Like many others, I had grown up with the idea that bread and wine, Communion, taken too frequently would grow old and become a mere ritual. But personal experience has proven just the opposite. I have found the Table, like the Word, to be a satisfying means of nourishment and spiritual growth. Far from becoming routine, it has become like an intimate relationship.

Robert Webber

Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing, 1992), 53

It is highly significant that the only regular ritual act instituted and commanded by Jesus sets forth supremely his death. It is his death, his body given and blood shed, which the bread and wine were intended to signify. In issuing the command to ‘do this in remembrance’ of him, he intended that his atoning death should be kept before every generation, indeed ‘placarded’ before their very eyes. This according to Paul is the function of preaching. It is one of the functions of communion also.

The ministry of both Word and sacrament makes Christ’s death contemporary, presenting it anew not to God (for the sacrifice itself was offered on the cross once for all) but to men (for its benefits are always freshly available).

John Stott

Christ the Controversialist (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1970), 119

R.C. Sproul on Evangelism from “A Walk with God”

“How far do we have to look in order to find people who are lost? They are all around us. There are millions of people in this world who know nothing of Jesus Christ. And yet the Lord of the church has commanded us to go into all the world. Some have yet to go into all of their communities, because they have fallen for the lie that evangelism is no longer necessary. In fact, not only is it not necessary, it is a negative social activity; some adopt the viewpoint that no-one has the right to seek to proselytize other people to their religious viewpoint. If that is true, then Jesus Christ was the chief violator of human rights because he made that kind of activity the central business of his life and he commanded his people to do the same.”

~ R.C. Sproul


Martin Luther on the Eucharist

Gm_1570 0001It’s interesting to read Luther’s views on the Eucharist. This material comes from his Larger Catechism

Now, what is the Sacrament of the Altar?

Answer: It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in and under the bread and wine which we Christians are commanded by the Word of Christ to eat and to drink. And as we have said of Baptism that it is not simple water, so here also we say the Sacrament is bread and wine, but not mere bread and wine, such as are ordinarily served at the table, but bread and wine comprehended in, and connected with, the Word of God.

It is the Word (I say) which makes and distinguishes this Sacrament, so that it is not mere bread and wine, but is, and is called, the body and blood of Christ. For it is said: Accedat verbum ad elementum, et At sacramentum. If the Word be joined to the element it becomes a Sacrament. This saying of St. Augustine is so properly and so well put that he has scarcely said anything better. The Word must make a Sacrament of the element, else it remains a mere element. Now, it is not the word or ordinance of a prince or emperor, but of the sublime Majesty, at whose feet all creatures should fall, and affirm it is as He says, and accept it with all reverence fear, and humility.

Soteriology Simplified

Burk ParsonsThe word “soteriology” is the combination of two words; “ology” (the study of) and the Greek sōtēria (salvation). So, soteriology is the study of what the scriptures say in reference to salvation. Volumes have been written on the subject but it’s always helpful to find definitions that help us to convey monumental truths in memorable ways.  I came across a quote from Burk Parsons in which he offered a simple, useful and memorable explanation of soteriology.

“Soteriology simplified: God saves us by Himself from Himself unto Himself for Himself.” ~ Burk Parsons

There’s so much packed into that short statement! I posted the quote on Facebook and two comments inspired this post. One was “I’m so confused!” and the other was “…from Himself? That’s thin ice.” Comments like those are usually multiplied among readers and so I want to provide a brief comment and scriptural basis for each of the four ways in which God saves us.

1) God saves us by Himself.  

The song rings out in Revelation (7:10; 19:1) “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” God Himself is the one who has provided salvation for us through the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God’s gracious gift of salvation is His alone to give. We merit nothing by our works, no matter how “good” we may think them to be. Even the faith to trust in Christ comes from God to us. ” For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

2) God saves us from Himself.  

