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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources


Living in Light of Two Ages



"Return to the Lord" -- Joel 2:1-17

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon on the Minor Prophets from the Book of Joel:  Click Here


This Week's White Horse Inn

What is Spiritual Warfare

Modern Christians often fall to one of two extremes. Either they basically ignore the Bible’s warnings about the hostile “spiritual forces,” or they are overly obsessed with them, seeing demons hiding under every rock. On this program, the hosts walk through Paul’s admonitions to prepare for spiritual battle by putting on the full armor of God—every piece of which relates to the objective gifts that God has granted us in Jesus Christ.

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Apologetics in a Post Christian Age (Audio) -- God's Revelation (Part Four)

Here's the audio from our Wednesday night Bible Study: The Challenges Posed by the Enlightenment and Modern Skepticism

Previous lectures in this series can be found here (scroll down): Apologetics in a Post Christian Age


"Law and Gospel" -- B. B. Warfield's Review of C. F. W. Walther's Book

B. B. Warfield (1851-1921) is widely hailed as one of America's greatest theologians.  His books have remained in near-continuous publication since his death in February, 1921.  Although dead for nearly 100 years, Warfield remains a theological force with which to be reckoned.

As professor of polemical and didactic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, Warfield published 781 book reviews over his long and exceedingly productive career. 

Some of Warfield's reviews are published in his collected works, while many are not.  I thought it might be of interest to bring some of these currently unpublished "Reviews" to light.

I'll offer my own annotations when I think a comment is necessary or interesting.

The first review discussed in this series was Children in the Hands of the Arminians.  The second review is Warfield's review of the German born Lutheran theologian, C. F. W. Walther's book, Gesetz und Evangelium (Law and Gospel). The book was first published by Concordia in 1893, and Warfield gave it a brief review the following year.  Walther's book remains in print and can be found here:  C. F. W. Walther on Law and Gospel


Warfield describes the format behind Walther's book, noting that Walther had given a series of lectures on Friday evenings to theological students.  These lectures were then transcribed into thirty-nine chapters, corresponding to Walther's lectures with each centering around a particular thesis, then discussed in detail.  Warfield seems to appreciate the lively content produced by such a "live" audience.

Besides his academic lectures, Dr. Walther was, it seems, accustomed to give to the whole body of students, assembled usually on a Friday evening, series of freer talks on theological and practical topics. Among these was a course of twenty-two talks on “Inspiration;” one of twenty-two talks on “The Truth of the Christian Religion;” one of forty-nine talks on “Justification;” one of sixty-two talks on “Election and Justification;” and (among still others) two courses, one of ten and the other of thirty-nine talks, on “The Law and the Gospel.” The Introduction to each talk, the citations used in it, and the plan of treatment, exist in Dr. Walther’s own hand; for the rest full stenographic notes of his students are available. From this material, it is proposed to publish the whole of them in due time; and the present book, which contains the shorter course on “The Law and the Gospel,” makes the beginning.

Warfield also appreciates the clarity found in Dr. Walther's exposition of confessional Lutheran doctrine, along with the importance of the getting the distinction between law and gospel right.

Like all that Dr. Walther wrote, these talks are characterized by accuracy of statement, thoroughness of theological knowledge, and entire devotion to confessional Lutheranism; and they have in addition much of the fire and freedom of the extemporary address. The thirteen theses [note: the current edition lists twenty-five theses] on which they are based recognize the importance and difficulty of rightly distinguishing between the law and the gospel; and point out some prevalent modes of conception by which the distinction is confused.

Warfield notes Walther's usefulness in discussing how law and gospel are often confused along with the serious consequences which result when they are.  He agrees with Walther in that confusing the two leads to a number of errors, especially when the gospel is understood or presented in the form of an imperative--as though the gospel is something we do, not doctrine (Christ's saving work and merits) we embrace through faith.

For example, the confusion between law and gospel, made by papists, Socinians and rationalists, in making the gospel itself a doctrine of works, is deservedly scored; men are warned not to mix the gospel with the law, or the law with the gospel, but to preach the law in its full strictness, and the gospel in its full sweetness; they are warned not to reverse their places, but to preach the law first and the gospel second; not to tell the awakened sinner to work out a peace for himself before he comes to the gospel, and the like.

Warfield whole-heartedly agrees with Dr. Walther on this and obviously sees his Lutheran counter-part as a sort of theological first cousin.  Yet, the Reformed understanding of law and gospel which are better understood as a subset of traditional Reformed covenant theology, and along with maintaining the Reformed doctrine of the perseverance of the saints (which Walther rejects in this volume) reminds us that significant differences do remain between the confessional Reformed and our confessional Lutheran cousins.

Warfield very much likes the spirit of Walther's work, yet issues a mild word of caution to Reformed and Presbyterian readers.   

In theses and treatment alike the strictest Lutheranism reigns, and Calvinists will find something to modify; but through all, the spirit of the man of God throbs. We hope the other series of talks will be speedily published; and we venture to express the wish that the series on “Inspiration” may be next given to us; the times demand it.

Warfield, who, like Walther, was fighting against the rising tide of German higher criticism in the churches and seminaries, eagerly awaits Walther's contribution to the battle.  On challenges to the inspiration of Scripture, Warfield and Walther can stand shoulder to shoulder.

Warfield's review can be found in The Presbyterian and Reformed Review 5, no. 17–20 (1894).


