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Gleanings in the Church Order (2): The Assemblies

Gleanings in the Church Order (2): The Assemblies
An assembly, specifically an ecclesiastical assembly, is a gathering of officebearers. The church order does not have in mind here the gathering of the whole congregation for worship or for some other activity. Those assemblies are, of course, very important. Nevertheless, the assemblies of Articles 29-52 are the assemblies of officebearers for official ecclesiastical business. The church order speaks of three assemblies: the consistory, the classis, and the synod. Read More

Gleanings in the Church Order (1): The Offices

Gleanings in the Church Order (1): The Offices

For many the Church Order is a dull, unexciting document. At first glance, it seems to be a book of interest to none but elders, deacons, and pastors. But the church order is necessary because God requires that his church be orderly. Paul writes, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40). That really is the motto text behind the church order: we do not want anarchy, chaos, or disorder in the congregation; we want order and peace. To another congregation Paul writes that he “[rejoices] and [beholds] [their] order” (Col. 2:5). To another he writes to warn against “every brother that walketh disorderly” (2 Thess. 3:6, 11).

Order in the church is important, therefore.

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Grace Conferred (7): God's Promised Blessing

Grace Conferred (7): God's Promised Blessing
The duty that the Canons have in mind is the duty of preaching and the duty of listening and taking heed to the gospel with its admonitions (and never forget that the preaching comes also to the preacher; he not only preaches to the congregation, but he also preaches to himself). The word duty (officium) could be translated as office, but its meaning is wider than that. Read More

Grace Conferred (6): The Admonitions of the Gospel: More than Repent and Believe

Grace Conferred (6): The Admonitions of the Gospel: More than Repent and Believe
Last time I asked, “Is that the only thing—the call to believe, and possibly, repent—that God uses to preserve, continue, and perfect his work of grace in us (Canons 5.14)?” My answer is absolutely not! God uses the admonition of Matthew 5:24 to confer upon us the grace to reconcile with our brother, even though... Read More

Grace Conferred (5): The Admonitions of the Gospel: An Important Grammatical Point

Grace Conferred (5): The Admonitions of the Gospel: An Important Grammatical Point
In the last blog post, I made a distinction, following Ursinus, between the bare law without the gospel (which is the killing letter of 2 Corinthians 3:6) and the law with the gospel, which is effectual by the work of the Spirit in the heart of the child of God, so that he, by the grace of God conferred to him, begins to obey the law. Read More

Grace Conferred (4): The Sacred Precepts and Admonitions of the Gospel

Grace Conferred (4): The Sacred Precepts and Admonitions of the Gospel
If you were paying careful attention to the Canons and looked them up, and I hope that you make a practice of doing that, you might have thought that I changed the Canons last time. In the English version of Canons 5:14 we read of “the hearing and reading of His (God’s) Word, by meditation thereon, and by exhortations, threatenings, and promises thereof.” I wrote, “The exhortations, threatenings, and promises of the gospel.” Which is it, “the exhortations of the Word” or “the exhortations of the gospel”? And is there an important difference or distinction? Read More

Grace Conferred (3): The Means Which God Employs: Admonitions

Grace Conferred (3): The Means Which God Employs: Admonitions
If God’s grace works in rational, moral creatures “endowed with understanding and will” (Canons 3-4.16), how does God’s grace operate? He works by means of admonitions. Of course, he does because you cannot admonish a stock or a block, but you can admonish—and God does admonish—a rational, moral creature; a living, thinking, willing human being, whether man, woman, young person, or child. “Grace,” we read, in Canons 3-4.17, is conferred. Read More

Grace Conferred (2): The Grace Which God Confers

Grace Conferred (2): The Grace Which God Confers
The truth that “grace is conferred by means of admonitions” (Canons 3-4.17) is often misunderstood. How can grace, we wonder, be conferred? And how can it be conferred by means of admonitions? Is grace not the unmerited favor of God by which we are saved? And do we not all agree that “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9)? Read More

