En Route to Christmas

Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells
All seem to say: throw cares away
Christmas is here bringing good cheer
To young and old, meek and the bold
Ding, ding, ding, dong, that is their song
With joyful ring all caroling
One seems to hear words of good cheer
From everywhere filling the air
Oh how they pound, raising the sound
O’er hill and dale, telling their tale
Gaily they ring while people sing
Songs of good cheer, Christmas is here
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas
On, on they send, on without end
Their joyful tone to every home

Shopping, shopping, shopping; stringing up Christmas lights; either hunting for a live tree or putting up the traditional fake tree that you have used every year for a long, long time; sending out invitations to extended family members; thinking about the recipes new and old you will use on that day of feasting; and preparing for the festivities to come. . .

Hello Friend,

As we prepare for this Christmas season, it is important to remember the story of new life in our Lord Jesus Christ. This world lay condemned, doomed for all time in sin and misery. But hallelujah, God did not leave this world in sin and misery. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism states in Question 21, “God, having out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.” And as the next question answers, the only redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ.

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,” . . . “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” ~Ephesians 2:1,4-10

One of my two favorite pieces of imagery from the New Testament (it competes with another that I may share later) is when the curtain temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Friends, through the person and work of Jesus Christ, we have access into the Holy of Holies to come boldly before the throne of grace. There is not a better way God could have shone His people that the atoning sacrifice of His son was enough. Jesus Christ had drank the cup of the Father’s wrath to the dregs, crying “It is finished!” – payed in full. We owe no more debt to God for Christ’s work.

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,” ~Matthew 27:50-51

“He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” ~Matthew 28:6

The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” ~Revelation 11:15

 

 Joy to the world! the Lord is come:
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,

. . .

God Rest ye merry gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray;

. . .

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

Subscribe Form

Joshua Reynolds on Conservative Cornerstones – Author of Children’s Books, Young Adult, Historical Fiction / Family Stories – Finding Conservative Thought in Olde Books. Check out my Authoring Conservatism Post. Look up my two books, The Williams House and Treasure on the Southern Moor in my bookstore!

Subscribe to my email list and receive my free eBook, titled Rhymes for a Child’s Picnic Lunch, plus email updates, writing news, and more!

The Common Means of Grace

Q. 88.
What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?

A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.
~Westminster Shorter Catechism

Friends, there is no better way to pursue the Lord than in pursuing the means He has given to us. He has given us His Word, the sacraments, and the blessing of prayer. In these means, He promises to sanctify us, as Jesus says in His High Priestly Prayer: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:17.

There is no better way to follow the Lord than in following the simple, ordinary means that He has given to us. These means are old as Christianity itself, and they work always just as well. In these common means, we pursue the Lord’s strength and blessing, and He works in us through His Spirit to purge away the dross and refine us in truth.

Joshua Reynolds on Conservative Cornerstones – Author of Children’s Books, Young Adult, Historical Fiction / Family Stories – Finding Conservative Thought in Olde Books. Check out my Authoring Conservatism Post. Look up my two books, The Williams House and Treasure on the Southern Moor in my bookstore!

Subscribe to my email list and receive my free eBook, titled Rhymes for a Child’s Picnic Lunch, plus email updates, writing news, and more!

A Followup from Yesterday – God’s Eternal Decree

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God, having out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.

I thought I would do a followup post from yesterday on the special grace of God extended to humanity through the plan of salvation. After the first Adam fell, plunging all of mankind into an estate of sin and misery, only the Divine could rescue them from that estate whereinto they fell. Jesus Christ is called the “Second Adam” because he reversed the effects of the “First Adam” by doing what the first Adam failed to do, namely, keeping the law of God perfectly and without error. Yet, keeping the law of God was not the only requirement. A mere angel could not atone for sin because as the Scriptures say, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7). Only God has the power to impute righteousness in place of sin.

This is that plan of salvation spoken of in the WSC question above, that God came down and dwelt with man and gave His life a ransom for many. The true atonement came at Christ’s time on the cross, for there He suffered the eternal wrath of the Father, to the point of crying out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46. It is no wonder that there was darkness over the course of that time, for the Eternal Word, Who upheld (and is upholding) the universal in His hands every moment was at that moment suffering damnation in our place. Yet, it was only for a time.

How do we know that the sacrifice amounted to anything? How do we know that the Father thought it to be enough? How do we know that the sacrifice was accepted? He is risen! The Father rose His Son from the dead, and as such, Jesus Christ has become the firstfruits of our own resurrection to come. May we take hope and comfort in that, which leads us into eternal glory. As 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Joshua Reynolds on Conservative Cornerstones – Author of Children’s Books / Family Stories – Finding Conservative Thought in Olde Books. Check out my Authoring Conservatism Post. Look up my two books, The Williams House and Treasure on the Southern Moor in my bookstore!

More Nature Videos / WSC Blindfolded!

