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Archive | Theology

Coming February 2017–The Jerusalem Chamber

The Jerusalem Chamber is a unique collaborative podcast between pastors Shawn Anderson, Kyle Borg, Nathan Eshelman, and Joel Wood to provide a round table discussion on the Westminster Confession of Faith.

The Jerusalem Chamber gets its name from the meeting room at Westminster Abbey where, from 1643-1653, the Westminster Divines met to produce, among other things, the Westminster Confession of Faith. This confession remains one of the most enduring summaries of evangelical truth and remains the teaching of Presbyterian churches. Far from being an irrelevant relic of the past, it is our belief that the health of the church depends on continuing to pattern our doctrine, worship, and piety after it.

There are many good commentaries and works that explore the theology of the Westminster Confession of Faith. The uniqueness of The Jerusalem Chamber podcast is that it provides an audio discussion with pastoral application of every paragraph of the confession. In February 2017 join Shawn, Kyle, Nathan, and Joel–four good friends and fellow pastors in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America–as they discuss “the humble advice of the Assembly of Divines.”

Find them at: www.JerusalemChamber.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

A Brief Reflection on Eternal Life and Proximity to God

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

It’s an amazing concept. To know God is to have eternal life.

Of course, one can immediately puzzle over the thought. Demons know God but do not have eternal life. So the knowing in view here must be of a specific sort. It has to be knowledge rooted in more than merely the acquisition of propositional facts. Jeopardy contestants may answer rightly many questions about God, but they may not have eternal life. The one does not necessarily follow from the other.

There appears to be, therefore, an intimate relationship between knowing and intimacy. Here one can think of how the Scriptures often play on the idea proximity, or our closeness to God. Let your mind Google through the Scriptures. Adam and Eve walked with the LORD in the coolness of the evening. But when they sinned, they were cast out of His paradise and away from His presence. The LORD filled the Temple. The Jews entered the Promised Land. But when they spurned the Lord, like an adulterous woman, the Land spewed them out, and the Lord’s presence vacated […]

Our Heart Telescope

In 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched, making it unique among attempts to peer into the universe. As Hubble orbits the Earth, it does so above the atmosphere, which distorts and even blocks the light that reaches our planet and is what makes the stars seem to twinkle.  This orbit allows Hubble to give a view of the galaxies that far surpass that of conventional telescopes on the ground that struggle with atmospheric distortion.

So 353 miles above the Earth, Hubble orbits our globe every 97 minutes (which is about five miles per second, meaning it goes across the United States in about 10 minutes).  Hubble has caused the knowledge of outer space to explode, as it has captured images never seen before of newly discovered galaxies and space phenomenon. Scientists have realized what is out there is far more beautiful, complex, and grand in magnitude than they had even imagined. For instance, they discovered there are ten times more galaxies in the observable universe. Who knows what lies beyond what our telescopes can observe now? It took getting beyond earth’s atmosphere for scientists to see new things.

As the Hubble telescope is to astronomy, so is the Spirit to the heart […]

What Netflix’s ‘The Crown’ Reveals About Christ and Culture

The following is a guest post by J.K. Wall who is a writer in Indianapolis. His modernized abridgment of William Symington’s work, Messiah the Prince Revisited, was published in 2014 by Crown & Covenant Publications. You can e-mail him at jk.wall@gmail.com.

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I have been enjoying the new Netflix Original series “The Crown,” which vividly dramatizes the change experienced by Elizabeth II immediately after she became queen of England.

Before she received the news of her father the king’s death—at a lodge in Kenya—Elizabeth was treated as a distinguished but otherwise normal guest. After hearing the news over the radio, all the hotel staff members and other guests knelt in her presence.

And yet, it would take another 16 months before Elizabeth was formally crowned. During those 16 months, Elizabeth took up the heavy work of queen and was referred to by everyone as “The Queen.” Not the queen-elect, or the queen-in-waiting, or the queen-to-be, or any such already-not yet title. She was, during that entire 16 months, as fully queen as she was after the formal coronation ceremony.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

This is a helpful picture for how we should understand the kingship of Jesus Christ. It’s important because our […]

The Dodecahedron of Deception

In about 12 hours times I’ll be back in the pulpit! Tomorrow, God willing, I’ll preach two Lord’s Day sermons, to the hearers in the congregation over which I have charge as a pastor.

