & A 70

Q. What does it mean
to be washed with Christ's blood and Spirit?

A. To be washed with Christ's blood means
that God, by grace, has forgiven my sins
because of Christ's blood
poured out for me in his sacrifice on the cross.^1

To be washed with Christ's Spirit means
that the Holy Spirit has renewed me
and set me apart to be a member of Christ
so that more and more I become dead to sin
and increasingly live a holy and blameless life.^2

^1 Zech. 13:1; Eph. 1:7-8; Heb. 12:24; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rev. 1:5
^2 Ezek. 36:25-27; John 3:5-8; Rom. 6:4; 1 Cor. 6:11; Col. 2:11-12

Q & A 71

Q. Where does Christ promise
that we are washed with his blood and Spirit
as surely as we are washed
with the water of baptism?

A. In the institution of baptism where he says:

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son
and of the Holy Spirit."^1
"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,
but whoever does not believe will be condemned."^2*
This promise is repeated when Scripture calls baptism
the washing of rebirth^3 and
the washing away of sins.^4

^1 Matt. 28:19
^2 Mark 16:16
^3 Tit. 3:5
^4 Acts 22:16

*Earlier and better manuscripts of Mark 16 omit the words "Whoever believes and is baptized . . . condemned."


A Hymn about the Means of Grace: Word and Sacraments --- Lord's Day 25 of the Heidelberg Catechism




By Faith Alone We Share in Christ

To the tune: MARYTON. Based on Lord’s Day 25 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 88-90). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
By faith alone we share in Christ,
in all the blessings He provides.
Our faith a gift the Spirit works,
by preaching of the gospel word.

v. 2
Do not neglect His words of grace,
for in the Scriptures we may trace
the grace and glory of our Lord,
our Savior, Master, living Word.

v. 3
The sacraments can strengthen faith,
to help us as we run the race.
For they are signs that help us see
God’s gracious will to you and me.

v. 4
The Word and sacraments do aim
our eyes on Jesus who was slain.
Died on the cross a sacrifice
to give to us eternal life.

v. 5
How can we honor Jesus Christ,
who in His love poured out His life?
Believe the promise made to you:
the Father gave His Son for you.

v. 6
O Jesus, give us faith in You,
and send Your Spirit to renew;
that we may dwell in You above,
and walk in deeds of faith and love.


Lord's Day 25

Q & A 65

Q. It is by faith alone
that we share in Christ and all his blessings:
where then does that faith come from?

A. The Holy Spirit produces it in our hearts^1
by the preaching of the holy gospel,^2
and confirms it
through our use of the holy sacraments.^3

^1 John 3:5; 1 Cor. 2:10-14; Eph. 2:8
^2 Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:23-25
^3 Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 10:16

Q & A 66

Q. What are sacraments?

A. Sacraments are holy signs and seals for us to see.
They were instituted by God so that
by our use of them
he might make us understand more clearly
the promise of the gospel,
and might put his seal on that promise.^1
And this is God's gospel promise:
to forgive our sins and give us eternal life
by grace alone
because of Christ's one sacrifice
finished on the cross.^2

^1 Gen. 17:11; Deut. 30:6; Rom. 4:11
^2 Matt. 26:27-28; Acts 2:38; Heb. 10:10

Q & A 67

Q. Are both the word and the sacraments then
intended to focus our faith
on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross
as the only ground of our salvation?

A. Right!
In the gospel the Holy Spirit teaches us
and through the holy sacraments he assures us
that our entire salvation
rests on Christ's one sacrifice for us on the cross.^1

^1 Rom. 6:3; 1 Cor. 11:26; Gal. 3:27

Q & A 68

Q. How many sacraments
did Christ institute in the New Testament?

A. Two: baptism and the Lord's Supper.^1

^1 Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26

Monday, July 26, 2010

Exerpt from Peter Jones' New Book

This is an interesting excerpt from Peter Jones and his newest book. Here is a description of the book: "One or Two describes as "One-ism" and "Two-ism" the two ways of being spiritual. One-ism believes that everything that exists is of one substance and that the goal of theology, spirituality and even sexuality is to destroy all distinctions, and bring all things together. Two-ism believes that there is a God outside creation who made all that is not God and has structured creation for the good of humanity. Two-ism has implications in our theology, spirituality and sexuality. The book is based on the argumentation of the apostle Paul in Romans 1. Peter Jones analyzes the current cultural expressions of spirituality in light of these two approaches."  In this excerpt, Jones mentions Carol Browner, who is director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy:

