What is Your Only Comfort in Life and in Death?

If you’re asked this question, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” what would be your answer?

Last weekend the youth group from Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Carbondale, PA took some time to walk around at a local event and asked this question to people willing to participate in this 1-question survey.  Below is what they found out.  How about you, what is your only comfort in life and in death?

The Heidelberg Catechism which follows the outline of the book of Romans, answers that question as follow:

That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redemmed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation.  Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him.

Sunday Catechism 05.29.11

The Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 27

Q 74:  Should infants, too, be baptized?

A:  Yes. Infants as well as adults are in God’s covenant and are his people 1.  They, no less than adults, are promised the forgiveness of sin through Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit who produces faith. 2

Therefore, by baptism, the mark of the covenant, infants should be received into the Christian church and should be distinguished from the children of unbelievers.3 This was done in the Old Testament by circumcision 4, which was replaced in the New Testament by baptism.5

1. Gen. 17:7; Matt. 19:14.
2. Isa. 44:1-3; Acts 2:38, 39; 16:31.
3. Acts 10:47;1 Cor. 7:14.
4. Gen. 17:9-14.
5. Col. 2:11-13.

baptism 5.jpgHaving laid out the framework of Reformed understanding of Pseudo baptism, and graciously defended it over and against the Baptist’s position as well of the Roman Catholic’s teaching of Ex Opere Operato, Pastor Lindmulder continued,

“…we can hold the sign of baptism to our children, and say, ‘The Apostle Paul exhorts you as a child in Christ.  The Apostle Paul exhorts you to live unto His honor and glory, to obey your parent, not just to please your parents, not just to make them happy, but because you are part of this community.
Because Christ has placed his sign on you, and because you’re called to take hold of him by faith, just like mom and dad.
And you’re called to believe these promises, just like mom and dad.
And you’re called to live your life according to these promises, just like mom and dad.’
And you see, it is how the Apostle Paul is calling us to see that the Lord is the one who calls a community unto Himself.

Continue reading “Sunday Catechism 05.29.11”

Dismemberment

“And when he entered his house, he took a knife, and taking hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel.” – Judges 19:29, ESV

When I was growing up in Jakarta, one of the most heinous crimes happened on November 23, 1981.  On that fateful day, 2 boxes were found on the side of a major street, Jalan Jendral Sudirman.   When opened, one box contained 13 body parts and a head while the other box contained 180 slices of various body parts and stomach content.  All newspapers talked about the crime, “Misteri Mayat Dipotong 13” was the major headline for many days.  I think the crime- both the victim and the perpetrator- remains a mystery up to this day.

In our sermon series at church, we are currently studying the book of Judges and yesterday we read from Judges 19.  Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we read a recorded history of a Levite who chopped his concubine’s body into 12 pieces.  The first think that came to my mind was the mysterious crime committed in 1981.  Then came another question:  “Why in the world did God include this account of evil crime in his holy, inspired book?”

Pastor Lindemulder took us through this chapter that he dubbed as the darkest moment in redemptive history, and through his exegetical skill he helped us find Christ even in this seemingly out of place chapter.   As usual, the comfort of the Gospel was offered even thorough these dark verses in the Bible.

Click here to listen to the sermon, and I trust that by God’s mercy you too will find comfort in this 19th chapter of the book of Judges.

Happy Reformation Day!

What comes to mind when you hear “October 31st”? Most people in America will say, “Halloween”, or “Trick or Treat”, or “Candies”. You will rarely hear “Reformation Movement”, or “Martin Luther” even among professing Christians. Many Christians today don’t know their root, or for that matter the 16th century history of the Reformation movement.

95.jpgIt was October 31, 1517 when the Reverend Father Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses onto the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany. This simple act started the reformation movement that changed the face of religious life and politics of the western world. His movement was quickly spread throughout the Europe and was carried on by men like Philipp Melanchton, John Calvin, John Knox, Huldrych Zwingli, Theodore Beza, and others.

The tenets of the movement, known as the 5 Solas of Reformation are Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria.

The formal cause of the Reformation movement was Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) where the reformers believed that Scripture is the sole authority in doctrinal matters. The material cause of the movement was Sola Fide (Faith Alone), that is justification is by grace alone through faith alone. The conflict over justification by faith alone boils down to the difference between the words “Imputed” and “Infused”. Is the ground of our justification the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, or the righteousness of Christ infused within us? Sola fide declares that the ground of our justification is solely the righteousness of Christ. It is apart from or outside of us, not a part of us. Continue reading “Happy Reformation Day!”

5 Points of Calvinism

calvindoc.jpg At the end of this month, starting from Friday 4/30 at 7:00 in the evening until Sunday 5/2 our church is going to host a conference titled “The Doctrines of Grace:  Defined, Defended, and Discussed.”  We will have 1 session on Friday, and then we will continue on Saturday from 9:00 in the morning until noon with 3 sessions, and we will conclude the conference on Sunday with the last session in our regular 2nd service.  Registration is free; however, to help us with logistics we would like you to register here.

“What church do you go to?”  many times people ask me.  “Covenant United Reformed Church” I would answer.  Then comes the next anticipated question, “Is it a Christian church?”  One time the inquirer further asked, “Do you believe in the Bible?”, and then “Do you baptize people?”  Many church goers today are not aware of 16th century Reformation movement that birthed the Protestant church.  Many people don’t know the history of their faith, let alone the great reformers that God used to keep the Gospel from being distorted further by the contemporary church at that time.  Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Huss, Ulrich Zwingli are as foreign as Greek to many Christians.

