Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.—
Psalm 90:16–17

The prayer of a pilgrim who had lived long and hard in this valley of tears. The prayer of Moses, the man of God. This psalm is the only one that we know Moses wrote. It was probably written near the end of his life as the children of Israel were about to enter the land of Canaan and as Moses surveyed the land from the mountaintop.

In this psalm Moses stands at the height of his faith. Having led Israel for many years, Moses now prays for Israel.

By the Spirit, Moses beholds God. He sees God, the perfection of all beauty and loveliness, the delightful and altogether lovely dwelling place of his people. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (v. 2). The mountains may be removed and tossed into the midst of the sea, the earth may quake and the whole world be turned upside down, but from everlasting to everlasting God is God.

 The eternal God who always was. Even before the beginning, before time, before the worlds, before the mountains, God is. He is eternal: above time and beholding all time as one indivisible present. A thousand years are in his sight as yesterday and as a watch in the night.

What happened a thousand years ago? The church was in the night of the Dark Ages, oppressed by the false doctrine of works-righteousness; the earth was ruled by kings, emperors, tyrants, and popes; the gospel was just coming to our fathers as they worshiped rocks, wood, trees, and the hosts of heaven. To the Lord as yesterday, as a watch in the night, and as a moment ago.

The unchangeable God. Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away and brings with it countless changes to this fleeting world, but God is the same. He is, and he is from eternity to eternity the same in his being and in all his perfections.

Unchanging, then, also with respect to his people. Eternally, before the mountains and before the earth and the world, God is Jehovah, the covenant God. Jehovah, the great i am that i am. He is the dwelling place of God’s people in all generations. He is the house, the refuge, the home of God’s people in all generations. Up into his house, graciously and lovingly, God has taken his people and embraced them with his fellowship and friendship. From eternity he was filled with love and mercy toward his church, whom he chose as his own. From eternity he determined to bless them with the greatest possible blessing, even his own fellowship. From eternity he embraced his people as his own dear children, so that they might dwell with him in his house in the pleasant and blessed fellowship of his company, so that they might behold him and his glory and splendor as their God, and so that they as his people and dear children might be blessed in him.

Then Moses looks back from God to the earth, and he sees man. He sees man as he is lying under the curse and the night of sin and guilt. He sees man even as he is in the generations of God’s own people: carried away as with a flood; like sleep in the morning; like the grass that grows and flourishes for a morning and then is cut down and withers. Even the best of our days is labor and sorrow, and they are cut off and we fly away. All this because of sin and the wrath and anger of God. Consumed by his anger, and by his wrath are we troubled. Our secret sins and iniquities are set in the glaring light of his countenance. Who can stand before God? Who can approach him? Who may abide in the shadow of the Most High?

It is in this situation—seeing God, who is from everlasting to everlasting God and the dwelling place of his people in all generations, and seeing man as a mist and a breath of air, fleeting and sinful—that Moses cries out, “Return, O Jehovah! And let it repent thee concerning thy servants.” Instead of consuming us with labor and sorrow and with thy anger, let us taste thy mercy. Make us glad and fill us with joy. Let thy work appear to thy servants and thy glory unto their children. Set thy beauty upon us.

If we see the work of Jehovah, we will be glad. If his glory and beauty are upon us, we will rejoice. We will be satisfied too. We will lack nothing. Then Jehovah establishes the work of our hands too.

A good prayer, then, for pilgrims who face a new year.

Let thy work appear unto thy servants!

Moses calls this work of Jehovah his glory and his beauty. Work, glory, and beauty are all parallel in the text. They are different words for the same thing, though they explain it from different perspectives.

Why is it so difficult for us to see the work of Jehovah? Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.

God is a working God. “My Father,” said Jesus, “works hitherto, and I also work.” His labors are all perfect and true. He accomplishes them effortlessly by his omnipotent power and according to his determinate counsel. God works.

His work has many aspects and is rich and manifold. God has many works. The whole world is the work of his hands. In wisdom he made them all. By his almighty power he upholds and governs with his hand the whole world. So all of history and every event great and small are the work of Jehovah. Salvation is the work of God that in the church might be known the manifold wisdom of God. He unites his people to Christ, regenerates, calls, gives faith as a gift, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies them. Many and manifold are the works of God. The work of the Lord is perfect.

