How would you answer that question? There have been many statements that answer it: some short and succinct, like the Apostles’ Creed, and some long and more substantive, like the historic Protestant confessions. Over at the Reformation21 blog they’ve started an excellent series on the Westminster Confession of Faith. I’ve been enjoying reading (and later writing, Lord willing) about the confession of faith I share with many in North America and around the world. If you want to be refreshed and challenged by this summary of the rich truths of God’s Word, check it out. It will help you “be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine…” (1 Timothy 4:6).
“…Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us…” (Luke 1:67-68)
Zechariah’s song begins with thanksgiving and praise to God, but it contains teaching which is applicable to every believer. He makes it clear that although God was, in a sense, hidden, and appeared to have withdrawn his help from those he had chosen and reserved as his inheritance, nevertheless he remained, from first to last, God. Now anyone judging the condition of the Jews at that time might well have thought that they were deluded fools Continue reading
The following article is a guest contribution by Peter Kemeny, pastor of Good News Presbyterian Church, Frederick, Maryland. It first appeared in this month’s edition of the church newsletter and is reprinted here with permission.
It’s not uncommon for an unbeliever to say, “I would like to believe that Christianity is true, but I’m not there yet.” What counsel can we offer?
The first thing I would say to my unbelieving friend is this: “Your unbelief is not merely a product of your upbringing or of the secular culture in which we live. The root cause of your unbelief is the fact that you are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). Your unregenerate heart has rendered you unable to believe. You do not believe because you cannot believe.” Continue reading
Why is it that learning a second language seems easier for young children? Patricia Kuhl’s TED talk may leave those of you who’ve had to wrestle with learning other languages feeling a bit wistful about an early missed opportunity. For all it should make us very thankful for the loving nurture received from our mothers. It left me musing over what exactly occurred in man as God shattered linguistic unity at Babel. It made me reflect that, as gloriously displayed at Pentecost, by the sovereign grace and power of the Creator, Babel can, and will be undone.
As we continue by “baby steps” to discover more of the incredible complexity of the linguistic ability of the mind, praise God and marvel at how we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Anticipate the great day when everyone robed in Jesus’ righteousness joins in with the “great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:8-10)
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)
“In 1945 President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill gave half of Europe to Stalin at the Yalta Agreement. With horror we heard over night that we were on the wrong side of that line that divided Europe in two. And that we were left to the mercy of the Russians. It took the Russians three years to build up a communist apparatus in Romania. By 1948 secret police apparatus was there, the country was surrounded by barbed wire. We were trapped, and the terror began…”
Josef Tson, a Romanian Baptist pastor, ministered under the anti-Christian persecution of the Ceausescu communist regime in the 1970’s; in more recent years he has moved in a charismatic direction, leading to divergence from his denominational Baptist confession, and dismissal from his denomination. Despite these more recent difficulties, his ministry, both early on in Romania, and his speaking engagements in the 1980′s and following in America were profoundly influential — causing many to rethink their cultural and life assumptions in the West.
In this vintage quality, accent laden 50 minute recording, Tson grippingly narrates God’s gracious, convicting and vision changing work in his life, strengthening him to experience freedom in Christ even under a brutal totalitarian regime. While the American audience laughs a little too often, this is one of the most valuable non-sermon addresses I’ve heard.
To download the mp3 to go: Tson on Freedom and Fear
The English Reformer Hugh Latimer (c.1487-1555) wrote the following to his friend and fellow minister, Nicholas Ridley, as they sat imprisoned awaiting a likely death penalty by burning during the reign of Queen Mary:
“Be of good cheer in the Lord, remember what he requires of you, and what he promises you. Our common enemy will do no more than God will permit him. “God is faithful, which will not suffer us to be tempted above our strength,” &c. They can but kill the body, which must die regardless. They cannot even do that when they want, but when God wills, when the appointed time has come… Give a reasonable account of your faith, if they will quietly hear you; if not, you know, in a wicked place of judgment a man may keep silence following the example of Christ. Don’t let them deceive you… with their fallacies. As Paul says, “Let no man deceive you.”
“Fear of death does persuade a great number. The flesh is weak; but the willingness of the spirit will refresh the weakness of the flesh. The number of the martyrs under the throne must be fulfilled. If we are set apart to that we are blessed. It is the greatest promotion God gives in this world… “to whom it is given not only to believe, but to suffer.”
“Who is sufficient for these things? All our ability, all our sufficiency is in God. He requires, he promises… Pray for me.”
Hugh Latimer, Conferences Between Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer.