Free Classic eBooks on Justification by Faith (Sola Fide) at Monergism.com

For free eBooks on this topic by A.W. Pink, John Owen, Charles Hodge, Martin Luther and more click here.

The New City Catechism: A Modern Method to Learn Core Christian Doctrines

The New City Catechism” is a modern-day resource aimed at helping children and adults alike learn the core doctrines of the Christian faith via 52 questions and answers. Below is an excerpt. It is available in Book, Web App and Mobile App form. Each question also includes a Scripture, a Prayer and a Commentary for weekly devotional use. Questions and answers are adapted from various historic catechisms.

Question 1: 
What is our only hope in life and death?

Answer 1: 
That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.

Children’s Answer 1: 
That we are not our own but belong to God.

Scripture: Romans 14:7–8
For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

Prayer: 
Christ Our Hope, in life and in death, we cast ourselves on your merciful, fatherly care. You love us because we are your own. We have no good apart from you, and we could ask for no greater gift than to belong to you. Amen.

Commentary: John Calvin

If we, then, are not our own but the Lord’s, it is clear what error we must flee, and whither we must direct all the acts of our life. We are not our own: let not our reason nor our will, therefore, sway our plans and deeds. We are not our own: let us therefore not set it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us. . . . We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us forget ourselves and all that is ours. Conversely, we are God’s: let us therefore live for him and die for him. We are God’s: let his wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions. We are God’s: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our only lawful goal. O, how much has that man profited who, having been taught that he is not his own, has taken away dominion and rule from his own reason that he may yield it to God! For, as consulting our self-interest is the pestilence that most effectively leads to our destruction, so the sole haven of salvation is to be wise in nothing and to will nothing through ourselves but to follow the leading of the Lord alone.

Commentary: Timothy Keller 
At one point in his writings John Calvin lays out the essence of what it means to live the Christian life. He says that he could make us a list of the commandments we should be keeping or a list of all the character traits we should be exhibiting. But instead, he wants to boil it down to the basic motive and the basic principle of what it means to live the Christian life.
Continue reading

96.4% Eclipse, 100% Glory of God

We are told that in our area of southeastern North Carolina, we will be able to experience 96.4% of the total eclipse today (Monday, August 21). The opening verses of Psalm 19 remind us that the majesty of the heavens declare, with nary a word, the glory of their Creator, not only to some, but to all.
“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.”

“God has made a home in the heavens for the sun. It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat.”

Is God a Beneficent Provider or Cruel Oppressor?

“[T]he snake…said to the woman, ‘Indeed! To think that God said you are not to eat of any tree of the garden!'” (Gen. 3:1)

“[T]he serpent…grossly exaggerates God’s prohibition, claiming that God did not allow them access to any of the orchard trees. Apart from this claim being unadulterated distortion, it is an attempt to create in the woman’s mind the impression that God is spiteful, mean, obsessively jealous and self-protective. [B]y this one statement of the snake God has moved from beneficent provider to cruel oppressor.”

Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17 (1990) Eerdmans 186, 188-189

How the Wisdom of God Healed Man

“Seeing, then, that man fell through pride, He restored him through humility. We were ensnared by the wisdom of the serpent: we are set free by the foolishness of God. Moreover, just as the former was called wisdom, but was in reality the folly of those who despised God, so the latter is called foolishness, but is true wisdom in those who overcome the devil.”

Augustine, bishop of Hippo Regius, Numidia in north Africa (354-430 AD) , On Christian Doctrine, Book 1, Chapter 14.

The Problem of Evil

Addressing the question, “How could a good God allow so much, evil, pain, and suffering – or does he simply not care?

“Having looked at the four commonly proposed solutions, I’d like to offer what I am convinced is a vastly better option: to live in the tension and accept that there is a God [he exists] – One who is good [he hates evil], who is great [he is all-powerful], and who nevertheless allows real evil in the world [things that are in rebellion to him and that at this moment are challenging him] for a season and for his greater purposes.

It’s also wise to admit to ourselves that we don’t have a simplistic solution that wraps this problem up in neat bow that makes everyone feel good. In fact, there’s nothing we can say to make people suddenly okay with the evil around them or the suffering in their lives. Because – let’s be honest – we’re not okay with it, either! That said, there are some practical thoughts we can offer to our friends to show them that Christianity offers the most satisfying answers to this problem.”

Mark Mittelberg, The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask: With Answers (2010) Tyndale House 130, 138.

Reaching Your World with the Gospel: Three Commitments

“There are at least three commitments that every church should make.