"Rejoice in the Lord, Always" -- Philippians 4:2-9

The Eighth in a Series of Sermons on Paul's Letter to the Philippians

Many have identified the main theme of Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi as the often-repeated exhortation from the Apostle to “rejoice.”  This is borne out by the fact that the words for “rejoice” and “joy” occur a dozen times in Paul’s brief Philippian letter.  Paul is writing to a church (in Philippi) which he helped to found, and which is now enduring a difficult season of persecution from without (Greco-Roman pagans) and from within (a group of newly arrived Judaizers).  Paul’s ultimate intention is to encourage the Philippians to do those things necessary to stand firm in the face of this opposition–among other things, they are to have the same humble attitude as Jesus did, they are to strive to love one another, and they are to be of one mind and one accord.  But why would Paul repeatedly exhort the Philippians to rejoice when times of difficulty have come upon them?  What does Paul mean by “rejoicing,” and how are we to rejoice in time of trial?  It is important to consider this carefully, because most of us can recount times when well-meaning Christians have told us and others “to rejoice” during times of suffering and loss.  Far too often someone telling us to rejoice when life has turned sour can easily take on a tone of smugness or triteness, which, of course, is far from what Paul actually means.  

We have come to that point in our series on Philippians when it is time to address the manner of how we ought to read the so-called “practical sections” of Paul’s letters.  This will be a refresher course for many of you.  This will help to understand why Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians (and to all Christians) to rejoice in the midst of our trials and difficulties should make perfect sense to a Christian who understands the distinction between the law and the gospel (or the indicative and the imperative moods).  This distinction is so important to get right (and so difficult to do at first ) that Martin Luther once quipped that anyone who mastered these distinctions should be immediately awarded their doctoral cap and gown.  This is one the most fundamental distinctions in all of Christian theology.  Philippians 4:2-9 (our text) which includes Paul’s final and repeated exhortation for Christians to “rejoice” provides a good test case to illustrate this distinction.  

The law of God (the Ten Commandments) requires us to do certain things–the law says “do.”  When we fail to do these things, or do the opposite of what is commanded by God, we sin and are therefore guilty before God.  The gospel, on the other hand, announces to us the good news that God freely gives to us in the person of Jesus, all the things he demands of us under the law.  If the essence of the law is “do,” the essence of the gospel is “done.”  In Jesus and his saving merits, all that God commands us to do has already been done by Jesus, for us, and in our place.  Through faith, his obedience becomes ours.

The imperative and indicative moods are closely related to the law and gospel.  Imperatives are commands–“do this.”  We find them throughout the Bible, and in Paul’s letters they tend to come in the second half–the so-called practical sections of his epistles.  Paul has given the Philippians a number of exhortations (imperatives) throughout this letter to do certain things in order to stand firm in the face of persecution.  A statement made in the indicative mood is simply a statement of fact and is not a call to do something, but to accept something as true, as for example, God has provided all that is necessary for you to be delivered from his wrath in the person of his son, Jesus.  The law corresponds with the imperative mood (a command), while the gospel corresponds with the indicative mood (a statement of fact).  

You cannot more fundamentally misunderstand Paul’s exhortations such as this one to rejoice (which usually come in the last portion of his letters) than by attempting to understand and act upon the imperatives apart from a prior understanding of the indicatives from which they arise.  To read Paul’s exhortations (so as to be practical and relevant, and to avoid the hard work of thinking through the doctrinal sections) apart from the prior gospel indicatives (Paul’s description of all those things God has done for us in Christ) is to command us to do things which we cannot do.  The law (the imperative) brings us further frustration and condemnation.  The exhortation for a suffering Christian to “rejoice” without reference to, or a proper understanding of the gospel, is not a word of encouragement, but can be downright cruel.

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here


This Week at Christ Reformed Church (April 23-29)

Sunday Morning, April 29:  We are studying the Minor Prophets.  We are currently in the Book of Joel.  This Lord's Day we will address YHWH's call to Judah to "return to the Lord," a call which was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost.  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  We are working our way through the Belgic Confession.  We next take up article 11, which deals with the deity of the Holy Spirit.  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study (April 25 @ 7:30 p.m.):  We continue with our series, "Apologetics in a Post-Christian Age."  We are continuing to survey modern theories of revelation.

The Academy (Friday, April 27 @ 7:30 p.m.):   We continue our lecture/discussion series based upon Allen Guelzo's Teaching Company Course, The American Mind.  Our topic this week is "the Social Science Revolution."

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Church), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).


"The Word of the LORD that Came to Joel" -- Joel 1:1-20

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon on the Minor Prophets from the Book of Joel

Click Here 


This Week's White Horse Inn

A New Way to Think About Work and Family

On this edition of White Horse Inn the hosts begin a discussion of Ephesians chapter 6, as Paul outlines the proper roles for Christian parents and children. While many today leave religious instruction to their church’s youth program, Paul teaches that it is the father’s responsibility to bring up their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The hosts also interact with Paul’s instructions concerning the proper motivation for Christian workers and employers.

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Apologetics in a Post Christian Age (Audio) -- God's Revelation (Part Three)

Here's the audio from our Wednesday night Bible Study:  Modern Theories of Revelation

Previous lectures in this series can be found here (scroll down): Apologetics in a Post Christian Age


Gene Veith on How Churches Can Better Retain Their Youth

Gene Veith's take on two recent LCMS studies exploring the reasons why our kids leave our churches, and why others stay.  How Can Churches Retain Their Youth?

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