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Archive | Christian Living

The Liberty and Limitations of Conscience

In a wood shop in Italy a little cricket emerged and seated himself on a box of matches. As firelight danced on the walls the cricket drew near to a wooden puppet and asked if he wanted to be a real boy. Eager to learn, he and the cricket had a heart-to-heart, and singing a little ditty that is chiseled on the memories of many, the would-be boy is taught a simple motto: “Always let your conscience be your guide.” While that isn’t perhaps a perfect piece of advice to live by – mostly because of a lack of qualifications – it does have a nugget of truth: the importance of one’s own conscience.

The conscience is given a significant place in Christianity as a capacity that God himself has given to us. Simply defined and to paraphrase Thomas Aquinas, the conscience is the capacity to judge one’s self according to God’s own judgment. You might say that the conscience is an internal witness that compares our thoughts, words, and deeds to God’s standard. As it does it either accuses or approves what we think, say, and do. To live in harmony with that judgment – approving what God approves and […]

What is Whiter than Snow?

Walking in a Winter Wonderland!

Just arrived back from a walk with our dog. It has been unseasonably cold in Belfast this week. We woke this morning to a blanket of snow. So I headed out with my son, who has just returned from Uni, to enjoy the falling, fluffy, flakes.

As the clouds cleared away, sunlight began to sparkle and twinkle its refracted light on fields and woods: everything was irradiated, and lit up almost-magically, as my heart was full of gladness in this winter wonderland. All green grass concealed. All brown branches covered. Glistening, glinting snow had hidden everything from view.

We continued down the field, at times entering into forest – till I bumped into a lad from Hong Kong who I’d talked to at length, on one previous occasion.

A Vital Question

The question that I posed to him was this: ‘What is whiter than the snow?’

Since he didn’t appear to know how to respond, I gently mentioned Psalm 51, and the covering it speaks of, when God forgives our sins.

Psalm 51

In this prayer, conniving, murdering, adulterous David had now come clean with God, as the superscription informs us. He begs the LORD for mercy! His only hope is God’s compassionate, […]

3GT Episode 62: The Sanctification Scene

With the Christian blogosphere aflame once again, this time with discussions regarding justification and sanctification, the 3GT men join in the fray. With Aaron pumping the questions, and Kyle and Barry responding energetically, they discuss current controversies then tackle the latter subject of sanctification. Minus a morose morbidity, they meditate on mortification while with vim and vigor they verify their views on vivification!

Well, just listen to the podcast. This episode and subject is much clearer than what you just read!

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/3gt-episode-62.mp3

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You can also subscribe to 3GT on iTunes!

Appointments in Airports

I was flying home from a conference with two of the army ‘scripture readers.’ The older man opposite was grimacing in some pain. O.K., so we shouldn’t have been sitting in the disabled seats, but there was plenty of room. The thickly set (I’m one to talk) gentleman leaned forward and something dropped out of his pocket.

I watched, then waited, and thought… I took his mishap as a providential opportunity to initiate a conversation; so I smiled, then said: ‘Excuse me, you have dropped something out of your pocket!’

He looked down, blushing, spied his wallet (I think) on the ground (or maybe that was the second time it happened, and was just some medication on the first occasion), picked up the item, and thanked me, in a rather reserved manner.

I was sure, on first sight, this man was probably Austrian: his face looked Germanic (he could have been Martin Luther), and he was wearing what seemed to me a bit like lederhosen (a grey woolen jacket with a dark green lining around his collar and cuffs). I was almost expecting him to break out in refrains of ‘Edelweiss, edelweiss’ in the manner of Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews on ‘The […]

Holidays and Holy Days (Part 2)

The following article is a guest post by Dr. Michael LeFebvre, Pastor of Christ Church in Brownsburg, Indiana, author of Singing the Songs of Jesus: Revisiting the Psalms, and Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary Board President. 

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Several years ago, I wrote a post for Gentle Reformation called “Holidays and Holy Days” (link here). In that article, I described the roots of the Christian Calendar—including holidays like Easter and Christmas—in the Levitical holy days of the Old Testament. The point of that article was to explain why some churches like the RPCNA uphold the Lord’s Day Sabbath (which the New Testament continues to exhort) while not observing extrabiblical holy days like Christmas. The New Testament does not institute Christmas as a holy day, and in fact the Old Testament Levitical festivals (on which the “Christian Calendar” was based) have been discontinued in the New Testament. With due respect for the sincerity with which many hold Advent worship services each December, there is actually significant reason to question the celebration of Christmas as a church holy day.