Yet, but one work! One particular work, the central work of God—the work of God around which all his other works are concentrated and of which they are a part and which they serve.

Let that work appear to thy servants.

Of that work Moses sang after the Red Sea: “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established” (Ex. 15:17).

The psalmist sings the same thing: “He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant. He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen” (Ps. 111:4–6).

Concerning this work Paul encourages the church: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). The great work of Jehovah is the work of his covenant. Ever mindful of his covenant! Jehovah is our dwelling place in all generations. God is our God, friend, lord, and sovereign. We are his people, friends, and servants—we and our children.

It seemed that for four hundred years Jehovah had forgotten Israel. He tried and tested the Israelites in the fiery furnace of Egypt and with the hard bondage of the Egyptians. Then he came to his people by Moses and delivered them from the land of Egypt. He guided them by the hand of his servant Moses through the fiery deserts, and now they stand poised to enter through the door of Canaan. All this Jehovah did because he is the everlasting God and the everlasting dwelling place of his people; because he had loved them and chosen them from all eternity for his people; because he is unchangeable with respect to his promise; because he is ever mindful of his covenant.

A redemption that was wrought through the deep way of sin, death, and misery. That was God’s will. Pharaoh, God raised up to serve his purpose: for this cause have I raised thee up that I might show my power in thee and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. In the desert every trial and tribulation was the work of God to try Israel. He was always mindful of his covenant. Everything— Pharaoh, sin and death, trouble and sorrow, affliction and persecution—served the purpose of God for the redemption of his people and his covenant with them.

But a type of his work in Jesus Christ, the greater than Moses. Jesus Christ is the wonder, the work, the glory, and the beauty of God.

Jesus Christ came in our flesh: in him the fullness of the eternal and unchangeable God dwells and tabernacles with us. Wonder of wonders.

He suffered in the fiery furnace of God’s wrath for our sins on the cross. He went down into eternal desolation and misery on the cross for us. What a work!

And he arose and ascended into heaven. What glory and beauty!

He is our wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption; in him is grace and truth, and of his fullness we receive grace for grace; in him who is the beloved of god, the favorite, we are made accepted and have access to God. In Jesus Christ by faith, we know and see and have the work, the glory, and the beauty of God.

The whole covenant, our life and blessing, all of the blessings that we enjoy and that make us glad are God’s work, his glory, and his beauty in Jesus Christ. With his own beauty and loveliness, in Christ, God makes us beautiful new creatures created in his image unto good works that God before ordained that we should walk in them.

Let us see that!

Do you see it?

It is hard to see it.

We do not see it with the eye of the body.

What we see with the eye of the body is labor and sorrow. We see affliction and heartache and setback. We see death and misery. We see vanity. We see that we live seventy or eighty years and fly away. We see the troubles of the wilderness, and Canaan seems a long way off.

Some in Israel did not see it. They complained to Moses at every hardship and trial. When there was no water, they grumbled. When there was bread, they cried for meat. When Moses was gone a little too long, they sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play and trampled underfoot the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sprinkled. They accused Moses of taking them into the wilderness to kill them. They tempted God, demanding to know whether he was among them or not. They lusted after the things of Egypt. They, too, were brought out of Egypt and through the Red Sea; but they did not see the work of Jehovah, and they perished in the wilderness. With them God was not well pleased.

Even God’s own people sometimes were caught up in that. They did not see that the Lord, in Egypt, out of Egypt, and through the wilderness in all the trials and afflictions, was working a great work. It was all his work for them and their children, to bless them and to bring them into his holy habitation.

And that is why Moses weeps in the psalm, “Jehovah, return! Make us glad according to the years in which thou hast afflicted us. Do that by letting thy work appear unto us and thy glory to our children.”

 Let the beauty of Jehovah be upon us, and show us thy work.

This is the prayer for faith.

