Images of Jesus and the Second Commandment

Brian Cosby wrote a very helpful article titled, “The Second Commandment, Westminster and Images of Jesus.” Brian writes about how he has, “noticed an increasing number of candidates taking an “exception” to the Westminster Standards’ interpretation of the Second Commandment, mainly due to the interpretation of the use of “images” in worship.” Our understanding of the application of the Second Commandment is critical, given the increasing popularity of picture books and movies of Jesus in our day.

Here is the whole article:

No, the Westminster divines weren’t intentionally attacking The Jesus Storybook Biblebut they probably would have taken issue with the pictures of Jesus. (more…)

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How to Help Children Listen to and Apply a Sermon

Here is some great advice from Erik Raymond for parents and pastors on helping their children listen to and apply a sermon:

Helping Children Benefit from the Sermon 

As a pastor I often get the question, “Do you have any advice for helping my kids to benefit from the sermon?”

This is a question that I really appreciate because it recognizes the importance of the preaching of the Word of God and our reception of it. It recognizes that even the children are to hear, and to best of their ability, understand what is being preached.

What follows are some things that I have done as a Dad and also as a pastor.

Parents before the Sermon

Read the Passage as a family before Sunday morning. This is easy and so very important. They hear the passage read by Dad or Mom and see your commitment to the Word of God. This goes further than you can imagine. (more…)

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It’s Been a Busy Month for Sodomite Marriage Controversy

The pace of the discussion and the shifts that took place were monumental. CEO’s of companies like Salesforce and Apple were bringing their frowning disciplinary chastisements to states like Indiana and others. Rock stars and actors were scowling at the idea of man as male and female, and marriage between a man and a woman.

A new website “DefendingMarriage.com” has aggregated some of the most critical stories on the issue. Amazingly, the stories listed all broke over the last ten days – since March 23.

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The Cross as Medicine and Food on Good Friday

Today millions around the globe will be mindful of the cross. So should we. Don’t ignore the cross today. It is an opportunity to think and feel rightly about it – that is, biblically. For us, and for all true believers, the death of Christ on the cross is the center of atonement. In Isaiah 43:25, there is a prophesy that sins are “blotted out,” and He will “remember them no more.”

These words in Isaiah are a prophesy of our Lord Jesus hanging on a cross. Many have a fixation on the cross itself. That’s not what we should do. We don’t obsess about wooden crosses. But, we SHOULD BOAST, as Paul explains in Galatians 6:14,

“But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

This means that our meditation on the cross ought to draw our attention is on the substitutionary atonement that was accomplished on the cross. Christ was crucified so that sinners would be rescued from being crucified for their sins. Further, God uses the cross to declare the foolishness of those who are perishing,

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 1 Cor 1:18-19

For the apostle Paul, the cross was, as J.C. Ryle described it,

“the joy and delight, the comfort and the peace, the hope and the confidence, the foundation and the resting-place, the ark and the refuge, the food and the medicine of Paul’s soul.”

Samuel Rutherford explained how the cross means freedom,

“The believer is so freed from eternal wrath, that if Satan and conscience say, ‘You are a sinner, and under the curse of the law,’ he can say, ‘It is true, I am a sinner; but I was hanged on a tree and died, and was made a curse in my Head and Lawgiver Christ, and His payment and suffering is my payment and suffering.'”—Rutherford’s Christ Dying. 1647.

Ryle offers this citation, “By the cross of Christ the Apostle understands the all-sufficient, expiatory, and satisfactory sacrifice of Christ upon the cross, with the whole work of our redemption; in the saving knowledge of whereof he professes he will glory and boasts.”—Cudworth on Galatians. 1613.

Ryle concludes his sermon with these words, and so I conclude this letter,

“I lay these thoughts before your mind. What you think now about the cross of Christ, I cannot tell. But I can wish you nothing better than this—that you may be able to say with the Apostle Paul, before you die or meet the Lord, “God forbid that I should boast—except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!”

J.C. Ryle’s Sermon and some of the above quotations were taken from J.C. Ryle’s sermon that can be found here.

 

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NCFIC Declaration: Article III – The Only Hope is Jesus Christ and His Gospel

We affirm that the only hope for the church, the family, and the fallen world is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (Mal. 4:6; Luke 1:17; John 14:6; Acts 2:39; 4:12; 16:30–34; Eph. 2:12–13).

We deny/reject that there is any hope for the church, the family, and the fallen world apart from Jesus Christ and His gospel or that family members are able to perform their functions, be properly reformed, or experience true blessing except by the power of the gospel saving and sanctifying its members.

 

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What is Family Worship?

 

Here is the third article from the first chapter of A Theology of the Family by J.W. Alexander titled, “The Nature, Warrant, and History of Family Worship.” If you prefer, you can also download the PDF version of the article.

 

The Nature, Warrant, and History of Family Worship

J.W. ALEXANDER (1804-1859)

Family worship, as the name imports, is the joint worship rendered to God, by all the members of one household. There is an irresistible impulse to pray for those whom we love; and not only to pray for them, butwith them. There is a natural as well as a gracious prompting to pray with those who are near to us. Prayer is a social exercise. The prayer which our Lord taught His disciples bears this stamp on every petition. It is this principle which leads to the united devotions of church assemblies and which immediately manifests itself in Christian families.

