John Owen on Infant Baptism and Covenant

At this time I am not a pedobaptist, however I haven’t looked into it at length, and my view on this could be altered. It hasn’t been a major interest of mine. We have no children, and therefore no grandchildren. Not that it isn’t an important issue, because it involves things like covenant.

For those who haven’t looked into this at all and wonder how that whole thing works, here is a quote by John Owen from his commentary on Hebrews from a post titled John Owen was never a Baptist by Lee Gatiss.

Infants are in the covenant, were baptised in apostolical times, and should be now.
“For whereas there were two sorts of persons that were baptized, namely, those that were adult at their first hearing of the gospel, and the infant children of believers, who were admitted to be members of the church; the first sort were instructed in the principles mentioned before they were admitted unto baptism, by the profession whereof they laid the foundation of their own personal right thereunto; but the other, being received as a part and branches of a family whereupon the blessing of Abraham was come, and to whom the promise of the covenant was extended, being thereon baptized in their infancy, were to be instructed in them as they grew up unto years of understanding. Afterwards, when they were established in the knowledge of these necessary truths, and had resolved on personal obedience unto the gospel, they were offered unto the fellowship of the faithful. And hereon, giving the same account of their faith and repentance which others had done before they were baptized, they were admitted into the communion of the church, the elders thereof laying their hands on them in token of their acceptation, and praying for their confirmation in the faith. Hence the same doctrines became previously necessary unto both these rites;–before baptism to them that were adult; and towards them who were baptized in infancy, before the imposition of hands. And I do acknowledge that this was the state of things in the apostolical churches, and that it ought to be so in all others.” Hebrews vol 5:58

– See more at: John Owen was never a Baptist – Reformation21 Blog

Puritan Prayer

Here is the first part of a prayer called The Saviour from the book, The Valley of Vision:

Thou God of all grace,
thou hast given me a Saviour,
produce in me a faith to live by him,
to make him all my desire,
all my hope,
all my glory.
May I enter him as my refuge,
build on him as my foundation,
walk in him as my way,
follow him as my guide,
conform to him as my example,
receive his instructions as my prophet,
rely on his intercession as my high priest,
obey him as my king.

Fling the anxiety to God and keep looking up

Not as easy as it sounds.

These are all NIV because that’s what I have them memorized in, and also to be consistent, especially the first two. I put these in an order that I think shows a progression. I would always encourage looking at the context of verses; single verses are used to show the main point.

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous be shaken.
Psalm 55:22

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:33-34

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4

I’ll Pray It My Way

“The compass of our knowledge of ways and means is very narrow, as, if one is blocked up. Often we cannot see another; but our God knows many ways of relief, where we know but one or none at all, and it is very usual for the Lord to bring the lifting up of His people in a way they had no view to, after repeating disappointments from those quarters from which they had great expectation.”

–Thomas Boston, The Crook in the Lot

At some point in the past I realized that when I (and probably many others) pray for relief of affliction, and if God is to make it happen in this life, I’m praying for the solution that I see is the way out, instead of realizing that God could make it so in an infinite number of ways. I don’t think this means that God won’t answer our prayer because of this–that would be ludicrous–but it narrows our perspective of how God can work. We shouldn’t expect him to do it our way, or that we even know what that way is.

Contemplating Jesus

See if this makes sense; I’ve been thinking about it for a while:

The temple Jesus spoke about was his own body.
John 2:21 GW

I have asked the LORD for one thing –
this is what I desire!
I want to live in the LORD’s house
all the days of my life,
so I can gaze at the splendor of the LORD
and contemplate in his temple.
Psalm 27:4 NET

She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said. […]
“but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:39, 42 NET

I read a book about the Lord [Jesus] by a Catholic scholar (they can be quite good in many things) quite a few years ago and he said that Mary was contemplating (word used in the NET for Ps 27.4) Jesus. I liked that description.