Grace Conferred by Means of Admonitions (1): God's Use of Means

Grace Conferred by Means of Admonitions (1): God's Use of Means
Canons 3-4.17 was written in response to an Arminian objection to the sovereignty of God’s grace in regeneration and conversion. If, as the Reformed faith teaches, God saves man by working regeneration in him without his will, why is preaching necessary? To that the Reformed answer is and has always been quite simple: the sovereign God who ordains the end (salvation) also ordains the means (in this case, the means of grace, especially the preaching of the gospel). Read More

December 1, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

December 1, 2020 Standard Bearer preview article

John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California is embroiled in a legal battle with the County of Los Angeles (LA County) over the right to worship indoors during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Grace Community Church (GCC) is a nondenominational, evangelical congregation with an average weekly attendance in excess of 8,000 people.

On March 4, 2020 Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a State of Emergency in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has since issued a number of executive orders to curtail public gatherings in the State of California. An order on March 19, 2020, required almost all establishments, including places of worship, to close. On June 18, 2020 the LA County Health Officer, Dr. Muntu Davis, issued an order “allowing reduced-capacity indoor operations at houses of worship,” but subsequent orders prohibited “indoor operations at a variety of establishments, including houses of worship.” Those orders are still in force at the time of writing. In California, therefore, churches may worship only outdoors.1

 

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What’s Happening?

What’s Happening?

Coronavirus. Riots. Looting. Anarchy. Chaos. Bitterness. Strife. Division. What’s happening? Christ is coming. As we have seen in recent months, his footsteps grow louder and more frequent by the day. Christ himself gave us the signs of his coming in Matthew 24. Called to Watch for Christ’s Return explains those signs, based on Jesus’s own teachings to his disciples. This book also includes commentary on chapter 25, Jesus’ instruction to the disciples to watch for those signs and be ready for...

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The Christian’s Spiritual Wardrobe (2)

The Christian’s Spiritual Wardrobe (2)

As I indicated earlier these items of spiritual clothing—compassion (two items), humility (two items), patience (one item), and love (one item)—are graces (or gifts to us) and virtues (for we are called to exercise them and become active in them). In a similar way Paul writes about the armor of God in Ephesians 6: God supplies the armor, but we are commanded to put it on. These virtues are the work of the Spirit, but we are commanded to wear them or put them on.

As Christians, who have been regenerated and renewed, we choose to wear certain things and we choose not to wear other things. The unbeliever, who is dead in sin and is not renewed after the image of God, cannot choose to put on these virtues, but we can—and we do.

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The Christian’s Spiritual Wardrobe

The Christian’s Spiritual Wardrobe

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness” (Col. 3:12–14).

Most of us have a wardrobe at home in which we keep our clothes. Every day we open the wardrobe and we put on some of the clothes that we store there. Perhaps we have clothes that we wear on special occasions. Perhaps we have a summer wardrobe and a winter wardrobe. Perhaps there are items of clothing that we wear frequently, for they belong to our favorites. We have other items that we seldom wear. Perhaps we have our “Sunday best.”

In these verses Paul calls the Colossians—and he calls us­—to put on various items. Of course, the apostle writes figuratively. He is not interested in our clothes or fashion as such. He is interested in our “spiritual wardrobe.” He urges us to put on certain spiritual clothing.

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A "captivating account of the history of Christ’s birth"

A "captivating account of the history of Christ’s birth"

The greatest miracle ever to take place was not the standing still of the sun over Joshua’s battle or water coming from the rock by the striking of Moses’ rod. The greatest miracle ever to take place was the incarnation of Almighty God, which took place when Jesus Christ was born many years ago of the virgin Mary. The magnitude of this miracle follows from its stunning implications: that the God who created the world around us, who formed each of us in the darkness of our mothers’ womb, who cannot be contained in temples made with human hands, assumed the form of a servant, took upon himself our human nature, was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid to sleep in a manger! The preciousness of this miracle to every believer is found in God’s purpose in performing it. Jesus Christ, the Son of God incarnate, was not born to gratify our sentimentality during the holiday season. He was not born as the poster child for world peace to be displayed in nativity scenes across the nations. He was born for our salvation, which he would accomplish when he grew into the man who hung on the cross and was raised again three days later for our justification.

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