If there were but two human beings upon earth, they would be drawn, if they were of sanctified hearts, to pray with one another. Here we have the fountain of domestic worship. Time was, when there were but two human beings upon earth; and we may feel assured that they offered adoration in common. This was the Family Worship of Paradise.

That religion should specially pertain to the domestic relation is not at all wonderful.27 The family is the oldest of human societies: it is as old as the creation of the race. Men were not drawn together into families by a voluntary determination or social compact according to the absurd figment of infidels: they were created in families.

It is not our purpose to make any ingenious28 efforts to force into our service the history of the Old Testament or to search for Family Worship in every age of the world. That it has existed in every age, we do not doubt; that the Old Testament was intended to communicate this fact is not so clear. But without any indulgence of fancy, we cannot fail to discern the principle of Family Worship appearing and reappearing as a familiar thing in the remotest periods.

While all the church of God was in the ark, the worship was plainly Family Worship. And after the subsiding of the waters, when “Noah builded an altar unto the LORD,” it was a family sacrifice which he offered (Gen. 8:20). The patriarchs seem to have left a record of their social worship at every encampment. As soon as wefind Abraham in the Promised Land, we find him rearing an altar in the plain of Moreh (Gen. 12:7). The same thing occurs in the vale between Hai and Bethel. Isaac not only renews the fountains which his father had opened, but keeps up his devotions, building an altar at Beersheba (Gen. 26:25). Jacob’s altar at Bethel was eminently a family monument and was signalized by his saying on the way unto his household, and to all that were with him, “Put away the strange gods that are among you” (Gen. 35:1-2). The altar was named EL-BETH-EL. This descent of religious rites in the family line was in correspondence with that declaration of Jehovah respecting the family religion which should prevail in Abraham’s house (Gen. 18:19). The service of Job in behalf of his children was a perpetual service: he “sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all…Thus did Job continually,” or as it is in the Hebrew, “all the days” ( Job 1:5). The book of Deuteronomy is full of family religion, as an example of which we may specially note the sixth chapter. The Passover, as we shall observe more fully in the sequel, was a family rite.

(more…)

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Probing Children in Spiritual Matters

 

You must always probe a child at the level or slightly above the level where the child is at, to stretch him a little bit. Don’t probe him by asking him questions that are way above his level. But the Q&A method is the best probing technique, but the Q&A must be asked in a lot of love. The child must not feel put on the spot, intimidated, threatened; ideally, there’s good eye contact between the father and the child. There’s a warm expression on his face.

 

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Please Pray for the Family Conference in Alabama

Tonight and Saturday, I will be in Montgomery, AL to speak to a local group on marriage. Tom Ford of Grace Baptist Church in Montgomery are organizing this conference. Here is how you can pray: 

Pray for our submission, humility, boldness, and love as we are going there to extol and defend the biblical view of marriage by explaining it from the Word of God. 

First, we will go to Scripture to learn the language of marriage from the one who created it. One of the most remarkable statements about marriage comes from Genesis: “the two shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Marriage is about oneness. It is an earthly picture of what it means to know God. 

Second, I want to speak of marriage in such a way to deliver us from a self made marriage. A self made marriage is a marriage made in your own image. It is an inwardly focused, narcissistic marriage.  It is “marriage for our sake” kind of marriage. I pray that I will be able to explain the foundational matters. 

Third, that marriage is a representative relationship. It represents something – the Gospel – Christ’s love for the Church. 

Fourth, that marriage is a declarative relationship. Marriage was made to say something. Marriages are always speaking some kind of message. The question is: Is the message of that marriage a message of love, forgiveness, mercy, and devotion? Does it trumpet the superiority of Christ? 

Ultimately, I want to say: You defend marriage by loving Christ and becoming like Christ and His holy Church in your marriage.

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Is There a Regulative Principle of Worship?

Is There a Regulative Principle of Worship from NCFIC on Vimeo.

I love the general session the subject, “The Regulative Principle of Worship in the Confessions of Faith.” But I think I’m most passionate about the first one, “Is there a Regulative Principle?”, because I believe the regulative principle, historically understood means that God regulates worship in a way that is different than He regulates the rest of life. There are those out there in our day, even in Reformed circles who are asserting that actually the regulative principle applies to all of life the same. To which I respond: “If the regulative principle applies to everything, it applies to nothing.”

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NCFIC Declaration: Article II – Christ is the Head of the Church

We affirm that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of His church, having purchased it with His own blood, and that He rules His church by His Holy Spirit through His Word in order to make known the manifold wisdom of God and to bring glory to Himself (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 28:18-20; John 17:17; Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:19-23; 3:10; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18).

We deny/reject all man-made inventions and rules that disregard the Word of God, exalt man, and usurp the Lord Jesus Christ’s headship of His church.

 

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What is a Family-Integrated Church?

