Archive for January, 2010

What is paedocommunion?

January 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Paedocommunion is the practice of giving the Lord’s Supper to baptized children, even apart from a coming-of-age ritual such as confirmation or profession of faith.

Paedocommunion was the universal practice of the Church until the late medieval period (c. 1200). It is attested at least as far back as Cyprian (c. 250), and is witnessed throughout the centuries following (e.g. in Augustine, Leo the Great, etc.)

Nonetheless, the practice dropped off in the Western Church. This was due to a combination of factors (such as superstition regarding the sacramental elements, and the view of the bishop as the conveyer of the Holy Spirit, so that confirmation could not be conducted by a mere priest at baptism, but had to be accomplished by the bishop).

Biblically, paedocommunion is supported by the status of children within the covenant. Even as God counted Abraham’s offspring as His own, and therefore required that they be circumcised (Gen. 17), so too Jesus assumes a priestly role in relation to the children of new covenant believers, and calls them the heirs of the kingdom (Matt. 19:13-14).

What is perhaps most surprising is that many (indeed most) who hold to infant baptism nonetheless reject paedocommunion. They suggest a cleavage between the two sacraments. Biblically speaking, however, the two sacraments are tied together very closely. Baptism incorporates one into Christ and His Church (1 Cor. 12:13). Meanwhile, the Lord’s Supper is precisely the meal of the Church. The Church is the one body together precisely because it partakes of the one bread together (1 Cor. 10:16-17).

Consequently, just as the children of the old covenant were admitted to the sacramental communal meals of the OT (such as Passover), so too the children of the new covenant belong at the table of the Lord. This is the position of a growing number of Presbyterian and Reformed scholars and pastors, who are recognizing the profound biblical foundation that underlay the historic practice of paedocommunion.


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Bible study software

January 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Personal Bible study is an important part of Christian growth. These days there is a lot of Bible study software available that can help make one’s study more efficient and complete.

Some Bible study software can be quite expensive. But there is some very good Bible study software available at little or no cost, that comes with lots of resources.

One of these is e-Sword, by Rick Meyers.

The basic e-Sword installation comes with some very basic tools. But many more modules can be added. Some of these are available at a nominal cost, and a great many others are available for free.

Here’s just a sample of some of the free modules that can be had. . .

Matthew Henry’s Commentary
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary
Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
Calvin’s Commentaries
The Treasury of David (Spurgeon)
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Brown-Drive-Brigg’s Hebrew Definitions
Fausset’s Bible Dictionary
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Nave’s Topical Bible
Thayer’s Greek Dictionary
Noah Webster’s Dictionary of American English
Ante-Nicene Fathers
History of the Christian Church (Schaff)
Institutes of the Christian Religion (Calvin)

If you do not have any Bible study software, I encourage you to check out e-Sword.

The peace God gives

January 26, 2010 Leave a comment

peaceful oceanOne of the common problems of our time is the number of people that endure each day without peace in their lives.  Whether the cause be anxiety, doubt, fear, guilt, or trouble, the problem is serious.

Not only do people who lack peace become immobilized and unable to lead the kind of productive lives that God intends for them, they also have adverse affects on the people around them.  At a minimum, those who lack peace are irritable, preoccupied, and hard to live with.  More seriously, those without peace can become angry, destructive, and even violent.

The good news is that God gives His peace freely to those who turn to Him.  And he gives it in three different ways.

First, He gives the objective peace that we need to have with Him.

The Bible’s description of us is not flattering.  It tells us that we have all sinned and fall short of His glory (Rom.3:23), that we suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom.1:18), and are by nature children of wrath (Eph.2:3).  Because of this, we are naturally out of accord with Him, and by going our own way we are not at peace with Him.

But God, being rich in mercy, has taken the initiative to do what is necessary to bring peace.  He has sent His Son to be the satisfaction for our sins (1 Jn.2:2) so that His wrath would be turned away from us.  To experience the resulting peace with Him, all we need to do is believe Him.  The promise of the Bible is that “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom.5:1).
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Thankfulness and dependence

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve been listening to James Jordan’s lectures on Ephesians, available at Wordmp3.

In one of the lectures he makes an interesting point about thankfulness.

He notes that giving thanks expresses dependence, and the reason why people are so little inclined to give thanks is that they don’t want to reveal dependence on anyone but themselves.

The people of God, on the other hand, are to be a thankful people.  Being thankful is to be part of who they are because it helps train them toward dependence on the Lord, and keep them there.

Thinking about this further, the value of teaching children to be thankful becomes apparent.  It’s more than good manners.  It prepares them for a life of unashamed dependence on the Lord.

The Greatest Threat. . . Spiritual Decay

January 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Gary DeMar has posted a link to a paper written by a Lieutenant General Van Antwerp of the U.S. Army who makes the case that the greatest threat to our national security is our nation’s poor spiritual condition.

From the abstract:

This study examines the “real threat” to our national security–
that we are no longer a “Nation Under God” and are no longer led by
those who understand the spiritual dimension of leadership
envisioned and demonstrated by our founding fathers. Our founding
fathers knew and accepted their role as spiritual leaders and did
their best to reflect that in the documents they produced. Most
leaders today get caught up in the trap of “secular humanism” and
neglect their responsibilities.

The Greatest Threat. . . Spiritual Decay is worth reading in its entirety.

Marriage and the cross

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Marriages that thrive are those that have partners that know how to contain their own selfishness.  They know how to take up their own crosses in such away that they lay down their lives for one another in a meaningful way.   Those couples that live in such a way find that each partner ends up receiving far more than they would of if they were out to get for themselves.

From Douglas Wilson’s For a Glory and a Covering. . .

A godly marriage does not consist of this marital technique or that one.  A godly marriage occurs when a man and woman both die to themselves, and are raised to the life that seeks the best interest of the other in all things.  This is the only kind of godly marriage there is.  And when we give all away in this manner, we discover that we receive all.  We learn to give in order to receive, in order to be able to give some more.  And we are married to someone who is doing the same thing.

In praise of good works

January 19, 2010 1 comment

Some Christians get nervous when they hear others speak of good works.  Somehow they get the idea that if somebody starts thinking too much about good works, it will threaten the message of the gospel – the message that we are saved not by our good works but by faith in Jesus Christ.

Indeed, salvation does come by faith in Christ alone – “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Eph.2:8,9).  But, this does not mean there is not a place for good works.  And to ignore the place of good works leads to some ugly consequences.

If a Christian does not occupy himself doing good in this life, he will occupy himself in other, less constructive ways.  Possible ways include pursuing a life of amusement, endlessly refining one’s theology, or scrutinizing and critiquing the lives of others.

Aside from the fact that these approaches to life are not very appealing, they also lead to something else – a lot of good deeds go undone.  And when a lot of good deeds go undone, not only does the world suffer for it, but the emphasis the Bible puts on good works is ignored.

The Bible has a lot to say about the place of good works in the life of the believer, and the true believer is concerned as to how his life would be full of them.

In the passage cited above, we learn that there is no inconsistency between grace and good works.  In fact, God gives His grace so that we would go do the good works he has in mind for us. As the passage continues, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph.2:10).
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Prayer and decision making

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

In our anxious times people devote themselves to statistics, experts, methods, and untold data as they make important decisions.  Despite all this devotion, the decisions that are eventually made frequently are done so without any real assurance that the decision was the right one or that it will bring any effective result.

Could it be that in our pursuit of all the right data and expertise that we’ve forgotten about prayer?  In earlier ages, where there was a whole lot less information available, people didn’t seem to have the anxiety about their decisions that we have today.   Maybe in the absence of all the info that we think we must have, they devoted themselves to prayer instead, with the result being a whole lot more confident decision making.

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Another Lord’s Day

January 16, 2010 Leave a comment

Tomorrow is another Lord’s Day.

Another week has past that God has shown His mercy.

A new week has arrived to live for Him.

Another day has come to be renewed by His grace.

Another day is ours to stand before our King.

Another day to hear the sweetness of His pardon.

Another day of finding His strength in our weakness.

Another day of feeding on His Word and Sacrament.

Another day of clarifying what our lives are about.

Another day of hope because of His blessing.

Tomorrow is another Lord’s Day.

Aren’t you glad?

Categories: Christian Life, Church Tags:

Embracing your trials

January 12, 2010 1 comment

Having a hard time time coping with a trial you’ve been facing?  One way you may find help is to actually embrace your trial as part of God’s way of developing you and bringing about good in your life.

No one is immune to trials.  Every individual in every social and economic situation face them all of the time.

Most of the time we want to just get through any given trial and get on with things as quickly as we can.  But could it be we’re missing out with this approach, and need to pay more attention to what God may be doing through our trials?

The Bible tells us that we are to consider it all joy when we encounter various trials (Jas.1:2).  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  But the passage goes on to tell us why – because the testing that trials bring lead to not only endurance but the completion of our characters (Jas.1:3,4).

Lying behind this idea from the Epistle of James are two basic concepts.
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