"In a biblical worldview, man is God's viceroy, charged with caring for and exercising dominion over the earth. Two-ists are to be as interested... in our environment as One-ists. However, care for the earth must not become a pretext to seize political and religious power. Socialist Carol Browner believes that rich countries must "shrink" their economies to address climate change, but Abraham Lincoln would not have agreed. He said you cannot make a weak man strong by making a strong man weak. Suppressing the dynamic of wealth-creation would impoverish everyone. Browner wants to rid the world of the free enterprise system, but to do so in name of "global warming" would cost billions of dollars and hurt the poor to solve a problem many scientists do not even believe exists. Remember that only twenty or thirty years ago, we were worried about scientifically proven "global cooling." In spite of the Al Gore mantra that the 'manmade" global warming science is conclusive, 31,000 scientists signed a document disagreeing. Ecological stewardship is essential, but human hubris can make it dangerous. Worshipers of the earth, with a uniquely this-worldly perspective can exaggerate problems as a means of coming closer to global political control.

"Spiritually speaking, pagan green thinking asks us to learn our morals from the earth, rather than from the Creator of the earth. You have no doubt heard aruments appealing to the morals of the animal world as examples for us to follow. Such thinking creates even greater moral confusion for our young people."

A Hymn Based on Lord's Day 24 of the Heidelberg Catechism

We Praise You, Father, for Your Gift

To the Tune: CANONBURY. Based on Lord’s Day 24 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 83). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
We praise You, Father, for Your gift
of Jesus Christ Your only Son.
And so our hearts to You we lift
to praise You for salvation won.

v. 2
Our works can never earn Your grace
or bring acceptance in Your sight.
For Jesus died and took our place,
so that with You we might be right.

v. 3
Your law is perfect, just like You,
for You are holy, just and true.
Our sinful nature hates Your rules,
our hearts would not be ruled by You.

v. 4
So give us grace from heaven sent,
the Spirit’s rain to soften us;
and give us faith to come, repent,
to Christ our Lord in whom we trust.

v. 5
O cause us to live near to You
in prayer and praise and fellowship;
and fill us with much gratitude
to serve You with our hands and lips.

v. 6
And when this life on earth is done,
O take us, Christ, to be with You.
For You’re our portion and our sun,
for heav’n is bliss because of You.


Lord's Day 24

Q & A 62

Q. Why can't the good we do
make us right with God,
or at least help make us right with him?

A. Because the righteousness
which can pass God's scrutiny
must be entirely perfect
and must in every way measure up to the divine law.^1
Even the very best we do in this life
is imperfect
and stained with sin.^2

^1 Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:10 (Deut. 27:26)
^2 Isa. 64:6

Q & A 63

Q. How can you say that the good we do
doesn't earn anything
when God promises to reward it
in this life and the next?^1

A. This reward is not earned;
it is a gift of grace.^2

^1 Matt. 5:12; Heb. 11:6
^2 Luke 17:10; 2 Tim. 4:7-8

Q & A 64

Q. But doesn't this teaching
make people indifferent and wicked?

A. No.
It is impossible
for those grafted into Christ by true faith
not to produce fruits of gratitude.^1

^1 Luke 6:43-45; John 15:5

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A New Hymn about Justification --- Based On Lord's Day 23 of the Heidelberg Catechism

How Good It Is to Trust in Christ

To the Tune: ROCKINGHAM. Based on Lord’s Day 23 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 30, 32, 33, 36, 85). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
How good it is to trust in Christ,
to know that I am right with God.
How bless’d to have eternal life,
a conscience cleansed by Jesus’ blood.

v. 2
For God is holy, He is light.
In Him no darkness can abide.
He shines in glory, splendor bright.
No sinner can with Him reside.

v. 3
The law condemns us as unclean,
defiled in thought, in word and deed.
The law a pool that we may see,
reflects our sin and misery.

