If Edwards Didn't Do It, Why Would a New Calvinist?

Justin Taylor lists errors to avoid in a Christmas sermon:

Don’t say Jesus died when he was 33 years old.
Don’t explain the apparent absence of a lamb at the Last Supper by only saying Jesus is the ultimate Passover Lamb.
Don’t say the same crowds worshiped Jesus on Palm Sunday and then cried out for his crucifixion on Good Friday.
Don’t bypass the role of the women as witnesses of the resurrected Christ.
Don’t focus on the suffering of Jesus to the extent that you neglect the glory of the Cross in and through the Resurrection.

Wouldn’t it be better not to preach a Christmas sermon altogether? After all, Edwards didn’t preach Christmas sermons. And I thought he broke the mold.

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90 thoughts on “If Edwards Didn't Do It, Why Would a New Calvinist?

  1. Are you sure these aren’t tips for an Easter sermon? When you’re playing around with next year’s diary momentary confusion is all too easy, don’t you find?

    But then I don’t suppose Edwards preached Easter sermons either.

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  2. From further down the article

    “Now Köstenberger and Alexander Stewart, who co-authored the prequel/sequel The First Days of Jesus (see my foreword), have a new article in CT on “5 Errors to Drop from Your Christmas Sermon.” Here they are in outline form:

    1. Don’t add details that aren’t in the text.
    2. Don’t supply spiritual explanations for cultural practices to make them sound biblical.
    3. Don’t be embarrassed by the Jewishness of passages related to Jesus’ coming.
    4. Don’t be swayed by dubious challenges to the biblical witness to Jesus’ birth.
    5. Don’t get bogged down in trivia and miss the true significance of Jesus’ birth.”

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  3. Jonathan Edwards: “We are really saved by perseverance…the perseverance which belongs to faith is one thing that is really a fundamental ground of the congruity that faith gives to salvation…For, though a sinner is justified in his first act of faith, yet even then, in that act of justification, God has respect to perseverance as being implied in the first act.”

    Jonathan Edwards:—His “infinite” condescension marvelously appeared in the manner of his birth. He was brought forth in a stable because there was no room for them in the inn. The inn was taken up by others, that were looked upon as persons of greater account. The Blessed Virgin, being poor and despised, was turned or shut out. Though she was in such necessitous circumstances, yet those that counted themselves her betters would not give place to her; and therefore, in the time of her travail, she was forced to betake herself to a stable; and when the child was born, it was wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. There Christ lay a little infant, and there he eminently appeared as a lamb. But yet this feeble infant, born thus in a stable, and laid in a manger, was born to conquer and triumph over Satan, that roaring lion. He came to subdue the mighty powers of darkness, and make a show of them openly, and so to restore peace on earth, and to manifest God’s good-will towards men, and to bring glory to God in the highest, according as the end of his birth was declared by the joyful songs of the glorious hosts of angels appearing to the shepherds at the same time that the infant lay in the manger; whereby his divine dignity was manifested.
    Excerpted from The Excellency of Christ.

    http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-feeble-infant-came-to-conquer-satan

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  4. the less sermons from Edward, all the better

    http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/ref-rev/14-1/14-1_mcdermott.pdf

    Gerald R. McDermott, “Jonathan Edwards on Justification: Closer to Luther or Aquinas?,” Reformation & Revival 14, no. 1 (2005)– “Jonathan Edwards’s supreme devotion to Petrus van Mastricht, the late-seventeenth-century Dutch Reformed theologian who was steeped in Suarez, was not without effect. Edwards agreed with Thomas Aquinas -more than with many of his evangelical followers and that faith is inherently related to Christian living,hat justification changes the regenerate soul.”, p 132

    “Edwards would have agreed with the New Perspective that, for Paul, faith and works are not mutually exclusive, and justification has an eschatological dimension. We have seen
    that Edwards understood justification as dependent, in one sense, on sanctification (or “perseverance,” as he put it). He also spoke of a two-fold justification, distinguishing between
    the judge’s approbation and the public manifestation of that approbation at the last judgment.”, p 134

    “Faith is not the instrument that gets members attached to the body, but is the act of union itself, and so is the badge identifying the members. Since these are members of the person of Christ, they will gradually begin to resemble that person. Any discussion of justification must therefore include both juridical and participationist language…, faith cannot be abstracted from works of love. Edwards suggests that we must eschew false dichotomies between faith and works, imputation and infusion, justification and sanctification, soteriology and ecclesiology.” p 135

    Jonathan Edwards—”Virtues are inner dispositions toward certain goods). The grace of “infusion” is for at least three reasons: 1) it is not an exterior or physical reality of the person but rather an invisible internal reality, 2) it is the effect of God’s indwelling and thus originates outside of the person ), and 3) it is beyond the natural capacities of that person to acquire.”