The Bible is very clear on man’s relationship to God apart from Christ. Yes, God is love and it is His love that motivates the sending of His Son to secure our salvation. God is also holy and it is His holiness that required the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf. Apart from the righteousness of Christ we remain in our unholy, sinful rebellion before God. The Bible tells us that we are God’s enemies (Rom.5:10; James 4:4), hostile to His law (Rom.8:7; Col. 1:21), spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1), deserving of judgment (Rom. 2:2-5; 12) and objects of God’s wrath (Rom. 2:8; Eph. 5:6). We cannot separate God’s wrath from His love. Both are central parts of His identity. God’s wrath is not human wrath. It is not an explosive reaction but rather a settled opposition to all that diminishes His glory. It is personal. It is an expression of His nature. So apart from Christ, we face the wrath of Holy God. John captures both ideas in the third chapter of his gospel. John 3:16 tells us “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” In the very same chapter we read:  “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36) This is where we all remain apart from Christ, under the wrath of God. God does not personally deliver His love to the redeemed and leave some wrathful force outside of Himself to express judgement on the un-redeemed.  No, both flow from His own nature. This is the glory of the gospel! A holy God who cannot receive rebellious sinners into His eternal presence, satisfies the demands of His own justice by becoming incarnate in Jesus Christ, living out the perfections of the Law as our “Second Adam”, taking our justly deserved punishment upon the cross, destroying the power of death in the resurrection and  securing for all time a bold and free approach into God’s eternal glory for all who put their hope in Christ. (2 Cor. 5:18-19; Rom. 3:21-25)

3) God saves us unto Himself.  

The idea that we are rescued from God’s wrath, eternal separation and sin’s enslavement – while true – is only half the story. We have not only be saved from these things but saved unto the God who loves us. God has always determined to have a people for Himself. At Mount Sinai, after Israel has been brought out of Egypt, God expresses His desire this way: ” Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” (Exodus 19:5-6) This has never changed! Peter tells us that in Christ, God has realized this eternal plan: ” you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5) and in Revelation we see the culmination of what God began at Sinai. (Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6)  (Rev. 5:9-10).

4) God saves us for Himself.

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16) God saves us unto Himself and for Himself.  He was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:18-19), redeeming us for His own possession (1 Peter 1:13-21), making possible and accomplishing our adoption as His own children (Gal. 4:5-6; Rom. 8:15). The great song of praise at the send of the age will be one of praise to the Lamb who has redeemed for God a worldwide people by His blood (Rev. 5:9) and  all of this is ultimately for His own glory. God is no egotist. He is perfect within Himself and values that which is most perfectly glorious: Himself! All that God has done in creation and redemption is for the glory of His own matchless grace. ” he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:5-6) “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:11-14) As God’s redeemed people we are to live for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31; Eph. 3:21; Phil. 1:11; 2:11; 1 Thess. 2:12; 1 Peter 4:11).

This idea is presented beautifully in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 ESV)


From Him
Through Him
To Him.
All things!
(Romans 11:36)




It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard
yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, “Wait a little while. I will pray in
an hour; first I must attend to this or that.” Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs
which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day.

Martin Luther

“Although there are things that can be done to enhance corporate worship, there is a profound sense in which excellent worship cannot be attained merely by pursuing excellent worship. In the same way that, according to Jesus, you cannot find yourself until you lose yourself, so also you cannot find excellent corporate worship until you stop trying to find excellent corporate worship and pursue God himself. Despite the protestations, one sometimes wonders if we are beginning to worship worship rather than worship God. As a brother put it to me, it’s a bit like those who begin by admiring the sunset and soon begin to admire themselves admiring the sunset.”
D.A. Carson, Worship by the Book


D.A. Carson
Worship By the Book (Zondervan , 2010)

John Wesley on The Lord’s Prayer

wesley-preachingIn his notes on the Bible, John Wesley gives voice to prayers based on the Lord’s own pattern in Matthew 6:9-13. The prayers are rich and fuel our own hearts with expressions of prayer.