v. 4
What hope is there for sinful man?
We have not kept the Lord’s commands.
Our hearts are still to evil bent,
we have not met His just demands.

v. 5
Our hope is found in Jesus Christ,
we look to Jesus and His grace.
He came to earth to justify,
all that unite to Him by faith.

v. 6
All Jesus did, He did for us.
He kept the law that we did break.
And on the cross made sin for us,
so righteousness from Him might take.

v. 7
The Father looks on us in Christ,
as holy, perfect, justified.
Imputes to us Christ’s righteousness,
through faith we live near Jesus’ side.

v. 8
O Father keep me close to Christ,
apart from Him I bear no fruit.
And may I love You all my life,
and Jesus Christ my substitute.


Lord's Day 23

Q & A 59

Q. What good does it do you, however,
to believe all this?
A. In Christ I am right with God
and heir to life everlasting.^1

^1 John 3:36; Rom. 1:17 (Hab. 2:4); Rom. 5:1-2

Q & A: 60

Q. How are you right with God?

A. Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.^1

Even though my conscience accuses me
of having grievously sinned against all God's commandments
and of never having kept any of them,^2
and even though I am still inclined toward all evil,^3
nevertheless,
without my deserving it at all,^4
out of sheer grace,^5
God grants and credits to me
the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,^6
as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner,
as if I had been as perfectly obedient
as Christ was obedient for me.^7

All I need to do
is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.^8

^1 Rom. 3:21-28; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Phil 3:8-11
^2 Rom. 3:9-10
^3 Rom. 7:23
^4 Tit. 3:4-5
^5 Rom. 3:24; Eph. 2:8
^6 Rom. 4:3-5 (Gen. 15:6); 2 Cor. 5:17-19; 1 John 2:1-2
^7 Rom. 4:24-25; 2 Cor. 5:21
^8 John 3:18; Acts 16:30-31

Q & A 61

Q. Why do you say that
by faith alone
you are right with God?

A. It is not because of any value my faith has
that God is pleased with me.
Only Christ's satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness
make me right with God.^1
And I can receive this righteousness and make it mine
in no other way than
by faith alone.^2

^1 1 Cor. 1:30-31
^2 Rom. 10:10; 1 John 5:10-12

Friday, July 23, 2010

Great Article from Peter Jones Explaining America's Transformation


I recently read an article from Dr. Peter Jones that briefly explains what is happening politically and culturally in our country from a spiritual standpoint. I highly recommend you take the short five minutes it takes to read it (the link is below). In the article, Jones refers to one-ism and two-ism. By two-ism Jones refers to the God who is the transcendent Creator, who created all things, yet condescends to bring us into communion with Himself through His Son. Two-ism describes the dualism of the transcendent God and his creation. By one-ism Jones means the worship of creation that makes a god of ourselves or creation. Oneism rejects a transcendent God so that there is no dualism between the Creator and creature, and all reality is within the circle, thus the name one-ism. The U.S. Constitution, while not an explicitly Christian document, does have its foundation in two-ist thinking. Therefore, as our society rejects the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for one-ism, people also seek to move away from the Constitution and the distinctions and values it embodies. The political situation in our nation is the natural result of the rejection of the transcendent God replaced by the god within ourselves or the worship of something within circle.

Thought you all might benefit from reading this article by Dr. Jones, and here is the link. Jones' new book explains in great detail the difference between oneism and twoism and its ramifications for us, our children, and all of society.

The question that faces us as Christians is how to live in a society that is increasingly antithetical to our faith, but also to the Constitution and founding principles of the nation. These are not easy questions, and I don't have all the answers to them, although I am trying to think them through from a biblical point of view as I am sure you are trying to do also. America is both similar and different from the Roman context of the New Testament. While Roman culture was one-ist in its thinking, and thus, mistreated Christians, it also didn't allow for citizen involvement in the political process. America, which is increasingly becoming one-ist like Rome, unlike Rome, calls for its citizens to be involved.

