More Creed, More Liberty

 

-The modern cry 'less creed and more liberty' is the degeneration from the vertebrate to the jelly fish, and means less unity and less morality, and it means more heresy.- (1)

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Reformation Heritage Study Bible Premium Hardcover

Ok, I’m back…for a minute.

Bought a new Bible and wanted to share some pics of it since I was unable to find any online, except from the publisher and they were not very detailed.

From 2009 until December of 2015 I used a reference Bible only. In December I started reading The Orthodox Study Bible and found the “study notes1” helpful so I decided to go for it and get the Reformation Heritage Study Bible. The regular hardcover, IMO, looked a little tacky and I wanted just a plain jane cover. The black hardcover was listed as “Premium” for a few bucks more so I took a chance and ordered it.

Why hardcover?

The first two “leather” Bibles I purchased were bonded and felt worse in the hand than any of the high quality imitation leather covers I had seen on the market. After looking around online I ordered a Bible through Trinitarian Bible Society, printed by Cambridge, but straight out of the box the text block had pulled away from the cover. I didn’t complain, just sucked it up, TBS is a good organization worth supporting. It has lasted me seven years so I guess the issue is just cosmetic. When the Westminster Reference Bible was released from TBS I ordered the hardcover and came to prefer it over the limp leather or paperback bindings. The price was also a lot better which means I could save the money for more theological and devotional works. I am still happy with my Westminster Reference Bible and will continue to use it but I wanted a few notes to aid my study when I’m talking with folks at the coffee shop.

Google provided me with a few reviews for the Reformation Heritage Study Bible but nothing for the “Premium” hardcover so I thought I would post a few pictures so folks can see how nice it really is. I am not disappointed and highly recommend the Premium edition. This Bible is substantial with just over 2200 pages, and has a good Smyth sewn binding with heavy cover boards. Compared to the Westminster it is much better bound and the boards are thicker, with a leather look and feel, as well as gold gilding on the pages. The paper seems fine to me by the way. That’s all I’m going to say about the looks of the Bible since, for me, the Bible must be functional and durable rather than pur-tee.

The Notes

The real meat and potatoes can be found in the notes. The notes are taken from the works of the Puritans as well as modern Reformed Christians who have been influenced by Puritanism. The editors of the Reformation Heritage Bible have mined the works of William Ames, Geoff Banister, Charles Barrett, Brian Borgman, Wilhelmus A Brakel, Anthony Burgess, John Calvin, Stephen Charnock, Jonathan Edwards, Christopher Love, John Owen, William Perkins, Richard Sibbes, Thomas Watson, etc.  to provide us with a study Bible that is theological deep as well as practical. With this Bible you won’t have to worry about any modern controversies, modern textual criticism, etc. just time tested exegetical wisdom from solidly biblical Christians. The back of the Bible contains articles, creeds and confessions along with introductions, theological articles and practical questions for rumination. This Bible will help you anchor your biblical faith in the historical church.

Details From the publisher.

Product Description

A Study Bible to Feed Your Soul . . .

Thoughts for personal and family devotions for every chapter
Three dozen articles on how to live the Christian life
Guidance on how to experience the truths of the Bible

A Study Bible to Instruct Your Mind . . .

Thousands of study notes with integrated cross-references
Introductions to each section and every book of the Bible
Classic Bible text with explanations of difficult words
More than fifty articles on key Christian teachings
Concordance, color maps, daily reading plan, and more!

A Study Bible to Discover Your Roots . . .

Overview of twenty centuries of church history
Ancient creeds, confessions, and catechisms with introductions

Specifications

Size: 6 ½ x 9 ¼

Page Font:

Bible: 9.8 pt. Minion Font

Notes: 8 pt. Myriad SemiCondensed Font

All Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bibles are Smyth Sewn for lasting durability. These editions of The Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible are being printed by Jongbloed, a Dutch printer reputed as the world’s finest publisher of Bibles.

