May 1, 2019
The Threefold Division of the Law

The Threefold Division of Law

Traditionally there has been recognized a threefold division or categorization of biblical law. For a contemporary study on this, the reader is encouraged to consult From the Finger of God: The Biblical and Theological Basis for the Threefold Division of the Law by Philip S. Ross. The division is customarily recognized by the terms moral, ceremonial, and judicial laws, for example see chapter 19 of the Confession. Such a threefold division is not at all original to the Reformed tradition. Lutherans, including Luther himself, Anglicans and Roman Catholics employ such a distinction. This distinction is important in and of itself […]
April 10, 2019
Praying Always

Praying Always by Frans Bakker – A Book Review

Praying Always. By Frans Bakker. Translated by Cornelis and Fredrika Pronk. Reprinted 2011. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1987. 114 pages. “Prayer is the breath of the soul.” So writes Frans Bakker in his book, Praying Always. What is more precious to the body than breath? If it ceases, the body dies. It is one of the most basic evidences of life, being essential for life to continue. Prayer is the same for the soul. It is vital. Bakker writes to persuade us of this. He also writes to diagnose underlying problems, encourage the weak-hearted, and draw us before […]
April 3, 2019
Covenanters in a Glen

Despise Not Prophesyings

“Despise not prophesyings,” we are commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:20. The despising of prophesyings is a serious sin, as illustrated by the brazen actions of Jehoiakim, who cut the scroll of Jeremiah’s prophecies three or four leaves at a time and cast it into the fire. (Jer. 36:23) But is there any danger of committing this sin today, and who is in danger of doing so? As one who believes that the office and gift of revelatory prophecy have ceased since the completion of the canon of Scripture, the present author also believes that the despising of prophesyings is a […]
March 27, 2019
George Gillespie

George Gillespie’s Dying Words

“I have got infinitely more in my work from prayer than from the study and know much more help from the assistance of the Spirit than from books.” In his ‘Story of the Scottish Church,’ Thomas McCrie records an account of the last days of the life of George Gillespie as he drew near to death in 1648 at the age of just thirty six. Gillespie lacked a sense of heart assurance but held firm to the promises of God saying, ‘though the Lord has not allowed me comfort, I shall yet believe that my beloved is mine, and I […]
March 20, 2019
A Signpost to Follow

Admiration Without Imitation

Christians throughout the world recently celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The pageantry included a calendar full of conferences and the proliferation of new books, articles, blog posts, t-shirts and other paraphernalia. The occasion generated significant enthusiasm, as Christian masses responded with amazement at the spiritual achievements of the 16th century. But did all this attention spark a fresh biblical reformation, one similar to the radical changes that engulfed the world five centuries ago? After all the fanfare, the lasting impact appears negligible. Admiration did not produce imitation. The testimony of faithful “worthies” from the past thrills the […]
March 13, 2019
Crown and Scepter

Nursing Fathers and Nursing Mothers

National Religion in Light of Isaiah 49:23 and Ephesians 1:22 Isaiah 49:23, which is cited in the Westminster Confession 23:3, reads “And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.” It is a passage that indicates the care of rulers and their submission to the church. This position is asserted by the original Westminster Confession. In chapter […]
March 6, 2019
Rullion Green

A Martyr’s Catechism

Rev. Hugh M’Kail was martyred at Edinburgh in 1666, at twenty-six years of age. He died during the perilous times that followed the Restoration of Charles II. Despite swearing to uphold the national covenants and the Presbyterian government of the church, Charles imposed his own rule upon the church by way of bishops, ejected faithful ministers, and loosed the cruelties of his dragoons upon the countryside. In November 1666, there was an uprising against the tyranny of Charles II known as the Pentland Rising, and it was for his connection with this movement that Hugh M’Kail was put to death. […]
February 27, 2019
Trusting in the Darkness

Trusting in the Darkness

I remember as a child walking down the road I lived on into the nearby town. There was street lighting most of the way apart from one section in the middle which was dark. On the opposite side of the road the ground rose steeply, and the embankment was covered with large bushes and trees. Try as I might, irrational fears would grip me as I approached the darkened bend. My stride would lengthen, my pace would quicken and sometimes I would run the few hundred yards until I got back to the safety and comfort of the light. Looking […]
February 20, 2019
Scripture Saturation

Scripture Saturation

Speed wins the blue ribbon for being the premier virtue of modernity. People will pay high premiums to accelerate the pace of life when using their cell phone, ordering their food, and traveling abroad. Fast is fashionable. The all-consuming lust for speed, however, caters to instant gratification and undermines weighty pursuits. It carries a hidden cost, a price tag that few would be willing to pay in many situations. And we know it. Who would urge a surgeon to cut corners during a critical surgery, or a spouse to abbreviate their words about a life-altering decision, or an engineer to […]
February 14, 2019

Reformed and Evangelical: The Historical Context of “The Sum of Saving Knowledge”

In the back of our bound standards, there is a curious little work. It does not bear the same status as an official document of our church, but it is there, nonetheless. The Sum of Saving Knowledge not only represents the doctrine of our confession, it demonstrates a searching concern that the gospel is understood, presenting it clearly, soundly, persuasively, and comfortably. Though a bit clumsy, the fuller title it bears today is quite accurate: The Sum of Saving Knowledge: or, a Brief Sum of Christian Doctrine, Contained in the Holy Scriptures, and Holden Forth in the Foresaid Confession of […]
January 16, 2019
Preaching from a puritan pulpit

“Did Not Our Heart Burn Within Us?”

“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32) On the third day after the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, on the same day that astonishing reports of his resurrection had come forth, two sad-faced disciples walked away from the scene, talking it all over. Our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, being brought again from the dead, left the rest of his flock in order to seek these two sheep by coming and walking alongside […]
January 9, 2019
Overcoming Obstacles to Prayer

Overcoming Obstacles to Prayer

Prayer is one of the basic duties of the Christian life and has been described as the breathing of the pious soul. There are many descriptions and examples of prayer in Scripture which provide a clear view of what it is. To pray is to seek God (Dan 9:3), to lift up the soul (Ps 25:1) or to pour out the heart to Him (Ps 62:8), sometimes it is to wrestle with God, yet in the most basic sense prayer is to ask of God (Jam 1:6). Nobody reading this should have a difficultly understanding what prayer is, however, prayer […]