Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Trip to Europe Continued (Twenty-Third Post In Total)

One   Two   Three   Four   Five   Six   Seven   Eight   Nine   Ten   Eleven   Twelve   Thirteen  Fourteen   Fifteen   Sixteen   Seventeen   Eighteen   Nineteen   Twenty   Twenty-One   Twenty-Two

Our plan for Sunday morning, June 18, 2018, was to take public transportation to Biblical Baptist Church in downtown Paris.  We ate a little breakfast at home, walked to the Mairie de Montrouge station to take the 4 train to the Raspail station, where we would catch the 6 train to the Pasteur station, right near the church building, which was a storefront in a very Parisian looking area (as seen below).  One of the scenes unique to Europe are all the vespas or scooters, whole streets full of them parked back to back to back. We walked about half a mile from the station to get there and we got an initial taste of Paris.
The little auditorium was jam packed, no seats remaining.  The congregation sang God-honoring music.  They baptized an adult couple, husband wife, who had been converted, and both wept as they gave their testimony in French.  A group was visiting from the United States, and they sang and one of the men preached in English with the French pastor translating.  None of it was good.  I felt sad for the French people.  I'm curious about what I call "quality control" in these types of instances, but talking to the pastor afterwards, it seems he was attempting to be hospitable to the guests by allowing it.

The pastor of the French church also told me after the service that they are seeing receptivity to the gospel right now in France.  My experience with missionaries in the past was that France is a cold, almost closed field.  I was happy to see what I saw.  It wasn't a gimmick there with that church and it was warm and alive.  They were growing through loyalty to the Word of God.

It was a few minute walk on a beautiful Paris day to eat crepes at Creperie Du Manoir Breton for lunch.  Was this anything special?  It looked the part, because it was a genuine French crepe restaurant on the street of of downtown Paris.
After we ate, we took the 6 train from Edgar Quinet station to Charles de Gaulle – Étoile station, to Arc De Triomphe (wiki), which is also in a great location to look around.  It's a unique street circle too.  There is nowhere above land to cross.  Twelve different avenues empty into and leave this huge uncontrolled circle.  It's entertaining just to see that happen.  Someone, like us, walks under the road through a tunnel to get to the arch and it is an impressive site.
The rest of the day we walked around these avenues and saw some of the impressive sites in Paris along Avenue des Champs-Élysées down to the Seine.  We ate at Angelinas and walked to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris along the Seine River.  A walkway exists along the Seine leading from one stone bridge after another.  Paris is unique and historic city.
I'll write more about my impressions of France in future posts.  We arrived late Saturday night and would leave on Thursday.  We saw the most important sites in the Paris area and were glad to see them.  However, it was my least favorite place of anything we visited on this trip.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Preparation for the Lord's Supper, part 5 of 6, from Wilhelmus a Brakel's The Christian's Reasonable Service

The Celebration of the Lord’s Supper
Note: The Bible never calls the Lord's Supper a "seal" of grace.  it is a "sign" of God's grace, but not a "seal." Please keep that in mind when reading the below.  Nor is the church a building, a sense in which the word is improperly used below.
The person who has prepared himself in the aforesaid manner, must not sleep too long in the morning, lest time slip away and he were to come in a hurried frame of heart. He must also not arise extraordinarily early, lest he be dull, sleepy, or exhausted during the hearing of the sermon and the administration of the Lord’s Supper, for an exhausted body inhibits the motions of the soul. He ought to arrive in church punctually with clean and appropriate clothing; that is, without either a careless or proud appearance. If someone is poor and has no other clothing except his daily garments, and if even this is very plain, let him not refrain from attending, for the Lord looks upon the heart rather than on the clothing. The godly will not despise him for it, and what the others think does not matter; the dogs and the swine are themselves to refrain from the use of that which is holy.
When you leave your home and walk the streets to church, let your heart distance itself from the world, as Abraham went out of Ur, Lot went out of Sodom, and Israel went out of Egypt. Leave all worldly thoughts, desires, and concerns at home, and walk away from them. Walk the street with the heart of a stranger who is hastening to heaven, the fatherland—and as you go, pray, long, and yearn for the Lord.
Upon entering the church let a holy reverence arise in your soul, considering that God, the angels, and the children of God are present there. As you enter, pray, “O send out Thy light and Thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto Thy holy hill, and to Thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise Thee, O God my God” (Psa. 43:3–4). Quietly take your seat, and let attentiveness, reverence, and dignity manifest themselves upon your countenance and by your deportment. On the one hand refrain from looking around idly, and on the other hand, from affectedly allowing your head to hang, distorting your mouth, gesturing with your hands, lifting your eyes with affectation, heaving loud sighs which are audible to others, and leaning then in this and then in that direction, etc. How abhorrent is such affected behavior! It is abominable to the godly and ungodly alike, and it renders godliness suspect and despicable—and even if there is no subtle hypocrisy, such ought to know that it is so perceived. “Wisdom is before him that hath understanding” (Prov. 17:24).
During the reading of God’s Word, singing, prayer, and preaching, join in with the congregation and unitedly engage in singing, prayer, and listening; let your heart be focused thereon. This is not the time to strive for special frames relative to the Lord’s Supper, for then you may lose the one as well as the other. “Take heed therefore how ye hear” (Luke 8:18).
As you arise to go to the holy table, arise as if you were a bride about to be married, doing so in response to the voice of the Bridegroom Jesus, calling out, “Rise up, My love, My fair one, and come away” (Song of Sol. 2:10); “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isa. 55:1). Moreover, arise with a desire to be near to your Bridegroom Jesus. “I will now turn aside, and see this great sight” (Ex. 3:3). It is inappropriate to quake and to tremble at this moment, as if you were being drawn there with reluctance—love and desire are appropriate at this time.
While going to the table—if there is some time—reflect upon the pathway and the various aspects of Christ’s suffering. Else, maintain a quiet, introverted disposition and pursue those thoughts and motions which the Lord impresses upon you, or reflect upon the leading of the Holy Ghost, accompanied with ejaculatory prayers to be led by Him, saying, “Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness” (Psa. 143:10). You may also think by yourself how the Lord Jesus, being accompanied by holy angels, so to speak, takes you by the hand and leads you to the table. “She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needlework: with gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought” (Psa. 45:14–15); “Even by the springs of water shall He guide them” (Isa. 49:10).
While sitting at the table, consider yourself as being seated in the brightness of an open heaven, shedding forth its light upon the table and all seated guests—and thus also upon you. Consider yourself to be in the presence of God your heavenly Father, and Christ your Bridegroom. Sink away in your insignificance and let a childlike awe and reverence arise in your soul, while saying, “Surely the LORD is in this place.… This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Gen. 28:16–17). Be observant and do not fear, for the Lord has determined to bestow much grace upon you in Christ. Remain steadfast in the faith, and glorify God in His grace and Christ for the perfection of His atonement.
While eating and drinking, be consciously active by faith.
(1) Partake as being invited by the Bridegroom who says, “Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved” (Song of Sol. 5:1).
(2) Do not focus on the external signs only, for you know that they cannot feed your soul. Also, let not your heart turn from them in order to receive Jesus immediately, that is, by faith only—such activity is to transpire outside of the Lord’s Supper. Rather, in a conscious and feeling manner, unite the sign with the matter signified, and behold in them the breaking of the body of Christ and the shedding of His blood, and with that, His love and the efficacy of His suffering unto the forgiveness of your sins. Note these signs as a seal and pledge given to you by the Lord Jesus to assure you that His atonement is for you and that His love is toward you—and that this will forever remain true.
(3) Neither expect a miracle here nor an extraordinary measure of elevation, light, or ecstatic joy. If the Lord gives you this, enjoy this good thing while it may be your portion. Be it known, however, that it is the common way to exercise faith, and to assure you by means of these signs—as being seals and pledges—that as certainly as you eat that bread and drink that wine, so certain is it that Christ has died for you and loves you; thus strive to attain peace in your conscience by faith.
(4) Keep your soul in a steadfast, thoughtful, and expectant frame—a frame wherein faith is in exercise. Thus, if you are conscious of the sincerity of your heart and your objective in coming, refrain from instability and fearfulness, be it due to sudden thoughts which enter, fear of eating and drinking judgment to one’s self, darkness suddenly coming upon you, or your inability to keep your thoughts together and being, so to speak, without thoughts. Such frames will prevent a fruitful partaking.
(5) While eating and drinking, apply Christ to yourself, unite yourself to Him in truth, with steadfastness, and in love. Ascend to the immutability of the covenant, which has now been sealed to you, saying, “My beloved is mine, and I am His” (Song of Sol. 2:16).
Upon departing,
(1) say within your heart, “My Jesus will keep His word; with that I am satisfied. He will neither leave me nor forsake me and He will finish all things for me. He will preserve me, keep His eye upon me, lead me by His counsel, and afterwards take me into glory. I put my trust in His power and wisdom.”
(2) Enliven your desire to remain near to Jesus; since this is not possible, however, leave your heart there and entrust it to Him.
(3) Comfort yourself with His return on the Day of Judgment, and look for this day with great anticipation, for then you may be with Him eternally in body and soul.
(4) Depart from the table as being sent forth by Jesus to show forth His death and fullness of salvation to the world, and to finish that work which the Lord has given you to do.
I have presented each of these matters to you individually to motivate you to come to the Lord’s Supper in a proper frame. Do not trouble yourself, however, to practice these matters in such an order. The soul must at such a time have freedom and the Holy Spirit operates at such times in divers manners. Rather, by reading or rereading what has been stated before, you will engender a habitual tendency in the soul, and you will become more fit to engage yourself by way of such a frame. “Happy is that people, that is in such a case” (Psa. 144:15); “Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee, that he may dwell in Thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, even of Thy holy temple” (Psa. 65:4). Blessed is he who may thus be led into the inner chambers of the gospel, who may say, “To see Thy power and Thy glory, so as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary. Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee” (Psa. 63:2–3).