Cause us to see thy work by faith. Grant us strong faith to see thy work, for apart from that work of Jesus Christ in our hearts we do not see God’s work but see only labor, sorrow, and vanity.

Faith is thy work, not our work. Grant us faith. And with that faith grant us all the blessings of salvation.

 This is thy work, not our work.

This is the prayer for truth to be preserved among us, especially the truth of the covenant. There is no work of God apart from the truth. If we are to see the work of God, the truth must be maintained among us. Let us see the truth in all its glories and beauties.

Let the glorious confession of the truth and a holiness of life be preserved among us. This is the beauty of the church and of the people of God: they confess the truth and live holy lives.

The church may be ever so full of thin and outwardly beautiful people; she may be ever so outwardly impressive; but if she denies the truth—gross unholiness in itself—and besides is full of unholiness, she is an ugly church. How ugly it is to say that God loves all men; to say that man contributes to his salvation; to say that our works merit with God; to say that the way to the Father is by works in addition to faith in Christ; to say that we can come to the Father and be received in mercy only by meeting his demands of obedience. That is ugly!

Let thy beauty be upon us, so that we confess the truth and live holy lives.

Upon us thy beauty!

The prayer for the Holy Spirit. That God may dwell with us in and through the Spirit of Jesus Christ. That he may work within us and upon us to see his glory, work, and beauty.

Also, upon our children! Threescore and ten, perhaps fourscore, is the number of our years. What remains is God’s covenant. The covenant of God, his work, is with us and our children. Not only grant all these things to us, but also grant that they be preserved in our generations, among our children, so that God’s covenant continues among us.

Let them see thy work, and let thy glory and thy beauty be upon them too.

Prosper our work then.

We must first understand that it is all God’s work.

If we see that…

If we understand that…

If we will not scoff at and ridicule that…

Our whole lives, all our labors in his covenant, in his church, and in his kingdom, every gift of grace that we have received, all that is delightful and pleasant in the covenant—marriage, children, family, and friends in the Lord—is all God’s work.

If the Lord shows that to us and sets his beauty upon us—graciously—we know, too, what it means to pray that God will establish the work of our hands.

In his covenant he gives us a work. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is the Lord who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

He calls us to work because it is God who works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

It is work in connection with truth and sound doctrine. There is no work that the Lord establishes apart from the truth. He curses work apart from the truth and brings it down into vanity and the grave. If work is not on the basis of the beauty, work, and glory of the Lord, all that work is vain and futile. It is vain and futile because it is not rooted in the truth of the gospel. Not being rooted in the truth of the gospel, it is not labor in the Lord. Not being labor in the Lord, it is not the work of the Lord. And the Lord curses those works, and the works perish with those who work them.

The work of our hands is that share of the Lord’s work that he gives to us in the covenant and church and home and school. It is all his, and he gives us to labor in it.

The work of the Lord is the work of the church institute. It is the work of preaching the gospel to all nations. The work of the Lord is the preaching of the gospel, both in the established churches and on the mission fields. It is the work of training men to be gospel preachers. It is the work of administering the sacraments. It is the work of the church in discipline and in ruling the church by the elders. It is the work of the deacons in taking up and distributing the alms. This is the great and central work of the Lord.

The work of the Lord is the work of the entire life of the believer. It is the work of the daily fight against sin, the daily sorrow over sin, the daily renewed zeal to fight against sin and to live a life of holiness to the Lord. The work to confess the truth and to reject the lie. It is the enduring of persecution and mockery for the sake of the gospel.

It is the work of a man who labors to support his family and the poor and the causes of the church, the school, the covenant, and the kingdom of Jesus Christ. It is the work of raising our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord in the truth. Mothers at home, who shun careers in the world, are laboring in the work of the Lord. It is the work of the mother teaching her children at home the truth of God’s covenant and the vanity of seeking this life.

This includes importantly the Protestant Reformed schools. It is the work of the teachers in the Protestant Reformed Christian schools to teach our children God’s covenant.

Establish thou the work of our hands; yea, the work of our hands, establish thou it. Except Jehovah build the house, they labor in vain who build it.