Hello all,

Here are three more nature videos I uploaded to my YouTube channel. They were all filmed either in my backyard or just beyond. Hope you enjoy!

And lastly, after posting on my memorization of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, I thought I would film myself reciting them blindfolded to prove it! I took this video just this morning and realized I made a few mistakes, though as I say in the description, I think I kept the mistakes to a minimum, only 10 or 15 at the most. Someday, I may try again and see if I can do it better. I at least spoke the whole recitation under 20 minutes!

Edit: I rerecorded the video and made fewer mistakes. I have the new video posted below (recited in just over twenty minutes this time – probably more comprehensible).

~Joshua Reynolds

The First and Last Westminster Shorter Catechism Questions – Catechism Rundown

I am now reciting all 107 questions of the WSC several times a week (something children used to do in the seventeenth century), and I’m finding it most refreshing. I thought I would give the bookends of the logic with a summary of the questions in-between.

Also, I’ve approved the edit for chapter 1 and am already in chapter 2 for my book Treasure on the Southern Moor! Keep watching and looking; it will be in the bookstore soon.

Westminster Shorter Catechism Rundown:

Q.1: What is the chief end of man?

A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

This question serves to answer the world-famous philosopher question of Why are we here? God created man, as is stated nine questions later in the catechism, and our ultimate purpose is for His glory – that is why we are here and that is what we must set ourselves about to do.

Questions 2-9: Introduces the Scriptures; God (the Author of the Scriptures) in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and His eternal decrees.

Questions 10-19: Introduces mankind, the fall of man, and the path all men are on.

Questions 20-28: Introduces Christ, Savior of our race; the offices Christ holds; and what He did to bring man upon a different path.

Questions 29-38: Explains how Christ’s work is applied to us and the benefits that follow.

Questions 39-81: THIS IS THE LARGEST SEGMENT: Introduces the duty of man, which is the moral law, and gives a summary of the entire moral law, expressed in the Two Greatest Commandments and the Ten Commandments. Explains what is required and forbidden in each commandment.

Questions 82-84: Shows the tragedy of sin upon all mankind and what it deserves.

Questions 85-98: Shows what is necessary for salvation and the means of His continual nourishment and provision for us, giving the Word, Sacraments, and Prayer as special means.

Questions 99-107: An expository on the Lord’s Prayer.

Question 107: What doth the conclusion of the Lords’ Prayer teach us?

A: The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen, teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him; and, in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.

Much as the first question gives God as the ultimate reason for existence, the last question gives us a clear example from the model prayer how to give the glory back to the Lord. It is as though the Puritans were saying, “To God be the glory, and this is why, because this is what happened, this is what is required, this is what God did for us, and here is how we may glorify Him.”

From the Westminster Catechism…

Some members within our church are memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism this summer. I’ve memorized the first 100 and plan to finish the last seven this week! The questions have been very thought provoking, and the proof texts have kept most of the questions solid from attack, though some of the seventeenth century phraseology can be mistakenly interpreted in another light in today’s English.

Two of the questions I found to be particularly thoughtful were that when examining the eighth commandment: “Q. 74: What is required in the eighth commandment? A: The eighth commandment requireth the lawful procuring and furthering the wealth and outward estate of ourselves and others. Q. 75: What is forbidden in the eighth commandment? A: The eighth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever doth, or may, unjustly hinder our own, or our neighbor’s, wealth or outward estate.”

All Christians I’m sure (or at least should) agree that the eighth commandment (“Thou shalt not steal”) forbids us from unlawfully hindering our neighbor’s wealth/estate. Yet the catechism applies it not just to others, but to our own estates as well. The eighth commandment forbids us from hindering our own estate, and therefore we are to be good stewards of all things that God has entrusted into our care. Yet not only good stewards, but also we are required in “all lawful…furthering the wealth…of ourselves”.

Christians do not normally think in these terms, yet here the catechism is instructing that the eighth commandment requires us to do everything we can within moral/civil/lawful means to further our own wealth and outward estate. This can easily be misunderstood as serving mammon, which as Christ says, one “cannot serve God and mammon”. And as Christ says in many other places, it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God than otherwise. Though the catechism, written in 17th century English, may be hard to understand with this phraseology, yet I think the proof text clears up the meaning: “… but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” Eph. 4:28b. Therefore, all the wealth that we may amass in this life should be to service God’s kingdom, which is the church, and our neighbors both within and without.

Therefore, I believe this catechism to be condemning the view that says all Christians should dispose of all we have, move to a monastery, and spend the rest of our days in rags and babblings. This is not helpful to others, nor ourselves, and is not Christ’s intent for the work of the church. As the Scriptures say, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness”. Therefore, we are to tend, cultivate, and use all the means that God gives to us, whether wealth, estate, skills, endeavors, etc. for the furtherance of the church and the gospel of Christ.