We contemplate what Jesus says by reading the Bible. I’ve always loved that passage. The ‘historical Jesus’ (not the polemic, apologetic, or reconstruction types) or Jesus as a man has been one of my favorite subjects. Do you have any books you like on that subject? I have one by another Catholic scholar called The Lord by Romano Guardini, although extremely comprehensive, not just about Jesus when he was on earth as a man. I read it quite a few years ago like the other one. I want to read it again. The only two Roman Catholic things I noticed at the time were that he said Jesus had no blood brothers because Mary remained a virgin, and he was especially lenient with John the Baptist when describing him in prison, questioning if Jesus was the Messiah. I want to read it again as a devotional. There are probably some things I would disagree with now, but it’s too good not to read. The Glory of Christ by Owen was excellent.

Around the Web

A Prophet for an Un-discerning Church | MOS – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals – I’ve thought similar to this article for a few years and caught a little flack from it. A pastor would need to be very brave because so many women would be on his case about this.

Beth Moore Deserves Better | MOS – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals – Another perspective

I include the above two links because for a few years I have felt similarly to what’s written in the first post, and think that they can write about this topic much better than I can. Beth Moore and the also mentioned Joyce Meyer have a very significant influence on a lot of women. I fully endorse what the above posts say. (If you read the first, please read the second.) If I get criticized, it’s OK. My blog allows comments and theirs do not, so I’m taking a risk. Most supporters will say, “But she’s done so much good for so many people.” Misguided teaching and sloppy use of Scripture will lead many people to bad soil (Mark 4:3-9). There are so many better teachers out there. Look for anything by Nancy Guthrie as an example, both as a writer and editor. If you’d like to hear from a woman on a similar subject, Aimee Byrd, who completes the trio of The Mortificatin of Spin, can be heard on one of their shorter podcasts called Best Seller Sell-Outs. Discernment is lacking among many evangelicals of either gender these days.

My Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal For This Year – It’s Not What You Think – Similar to my little peach fuzz post
HT: Links I like

20 Reading Tips | HeadHeartHand Blog

God might call you to be ignored
“We speak [the gospel], we pray, we plead… and there’s nothing. For many, your words are nothing more than the incoherent mutterings of Charlie Brown’s school teacher.” This is encouraging for me, I guess.

Tangled Up in Blue: Depression and the Christian Life – Reformation21 – a repeat, but worth it

Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for Those Who Suffer from Depression | Westminster Bookstore – $5.50 or less – I haven’t read it but there is a sample available

How dead guys deal with afflictions

These two paragraphs below by the Puritan Thomas Boston are more rich than the whole new book I just read [skimmed] on worry. These are just introductory remarks. He will go on in detail about how to go about this, instead of just leaving it at that and moving onto the next thing. I can see why some people are cynical about new popular level books. It’s easy to get pulled in by the blurbs and descriptions, and the newness of something. Many contemporary (even Reformed) authors also seem to be reticent to come out and say that God is the ultimate direct or indirect cause of everything, Biblical as it is (Lamentations 3:37-38).

He’s starting out using text from Ecclesiastes which is one of my favorite books in the Bible. This is my first exposure to Boston. Maybe I will especially like him.

The crook in the lot is affliction, continued for a shorter or longer period of time, as opposed to acute pain or discomfort–something that goes crooked in your allotment in life.

‘1. The remedy itself [dealing with adversity] is a wise eyeing of the hand of God in all we find to bear hard on us: “Consider the work of God,” namely, in the crooked, rough, and disagreeable parts of your lot, the crosses you find in it. You see very well the cross itself. Yea, you turn it over and over in your mind and leisurely view it on all sides. You look to this and the other second cause of it, and so you are in a foam and a fret. But, would you be quieted and satisfied in the matter, lift up your eyes towards heaven, see the doing of God in it, the operation of His hand. Look at that, and consider it well; eye the first cause of the crook in your lot; behold how it is the work of God, His doing.

2. Such a view of the crook in our lot is very suitable to still improper risings of heart, and quiet us under them: “For who can make that straight which God has made crooked?” As to the crook in your lot, God has made it; and it must continue while He will have it so. Should you ply your utmost force to even it, or make it straight, your attempt will be vain: it will not change for all you can do. Only He who made it can mend it, or make it straight. This consideration, this view of the matter, is a proper means at once to silence and to satisfy men, and so bring them to a dutiful submission to their Maker and Governor, under the crook in their lot.’

