The past 15 years or so I have been worshipping with a Presbyterian church. During that time I’ve been introduced to some old hymns that I really like. One of them we are singing this week, “The God of Abraham Praise.” It sounds so Jewish to me, which makes sense because, according to the hymn book, the tune was adapted from a “Traditional Hebrew melody.” And the subject is praising God, who was also the God of Abraham, and the Jewish people.
I love how hymns like this remind us of timeless truths about God and the Church. Much of the phraseology comes straight from the Old or/and New Testaments. They are based on scripture and truth and promises, not at all focused on ourselves, but rather on God.
Isn’t it a glorious song!
Before my father’s funeral I was looking for something he once sent me. I never found it. Most likely it is in my collection in Savannah. Today I read something that sent me to a very large old family Bible. Paging through it I found a typewritten copy of the same quote, I’m sure was also typed by my Dad (typewriters have their own fingerprint). In my memory the quote was about introducing your child to a living faith in Christ, truly speaking about a life of significance, but I see now it is also about what that means over a lifespan.
The other thing that struck me as typical of my father is his sense of beauty. I love that he typed that border on the top and bottom.
Another new hymn to me, this one found in Sinclair B. Ferguson’s book Know Your Christian Life.
From the chapter “Born Again” in which this old hymn is referenced:
The new birth is, firstly, heavenly in origin. Over and over again Christ emphasised this to Nicodemus. He needed to be born of water ‘and the Spirit’, for only the Spirit gives birth to spirit…Indeed the principle is heavily underlined by the expression ‘born again’. The word John uses, translated ‘again’, can mean either again or from above. It is difficult to be dogmatic about its significance here. On the one hand, Nicodemus appears to follow through Jesus’ words in terms of being born ‘again’ i.e. for a second time. He raises the question whether someone can re-enter the womb. But the other uses of the word in John strengthen the case for translating ‘from above’. In John 3: 31; 19;11, 23, it conveys the idea from the top downwards. If we take it in this sense then we are still able to make sense of Nicodemus’ response. When Jesus tells him that he needs to be born from above, only faintly understanding the meaning, he lamely asks whether another birth is possible.
The corollary of this is often ignored. If we are members of that kingdom it must be by heavenly birth! In other words, if we are Christians it can only be because God has wonderfully intervened to give us new life. Every Christian ought to think long and hard about this, because we have an inevitable and at times very worldly tendency to regard some ‘conversions’ as being more wonderful or amazing than others. ‘Miraculous’ we say when a famous celebrity is ‘born again’, and of course we are right. But the miracle involved in the new birth of John or James Smith, whose name never appears in either Christian or secular press, is no less miraculous, no less wonderful and no less a cause of joy in heaven. It involves the same exercise of divine power and the same abundance of God’s love. What we need to do, therefore, if we would enter into the joys of our new birth is not to cast a glance over our shoulder enviously regarding the spiritual biography of another, but to search the Scriptures to see the rich measure of grace that God pours into every new child of God!
Directed to a group of Christian ministers by Alistair Begg but a reminder to all Christians:
Don’t buy this notion that the future of the church is in the children. You are the future of the church. Your theological grasp, your experience of God’s faithfulness, your laying hold of God in prayer is undergirding the very framework into which another generation comes.
“It is not strange to see that the most dangerous heretics have many followers, every error being a friend to some lust. ” Alexander Nisbet (1623-1669)
We used this as our profession of faith in church a couple of weeks ago. It comes from The Scots Confession (chapter 1).
We confess and acknowledge one God alone, to whom alone we must cleave, whom alone we must serve, whom alone we must worship, and in whom alone we put our trust. Who is eternal, infinite, immeasurable, incomprehensible, omnipotent, invisible; one in substance and yet distinct in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. By whom we confess and believe all things in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, to have been created, to be retained in their being, and to be ruled and guided by His inscrutable providence for such end as His eternal wisdom, goodness, and justice have appointed, and to the manifestation of His own glory.
Go here for a little history of the document.