"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

Lovely Progression

Jesus, how sweet your virgin birth,
Deep, lovely mystery:
Out from the unsewn womb sprang forth
God of eternity!
I kneel before your bed so rough,
My Savior in a feeding trough,
Divine before the world began,
And now in time become a man.

Jesus, how sweet your life on earth,
Your public ministry,
Your miracles of saving worth
O'er sin and misery;
I hear in reverential awe
Your thund'rous utt'rance of the Law,
And offer in my own defense
Your life of pure obedience.

Jesus, how sweet your saving death,
The atoning sacrifice!
My plea rose up on your last breath
Like incense to the skies;
I weep before that blessed tree
Where priceless blood was spilled for me,
Where all the wrath of God was poured
On the Beloved of the Lord.

Jesus, how sweet your rising up
Victorious from the dead
To fill my upheld mercy cup,
To crush the Tempter's head!
I come by grace before your throne
And there in trembling joy bow down,
Before my King who now must reign
Till he make all things new again.

February 29, 2008  |  Comments (8)   |  Permalink

The Hidden Treasure (4 -- Refining the Gold)

As difficult and arduous as are the labors of bringing out the precious minerals from their hiding places in the depths of the earth, any miner will affirm that, once they have been so gathered up, his labor is not at all done. For the gold and silver to gleam with all their beauty and be valued at their full worth, they must first be purified and refined; which is just to say that, any substance which is not true to their nature, must by various means be teased out and discarded. This process of refinement is unexceptionally necessary in the pursuit of earth’s buried treasures, for the desired minerals are never found thoroughly pure, but always mingled with some degree of unwanted substances, the worthless dross, to be rid of which is the design of the refinement. A miner who takes a sack of gold ore into a store might gain some use from his riches, but not nearly so much as he who takes a refined and certified ingot.

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February 25, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Old Gospel

The following is an extract from Dr. J. I. Packer's introductory essay to John Owen's "Death of Death" published by the Banner of Truth Trust.

The old gospel of Owen, first of all, contains no less full and free an offer of salvation than its modern counterpart. It presents ample grounds of faith (the sufficiency of Christ, and the promise of God), and cogent motives to faith (the sinner's need, and the Creator's command, which is also the Redeemer's invitation). The new gospel gains nothing here by asserting universal redemption. The old gospel, certainly, has no room for the cheap sentimentalising which turns God's free mercy to sinners into a constitutional softheartedness on His part which we can take for granted; nor will it countenance the degrading presentation of Christ as the baffled Saviour, balked in what he hoped to do by human unbelief; nor will it indulge in maudlin appeals to the unconverted to let Christ save them out of pity for His disappointment. The pitiable Saviour and the pathetic God of modern pulpits are unknown to the old gospel. The old gospel tells men that they need God, but not that God needs them (a modern falsehood); it does not exhort them to pity Christ, but announces that Christ has pitied them, though pity was the last thing they deserved. It never loses sight of the Divine majesty and sovereign power of the Christ whom it proclaims, but rejects flatly all representations of Him which would obscure His free omnipotence.

Does this mean, however, that the preacher of the old gospel is inhibited or confined in offering Christ to men and inviting them to receive Him? Not at all. In actual fact, just because he recognises that Divine mercy is sovereign and free, he is in a position to make far more of the offer of Christ in his preaching than is the expositor of the new gospel; for this offer is itself a far more wonderful thing on his principles than it can ever be in the eyes of those who regard love to all sinners as a necessity of God's nature, and therefore a matter of course. To think that the holy Creator, who never needed man for His happiness and might justly have banished our fallen race for ever without mercy, should actually have chosen to redeem some of them! and that His own Son was willing to undergo death and descend into hell to save them! and that now from His throne He should speak to ungodly men as He does in the words of the gospel, urging upon them the command to repent and believe in the form of a compassionate invitation to pity themselves and choose life! These thoughts are the focal points round which the preaching of the old gospel revolves. It is all wonderful, just because none of it can be taken for granted. But perhaps the most wonderful thing of all - the holiest spot in all the holy ground of gospel truth - is the free invitation which "the Lord Christ " (as Owen loves to call Him) issues repeatedly to guilty sinners to come to Him and find rest for their souls. It is the glory of these invitations that it is an omnipotent King who gives them, just as it is a chief part of the glory of the enthroned Christ that He condescends still to utter them. And it is the glory of the gospel ministry that the preacher goes to men as Christ's ambassador, charged to deliver the King's invitation personally to every sinner present and to summon them all to turn and live. Owen himself enlarges on this in a passage addressed to the unconverted.

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February 23, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Book Review: Grandpa's Box, by Starr Meade

Synopsis: Set in suburban, twenty-first century America, and yet ambitiously covering all of history in its scope, Grandpa's Box, by Starr Meade, is a book that speaks to children from a venue that they understand, and tells them what they most urgently need to hear. This is, as the subtitle suggests, simply a retelling of the biblical story; which only means that there is nothing new or innovative in the essential content of its message, just in the mode of its delivery. It is nothing but the overarching storyline of the bible, put into simple and coherent terms, and given a context which emphasizes its all-encompassing importance for covenant children today. In short, it not only tells the story of the bible to the children of the church: it makes them a part of that story as well.

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February 19, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Blessed Man of Psalm One

Just a few days ago here on the blog Eric Costa wrote a brief but very insightful article about Psalm 1. I was very stirred by his writing and in fact am teaching a group of people tonight on this exact theme. I have made some written notes and share them on the blog here, in hope that it will be a blessing to you. - Rev. John Samson

1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. - Psalm 1:1-6

We have all heard a preacher use Psalm 1 to say "Be like the prosperous man who delights in the law of the LORD and not like the wicked who will perish." Yet, when we actually examine the text, it is interesting to note that there is no prescriptive language whatsoever. Read the Psalm through again and you will discover that the text does not actually tell us to DO anything. There are no imperatives, no commands. Psalm 1 is entirely descriptive language.

Eric Costa is quite right when he asks, “What is being described here in Psalm 1? The life of those called "righteous" in contrast with those called "wicked." What is the main difference between the righteous and the wicked? Is it the object of their delight? Is it the fruit of their labors? Is it the eternal destiny of their souls? No, the first thing that makes the righteous differ from the wicked is that the righteous are "blessed." The starting point of the "way of the righteous" is the blessing of God.”

As in the opening of the Sermon on the Mount, the book of Psalms opens with a blessing. Blessed means supremely happy or fulfilled – Dr. James Montgomery Boice states that the Hebrew word for blessed here is actually plural, which “denotes either a multiplicity of blessings or an intensification of them. The verse might be correctly translated, “O the blessednesses of the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.”

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February 16, 2008  |  Comments (4)   |  Permalink

Two Recent Stories from the United Kingdom

Two recent stories from the United Kingdom are cause for real concern, showing the current thought in much of the professing church and culture - found here and here.

"I do believe we will need to start to view our brothers seeking to proclaim the gospel in the United Kingdom as foreign missionaries in their own homeland, given the speed with which the British culture is collapsing into utter irrationality and loathing of God and His laws." - Dr. James White

Let us pray for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached boldly and received widely in our time.

February 16, 2008  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

The Hidden Treasure (3 -- Finding the Gold: C. A Survey of the Fields in Which it is to be Sought)

In the art of prospecting for gold, it must ever be kept in mind that, according to the various natures of the fields in which one is searching, the nature of the processes employed must be adapted. When gold is sought from the flowing streams, a steady hand and discerning eye must be taken advantage of, and through the patient perseverance of the seeker, many precious nuggets might be panned out from the midst of the worthless bits of sand and rock. But the deep mines want a strong arm and energetic pick, which might extend the tunnels many miles into the bosom of the earth, and find out the deepest veins hidden far away from the surface. So is it with the labor of seeking the gospel-gold from the fields of God’s word: that pursuit which might be successful in the histories will little profit in the psalms. The method most likely to obtain good results in the prophets will advance but little in the proverbs. A thorough knowledge of the diverse fields in which one is working, and the strategies best adapted for those fields, must always be remembered

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February 15, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Psalm 1

Blessed is the man / who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, / nor stands in the way of sinners, / nor sits in the seat of scoffers; / but his delight is in the law of the LORD, / and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree / planted by streams of water / that yields its fruit in its season, / and its leaf does not wither. / In all that he does, he prospers. / The wicked are not so, / but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, / nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; / for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, / but the way of the wicked will perish. [Psalm 1]

Many preachers use Psalm 1 to try to get people to read their Bibles. "Be like the prosperous man who delights in the law of the LORD," they say. "Don't be like the wicked who will perish," they say. But this Psalm uses no prescriptive language whatsoever. There are no imperatives, no commands. Psalm 1 is entirely descriptive. That fact alone ought to give us pause when we go to use it like a hammer and chisel to sculpt religious behavior.

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February 14, 2008  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

The Puritan Library

The Puritan Library
Take some time to check out this vast online downloadable puritan resource library (links hosted at Includes books by authors such as Thomas Watson | Thomas Brooks | Thomas Boston | John Bunyan | Stephen Charnock | Richard Sibbes | Thomas Goodwin | Thomas Shepherd | John Robinson | Thomas Case | John Owen | William Bridge | John Flavel | John Howe | Richard Baxter | Hugh Binning | Thomas Gouge | Joseph Alleine | Richard Alleine | William Bates | David Clarkson | Richard Steele | Jerremiah Burroughs | William Gurnall | Thomas Adams | Philip Doddridge | Benjamin Brook | William Guthrie | William Perkins

February 08, 2008  |  Comments (7)   |  Permalink

More Reformed Hip-Hop

In the past, I've mentioned Lampmode, a label featuring some thoroughly reformed hip-hop artists. Well a Lampmode artist, Shai Linne, just finished a new album, The Atonement, ready to be released February 12th, and already available for pre-order at Lampmode. I just received a copy, and it really is excellent -- absolutely loaded with the theology of a definite, penal substitutionary atonement, total depravity, free grace, etc. The lyrics to most of the tracks, including "In Adam All Die," "Were You There?," "Jesus Is Alive," and "Triune Praise," are available on Shai's blog. As a highlight, I'm posting the lyrics to what is likely to be the most controversial, but also one of the most edifying tracks, "Mission Accomplished". If you like what you read, check out Lampmode for more of the same.

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February 06, 2008  |  Comments (15)   |  Permalink

The Hidden Treasure (3 -- Finding the Gold: B. In What Manner it is to be Sought)

It is a necessary quality for our pursuit of spiritual riches, if we would be successful, that we understand what the treasure consists of, so that we might recognize it when we see it; and as we have observed, man’s true spiritual good is to be found only in the knowledge of Christ. He is the gospel-gold, the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in the field. But merely understanding this will not be sufficient to fill our coffers, for we must likewise be instructed in the manner of searching, when we have once arrived in the fields of God’s Word. Suppose a prospector came to California, ready to distinguish between true gold and fool’s gold, and thinking that he should soon make himself rich, he forthwith began to scrutinize the tree-tops, to see whether he would find the gold in the highest boughs. For all his knowledge, he would not soon be successful. So too, the Christian who has been taught to seek Christ in all the scriptures, but does not know how, may wander over many a page without uncovering the deepest veins of silver; or may even fabricate treasures of dubious value, supported only by tenuous reasonings, far-fetched allegories, or the impulses of his own heart.

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February 06, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

In a former generation it was said...