–Thomas Boston, The Crook in the Lot: Or a Display of the Sovereignty and Wisdom of God in the Afflictions of Men, and the Christian’s Deportment Under Them

God’s sovereignty over the crooked

I love Ecclesiastes, and this short book has been a really nice change of pace.

We often forget that things that are bad are often going to stay bad. There is no promise that they will get better (John 16:33). If things are bad, they are by God’s permission or even design (Lamentations 3:37). And all things are for part of God’s will for his glory, which is for our good (Romans 12:2, Romans 8:28-29).

Follow the insight of wisdom. Consider the work of God in all these things. A wise man will never kick against the goads. Who can straighten what He has made crooked? Will a man be able to bend the world in a different direction than the Almighty has? This central doctrine in the book must he allowed to sink deeply into our souls. Is it crooked? Then the Lord God made it so. But why? If He had wanted us to know that, then He would have told us. The closest we get to an explanation is found in Romans 9—

What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory–even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? (Rom. 9:22-24) [NIV]

The ultimate explanation is that God does all things to glorify His name and exalt His majesty. But regardless of various reasons for the crookedness of the world, the fact remains that the Bible affirms God’s sovereignty over the crooked. He truly is the only Lord.

–Douglas Wilson, Joy at the End of the Tether The Inscrutable Wisdom of Ecclesiastes

Quotes on Bible Reading

Here are some quotes I’ve posted before on the most important thing we can do along with prayer. In order to pray, we need to use the language of the Bible.

The primary purpose of reading the Bible is not to know the Bible but to know God.

–James Merritt

If I want to love God more, I have to know Him more deeply. The more I search the Scriptures and focus my mind’s attention on who God is and what He does, the more my soul breaks out in flames.

–R.C. Sproul

Next to praying there is nothing so important in practical religion as Bible reading. By reading that book we may learn what to believe, what to be, and what to do; how to live with comfort, and how to die in peace.

Happy is that man who possesses a Bible! Happier still is he who reads it! Happiest of all is he who not only reads it, but obeys it, and makes it the rule of his faith and practice!

–J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion, p. 97

We measure Scripture’s story by ours. The attitude the psalm [Psalm 1] commends involves delighting in Yhwh’s teaching—especially (we might add) when its story seems irrelevant or it takes a different stance from us. That is the moment when studying Scripture becomes interesting, significant, and important. We then delight in it. The way that delight expresses itself is by talking about it day and night–-in other words, ceaselessly.

–John Goldingay, Psalms 1-41, pg 84, referring to Psalm 1

The Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Acts 17:11

Christian Book Lists from 2014

If you like these lists, here are some that I collected.

14 Best Books of 2014 | Desiring God

The 50 Best Christian Books of 2014 | Monergism

Staff Picks for Favorite Books of 2014 — Grace for Sinners

My Top Books of 2014 | Challies Dot Com

A Curmudgeon’s Take On New Year’s Resolutions

I’m not into them, at least not on January 1st, but I won’t bore you with my opinion. Plenty has been written on the interwebz. I realize that some people like to evaluate their life as the calendar turns, so I thought I might gather an oft-neglected quote, some Bible passages, and ideas that might be applicable.

I was thinking about this subject right before I read the first passage in Ecclesiastes below the quote by Edwards. That’s what brought all of this up. This is just my take on this subject. If it’s not idealistic enough, or if you don’t have visions of unicorns, rainbows, and everything shiny and happy for next year, there is plenty of other material out there for you. (I’m doing my best to stay true to the subject line.) I do pray that everyone reading this post will grow closer to God and more Christ-like as the year progresses, whatever situation God has you in.