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  5. When I was a kid, my friends and I would usually respond to lists of demands from our peers with something mature like, “Who died and made you boss?” For some reason that comes to mind now. So Justin Taylor gets to single-handedly determine all errors and then pontificate on how I ought not to use his errors in my sermon? Does he have a list of books I shouldn’t read also?

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  6. I second Chris M.

    And when I read the list, I thought, “JT will probably only be happy with an Xmas sermon that is ‘gospel-saturated’ and ‘transformative’….” and the Coalition has made me sick of ‘gospel-centered’ anything. A YRR trademark is to over-theologize, over-reach, and over-share in super-sized amounts. Just look at the spine size of the ESV Study Bible, and that was even with an oldster like J.I. Packer at the help. It’s going to get a lot thicker before people get tired of it.

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  7. Wait! Why the picture of Frank for this post? Sure, he produced a Christmas album, but who hasn’t? It is, after all, a secular holiday – Irving Berlin made sure of that with White Christmas. But Frank…he was the greatest tenor to ever sing jazz and pop tunes. There has never been another voice equal to his, nor with there ever be…

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  8. George
    Posted December 19, 2015 at 7:48 pm | Permalink
    Wait! Why the picture of Frank for this post? Sure, he produced a Christmas album, but who hasn’t? It is, after all, a secular holiday – Irving Berlin made sure of that with White Christmas. But Frank…he was the greatest tenor to ever sing jazz and pop tunes. There has never been another voice equal to his, nor with there ever be…

    FTR, Sinatra was a baritone. 😉

    http://therangeplace.forummotions.com/t251-why-in-the-50s-there-was-so-many-baritone-singers

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  9. Ah, ha! He had such great range that it was sometimes difficult to tell. Plus, the “young” (1940’s – early 50’s) Frank had a much different voice than the 60’s+ “older” Frank. However, as you say, he seems to be classified by most as a high-ranging baritone. Learn something new every day.

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  10. Yah, it was more his tone that changed over the years than his range.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Sinatra%27s_recorded_legacy

    Sinatra also possessed an outstanding vocal range. According to music critic Henry Pleasants “The voice itself was a typical Italian light baritone with a two octave range from G to G, declining, as it darkened in later years, to F to F and with greater potential at the top than he was commonly disposed to exploit. He could and sometimes did depress the larynx and ‘cover’ as classical singers do, to sustain a full rounded tone in moving up the scale. On his recording ‘Day by Day,’ for example he gives out with full-voiced, admirably focused E flats and F’s and even lands a briefly held but confident high A flat just before the end.” [1] His early recordings found him singing in near-tenor range, hitting a high F on “All or Nothing At All” (1939) or “Where’s My Bess” (1946), whilst being equally adept in the lower register, the low E on his 1962 recording of “Ol’ Man River” being a prime example of such. His phrasing was also impeccable, getting to the heart of a song by emphasizing words and lines in ways that made a song more personal, whilst his ability to hold notes, sing above or behind the beat and rest on a note were hallmarks of a singer fully in command of his instrument.

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  11. Thanks for the eventual link to the whole Christianity Today article which was interesting and seemed to fit right in here with considering/maintaining clear distinction among what are facts, legends, traditions, imaginations. As the article says, “Christianity is rooted in historical fact. This is as true for Jesus’ birth as it is true for the crucifixion and resurrection.”

    Also appreciated the article’s urging to be honest when talking about the use of decorated Christmas trees, candles, holly, red, yule log, mistletoe, bells, gift giving, etc., not inventing biblical rationales to justify them (nor letting those things take away from focus on Jesus), but “communicating clear distinction between the aspects of our Christmas celebration that are inherited from the culture and those that are clearly grounded in Scripture.”

    And thanks, Mark, for the Jonathan Edwards reference excerpt showing his teaching ‘on Christmas’ – the incarnation of Jesus – Immanuel- God With Us.

    Anyway – check out the facts of Jesus’s birth here: Matt 1:18-25; 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-20

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  12. cw l’unificateur (aka dj animateur seine et marne):Ali has the gift of helps, y’all.
    Hey morning cw.

