Judgment, Justification, and a Witness against Us

“Listen to me, my people, and I will speak — Israel, and I will witness against you; I am God, your God.” (Psalm 50:7) The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:33: “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” Indeed! Who can do so? Only God himself! And this is exactly what we find God… Read More

The Heavens Announce God’s Righteousness

“The heavens announce His righteousness — for God, He is the judge! Selah!” (Psalm 50:6) As the courtroom scene develops, the heavens now find themselves in a double roll. Not only are they contending with the people of God as a witness to man’s wickedness, but now they stand as a kind of bailiff, announcing… Read More

The Judgment Seat of Christ

“Harvest to me my godly ones; ones who cut a covenant with me by sacrifice.” (Psalm 50:5) One thing that many Christians misunderstand is the idea of judgment. And here, I am not speaking about the judgment of the ungodly under God’s wrath, but even of the believer. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:10… Read More

The Testimony of Heaven and Earth

“He calls to the heavens from above and to the earth to contend with his people.” (Psalm 50:4) The structure of this passage is much like that of a court case. And though God is always true and none can contend against him, as he is just, he follows his own rules and guidelines. Indeed,… Read More

Our God is a Consuming Fire

“Our God comes; he is not deaf! Fire devours that which is before him. All around him there is a mighty whirlwind.” (Psalm 50:3) What you read here are words of power and might — words that are designed to instill awe in us and to inspire us to worship. How often worship is self-centered… Read More

Perfect in Beauty

“From Zion, from that which is made perfect in beauty, God shines forth.” (Psalm 50:2) The majority of translations render this a little more idiomatically, “From Zion, the perfection of beauty…” and such is a perfectly legitimate way to render the phrase מִכְלַל־יֹפִי (miklal-yopiy). Clearly the psalmist is praising God and celebrating the place of… Read More

God’s Preaching

“A Psalm of Asaph.  God, the Great God, Yahweh! He commands and proclaims to the earth from the rising sun unto its setting.” (Psalm 50:1) What an amazing beginning to this psalm. Literally it reads: אֵל אֱלֹהִים יהוח (El, Elohim, Yahweh) — three names of God, each getting more specific as it leads to the… Read More

Why Would God Send Anyone to Hell?

This is one of those questions that tends to come up a lot in conversations with people in the community around me, even amongst professing Christians. When it is raised, it is not typically meant as an exegetical argument that challenges the Christian doctrine of justice, but it is a question that comes from a… Read More

Worship and Wrath: Are they mutually exclusive?

As a child, I grew up singing old hymns of the faith — Isaac Watts, Fanny Crosby, Charles Wesley, and the like. Even today, many of these hymns are deeply ingrained in me. Then, somewhere in my early twenties, praise music became all the rage in the church I attended. And so, I was introduced… Read More

Unity, Busyness, Tolerance, and Compromise: Not Synonymous

One of the attributes of the church, toward which we are called to strive, is unity. Indeed, how “good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1) and how important it is that we strive to maintain the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” that must exist within… Read More

My Land or God’s Land?

“And Jephthah sent messengers to the king of the Sons of Ammon, saying, ‘What do you have against me? For you are coming to me and fighting in my land.” (Judges 11:12) You will notice how relationships have now changed in the eyes of Jephthah. Before he was an alien toward the land of Gilead… Read More

Good Confidence

In the original German edition of the catechism, the phrase here speaks of having guter zuversicht, it speaks of a good “confidence,” a good “trust,” or a good “faith” in our faithful God and Father. But what does it mean to have a “good confidence” or a “guter zuversicht” in God?  Confidence refers to the… Read More

Thankful in Times of Prosperity

You might be tempted to think that being thankful in times of prosperity is a given — an easy thing for believer and non-believer alike. You might be tempted to think that thankfulness during good times is quite natural. But, were this the case, the authors of Heidelberg would never have needed to ground faithfulness… Read More

The Elders, Force, and Bad Decisions

“And it came to pass in several days time that the Sons of Ammon fought with Israel. And as the Sons of Ammon fought with Israel, the Elders of Gilead went to take Jephthah from the land of Tob.” (Judges 11:4-5) And thus, the thing predicted took place: The Ammonites wage war in Gilead and… Read More

Patience in Times of Trouble

The thing that amazes me sometimes (and here I am preaching to myself also!) is how often we are surprised when bad things happen. No, I am not suggesting that people ought always to be looking at things pessimistically or be a “gloomy Gus” all of the time, or become a “nattering nabob of negativism,”… Read More

What is Providence?

In today’s Christian sub-culture, it is common for people to claim that just about anything unusual is a miracle. People talk about the “miracle of childbirth” or they speak of the raise they got at work as “miraculous” because it was unexpected and beneficial in its timing. Recovery from a disease or surgery is also… Read More

The Church Oppressed and Subjugated

“And the nose of Yahweh burned against Israel and he sold them into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Sons of Amon. They subjugated and oppressed the Sons of Israel in that year — even for eighteen years all of the Sons of Israel who are beyond the Jordan in… Read More

A Faithful Father

Repeatedly, the Bible speaks of God as “Father,” and while we sometimes think of this as a New Testament distinction, we find this language in the Old Testament as well — God is the Father of Israel (Hosea 11:1), the father of the Messiah (Psalm 89:26), and the father of the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). Nevertheless,… Read More

When Civil Servants Aren’t 

In the western world, Wikipedia suggest that the term “Civil Service” goes back to 1829 and the expansion of the British Empire — namely that the British government needed people with administrative and managerial skills to manage the resources, the production, and the commerce that took place in their various colonies. The basic principle behind… Read More

Spiritual Discernment

“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ Turning, she said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’).” (John 20:16) One of the very curious things about the resurrected Christ is that people don’t always recognize him when they first encounter him. Certainly one could suggest that this may be attached to the terrible grief that those… Read More

Ability and Will

One of the most basic principles of logic is that “Ought does not yield Is.” In other words, just because things “ought” to be a certain way does not mean that they will be that way. To assume this to be the case is what is called the “moralistic fallacy” and it would be the… Read More

For My Body and My Soul

“Throw down your burden on Yahweh; he will provide for you and he will never permit that righteousness be swayed.” (Psalm 55:23 {verse 22 in English Bibles}) Not only does the catechism promise that God governs all things and that he even uses evil events for the good of our salvation and sanctification as believers,… Read More

Turned Toward My Good

One of the great contributions that the Heidelberg Catechism brings to the table of Reformed confessions is that it is so very much first-person and pastoral in nature. As I have noted before, instead of speaking in the abstract, it uses words like “I” and “me” and “my” to convey spiritual truth. And the language… Read More