“[1]…to support the church in other parts of the world…[with] theological training…prayer…finances…

[2]…to send out missionaries…Christians who are willing to go…totally committed to living for Christ…willing to die for Christ…

[3]…to realize that every Christian is a missionary…[in] your local community…helping to plant growing, vibrant missions-minded churches…re-evangelizing dying congregations…reaching out to internationals…speak[ing] about spiritual things with friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members…penetrating society in culture-transforming ways [as] Christian lawyers and doctors, singers and dancers, builders and bakers, students and teachers, buyers and sellers, journalists and politicians.”

Philip Graham Ryken, City On a Hill: Reclaiming the Biblical Pattern for the Church in the 21st Century (2003) Moody Publishers 141-145.

 

Drawing People into Christ

“…the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952) Barbour and Company 168-169.

Man as the Image of Christ

“In Christ man sees what manhood was meant to be…men are the image of Christ so far as they are like Christ…this is how man, the image of God, who is already man, already the image of God, can become fully man, fully the image of God.”

Considering the New Testament appropriation of Genesis 1:27, “God created man in his image. In the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Clines, Tynbul 19 (1968) 103 in Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis Chapters 1-17 (1990) Eerdmans 147.

 

Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) Position Paper on Human Sexuality

Adopted by the 37th General Assembly, June 2017

https://www.epc.org/file/beliefs/positionpapers/PositionPaper-HumanSexuality.pdf

An excerpt…

“In a time when views of human sexuality and marriage are rapidly changing, we believe it is necessary and helpful to state clearly and compassionately to the church and the world our beliefs about God’s design for human sexuality. We wish to do so with love toward all as we attempt to imitate God’s love for us.1 We long for the Church as well as society to conform to biblical standards of sexuality; but our ultimate desire is that, through the gospel, all may come to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives and receive His gift of eternal life.”

A Position Paper expresses the mind of the General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church on a subject of compelling interest. It is a definitive but not an exhaustive statement. A Position Paper is not to be regarded as binding on the conscience of churches or individuals.

Equipping Pastors in Cuba, Part 4

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Cuban pastors and ministry leaders with Certificates in Biblical and Theological Foundations

Pastors and ministry leaders in Havana, Cuba completed Timothy Two Project International’s Workshop 4, “Serving God: Living Life in Response to Grace” in which we studied and discussed what the Bible teaches about serving God in the church, the community and the world.

Having also completed three previous workshops in our “Growing in Grace” series earlier this year, they each received a Certificate in Biblical and Theological Foundations.

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Pastors and ministry leaders with workbook 4

On this trip, my wife, Beth, accompanied me for the first time to teach classes for children’s ministry leaders and music ministry leaders. She is pictured below with her students and some of their children.

See my full report (with more photos) on our teaching trip to Cuba during June 2017.

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Beth with children’s ministry leaders and music ministry leaders

See also:

For more information about our work in Latin America:

For more information about the work of other Timothy Two instructors in Africa and Asia:

 

Equipping Pastors in Cuba, Part 3

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Cuban pastors and ministry leaders with instructor Dan Sonnenberg

These Cuban pastors and ministry leaders recently completed Timothy Two Project International’s Workshop 3, “Trusting God: Practicing Kingdom Living” in which they studied and discussed what the Bible teaches about trusting God in relationships, social issues and personal issues. See my full report (including more photos and videos) after this teaching trip to Cuba during May 2017.

See also:

For more information about our work in Latin America:

For more information about the work of other Timothy Two instructors in Africa and Asia:

Equipping Pastors in Cuba, Part 2

 “You would be amazed at how quickly the materials you bring here are copied and distributed throughout our towns and cities and nation.” – Cuban pastor

These Cuban pastors and ministry leaders recently completed Timothy Two Project International’s Workshop 2, “Loving God: Transformed from Darkness to Light” in which we studied and discussed the work of Christ to accomplish salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit to apply salvation in the lives of believers (Christology, pneumatology, soteriology).

And I was thrilled to hear that several participants had already begun teaching the material from Workshop 1 to the next generation of students in their churches and neighborhoods.

Watch the videos below to hear their stories.

We asked the coordinating pastors to share their vision for the work of Timothy Two in Cuba. The pre-revolution National Capitol Building can be seen in the background. Here is their story.

See and hear the sights and sounds of a street corner in Old Havana.

Listen to congregational singing at a Cuban house church.

This group is highly motivated to complete the training. We have been invited to return as soon as possible to teach Workshops 3 and 4 before the beginning of hurricane season in the Caribbean. I am scheduled to teach Workshop 3 the week of April 30 – May 5.

See also:

For more information about our work in Latin America:

For more information about the work of other Timothy Two instructors in Africa and Asia:

Equipping Pastors in Cuba, Part 1

We recently made our first trip to Havana, Cuba to equip a group of 10 pastors and ministry leaders by teaching and discussing Timothy Two Project International’s Workshop 1, “Knowing God” concerning the attributes and works of God (theology proper). These students from various denominations and various cities and towns throughout the region, are now prepared to teach these 21 lessons to those in their local churches and communities using the biblical content we provided, as well as culturally relevant illustrations and study questions they developed in group discussions together with one another throughout the week.

Timothy Two instructors equip pastors in the majority world who do not have access to formal theological training. And we do so, not using a lecturer-listener format, but in a small group teaching-and-discussion format. This not only trains pastors in systematic and practical theology, but also equips them to train others.

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With Cuban pastors, ministry leaders and interpreter
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Group discussion with Cuban pastors

Watch participant testimonials. Watch a video filmed while walking the streets of Havana in the morning. See a video of congregational and small group singing in Cuba. See my full report on this trip.

See also:

For more information about our work in Latin America:

For more information about the work of other Timothy Two instructors in Africa and Asia:

Why We Serve with Timothy Two

The ministry of Timothy Two Project International began five years ago in the hearts of a group of elders and leaders from Myrtle Grove Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, NC.

The calling of Timothy Two comes from 2 Tim. 2:2, where Paul wrote to Timothy, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

The mission of Timothy Two is to train indigenous pastors and ministry leaders in the essential doctrines of the faith and to equip them to train others.”

I began working with Timothy Two in March of this year when I interned in Vietnam (fig. 1) with Steve Curtis, International Director, by observing him as he taught the group.1. Vietnam

Then we traveled on to Burma (fig. 2) where I taught the group most of the week by myself. Read my report on the Vietnam and Burma trip. Continue reading

Participant Questions During Timothy Two “Knowing God” Workshops in Haiti and Colombia

I recently taught a workshop in two developing nations entitled, “Knowing God” which is the first of four in Timothy Two Project International’s Growing in Grace series for indigenous pastors and ministry leaders.

Small group discussion is one of the priorities of our teaching method. During each of the twenty-one lessons in the workshops, we take time to discuss participants’ questions and to develop culturally relevant illustrations and responses for each topic. Below is a sampling of the many questions raised by participants under the various topics during these two workshops. Note that some questions do not necessarily pertain to the particular topic, but apparently came to mind during that discussion.

My purpose in this article is not to to answer or debate the stated questions, but to illustrate for the reader the need for biblical and theological training among ministry leaders in developing nations whose access to such training is severely limited by distance and/or finances. This is the need that the ministry of Timothy Two seeks to meet. More info at TimothyTwo.org.

On Knowing God

  • Can we know about God also by the image of God in us?

 God Is (Being)

  • How do we explain that we won’t get old in eternity?
  • Did those who went to heaven without dying (Elijah/Enoch) do so because they were sinless? Did Christ have to die for them?
  • What is the biblical evidence that people gained immortality?

 God Exists in Three Persons

  • Would it be more correct to say that God exists or subsists in three persons?
  • Did people speak of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the OT (Old Testament)?
  • Are the three persons of the Trinity sometimes one person or always three?
  • Some people say Jesus is not God, why?
  • Referring to the verse “no man can come to the Father except through me” seems to prove that Jesus is not God. Does it?
  • In Acts 2 it says the Holy Spirit is a power, and if a power, can we pray to the Spirit as we pray to the Father and the Son? Prove this in the Bible.
  • Compare angels to the Holy Spirit.
  • Where does the Scripture say that we should worship the Holy Spirit as God?
  • May I pray to the Holy Spirit?
  • Are the three persons of the Trinity the same or different, and does God work as the Holy Spirit sometimes, as Jesus other times?

Continue reading

Timothy Two Curriculum: “Growing in Grace” Series Table of Contents

Timothy Two Project International equips pastors and ministry leaders in developing nations who have little or no access to biblical or theological training. Timothy Two instructors utilize a series of four workbooks developed by International Director, Steve Curtis. Below are the titles and tables of contents of the workbooks. More information at TimothyTwo.org.


Growing in Grace Series Summary 

Workbook 1 – Knowing God

Workbook 2 – Loving God: Transformed from Darkness to Light

Workbook 3 – Trusting God: Practicing Kingdom Living

Workbook 4 – Serving God: Living Life in Response to Grace


Workbook 1 – Knowing God

Table of Contents

Introduction

  1. On Knowing God

The Person of God

  1. God is (Being)
  2. God Exists in Three Persons
  3. God Is Self-Existent
  4. God Is Infinite
  5. God Is Eternal
  6. God Is Unchanging
  7. God Is Self-Sufficient

The Power of God

  1. God Is All-Powerful
  2. God Is All-Knowing
  3. God is All-Present

The Perfections of God

  1. God is Great
  2. God Is Sovereign
  3. God Is All-Wise
  4. God Is Good
  5. God Is Loving
  6. God Is Gracious
  7. God Is Jealous
  8. God Is Just
  9. God Is True
  10. God Is Holy

Continue reading

Equipping Colombian Pastors and Church Leaders with Timothy Two Workshop “Knowing God”

Eight pastors and leaders of three local churches gathered together with me and several translators in Barbosa, Antioquia, Colombia for four days last week to study and discuss the attributes of God.

Some comments from participants at the conclusion of the training:

“The material puts things in the right place, it helps me see the differences between God and us, and it’s good for discipling other people.” 

“Knowing God gives me security and peace and motivates me to be diligent.”

“The method of meeting in a small group helps us because many questions arise in our minds. Many passages are harder to understand, but by talking together in the group many things are clarified.” 

“We already know many things about God, but we have ignored many other things about him. Because of this teaching it is much easier to ‘fall in love with God’ now that I know him better. I can now see one God, all-wise, all powerful, yet loving and merciful – that blows my mind.”

“I give thanks to God for sending people from other countries to teach and preach his word to us.”

Click here to read my full report including more participants’ comments about the workshop, photos and videos, and my visit to the Latin American Reformed Seminary in Medellin.

For more information about Timothy Two Project International, click here.

 Equipping pastors and ministry leaders in developing nations who have little or no access to Biblical and theological training – so that they might teach others also. 

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Equipping Haitian Pastors and Ministry Leaders with Timothy Two Workshop “Knowing God”

Ten young pastors and ministry leaders, including two translators, gathered together with me for four days in Jacmel, Haiti to study and discuss the attributes of God.

Click here to read my full report, see photos of the group and watch video testimonials of two participants of this workshop.

To learn more about the ministry of Timothy Two Project International, click here.

Equipping pastors and ministry leaders in developing nations who have little or no access to Biblical and theological training – so that they might teach others also. 

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Upcoming Teaching Trips to Haiti and Colombia

Click here to see the details of my upcoming trips with Timothy Two Project International to equip pastors who have little or no access to theological training in the Caribbean and Latin America.

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Vietnamese & Burmese Pastors Complete Timothy Two Workshop “Loving God”

Read about our recent trip to train local pastors in Vietnam and Myanmar (Burma) in the doctrines concerning the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in salvation.

To learn more about our ministry with Timothy Two, click here.

Teaching pastors and ministry leaders who have little or no access to Biblical and theological training – so that they might teach others also. 

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With Vietnamese Pastors
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With Burmese Pastors

 

Preparing for Vietnam & Burma

Postcard_DanMy trip to Vietnam and Myanmar (Burma) with Timothy Two International begins in just 20 days.

Teaching pastors who have little or no access to Biblical and theological training – so that they might teach others also. 


Praise reports:

  • Sufficient funds for this trip had been received by Jan. 13.
  • All airline tickets have been purchased.
  • My new passport arrived a couple weeks ago.
  • All overnight accommodations have been secured.
  • All visas have been received.

Prayer requests:

  • Click here for my Prayer Calendar which I’m updating with new requests as I get closer to departure.
  • Pray for Beth’s continued recovery from hip replacement surgery. She’s doing very well, but it takes 6-12 months for full recovery. The surgery was on Dec. 15.
  • Pray that our fundraising and painting efforts will enable us to move out of Beth’s mother’s house and back into our own house by April 1.
  • Pray for the many final pre-trip preparations.
  • Pray for my departure from Myrtle Beach airport Feb. 24 and return Mar. 12.  See the Calendar for travel details.
  • Pray for safety and wisdom for Timothy Two President Steve Curtis as he travels to Bogota, Colombia this week seeking to set up my next teaching trip in South America for May or June.

Information about the Church in Vietnam and Myanmar you might find helpful as you pray:


“…what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also…”
– 2 Timothy 2:2


Dan Sonnenberg
Instructor
Timothy Two Project International
phone   419-265-1405
web  TimothyTwo.org/Dan
blog  DanSonnenberg.com

 

 

 

Beginning with Timothy Two Project International

Postcard_DanEarly last year after resigning from the church in Ohio, I heard from Steve Curtis who invited us to consider joining him and his wife Rissa as teaching missionaries with Timothy Two Project International. Through translators, Timothy Two instructors equip pastors and ministry leaders in developing nations with the fundamentals of the Christian faith so that they, in turn, can equip others. Timothy Two missionaries seek to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples in areas of the world where there is little or no formal biblical or theological instruction available. Continue reading

The Westminster Larger Catechism: EPC Modern English Version

By Daniel L. Sonnenberg

At the time of this writing, the EPC Modern English Version of the Westminster Larger Catechism is published only in pdf format on the Evangelical Presbyterian Church website. However, pdf documents are notoriously difficult to read online, especially by mobile devices. The purpose of the Catechism’s duplication in the form below is to facilitate online reading and studying of this document using mobile devices.

The EPC Westminster Larger Catechism (Modern English Version) below has been duplicated with no changes* from the original pdf download on the EPC website.

*Concerning the duplication of this document: from the EPC website.

“The Westminster Confession and Larger Catechism downloads are the EPC Modern English Versions. Licensed Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs under Creative Commons. The work may be duplicated with no changes and with attribution to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. It may not be sold for profit.”

Continue reading

Dr. C. Matthew McMahon’s Shorter and Longer Summaries of Calvin’s Institutes

By Daniel L. Sonnenberg

Would you like to read a modern summary of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion online? Dr. C. Matthew McMahon has written two of them.

“A Condensed Summary of Calvin’s Institutes is a shorter overview of John Calvin’s magnum opus – the equivalent of about 14 pages in Word. Outline 1 below itemizes the contents of Dr. McMahon’s shorter summary.

“A Longer Overview of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion” is the equivalent of about 44 pages in Word. Outline 2 below itemizes the contents of Dr. McMahon’s longer summary. Continue reading

Teaching Local Pastors in Southeast Asia

By Daniel L. Sonnenberg

Looking forward to teaching pastors in Southeast Asia in March 2016 as an Instructor with Timothy Two Project, International.

Timothy Two Project, International exists to serve a critical need around the world. We are committed to equipping and training indigenous pastors and ministry leaders with the foundational truths of the Christian faith that they may then be able to train others. In this way, the mandate from Christ in the Great Commission to “make disciples” can be realized in areas of the world where there is little to no formal biblical and theological training available.

“The things you heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men that they may be able to train others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).

Shelved?

By Daniel L. Sonnenberg

What should an ordained pastor, or any Christian, think about being “put on the shelf” for a period of time – like a book that was once open, useful, referenced and needed, but now closed and put in its place among the other books in the library? The term “shelved” came to me this morning as I walked into my home office lined with books. I have been using a tamer sounding phrase about my current situation – “between churches” – which, I suppose, communicates my desire to serve a church once again in the future. But the raw truth is that maybe I will serve a church again as a pastor, and maybe I won’t. One can’t normally call oneself to a church.

Being “shelved” reminds me of Moses, who for 40 years after killing the Egyptian, tended sheep in the Midian desert. During those years he met and married Zipporah (remember her more famous father Jethro?) and they raised a family together. But only after those 40 years in virtual exile, did God call him by means of a burning bush to lead Israel out of Egypt. A rather long wait. Continue reading

The Hovering Spirit in Creation (Gen. 1:2)

By Daniel L. Sonnenberg

On Genesis 1:2, the Spirit’s care of the earth at creation.

“‘…the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.’ The verb [rahap] basically means ‘flutter fly’; it is used in Deuteronomy 32:11 to describe an eagle stirring up the nest, fluttering over its young. In much the same way, the unformed, lifeless mass of the watery earth was under the care of the divine Spirit, who hovered over it, ensuring its future development.”

Allen P. Ross, Creation & Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis, p. 107. Continue reading

7 Characteristics of Reformed Spirituality

I first met Dr. Hughes Old at RTS Orlando when I attended a course he taught based on his book Leading in Prayer. Though some will disagree with his evaluation, I respect his view on this subject because he has written so widely on the Reformed tradition including such works as Worship: Reformed According to Scripture, The Patristic Roots of Reformed WorshipThe Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the Sixteenth CenturyHoly Communion in the Piety of the Reformed Church and “Reformed tradition of Eucharistic piety and reflection.”

In “What is Reformed Spirituality? Played Over Again Lightly,” Hughes Oliphant Old identifies 7 central characteristics of the way Reformed culture has expressed itself since the time of John Calvin and his successors. He says it is a spirituality (piety, devotion, practice of Christian living) that emphasizes: the Word; the Psalter; the Lord’s Day; works of mercy; the covenant of grace embodied in the Lord’s Supper; stewardship; and, meditation on the mystery of divine Providence. Dr. Old states: Continue reading

Understanding the Presbyterian and Reformed Order of Worship

Reformed Forum’s audio discussion: The Order of Worship.

Glen Clary walks through a Reformed order of worship, explaining the Biblical precedent and rationale for elements such as the call to worship, invocation, different types of prayer, and the benediction along with the administration of Word and sacrament. Rev. Clary is pastor of Providence OPC in Pflugerville, TX.

Introduction begins at 0:00. Explanation begins at 4:45.

Seeking a New Ministry Position

By Daniel L. Sonnenberg | June 2015

God uses many differing means to lead his people to their next ministry positions. And it’s been said that it’s not so much what you know as it is who you know that often opens such doors. So I’m reaching out to those of you who know the Lord and who know me because I am currently seeking a new ministry position that combines the following elements: Continue reading

Daily Dose of Greek

Want to begin or continue your study of New Testament Greek? Here’s something that may help. Sign up at www.DailyDoseOfGreek.com. Recommended by Dr. Mark Futato, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando. Also, in August, Mark Futato’s www.DailyDoseOfHebrew.com will launch.

EPC Statement on Supreme Court Marriage Ruling

EPC statement on Supreme Court marriage ruling.

Online Modern English Westminster Shorter Catechism with ESV Proof Texts

I‘ve been looking for an online modern English version of the WSC with ESV Scripture proofs for a long time and even started designing my own. I discovered it’s a lot of work and very time consuming. Alas, Martin Eagle has accomplished this feat based on Rowland S. Ward’s text, and it is found at the link below. Thanks Martin and Mr. Ward!!! 

Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English with ESV Scripture ProofsEspecially helpful is his outline of the contents of the Confession as seen below:

(A) INTRODUCTORY

Provision of Redemption
Life’s Purpose and Holy Scripture – Questions 1 to 3
 

(B) WHAT WE ARE TO BELIEVE ABOUT GOD

The One and Triune God

God’s Eternal Plan

Creation

Providence

Sin in the Human Race

God’s covenant of Grace

Christ The Mediator

The Person and natures of the Mediator
    The three offices of Christ
    Christ’s state of humiliation
    Christ’s state of exaltation

– Questions 4 to 6

– Questions 7 to 8

– Questions 9 to 10

– Questions 11 to 12

– Questions 13 to 19

– Question 20



– Questions 21 to 22

– Questions 23 to 26

– Question 27

– Question 28

Application of Redemption
God’s Effective Call

Benefits in this life

Justification
    Adoption
    Sanctification

Further Benefits

In this life
    At death
    At the resurrection

– Questions 29 to 31

– Question 32

– Question 33

– Question 34

– Question 35



– Question 36

– Question 37

– Question 38

 

(C) THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MAN

Duty of the Redeemed
The Moral Law

Brief Summary
    Exposition of the ten commandments
    Transgression and Penalty

God’s command in the gospel

Faith
    Repentance Leading to Life

The Means of Grace

The Word of God
    The Sacraments

Baptism

The Lord’s Supper

Prayer

Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer

– Questions 39 to 40

– Questions 41 to 42

– Questions 43 to 81

– Questions 82 to 84

– Question 85

– Question 86

– Question 87

– Question 88

– Questions 89 to 90

– Questions 91 to 93

– Questions 94 to 95

– Questions 96 to 97

– Questions 98 to 99

– Questions 100 to 107

A Corporate Prayer for Christian Worship

Written for Dr. Steve Brown, Communication II, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, December 2003.

O God, you are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, in his life, death and resurrection, reached out to us in love to pay the price for our sins. We glorify your name. We have sinned against you in our thoughts, our words and our deeds. We have forgotten you, we have ignored you, and we have deliberately disobeyed you. Forgive us our sins today and draw us near to yourself. We need you, and we love you.

We are gathered here in the name of your Son because he is the only true source of life, of truth, of healing for our souls. We are afraid of many things that are happening in our world. We fear attacks by terrorists, we fear losing our jobs, we fear that our families will break apart, we fear that we may never have a family of our own, we fear that we will not become all that you have called us to be. Calm our fears and give us your peace.

Give wisdom to those in authority over us that we might live in peace and freedom to proclaim the gospel in our community and throughout the world. Give wisdom to our church’s leaders that we might serve you faithfully and lovingly among your people. Help your people to live in unity and love with one another so that others might see Christ among us. Help us together to fulfill our calling to make disciples of all the nations, to minister to the poor and needy, and to stand up for righteousness wherever we are.

Lord, remember those among us who are sick, hurting, depressed, struggling with doubt, or lonely. Comfort the troubled. Strengthen the weak. Lift up those who are cast down. Give joy to the sorrowful.

O God, you are our deliverer and our salvation. We look forward with hope and joy to the coming of the fullness of your kingdom, when every tear will be wiped away and when Christ will reign forever and ever and we will reign with him as his glorious bride. Thank you for your matchless grace and mercy on our behalf. All glory be to you now and forever, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Knowledge of God and Ourselves (John Calvin)

1. Our wisdom, in so far as it ought to be deemed true and solid Wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other.


For, in the first place, no man can survey himself without forthwith turning his thoughts towards the God in whom he lives and moves; because it is perfectly obvious, that the endowments which we possess cannot possibly be from ourselves; nay, that our very being is nothing else than subsistence in God alone.

In the second place, those blessings which unceasingly distil to us from heaven, are like streams conducting us to the fountain. Here, again, the infinitude of good which resides in God becomes more apparent from our poverty. In particular, the miserable ruin into which the revolt of the first man has plunged us, compels us to turn our eyes upwards; not only that while hungry and famishing we may thence ask what we want, but being aroused by fear may learn humility.

For as there exists in man something like a world of misery, and ever since we were stript of the divine attire our naked shame discloses an immense series of disgraceful properties every man, being stung by the consciousness of his own unhappiness, in this way necessarily obtains at least some knowledge of God. Thus, our feeling of ignorance, vanity, want, weakness, in short, depravity and corruption, reminds us (see Calvin on John 4:10), that in the Lord, and none but He, dwell the true light of wisdom, solid virtue, exuberant goodness. We are accordingly urged by our own evil things to consider the good things of God; and, indeed, we cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves. For what man is not disposed to rest in himself? Who, in fact, does not thus rest, so long as he is unknown to himself; that is, so long as he is contented with his own endowments, and unconscious or unmindful of his misery? Every person, therefore, on coming to the knowledge of himself, is not only urged to seek God, but is also led as by the hand to find him.

2. On the other hand, it is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he has previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself. For (such is our innate pride) we always seem to ourselves just, and upright, and wise, and holy, until we are convinced, by clear evidence, of our injustice, vileness, folly, and impurity. Convinced, however, we are not, if we look to ourselves only, and not to the Lord also —He being the only standard by the application of which this conviction can be produced. For, since we are all naturally prone to hypocrisy, any empty semblance of righteousness is quite enough to satisfy us instead of righteousness itself. And since nothing appears within us or around us that is not tainted with very great impurity, so long as we keep our mind within the confines of human pollution, anything which is in some small degree less defiled delights us as if it were most pure just as an eye, to which nothing but black had been previously presented, deems an object of a whitish, or even of a brownish hue, to be perfectly white. Nay, the bodily sense may furnish a still stronger illustration of the extent to which we are deluded in estimating the powers of the mind. If, at mid-day, we either look down to the ground, or on the surrounding objects which lie open to our view, we think ourselves endued with a very strong and piercing eyesight; but when we look up to the sun, and gaze at it unveiled, the sight which did excellently well for the earth is instantly so dazzled and confounded by the refulgence, as to oblige us to confess that our acuteness in discerning terrestrial objects is mere dimness when applied to the sun. Thus too, it happens in estimating our spiritual qualities. So long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of Being he is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy will be condemned as the most miserable impotence. So far are those qualities in us, which seem most perfect, from corresponding to the divine purity.

Our Plans, God’s Plans

In life, and on mission trips, maybe especially on mission trips, things don’t always turn out as we’ve planned! For example, last night we were trying to get down to Brooklyn to the mid-week service at the famous Brooklyn Tabernacle. We had to change subway lines part-way there. We got off the first train just fine (not a small feat with a group of 28), then quickly jumped on a train across the ramp that had the right letter on it (R), but once we took off, David Tepper noticed that we were going in the wrong direction! It took us back where we started. Time for a do-over! So the SECOND time we made the line switch, we took our time and made sure we were on the right ramp for the right train going in the right direction! Fortunately, we made it to the church with time to spare and had a wonderful experience worshiping and praying with hundreds of brothers and sisters in Christ from Brooklyn, NY.


Earlier in the week, something similar happened. We were given two 5-gallon buckets of paint to use on the walls of the third floor bedrooms where the men sleep. Like well-trained painters, we began using the bucket that had already been opened first. It still had four gallons in it. By late afternoon, we poured out the last of that bucket into our pans and opened the second bucket. We were more than surprised when we discovered that the color and texture of the paint was very different from the first. Upon further investigation, consultation with the Betel staff, and digging around in the basement, we discovered that we had been using some leftover flat white ceiling paint and should have been using an open bucket of satin enamel paint tinted a nice beige color! We lamented together for a few minutes, then cleaned out our pans, rollers and brushes and looked forward to another day. All was not lost though. Three of our students learned to paint either for the first time or learned to paint a little better that day. Second, we had applied a primer coat on some walls that were previously blue that will be easier to cover with beige on the second coat. Third, Alexis Wallin, one of our excellent paint crew that day (along with Gabe Wallin, Tommy Cambron), observed upon reflection that some of our other technique could be improved. She suggested that instead of working in several rooms at a time, that it might be better to all work together in the same room, get that knocked out, then move on to the next room. And she was right! The next day, we did just as she suggested (with a completely different crew) and it worked much better. And this time, we checked and double checked to make sure we were using the right paint!!! The rooms look great. Thank you Lord, for your grace when we fail and for helping us to learn from our mistakes!