Regardless of the level of our political involvement, however, the main thing is not to be seduced by one-ist thinking. Already, many mainline churches in our nation have been seduced, as have many evangelical churches in many subtle ways. Could it be that the global trend toward one-ist thinking that is infecting even Christian churches is the reason Jesus asks in Luke 18, "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

We live in difficult days as we await Christ's return. In the parable of the sower there are a number of things that can cause us to fall away from Jesus Christ and his gospel --- to which and to whom we must cling our entire lives. One thing that can cause us to fall away are trials and persecution --- being hated for your Christian stand. When the going gets tough people tend to fall away. The other thing that can cause us to fall away is the love of riches, pleasure, and worry, which can choke out love of God in Christ that should motivate our lives until the very end.

Part of solid Christian teaching is warning. The New Testament is full of warnings. The warnings are there so that we won't fall away, but would instead keep holding on to the gospel that saves us, and the Lord Jesus Christ, whom that gospel tells us about. It is hard to swim against the oneist tide of our culture, therefore we need warnings and encouragement from Scripture and one another. That is one purpose of this email. I know I feel the struggle and I'm sure you do too, so please pray for me as I pray for you.

Blessings to you and yours, in Christ.

Bill


Thursday, July 15, 2010

God: Transcendent Creator and Closest Companion --- Psalm 100, Part 2

Psalm 100 (English Standard Version)

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
A Psalm for giving thanks.

1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

3Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

-------------------------


Peter Jones writes, “Each person's responsibility as a created human being is one hundred percent acceptance of who God is.” This is what verse 3 of Psalm 100 teaches us when it commands us to “know that the LORD, he is God.”

But true knowledge of God is the very thing that sinners suppress, for according to Romans 1, who “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” (Romans 1:18-19). Even though it is clear from the created world around us, who God is and what he is like, sinners suppress this knowledge: “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20). Sinners (that includes all of us) prefer a god of their own imagination to the true God revealed in all the things He has made. This suppression of the truth about God is blameworthy, and so we read: “So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

Thus, Peter Jones asks the question of contemporary Christians, “Have we exchanged the God revealed in Scripture for a sentimental notion of a non-judgmental, Ho-Ho Santa Claus or a spiritual force . . . ?”

It is absolutely vital that we “know that the LORD, he is God!” But who is this Lord that the Bible reveals? What is this God like?

The true God is both transcendent and immanent. The true God is the far away God and the near God. The true God is the God who is completely other and different from his creation, but also the God who communes with creatures made in His image.

This is what we see in Psalm 100. Yes, the Lord is he who made us. He is the Creator. As the Creator, he is transcendent, above and beyond his created world. But, this same transcendent God communes with redeemed sinners in his grace. Notice the joy and nearness that the triune God’s image bearers enjoy with him in this Psalm:
“Come into his presence with singing!”

“we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!”

“the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever . . . .”
The true God is the transcendent, Creator. He is not to be confused with his creation! He is not a part of nature! He is not an impersonal force. Nor is he a sentimental Santa Claus figure. We must heed the truth of this Psalm: “Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us . . . .”

But the true God is also the God who allows us to come near to Him in a relationship of closest communion and love. He doesn’t want us to stay far away from him, but rather he would have us cling to him in love: “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him” (Deuteronomy 13:4).

Psalm 100 doesn’t explain all that is involved in bringing people into this relationship of love and communion with God. But we know from the rest of Scripture that God sent his beloved Son who came to bear our sins on the cross, so that we might have access into the very presence of God. Through the death of Jesus, believing sinners are allowed close and intimate communion with God. The Lord’s Supper is aptly named communion, for this is what the death and resurrection of Christ has enabled us to enjoy if we trust in the One the Father sent to suffer and die in our place. The apostle whom Jesus loved, writes: “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). This fellowship with the Father and the Son is the thing that brings human beings true joy: “And we are writing these things so that your joy may be complete” (1 John 1:4).

How thankful we should be to know the true God! We who once did not know God because of our sin and rejection of him, through the illumination of his Word and Spirit, now know that God is transcendent and far above us, but also the God who has come near to us in his Son, so that we might know Him in the deepest intimacy.

This truth about God has important implications for us with regard to spirituality and worship. In part 3, we will look at what Psalm 100 teaches us about true spirituality and worship.




Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A New Hymn Based on Lord's Day 21 and Q&A 56 of the Heidelberg Catechism

O Bless Your Church, Lord Jesus

To the Tune: CHRISTUS, DER IST MEIN LEBEN (http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/PsH/565). Based on Lord’s Day 21, especially Q&A 56 (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 36). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
O bless Your church, Lord Jesus,
and let it stand for You;
and may it preach your gospel,
the message that is true.

v. 2
The word of Christ’s atonement,
O let us ever speak.
The message that will save us,
as we Your kingdom seek.

v. 3
Don’t hold my sins against me,
I struggle with the flesh.
The battle ever rages,
within this sinful breast.

v. 4
O Lord, would you forgive me,
I do believe in You.
O free me from the judgment,
my sins deserve from You.

v. 5
Lord Jesus we would praise You,
You’ve freed us by Your grace.
You’ve poured Your Spirit on us,
that we might run the race.


Q & A: 56

Q. What do you believe
concerning "the forgiveness of sins"?

A. I believe that God,
because of Christ's atonement,
will never hold against me
any of my sins^1
nor my sinful nature
which I need to struggle against all my life.^2
Rather, in his grace
God grants me the righteousness of Christ
to free me forever from judgment.^3

^1 Ps. 103:3-4, 10, 12; Mic. 7:18-19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; 1 John 1:7; 2:2
^2 Rom. 7:21-25
^3 John 3:17-18; Rom. 8:1-2

Monday, July 12, 2010

A New Hymn Based on Lord's Day 21 of the Heidelberg Catechism

Jesus through Your Word and Spirit

To the Tune: JESU, MEINES LEBENS LEBEN (Christ the Life of All the Living TLH 151 http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/online/aTLH_Hymns2.htm). Based on Lord’s Day 21 of the Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 54 and 55. Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Jesus through Your Word and Spirit,
You call people for your own.
Call them unto faith, repentance,
and to gather ’round Your throne.
Called to leave the realm of darkness,
for the kingdom filled with brightness.
Praise to Jesus on His throne,
where we’re gathered as His own.

v. 2
Jesus Christ is our good Shepherd,
when He speaks we hear His word.
Gathered as one flock around Him,
just one flock and just one Lord.
Freed from all the wrath that’s coming,
now by faith to Him belonging.
Praise to Jesus on His throne,
where we’re gathered as His own.

v. 3
Jesus laid His life down for us,
gave His life a sacrifice.
We were born in condemnation,
shared in Adam’s sinful life.
Desp’rate was our blind condition,
could not see our situation.
Praise to Jesus on His throne,
where we’re gathered as His own.

v. 4
Even though we don’t deserve it,
Jesus paid for all our sins.
Sends His word and sends His Spirit,
softens hearts to come to Him.
Faith unites us to our Savior,
members of His church forever.
Praise to Jesus on His throne,
where we’re gathered as His own.

v. 5
Jesus would You keep, protect us,
’til we reach our home above.
For our hearts are prone to idols,
for our god is what we love.
Cause our hearts to trust You fully,
and pursue a life that’s holy.
Praise to Jesus on His throne,
where we’re gathered as His own.


Lord's Day 21

Q & A 54

Q. What do you believe
concerning "the holy catholic church"?

A. I believe that the Son of God
through his Spirit and Word,^1
out of the entire human race,^2
from the beginning of the world to its end,^3
gathers, protects, and preserves for himself
a community chosen for eternal life^4
and united in true faith.^5
And of this community I am^6 and always will be^7
a living member.

^1 John 10:14-16; Acts 20:28; Rom. 10:14-17; Col. 1:18
^2 Gen. 26:3b-4; Rev. 5:9
^3 Isa. 59:21; 1 Cor. 11:26
^4 Matt. 16:18; John 10:28-30; Rom. 8:28-30; Eph. 1:3-14
^5 Acts 2:42-47; Eph. 4:1-6
^6 1 John 3:14, 19-21
^7 John 10:27-28; 1 Cor. 1:4-9; 1 Pet. 1:3-5