H. Richard Niebuhr (1894-1962) said this of liberalism, "a God without wrath, brought men without sin, into a kingdom without judgment, through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross." It seems that what was once true of liberalism, can now be said of much of modern day evangelicalism.

February 04, 2008  |  Comments (1)   |  Permalink

Book Review: The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Book Review: The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones by Nathan Pitchford at

Synopsis: “Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules....Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes...”, begins Sally Lloyd Jones, in The Jesus Storybook Bible; “but the Bible isn't mainly about you and what you should be doing,” she continues: “It's about God and what he has done”. This refreshing God-centeredness continues throughout the book. To Sally Lloyd-Jones, the bible is not primarily a book full of stories which contain moral lessons or instructions to follow (although it does contain those as well); it is a book about a Hero who leaves everything and does something unthinkable, to rescue those whom he loves. And while the Bible does in fact have many stories to tell, they can never be understood until this Hero is seen. Because, when you really have the ears to hear, “every Story in the Bible whispers his name”.

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February 04, 2008  |  Comments (9)   |  Permalink

A day in the life of George Whitefield

This extract is taken from pages 226-227 of George Whitefield's Journals

Sunday, March 4, 1739 - Age 24

Rose much refreshed in spirit and gave my early attendants a warm exhortation as usual. Went to Newgate and preached with power to an exceedingly thronged congregation. Then hastened to Hanham Mount, three miles from the city, where the miners live altogether. God favoured us in the weather. Over four thousand were ready to hear me and God enabled me to preach with the demonstration of the Spirit.

The ground not being high enough, I stood upon a table and the sight of the people covering the green fields, and their deep attention, please me much. I hope that same Lord, who fed so many thousands with bodily bread, will feed all their souls with the Bread which cometh down from Heaven, for many came from far.

At four in the afternoon, I went to the mount on Rose Green and preached to over fourteen thousand souls. God was so good to allow all to be able to hear me. I think it was worth while to come many miles to see such a sight. I spoke with great freedom, but thought all the while, as I do continually, when I ascend the mount, that hereafter I shall suffer, as well as speak, for my Master's sake. Lord, strengthen me for that hour. Lord, I believe (O help my unbelief!) that Thy grace will be more sufficient for me.

In the evening I expounded at Baldwin Street Society, but could not get up to the room without the utmost difficulty, as the entry and court were much filled with people. Blessed be God, the number of hearers much increases and as my day is, so is my strength. Tonight I returned home much more refreshed in joy and longed to be dissolved and to be with Jesus Christ. This has been a sabbath indeed to my soul!

February 02, 2008  |  Comments (3)   |  Permalink

How theology affects our view of "revival"

An excellent article by Iain H. Murray found here. It discusses the consequences of bad theology on the modern day church and the massive infuence of Charles G. Finney and his view of revival.

February 02, 2008  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

The Hidden Treasure (3 -- Finding the Gold: A. Wherein it Consists)

When news of the gold rush of 1849 began to spread from California, passing eastward on the lips of men who had made their fortune and could not contain their joy nor hold back the good news, many countless prospectors were encouraged by tales of great riches to be had for the taking, to leave behind their homes, and set off to California, where they hoped they would strike it rich. But as is often the case, far more of these prospectors ended up rather squandering all their goods than finding their fortune, for the riches were not so great as to satisfy the lusts of every miner, and those few fortunate enough to have discovered the rich veins horded up vast treasures, while the rest starved on a pile of worthless sand. This can never be the case among those who are seeking the riches of wisdom from God’s Word; for as much as is uncovered, there is always more yet, and however many miners make their fortune by their toils, they leave the fields not a whit less rich for those coming behind them. However, notwithstanding the inexhaustible richness of the gospel-field, many prospectors of wisdom have undertaken to dig there, and have returned without a trace of the precious metal. How can this be?

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February 01, 2008  |  Comments (2)   |  Permalink