With the purchase of the Bible, you will receive a free access code to create an account at http://www.holybible.com. This will allow access to all the study notes from the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible online.

Each Bible is packaged in an elegant presentation box.

Smyth Sewn bindings use thread to sew through folded signatures of a book. Signatures are made by printing on large sheets and then folding into groups of pages, usually 16 or 24 at a time. Each signature is sewn individually with threads going through each page several times. The threads are then tied off. All of the signatures are likewise attached together with thread creating what is called the book block. The book block is further strengthened using flannel and adhesive on the spine.

Editors

General Editor: Joel R. Beeke is pres­i­dent and Pro­fes­sor of Sys­tem­atic The­ol­ogy and Homilet­ics at Puritan Reformed The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, a pas­tor of the Her­itage Nether­lands Reformed Con­gre­ga­tion in Grand Rapids, Michi­gan, edi­tor of Ban­ner of Sov­er­eign Grace Truth, edi­to­r­ial direc­tor of Ref­or­ma­tion Her­itage Books, pres­i­dent of Inher­i­tance Pub­lish­ers, and vice-president of the Dutch Reformed Trans­la­tion Soci­ety.

Old Testament Editor: Michael Barrett is Aca­d­e­mic Dean and Pro­fes­sor of Old Tes­ta­ment at Puri­tan Reformed The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary. He is a min­is­ter in the Free Pres­by­ter­ian Church of North Amer­ica. For­merly, Dr. Bar­rett served as pres­i­dent of Geneva Reformed Sem­i­nary. For almost thirty years, he was pro­fes­sor of Ancient Lan­guages and Old Tes­ta­ment The­ol­ogy and Inter­pre­ta­tion at Bob Jones Uni­ver­sity.

New Testament Editor: Gerald Bilkes is Pro­fes­sor of New Tes­ta­ment and Bib­li­cal The­ol­ogy at Puri­tan Reformed The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary. He com­pleted a PhD (2002) from Prince­ton The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary. He was recip­i­ent of the United States Infor­ma­tion Agency Fel­low­ship at the Albright Insti­tute (ASOR) in Jerusalem dur­ing the 1997–1998 year.

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1) not really study notes but Eastern Orthodox opinions on the text…but anyway

EVANjellyFISH: The Creedless Christian

B. H. Carroll:
carroll
“…I want to say first of all is that it is a time that men speak disparagingly of creeds. You hear it on every side, ‘I believe in religion but I don’t care anything about theology. I love flowers but I don’t care anything for botany. Let’s have a religion without any dogma.’ Men take great credit to themselves in these utterances that they are free from the enslavement to dogmas. You must not take these people too seriously. They either don’t know what they are talking about, or else know what they say is utterly unworthy of human respect. There never was a man in the world without a creed.”

One example of how a creed or confession finds its foundation in scripture:

“…from the 8th chapter of Romans and the 34th verse. I am showing you how creeds start and confessions of faith start and how absolutely impossible it is to make light of them. Thus says Paul, ‘Who will lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justified. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died,’ (now comes the statement of the creed): ‘yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.’

Now there is a creed. That creed contains four elements:
(1) Christ died;
(2) Christ rose;
(3) Christ exalted to the right hand of the majesty on high;
(4) Up there Christ ever liveth to make intercession for us.

What is the value of that creed? By that creed, accepted in the heart and confessed with the lips, the man who so accepts and confesses is immune from any charge that angel or devil or man can make against him: ‘Who shall lay any charge to God’s elect?’

Now you just might as well proclaim yourself a simpering idiot as to stand there opposing those four things and say, ‘Oh, let’s not have any dogmas, creeds and confessions of faith; let’s have religion.’ How can you have a creedless religion? You had just as well adopt as your god a jelly-fish floated up on the beach, that has no backbone, merely a pulpy mass, as to say, ‘I want a religion without a creed.’ A man cannot have a religion without a creed and the religion he does have is not worth anything unless it is avowed. The avowal of it is a confession of faith. Now Spurgeon in his great sermon on the text I have just read called these four doctrines the four pillars of salvation. On top of these four pillars the superstructure is erected. If you pull down the pillars you pull down that which rests upon the pillars. If you take away the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the enthronement of Christ or the intercession of Christ, the house of salvation falls.