Here is how Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas explains it:

Family Integrated Churches come in all shapes, sizes and varieties.  There are FICs in virtually every denominational and theological tradition, and in most sections of the country.  While no two FICs are exactly alike, they do have certain distinctives in common.

Families Worship Together

If you’ve ever walked into a FIC during a worship service, perhaps the first thing that struck you was the fact that there were so many babies and small children in the service.  We have grown accustomed to the presence of children in the service, and the children grow accustomed to being a part of the worship experience.  No one will stop you at the door if you try to enter our service with your toddler.

No Systematic Age Segregation

One of the biggest distinctions of a FIC is the absence of age-graded ministries.  We do not have segregated youth ministry, or children’s ministry.  First, these ministries are not part of the biblical church model.  The Bible is clear on whose job it is to disciple children… parents.  Second, these ministries can work against the biblical mode.  Parents who are relieved of their discipleship duties tend to become dependent on those who have taken over the job.  And, as Dr. Alvin Reid has noticed, “The largest rise of youth professionals in history has been accompanied by a decline in youth evangelism effectiveness.”

Evangelism/Discipleship Through Homes

We teach parents to evangelize and disciple their children and their neighbors.  We emphasize the ministry of hospitality, family worship, catechism, and family discipleship.  Thus, instead of placing the burden on paid professionals to “do the work of the ministry,” we equip the saints to do it.

Education as a Key Component of Discipleship

Jesus said, “A pupil is not above his teacher, but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).  Whoever educates a child is discipling that child.  We work hard to help parents see the importance of Christian education, and to help them make biblical choices as it relates to this part of their children’s discipleship.

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Are Fathers Priests?

Here is an excellent article by R.C. Sproul Jr. that unravels confusion regarding a church and family matter. Mixing up roles and responsibilities in these two great institutions God has provided – the church and the family – can lead to misapplying Scripture. R.C. shows how a good and right concept can be harmful if it is misunderstood and misapplied. He begins the article with this summary,

Are husbands/fathers called to be priests in their homes? Yes and no. If we mean by “priest” one who intercedes for others, beseeching the blessing of God, of course fathers should be priests in their homes. We’re called to pray for our families, to storm the very throne room of heaven on behalf of those whom He has placed under our care. I can’t begin to imagine how anyone could have an objection to this.

Follow this link to read to rest of the article, “Ask R.C.: Are Fathers Priests?

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“The Playbook” – A New Book from Carlton McLeod

Here are the opening words from Carlton McLeod’s new book,The Playbook: Five Strategic Plays to Restore the Prophetic Voice of the Church in America:

What in the world happened to the church?  Where is her clarion call for righteousness?  Where is her authority?  Where is her courage to speak boldly into the critical issues of our day?  Where is her faith that the Word of God will not return empty? 

 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to thesower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isa 55:10–11)

I submit, dear reader, that the church has lost her prophetic voice.

We are at the point now where we can hardly discern the impact of righteousness on the nation.  As I write, over 53 million babies have been aborted in the United States of America since 1973.  States are enthusiastically voting for gay “marriage” as easily as viewers vote for their favorite American Idol.  Humanism and her first cousin, Paganism, seem to reign supreme.  Government schools indoctrinate over 90 percent of American children to embrace perversity, evolution, ungodly sexuality, and immodest dress.  Television and radio are as raunchy as ever, and even Christian music and entertainment seem to have this love affair with the world. 

Consider this: There are about 300,000 churches in America; 300,000 army outposts for Christ, the King and Ruler of the universe; 300,000 groups of elders who are boldly declaring God’s Words, right?  How in the world can 300,000 churches in a country of 30 million be doing this badly?  Has God abandoned us?  I don’t think He has.  Perhaps, we have abandoned Him. 

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A Review of the Inerrancy Summit

 

Our work over the years at the NCFIC has been focused on proclaiming the sufficiency of Scripture for church and family life, and what a joy it’s been to be able to do that.

Last week, I was able to be at the inerrancy summit that John MacArthur put on at the Master’s Seminary. What a fantastic conference! I highly recommend every message. I saw something in the conference brochure that really capsulized everything that we desire to communicate: “Every word inspired – Every Word Preached.” 

This really is the whole matter of the preaching of the sufficiency of Scripture for church and family life – to find churches that are totally dedicated to every word of Scripture, faithfully proclaiming it with all of their hearts for God-Centered, Gospel-Preaching, Family-Integrated Churches.

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NCFIC Declaration: Article I – Scripture is Sufficient

We affirm that our all-wise God has revealed Himself and His will in a completed revelation—the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments—which is fully adequate in both content and clarity for everything pertaining to life (salvation) and godliness (sanctification), including the ordering of the church and the family (Deut. 30:11-14; 1 Cor. 11:1-12; 14:34; Gal. 1:8-9; Eph. 5:22-6:4; 1 Tim. 3:15; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 1:1-2; 2 Peter 1:3-4).

We deny/reject that God’s Word is inadequate for church and family life and that we need to adopt the traditions of men from philosophy, psychology, pragmatism, entertainment, corporate business models, or modern marketing techniques.

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