Reformed Church is a descendant of the 16th century Reformation movement– a movement that brought about Protestant church.  One of the great reformers was John Calvin who taught the 5 points of Calvinism that were embraced by Reformed churches.  These 5 points are often referred to with its acronym T-U-L-I-P.   (Calvin’s followers actually came with this summation after his death).   What is T-U-L-I-P?

In a nutshell, it’s the framework of Reformed belief, and it’s thoroughly based on the Bible.  In the interest of time and space I will touch on each point briefly.

T stands for “Total Depravity“.  We believe that the fall affected not only our first parents, but also all humanity.  We are not saying that mankind became as bad as they could be; rather, we believe that the fall rotted the very core of our heart so that the Bible says that even our good deed is like a dirty rag.  Further the Bible also declares, “… every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen 6:5, 8:21)  Article 2 of the Third and Fourth Head of Doctrine of the Canons of Dordt summarizes it this way, “Man after the fall begat children in his own likeness.  A corrupt stock produced a corrupt offspring.  Hence, all the posterity of Adam, Christ only excepted, have derived corruption from their original parent, not by imitation, as the Pelagians of old asserted, but by the propagation of a vicious nature, in consequence of the just judgment of God.” Continue reading “5 Points of Calvinism”

Calvin: Is He Still Relevant Today?

He would have been 500 years old this year if he’s still alive. I am talking about John Calvin, a 16th century theologian anjohn-calvin-9.jpgd Christian Reformation figure who demanded to be buried in an unmarked grave. Born on July 10, 1509 he latter changed the landscape of Christian religion through his passion for God and the truth expressed in the Bible, and through his magnum opus, “The Institutes of the Christian Religion.” Please click here to read more about his biography.

It’s been almost 500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, the very act that sparked the Protestant Reformation movement of which Calvin was one of the leading figures, and I’ve been thinking whether Calvin and his teaching, and more generally, the Reformation movement is still relevant today.

I personally believe the answer is a firm “yes”, especially in this day and age where churches no longer proclaim the Gospel but rather the self-help sermons, where the saints are no longer direct to search outside of themselves for their salvation but are told that if only they can do better they can be saved (or maintain their salvation).

How to Be Born Again

bornagain.bmp

A few days ago a friend of mine sent this picture and asked, “What is he up to?” He then gave some possible answers, and one of those was, “Wanting a true ‘born-again’ experience. (however in the wrong port of entry)”.

I can’t tell for sure what that person is doing up there, but I can’t stop thinking of the silliness of most professing Evangelicals today who think that a born-again process is something that depends on the will of man. In other word, salvation is not wholly of God, but it is a synergic effort of man and God! Billy Graham was often heard saying, “God does ninety nine percent of it, but you still must do that last one percent.” Is that true? Is that what the Bible teaches?

The Bible indeed teaches that we are spiritually dead! DEAD! Please read Ephesians 2:1-5. Have you seen a dead man walked? Can a dead man walk, and let alone make that “last one percent” decision?! The thought of it is as absurd as the picture above. Trying to be born again!

Continue reading “How to Be Born Again”

In Search of Spirituality

MRI’m currently going through the May/June 2008’s issue of Modern Reformation, and while there’re many good articles in it (as usual), one article by Dr. Peter Jones IMHO hits the nail right on its head. The whole issue is about the rise of Spirituality and how it creeps into the church across many denominational boundaries. This is not a light matter because at its core it’s anti Christian. The New Spirituality is none other the re-appearance of the old Gnosticism. It found its way to politic, to social structure, and also to the church both through liberal theologians and “evangelical” preachers alike. What is even more troubling is that most people don’t even realize its threat, both politically and ecclesiastically.

This form of New Spirituality poses a great threat both to our culture as well as to the Church of Jesus Christ. Culturally it tries to assimilate all belief systems into one where there’s no sense of right from wrong. In the church, it denies the God of the Bible. While we are to seek salvation from outside of ourselves, the Redeemer God who came in the flesh and dwelled amongst His people, the New Spirituality seeks salvation from within, to find “god within ourselves”. I urge you to read the whole article by Dr. Jones, and I hope you too will realize the danger of this new force working to destroy both our culture and our church.

Yet Another Bible Version?!

The inerrant and infallible word of God, the Bible, continues to be the most translated book and perhaps at the same time also the most debated book in the world. In English translation, there’re dozens of different translations such as King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV), English Standard Version (ESV), New International Version (NIV) and so on. And within each translation there’re many different versions. It is as if we need different Bibles for different groups. Continue reading “Yet Another Bible Version?!”

Jesus who?

Yesus MemberkatiOn November 2, the Governor of North Sulawesi province in Indonesia dedicated a monument dubbed “Yesus Memberkati” (Eng: Jesus Bless) . The 30-meter tall statue is the tallest statue of Jesus in Asia, and 2nd tallest in the world only to that in Rio de Jenairo, Brazil which is 8 meters taller. However, standing at 150 meters above the sea level at 20 degree angle it is believed to be the tallest “floating” statue of Jesus in the world.

It took 2 years in making, and another 8 months to assemble, the statue is located in an elite residential complex Winangun of Citra Land in Manado. It was donated by a real estate tycoon Ciputra, and its cost was around Rp. 5,000,000,000 (5 billion Rupiah, or around US $ 556,000).

I commend Ciputra’s deep religious commitment and his gracious act of spending a lot of money to have this religious icon built. However, personally I can’t agree on this act on two fronts- social and theological. Continue reading “Jesus who?”