How healthy, once again, to reflect on the timely warning James gives to would-be hearers lest they become ‘sermon-tasters’. It is also a forceful reminder to pray for the sort of Word-doing that is part & parcel of proper Word-hearing.

James puts this matter of sermon application so unforgettably in 1.22 of his epistle:

“Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Having taken a few moments to identify some traps that ensnare sermon hearers each week, I have begun to realise how multifaceted this sermon-tasting deception can be. This explains in part the slightly weird title ‘Dodecahedron of Deception.’ Here, then, are twelve traps & pitfalls, that hearers may fall into & must prayerfully seek help to avoid or escape, when they attend their meeting-house tomorrow!

We deceive ourselves when….

1. We apply the message to others for whom we feel the sermon is most fitting, whilst failing to apply it to our own case & heart, for which God intended it.

2. We take great delight in the subject, style, sound or structure […]

The Trumpet Blasts that Were Never Heard

We live in times where the church is needing to think through her relationship with the state and the rulers over us. This is not the first time in the history of Christianity where we have had to meditate on our doctrine of the magistrate or our relationship to those in authority. This is not the first time that we have had to choose between losing our right hand and losing our left. Where would you turn to read about the relationship between the church and an oppressive government?

Looking for a book on the relationship between the church and a tyrannical government may be useful for the church in the next few decades. Consider the following statements:

* It is not by birth that one can rule over a people; those under him must approve of that rule.
* Those who practice idolatry or are living publicly scandalous lives are not to be placed in public office.
* If a ruler proves to be a tyrant or is willfully disobedient to God’s Word, then not even an oath can keep him in office.
* If people too quickly or without due consideration put someone in office and it is later found that he is […]

Religious Liberty Requires Royal Loyalty to Christ

The following is a guest post by J.K. Wall who is a writer in Indianapolis. His modernized abridgment of William Symington’s work, Messiah the Prince Revisited, was published in 2014 by Crown & Covenant Publications. You can e-mail him at jk.wall@gmail.com.

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In America today, freedom of religion is being narrowed to merely freedom of worship.[1]

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights last month explicitly recommended a legal doctrine that “distinguishes between beliefs (which should be protected) and conduct (which should conform to the law).”[2]

In other words, you can sing whatever you want in church, but you can’t come out of church and act on those beliefs—at least not with any special protection from the law. That legal viewpoint—already put into action in recent court and regulatory rulings—threatens public funding and tax breaks that now support Christian colleges, K-12 schools, poverty-fighting organizations and other charities.

Why is this happening?

Ignorance of, insensitivity to and even hostility toward Christianity are certainly factors—and the ones Christians like to cite most. But another big reason is that Christians, in large numbers and for many years, have been telling America that “freedom of worship” is all they really want.

At least, I know I’ve been saying that—in how […]

A Remarkable Outlook

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:18-21)

Peter’s words are utterly remarkable, if not baffling to many. Peter tells slaves(1) that they are to be subject to their masters with all respect (or fear), even the ones that are harsh and unjust.

Think about that. All respect. Even unto those that abuse you.

Confessional Boundary Stones

Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set.” -Proverbs 22:28

Around western Pennsylvania where I live, it is common to see yards and farmlands with stone walls taken from the the abundant flagstone found in this region. As you walk or drive by one of these walls, they convey a sense of boundary, antiquity, and definition. The walls almost seem to give off an aura of peace and permanence.

In recent weeks the Lord has given me a number of experiences where I have had that same feeling when it comes to the historic confessions and creeds of the church.

At the beginning of the academic year our seminary faculty treated the subject of providence from the Westminster Confession of Faith, and there was a sense of security in standing with these men reviewing and rediscovering the beautiful and comforting truths of this doctrine.

In a class on preaching I teach, we are discussing each week a portion of the statement on preaching found in the Westminster Directory of Publick Worship.

During the recent internet firestorm regarding the errant teaching on the eternal submission of the Son, it has been comforting to […]

So You Want to Dive Into Podcasts and Audiobooks?

I am asked fairly often what it is I like to listen to. That is usually followed up with a question as to how one might go about doing such a thing.

Well, here recently, someone asked that very question, and when I finished writing up a brief overview of the process, I thought it would be good to post my musings here. Perhaps you too would like to dive into the world of podcasts and audiobooks.

If so, here is a simple how to: