Thursday Book Review – The Shepherd of Hermas

Hello again, beloved brethren, I hope you’re week as been a pleasant one so far! Today I want to return to the 2nd century in our book reviews with The Shepherd of Hermas. This book can most accurately be compared to an early church version of The Pilgrims Progress. The entire book is an allegorical tale of a man saved by the grace of God, and attempting to live a Godly life. It was popular with the early church, quite a bit life Pilgrims Progress was for so long. Similarly, I imagine as the comparisons no longer connected with generations the book ceased being as popular, like we sadly see today with Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress.

The books structure is really interesting, and certainly set it apart from all the other 2nd century writings I’ve read. There are three sections, the first being visions, the second mandated, and the last parables. Thankfully the main character, Hermas, is just as confused by everything he sees as the reader is reading it, so he asks many questions about all the symbolism seen. This helps the plot continue, and has a bit of a comical bent to it, though I’m not sure it was supposed to.

Although we’re not sure who wrote this book, many believe it was a man named Hermas. Whoever it was, he did a wonderfully imaginative job of depicting the Christian life, the church, and Christ’s love for His church. I think this book is great for anyone studying the early church, or anyone who loves allegories. I was really encouraged by the books theme of taking sin seriously, something our world is desperately lacking. Being that it’s so very old it’s in the public domain which means you can read the pdf for free here, listen to the audio book here, purchase the cheap kindle book here, or get your own copy of it here. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved!

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Wednesday Testimony – God Uses Many Instruments

Puritan testimony are impossible, brethren, just impossible. You can, and I have, search for hours without finding more than a hint on how these men were converted. David Brainerd is the only one I’ve found clearly detailed, almost painfully so. While I was searching for Isaac Watts testimony, however, I stumbled on this testimony instead.

“In 1830, James Delaney, a British artilleryman in India, first heard a Protestant prayer at the execution of a soldier for murder. Delaney’s command was stationed in Maulmain, where he heard Eugenio Kincaid preach, and ‘When I survey the Wondrous Cross’ was sung. In his hard life Delaney had seemed insensible to religious influence, but the song so deeply laid hold upon him that the course of his life was changed; his conversion was complete, and a few weeks after he was baptized in the Salwin river. Four years after he emigrated to the United States, and in 1844 settled in Wisconsin where he became a Baptist missionary, with fruits of his labors no less remarkable than his conversion. He died at Whitewater, Wis., in 1896, aged 93.”

Delaney’s testimony struck me at once, because the instrument God used in his conversion was a hymn. It never fails, each testimony I hear or read about is unique. This great God we serve not only condescended to enter His creation, where He died for our sins, rose again for our justification, but also rescues us from the wrath to come while we are yet sinners! No wonder men have written about His amazing grace! We are saved, dear ones, by the grace of God alone through faith in Christ alone. The only difference is the means by which God sends us to our knees, humbled and repentant. In this mans case, hard hearted though he was, a beautiful hymn pierced his conscience and caused him to bow his knee to the only way and truth and life, Jesus Christ. I pray this testimony is a blessing to you all, my beloved brethren. As always, be good Berean’s and study to show yourself approved.

Hymns of the Past – Behold the Sure Foundation-Stone

Today is Fathers Day here in America, a day that was full of sadness growing up without a dad. I want to tell you about three Fathers before you get to the beautiful hymn below. The first one is my Uncle, who married my aunt when he was just out of high school. She was much older then him and already had two little girls. They had a boy together and then took my sister and myself in. Five kids, only one his natural born. My aunt was a stay at home wife, which meant he worked very hard at his construction job to care for all of us. We stayed with him for two years, and never once in all my life have I heard him mention how that must have put him out. He walked me down the isle when Justin and I were married. That, dear brethren, is a father.

The second man I want to tell you about, shortly as he actually reads my blog and will be very embarrassed by this, is Justin. My husband is an amazing father. With multiple fractures in his back, a herniated disk, and sciatic nerve pain, he takes Kk out to the ballpark everyday he’s off to practice softball. He hasn’t missed a day of work in years. He takes her on daddy-daughter dates. He helps her with lessons, gymnastics, and even picking out clothes. He’s so tough that until she was 6 Kk was convinced he was Superman. That, my friends, is a good father!

Lastly, I want to tell you of a completely different type of Father. This Father is so great, so holy, so righteous, that comparing Him to earthly fathers is folly. He’s not at all like the dads we had growing up. He’s perfect, perfect in love and perfect in justice. I am, of course, talking about our Heavenly Father, who sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not die but have ever lasting life. His Son, Jesus Christ, condescended to become man, entering His creation and living a sinless life. When the time came He laid down His life, let none of you confuse this point, neither the religious leaders nor those Roman soldiers took His life. He gave it willingly, in complete obedience to God the Father. On that cross He paid a debt He didn’t owe, because we owe a debt we can’t pay. He died, was buried in a tomb, then rose again the third day! Praise God! This hope we have, that Christ took the punishment we deserve so that we can be forgiven and free. Repent of your sins, dear ones, if you have not yet, and put your faith in Christ alone. There is no other name under heaven that can save.

For all those fathers out there, Happy Fathers Day! For all those who had no father, or one that made you wish you had no father, flee to the cross. There is only one Father that is perfect, the rest are wretched sinners just like you and I. With that, let us heap praise, worship, glory, and honor to the only One who deserves it! And as always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Behold the sure Foundation-stone

Which God in Zion lays

To build our heav’nly hopes upon

And His eternal praise.

Chosen of God, to sinners dear,

And saints adore the name;

They trust their whole salvation here,

Nor shall they suffer shame.

The foolish builders, scribe and priest,

Reject it with disdain;

Yet on this Rock the Church shall rest,

And envy rage in vain.

What though the gates of hell withstood,

Yet must this building rise.

’Tis Thy own work, Almighty God,

And wondrous in our eyes.

Isaac Watts

Twisted Tuesday – Cosmic Child Abuse

This is one of those Twisted Tuesdays that turns my stomach. When the topic of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross comes up it brings joy to our hearts and tears to our eyes. Unfortunately there are some who say this never happened, because if it had it would have been cosmic child abuse. Have you heard this, dear ones? I have certainly, though phrased slightly differently, however I heard it from an agnostic. I was shocked to learn it was first suggested by those who claim to be Christians themselves.

This twist in Scripture revolves around the doctrine of penal substitution. Rather than twisting one verse in the Bible, liberal theologians challenge the very veracity of it. Some have suggested that it would be too harsh for God to punish Jesus Christ for sins someone else committed. They say, instead, that God forgives us simply because He is loving. Some even go so far as to say that Christ never existed, that the Bible can’t be trusted, yet they still call themselves Christians. Their heresy has become an argument used against Christians by the lost to this very day.

When we examine this reasonably we see that any judge who does not pass a sentence for a crime is not loving, but criminal himself. If someone were to brutally kill someone you loved, then stood before a judge and said ‘I’m really sorry judge, I won’t do it again’ should the judge let him go? Would it be loving for that judge to set this murderer free? Of course not! God has set Laws for mankind, we have broken those Laws, so to forgive us our trespasses without payment for said crimes would be unjust. God is just, He is a good judge, He is not slack nor is He criminal. Whether by Christ on that Roman cross, or in hell, sin must be paid for. God is not harsh, cruel, or unjust to have poured out the wrath due us on Christ. It’s the most merciful thing that has ever been done.

Men who suggest that God would never punish Christ for our sins have made the same mistake we see so often. They’ve lowered God to our level, and raised mankind to His. Sin, in their eyes, is really no worse than white lies. God, in their theology, is not the Righteous, Holy, Sovereign King of Kings, He’s just like you and me, a pal, a buddy that’s far too busy to notice all our secret sins of thought and deed. The idol they’ve created doesn’t match the God of the Bible, but they found a solution for that, they simply threw out the Bible. God is good, He is Just, one day He will sit in judgement over the world. How will you answer Him on that day? Do you foolishly imagine that you will shake your fist at Him? My dear friend, when your sins are laid bare before Him you will search out hell just to hide yourself from His holiness.

Penal substitution is a doctrine we can not afford to let slip, not even in the slightest. God is good, you and I are not. We have sinned against a Holy God, we are without hope in this world, depraved wretch’s unable to save ourselves or stop the very sin that condemns us. Christ as our substitutionary sacrifice, dying in our place, paying our debt, is the only hope we have. It’s a grand hope! Faith in Christ Jesus alone saves the wicked sinner! Any who preach a Gospel other then that are heretics, preaching a Christless, crossless, Gospel that can not save. Beloved brethren, this is why we must pray and study Gods Word, so that we will know how to give an answer for this hope within us. So, as always, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Series on Plants Part III – Tropisms and Auxins

Today, beloved brethren, we’re going to continue our slow process of following a plant as it grows from a seed. Why? 1 Corinthians 15, which I was so struck by in my morning readings a few weeks back that I’ve now devoted an entire series on it! Let’s me honest, friends, Gods Word is magnificent enough to warrant an eternity of study into, and thanks be to God, if you are found in the faith that’s exactly what we’ll have! If you have not bowed your knee to Christ and become born again, please dear ones repent of your sins and cry out to God for forgiveness. Put your faith in Jesus Christ alone, who paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.