Notice again the practical effects of it. In this same 8th chapter of Romans:

‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? Nay, in all of these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

If my creed was some inarticulate thing, if it was nebulous like a spray of star dust in the skies, or if it was shifting like the change of the shapes of floating clouds, or if it was traceless like the track of a serpent across a rock or the flight of an eagle through the air, I never could say, ‘I am persuaded.’ The persuasion takes possession of my heart and of my soul that no power above nor below, no distress, no famine, no peril, no nakedness, no spirit, no devil, no future, no past shall ever be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A man without a creed cannot have that persuasion.”

source

Teaching Children

familypraying“Though I cannot say I truly approve of the method of education used by some good people; as by teaching them the Creed, a form of belief, saying, I believe, so and so, before they have any knowledge of and faith in divine truths; and to babble over the Lord’s Prayer, as it is commonly called, and other forms of prayer; which seems to have a tendency to direct them to rest in an outward form, and to trust in an outward show of righteousness; which they need not be taught to do, it is natural unto them; and whenever they receive the grace of God, all this must be untaught and undone again. It is proper to instruct them in the necessity of faith in God and in Christ, and of the use of prayer; and to lay before them the sinfulness of sin, and show them what an evil thing it is, and what are the sad effects of it; to teach them their miserable estate by nature, and the way of recovery and salvation by Christ; and to learn them from childhood to read and know the holy scriptures, according to their capacity; and by these to be “admonished” of sin, and of their duty, to fear God, and keep his commandments; which may be meant by the “admonition of the Lord”; and the proper opportunity should be taken to instili these things into their minds, when their minds begin to open, and they are inquisitive into the meaning of things; (see Deut. 6:20) and these several respective duties are to be carefully attended to; since the peace and order of families, the good of the commonwealth, and the prosperity of the church, and increase of the interest of Christ, greatly depend upon them.”  – John Gill

What’s in a name?

What does it mean to be Reformed?

I tend to shy away from using Reformed before Baptist, knowing the historical roots of the meaning of the word Reformed, preferring Confessional (or more historically actuate) Particular Baptist. In an effort to be “terribly reductionistic,” I believe Reformed theology includes Calvinistic soteriology, covenant theology and the Regulative Principle of Worship. I believe these three elements can be found in all paedobaptist confessions, the First and the Second London Baptist Confessions. If you confess those three elements, perhaps you are Reformed but I have a hard time calling Dr. Piper, even with this terribly reductionistic view, Reformed.

Others have weighted in on the matter over the last few years. I posted a few quotes with their source so you can read the rest of the article the quote was taken from.

Dr. R. Scott Clark points out;

A good number of people who could not be reasonably defined as Reformed have affirmed those points long before the Reformation. There was a vigorous predestinarian theology at different points in the middle ages. Gottschalk of Orbais in the 9th century taught the substance of the five points but we would not allow him into a Reformed pulpit. Thomas Aquinas taught predestination and arguably limited atonement in the 13th century. There were several late medieval proponents of a high Augustinian soteriology from whom the Reformation learned but who would not be Reformed. So it is with Piper. Intersection is not identity. A necessary condition is not a sufficient condition. A race car must have an engine. That’s a necessary condition but an engine is not a sufficient condition because not every engine is a racing engine. There are other components (e.g., suspension, frame, the cockpit) to a race car that distinguish it from other cars.

I agree with that…sorta…I think.