I’ve seen resolutions that contain a list of resolutions. Nobody can remember and do a long list of things. Saying that you’re going to do this, that, and the other thing will inevitably lead to failure unless you’re the 1% of the population that can do that. Jonathan Edwards couldn’t keep up with his 70 resolutions. Here is a quote from him later on in his life (emphasis added):

“My longings after it, put me upon pursuing and pressing after them. It was my continual strife day and night, and constant inquiry, how I should be more holy, and live more holily, and more becoming a child of God, and disciple of Christ. I sought an increase of grace and holiness, and that I might live an holy life, with vastly more earnestness, than ever I sought grace, before I had it. I used to be continually examining myself, and studying and contriving for likely ways and means, how I should live holily, with far greater diligence and earnestness, than ever I pursued anything in my life: but with too great a dependence on my own strength; which afterwards proved a great damage to me. My experience had not then taught me, as it has done since, my extreme feebleness and impotence, every manner of way; and the innumerable and bottomless depths of secret corruption and deceit, that there was in my heart.”

Source of Edwards quote: (Marsden, Jonathan Edwards, 53). The quote is from his “Personal Narrative” in the Yale Works, 16:797.

HT: CAMPONTHIS: JONATHAN EDWARDS: RESOLVED TO GRACE…enjoying the beauty and sweetness of Christ

Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. 3 A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool. 4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. 5 It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. 6 Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? 7 Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God.
Ecclesiastes 5:2-7

Don’t make promises to God. Make very small attainable goals. It doesn’t matter how small. Though I don’t identify with it, it seems that most people’s eyes are bigger than their discipline. They don’t have the ability to calculate what they’re capable of. This ends up making people look and feel pathetic. I know that sounds arrogant and mean, but it isn’t much different than what the Bible says. Start small and you can always progress. (As in proe-gress)

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
Luke 14:28-30

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
Romans 12:3

Since most Bible reading plans are based on a calendar year (although electronic devices and other methods make that moot), many embark on a reading plan, which is the most fantastic thing anyone can do. If you for some reason have a hard time reading the Bible, set a goal of reading one paragraph a day. You can do that, right? Then move on from there. After a while you’ll find yourself liking and reading it more and more. As much as I hate to say it, maybe a one year Bible reading plan is too much for some types of people early on. Better to read a little consistently than to start out with a plan that ends up being abandoned and leaving one full of guilt.

As another example, look at exercise, if that’s something you don’t do. Instead of spending money on a health club membership (a “gym” is where the serious people workout), which takes 25 minutes to drive to and 30 minutes to get in a workout where it seems like it was worth the money, start out doing one set of bodyweight squats and one set of pushups leaning against the kitchen counter at home three times a week. You’ll find that you’ll make progress each time. This may motivate you to do more. Plus if you keep going and keep learning, when you’re elderly you’ll be able to stand up from a deep couch, pick things up off the floor, and maybe even avoid preventable diseases, God willing. Plus more importantly, you’ll feel better now (after you’ve been doing it for a while), which will help you spiritually.

Things like attitudes, behaviors, taming our tongue–those are more difficult to quantify. I think those are the types of things where we can’t work on very many at once. If we keep our mind on Scripture, God will convict us of sin and help us work on specific things. He will guide us on the right path.

Have a humble attitude. Realize that some goals may have life getting in the way.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.
James 4:13-16

If we mess up, God isn’t holding it against us. Remember that we are in God’s favor because of what Christ did for us at the cross. We can always start over (whenever we want!) and know that God is for us (Romans 8:31).

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

For someone who doesn’t like resolutions, I have a lot of thoughts on them; I suppose it’s because I like to make goals and plans throughout the year. I like the structure. There is much more that could be written, but I will leave it there.

If you need an idea, here is a random resolution: Read one chapter of Proverbs a day for the month of January. Easy to keep track. That may lead you to other things you need to work on. In any case, it’s a book that should be read regularly.

Also see:

Around the Web

These are a lot of links. I think there are some good ones. I probably won’t post much or anything through at least the 29th.

Acts 17:11 Bible Study: Theology – The Knowledge of God – C.S. Lewis on Theology

Christmas: Night and Day “So the message is far more good news declaration than it is argumentation.”

Baker Book House Church Connection | How Do Mountains and Stars Worship? – I’ve often wondered this too. Although I don’t think of worship as only “verbal, emotionally charged expressions of praise”. Many everyday things, from drinking a cup of coffee to taking care of my body by exercising it are part of worshiping God.

