Archive for December, 2008

Next Year

31 December 2008

God willing, here are the books that will accompany me through this next year.


If you are looking for a good read through the Bible system, you should find something suitable here. I am going to be using the M’Cheyne read through system. If you want to get a podcast of your read through, follow the instructions here.

For the Love of God (2 vols) by DA Carson follows M’Cheyne’s system and offers a devotional reading based on one of the chapters for that day. Contrary to many one-page devotionals, I cannot recommend this one highly enough. Your soul will be fed and you will have a theological eduction by the time you are finished with it. It is 2 volumes, so you could use it over two years.

And lastly, with many others in remembering Calvin’s 500th I’ll be making my way through the Institutes. The read through can be found here, and it gives you the weekends off as well as American holidays such as the 4th of July and Thanksgiving (my guess is I will be using those days to catch up). 

Last night at our prayer meeting we heard from Psalm 19. What a timely reminder of the benefits and worth of the word of God. Who wouldn’t want more of it. May 2009 be characterized by Psalm 1, may we delight and meditate on God’s word, as we meet Christ daily.

If you’d like a profound read on Christ’s continuing presence with us in his word, I’d recommend Hugh Martin’s The Abiding Presence (originally titled Christ’s Presence in the Gospel History).


The Lamb and the Priest

22 December 2008


I was reading Hugh Martin on the atonement and he has a fairly lengthy discussion on Christ as a priest in his sacrifice of himself. Yes, we quite easily say that he was both the offerer and the offering, but to stop and think about the apparent contradiction of that is mind bending. One thing it does, in light of the recent furor over the atonement, it highlights, again, the intentionalness of Christ in the atonement. He was by no means a victim, martyr, mere example, or universal scapgoat…He was a priest in his offering. He was making an offering to the Father, with God as the focus. Perhaps a good question for anyone who denies penal substitution is to ask in what way Christ was acting as a priest.

Many times the death of Christ is, regretfully, described as his passive obedience (in contrast with his life, his active obedience, and I understand the intention), but in thinking about Christ as priest in his sacrifice, he was anything but passive. He was being offered, and was offering. He was not a victim, for that would not express his love to the Father and his people. He lays down his life. It is not taken from him. He offers it up.

Martin writes,

While, therefore he was a dead man, he was a living, powerful, almighty Christ; so a living Christ, that even in dying he livingly offered up himself—a slain Lamb, but a living Priest.

The atonement and intercession

19 December 2008

In his book on the atonement Hugh Martin has a chapter on the relationship of the atonement to Christ’s intercession. Laying aside the names in the following quote for our purpose here, I find Martin’s questions to these views on the atonement that exclude penal substitution to be devastating. If you think Martin is being unfair, the question remains, “What is the content of Christ’s intercession in each of these alternate views?”

     What imaginable connection is there between Atonement and Intercession on the theory of Example or of Martyrdom? “I have shown them an Example, and ratified the evidence of truth by Martyrdom. Therefore keep, through thine own name, those whom thou hast given me?”
     Or on the theory of MAURICE? “I have submitted to Self-sacrifice,—to a death of Self-denial. Therefore forgive and sanctify the particular persons whom now I designate and point out!”
     Or on the wild dream of ROBERSTON? “I have fallen a prey to that ‘law of being,’ vicarious sacrifice,—‘approaching the whirling wheel till I was torn in pieces.’ Therefore—!” Therefore—what? Abrogate the law of being? Or?—Stop the wheel!
     Or what connection is there on the scheme of BUSHNELL? “I have given a Display of the principles of thy Government, suitable and applicable to every human being. Therefore on some men, on certain persons, let they Government bear in leniency and mercy!”
     Or on that of YOUNG? “I have finished a work fitted and designed to exert a Moral Influence on sinners. Therefore let me have influence with God!”
     Or what connection is there on the scheme of DR BALMER? “I have achieved an undertaking which bears on the welfare of each and every one of the human race precisely and exactly as it bears on any. Therefore I plead that it shall be made to have a wholly different bearing on some from that which it shall have on others!”
     Are these such reasonings as men will dare to put into the lips of the Wisdom and Logos of God?

A Better Question?

16 December 2008

In my interviews with students before they become members at Carrubbers I ask them to tell me their testimony and how/when they got saved. Now, I’m not really bothered with the time/place of someone’s conversion or whether or not they know that, but what I am concerned with is if their faith is in Jesus.

So, starting today I’ve changed my tack a bit (though I will still ask them about their testimony, but later in the conversation) and ask ‘What is your hope for salvation?’ Because, really, our concern is to know that their faith is in Christ, not that they’ve had some experience years ago. Isn’t it?

Saved from death

9 December 2008

In what sense are we to understand this verse?

Heb. 5.7   In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

Jesus was heard, and yet he died. So in what sense was he saved? Here are a few sentences from Hugh Martin’s article ‘Christ’s Victory Over Death’ explaining the sense:

But in what sense was He saved from death except in this,–that in the conflict with him that had the power of death He was strengthened to defeat him,–that He was saved from the dominion and power of death,–that He was saved, not from dying, but in dying,–that though not saved from dying, He was saved from dying per force,–that though not saved from dying, He was saved from death, that is, from being passively overpowered by death,–that He was strengthened, through the Eternal Spirit, voluntarily, actively, powerfully to die–and so to die as in dying to offer Himself an infinitely acceptable and delightful offering unto God?

The incarnation made more real

8 December 2008

It is quite easy to sanitize the baby Jesus and somehow, probably not deliberately, not really think about him being humbled in becoming a man, more specifically, a baby in a manger. Having children, and thus babies, helps one to grasp this a bit better. But I’ve also found my 3 three old helping me to understand it  even more. Anna will often offer a bottle or her cuddle bear to the baby Jesus (in a nativity scene or found in a book). The first time I watched her do this something inside wanted to have her stop. But watching Anna do these things has further brought to life in my understanding the reality of the baby Jesus. Anna knows what a baby wants and what a baby likes to have. And Jesus was a baby. The grace of God is beyond our full finding out. For the Son to became a babe, for God to become man, and yet, how reluctant I can be to serve or be in a position of humility. May Christ be formed in me!

Pauline sentences – part 2

6 December 2008

From the same article, here is another Martin gem:

But, on the other hand, if we have believed on Jesus, if, as lost sinners, at length convinced that we are lost, gathering this conviction alike from God’s testimony concerning our state, and from our own growing experience of our utter helplessness in attempting to remedy or to retrieve it ourselves; if, self-condemned and self-renouncing, we have given up all idols, and all vain please and hopes, as loss and dung, and, seeking no glory to ourselves, but giving glory to God in Christ, we have embraced the firm grace of reconciliation through the alone righteousness of Christ perfected on the cross, accepted and honoured on the throne of his glory,—then , as the prize of the high calling cannot be dissociated from the calling itself, and as in God’s immeasurable mercy to us his call has not been in vain, we are bound to assure ourselves of that prize as the free and sure gift of God, resting securely fro us on that very purchase and righteousness of Christ on which we rest secure for it, the purchased inheritance of the redeemed of the Lord.

I’m somewhat tempted to include some sentences of my own in the spirit of Martin in my thesis. Perhaps that will help the man be truly represented. Though, I’m not sure how the reader will find it.

Hugh Martin and pauline sentences

6 December 2008

Hugh Martin has some pauline qualities about him. Today and tomorrow I want to post two quotes of his that I feel have but a substantive pauline quality, and a stylistic pauline quality, in that Hugh Martin’s sentence is extremely long (thinking of Ephesians 1.2-6 being only 1 sentence). Here’s the first, speaking of Paul:

If he will resign all other pleas and pretensions—if he, who once showed himself before God standing proudly on his own footing, will now hide himself before God under another, and be accepted only through another’s merit, while he himself is out of sight—if a change so great, a self-renunciation so profound, a hiding in Christ so humiliating, a self-condemnation so thorough, and an honouring of Christ so great, as to trust unto him all his salvation and receive him as all his desire—if this can be, then Saul of Tarsus passes from the rank of enemies to that of friends; passes from condemnation to justification of life; passes from the character and condition of a criminal before God reprieved to the day of execution, to the character and condition of a friend and child beloved, set apart for the favour and the glory of the Lord.

The openness of the gospel invitation

5 December 2008

Hugh Martin writing on the gospel and the atonement a few years before his death .

The clause which succeeds the text is a very precious one—“Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.” It gives a warrant of high encouragement to every sinner who hears the joyful sound to embrace the saving offer which it conveys, and accept the Saviour whom it reveals. It applies equally to unreconciled sinners of every age, and nation, and character…It embraces in its wide extent and its sweeping generality all of the fallen family of Adam to whom the message of reconciliation has been sent, and it shuts out no one who does not shut himself out. All who come are welcome. Him that cometh, be he who he may, I will in no wise cast out.

Why the puritans?

4 December 2008

Back in early November a small group of pastors were treated to a visit by Iain Murray sharing about lessons we can learn from the puritans. We all found it extremely helpful and encouraging as we press on in ministry.


What can we learn from them as key foci in the christian life?
1. The nature of true christianity/priority of the gospel – there must be a saving conversion to Christ
2. Necessity of a disciplined life (according to biblical pattern)
a. scripture reading/meditation
b. secret prayer
c. praise in prayer and song
d. watchfulness – keep short accounts with God
3. Sanctification of the Lord’s Day
4. The importance of unity
5. Fear of Roman Catholocism
6. Example of the power of the word of God preached

(it’s about an hour) Enjoy!