Grateful Giving

For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. – Mark 9:41

He who commended the mites of that poor widow we read of in the gospel is no longer seated here on earth to scan the gifts bestowed on His poor and on His church, for He has ascended into heaven. But, from His throne of glory, the Savior takes notice of every gift and still more of the motive of the giver. He sets a very different price on these gifts from what mortal man would put upon them: many a shilling – nay, many a penny – is more in His sight than many a pound. It is not only the value of the gift that the savior considers; He knows why a gift is given, and, far from despising the poor man’s offering, we have every reason to believe it to be especially pleasing in His sight. And when a richer disciple makes an offering suitable to his larger means, it also graciously accepted by Him who has given that servant a more extended stewardship.

Whatever you give, be it in your power to bestow little or much, try to remember, to think, “I am giving this to Christ my Savior”; or, “I am permitted to serve my Great Head by this act of charity to His poor member”; or, “I offer this to my Lord, for the use of His church on earth”: or, “I give this to Christ, to forward the spread of the gospel among the heathen.” These are Christian motives. When we gives because others do or to give more than others, we act from low, earthly motives. Remember that the important point is the motive, and that even every sincere Christian must mourn over his own too often very mixed motives. – Elizabeth Julia Hasell

(Taken from Seasons of the Heart)

The Nature of a Sacrament, Part One

Taken from Chapter 1 of The Communicant’s Spiritual Companion by Thomas Haweis

communicantsA sacrament is defined by the church in our excellent though concise catechism to be “an outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace, given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and as a pledge to assure us thereof.”1 In this sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, the bread and wine are the outward signs, signifying that body and blood of Christ which is received into the heart by faith. The sign of the bread signifies Christ’s broken body, the wine signifies His blood shed for our sins. The sign is furthermore mutual, for it represents also our dependence upon and esteem of Him whose body and blood under these signs we spiritually partake of.

The original meaning of the word “sacrament” signifies the oath by which Roman soldiers bound themselves to their general. Thus, it is our oath of allegiance whereby we swear fidelity to Jesus, the Captain of our salvation. Just as the Roman soldiers swore that they would never desert their colors in battle, we also hereby solemnly engage to maintain irreconcilable war against all the enemies of Christ without and within, fighting manfully under His banner against sin, the world, and the devil, and this at the peril of our eternal damnation. Thus, whenever we presume to come to Christ’s Table without this war against sin maintained in our conversation, we become guilty of the body and blood of Christ, incur the awful guilt of perjury, and eat and drink our own damnation, “not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Cor. 11:29).

Tis sacrament has in Scripture several particular names that are expressive of its nature and design. These names are as follows:

(1) The Lord’s Supper: Tis sacrament is a spiritual meal for the soul, as meat is for the body; as our bodies are refreshed by the bread and wine, so much more is the believing soul revived by the body and blood of Christ signified therein. The Lord’s Supper is a chief banquet in the family of Christ, as supper was among the ancients; therefore, none of the children should be absent—unless upon very urgent occasions—not only for fear of loss of food, but so they might not incur the displeasure of their Father for their neglect and irregularities. And this sacrament is emphatically styled the Lord’s Supper since it was instituted by Him at suppertime, the same night of His betrayal, and then was commanded to be observed by Him as a constant memorial. For this reason, whether considering the Master of the feast, the Lord of glory, or the spiritual nourishment contained under these consecrated elements, this supper is to be strictly distinguished from all common food.

(2) Communion of the Blood of Christ: The Lord’s Supper represents the intercourse between Christ as head and the members of His body—those called in the prayer after the Communion “the blessed company of all faithful people.”2 In this sacrament He communicates to them His favor and grace, His blood and righteousness; in return, they communicate their thanksgiving, acceptance, love, and gratitude. Therefore, no person can take part of it unti1 he has a living union with Him and is a part of His mystical body as only then nourishment and support can be communicated to him. All those who are not thus united with Christ are as branches cut of and withered and can receive no more benefit by coming to the Lord’s Table than a dead body can from meat and drink. Furthermore, the Lord’s Supper is a communion with the members themselves, as well as with their Head, Jesus Christ; as Paul states, “So we, being many, are one body” (Rom. 12:5). As we eat of the same bread and drink of the same cup, we signify that we derive our life from one common fountain. We are all actuated by the same Spirit and have as near an interest in and affection for one another as the members of the same body have—“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Cor. 12:27). What a strange absurdity would it be then for an uncharitable soul, one not influenced by brotherly love, to approach Christ’s Table. Such a person would be there only as a mortified limb cut of from all living communication with the rest, one who is full of putrefaction.

(3) The New Testament in Christ’s Blood. As St. Paul said, “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead” (Heb. 9:16–17).3 In the sacrament this testament is opened: the blood of Christ, here emblematically poured out of His heart, demonstrates it is validated by His death, and the inheritance contained is to be applied and paid according to the will of the deceased. Tis testament is sealed with blood, just as Moses, in the renovation of the old covenant on Sinai, took scarlet wool and sprinkled hyssop and the blood of calves and goats on the book of the law, signifying thereby the sealing of the covenant (Heb. 9:19). Likewise, God condescends by this continual sign to seal to us visibly, for the assistance of our faith, all the blessings of the covenant of grace in Christ Jesus. With this ordinance of His own appointment, He assures us—like the rainbow in the clouds—that no deluge of wrath will ever again sweep away those who come to Him by Jesus Christ.

Part 2 next week Thursday.

New Guide for the Christian!

PassingPassing Through: Pilgrim Life in the Wilderness

Jeremy Walker

Paperback, 300

Retail Price: $20.00/ Our Price: $15.00

As twenty-first-century Christians, we must relate to the world, but the question is, how do we relate to it? Some Christians are scared, others are simply bewildered, and still others capitulate to the spirit of the age. In Passing Through: Pilgrim Life in the Wilderness, Pastor Jeremy Walker presents the biblical perspective that Christians are pilgrims passing through this fallen world who must cultivate the spirit of holy separation alongside holy engagement as they serve Christ in all their interactions. Unless we embrace this identity, we will lose our way. Reminding us that we need “the Word of God as our map and the Spirit of Christ as our compass,” Pastor Walker clearly presents principles for holy engagement with the world and separation from it for pilgrims on their way home, seeking to glorify the God of their salvation every step of the way.

Table of Contents:

  1. A Way in the World
  2. Strangers and Pilgrims
  3. Understand the Environment
  4. Know the Enemy
  5. Fight the Battles
  6. Pursue the Mission
  7. Respect the Authorities
  8. Alleviate the Suffering
  9. Appreciate the Beauty
  10. Anticipate the Destiny
  11. Cultivate the Identity
  12. Serve the King

Author

Jeremy Walker is a pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church in Crawley, England, author of Life in Christ and The Brokenhearted Evangelist, coauthor of A Portrait of Paul: Identifying a True Minister of Christ.

Endorsements

“From Hebrew prophet to the New Testament sage who wrote Hebrews, from the North African theologian Augustine to the French Reformer John Calvin, God’s people have confessed that they are a pilgrim people. And here, in a brief compass, we find the same truth about our identity in Christ in this world: we are aliens and strangers, those who are ‘passing through.’ A timely reminder of who the Christian truly is.” — Michael A. G. Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“It is easy to be either a settler or a tourist.  When it comes to our relationship to the world in its current shape, the hardest thing is to be a pilgrim. Passing by the glitz and glamor of Vanity Fair, Jeremy Walker reminds us of the solid joys and lasting pleasures of Zion. This is a book not only to be carefully read, but digested over time.” — Michael S. Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

An Excellent Primer

China’s Reforming Churches – Bruce P. Baugus

Review by Paul Browne in New Horizon Publication

China_front__43442.1400532889.1280.1280Bruce Baugus and ten other contributors, including three OP ministers, walk us through the history, the present situation, and the challenges facing Presbyterianism in China, with a final fourth part of the book laying out how best to further this modern-day reformation. The committed Christian reader will find this book generally accessible, often fascinating, and sometimes thrilling! The final section of three articles may be of more specialized interest.

For us as believers in the U.S., often facing discouragements, it is encouraging to learn how Christ is building his church in China. It is a matter for praise that of the 1.35 billion people in China, an estimated 130 million are believers. There are more evangelical believers in China than in any other country. More Chinese go to church on Sunday than in all of Europe combined. There are more Christians in China than atheists! The articles together picture the Chinese church in her context, a land of staggering numbers posed to lead the world .We can thank God that Christ is visibly at work there.

Various authors here overturn our old assumptions. Besides the government registered churches and the underground churches, there is now a third stream: unregistered urban churches filled with professionals, sometimes flourishing in their own comfortable building! The Chinese Internet teems with openly Christian website. Wealth, busyness, and ‘privatization of belief’ have become issues there as here.

Several articles trace the tortuous history of missions in China, focusing n the Presbyterian effort. The church’s blunders are as clearly portrayed as her magnificent examples and sacrifices. There are lessons here for a missionary-minded church – with missionaries now in China.

We see again how Christ may us Satan’s rage to build his church. Before Mao came to power in 1949, there were over 8,000 missionaries and 500,000 Chinese Protestants. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-78), Mao used all his power to remove every opponent of ‘Maoist orthodoxy’. The church bore the brunt; unknown numbers of believers suffered and died. Yet, at the end of the Cultural Revolution, it was found that Protestants had not disappeared from China, but increased to around six million!

As Presbyterian and reformed believers, we can rejoice that the church in China is experiencing reformation akin to our own, centuries ago. Churches are seeking connections with others; the plurality of elders is being embrace; Reformed theological training and literature are becoming available. Indeed, this book led me to rejoice again over the treasures we have freely received in the OPC, but too easily take for granted. Many of the articles here serve as excellent primers on our understanding of the church and the kingdom.

God alone knows how far this leaving will spread among the churches in China, but China’s Reforming Churches provides a stimulus to pray for such a glorious transformation.

DVD Series

Behold Your God – Set and Teacher’s Guide

behold dvd

John Snyder

The Behold Your God Set and Teacher’s Guide comes with the 13 DVD set and 1 Leader’s Guide. The Behold Your God Student Workbook can be purchased separately.

Behold Your God is a 12-week study for churches, small groups, families or individuals containing 12 sessions that are reinforced by a 12-week daily workbook. Each week’s lesson is preceded by a brief historical profile of a notable man or woman of God such as George Muller, A. W. Tozer, Samuel Rutherford, Charles Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Amy Carmichael, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, George Whitefield, Daniel Rowland and Jonathan Edwards.

The heart of each DVD is a 30-minute lesson on one aspect of the Christian life and how it is affected by a biblical rethinking of God’s character. The teaching sessions are led by Dr. John Snyder, pastor of Christ Church in New Albany, Mississippi.

Following each teaching session is a collection of comments from interviews with contemporary Christian leaders who explain how a biblical appreciation of God’s character has affected their own lives and ministries. Among these men are Paul Washer, Richard Owen Roberts, Conrad Mbewe, Andrew Davies, Jordan Thomas and Eifion Evans.

The video portions were filmed on location in the United States and the United Kingdom at key historical sites associated with the lives of the men and women we are considering.

Course Content:

Week 1: Beholding God – The Great Attraction
Week 2: Beholding God – Clearing the Way for Our Return
Week 3: Beholding God – In the Bible
Week 4: Beholding God – In the Face of Jesus Christ
Week 5: Beholding God – In the Work of Salvation
Week 6: Beholding God and the Response of Personal Holiness
Week 7: Beholding God – Restoring Worship in Our Lives
Week 8: Beholding God and Evangelism
Week 9: Beholding God and Our Christian Service
Week 10: Beholding a Lesser God
Week 11: Beholding God – Avoiding the Lies of Pragmatism
Week 12: Seeking the God We Are Beholding
Each session is approximately 50 minutes long

Endorsements

“This is an excellent resource for churches and individuals who desire to “grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ”, and who desire to anchor their biblical faith in the history of the church.” — IAN HAMILTON

“This course is perhaps the most significant resource I have encountered in 30 years of Christian ministry. At its core, it is pointing and forcing those leading and those taking part into encountering ‘The God who is there’.” — ANDY CHRISTOFIDES

Do I need this Book?

Spear_Covenanted UniformityCovenanted Uniformity in Religion

(Reviewed in Haddington House Journal by D. Douglas Gebbie)

Up until last year, access to Wayne Spear’s 1976 Ph.D. thesis was limited to bound photocopies of the typed dissertation. Now, thirty-seven years after it was submitted and eight years after his retirement from the Chair of Systematic Theology at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Spear’s re- search is at last in print and might have the audience which it deserves.

The subtitle, The Influence of the Scottish Commissioners on the Ecclesiology of the Westminster Assembly, describes what the book is about. After the preface and introduction, there is the first part of the book which has three chapters. Chapter one sets out the historical background of the Westminster Assembly. Chapter two describes the way that the Assembly conducted business, with an emphasis on the structure of the committees. Chapter three deals with the Scottish Commissioners and their work.

The second part has four chapters which treat the church and its officers, the local church, governmental assemblies, and ordination. The pattern followed by Spear is to state the final formulation at which the Assembly arrived; to describe how, through the work of the committees, the formulation was developed; and to pick up on issues which were of particular interest to the Scots by describing the existing Scottish practice and noting the extent to which the Scottish Commissioners were able to either persuade the English Divines to adopt the Scottish way or to safeguard its continuation in the Church of Scotland. While doing this, Spear also notes the differences be- tween the Scots and the English over which elements of church government were considered to be mandated by the Word or which were agreeable to the Word.

Drawing from his research, Wayne Spear concludes by describing what use was made of the Form of Presbyterial Church Government composed by the Westminster Assembly in England and Scotland, reviewing the aims of the Scots at the Assembly, and analysing the degree of Scottish success.

Why publish a dissertation completed in 1976 now? The answer is that until Chad Van Dixhoorn’s edition of the minutes of the Westminster Assembly arrived in 2012, access to this primary source of material was rather limited. Now, with this increased access comes increased interest in, and opportunity to interact with, studies which have relied on this source. Spear’s work is one such study.

Do I need this book? If you have an interest in Presbyterianism, whether as an academic study or as the form of government to which you adhere, then the answer is yes. This book is an introduction to, summary of, and bibliography for historic Scottish Presbyterian Principles. A grasp of these principles is required to understand the background and context of all subsequent discussions. You have to know your Gillespie before you can interact meaningfully with Thornwell and Hodge.

Available for Purchase –>

Mathew Henry Devotional Sale

Henry_bible_1_vol__14114.1411573357.1280.1280Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible

Hardcover, 2512 pages

Retail Price: $40.00/ Sale Price: $21.00

From Genesis to Revelation, Matthew Henry successfully combines practical application, devotional insight, and scholarship on the entire Bible. Henry has profound insights on the content, message and nature of God’s divine revelation. Perfect for all readers of the Bible who want a convenient, comprehensive commentary.

• Includes the entire text of Matthew Henry’s original multi-volume commentary
• Modern easy-to-read type
• Portable
• Attractive and affordable

henryThe Matthew Henry Study Bible

HardcoverRetail Price: $40.00/ Sale Price: $13.99

Flexisoft Leather BrownRetail Price: $70.00/ Sale Price: $19.99

Flexisoft Leather Black – Retail Price: $70.00/ Sale Price: $19.99

The Matthew Henry Study Bible blends his inspirational notes with a full-featured KJV Bible, to enable readers to benefit from the simple piety and no-nonsense application of the biblical lessons that are the enduring legacy of his writings. Classically designed to honor the history of the content but updated with helpful features for easy contemporary use, The Matthew Henry Study Bible accommodates the needs of the serious Bible student and provides more clarity for the interested layperson.

Study features include:

• Clear new typesetting of text and notes

• Words of Christ in red

• Presentation page

• Book introductions, footnotes, and in-text quotations from Matthew Henry’s writings

• Side-column references

• Biography of Matthew Henry

• Concordance

• 8-page full-color map section

Bulk Buy Options

 

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible + The Matthew Henry Study Bible: Hardcover

Retail Price: $80.00/ Sale Price: $32.99 (Hardcover, 5000 pages )

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible + The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible – Hardcover

Retail Price: $80.00/ Sale Price: $40.00 (Hardcover, 5000 pages)

 

View other discounted Matthew Henry titles –>

 

New to RHB

riotsRiots, Revolutions, and the Scottish Covenanters: The Work of Alexander Henderson

Jackson, L. Charles

Hardcover, 312 pages

Retail Price: $30.00/ Our Price: $23.00

Electronic Format

Coauthor of the famous Scottish National Covenant, moderator of the Glasgow General Assembly that defied King Charles I, and member of the Westminster Assembly, Alexander Henderson (1583–1646) led Scotland during the tumultuous period of the British Revolutions. He influenced Scotland as a Covenanter, preacher, presbyterian, and pamphleteer and earned an important place in the nation’s history. Despite his numerous accomplishments, no modern biography of Henderson exists. In Riots, Revolutions, and the Scottish Covenanters, L. Charles Jackson corrects this omission. He avoids the extremes of casting Henderson as a forerunner to liberty or as a theological tyrant and instead places his actions in their historical setting, presenting this important leader as he saw himself: primarily a minister of the gospel who was struggling to live faithfully as he understood it. Using neglected and, in some cases, new sources, Jackson reassesses the role of religion in early modern Scotland as reflected in the life of Alexander Henderson.