When Risking it All for God Means Staying Where You Are | RELEVANT Magazine

Baker Book House Church Connection | What’s the “Aorist” Tense?

Baker Book House Church Connection | Moisés Silva on “Agape” Love – It’s more than what you think

Live-Blog: Doug Moo’s Special Message on Bible Translation (Live Presentation from ETS 2014) | Bible Gateway Blog

Reformed Theology Is Covenant Theology

If you, like me, need to learn more about what covenant theology is, here are a couple of good articles.

Repost: God’s Will For You

We can know God’s will for us. Are we willing to do it?

Our modern western minds tend to think of God’s will as what God wants us to do in a certain situation. God’s will as he presents it in Scripture is a little different than that. There are different types of God’s will (Sovereign decretive, Preceptive, Will of disposition) but that’s for others to teach. I’m writing about God’s will as revealed in Scripture.

These are all NIV. I added italics.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is true worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

I don’t believe we can take God’s will out of this passage and change it to mean what we’d like, which often ends up being what God wants us to do at a particular point in time. I’m learning that it’s important to be careful to keep the meaning within the context.

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of the foolish. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love your fellow believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:11-17

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
1 Peter 4:19

Suffering is obviously something that’s put on us, not something we choose to do, but continuing to do God’s will while suffering is God’s will, if you’ll allow me to write an intentionally strange sentence.

So with all of this general stuff about God’s will for us, how does he answer us when we ask him things? Psalms are a good place to look for this. It’s really a subject for another post, and probably by someone other than me, but I found this example. I can’t remember why I was looking at the NKJV, but the words chosen fit well. Again, our modern western minds might be disappointed in how Spurgeon doesn’t even touch on how God might answer us specifically in telling us what to do in a particular situation.

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.
Psalms 143:8 NKJV

David is pleading with God to ask Him what he wants him to do in order to be obedient to Him in a way that is right. Psalm 143:10 NKJV says:
Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.

Spurgeon’s commentary on verse 8 is very helpful. If you’re interested in this subject, read the whole Psalm first and notice all of the things David is looking for from God.

“Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”  The Great First Cause must cause us to hear and to know. Spiritual senses are dependent upon God, and heavenly knowledge comes from him alone. To know the way we ought to take is exceedingly needful, for how can we be exact in obedience to a law with which we are not acquainted? or how can there be an ignorant holiness? If we know not the way, how shall we keep in it? If we know not wherein we should walk, how shall we be likely to follow the right path? The Psalmist lifts up his soul; faith is good at a dead lift [was Spurgeon into powerlifting?], the soul that trusts will rise. We will not allow our hope to sink, but we will strive to get up and rise out of our daily griefs. This is wise. When David was in any difficulty as to his way he lifted his soul towards God himself, and then he knew that he could not go very far wrong. If the soul will not rise of itself we must lift it, lift it up unto God. This is good argument in prayer, surely the God to whom we endeavour to lift up our soul will condescend to show us what he would have us to do. Let us attend to David’s example, and when our heart is low, let us heartily endeavour to lift it up, not so much to comfort as to the Lord himself.

Also see:
God’s Will Is Not a Secret | Scripture Zealot blog
Finding God’s Will | Scripture Zealot blog
Praying God’s Will | Scripture Zealot blog

Scripture Memory and Smartphones

If you have a smartphone, now you really have no excuse. I’ve been thinking about possibly memorizing some Scripture again. I wrote about the watch beep method in Scripture Memory: My Story (in two parts with links to other resources). The problem with a watch beep is it’s so easy to get used to the sound and stop hearing it. I firmly believe that when I memorized Scripture for the first few years, God enabled me to hear it every single time. Now with smartphones, we can use an hourly chime app to remind us to look at our current verse. (For a while I did this on my computer, working at home.) The chime can be changed if we get used to it, and there is the option to use vibrate. There are also Scripture memory apps. It’s great how we can use technology for Bible reading plans, reading or listening during downtime (as little as that happens for some people), and memorizing. If you have one, do you use yours in any other ways?

Which means you’ve gotta fight to learn these [verses] and memorize these things and have these verses tumbling around in your fore-frontal lobal brain part. Whatever that is.

–John Piper