God’s mercy and justice are revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ

From the catechism of Edward Dering (1540-1576):

What do you call this true faith? 
This true and lively faith is a full persuasion and assurance of my heart grounded upon the promise of God, and wrought in me by the Holy Spirit, whereby I am fully assured, that whatsoever Christ has wrought for man’s salvation, pertains not only to others, but even to me, and is wholly mine, as surely as if I performed the same in my own person.

How can it be that your sins are forgiven you, and yet according to God’s truth fully punished, with the punishment which God has appointed for sins?
By this my true faith, I see my sins both to be forgiven, and yet fully punished; for in Jesus Christ to satisfy God’s justice, they are fully punished, and yet to me they are forgiven: because in me, they are not punished but in Christ for me, to set forth God’s mercy, and therefore shall never be laid to my charge. In this manner therefore I see the Lord my God to be both merciful and just.

Are you available to serve Christ’s church online from home?

I received the following email recently, and wanted to pass it along to anyone who might be interested…

Greetings from MNA SecondCareer!

As you may know, the purpose of our ministry is to match PCA church plants, churches, and other PCA ministries that have limited resources with adult PCA volunteers of all ages.  A year ago we sent an email to PCA churches across the country to recruit skilled volunteers who could serve via the Internet.  Many volunteers responded, but more are needed.  Would you please consider putting the following special announcement in your church newsletter or bulletin?  Or you could forward this email to someone in your congregation you think may be interested in serving.  Thank you.


Skilled Volunteers Needed to Serve PCA Ministries Via the Internet

Do you have a heart to serve and a specific skill that could be helpful to a PCA church planter, church, or other PCA ministry? Mission to North America’s SecondCareer Ministry is seeking adult volunteers of all ages to serve via the Internet.  The following are types of assistance frequently requested:

Admin assistance                                             Publicity/Marketing

Accounting                                                         Architect

Graphic Design                                                  Demographic Site Profiling

Website Development                                  Social Media


If you are interested in more information about serving with your skills via the Internet, please contact Barbara Campbell, MNA SecondCareer Facilitator, bcampbell@pcanet.org, 804-339-5005.



Satan’s Ten Commandments

  1. Worship the creature rather than the one true God; live for your own pleasure, glory, and comfort.
  2. Worship the one true God, and all your other gods, however you please; be creative – do for them whatever you feel will make them happy so that you can get what you want from them (so just do whatever you feel will make yourself happy).
  3. Treat the one true God with flippancy, carelessness, and cynicism; in your speech, thoughts, and behavior, deal with him and his revelation of himself with utter disregard and disrespect.
  4. Spend every day however the hell you please – because life is all about your pleasure. And especially do whatever you want and live for your own pleasure on that day the one true God claims is his day; it’s not his day, it’s your day, live every other day, so live it up, live selfishly, do your thing with your time in your way.
  5. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do – you are the master of your fate and the captain of your temporary soul; the people who claim to be over you, whether in the family, state or any other association, are just trying to keep you from expressing your true self. Fight the power, stand up for yourself, assert your rights.
  6. Hate, hurt, and kill with all your might and with all your skill; don’t give an inch to anyone who stands in your way or who tries to keep you from getting what you want. Be angry – it is fuel for living, and the only way to get ahead.
  7. Never deny yourself one second of sexual pleasure; if it feels good, do it. Lust, look, and live out your sexual fantasies; don’t worry about being unfaithful to your family or friends, because remember – life is all about you.
  8. Disregard the whole notion of “ownership” – if you want it, take it. You deserve it. And never, ever share anything that belongs to you with someone else; let them get it by their own strength and ability, just like you did.
  9. Truth is a human construct, so always create and live and speak your own version of the truth. Remember, you exist for yourself, to gratify your desires and pleasures, so never say anything that will keep you from attaining that goal.
  10. You’ll never attain that goal if you stay content with what you currently have, so fan into flame the cravings for all the great things that others get to enjoy; why should they get to have those pleasures and you don’t? So cultivate discontentment and complaint, or you’ll never get what you’re owed.

In sum: love yourself, love pleasure, love me.

What is the Lord’s Supper? John Knox Gives Us a Summary

In the following I offer a modernized English version of John Knox’s “Summary, According to the Holy Scriptures, of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper,” which is contained in Volume 3 of The Works of John Knox, published by The Banner of Truth Trust. The editor assigns this piece to the year 1550.

Here is briefly declared in sum, according to the Holy Scriptures, what opinion we Christians have of the Lord’s Supper, called the sacrament of the body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ.

First, we confess that it is a holy action, ordained of God, in which the Lord Jesus, by earthly and visible things set before us, lifts us up unto heavenly and invisible things. And that when he had prepared his spiritual banquet, he witnesses that he himself was the living bread, with which our souls are fed unto everlasting life.

And therefore, in setting forth bread and wine to eat and drink, he confirms and seals up to us his promise and communion (that is, that we shall be partakers with him in his kingdom); and represents unto us, and makes plain to our senses, his heavenly gifts; and also gives unto us himself, to be received with faith, and not with the mouth, nor yet by transfusion of substance. But so through the virtue (i.e., the power) of the Holy Spirit, that we, being fed with his flesh, and refreshed with his blood, may be renewed both unto true godliness and to immortality.

And also that herewith the Lord Jesus gathers us unto a visible body, so that we are members of one another, and made altogether one body, whereof Jesus Christ is the only head. And finally that by the same Sacrament, the Lord calls us to remember his Death and Passion, to stir up our hearts to praise his most holy name.