The excerpt above is from Wilhelmus a Brakel's 4 volume systematic theology called The Christian's Reasonable Service, which has been made available in an indexed form online

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

"Scandalous Grace," "Jesus Plus Nothing," and Very, Very Dangerous Christian GobbledyGook, pt. 2

Part One

Just as a matter of interest and information, I noticed after writing part one that a lot had been written against Tullian Tchividjian's new and false teaching on sanctification and by extension, also salvation.  Not in necessarily any order, here are some that have written good stuff exposing his false teaching and it should be considered, before anyone ever gets to all the problems that Andy Stanley has, whom I mentioned in part one.  You can find some here (part one, part two), here (really important to read this one), here, and here (and really those are just a start).


In our time on earth, we are not brains in a vat.  God created sentient beings with awareness of their surroundings.   Immediately He gave Adam things to do.  From the beginning, God commanded Adam.  Do this.  Don't do this.  Human beings live, which means they do things.  They can do wrong things and they can do right things.  They do not get to do wrong things and then just apply what is called grace and suddenly it's a right thing, where they get credit for the right thing even though they didn't even do it. That is just playing games.  However, it's also not far off of how Tullian Tchividjian characterizes the grace of God.

I googled the word "performancism," since I had not heard it until I considered writing on this subject, and Tchividjian came up in the headline of the second article.  His book is titled, Jesus + Nothing = Everything, which it seems the crucial word of the three is "nothing."  When the Father said,  "This is my beloved. Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17), He was well-pleased with His Son's performance, not nothing.  His Son performed and He was pleased.  Jesus is our model.  We're not thinking about nothing, when it comes to pleasing God.

Grace is not about not performing.  Jesus said in His longest recorded sermon in scripture (Matthew 7:21), "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."  Who will enter into the kingdom of heaven?  Read it.  "He that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."  When you read about the life Jesus lived on earth in the gospel of John, He was doing everything the Father wanted Him to do.

I get how people don't want to feel guilty about not doing the right thing.  They don't want expectations or restrictions, even though the Holy Spirit is called "The Restrainer" in the New Testament (2 Thess 2:6) and fruit of the Spirit is "temperance," self-control. This is also the way of millennials especially today, as a generalized trait.  When one brings up an expectation to a millennial, this is a "relationship" ruiner.  You've offered a "rule."  Relationship can't have rules except for one rule, toleration.  They want accept, accept, accept.  "I'm going to do this."  I accept.   "I did this."  I accept.  They have lived for years with only a "like" button, no dislike or disapproval.

The movement of Tchividjian and those who have accepted it are not just some minor, non-essential modification or tweaking of Christianity, where it retains its identity.  His teaching corrupts Christianity.  It is something different than biblical Christianity even compared to many aspects of evangelicalism, which don't do that.

When someone might go about explaining the gospel to someone, he should bring the Old Testament into his explanation.  That's what Jesus and the Apostles did.  The gospel is not detached from the Old Testament.  The new covenant is corollary to all the other covenants.  Blessing comes from obedience.  We fail at obedience and we receive the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ.  That justification changes how we live.  The fleshy heart that replaces the heart of stone gives us the ability to do what the Lord wants and we receive blessing.

In order to be saved, we confess Jesus to be Lord.  We give up our life for His life.  He now owns us.  We're His slave.  This means we still have expectations on us, but we've been changed to do that out of love.  The goodness of God leads us to that repentance.  Paul counted His former life as loss that He might win Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ enables the fulfillment of the obligations and expectations.  His yoke is easy.  The commandments are no longer burdensome.  Even if we do sin, we have an advocate with the Father.  The grace enables to perform.  Performance is the means by which you then know that you are saved.  You don't just say that you know Him, but you also do what the Lord says.

There is more to the attraction of scandalous grace than just dumping obligation, expectation, and disapproval.  I recognize a mysticism and subjectivity to it.  Part of the freedom is the inward leading, what I call the voice in the head.  It is untethered to the objective standards of scripture.  It is so important for its supporters to feel without judgment that feelings take on a prominent, if not preeminent role.  No one can judge anyone if there isn't anything solid by which to judge.  Feelings are elevated, and this is obvious in the "worship."

Worship in scripture is regulated as much as anything, but there is this "freedom" to the expression of the worship.  Whatever the outcome, it's the Holy Spirit, and this kind of spontaneity and creativity is supposedly the meanderings of the Holy Spirit through individuals, making it more authentic.  This has never been true worship in the history of the church, and it is more fitting with the ecstasy of Babylonian mysticism in Corinth and the delirium of the Samaritans on Mt. Gerrizim.

There is so much freedom, so much liberation, that its not about God.  Biblical grace is changing grace.  Liberation is freedom from sin, which frees from the consequences, but Jesus taught that it is freedom too from the practice of sin (John 8:31-34).  Christians don't want to sin anymore.  Christians don't want to do what they want.  They want to do what Jesus wants.  That isn't legalism.  That is what grace looks like.

Left-wing legalism reduces what God wants to what is acceptable and performable, like the Pharisees.  They worked in shortening everything to the things they could do.  They left out the weighty things (barus), which means more burdensome or harder.  Those aren't hard to do if it is grace.  Grace eases everything.  It's why believers will conform to the image of Christ.  God works in believers to do that.  That is liberation.

Someone might say, unlike the Pharisees, Tchividjian isn't about performance.  He's about performance, just a different one, one that looks more like me and my flesh, yet calling it Jesus.  Those most embedded in the Tchividjian movement of hypergrace are as showy as I've ever seen.  You'll see more selfies than anywhere.  Image is big -- that you can see -- from the see-through acrylite or lucite pulpit to the right fit in the blue jeans.  It is an expression that clashes with the beauty of the Lord and His nature.  It is obvious that it needs liberation from the world, because if there is a pathological need, it is for them to get the culture to love, appreciate, and approve of them.  They are chained to that.  They just attach a designer "grace" sticker to it with the authentic background of crumbling urban infrastructure.

Monday, March 25, 2019

"Scandalous Grace," "Jesus Plus Nothing," and Very, Very Dangerous Christian GobbledyGook

We get Christianity from the Bible.  What we get from the Bible then won't disagree with historical, biblical teaching.  I'm saying if it is Christianity, then it won't be new.  Christianity is what it is, the last part of that sentence overused but still true.  What Christianity is comes from the Bible and agrees with historical Christianity.  If you read something new, you should doubt it at least, and usually you should just reject it. Here's what happens though.

Especially many millennials, but even more than that, don't like actual Christianity.  They want to fit into the world.  They want to live like they want.  In other words, they don't want repentance, or actual Jesus.  Jesus always submitted to the Father, and that's what Christianity looks like, submission.  The Father was well-pleased with the Son, because the Son was doing what He wanted.  Many, however, don't want to change to be like Jesus Christ, but they still want to credit for doing so.  What do they do?  What I've noticed for my entire life, revealing itself in many different forms and by different names, is changing the grace of God.  I've talked about it for a long time.

How can someone just turn from biblical Christianity by doing what Jude wrote, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness?  That's in the Bible.  People turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.  That is not the grace of God.  It's lasciviousness.  Paul in Galatians calls it using grace as an occasion to the flesh.  I've written a lot in the past about evangelicalism doing this.  It's now also all over the place among independent fundamental Baptists.  Evangelicals and these professing Baptists have merged now.

So how, the question in the first sentence of the last paragraph?  They are not grounded in what the Bible says about grace and then they are allured or deceived by false teachers, which is what Peter talks about in 2 Peter 2.  If someone is really saved, he won't be pulled into this false teaching.  He will reject it.  If he sticks with this teaching and practice, he is indicating that the actual grace of God is foreign to him and he doesn't believe in the actual Jesus Christ of the Bible, but an idolatrous one of which he approves.

Somebody that I love very dearly has gotten messed up with a crowd of professing Christians, evangelicals, one of which, a major one, David Brady, is on staff at Andy Stanley's church.  Brady grew up in an independent Baptist church, and has left independent Baptist fundamentalism. I left fundamentalism as I've told in a long series that I wrote here on the blog, and that's because New Testament Christianity isn't represented by fundamentalism.

Brady, who is on staff at Northpoint in Atlanta, gave a podcast interview.  I knew he was influencing this person I love dearly, so I listened for evaluation with an open mind.  I always want to be open minded.  I wanted to understand where Brady was coming from, also to get an understanding of what was influencing this one I love dearly.  I found that it's just a repackaged perversion of the grace of God.  He really, really likes his version of grace, which I think agrees with what Andy Stanley would say it is.  Andy Stanley is a dangerous false teacher that is fooling many people with many, helping lead evangelicalism into apostasy.

I could have just ignored this not unique perversion of the gospel and the grace of God for the rest of my life.  It isn't affecting our church at all, but it is affecting this person I love dearly, who lives elsewhere, so I am going to write about it now.  In his "testimony," Brady said he was saved when he was fifteen years of age at the IFB church, and he knew that grace was about salvation, but after he was saved, he found out that grace there at his church, despite there being a lot of great Christians there who loved the Lord, wasn't for after salvation, but about rules, essentially keeping rules.  This rang a bell with what I've heard from this person I love dearly.  I could say that I get it now.

People who love the world, which you can't if you love God (1 John 2:15-17), will sometimes look for justification of their love for the world.  This cheap grace, actually not even grace at all, they think vindicates their love for the world.  All of the worldliness is apparently just covered under grace.  If one says anything about a pagan, worldly, godless, profane, or fleshly act, he's an agent against the grace of God, which just covers for everything.  This truly is grace as a "get-out-jail-free-card."  This corruption of grace has existed obviously at the time of the writing of the New Testament, but I've seen various permutations of it with different names and labels in my thirty plus years of pastoring.  Many, many books are written about it.

David Brady said that he almost abandoned Christianity, but then someone gave him a book by Tullian Tchividjian, called, Jesus Plus Nothing.  At the time he was a student at Bob Jones University.   I listened to everything this young man said, and it wasn't new, what he reported to have picked up from Tchividjian.  One of the words he used was "performancism," a particular word I had not heard before, but it's not a surprising one.  Another couple of words that he used again and again were "scandalous grace."

Does "scandalous grace" sound right to you?  It isn't in the Bible, and I had never heard it.  It reminded me some of John Piper's "Christian hedonism."  That doesn't sound like it could be right either, but the two are similar in that they both arrest one's attention, because both sound wrong.  Without further explanation, they couldn't be right.  Brady explained scandalous grace by giving an example.

Someone "sleeps with someone."  Brady didn't use either the word fornication or adultery.  The next morning that person who just slept with someone needs to be thinking that he is exactly the same before God as he was before he fornicated (my word).  That's how this fornicator, according to Brady, needs to look at the grace of God.  This is why it is "scandalous."  Instead, someone should ask if this is a person who has never been converted, and if he professes faith, how this even squares with the grace of God, rather than giving credit to "scandalous grace."  With that illustration, I understood the attraction of this particular view of grace, which again, isn't new.  This is also what Peter describes in 2 Peter 2 (v. 19):
While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
He promises liberty to those who are servants of corruption and they are brought into bondage with this teaching.  In Peter's description, it is the way to apostasy.

There is no way that someone could teach the above view of the grace of God and be preaching a true gospel.  It is a rejection of lordship and repentance.  It is not a biblical or historical position on sanctification.  It is not the same Jesus as the Jesus of the Bible.  It is a different Jesus.  It is not biblical belief either.  It is a placebo faith and grace and all the components of the gospel.   It neither saves nor sanctifies.

I'm not the only one who rejects the Tchividjian presentation of sanctification, which didn't work for himself, if you read his bio at Wikipedia.  Dan Phillips, who despite taking a looser view of grace than I do, still writes the following about Tchividjian's position from the perspective of this particular book of his, even before Tchividjian had to quit pastoring:
Tullian Tchividjian, now a pastor, admits to having been such an incorrigible 16yo that his father actually booted him out of the house. But Tchividjian continued on a rebellious, ruinous path... and his father fully subsidized it. At one point, after Tchividjian had screwed up a job and lied to his father about what had happened, dad gave him a blank check, no questions asked. Though Tchividjian took advantage of that check, it didn't stop there. Tullian snuck into the family home and committed repeated acts of theft and felony, stealing dad's checks and forging his signature. Dad (a clinical psychologist, or so I read) was aware of his son's crimes, and let him go on (you'll pardon me) unchecked and unconfronted. 
But see: it had a happy ending. By all accounts, Tchividjian's now converted, is a good guy and a celebrated and well-positioned preacher of wide renown. So we know it was the right thing to do. Right?

In proof and as a capper, Tchividjian quotes a bunch of directly-relevant Scriptures counseling Christian parents to handle rebellious, criminal dependents in just exactly this manner. 
No, I'm kidding. Tchividjian doesn't do anything like that. What he does instead is quote Steve Brown, whose rather appalling teachings about "grace" I've examined at great length elsewhere. 
But it's a feel-good story, and anyone who disagrees can only be cast as a legalist and anti-grace and a hater and a good-story-spoiler and all those awful things. Besides, it's at The Gospel Coalition, so it has to be all right, right? They're all sound there. Right? 
Tchividjian's book Jesus + Nothing = Everything received a fair bit of friendly critical pushback, most of which centered around accusations that it fell short of Biblically relating the indicative to the imperative. . . . 
It is tough critiquing an article like this, as the critics of Tchividjian's book clearly struggled in their criticisms. How do you criticize such a piece, without sounding as if you're criticizing grace — even though it may be a "you keep using that word" situation. If writers or speakers can just say words like "grace" and "love," and let our imaginations roam free, this is what we're likely to come up with. 
Phillips has written another about Tchividjian, that is worth reading (here).  Jeremiah Johnson and Wayne de Villiers also skewer the false teaching of Tchividjian (here, here) [also this].  In an interview celebrating his fiftieth anniversary of pastoring, John MacArthur speaks with Phil Johnson about Tchividjian:
PHIL: There are some small ones. And as you said, the issue of – it’s antinomianism, we call the no-lordship view. But it’s antinomianism. And that has resurfaced in recent years through like the writings of Tullian Tchividjian who’s a Presbyterian, and some other surprising places that a similar kind of antinomianism has cropped up again. So it’s not as big an issue as it used to be, but it is an ongoing controversy. 
JOHN: Well, I would say it doesn’t have the doctrinal defense that it once had at a high level. But antinomianism, or no-lordship salvation, just the idea that you can ask Jesus to be your Savior, and save you from hell, come live in your life, and then go live any way you want, that’s always going to be around; and that’s what antinomianism is. It’s an overstatement of grace. And that’s why somebody like Tullian Tchividjian, everything he talks about is built around the word “grace.” It’s grace, grace. It’s just drowning in grace as if you could do anything and be anything and you’re still under grace. It’s almost like God celebrates your sin because it lets Him put His grace on display. That’s always going to be around, because it’s just inherent in religious people to want a kind of religion that allows for them to sin the way they want to sin. 
PHIL: Right. And to be clear, that’s a twisting of grace. 
JOHN: Totally. 
PHIL: That’s what Paul said, people twist the concept of grace to accommodate their own – 
JOHN: And everybody that I’ve personally sort of interacted with through the years who is a strong advocate of an antinomian view or a no-lordship view, if you get behind the curtain you’re going to find it’s a theology that accommodates their life. And they have an affection for sin, and they want to hold onto that and hold onto what they think is salvation at the same time; and that’s an accommodating idea.
This teaching presents a false gospel.  It should be rejected as a false gospel.  Paul in Galatians 1:6-9 says that if anyone preaches another gospel than what he preached, let that person be accursed.  This is a false gospel equal to what Paul reveals in Galatians 1.

More to Come

Friday, March 22, 2019

Harod Spring in Israel--how God had Gideon Choose his 300 Men; & Masada

When my wife and I had the privilege to visit Israel with Samson Tours, we were able to see many wonderful Biblical sites.  The following video on Youtube records some of them:

The parts on Harod Spring and Masada are also online separately (see on YouTube here) where Gideon chose his three hundred men in accordance with God's direction (note: this and below are parts of the 1st video, so there is no need to view them again separately, but if you wanted to share these parts with someone, they are separated):

Here is the one on our the trip down from Masada, also on Youtube:

Israel was a fantastic place to visit, and, Lord willing, I will be able to say more in the future about how our trip went.  If you want to go, Samson Tours was worthwhile--David Cloud and Fairhaven Baptist College, for example, have gone on multiple tours with them.  They are run by a former Oneness Pentecostal who converted to a form of Judaism, so they obviously are not independent Baptists, but they still have a certain sort of understanding of "evangelicalism" that is not shared by tour companies that (for example) cater to Roman Catholics.

We added a few extra days in Jerusalem to the end of our trip, staying at the absolutely incredible Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem--an incredible hotel in a fantastic location by the Old City--but we were able to stay there for free instead of paying $500 a night because of a Hilton credit card that my wife and I both had that gave us free nights at Hiltons (like the one here that we both have now); we also were able to get our flights for free through the sign up bonus for an American Express Platinum Card (we now both have the Amex Gold Card, and have also gotten some very nice free travel with that card), so we ended up paying very little in cash for an amazing trip.

A picture we took in the Garden of Gethsemane

If you can get to Israel, I highly recommend going.  If you avoid the dangers of credit cards, getting there for free and staying at amazing hotels for free can also be very worthwhile.


Note: the Samson Tours, Hilton, and Amex Gold links are affiliate links.  I do not believe I put anything in the content of this post that is different than I would have said were they not affiliate links. If you use them, I thank you.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Al Mohler's Mention of Separation at the Shepherds Conference

I've written 12 installments of a series on Relationship, but I'm taking a one post break today.  I've got other things to write on, but I want to finish the Relationship series as far as I want to take it.  I'm not done yet, so I'll get back to it.  Look at part twelve for links to every part of the series.


At this year's Shepherd's Conference at John MacArthur's and Phil Johnson's Grace Community Church, prominent among conservative evangelicals, the normal panel discussion, a question and answer time, turned more tense than normal.  Phil Johnson hosted the panel, made up of him and Mark Dever (Southern Baptist pastor, 9 Marks, Washington, DC), Ligon Duncan (Presbyterian, Chancellor of Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS), Albert Mohler (president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY), Sinclair Ferguson (Professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, St. Peter's Free Church pastor, Dundee, Scotland), and John MacArthur.

Phil took the discussion into the newest and biggest controversy in evangelicalism and now conservative evangelicalism, social justice or "wokeness," that has become a factor of division among evangelicals.   MacArthur and Johnson have just led in the crafting and publication of The Statement on Social Justice & the Gospel.  They were concerned for the perversion or corruption of the gospel akin to other twisting or ruination of the gospel of previous eras that had invaded evangelicalism:  social gospel and then emergents.  I had watched this in a livestream that afternoon and I was surprised a how confrontational Johnson was and how "testy" things got in this conversation.

Johnson asked how far apart they were on the statement, since none of them had signed.  Dever said it was too broad a question.  He wanted to answer specifics.  MacArthur intervened to say that there was a lot of heat on the internet before the conference related to the differences between them on social justice, questioning why those on the panel would even be invited.  In part to that, MacArthur said the following:
I said, look these are my friends. These are men I love. These are men who serve Christ. They have given their life to him. God has given each of you guys a formidable place in the kingdom and you've all had an impact on my life.  I'll fight error, but I don’t fight my friends. Why would I do that? I don’t want to become an island. My enemies have already eliminated me, if I get rid of my friends, I may have nobody but Phil.
The next statement I noticed was from Ligon Duncan, who wrote the foreward to an important book on the approval of a "Woke Church," entitled Woke Church:
My concern on racial issues is that I do not drive our grandchildren into the arms of the LGBQTIA issue, where already our younger people don't want to touch that issue, because they know that immediately it marginalizes them.
Phil Johnson said in response to more of what Duncan had said:
Wouldn't you agree though that desire to get the culture to love and appreciate us is a pathological cancer on the evangelical movement? . . . I would say that's the defining mark of big EVA (evangelicalism).
Visibly angry at the next question by Phil Johnson about social justice rhetoric at T4G and TGC, Mohler answered and at one point raised his voice:
I'm not going to be forced into a situation before thousands of people in which I have to say, I'm going to do it your way.  Sorry.  Okay, I'm just not.  And if that's a test of fellowship amongst us, this would be a good time to find out.
This was the apex of the panel discussion, what has generated the most post-conference discussion by far, whole articles written about it (here, here, here, and here, interesting video discussion here, among many others).