Endorsements

“There has long been a need for a modern, scholarly study of Alexander Henderson, the most important clerical leader of the Scottish Covenanters. Charles Jackson’s carefully researched work helps us to understand why Henderson was so effective and why his death in 1646 was such a loss to the Covenanter movement. The book engages with a number of debates among historians and highlights the importance of religion in Covenanter ideology. It will be of particular interest to students of the British Civil Wars, presbyterianism, and the Reformed tradition.” — John Coffey, professor of early modern history, University of Leicester

“At last, a scholarly biography of Alexander Henderson, perhaps the greatest of the architects of post-Reformation presbyterianism. Henderson was one of the key Scottish commissioners at the Westminster Assembly and helped significantly to mold the Assembly’s documents into the timeless theological legacy that has been bequeathed to the Reformed church in particular, and the wider Christian church in general. Charles Jackson has written an engaging, insightful, and stirring biography of one of Scotland’s greatest pastor-theologians. This is a book not just for history buffs but for anyone interested in understanding the thinking and actions that gave birth to a church polity and mindset that impacted the world, not least of all the United States.” — Ian Hamilton, minister of Cambridge Presbyterian Church, Cambridge, England, and author ofThe Erosion of Calvinist Orthodoxy

Review

foundationReview of The Foundation of Communion with God by Dr. S. Westcott (British Church Newspaper)

Reformation Heritage Books have developed a ministry of not only reprinting Puritan classics but also bringing puritan spiritualty and insights into the context of the modern church situation. This is the aim of this series of small format books, each taking a leading figure from the past and emphasizing one core aspect of their teaching and legacy. McGraw does this well for Owen and Trinitarian piety. Chapters (typically one to three pages) of carefully selected quotations from Owen’s writings, divided into three major sections: ‘Knowing God as Triune’, ‘Heavenly-Mindedness’ and Apostacy’ and ‘Covenant and Church’.

The book is structured like a good sermon: first a doctrinal outline of the truths to be taught, as: communion with God as Father, communion with God as Son, communion with God as Holy Spirit, communion with God as Trinity in Unity, enjoying communion in Adoption, marks of communion with the Holy Spirit, and much more. Next, personal application: faith and worship go together, the marks of a spiritually thriving Christian, dangers of pride and backsliding, the means of grace, delighting in God, the duties of the faithful. Finally wider application for walk in church and witness in the world: new covenant worship, knowing and employing the continuing gifts of the Spirit, good preaching and beneficial hearing, profiting from the sacraments and the Sabbath, the prospect of eternal communion with god in heaven.

This is rich Biblical theology. The Owen extracts are well chosen and read easily, and keep up the reader’s attention. There are black and white illustrations of important people and places of the period. This is an attractive and spiritually valuable little Book.

Book Review

Dr S. Westcott ‘s (British Church Newspaper) review of Jonathan Edwards by Simonetta Carr

jonathan edsThis is the latest volume in a series of biographies of ‘important people in the Christian tradition’, written by Simonetta Carr for younger readers with the aim of interesting them in God’s dealings with saints of the past, and their own evangelical background. The subject is Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), perhaps America’s greatest Reformed theologian.

The wide format pages are lavishly illustrated with modern pictures of places associated with Edwards, and lively full page coloured artwork by Matt Abraxas. The print is large and clear, to aid the youngest readers. The pages are tinted, to give an interesting ‘antique’ look to the work.

SImonetta Carr’s easy to read text follows Edwards from his birth as the son and grandson of pastors in East Windsor, Connecticut, in what was then very much a frontier settlement, faced with hostility from the French and the Indians, his intense thirst for knowledge and amazing intellectual abilities as a child, his early spiritual struggles, and assurance granted at the age of seventeen when 1 Timothy 1:17: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever” spoke powerfully to him. Then followed pastoral training at Yale University, a two year pastorate in the burgeoning sea port of New York, a short period of teaching at Yale, followed by an urgent call to assist his ageing grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, in pastoring the church at Northampton, Massachusetts, where he succeeded to the ministry on Stoddard’s death in 1729. We read how Edwards’ pastorate there lasted 23 years, during which he became the leading figure in the wonderful Revival known as the ‘Great Awakening’ (1734-1744), and a firm friend of George Whitefield. During this period Edwards also encouraged and sponsored David Brainerd in his evangelical missions amongst the native American Indians. Edwards’ theological writings became increasingly valued in this period, but he was happiest serving in the local church, through a time of domestic joys and griefs. In 1750 Edwards suffered a split from his beloved church. He moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, then a settlement of Mohawk and Mohican Indians with a few British traders, as missionary pastor until February 1758 when he accepted a call as president of Princeton College. Edwards became ill and died suddenly on March 22nd of that year.

Edwards was an important and fascinating character, and this attractive work will benefit readers of any age group. It would also make a good ‘coffee table’ book, to be picked up and browsed by visitors: hopefully to their spiritual benefit!

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