Q & A 55

Q. What do you understand by
"the communion of saints"?

A. First, that believers one and all,
as members of this community,
share in Christ
and in all his treasures and gifts.^1
Second, that each member
should consider it a duty
to use these gifts
readily and cheerfully
for the service and enrichment
of the other members.^2
^1 Rom. 8:32; 1 Cor. 6:17; 12:4-7, 12-13; 1 John 1:3
^2 Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:20-27; 13:1-7; Phil. 2:4-8


Friday, July 9, 2010

A New Hymn Based on Lord's Day 20 of the Heidelberg Catechism

The Spirit Glorifies Christ

To the Tune: WIE SOLL ICH DICH EMPFANGEN (http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/german/agerman_tlh.html). Based on Lord’s Day 20 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 29-31). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
O Lord You were exalted,
Your cross was lifted high.
Your enemies defeated,
“’Tis finished,” was your cry.
For You secured our pardon,
by suff’ring in our place,
and blessing after blessing
You gave us in Your grace.

v. 2
O Jesus You are near us,
You left us not alone.
You pour Your Holy Spirit,
on all who are Your own.
The Spirit is the couns’lor,
the One who is like You.
He lifts our hearts to heaven,
to find our life in You.

v. 3
O Jesus we would praise You,
on You we would rely.
Without You we do nothing,
so be our one supply.
We praise You for the Spirit,
who makes us share in You.
For life is found in knowing
the Father, Son, in truth.

v. 4
The Spirit glorifies Christ,
He shines the light on Him.
So let us look to Jesus,
always make much of Him.
Behold His beauty, glory,
that shines in gospel grace,
and let His glory change us
to live before His face.

v. 5
O Father, weak and falt’ring
I find this heart of mine.
Too often unbelieving,
so wretched, poor and blind.
So let Your Spirit fill me,
and cause me to repent,
and by the Spirit’s power,
by faith to You ascend.


Lord's Day 20

Q & A 53

Q. What do you believe
concerning "the Holy Spirit"?

A. First, he, as well as the Father and the Son,
is eternal God.^1
Second, he has been given to me personally,^2
so that, by true faith,
he makes me share in Christ and all his blessings,^3
comforts me,^4
and remains with me forever.^5

^1 Gen. 1:1-2; Matt. 28:19; Acts 5:3-4
^2 1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; Gal. 4:6
^3 Gal. 3:14
^4 John 15:26; Acts 9:31
^5 John 14:16-17; 1 Pet. 4:14


Thursday, July 8, 2010

A New Hymn Based on Lord's Day 19 of the Heidelberg Catechism

Alleluia! Christ Ascended

To the Tune: LOWELL. Based on Lord’s Day 19 of the Heidelberg Catechism (related Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 28, 32). Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Al-le-lu-ia! Christ ascended,
lifted to the highest place.
Al-le-lu-ia! given glory,
reigns as King o’er time and space.
Having won our great redemption,
own Him as your matchless King.
Through the cross He won salvation,
praise Him now who rules all things.

v. 2
Al-le-lu-ia! Christ ascended,
rules as Shepherd o’er His flock.
Al-le-lu-ia! pours His Spirit,
that we in His ways might walk.
Gives His people gifts from heaven,
called to service and to love.
Gifts of service, gifts of speaking,
come to us from Christ above.

v. 3
Al-le-lu-ia! Christ ascended,
King and Ruler o’er all things.
Al-le-lu-ia! He is reigning,
even o’er His enemies.
Though the world is in rebellion,
nothing can avert His rule.
He takes care of His dear brethren,
ruling all things for their good.

v. 4
Al-le-lu-ia! Jesus Christ will
come to judge the sons of men.
On that day will you be ready,
when the Lord will come again?
Is the Lord your dearest treasure?
Do you know He died for you?
Jesus bore our awful judgment,
on the cross our substitute.

v. 5
Al-le-lu-ia! Christ is coming,
confident we look to Him.
Waiting for our Judge and Savior,
He who took away our sins.
Though our sins are red as scarlet,
they are now as white as snow.
So we say, “Come soon Lord Jesus,”
where you are we’d be also.