Just listening to the conversation, it is easy to see how bad it is in the country if this is where it's at in conservative evangelicalism.  They are afraid to say certain truth in public.  They are filtering themselves on issues that do relate to the gospel.  Common ground among the six is Calvinism, so what they call the "big God theology," that is, the sovereignty of God.

I want to go one by one through the pieces I quoted.  First, MacArthur's statement about why he couldn't break from these men.  I've heard this before as a reason from evangelicals for not separating.  "I can't separate from my friends, because then I'll be alone."  Jesus said, we might have to separate from our parents and our children.  He came not to bring peace, but bring a sword.  "I don't want to become an island" isn't a basis for disobedience to scripture, or sin.

Ligon Duncan talks about "big God theology," but you really can't push "converted grandchildren" into LGBQTIA, can you?  Isn't that perseverance of the saints?  Or do we keep them by our humanistic or naturalistic means?  If we just preach a true gospel, we've solved that problem, right?  This is where I see a sort of revivalism or Finney-esque "new measures" among professing Calvinists.  Preach the truth in love.  Depend on God.  Stop pandering.

Almost all of the conservative evangelicals want to be very, very, very careful about things said in public, so that they don't lose a generation or half of the evangelicals, as Mohler said.   If they're actually saved, they can't lose them, right?  Shouldn't they be preaching that to the next generation?  They are either with you or they're not with you.  This is why it's concerning that people won't just 'come out' and say the bold truth.  Not being truthful should be the concern.

A major aspect of the capitulation, the incrementalism to the left that Mohler mentions, is an unbiblical view of the church and of unity.  They are trying to keep together a large coalition, so that they won't be alone, as MacArthur opined.  They shouldn't be worrying about being alone.  Noah was alone.  Jeremiah was alone.  Just do right and then attempt to persuade with spiritual weaponry, the truth of God's Word.  This is actually from which comes the "pathological cancer" that Phil Johnson talked about.  Because evangelicals have been feeding their constituents with the world as a means of pragmatism for church growth, including Grace Community, they have to "keep them how they won them."  This really does clash with their Calvinism too.

Finally, Mohler asks if something is going to be a "test of fellowship."  I thought that was very interesting "fundamentalist" language, test of fellowship. Mohler has heard it before.  Does any evangelical have a "test of fellowship"?  Evangelicals don't even talk about separation, but MacArthur -- after Mohler got testy with Johnson -- said that a stand needs to come somewhere.  He was very ambiguous and they left that meeting with nothing, except they'll still be friends, seemingly around, "we're all Calvinists."

Again though, Mohler brought in separation language.  That would bring me to the question to them, "so what are your tests for fellowship?"  That would have been an interesting follow-up question.  The gospel is being perverted all over evangelicalism, and they are losing, because they will not state a "test of fellowship."  I call on them to do so.  Join Jesus outside the camp.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Relationship, pt. 12

Part One   Part Two   Part Three   Part Four   Part Five   Part Six   Part Seven   Part Eight   Part Nine   Part Ten
Part Eleven

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit never have to reconcile.  Why?  They never sin.  Nothing separates them from one another.  They always function within their nature and they never act insubordinate to their own hierarchy, which is within their own will.  They would not, and this is also a model for us.

The best people can do, since they will sometimes sin, is reconciliation, which is based on the truth, on the light of God, scriptural belief and practice, and not some type of compromise or negotiation down from the teaching of God's Word.  We can count only upon believers to reconcile.  It's not in the nature of unbelievers, except according to the rarity of a matter of conscience, common grace, or natural law.  Even among unbelievers, some reconciliation is necessary to continue favored relationships.  However, reconciliation is characteristic only of believers.  They must reconcile.

There is a process to reconciliation, presented in scripture cumulatively in numerous places.  We should assume it should be followed.  It makes sense.  As I take us through the process, I'll also point out where it goes wrong in the process.

Offended or an Offense

No one needs to reconcile until someone has offended.  It could be a sin, but it also might not be a sin.  The apparent offense might need to be judged by a mediator.  If someone is offended something must be done toward reconciliation, even if it is just finding out that no offense has been committed.  This was Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:21-24.  If someone has sinned, which is an offense, that must be confronted, which is Jesus' teaching in Matthew 18:15-17.  In either case, reconciliation is necessary.

A prerequisite for anyone to deal with an offense is what Jesus called, pulling out the beam or the mote out of one's own eye first (Matthew 7:3-5).  Someone might not be spiritually equipped to deal with a situation, as implied in Galatians 6:1 with "ye which are spiritual."  Someone might not have the knowledge or the discernment even to counsel someone else on what he's doing wrong.  He'll need to get that settled first, but it should be an active pursuit, not just kicking that can down the road.

If someone has been offended, and is not willing to do anything about it, he must forbear and "turn the other cheek."  If he isn't going to fulfill the biblical requirement for an offense, he can't stay angry, hold a grudge, or gossip about it.  Neither can he just end the relationship, just because he doesn't want to do anything about it.  If he isn't willing to reconcile, he's got to let it go.  He's got to put it away, and then treat the person as if nothing is wrong.

Some people don't want to do the hard work of reconciliation.  Perhaps they don't like the conflict.  They aren't sure what the reaction will be.  They don't want to deal with it.  If that's the case, this is a person who must endure at least personal offense.  Turning the other cheek is an option that Jesus said could be chosen, even if a real offense has occurred (Matthew 5:39).  If someone is fine weathering poor treatment, he can avoid the confrontation.

We are required to confront only someone in the church.  If we should keep in good relations with someone else, then we'll need to confront them too.  We don't have to try to reconcile everywhere, as explained in an earlier post, but we'll need to do it in order to maintain biblical relationship.

The Confrontation

Scripture lays out variations of confrontation, among others described as entreaty, rebuke, admonishment, reproof, appeal, and correction.  Entreaty is a requirement for a younger person to an older person (1 Timothy 5:1).  Proverbs speaks about tone:  "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger" (Proverbs 15:1).  This doesn't mean a soft answer is required in every instance, just that it is choice of tone that might turn away wrath.

If the goal is reconciliation, one should take the best tack possible.  If it is a church situation, that must be solved, a gentle albeit firm conversation with the use of scripture should initiate the process.  2 Timothy 2:24 says,
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.
One should assume on the first encounter that one is talking to someone who wants to listen.  We shouldn't start by expecting the worst.  The intensity of tone or voice might increase with a lack of listening and respect.  I've been in many of those, where I started with an attempt to keep it civil and then it escalated.  A listener has a requirement (James 1:19):
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
Anger, disdain, visible stubbornness, or some other kind of negativity at the prospect of being confronted at all shouldn't occur, but if it does, the listener might expect a rougher time.  Somebody practicing sin shouldn't expect to be treated nicely.  He's doing bad things.  Those don't merit a cheshire cat grin.  Smiling at sin could be construed a level of insanity.  It deserves at least a frown.