That being said, there is every good reason to affirm the place of Christmas in the calendar of American, civic holidays. And to celebrate it as a civic holiday (but […]

The Importance of Giving Thanks

This post is not a week late. Most of our readers in the United States celebrated Thanksgiving last week and are perhaps all turkey-ed out and ready to move on to another holiday season. Which makes now the perfect time to remember that the giving of thanks isn’t something a follower of Jesus can relegate to one time of year. Rather, a quick tour through the Bible will show us that giving thanks is part of the very fabric of what it means and looks like to be a Christian.

3GT Episode 61: When Elders Come Knocking

Aaron wants to know about the strange Reformed phenomenon known as elder visitations. So Kyle and Barry, aspiring Jedis, tell him about their training under the Yoda of visitation, who is hidden far away in the fair plains of Kansas. Secrets of this mysterious rite are revealed.

From there the guys talk about the Biblical concept of shepherding, the importance of elders knowing the flock of God, practical guidelines for making visitations, and the benefits of elders being in the homes of God’s people. Don’t miss this edifying episode of 3GT!

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/3gt-episode-611.mp3

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You can also subscribe to 3GT on iTunes!

How Much Do You Love Your Local Church?

A Painful Question

Are you cold, indifferent, angry, frustrated, intolerant, castigating or hostile towards your local church? Or are you warm, concerned, involved, sympathetic, committed, patient, and full of love, grace, hope and peace, in your relationships and dealings with your brothers and sisters in the blood-bought congregation of God?

A Pauline Concern

Paul’s own personal response to God’s people seems to have fluctuated with the ups and down of the churches, over which he was given charge, and to which he was bound with cords of compassion and love.

A Pertinent Text

The giveaway text comes at the end of the letter of 2 Corinthians. The Achaian congregations, contained many of his harshest critics. In this epistle, like no other, for the sake of the progress of the Gospel, and Corinthian spiritual growth, he has to defend His ministry repeatedly, from false accusations and disparaging charges. Yet, like a parent deeply involved with happenings of their children, when the Church is progressing nicely it causes Paul to sing, but when the congregation goes bad it forces Paul to lament.

“For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish – that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, […]

Proverbial Sayings in the Law: Sow One Seed in Your Vineyard

When one considers the law section of the Bible known as the Pentateuch – the first five books of the Bible – it is easy to think of them simply as codes and regulations like we have in modern law. Yet we need to remember there are various literary genres contained in what we know as the Law of Moses – Genesis through Deuteronomy. There are certainly legal stipulations such as those associated with the sacrificial section or the civil law of ancient Israel, but there also historical narratives such as Moses leading Israel out of Egypt in Exodus, prophetic portions such as Balaam’s pronouncements in Numbers, genealogies like the one found in Genesis 5, and even Hebraic poetry like that found in Genesis 4:23-24.

Another interesting thing to note in the book of Deuteronomy is the presence of what we might call proverbial sayings. When Moses is speaking, perhaps rather than viewing what he is saying as simply a legal stipulation for Israel, we might want to remember what this book truly is. Deuteronomy is not simply a collection of laws, but it is Moses preaching a sermon based on Israel’s history and the law the Lord had given them to […]

The Double Groan of the Gospel

Introduction

It would be ridiculous to deny that Christian are drenched with countless blessing both material and spiritual. Yet it would not be overstating the case to recognize that every Christian personally, and Gospel workers in particular, have the greatest share or portion not in this life but the next. Glory, for the main part, belongs to worldly men. In this valley of tears believers are often heaped with shame.

It is in the context of despised, inglorious, faith that the apostle Paul mentions a ‘double groan’ of the Gospel to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 5.10. His double aim is confidence in their travail for the Lord and consolation for the afflictions and reverses they endure.

The Gravitational Groan

Our home is not down here, but with God in heaven above. Paul contrasts the temporary, flimsy, earthly body with the permanent, indestructible, heavenly frame – one day soon we will be like the risen, exalted, Lord Jesus, death swallowed up in glory, in the Temple prepared by God. Contemplation of this new resurrection body, in the likeness of the glorified humanity of our exalted Lord Jesus, should be light a magnet which draws our hearts, by soul-transforming, heart-rejoicing, triumphant-overcoming, walking by faith and […]