Lord's Day 19

Q & A 50

Q. Why the next words:
"and is seated at the right hand of God"?

A. Christ ascended to heaven,
there to show that he is head of his church,^1
and that the Father rules all things through him.^2

^1 Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:18
^2 Matt. 28:18; John 5:22-23

Q & A 51

Q. How does this glory of Christ our head
benefit us?

A. First, through his Holy Spirit
he pours out his gifts from heaven
upon us his members.^1
Second, by his power
he defends us and keeps us safe
from all enemies.^2

^1 Acts 2:33; Eph. 4:7-12
^2 Ps. 110:1-2; John 10:27-30; Rev. 19:11-16

Q & A 52

Q. How does Christ's return
"to judge the living and the dead"
comfort you?

A. In all my distress and persecution
I turn my eyes to the heavens
and confidently await as judge the very One
who has already stood trial in my place before God
and so has removed the whole curse from me.^1
All his enemies and mine
he will condemn to everlasting punishment:
but me and all his chosen ones
he will take along with him
into the joy and the glory of heaven.^2

^1 Luke 21:28; Rom. 8:22-25; Phil. 3:20-21; Tit. 2:13-14
^2 Matt. 25:31-46; 2 Thess. 1:6-10

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Foundational Doctrine of Creation --- Psalm 100, Part 1

Psalm 100 (English Standard Version)

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
A Psalm for giving thanks.

1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

3Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

------------------------

Yesterday, I read something on online that caught my attention. It was a short piece from an American Christian, who was visiting a third world country. The author was bemoaning the fact that our “Christian nation” was exporting immorality via television to the rest of the world. It grieved her that the people in the country she was visiting viewed America as a “Christian nation,” and yet we were sending such awful stuff to them. The show she was particularly concerned about was the Kardashians, which I have never seen, but I’m sure it is not the way we would like America to be reflected in other countries.

As right as this woman’s complaint might be about the export of American greed and immorality, I have to take exception to her view of America as a “Christian nation.” While I agree that America has some Christians in it (praise the Lord for that!), the general worldview of American culture is the antithesis of the Christian worldview. One of the reasons America’s worldview is radically different from that of the Bible's is that we no longer believe in the doctrine of creation.

Psalm 100 calls on all the people of the earth to worship the God who created them. “It is he who made us” (v. 3), therefore he deserves our wholehearted worship, praise, and thanks. The biblical God --- the God of Psalm 100, is the transcendent, Creator, who is other than his creation. The doctrine of creation is foundational for the doctrine of salvation, which is one of the reasons that the enemy of our souls is so intent on casting doubt on the truth that the Lord is our Creator.

The myth of evolution is the lie the enemy has used to subvert the truth of God in our society. American culture no longer believes that God is the Creator. Instead we believe in the myth of evolutionary chance, as absurd and fictional as that lie truly is. I want to quote a long passage from a new book by Peter Jones to show just how mythical evolution really is:
“In Romans 1, Paul issues an indictment against humanity. Because God’s ‘eternal power and divine nature . . . are clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world . . . [human beings] are without excuse’ (v. 20). The cosmos is the work of a sovereign and holy Creator, a reflection of His character and power and the theater of His glory. Yet unbelievers fail to give God thanks (v. 21). Can one be thankful without thanking someone? It makes no sense to thank a system, so if you get rid of God, you can only thank nature, whose divinity you share, so you are basically thanking yourself.

“Perhaps this is why atheistic scientists, dissatisfied with the ‘orthodoxy’ of fairy-tale evolution, often turn to some form of theistic realism. Nobel laureate Dr. Francis Crick (codiscoverer of the structure of DNA) came close. An atheist, Crick admitted that the odds that chance events caused the universe were so astronomical as to be ludicrous. He came to believe that life appeared almost as a miracle and that the evolutionary theory, on which he had based his life, was impossible. He speculated that Earth may have been ‘seeded’ by a visitation of intelligent beings from another planet. This whimsical theory displaces, but does not solve the problem. In the inimitable words of Ann Coulter, bless her cotton socks, ‘thus was God narrowly averted, or as the French would say, ‘Oof!’ (Translation: ‘that was close!’) What has science done for us, if its prizewinners bail on us with fairy tales? Having ‘clearly perceived’ the true character of the created universe, Crick for one, must admit that theories of evolution are inadequate before the mystery of a disturbingly intelligent cosmos. Remember the reaction of my wife’s humanist friend before the Grand Canyon? Like thousands who gaze on the splendor of the Canyon, she ‘clearly perceived’ the Creator's hand, but did not thank Him.