Bad reactions to the initiation of the reconciliation process are the number one reason confessed for never starting.  It can't be an excuse for not doing it.  Scripture provides such encouragement and preparation as "be strong," "put on the armor of God," and "stand fast."  These types of commands are given because this isn't easy.  Sometimes it ends in a catastrophic and hurtful way.  When we do the right thing as a Christian, that is, we're faithful to what God said to do, the labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).  This is a strengthening thought after a bad experience in repairing relationship with attempted reconciliation.

More to Come

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Relationship, pt. 11

Part One   Part Two   Part Three   Part Four   Part Five   Part Six   Part Seven   Part Eight   Part Nine   Part Ten

Not reconciling, Jesus says is comparable to murder.  Someone says he's a Christian, so why wouldn't he initiate reconciliation or welcome someone else doing so?  If someone is saved, he would.  He wouldn't continue making excuses for not reconciling with the people he can and should.  This is not as much as possible living peaceably with all men, it is not being a peacemaker, it is rejecting a ministry of reconciliation, is not loving a neighbor, and not endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit.  I could say he's just disobedient and unrepentant, but there are often underlying causes that  should be explored.

Two root origins of reluctance or unwillingness to reconcile, as told by scripture and what I've seen in my experience, are, first, lust or the opposite of which is not acknowledging goodness, essentially the goodness of God, because, as we've previously considered, relationship is hierarchical.  Children might ignore all their parents have done for them, choosing instead to hone in on what they might think they are missing  because of their lust.  This is discontent.

Both the first and the second are related, but second, someone doesn't get his way, and he just wants his way or is proud.  Lust and pride are closely related.  Both elevate self.  For instance, there's someone I want to reconcile with right now, same person I mentioned earlier, but this person won't talk or listen with no good reason given.  It's both lust and pride.  These are the direct opposite of love.

Lust or Not Acknowledging Goodness

Before someone is forgiving and stops holding grudges, that is, puts away all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, and malice (Ephesians 4:31), he might "esteem other[s] better than [him]self" and "look not . . . on his own things, but . . . also on the things of others" (Philippians 2:3-4), which is the mind that was in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).  The strife that occurs and continues between people James describes in his epistle (James 4:1-2):
1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Most often the divisions relate to lust, even as James evinces.  Wars and fightings come because someone wants something more than the relationship. If the relationship doesn't allow for him to have what he wants, he will shuck the relationship for the thing.  Or a kind of relationship that favors lust.  A teenager fights with his parents over a girl.  He has no future with the girl, but he wants her, and his parents don't want the pairing.  Think Samson. The strife proceeds from the lust.

In Romans 2:4, Paul asks:
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
A relationship is a choice of something (really someone) over something (someone) else.  Someone might give up on a relationship if he doesn't see goodness there, which pertains to what he thinks goodness is.  Goodness is different than pleasure.  Goodness asks, what is best?  Pleasure asks, what makes me feel like I want?  Goodness is eternal.  Pleasure is temporal.  This is a choice of faith.  Moses chose "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (Hebrews 11:25).  Suffering is antithetical to pleasure, and yet Moses chose that, because it was good, the suffering, because it was about the people of God.

Someone enjoys the pleasures of sin for a season, but he sacrifices meaning and fulfillment.  The person is pleased but God isn't pleased.  Goodness versus pleasure often pits young people against parents.  Parents instruct and discipline, which relate to goodness, while young friends, entertainment, and fun constitute the pleasure that competes with the goodness parents offer.  Parents say, no, and friends say, yes.  More parents now, probably a vast majority, exclude discipline for bribery.  They are afraid of losing a relationship with their children.

In the same context as the above James 4, the previous chapter in James (3:15-16) 
15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
Envying and strife arise from the counterfeit wisdom of the world, which offers the earthly, sensual, and devilish.   Fleshly things and earthy things, things that don't go beyond this life, cause the actual problems in relationship.  On the other hand, (James 3:17-18):
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
Righteousness, not lust, pairs with peace.  The division comes from centering on pleasure.  The relationship churches know the appetites especially of millennials, so they accentuate fun activities tailored for varied age groups and then eliminate restrictions.  Drinking, fine.  Immodesty, yes.  Sensual music, right on.  This was a major aspect of the deceit for the church at Corinth.  The ecstatic feelings from the gratification fabricate spirituality, like what occurred in Ephesus as well.  These churches provide a form of religious syncretism that doesn't please God.  It especially deceives young people.

When someone considers the goodness of God and so chooses God, he follows Paul's mandate of Colossians 3:2:
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Fulfillment comes from things above, not from the things of the earth.  This conforms to the Apostle Paul's teaching through the first two chapters of Colossians, that we are complete in Christ.  David writes in Psalm 16:11,
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
True satisfaction is found in God, but that choice must be made.  Will it be the earthly, sensual pleasures of this world, or the fulness of joy and pleasure for evermore?  The love of Jesus for the church is a sanctifying love, which models the husband's love for his wife.  Love, which sanctifies, doesn't necessarily feel romantic.  Paul said love "rejoiceth not in iniquity" (1 Corinthians 13:6).  If a husband loves his wife, parents love a child, and a friend loves his friend, they won't rejoice in the iniquity of a wife, child, or friend.

Scripture shows and I've witnessed lust the major impediment of reconciliation.  The one who will not come to the reconciliation table wants something else more than the relationship either with God or the person.  He or she is believing what Jonah 2:8 calls a "lying vanity."  He doesn't want to be corrected, restricted, or told what to do.  It's got to be on his terms.

Sin originates in man's lust.  "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed" (James 1:14).  Reconciliation is better than sin.  It is better than lust.  Why?  Because God is a good God, and He says, reconcile.  No one is better off not doing what God wants him to do, the God Who has given him all good things.

Someone Wants His Own Way or Pride

In 1 Corinthians 13:5, Paul says love "seeketh not her own."  Love doesn't have to have its own way.  Sin is always the wrong way, but love itself doesn't have to have its own way.  If it's a choice between righteousness or unrighteousness, love always chooses righteousness.  Having one's own way sometimes is just not admitting he's doing anything wrong, what some might call, "digging in."  If a person "gives in," he thinks he'll have to keep giving in.  He doesn't want to do that, even if it's either right or a better way.  Nothing can be a better way than his own way.  Why?  It's his.  Reconciliation seems like a future of subordination and subjugation, where someone else's way dominates.  Even if it is worse, and it usually is, his own way is better.  Getting what he wants surpasses all other considerations.

Love does "give in."  It doesn't seek it's own way.  It wants the best way.  Sometimes it accepts a lesser way, because it is someone else's way.

As an example of relationship, getting married isn't about getting your way.  Like everything, it's still about God's way, which is the best way.  Married people have to reconcile on a regular basis and "give in."  Saved, married couples will do that.  Reconciliation especially needs the leadership of a husband, who will either initiate or accept reconciliation.

The "commitment" of marriage is also a commitment to reconciliation.  It has to be a commitment, or couples won't want to do it.  It is the hardest part of marriage, reconciling and "giving in," letting someone else have his way.  If someone has to have his way, he's not going to reconcile as a habit.