    Glad you saw a little help was needed. I mean….. what !!??!! a ‘reformed faith and practice’ post conclusion: “Wouldn’t it be better not to preach a Christmas sermon altogether? “ Strange.

    And then you also saw the need for help for the comments. IE, yeah sure a few fun-facters about Sinatra, even one attempt for honesty (Count Postula); but mostly jump-on-the-bandwagon- ridiculers? w/a few now-how-does-this-fit-in-exactly-but-whatever-you’re-a-bro- no-condemnation

    Oh yeah, and speaking religious affections (Jonathan Edwards), just for you this am cw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piUDbCtgymw

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  13. and cw, btw, there are really only two ‘bandwagons’, aren’t there?

    read these headlines this am at christianpost:
    Nebraska State Capitol to Replace Nativity With Atheist Scene
    Satanists to Pour Blood Over Virgin Mary, Perform Satanic Ceremonies Over Christmas

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  14. But, Ali, after following Taylor’s prescriptions (and the ones to which he links), is there really any room at the inn anymore for an Xmas sermon? Maybe all that’s left is an incarnation sermon.

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  15. Oh, sorry for the misunderstanding. Since everything you include in your support before your conclusion has to do with facts or not about Jesus and HIs life, it was assumed that you were talking about not preaching a ‘Christmas’ sermon meaning a sermon ‘commemorating the birth of Jesus’. You must have meant something different.

    Oh well, anyway, it’s ok, we all misunderstand, except the Lord, who never misunderstands; He always knows perfectly, and it is to Him we give an account of it all. Liberating thought!

    zrim: But, Ali, after following Taylor’s prescriptions (and the ones to which he links), is there really any room at the inn anymore for an Xmas sermon? Maybe all that’s left is an incarnation sermon.

    not sure what you’re getting at zrim. I’m not sure I have ever heard a ‘Christmas’ sermon focusing on something other than the incarnation as in Matt 1:18-25; 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-20
    I appreciate Count Postula’s outline form which I believe would apply to an ‘incarnation’ sermon
    1. Don’t add details that aren’t in the text.
    2. Don’t supply spiritual explanations for cultural practices to make them sound biblical.
    3. Don’t be embarrassed by the Jewishness of passages related to Jesus’ coming.
    4. Don’t be swayed by dubious challenges to the biblical witness to Jesus’ birth.
    5. Don’t get bogged down in trivia and miss the true significance of Jesus’ birth.”

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  16. oh, and you know what else zrim, the ‘homeless’ ladies this week didn’t give a thought to, hey, maybe we shouldn’t be reading Matt 1:18-25; 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-20 right now at this time.

    You know what they were sincerely focused on in Matt 1:18-25; 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-20: –seeing the three persons of God in action; seeing prophecy fulfilled; seeing all the titles of Jesus announced; seeing all the unlikely characters in the story, including generally-despised shepherds being told first, rejoicing, announcing and magi who* 1) read and believed God’s Word, 2) sought Jesus, 3) recognized the worth of Christ, 4) humbled themselves to worship Jesus, and 5) obeyed God rather than man. They were truly wise men!” (*from forgotten source sorry)..and much more

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  17. Ali, I’m getting at this. You sound like a reason-for-the-season Christian. But do reason-for-the-seasoners consider that an incarnation sermon can be given any time of the year, while an Xmas sermon is only once a year? If you’re all about the freedom and sovereignty of God, why box him in with Xmas?

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  18. dgh—“Put the Mass in Christmas, would you.”

    If Edwards would do it, then old school folks ought not to do it.

    Edwards owned slaves, but Jesus did not own slaves, so that’s a wash, and we are not saved by imitation, therefore own slaves if you want, so long as you do individually and not as a church.

    Edwards asked for pietistic testimonies before the table, so maybe old school folks ought not imitate that but instead go back to Stoddard’s system in which the sacramental miracle precedes the faith, and faith is not a condition for the sacramental miracle. It happens objectively, no matter what you believe or do.

    Before Edwards brought in revivalism and decisionism, in the good old days, the old Roman Catholic church buildings in Geneva became “Reformed”, and those who did not consent were sent away. http://www.charismanews.com/world/53917-7-christians-jailed-for-refusing-to-convert-to-catholicism

    We do not need to deny that Christ is our political example in order to say that Christ will Save All the Elect. It’s not an Either Or.

    Luke 1: 52
    He has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and ….sent the rich away empty.

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  19. Mark, it’s not as easy as that–I’ve been all over this town and can’t lay my hands on a single slave. Though our church has told me if I do they won’t help with any expenses, if that helps.

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  20. Zrim, However, each one must live his life in the situation the Lord assigned when God called him.Was anyone already without slaves WHEN HE WAS CALLED? He should be cool with it. Owning slaves does not matter and not owning slaves does not matter. Each person should remain in the life situation in which he was CALLED. . But if you can buy a slave or two, by all means take the opportunity. For he who is CALLED by the Lord as a slave is still spiritually free in one of the two present kingdoms. Do not become slaves but if the market allows you to obtain some slaves, don’t be limited in any way by the unique example of Jesus because He came to save the elect from God’s wrath and not from slavery, and therefore Jesus is not our example…We don’t become justified by following his example, and since we are not going to get anything out of following his example, why bother to try it? And also since we are not able to follow His example, our duty is only to do what is realistic and possible.

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  21. I don’t know if this sermon was preached at x-mass time, and I don’t endorse the preacher (who has this zany idea that God wants to save the non-elect so much that Jesus died for them), but I do think his comments on Luke 2:14 are helpful. I don’t know that Justin Taylor or Carson or Keller would approve….

    http://www.thebridgeonline.net/sermons/glory-to-god-peace-to-men/

    Brian Anderson—“Peace on earth to men of good pleasure (or good will).” But, what does that sentence mean? Let’s look at three possible views.
    View #1: Peace with God comes to people who possess a good will toward God. Does it mean that peace with God comes to men who possess a good will towards God? Is it speaking of the fact that because sinners are well-intentioned toward God, He will grant them salvation peace? That view can’t be correct for the simple reason that no unregenerate sinner possess a good will toward God. Paul says in Romans 8:7, “the mind set on the flesh (unregenerate) is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.” Does that sound like a sinner having good will towards God?! Absolutely not. He’s hostile to God, not well-intentioned toward God.
    Also, this view would make the angels’ praise absurd. They would be praising and glorifying God that there were some people out there with a “good will” to God, and that’s why God has rewarded them with salvation peace. Folks, that view rejects the Biblical teaching on man’s inherent depravity and corruption. It also makes our salvation a result of our good will or intentions, which is the exact opposite of the rest of Biblical teaching. And, why should the angels praise God? If this view is true, they ought to be praising and glorifying those people who had the good will that enabled God to save them!
    View #2: Peace with God comes to those men who please God. There are only a handful of places where I don’t like the rendering in the NASB, but this is one of them. The NASB says, “on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” This rendering makes it seem like God grants His peace to those who have pleased Him. Again, it is kind of a reward for righteous conduct or attitude. It would imply that there are some people who, before they are converted, live a life pleasing to God, and that’s why God grants them this peace. Again, this is another version of salvation by works.
    Well, if the angels’ words don’t mean either of these, what did they mean? I suggest another view.
    View #3: Peace with God comes to those men who are the objects of God’s Sovereign Grace: You see, I don’t think the angels were talking about man’s good pleasure at all. I believe they were speaking of God’s good pleasure.
    1) This Greek word for “good pleasure” is found 8 other times in the New Testament, and 6 times it refers to God’s good will or pleasure. In the great majority of cases, this word refers to God’s good will; His gracious determination.
    2) This is how Luke uses the word in Luke 10:21, “At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You did hide these things from the wise and intelligent and did reveal them to babes. Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Your sight.” Well-pleasing is the same Greek word that we have in Luke 2:14, and this well-pleasing describes God, not man. It describes God’s sovereign determination.
    3) Paul uses the word in Ephesians 1:4-5 to refer to God’s sovereign pleasure. “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure (or kind intention) of His will.” What was God’s decision to predestine some to be adopted into His family based on? The good pleasure of His will. “Kind intention” speaks of a plan, a decision, or a purpose. If told you, “It is my intention to go to work today”, you would understand me to be saying, “I have made a decision to go to work today.” It is part of my plan for today. I have purposed it. This is exactly the meaning in Luke 2:14. Men of God’s good pleasure are men who are the objects of God’s sovereign grace. These are people God intends to bestow grace upon. They are people God is pleased to save. They are people to whom God has a good will. These are the ones who receive peace with God on earth!
    4) Notice the definition of this Greek word in Kittel’s Theological Diction of New Testament words (which is the authority on the Greek New Testament): “This good pleasure is grounded in God alone and influenced by none else. It is His gracious resolution to save. We must understand eudokia as the unfathomably gracious and sovereign good pleasure of God in the sense of His decree as a decree of free grace and favor. Thus eudokia in the angels’ song refers to God’s gracious counsel addressed in free and incomprehensible favor to the people of His elect.”
    Let me sum up the meaning of these angels’ declaration on this holy day. “The perfections and excellencies of our God in heaven are displayed because of the birth of this child. Further, God’s salvation peace comes to those people He has sovereignly decided to give it

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  22. Thanks for being such a faithful reader of TGC, DGH! But you copied the wrong part of the post. If you kept reading, you’d see the points about Christmas rather than Easter.

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  23. But what, no thanks for faithful readers of the Assembly’s Dir. Publ. Worship?
    These sons of TGC are too hard for us.

    AN APPENDIX,
    Touching Days and Places for Publick Worship.

    THERE is no day commanded in scripture to be kept holy under the gospel but the
    Lord’s day, which is the Christian Sabbath.
    Festival days, vulgarly called Holy-days, having no warrant in the word of God,
    are not to be continued.

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  24. Who actually reads the stuff on the TGC website? I was talking to a friend who’s a PCA pastor today. He noted that most of the YRR stuff appeals to guys in their early 20s who grew up in fundamentalist churches and are making their first foray into something besides fundamentalism.

    By contrast, many 20-somethings and 30-somethings in PCA churches grew up in evangelical churches and are take a “been there, done that” attitude to TGC-flavored stuff. His church has three small groups that are currently doing book studies. The three books are written by: Marilynne Robinson, Stanley Hauerwas, and Miroslav Volf.

    And it looks like the attempted TGC takeover at Wheaton has hit some more snags. If you’re a Christian college President, this isn’t exactly the kind of attention you want to receive from the BBC, CNN, NYT, WaPo, Atlantic, etc. As some pundit put it, “Wheaton likes to call itself the Harvard of evangelicalism, but it’s starting to look more like the Liberty of the Midwest.”

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  25. Bobby, which is it? One day you mock NAPARC churches, the next you’re praising the hipsters (who are as much a cliche as Jerry Falwell, Jr.).

    You need to moisturize more.

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  26. Bob S: But what, no thanks for faithful readers of the Assembly’s Dir. Publ. Worship? These sons of TGC are too hard for us. AN APPENDIX, Touching Days and Places for Publick Worship. THERE is no day commanded in scripture to be kept holy under the gospel but the Lord’s day, which is the Christian Sabbath. Festival days, vulgarly called Holy-days, having no warrant in the word of God, are not to be continued.

    is that signed: love, from the Holy Spirit, because that doesn’t sound like Him, Bob.

    You don’t have to make up rationale for why meeting on a special day to celebrate Jesus’s birth is not a good idea, in your own mind. Couldn’t you just say you don’t want to. 2 Cor 9:7

    And “Whereas, the Westminster Directory absolutely prohibited the observance of seasons and festivals, our Book of Order now strongly encourages their inclusion. It is recognized that the cycles and seasons of the church year provide a powerful opportunity for spiritual formation of individual believers as well as the collective body of worshippers gathered together” http://www.harrisonpresbyterian.com/worship-services/how-we-worship/church-seasons

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  27. Ali, swing and a miss. That church you linked is not a NAPARC church and has she-elders. Maybe you should join. And in your long and musty history of Church Lady comments this is the most churchladyish:

    “is that signed: love, from the Holy Spirit, because that doesn’t sound like Him, Bob.”

    Happy Festivus. I’ll have some grievances for you on Wednesday.

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  28. Ali, your shining example is a PCUSA church. They are obviously ashamed of this affiliation, mentioning it nowhere on the site, but are probably too gutless to dump their she-elders and lose their building by jumping the apostate ship. And the minister is only too happy to appeal to their Book of Order to justify Xmas, always a big draw at PCUSA churches. No doubt they consider themselves “conservative” relative to the overt pagans in the PCUSA. Swell.

    https://www.pcusa.org/congregations/6302/

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  29. cw: your shining example is a PCUSA church.

    morning cw

    I was afraid of that possibility- couldn’t confirm it immediately. sorry!

    cw l’unificateur. And in your long and musty history of Church Lady comments this is the most churchladyish: “is that signed: love, from the Holy Spirit, because that doesn’t sound like Him, Bob.”

    not sure what you mean by the above, care to explain, it’s a very important thing and so could explain our great divide?

    Btw, why have you switched from cw the bad elf moniker, you should think about keeping that monike it at least for awhile until or maybe forever (?) 🙂

    also, would you like a song this am?

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  30. but you didn’t clarify cw

    Hear the Spirit cw ….
    His word: not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
    His word: Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. Rom 13:11
    His word: Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47

    Course if one were interested in that early church zeal, others might recognize Christians more than on the ‘sabbath’ and also with greater encouragement more than on the ‘sabbath’…..and then what maybe would happen

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  31. D. G. Hart: Curt, but when Edwards is the Young and Restless’ home boy, he is canon.

    mermaid: There is no canon of Scripture in Protestantism

    same misrepresent ; different twist

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  32. C-dubs, it even comes with a tellingly explicit admission: “You know, if you wanted to sniff out a neo-Calvinist in your church ranks, these are the books to look for on their shelf.”

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  33. Dr. Hart,

    On the subject of Christmas, I don’t think I follow your distinction between the birth of Christ and the sending of Christ. I would think that the former assumes the latter.

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  34. Josh, I don’t think I was trying to make that distinction. I am making a distinction between an incarnation sermon and a Christmas sermon. The former could happen any time of the year and you wouldn’t feel pressure to buy gifts or make Jesus the reason for the season.

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  35. Dr. Hart,

    Thank you for the clarification. I can see your point. There does seem to be cumbersome extra baggage this time of year, including the so called Christmas wars.

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  36. Zrim: Ali, I’m getting at this. You sound like a reason-for-the-season Christian. But do reason-for-the-seasoners consider that an incarnation sermon can be given any time of the year, while an Xmas sermon is only once a year? If you’re all about the freedom and sovereignty of God, why box him in with Xmas?

    Morning zrim. Who would promote only giving an ‘incarnation’ or ‘Christmas [celebration of Jesus’s birth)’ sermon once a year, since it would be impossible to be faithful to the gospel without speaking often about that truth.??

    Anyway, I think I may see the point of this post having read this, this am : “Many Millennials see Christmas as more cultural than religious holiday” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/12/18/many-millennials-see-christmas-as-more-cultural-than-religious-holiday/

    IE, maybe we should just shrug and let the momentum of culture take its course for millennials; though this does brings to mind Miley Cyrus,and how we shouldn’t be embarrassed or shocked or surprised about the likes of her generation.

    A least, though, while shrugging, we could do some wondering as we watch their degeneration to the world’s thinking …and we could do some pondering: was it because there was not 24/7 word instruction (Deut; 6:6-7); was it because there has been some other greater joy than hearing of children walking in the truth. (3 John 1:4); or have we been convinced, conversion is not always really needed; and ponder too….how is it that Santa Claus has replaced Jesus in our affections

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  37. Ali, an incarnation sermon is different from a Xmas sermon, they’re not synonymous. An Xmas sermon only fits once a year because it’s seasonal/cultural by nature. An incarnation sermon is doctrinal by nature and not tied to the cultural calendar.

    And what about observant Christians who celebrate Xmas more as a cultural holiday than religious?

    But 24/7 word instruction? Who could bear that? Dt. 6 is to be read figuratively, not literally, i.e. it’s about regularity.

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  38. I’m giving gifts cuz married and merican and I want to hep the ‘conomy and I want some in return. And they’re not useless. And they buy you room and goodwill and some peace with some folk. Really useful now that I think about it. Feel free to buy me things.

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  39. Zrim: And what about observant Christians who celebrate Xmas more as a cultural holiday than religious?

    What about them, zrim? What are you saying? Wouldn’t the exhortation be to any brother “He (the Lord) shall reign forever and forever” and since Q.1. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever….. may-as-well starts announcing it now, even (especially?) on ‘Christmas’, letting everyone know.

    Zrim:But 24/7 word instruction? Who could bear that? Dt. 6 is to be read figuratively, not literally, i.e. it’s about regularity.

    isn’t the principle more like the NT thought of ‘continual’, considering looking toward the Lord’s work of the New Covenant, ie, if something is right there, written on one’s heart, it is inescapably ‘continual’, not just ‘regular’… Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant us peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with us all. 2 Thess3:16

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  40. Ali, I’m saying the survey didn’t include us. Oh well. But I’m not so sure the exhortation really implies flash mobbing the world. I’m sure it gives you pious chills and all, but don’t you believe Jesus in Matthew 6 when he says to sound not trumpet before you? Do you really imagine the apostles flash mobbing for Jesus?

    But if you really think “24/7” instead of “regular” then what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be reading the Bible?

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  41. Merry Christmas Zrim.

    but oh the hostility, Zrim, and so in the ‘Christmas spirit’, I’ll say, you don’t always have to angrily disagree about everything Biblical, just to disagree. Although, I guess I should say, but if you want to, do what you want.
    Sure, Proverbs 27:17, but Galatians 5:15

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  42. cw l’unificateur: Zrim as Angry White Man? Not buying it.

    probably my fault, cw; probably should have just sent this quote from an sdb link saying it was from sdb, then being from sdb, hostility might have have been avoided. Merry Christmas to you too cw.

    “I have little use for trees, gifts, Santa Claus, and all the commercial hoopla that surrounds December 25. (Notice: I did not say that I have no use for such things — merely that I have little use for such things, and such little use as I have, I hope to use in loving God and neighbor through such things). But December 25, as far as I am concerned, is about rejoicing in what God did when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.–Peter J. Wallace

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  43. rapprochement

    well….come to think of it… in Zrim’s defense, not to always totally poo-poo anger.
    An ADD’s link over at ‘Have You Guys Heard Of Assemblies” reminds me of that , ie if that link had been one of those several where that brother announced his ‘new’ conclusion that the Christian ought delete the word ‘surrender’ from their vocabulary, I would have been right there with Zrim’s sentiment; (btw, hoping that anti-biblical stance was recanted, ‘cause that trajectory was a very concerning one.)

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  44. Ali, now you’re confusing snark with hostility. But if it helps, as a cultural Xmaser I do Xmas cheer, tree and all.

    C-dubs-unifer, to be fair, it’s two-thirds true. Last I checked, I’m a white man.

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  45. We enjoy Christmas mainly as a fun, secular cultural holiday. Our kids (5 and under) enjoy Santa, have their picture taken with them, and get presents from him. But we’re on a steady diet of weekly worship with Word and Sacrament along with family devotions. Have we done irreparable harm to them and sown the seeds of atheism in their hearts? I guess I’ll have to let you know in 10-15 years.

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  46. mboss, like Halloween–an originally religious observation thoroughly secularized and drained of religious meaning, therefore open to believer and unbeliever alike to do as s/he will or will not. Easy breezy.

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  47. I Corinthians 5″ 7 Cleanse out the old leaven in order to be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

    Who will remember if we don’t keep the KJV and the goddess Ēostre in our Easter?

    Of the Increase of the government of those who sign the Confession (elders only) No End , there is?.

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  48. http://heidelblog.net/2015/12/presbyterian-and-reformed-ambivalence-about-christmas/

    Donald Macleod—It was no part of the work of Christ to make God love the elect, The very fact of his being on earth at all was proof of the divine love. The business of the atonement, therefore, was to propitiate the God who already loved the elect. God unequivocally requires such propitiation, but God also provides the propitiation and God even becomes the propitiation. The whole cost of redemption is borne by the triune God. In that sense, the atonement is a transaction entirely internal to the trinity. But by virtue of the incarnation, it is also external. It takes place not in heaven, but on earth. .. John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son”. The love came first and the sacrifice followed

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  49. Christ is our example to imitate in some ways. . This does not mean that we Christians “continue the incarnation” This does not mean that there is no redemption outside the church.

    Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry, IVP, 2007, p 57—“Making the incarnation something that we do can easily assume that the living Christ is not present and active.” Quoted in , “A Critique of Incarnational Ministry”, by Todd Billings in Union with Christ,, Baker, 2011

    http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/files/2010/09/Warfield-Imitating-the-Incarnation2.pdf

    Peter OBrien, NIGTC on Philippians, 262—“The Christ-hymn (2:5-11) presents Jesus as the ultimate model for Christian behavior and action, the supreme example of the humble, self-sacrificing, self-giving service that Paul has been urging the Philippians to practice in their relations toward one another.”

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  50. John 1: 3 All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created
    that has been created. 4 Life was in Him and that life was the light of men

    John 1:9 The true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
    John 1: 11 He came to His own and His own did not receive Him

    Nettles—Dr. Shelton notes on one of his major biblical defenses of prevenient grace related to John 1:9, “The context is not an excuse for predestination to salvation in order to see the Light, but a paradoxical irony that the ‘light shown in darkness’ but those unwilling would not see.”