On to tropisms, which could certainly be over spiritualized if we wanted to. I think you’ll see what I mean after you watch this short clip…

Essentially today we’re going to discuss three types of hormones working inside the plant once it’s begun to sprout. I smushed these together because I missed a post last week. I’m actually glad I did, it’s hard to separate any of these into singular posts as they’re all reacting to one another working together beautifully inside the plant. Auxin is a hormone that forms at the tips of the plant and its roots, which has a negative effect on roots and a positive effect on stems. Likewise phototropisms and geotropisms effect the cells within the stems differently than they do the cells within the roots, as you saw in the video above.

The Word of God does often use seeds, roots, and plant growth to visualize a certain point. That would make a great word study! With the Bible so saturated with these examples, I’m not going to attempt a spiritualization of these hormones adverse effects on the roots and stems. The only thing I want to say is that it’s a tremendous way for God to have designed, and without each of these hormones working as they were made to work, the plant itself would never grow. The Lord our God nit together the DNA of even the least attractive plant in an orchestration of complexity human beings could never duplicate.

When we consider how Christ went to the cross, to bear the sin and death we deserve, let us remember who He is. The God who created the universe, massive stars that make our sun look like a speck of salt, and complicated chemical reactions happening on a level so tiny we can’t even witness it with our own eyes. That God, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the only one true God condescended to become man. He entered His creation, lived a perfect, sinless life, then went to that Roman cross in our place. The wrath of God was poured out on Him that day so that you and I could be forgiven, freed from the chains of sin and death, regenerated. I realize that I’m asking you a lot, brethren, to drudge through the reading of hormones inside plant cells, and some people might think that’s insane. My goal is to bring glory to our sovereign God, and encouragement to His church, yes even by the tiniest cells. As always, dear friends, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved.

Hymns of the Past – I Greet Thee, Who my Sure Redeemer Art

I greet thee, who my sure Redeemer art,

my only trust and Savior of my heart,

who pain didst undergo for my poor sake;

I pray thee from our hearts all cares to take.

Thou art the King of mercy and of grace,

reigning omnipotent in every place:

so come, O King, and our whole being sway;

shine on us with the light of thy pure day.

Thou art the life, by which alone we live,

and all our substance and our strength receive;

sustain us by thy faith and by thy power,

and give us strength in every trying hour.

Thou hast the true and perfect gentleness,

no harshness hast thou and no bitterness:

O grant to us the grace we find in thee,

that we may dwell in perfect unity.

Our hope is in no other save in thee;

our faith is built upon thy promise free;

Lord, give us peace, and make us calm and sure, that in thy strength we evermore endure.

John Calvin

Series on Logic Part 13 – Begging the Question

This week is, sadly, the last week we’re going to discuss logical fallacies. There are so many I want to bring up, I was tempted to dump several on you all at once. I don’t think thats helpful, yet I do need to move on to discuss some other very important, culturally relevant, subjects, namely feminism which we’ll begin a series on next Friday. For today I’m going to end this series in style, with my very least favorite fallacy, begging the question.

The very best explanation I’ve heard for this logical fallacy is done by Dr. Jason Lisle in this lecture below starting at about the 23 minute mark, although I highly recommend the entire lecture.

There is something about Dr. Lisles calm demeanor which makes his lectures so enjoyable. If you haven’t had the opportunity to be blessed by his lectures, friends, this one HERE is my favorite. It doesn’t have anything to do with logic, but it is so fascinating! As you saw, beloved brethren, in the lecture above begging the question is a fallacious way to argue any point. Anytime we attempt to manipulate those around us by sticking the conclusion we want them to come to within our argument, we are arguing foolishly. God’s Word does not need our help, so lets speak openly and honestly with the lost, and avoid begging the question.

When you give the Law to the proud their natural inclination will be to go on the offense, often times with this fallacy. This is why it’s my least favorite fallacy, I see it come up so often when sharing the Gospel. It’s painful to see the lost harden their hearts even further, then to see them pridefully proclaim falsehood as if it were true by begging the question. Twitter, in particular, is a begging the question fallacy making machine! When this happens take a deep breath and remember, friends, that God is sovereign. We have been called to share the Good News, but we were never called to save anyone. Thankfully, that is in the capable hands of God, not the vastly incapable hands of wretched man. If you have time, and the person seems reasonable, try to show them their error with gentleness, and love.

This concludes our series through logic, and the many fallacies. Although this was the longest series I’ve done, I really just scratched the surface. I hope you were all blessed by these posts, and will continue to study logic. Remember, dear ones, we do this in love, without a haughty attitude, to tear down every high and lofty thing that sets itself up against the Truth. As always, beloved brethren, be good Berean’s and study to show yourselves approved!