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And Can It Be – Sunday Songs

Our closing song at mgpc this morning was ‘And Can It Be’, words by Charles Wesley and sung to the tune ‘Sagina’.
The hymn has long stood as the classic example of praising God by proclaiming to Him the experience of receiving His gift of new life.
The lyric set we used was based on the classic version from the Together For The Gospel CD, but Paul and I both prefer the traditional form of the chorus, as represented in the lyrics below, rather than using the ‘Amazing love…’ refrain from verse 1 as a chorus for all the verses.
We left the third line of verse 2 stand. Theological types can mentally reserve the truth that Jesus was not empty of all but love, but the fullness of the God-head dwelt in Him bodily, while trying to appreciate that the intent of Wesley was not to diminish the Lord Jesus, but to magnify His condescension in coming to save us.

The lyrics:
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain;
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
He left His Father’s throne above:
So free – so infinite His grace –
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race.
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free
For O my God, it found out me!
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free
For O my God, it found out me!
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light
My chains fell off, my heart was free
I rose, went forth, and followed
My chains fell off, my heart was free
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee
No condemnation now I dread
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine
Alive in Him, my living Head
And clothed in righteousness divine
Bold I approach the eternal throne
And claim the crown, through Christ my own
Bold I approach the eternal throne
And claim the crown, through Christ my own

I like this YouTube, which is well sung by a massed choir, and at a good tempo.

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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 44

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 44

Q & A 113
Q. What is God’s will for you in the tenth commandment?
A. That not even the slightest thought or desire contrary to any one of God’s commandments should ever arise in my heart.
Rather, with all my heart I should always hate sin and take pleasure in whatever is right.*1
*1 Ps. 19:7-14; 139:23-24; Rom. 7:7-8

Q & A 114
Q. But can those converted to God obey these commandments perfectly?
A. No. In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience.*1
Nevertheless, with all seriousness of purpose, they do begin to live according to all, not only some, of God’s commandments.*2
*1 Eccles. 7:20; Rom. 7:14-15; 1 Cor. 13:9; 1 John 1:8-10
*2 Ps. 1:1-2; Rom. 7:22-25; Phil. 3:12-16

Q & A 115
Q. No one in this life can obey the Ten Commandments perfectly: why then does God want them preached so pointedly?
A. First, so that the longer we live the more we may come to know our sinfulness and the more eagerly look to Christ for forgiveness of sins and righteousness.*1
Second, so that, while praying to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, we may never stop striving to be renewed more and more after God’s image, until after this life we reach our goal: perfection.*2
*1 Ps. 32:5; Rom. 3:19-26; 7:7, 24-25; 1 John 1:9
*2 1 Cor. 9:24; Phil. 3:12-14; 1 John 3:1-3

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Ligon Duncan On The Reformation

Excerpted from a post on the First Presbyterian Jacksonville blog:

The Reformational churches were more faithful to Biblical authority and doctrine than the medieval Catholic Church.
Luther’s theology focused on the doctrine of justification by faith alone, which he called “the article of a standing or a falling Church.” He taught, contrary to Rome, that we are justified (accounted righteous before God) by the means of faith alone, apart from the works of the Law. Rome, on the other hand, taught that in justification we are “made righteous” via faith and obedience. Luther’s teaching was but a recovery of the Pauline doctrine of justification. Luther stressed imputed righteousness rather than infused righteousness. That is, God justifies sinners by crediting Christ’s righteousness to their account, not by implanting righteousness into them and thus justifying them. Our spiritual forefathers were willing to die for this distinction, for the Gospel was at stake.
This doctrine became known as Sola FideFaith alone” (justification by faith alone in Christ alone — not by faith and works). The other four points of what we might call the “Five Points of the Reformation” are: Sola ScripturaScripture alone” (the Scripture as the sole ultimate authority for Christian faith and practice — not the Pope, the Church, reason or feelings), Sola GratiaGrace alone” (salvation by God’s grace alone, not human merit), and Solo ChristoChrist alone” (salvation by the mediation and merits of Christ alone, not the intercession of priests nor the merits of saints), and Soli Deo Gloriato God alone be the Glory” (life lived for God’s glory alone).
Read the whole post.

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Eager, Expectant And Early (via Josh Harris)

This is another way every member of the church can serve each other and honor God on Sunday mornings (and evenings).
In an excerpt from a recent sermon, Joshua Harris encourages and challenges his congregation about their preparation and approach for worship in very practical terms.

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Practical Ways Every Church Member Can Serve The Church On Sundays (via 9Marks)

From the 9Marks blog:

At the Trellis and Vine Workshop in DC today, Colin Marshall shared ways that ordinary church members can serve the church on Sunday mornings.

Before the Service

  • Read the passage in advance
  • Pray for the gathering
  • Greet newcomers (act like you are the host)
  • Think strategically about who you should sit with
  • Arrive Early

During the Service

  • Sing with gusto (even if you can’t sing)
  • Help with logistics (if there’s a problem, help fix it)
  • Don’t be distracted
  • Listen carefully
  • Be aware of your facial expressions (you may affect others and discourage preachers)

After the Service

  • Connect newcomers with others
  • Get newcomers information
  • Start a conversation about the sermon
  • Ask someone how they became a Christian
  • Stay late

Not exhaustive by any means.
But a very helpful start.
(I left the bit about ‘ordinary’ church members in 9Marks intro, although it annoys me hugely.)

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Halloween Pumpkin Price Continues To Fall

Down from $22.00 to $12.00 to $8.00 in the space of seven days.
Who says you can never overestimate the intelligence of the general public?
Yes, I know the bin looks emptier, but they have taken some of the pumpkins and put them on display around the store as well.

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The New John 3:16 And More About The Need For Reformation

Today I heard two committed, knowledgeable Christians tell a room full of people who despite Psalm 145:4 being read in three different versions, and Hebrews 1:1-2 being read once, that they had not heard God speak directly to them so far today.
I also heard them say that while God used to speak to people directly and in lots of different ways, today He speaks to everyone through the Lord Jesus Christ and that we should strive to hear that.
Without any explanation of where and how that communication from Jesus takes place.
And this appeal to listen was grounded in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11 seems to be the new John 3:16 for contemporary evangelical/neo-pentecostals)
When I was growing up, in Christian circles John 3:16 was the verse everyone wanted to communicate as the essence of the Gospel.
Now it seems that instead in a lot of places Jeremiah 29:11 has supplanted it.
Maybe it’s my imagination.
But it seems a fascinating change.
For Christians who think about the Reformation emphasis on the Bible, the Gospel of justification, by grace alone, through faith alone and God’s purposes for His people’s lives it is obvious that Jesus is not simply the conveyor of the Good News.
He, and His perfect, incarnate life; death as our penal substitute; and resurrection glory are the content of the Good News as well.
And we find that Good News revealed in God’s written Word, the Bible.

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