Furthermore, we acknowledge that we ought to come unto this Sacrament reverently, considering that there is exhibited and given a testimony of the wonderful society and knitting together of the Lord Jesus and of the receivers; and also, that there is included and contained in this Sacrament, that he will preserve his Church. For herein we are commanded to show the Lord’s death until he comes.

Also, we believe that it is a Confession, wherein we show what kind of doctrine we profess; and what Congregation we join ourselves unto; and likewise, that it is a band of mutual love among us. And finally, we believe that all those who come unto this holy Supper must bring with them their conversion unto the Lord, by unfeigned repentance in Faith; and in this Sacrament receive the seals and confirmation of their faith; and yet must in no way think, that for this work’s sake their sins are forgiven.

And as concerning these words, Hoc est corpus meum, “This is my body,” on which the Papists depend so much, saying, That we must believe that the bread and wine are transubstantiated into Christ’s body and blood; We acknowledge that it is no article of our faith which can save us, nor which we are bound to believe upon pain of eternal destruction. For if we should believe that his very natural body, both flesh and blood, were naturally in the bread and wine, that should not save us, seeing many believe that, and yet receive it to their damnation. For it is not his presence in the bread that can save us, but his presence in our hearts through faith in his blood, which has washed our sins, and pacified his Father’s wrath toward us. And again, if we do not believe his bodily presence in the bread and wine, that shall not damn us, but the absence of our heart through unbelief shall damn us.

Now, if you would here object, that though it be truth, that the absence out of the bread could not damn us, yet we are bound to believe it because of God’s Word, saying, “This is my body,” which truth whoever does not believe as much as lies in him, makes God a liar: and therefore, of an obstinate mind not to believe his Word, may be our damnation. To this we answer, That we believe God’s Word, and confess that it is true, but not so to be understood as the Papists affirm. For in the Sacrament we receive Jesus Christ spiritually, as did the Fathers of the Old Testament, according to St. Paul’s saying. And if men would well weigh, how Christ, ordaining this Holy Sacrament of his body and blood, spoke these words Sacramentally, doubtless they would never so grossly and foolishly understand them, contrary to all the Scriptures, and to the expositions of St. Augustine, St. Jerome, Fulgentius, Vigilius, Origin, and many other godly writers.

Do you do your best to have a clear conscience before God and man?

I’ve been reading the Bible since I was a child. I’ve read it all the way through many times. Yet it is such a gloriously rich book (and perhaps my memory is so poor?) that frequently I come across a passage or phrase that will make me wonder, “Have I ever seen this before?”

That happened to me the other day while reading the book of Acts. I came to chapter 24, in which Paul is making his defense before Felix the governor. As a part of his response to the charges the Jews had levied against him, he admits “that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law, and that is written in the Prophets; having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection both of the righteous and the wicked. In view of this, I also do my best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before man” (24:14-16).

There’s a lot in these verses: that Christianity was identified as “the Way” – that Paul understood Christianity to be the culmination of what the Law and the Prophets had written – that the Christian’s hope (like that of many Jews in Paul’s day) was the hope of resurrection – that both the righteous and the wicked will be raised on the last day (see John 5:28-29). But what struck me as if I’d never seen it before was the last sentence – in view of the fact of a general resurrection of all mankind, Paul “took pains” (the ESV translation) to have a clear conscience in relation to God and to man. Two things stand out to me: 1) that the resurrection is that which motivated Paul to aim for a clear conscience; 2) that maintaining a clear conscience was a passionate pursuit of the apostle.

Does the reality of a future resurrection motivate us as it did Paul? Do we think on our future hope, and does it lead us to give greater concern for holiness? Do we have regard for our conscience? Do we take pains to keep a blameless and clear and good conscience, living according to the standard of God’s holy law that we have learned from God’s word? Do we desire to have our consciences informed by that standard, so that when we deviate from it, our consciences are pricked, and we are quick to confess our sin, believe the gospel and turn back to God, confessing and making restitution (as necessary) to those we have sinned against? Is our conscience sensitive like a radar that can pick up the motion of a mosquito, or is it seared and hardened like a steak left on the grill too long?

Do a study of the New Testament use of the word “conscience,” and you will see how important the conscience is to the Christian life, and how undervalued it is among modern Christians. Pray that the Lord would give you the same cognizance and concern for this moral faculty that the apostle had. Search your heart – is your conscience clear? If not, do you care? If you do care, do you know the way to a clear conscience (faith in Jesus and repentance toward God)? Will you, like David in I Samuel 24, allow your conscience to strike you when you have sinned against God or man? Or will you ignore and suppress the witness of God through your conscience (as David did in his sin against Uriah and Bathsheba)? May the God who will raise us from the dead give us a heart to do our best to keep always a clear conscience before him and our neighbor!

Mother to Son, by Langston Hughes

This poem by the African-American poet Langston Hughes (1902-1967) powerfully expresses the grit and endurance I desire for myself, for my family, and for the sheep I pastor. “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). “Forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead…” (Philippians 3:13).
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

What is Really Real? A Spiritual Reality Check for 2017

My most recent post for the Ref21 blog came out yesterday. Members of Pear Orchard will recognize the content from my sermon last weekend on Romans 6:1-15. The truth of our union with Christ can never be meditated on too often, and I commend John Murray’s chapter on the topic in his book Redemption Accomplished and Applied, his commentary on Romans, as well as the articles on definitive sanctification in his collected writings.