It's important to know how to reconcile, what the nuts and bolts of that are, but to start with, someone has to want to do it.  He's got to believe in it.  It starts with God, what God wants, and finding sufficiency in Him.  If someone doesn't, he's not going to reconcile.  This might be because he or she is not saved.  He doesn't have what it takes on the inside, which leads him to believe lies.  Either because of lust or pride, he or she is not ready to reconcile.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Preparation for the Lord's Supper, part 4 of 6, from Wilhelmus a Brakel's The Christian's Reasonable Service

The Third Aspect of Preparation: Spiritual Adornment
The third requisite for preparation is spiritual adornment. When someone is to attend a wedding, he adorns himself with the very best that he has. A bride will adorn herself in a most excellent manner so that she may be desirable to her husband and honor him. Much more must a believer do this in order that the King may delight in his beauty. The guest who also sat down, but was without a wedding garment, was soon identified and cast out (Mat. 22:12–13). This is meant as a warning, but also as an exhortation to put on a wedding garment.
This spiritual adornment consists, first of all, in an enlivening of historical faith by a quiet meditation and reflection upon the entire work of redemption, together with approval of and joy over the goodness, wisdom, righteousness, power, and truth of God which manifest themselves in the work of redemption.
(1) In your thoughts ascend to the fountain of all this: eternal election. Consider that from eternity it has been God’s good pleasure to reveal His righteousness and mercy, in order to give reason for adoration, joy, thanksgiving, the magnification of God, and thus for felicity. Consider that He has furthermore determined that to that end some angels and human beings be punished for their sins, and has ordained others, due only to His grace and sovereign good pleasure, to be the recipients of eternal blessedness.
(2) From there proceed to a reflection upon the covenant of redemption, or the Counsel of Peace: The Son would be Surety for the elect who due to their own wantonness would fall away from God and subject themselves to a temporal and eternal curse. Consider how it was determined that He would assume the human nature in unity of His person, and as Surety would take upon Himself their sins as His own, satisfying the justice of God by His suffering and death, accomplishing everything which was needful to bring them to felicity.
(3) Then descend to the creation of man and to the breaking of the covenant of works. From there, proceed to the promises of the Mediator, to all the shadows and sacrifices by which God’s people were taught how the promised Savior would deliver and save them, taking note how believers yearned for the fulfillment of the promise.
(4) Furthermore, consider that the promised Messiah came into the world after approximately four thousand years, assuming the human nature from the Virgin Mary in unity of person, and thus entered into a state in which He could execute His Suretyship. Consider how the Lord Jesus, from His birth, has taken upon Himself with such willingness and love the curse which was upon the elect, and therefore immediately had everything against Him. He was born in poverty, and as an outcast was laid in a manger in the rear of a stable. He had to flee from the persecution of Herod, and in the sweat of His brow He ate His bread. Upon the initiation of His public ministry, He was first violently assaulted by the devil in the wilderness. He traversed the entire country, preaching with great power to bring men to repentance and salvation. Moved by deep compassion He healed those who had various sorts of misery; He healed the blind, deaf, dumb, and lame; He cast out devils and resurrected the dead, to the comfort of those that mourned. However, He also immediately experienced the wrath and slander of the Pharisees and scribes who endeavored to make Him despised, and subsequently conspired to put Him to death.
(5) Having finished His course, the wrath of God was poured out upon Him in such measure—due to the sins of the elect which He had taken upon Himself—that He became sorrowful, even unto death. He prayed with strong crying and tears, and the bloody sweat dripped from His countenance to the earth; He indeed went to His disciples, but none supported Him. He was betrayed by His own disciple, Judas, captured by His enemies, dragged away cruelly as a murderer, placed before the ecclesiastical council, falsely accused, and condemned to death as a blasphemer. Furthermore, He was mocked, spat in the face, beaten with fists, delivered to the Gentile judge, Pilate, brought to Herod, and led along the streets in a robe of mockery. His crucifixion was demanded by the people (having been stirred up by the chief priests). He was crowned with a crown of thorns as an act of mockery, and beaten over the head with sticks. He was condemned to death, led from Jerusalem to Golgotha while bearing the cross, nailed to the cross—the nails being driven into the wood through His hands and feet—and was raised up along with the cross, thus being suspended between heaven and earth. There hung this beloved Jesus—covered with blood from head to toe, experiencing the most excruciating pain, and enduring the greatest shame imaginable. He furthermore had to see the joy of His enemies, the shaking of their heads, and the pointing of their fingers, as well as hear all sorts of biting words of slander. God withdrew all light and the manifestation of His favor from Him, and filled Him instead with His anger and wrath. He cried out in the anguish of His spirit, “My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?” He suffered from a painful thirst; in response to which vinegar mixed with gall was given Him as a drink. The sun was darkened so that an oppressive darkness troubled Him even more, and last of all He gave up the ghost. All this was comprehended in being Surety for a sinner; and, true believers who read or hear this, it was in this manner that He paid the ransom for you.
(6) He was buried and on the third day rose again from the dead. After forty days He ascended into heaven, and received the very greatest honor and glory at the right hand of the Father—and will return as Judge upon the clouds to judge the children of men.
The quiet and thoughtful contemplation of all this is one’s duty around the time of the Lord’s Supper, for by this, one remembers Him and shows forth His death. The contemplation of this will engender a clearer impression of God’s righteousness, the necessity of satisfaction, the love of Christ, the severity of His suffering, and the resultant efficacy of the atonement.
Proceed from this point to the contemplation of the way by which God brings the elect into fellowship with the Savior. God causes the gospel to be preached at various places in the world, sends forth ministers to proclaim it, and calls His own by His Word—not only externally, as He does with many, but also internally. He illuminates them, convicts them, gives them a desire after the Lord Jesus, draws them to Him, and gives them faith whereby they receive Christ and entrust themselves to Him for justification, sanctification, and salvation. God thus regenerates them, makes them new creatures, leads each of them according to His counsel, and at last takes them into the glory merited by Christ. Simultaneously, meditate upon those ways by which the Lord has brought you hitherto—at each point you will thus observe wondrous things. You will be strengthened in the truth, joyfully approve of this, quietly be led into the truth, and thus be guided to glory by His counsel.
Secondly, spiritual adornment consists in the endeavor to come into a spiritual frame whereby one can be an object of free grace. This transpires when you observe yourself in reference to your insignificance and sinfulness in order to be humbled thereby. Those who are in such a condition are suitable objects of grace. “… for God … giveth grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5); “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa. 57:15); “… I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mat. 9:13). Therefore, think as follows: “What am I, poor worm, that the Lord should remember me! I am a man whose origin is in the dust, who dwells in a vessel of clay, carrying about in my flesh the worms of corruption, and am but a dry root and nothing at all. Will such a one enter into covenant with God, be a child of the Lord of lords, and hereafter have communion and fellowship with this glorious and all-sufficient God? Furthermore, I am nothing but sin, and by nature I miss the image of God; instead, the image of the abominable devil was in me. What abominations this wicked heart has brought forth—not only prior to my conversion, but also yet after my conversion! What sins I have committed in thoughts, words, and deeds at such and such a location, at such and such a time, in the presence of, and together with such and such a person, as well as in solitude! How void of desire and spirituality, and how sinful I am in my religion; that is, in hearing and reading the Word of God and in praying and singing! How unfaithful I am in reference to grace received, and how I have grieved the Holy Spirit! Truly, I am not worthy that God would look down upon me and bestow any grace upon me at all.” Reflect upon this for some time until you are rightly affected by these matters and sink away in your sinfulness. This is not so that you become unbelieving and disown your state, nor be terrified and devastated by the law and the prospect of eternal condemnation—as if this alone were the right manner of being humbled. No, such terrors are generally experienced at the outset of conversion. However, the conviction of one in whose heart there is faith is not of this sort. Rather, the humility to which we are here referring consists of these frames:
(1) Humbleness of heart: “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies” (Gen. 32:10); “Who am I, O Lord God? and what is my house, that Thou hast brought me hitherto?” (2 Sam. 7:18); “… I … am no more worthy to be called Thy son” (Luke 15:21).
(2) Evangelical shame accompanied by faith: “I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens” (Ezra 9:6).
(3) Sorrow over the sinfulness of sin: “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight” (Psa. 51:3–4).
(4) A humbling abhorrence of self: “I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech Thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of Thy servant; for I have done very foolishly” (2 Sam. 24:10).
(5) A being fearful of the rod: “O LORD, rebuke me not in Thine anger, neither chasten me in Thy hot displeasure” (Psa. 6:1).
(6) Confession of sin, coupled with the acknowledgement of it being hateful and condemnable: “I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD” (Psa. 32:5).
(7) Heartfelt prayers for forgiveness and peace of conscience: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities” (Psa. 51:1–2, 9).
(8) A lifting up of the heart by believing the promises made to those who confess their sins: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). These are the humble frames of the heart upon which God bestows His free grace and these are the adornments in which the Lord Jesus finds a delight. Pray for such frames, and highly esteem them if you may have them.
Thirdly, this spiritual adornment consists in a restoration in and renewal of the covenant of grace. Israel did likewise, for we read, “And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; and they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought Him with their whole desire; and He was found of them” (2 Chr. 15:12, 14–15). It is true that this covenant, which once has been made, remains sure to all eternity. “Neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed” (Isa. 54:10); “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me” (Jer. 32:40). Some frequently come into darkness, however, and doubt if they have ever rightly entered into the covenant and are concerned whether they are partakers of Christ. Others miss a lively frame, and the joy of being in covenant with God. The luster of the benefits of this covenant is so obscure for them. It is therefore beneficial and necessary to renew the covenant. Therefore quietly meditate upon the miserable, sinful, condemnable, impotent, and abominable state of those who are outside of the covenant of grace. Consider that you yourself were once one of these. Consider, on the other hand, how blessed it is to be in the covenant of grace, to be a partaker of its excellent benefits, and how surely and perfectly it has been established in the death of the Lord Jesus. Be enamored with this state. Give heed therefore to the sincere, earnest, and urgent invitation and calling of the Lord Jesus; listen to His lovely voice. Stir up your desires thereby and by way of that covenant surrender yourself earnestly and willingly to the Lord Jesus as if you had never done so before, saying, “I now do this with my whole heart and by this covenant I wish to, and shall, live and die.”
Fourthly, this spiritual adornment consists in a sincere resolution to lead a more holy life. “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:8); “Come, eat of My bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding” (Prov. 9:5–6). You must not only make a general resolution, but it must relate to specific sins, as well as to specific virtue. To that end, there must be an enlivened desire for holiness: “O that my ways were directed to keep Thy statutes!” (Psa. 119:5); a wholehearted initiative: “I have inclined mine heart to perform Thy statutes alway, even unto the end” (Psa. 119:112); and there must be earnest prayer for help, being aware of your impotence: “Order my steps in Thy Word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me” (Psa. 119:133); “Teach me to do Thy will; for Thou art my God: Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness” (Psa. 143:10). If the soul may be conscious of her sincerity in this, she will be at liberty to approach to the Lord. “If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God” (1 John 3:21).
Fifthly, spiritual adornment also consists in having an esteem for the Church. “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy” (Psa. 137:5–6). The Church consists of the people of God, the beloved of the Lord, the body of the Lord Jesus, and the kingdom of Christ, and is a city adorned upon a hill, a light in the world, a terror to the kings of the earth (not due to her physical power, but rather, her heavenly disposition), awe-inspiring to the ungodly, the delight of the godly, an ornament of the entire earth, a goodly bonnet in the hand of God, and the glory of Christ! The Church is the object of God’s goodness and benevolence. “All my springs are in Thee” (Psa. 87:7). The supervision and protection of the Lord provide a safe hiding place. “I the LORD do keep it (the vineyard); I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day” (Isa. 27:3). What bliss it is to be among those saints and glorious persons and, with them, to appear before the countenance of the Lord, to confess Jesus, to glorify God, and to receive a blessing! Who would not be carried away with desires to be among them, and with them endure the sweet and the bitter, prosperity and adversity? Moses conducted himself as such: “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt” (Heb. 11:24–26).
Sixthly, spiritual adornment also consists in having a heart which is moved in love toward all God’s children, regardless of whether one knows them or not—yes, a heart filled with love which extends to all men. “And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (2 Pet. 1:7).
At the Lord’s Supper communion is exercised with all believers. It is a communion which cannot but function by the love of the heart manifesting itself. Here the heart must be examined carefully as to whether there is any hatred, envy, or vengefulness—and if there is, special care must first be given to its removal. One must also consider whether there have been any differences or discord between you and your neighbor—be it that you have offended him with deeds, words, or facial expressions, or that your neighbor is of the opinion that you have not conducted yourself well toward him. It could also be that your neighbor has offended you and you did not behave yourself correctly toward him in defending yourself. Give heed to this and do not readily pass over this. Do not allow yourself to be blinded by self-love, neither be your own judge, nor insist upon your rights to the utmost, but rather accommodate him as much as the truth will suffer you to do. Do not demand that your neighbor be humbled before you, nor triumph over him, but be the least, even if he is the more guilty one, is younger in years, and is of lesser position. Even if he were to boast of this, go to him and discuss this in love, persuading him by your tenderness and peaceful disposition. If you have offended him, go to him and openly confess your guilt, request forgiveness, and be not ashamed before him, for you were not ashamed of your misconduct toward him. Give heed to this and do not pass over this by saying, “I forgive him in my heart,” or, “I confess my guilt before God and my heart is therefore at peace,” etc. You must not expect a blessing if you have not done everything from your side to promote peace with your neighbor. If your neighbor refuses to be reconciled, you have done your part. Consider the following passages in connection with this: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Mat. 5:23–24); “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).
We have thus sought to motivate you to be engaged in sacred preparation. We shall add one more matter as a warning and as advice. The warning is as follows:
(1) Restrict yourself neither as far as time (that is, as far as the duration of your preparation is concerned), nor as to the manner in which you will perform this, so that you will be confused and troubled if you do not perform this as carefully as you ought. The Holy Spirit is sovereign in His operation; however, let there be neither laziness nor laxity.
(2) Do not force yourself to be in a specific frame and to be emotionally moved to such and such a degree. This would convey that you imagine yourself to be able to do this by your own strength and your own will. The best preparation is to engage in this duty in quiet resignation, as being destitute of everything, and with expectation—not running ahead of the Spirit, but rather, following His leading. This will provide the best preparation, and will teach you not to rely upon preparation.
The advice I wish to give is that I deem it to be most beneficial to have a day of fasting and prayer prior to the Lord’s Supper—be it that one either does not work and eat at all, or that one works little and eats the simplest of foods. Let every one consider the circumstances in which he is; that is, whether he is in service or free, rich or poor, or whether he is in an ungodly or godly family. The Lord has left it to our discretion to what extent we wish to restrict ourselves, except that there be one day which we designate for the purpose of setting ourselves apart. This act of separation itself, and the repeated reflection upon this during this day will make an impression. To spend this day with the impression of it having been set apart will make one humble and pliable. If one has been barren, dead, without desire, and has had wandering thoughts the entire day, there may generally be special movement at night, so that one may as yet rejoice in having set the day apart. If such is not the case, however, the desire to seek will yet excuse us to some degree, and one will be humbled by having spent the day in such an unprofitable manner, not having been able to be humbled about other sins on this day.
This concludes our discussion regarding preparation.

The excerpt above is from Wilhelmus a Brakel's 4 volume systematic theology called The Christian's Reasonable Service, which has been made available in an indexed form online