“The late English astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, who coined the term ‘big bang,’ was more courageous than Crick. In spite of his atheism, he stated that the idea of the origin of life by chance is absurd. He calculated the chances of randomly obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell to be 1 in 10 to the 40,000th. The number of atoms in the known universe is ridiculously small be comparison 10 to the 80th power. Hoyle also argued that a fifteen billion-year old universe is too short for the chance formation of complex higher life forms. The random emergence of the simplest cell, he said, would be like a tornado sweeping through a junkyard, and assembling a Boeing 747. He concluded that the amazing cellular order of the natural universe had to be the outcome of an external intelligent design, a theory so obvious he wondered why it was not widely accepted as self-evident.

“Philosopher Anthony Flew (1923-) was long considered the greatest atheist of the twentieth century. Just before his eighty-first birthday, however, Flew became a theist. Noting that even Albert Einstein believed in an Intelligence behind the complexity of the physical universe, Flew embraced the notion of intelligent design, believing it impossible for evolution to account for the fact that one single cell can carry more data than the combined volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. These great minds jettisoned the fantasy of a chance universe in favor of the ‘common sense’ idea that the world was designed intelligently. Fred Hoyle’s question reverberates in the philosophical air: Why is this not widely accepted as self-evident?

“The popular Harvard biologist, Stephen Jay Gould, sees order, even holiness, in the creation. Gould admitted in 1977 that the extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record constituted ‘the trade secret of paleontologists.’ This is not the place to discuss the flaws in Darwinian evolution (e.g. problems in the fossil record, the evolution of organic from inorganic matter, how male and female evolved at all, let alone simultaneously, assuring reproduction and the survival of the species). Evolutionary theory leaves so many essential questions unanswered that attachment to it cannot be due to scientific argument. Dr. Michael Ruse, an ardent evolutionist and ex-Christian, author of Darwinism Defended: A Guide to the Evolution Controversies, freely admits that evolution is promoted as more than science---it is a religious ideology.

“Starring the droll Ben Stein in blazer, tie, shorts and sneakers, the movie Expelled uncovers with Columbo-style ‘dumb’ questions, how the religiously doctrinaire evolutionists maintain a stranglehold on the academy in the name of science. ‘Following the evidence where it leads’---as scientists are presumably trained to do---can cost you your job if you buck the reigning orthodoxy of naturalism. Off-limits to young students is the ‘unspeakably holy’ ground on which some of the best scientific minds have finally stood---where Paul says we all stand, without excuse, before the evidence of God as Creator. As far as I know, Crick, Hoyle and Flew never turned to the God of the Bible.”
In part 2 on Psalm 100 we will look at the proper response we should make to the Lord who created us.






Monday, July 5, 2010

A New Hymn Based on Mark 4:1-20


Be Careful How You Listen

To the Tune: IST GOTT FUR MICH (http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/german/agerman_tlh.html). Based on Mark 4:1-20. Words: Bill Weber, 2010.

v. 1
Be careful how you listen
to God’s most holy Word.
His Word comes down from heaven,
from Him who is the Lord.
From Jesus resurrected,
it comes to you and me;
from Jesus now ascended,
with full authority.

v. 2
Christ’s Word is full of goodness
to sinners such as us.
He promises forgiveness;
that God will be with us.
It tells us how the Father,
sent His beloved Son,
who died as our Redeemer;
to Him we now belong.

v. 3
Not all receive this message
of good news and delight.
Some fail to understand it,
and want no share in Christ.
Some quickly take the gospel,
but leave when troubles come.
They love the world’s approval,
much more than God’s dear Son.

v. 4
Don’t put your hope in riches,
the good things of this life.
For these are only glimpses
of better, fuller life.
This world is quickly fading,
it cannot satisfy.
But Christ is ever living,
He is eternal life.

v. 5
Cast all your cares on Jesus,
your Father cares for you.
The Word is planted in us,
accept it and bear fruit.
Live not for self and pleasure,
but for the Son of God.
For Jesus is our treasure,
the precious Lamb of God.


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