Likewise, anyone who has a deep appreciation for the Reformed confessions and has studied the development of Reformed theology will be understandably jealous to help people see that there is much more to being Reformed than a predestinarian soteriology. As one who subscribes to a historic Reformed denomination and has written a book on the Heidelberg Catechism, I am enthusiastic about all that the Reformed tradition has to offer, from ecclesiology, to worship, to our understanding of the law, to our understanding of the sacraments, to a dozen other things. I sympathize with those who are quick to point out that a college freshman who believes in a big God is not exactly plumbing the depths of what it means to be Reformed.

But on the other hand, it doesn’t bother me when John Piper is called Reformed. Kevin DeYoung

Dr. Trueman adds;

‘Reformed’ in current popular parlance is somewhat like ‘confessional.’ I keep meeting ‘confessional evangelicals’ who do not actually adhere, other than at a notional level, to any of the great historic ecclesiastical confessions. They seem to be using the adjective as a substitute for ‘conservative’ or ‘orthodox’, which is fine — as long as (once again) it does not then lead to blurring the significant difference between being orthodox in belief and being confessional in practice. Carl Trueman

Justice ;

Reformed people view the church in two ways. They see it as the entire body of the elect. This body, of course, is invisible. They also see it as a local assembly or the aggregate of all local assemblies in a nation or on a continent. As such, the church is visible. So the Reformers believed in a universal, invisible church, and in a more local, visible church.

Jellyfish

Benajah Harvey Carroll:carroll

“The modern cry: ‘Less creed and more liberty,’ is a degeneration from the vertebrate to the jellyfish, and means less unity and less morality, and it means more heresy. Definitive truth does not create heresy it only exposes and corrects. Shut off the creed and the Christian world would fill up with heresy unsuspected and uncorrected, but none the less deadly.”

An Interpretation of the English Bible, Ephesians 4.

A two part sermon on Creeds and Confessions can be read online here.

Does not the eye guide the hands and feet?

Philpot writes,

The Lord knows what we are, as so deeply, so awfully sunk in the Adam fall.

Adam was wise as well as upright; but with the fall both were gone as in a moment; for the same awful crash which broke to pieces his innocency wrecked and ruined his wisdom, and thus he became a fool as well as a sinner. This folly we inherit from him; for “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” (Prov. 22:15) God, then, as perfectly acquainted with the folly of our mind, with our wretched ignorance and inability to find out the way of salvation, or to walk in it when found, has mercifully and graciously given to us One in the courts of bliss who shall be to us and for us far beyond all that we have lost, and has therefore made him our “wisdom.” “It hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;” (Col. 1:19) and therefore a fullness of heavenly wisdom he communicates out of his fullness to his believing people. I do not like exactly to say that his wisdom is theirs by imputation, and yet there is a sense in which it may be called such.

Take for instance the figure of head and members. Is not our head, in a sense, wisdom for every member of the body?

Does it not bear the responsibility of every movement, so that all the wisdom or skill which any member possesses may be considered as being in the head?

Does not the eye guide the hands and feet?

Does not the ear hear for the whole body?

Does not the brain think and the tongue speak for every member?

Thus we see naturally that all our wisdom lies in our head, and the wisdom of our head is put to the account of all the members. So, spiritually, all our heavenly wisdom is in our covenant Head. The people of God see and feel their ignorance and folly; their inability to guide their own feet into the way of truth and peace. Their daily experience convinces them how easily they are entangled in the snares of sin and Satan; how dark their mind, how hard their heart, how carnal their frame, when the Lord does not communicate light, life, and power to their souls. To remedy then and overcome these miserable evils under which they groan and sigh, being burdened, Jesus Christ is of God made unto them wisdom; so that when the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ looks upon his dear Son in the courts of bliss, he views him as their representative head, and sees all the wisdom that they need stored up in his eternal fullness. Thus, as he does not impute to them their sins because of Christ’s righteousness, so he does not impute unto them their follies because of Christ’s wisdom. “Ye are wise in Christ,” says the apostle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 4:10)–wise by your union with him. Now out of this wisdom which dwells in Christ without measure, he communicates to his people. They have none of their own. What they have is freely given to them liberally and bountifully, without stint and without upbraiding.