More Arts Feedback 2010

Thanks for being proactive in the area of music! We probably need a larger critical mass of music folks to do some of the bigger things that you probably would like to do. Maybe survey some of the worship music used at some of the larger churches that we have visited recently and try integrating a few into our music. My suggestions are along the line of continued trying new things and discovering the style that resonates with MG. Don’t have any issues with our programs.

Submitted by Martin Brittingham, Sr.

Daily Life in the Kingdom of Heaven: Part 1, Inner Preparation

I recently heard Dr. Richard Pratt (Reformed Theological Seminary, Third Millenium Ministries) speak on the advance of God’s kingdom in the world in preparation for Christ’s final return to rule and reign. Coincidentally, a few days later on a long plane trip, I read through the Gospel of Matthew and noticed how often Jesus and others spoke of the “kingdom of heaven.” So I’d like to chronicle some of the thirty references and make comments on them to remind myself of the existence and nature of this kingdom and to encourage myself and others to look for it in our everyday existence and look forward to it on the day when Christ returns.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the narrative in Matthew is the phrase, “the kingdom of heaven is like.” In these cases the writer uses simile to make his point clear to Jesus’ followers. In other cases, the writer uses metaphor leaving the word “like” unspoken. In still other cases, a parable is used to convey the message. Let’s look at the first instance of this phrase in the book of Matthew.

In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, 2 “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. ” 3 The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him!’ ” (Mat 3:1-3 NLT)

The first reference to this kingdom was made by John the Baptist saying that because this kingdom is near, we must repent of our sins and turn to God. John’s message was one of preparation. We must prepare for the coming of the kingdom by turning away from sin and turning toward God.

While studying to prepare for preaching a sermon on this passage some time ago, I discovered a fact about preparing for the coming of a king in the ancient near east. When a king was coming to visit an area of his realm, the inhabitants of that region often “prepared the way” for his coming by improving the roads on which he would travel. If the roads were excessively winding, they would straighten them.If the roads were excessively hilly or mountainous, they would lower them. If the roads held any obstruction, they would be removed. And so on. The inhabitants of the kingdom made it their business to make the coming of the king into their region as easy as possible for him.

In this passage John was pointing to making preparations in our hearts, in our inner lives. Are we breaking down any “mountains” or straightening out any “crooked places” or removing any “obstructions” in our hearts in preparation for Jesus’ coming back into our world, our state, our town, our neighborhood? Will He feel welcome in our home because we are living in a way that pleases Him? Or will he find strife, anger, gossip, unforgiveness, fear or other sin in our lives and our homes? We should instead, turn away from those things by turning toward Him to seek His help to overcome these sins in our daily lives. We should, for example, seek his help to disover the source our anger, perhaps in fear, perhaps in unforgiveness, and be willing to face that fear or forgive the person who has offended us. Also, we should remember that we don’t have to do this alone. After all, who can straighten a winding road or blast out a mountain or remove a large rock by himself? There are wise and experienced members of the body of Christ who are willing to help us if we will but seek them out and ask for their advice and prayers.

King Jesus is coming back one day to our world, his world, not just to visit, but to rule and reign permanently. What kind of preparations are we making for Him in our inner lives? As His followers and loyal subjects in His kingdom, we should be diligently making those preparations every day as if he were coming today.

God’s Sovereign Plans

God empowers evil people for a time, but only to accomplish His purposes. Then He takes away their power. For example, when Assyria’s king threatened to invade Jerusalem, Isaiah reassured King Hezekiah with these words.

“And the LORD has spoken this word against him: “The virgin daughter of Zion despises you and laughs at you. The daughter of Jerusalem shakes her head in derision as you flee. “Whom have you been defying and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice? At whom did you look with such haughty eyes? It was the Holy One of Israel! By your messengers you have defied the Lord. You have said, ‘With my many chariots I have conquered the highest mountains– yes, the remotest peaks of Lebanon. I have cut down its tallest cedars and its finest cypress trees. I have reached its farthest corners and explored its deepest forests…

“But have you not heard? I decided this long ago. Long ago I planned it, and now I am making it happen. I planned for you to crush fortified cities into heaps of rubble. That is why their people have so little power and are so frightened and confused. They are as weak as grass, as easily trampled as tender green shoots. They are like grass sprouting on a housetop, scorched before it can grow lush and tall. “But I know you well– where you stay and when you come and go. I know the way you have raged against me. And because of your raging against me and your arrogance, which I have heard for myself, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth. I will make you return by the same road on which you came.” (2Ki 19:21-28 NLT)