Monday, November 22, 2021

Audio Recordings from the Pilgrim Heritage Celebration (2017-2021)

For the past eleven or twelve years, my church has hosted a Thanksgiving event celebrating the heritage of the Pilgrims who came on the Mayflower and settled in Plymouth. Some of the talks from these events have been recorded, so for this year's 400th anniversary of the First Thanksgiving, I thought I would post links to what we have online.


"The Pilgrims and Evangelistic Missions" - Peter Bringe (24 min.)


"The Pilgrims in England and Holland" - John Huffman (22 min.)
"The Pilgrims' Voyage and First Winter" - Peter Bringe (21 min.) 


"The Providence of God in 1620" - Jeff Hamann (28 min.)
"The Choices the Pilgrims Made in 1620" - Peter Bringe (24 min.)
"The Vision of the Pilgrims for 2020" - John Huffman (26 min.)


"The Errand in the Wilderness" - Peter Bringe (14 min.)
"1621 and the First Thanksgiving" - Jeff Hamann (23 min.)
"Our 400 Year Legacy of Giving Thanks" - Dan Ford (39 min.) 

Embarkation of the Pilgrims by Robert W. Weir

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The Law of Adamnan

Iona Abbey
In 697, a law was adopted in the British Isles at a council in Birr, Ireland called the Law of Adamnan or the Law of the Innocents. It was drafted by Adamnan, the abbot of Iona, and accepted and guaranteed by forty clerical leaders and fifty-one civil leaders, including all the major rulers in Ireland and two kings from Scotland. The law forbade the practice of sending women into battles and fights, forbade the killing of non-combatants, including women, children, and clergy, and gave these non-combatants other protections as well. An early explanation of the law described the origin of the law in this way: 
“…women were in bondage and in slavery, until Adamnan, son of Ronan, son of Tinne, son of Aed, son of Colum, son of Lugaid, son of Setne, son of Fergus, son of Conall, son of Niall, came…

“The work which the best women had to do, was to go to battle and battlefield, encounter and camping, fighting and hosting, wounding and slaying. On one side of her she would carry her bag of provisions, on the other her babe. Her wooden pole upon her back. Thirty feet long it was, and had on one end an iron hook, which she would thrust into the tress of some woman in the opposite battalion. Her husband behind her, carrying a fence-stake in his hand, and flogging her on to battle. …

“Now after the coming of Adamnan no woman is deprived of her testimony, if it be bound in righteous deeds. For a mother is a venerable treasure, a mother is a goodly treasure, the mother of saints and bishops and righteous men, an increase in the Kingdom of Heaven, a propagation on earth…

“This is the beginning of the story. Once Adamnan and his mother were wending their way by Ath Drochait in Uaithne in Ui Aido Odba in the south of Bregia. ‘Come upon my back, dear mother!’ saith he. ‘I shall not go’, saith she. ‘What is this? what ails you?’, saith he. ‘Because you are not a dutiful son’, saith she. ‘Who is more dutiful than I am? since I put a girdle upon my breast, carrying you about from place to place, keeping you from dirt and wet. I know of no duty which a son of a man could do to his mother that I do not do for you, except the humming tune which women perform ..... Because I cannot perform that tune, I will have a sweet-sounding harp made for you, to play to you, with a strap of bronze out of it’. ‘Even so’, she said. ‘Your dutifulness were good; however, that is not the duty I desire, but that you should free women for me from encounter, from camping, from fighting, from hosting, from wounding, from slaying, from the bondage of the cauldron [another cruel practice described in the document].’”
Other similar reforms of warfare would take place during the Middle Ages, such as in the “Peace of God” in 10th century France. Yet in our own day there is a bill awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate that inclusion a provision that would require women to register for the draft. Will we abandon our good heritage and fall back into the ways of the days before Adamnan, forcing women into combat?

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

What Is Sanctification?

Q. 35: What is sanctification?
Answer: Sanctification is the work of God's free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness. (WSC)

The word “sanctification” refers to being made holy. By nature we are corrupt, but by his grace we are restored on the inside, definitively in our conversion and progressively in our sanctification. In our conversion, we undergo a fundamental change which enables us to exercise faith in Christ. In our sanctification, this seed of new life grows and flourishes, transforming the whole person. As Colossians 3:9-10 says, “you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.” Notice it speaks of a definitive change in the past (“you have put off…put on”) and an ongoing work in the present (“which is being renewed”).

All those whom God declares righteous on the basis of Christ’s righteousness, he also makes righteous. While justification is a declaration which take full effect immediately, sanctification is a work which takes effects more and more throughout our lives. While all believers are equally and fully justified, we are unequal and unfinished in our sanctification in this life. Both justification and sanctification are fruits of Christ’s death and resurrection being applied to us by the Spirit.

The catechism notes that this sanctification encompasses the “whole man” - all our faculties are corrupted by sin and renewed by grace. We are told to “cleanse ourselves of every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). The catechism also notes that we are being renewed after the image of God (Eph. 4:24, Col. 3:10, Gen. 1:28). Human nature is being restored to display God’s glory as it was intended to so, in true knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and dominion. It also notes that there are two sides to sanctification - dying unto sin and living unto righteousness. As Ephesians 4:21-24 says, we are taught in Christ to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires … and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Thursday, November 4, 2021

What It Means to Be Adopted by God

Q. 34: What is adoption?
Answer: Adoption is an act of God's free grace, whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges, of the sons of God. (WSC)

Adoption is related to justification in that both of them are acts of God concerning our status. In justification, God pardons our sins and accepts us as righteous in his sight. In adoption, God goes further and receives us as his children and heirs. Not only is he the judge that declares us innocent, but he is also the father who welcomes us as his own. Both of these acts are on the basis of his grace and received through faith in Christ. “...for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Gal. 3:26, see also John 1:12).

As those who are adopted, we have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God. Inheritance was a major factor in adoption in the ancient world. This is true in some biblical discussions of adoption as well. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:16–17, see also Gal. 4:7). This is one reason why we are all, male and female, called “sons” of God, to emphasize the fact that we are all heirs of glory (sons being the heirs of their fathers in biblical times unless there were no sons, e.g. Lev. 27:1-11).

By virtue of our adoption, we can also expect our Father's protection and provision, for both body and soul. Jesus speaks about this in Mathew 6. Our Heavenly Father can be relied upon to provide us with the food, clothing, and deliverance from temptation and evil (Matt. 6:10-13, 25-34). We are not orphans, but have a father who looks out for us. We also have access to him in prayer, as children have access to their fathers, and can expect to be heard and answered.
“Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9–11)
We can also expect the privilege of discipline as sons of God. Discipline may not seem like a privilege until you realize what it is to lack wise and loving discipline. The book of Proverbs shows the importance of discipline, correction, and instruction and the danger of being without it. As a good father, God trains his children and corrects them when they go astray. As Hebrews 12 says, in the context of trials and persecution, 
“God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons … For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:7-8, 11)

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Sons of the Prophets

Who were the sons of the prophets? 

The “sons of the prophets” are first mentioned in 1 Kings 20:35 and they continue to show up in 2 Kings. They seem to have been the disciples of the prophets. 2 Kings describes a group of 50 of them who lived in Jericho (2:7) and a group of 100 of them eating together (4:38-44) and living together under Elisha’s charge (6:1). 

The sons of the prophets are described as the servants of the prophets. They are usually described as young men (5:22, 9:4). They could be sent on missions by the prophets (9:1). They were not bound to celibacy and could go out and live in their own homes (4:1). They probably lived together while they were being trained before going out. They formed a community that preserved true religion during dark days in the northern kingdom of Israel.