    Nettles– Precisely! This passage concerns an enlightenment that would give to an unbiased heart abundant reason to worship and adore the great wonder of the knowledge of God but, in coming to fallen persons, still leaves them unwilling, that is, with a moral propensity in opposition to the true and pure worship of God. The question here is the character of the grace that brings the sinful moral agent from the state of unwillingness to willingness. Elements of persuasion falling on hearts still biased toward evil only produce hearts more hardened still.

    If freedom is defined as moral neutrality or equilibrium, then there can be nothing in a gospel presentation that moves a person either one way or another, and any coincidental response must be prompted by something other than the moral texture of the gospel. On the other hand, if grace moves the sinner, the gospel presentation will be met with the response of faith. An enabling that stops short of creating a heart that is congruent with gospel conditions is no enabling at all.

    http://booksataglance.com/author-interviews/response-from-tom-nettles-regarding-prevenient-grace-gods-provision-for-fallen-humanity-by-w-brian-shelton

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  51. D. G. Hart McMark, that was Easter.

    But this is Christmas; sure already now 7 years ago and granted, being on 12/12, no actually ‘on Christmas’…but still  🙂

    ”Our congregation has been incredibly blessed with a number of piano and violin players as well as many gifted singers. On December 12,2008 we had our 1st Annual Christmas Hymn Sing. 40 members and friends gathered together at Pastor Henes’ home for dinner, fellowship and a great time of singing favorite Christmas hymns. It was so much fun that there are plans for the 1st Annual Easter Hymn Sing and several members and friends are already looking forward to the next Christmas Hymn Sing!” http://www.hillsdaleopc.org/?page_id=60

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  52. cw l’unificateur:Ali (typing slowly for you), please note: A Friday night. At a private home. Not worship.

    morning cw! Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

    With all due respect, your comment is ridiculous to me because I think that kind of precision is ridiculous to Jesus, but I am me and you are you; and of course Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and so precision is important to Him – ie holiness 🙂

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  53. Ali, your Baptist ecclesiology is showing–wherever two or more are gathered. But what’s it like knowing you and Jesus share visceral opinions? And if precision is so ridic, why do you employ it?

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  54. cw l’unificateur: Als, just meditate on this when you come to the garden alone. While the dew is still on the roses.
    Zrim: Ali, your Baptist ecclesiology is showing–wherever two or more are gathered. But what’s it like knowing you and Jesus share visceral opinions? And if precision is so ridic, why do you employ it?

    Aw you guys, I know… I think I’m going to start praying more for you guys, cause lately I’ve been thinking….: “ I’m just really not sure how much cw and zrim are really actually going to enjoy eternity later with you, Lord, cause though eternity for believers is actually beginning now, they are so focused on mere shadows, rather than the substance belonging to You, that it’s kinda concerning.”

    Yep… that’s what I’m gonna do. Prob-ly will accompnay that with sending some songs I know you’ll really enjoy too, now and again. You are welcome brothers 🙂

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  55. Zrim: Ali, thanks, we could all use the more spiritual ones among us praying on our behalf.

    Nice try zrim; your ‘snark’ and putdown’ deters me not, cause I’m pretty sure it’s not personal, except maybe against Jesus (not sure)? (ie against His word) ;you probably would have ‘snarked’ Paul as well at all his crazy talk.

    1 Corinthians 2 Paul’s Reliance upon the Spirit (NASB)
    1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
    6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written,
    “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
    AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
    ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”
    10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
    14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

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  56. cw l’unificateur: Als, just meditate on this when you come to the garden alone. While the dew is still on the roses.

    ookk, you asked, here you go then, cw l’heartless(?) 🙂

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  57. the gospel coalition telling us how not to do good friday— http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2016/03/three-mistakes-to-avoid-in-goo.php

    Donald Macleod—It was no part of the work of Christ to make God love us, The very fact of Christ being on earth at all was proof of the divine love. The business of the atonement, therefore, was to propitiate the God who already loves the elect—to lay the foundation for an advocacy directed towards him specifically as Father (1 John 2: 1). God unequivocally requires such propitiation, but in God also provides the propitiation and God even becomes the propitiation. The whole cost of our redemption is borne by the triune God. In that sense, the atonement is a transaction entirely internal to the trinity. But by virtue of the incarnation, it is also external. It takes place not in heaven, but on Calvary; not in eternity, but on Good Friday, Torrance is surprised (that Rutherford did not regard the death of Christ as the cause of the love of God, but as its consequence. He should not have been surprised. Rutherford’s view was universal among Scottish divines, if only because all felt the force of John 3:16, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son’. The love came first and the sacrifice followed

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