“Thus therefore pray ye”  – He who best knew what we ought to pray for, and how we ought to pray, what matter of desire, what manner of address would most please himself, would best become us, has here dictated to us a most perfect and universal form of prayer, comprehending all our real wants, expressing all our lawful desires; a complete directory and full exercise of all our devotions. Thus – For these things; sometimes in these words, at least in this manner, short, close, full. This prayer consists of three parts, the preface, the petitions, and the conclusion. The preface, Our Father, who art in heaven, lays a general foundation for prayer, comprising what we must first know of God, before we can pray in confidence of being heard. It likewise points out to us our that faith, humility, love, of God and man, with which we are to approach God in prayer.

Our Father – Who art good and gracious to all, our Creator, our Preserver; the Father of our Lord, and of us in him, thy children by adoption and grace: not my Father only, who now cry unto thee, but the Father of the universe, of angels and men: who art in heaven – Beholding all things, both in heaven and earth; knowing every creature, and all the works of every creature, and every possible event from everlasting to everlasting: the almighty Lord and Ruler of all, superintending and disposing all things; in heaven – Eminently there, but not there alone, seeing thou fillest heaven and earth.

Hallowed be thy name – May thou, O Father, he truly known by all intelligent beings, and with affections suitable to that knowledge: may thou be duly honored, loved, feared, by all in heaven and in earth, by all angels and all men.

Thy kingdom come – May thy kingdom of grace come quickly, and swallow up all the kingdoms of the earth: may all mankind, receiving thee, O Christ, for their king, truly believing in thy name, be filled with righteousness, and peace, and joy; with holiness and happiness, till they are removed hence into thy kingdom of glory, to reign with thee for ever and ever.

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven – May all the inhabitants of the earth do thy will as willingly as the holy angels: may these do it continually even as they, without any interruption of their willing service; yea, and perfectly as they: mayest thou, O Spirit of grace, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make them perfect in every good work to do thy will, and work in them all that is well pleasing in thy sight.

 Give us – O Father (for we claim nothing of right, but only of thy free mercy) this day(for we take no thought for the morrow) our daily bread – All things needful for our souls and bodies: not only the meat that perisheth, but the sacramental bread, and thy grace, the food which endureth to everlasting life.

And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors – Give us, O Lord, redemption in thy blood, even the forgiveness of sins: as thou enablest us freely and fully to forgive every man, so do thou forgive all our trespasses.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil – Whenever we are tempted, O thou that helpest our infirmities, suffer us not to enter into temptation; to be overcome or suffer loss thereby; but make a way for us to escape, so that we may be more than conquerors, through thy love, over sin and all the consequences of it.

Now the principal desire of a Christian’s heart being the glory of God, (ver. 9, 10, ) and all he wants for himself or his brethren being the daily bread of soul and body, (or the support of life, animal and spiritual, ) pardon of sin, and deliverance from the power of it and of the devil, (ver. 11, 12, 13, ) there is nothing beside that a Christian can wish for; therefore this prayer comprehends all his desires. Eternal life is the certain consequence, or rather completion of holiness.

For thine is the kingdom – The sovereign right of all things that are or ever were created: The power – the executive power, whereby thou governest all things in thy everlasting kingdom: And the glory – The praise due from every creature, for thy power, and all thy wondrous works, and the mightiness of thy kingdom, which endureth through all ages, even for ever and ever.

Happy New Year…the holiest and most beautiful year we have ever lived.

“The new year on which we are about to enter is unopened, and we know not what shall befall us; but if we follow Christ we need have no fear. So let us leave the old year with gratitude to God for its mercies, and with penitence for its failures and sins; and let us enter the new year with earnest resolve in Christ’s name to make it the holiest and most beautiful year we have ever lived.”

~ J.R. Miller (From Grace Gems)

The Joni Mitchell Interview

Joni Mitchell was part of my adolescence and young adult years. Her song Both Sides Now has remained one of my favorites through the years and her remake of it in 2003 for the movie Love Actually provided not only one of the most poignant moments I’ve ever seen in a film, but a complete revolution of that song into the lament of our later adult years. CBC Radio critic Jian, does an outstanding job of drawing out Joni’s remarkable insights as both a painter and a songwriter in this 2013 interview.