But it may be as well to glance at some of the effects of this wisdom as divinely communicated to the saints of God. To look unto Jesus by the eye of faith; to see him as the Son of God, “able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him;” and to view the treasures of love and grace which are stored up in his blood and righteousness, is also a part of this wisdom. To depart from all evil and seek all that is good; to obey the precepts as well as believe the promises; to walk tenderly, cautiously, and circumspectly in the fear of God; to read and pray and meditate; to commune with their own heart, and be ever seeking divine teaching, is a part also of this wisdom. In fact, this wisdom is indispensable for every right movement in heart, lip, and life; for every good word and work; for our conduct in the church and in the world; and for everybody becoming our holy profession. This the people of God deeply feel. Well do they know that not a single truth can they see aright except by seeing light in his light. Not a snare can they shun, or danger avoid, but by his warning voice or guiding hand; not a doctrine can they understand, not a promise believe, not a precept obey, except he who of God is made unto them wisdom, is pleased to communicate it to their heart. But, by looking to him, and receiving out of his fullness supplies of divine instruction, which he communicates to them through the word of his grace, as made life and spirit to their hearts, they are made wise unto salvation; and thus from their living and spiritual union with him, wisdom flows into their bosom out of his fullness, as in the figure of the vine, sap flows out of the stem into the branch. Thus, as he is their wisdom representatively in the courts of bliss, being their Counselor and Advocate who pleads their cause, so he is their wisdom efficiently, by the communication of this wisdom they have comes out of his fullness. And he is their wisdom also, as being the end and object of all the wisdom they possess or require, for the highest, greatest, and best of all wisdom is to know him and the power of his resurrection; to know experimentally the beauty and glory of his divine Person; the efficacy of his atoning blood and of his justifying righteousness; and, above all things, to know our happy and eternal interest in all that he is, in all that he has to the Church of God. [source]

Incipient Declension: “The backslider in heart (Pr 14:14).”

Before bed last night I picked up Personal Declension (again) by Octavius Winslow. The work deals with backsliding. He, like J.C. Philpot, offer the church experimental help in understanding the spiritual life of the Christian.

A few selections from chapter one follow:

When a professing man can proceed with his accustomed religious duties, strictly, regularly, formally, and yet experience no enjoyment of God in them, no filial nearness, no brokenness and tenderness, and no consciousness of sweet return, he may suspect that his soul is in a state of secret and incipient backsliding from God. Satisfying and feeding his soul – if feeding it may be called – with a lifeless form; what stronger symptom needs he of his real state? A healthy, growing state of religion in the soul demands more for its nourishment and support than this. A believer panting for God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, grace thriving, the heart deeply engaged in spiritual duties, lively, prayerful, humble, and tender, ascending in its frame and desires, – a state marked by these features cannot be tied down to a lifeless, spiritless form of religious duties. These were but husks to a healthy state of the life of God in the soul. It wants more. It will hunger and thirst, and this spiritual longing must be met. And nothing can satisfy and satiate it but living upon Christ, the bread and the water of life. “I am the bread of life.” “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” “My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” The professing man that goes all his days without this nourishment, thus starving his soul, may well exclaim, “My leanness, my leanness!” Oh, how solemn to such are the words of our Lord, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you (Jn 6:53).”

Essentially connected with the discovery and the confession, there must be the entire mortification and abandonment of the cause of the soul’s secret declension. Apart from this, there can be no true revival of the work of Divine grace in the heart. The true spiritual mortification of indwelling sin, and the entire forsaking of the known cause, whatever it is found to be, of the heart’s declension, constitute the true elements of a believer’s restoration to the joys of God’s salvation. And when we speak of the mortification of sin, let not the nature of this sacred work be misunderstood. It has been in the case of many, why may it not in yours? There may exist all the surface-marks of mortification, and still the heart remain a stranger to the work. An awakening sermon, an alarming providence, or a startling truth, may for a moment arrest and agitate the backsliding soul. There may be an opening of the eyelid, a convulsive movement of the spiritual frame, which, to a superficial observer, may wear the appearance of a real return to consciousness, of a true waking up to new life and vigour of the slumbering soul, and yet these may be but the transient and fitful impulses of a sickly and a drowsy spirit. The means of grace, too, may be returned to – the secret declension felt, deplored and acknowledged, but the hidden cause remaining unmortified and unremoved, all appearance of recovery quickly and painfully subsides. It was but a transient, momentary shock, and all was still; the heavy eyelid but feebly opened, and closed again; the “goodness” that promised so fair, was but as the morning cloud and the early dew. And the reason is found in the fact, that there was no true mortification of sin. And so I may repair to a plant withering and drooping in my garden; I may employ every external means for its revival; I may loosen the earth about it, water, and place it in the warm sunbeam; but if the while I had not discovered and removed the hidden cause of its decay – if I had not know that a worm was secretly feeding at the root, and, in ignorance of this, had proceeded with my surface-work of restoration, what marvel, though the morning sunbeam, and the evening dew, and the loosened earth, had produced a momentary freshness and life, that yet my plant had ceased to exist, had withered and died? Thus may it be with a declining believer. The external means of revival may be sedulously employed, means of grace diligently used and even multiplied, but all to no real and permanent effect, while a worm secretly feeds at the root; and until the hidden cause of decay be mortified, removed, and utterly extirpated, the surface revival does but end in a profounder sleep, and a more fearful deception of the soul.

Commence at the beginning; go as a sinner to Jesus; seek the quickening, healing, sanctifying influence of the Spirit; and let this be your prayer, presented, and urged until answered, at the footstool of mercy: “O Lord, revive thy work! Quicken me, O Lord! Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation!” In answer to thy petition, “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass, as showers that water the earth;” and thy song shall be that of the church, “My Beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. The fig-tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”

Before you head out to church tomorrow…

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and the Devil? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?”

2 Cor 6:14-16

Arthur Pink,  This is a call to godly separation. This passage gives utterance to a Divine exhortation for those belonging to Christ–to hold aloof from all intimate associations with the ungodly. It expressly forbids them entering into alliances with the unconverted. It definitely prohibits the children of God walking arm-in-arm with worldlings. It is an admonition applying to every phase and department of our lives–religious, domestic, social, commercial. And never, perhaps, was there a time when it more needed pressing on Christians, than now. The days in which we are living are marked by the spirit of compromise. On every side we behold unholy mixtures, ungodly alliances, and unequal yokes. Many professing Christians appear to be trying how near to the world they may walk–and yet go to Heaven!

To Israel, God said, “So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. You must obey all My regulations and be careful to keep My laws, for I, the Lord, am your God!” (Leviticus 18:3-4) And again, “Do not live by the customs of the people whom I will expel before you. It is because they do these terrible things–that I detest them so much!” (Leviticus 20:23) It was for their disregard of these very prohibitions, that Israel brought down upon themselves such severe chastisements.

God’s call to His people in Babylon is, “Come out of her, My people! Do not take part in her sins!” (Revelation 18:4) No one can be a whole-hearted follower of the Lord Jesus who is, in any way, “yoked” to His enemies!

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” This applies first to our religious connections. How many Christians are members of so-called “churches,” where much is going on which they know is at direct variance with the Word of God–either the teaching from the pulpit, the worldly attractions used to draw the ungodly, and the worldly methods employed to finance it, or the constant receiving into its membership of those who give no evidence of having been born again. Believers in Christ who remain in such “churches” are dishonoring their Lord.

Should they answer: “Practically all the churches are the same, and were we to resign, what would we do? We must go somewhere on Sundays!”

Such language would show they are putting their own interests, before the glory of Christ. It is better to stay at home and read God’s Word–than fellowship with that which His Word condemns!

[Photo by JM]