And so make us glad and satisfy us early with thy mercy, so that we, in the midst of this life of labor and sorrow, may rejoice and be glad all our days—in the Lord and because of his beauty and glory and work—knowing that our labors are not in vain in the Lord.

And he does establish our work. Moses prays twice for the same thing. Not in doubt but in the assurance of faith that the Lord will establish it. The prayer of faith rooted in the truth of God and of his everlasting covenant and made sure in the cross of Jesus Christ. He is our dwelling place in all generations. From everlasting to everlasting he is God—our God—and we are his people. —NJL

Sword-and-Shield-January-2021.pdf (reformedbelieverspub.org)

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11

James Durham on the Ninth Commandment

This extract taken from, James Durham,
A Practical Exposition of the Ten Commandments

The Lord having in the foregoing commands us how to walk with others in reference to their honour, life, chastity, and estate: Now, because men and human societies are generally concerned in the observing of truth and ingenuity, he comes to this command to direct us how to be tender of this, that by us our neighbour be not wronged in that respect, but that on the contrary, all means may be used to preserve truth for his good, to prevent what may load [reproach] his name, and remove what lies on it. The scope of it is the preservation of verity and ingenuity amongst men (Gal. 3:9). Lie not to one another; Eph. 4:25, 15 speak every man the truth, etc. and speak the truth in love; because if otherwise spoken, it is contrary to the scope of this command, which is the preservation of our neighbour’s name from a principle of love. The sin, forbidden here is expressed by false witness bearing, which is especially before judges, because that is the most palpable gross way of venting and untruth, under which (s in other commands) all the lesser are forbidden.

            Although there are many sorts of sins in words, whereby we wrong others, yet we think that are not all to be reduced to this command, for injurious and angry words belong to the sixth command, and filthy words to the seventh; but we take in here such words as are contrary to truth, and fall especially under lying or wronging of our neighbour’s name. Now truth being an equality or conformity of men’s words to the thing they speak, as it is indeed, and in itself; and lying being opposite there to; we may consider it two ways: 1. In reference to a man’s mind, that is, that he speak as he thinks in his heart (as it is Psa. 15:2), this is the first rule whereby lying is discerned, if our speech is not answerable to the inward conception which it pretends to express, and this is that which they call, formale mendacium, or a formal lie, which is an expressing of a thing otherwise than we think it to be, with a purpose to deceive. Then 2. There must be a conformity in this conception to the thing itself, and so men must be careful to have their thoughts of things suitable to the things themselves, that they may the more falsely express them, and thus when there is a disconformity between men’s words and the thing they seem to express, it is that which they call materiale mendacium, or a material lie, and a breach of this command that requires truth in men’s words, both as to matter and manner.

            That we may sum up this command (which is bound) into some few particulars, we may consider it first, as it is broken. 1. In the heart. 2. In the gesture. 3. In right. 4. In word.

            First, in heart a man my fail, 1. By suspecting others unjustly: this is called evil surmising (1 Tim. 6:4), or as it is in the original; evil suspicion; which is when men are suspected of some evil without ground, as Potiphar suspected Joseph, or it is jealousy, when this suspicion is mixed with fear of prejudice to some interest we love, so Herod was jealous when Christ was born, and the neighbouring kings when Jerusalem was a-building. There is, I grant, a right suspicion, such as Solomon had of Adonijah, and wherein Gedaliah failed in not crediting Johannan’s information about Ishmael’s conspiracy against his life.

  1. By rash judging and unjust concluding concerning a man’s state, as Job’s friends did; or his actions, as Eli did of Hannah, saying that she was drunk, because of the moving of her lips; or his end. As the Corinthians did of Paul, when he took wages, they said it was covetousness, and when he took it not, they said it was want of love (see Rom. 14:4; 2 Cor. 12:4, etc.).
  2. By hasty judging, too soon passing sentence in our mind from some seeming evidence of that which is only in the heart, and not in the outward practice, this is but to judge before the time, and hastily (Matt. 7:1).
  3. There is light judging, laying the weight of conclusions upon arguments or midses [means] that will not bear it, as Job’s friends did, and as the Barbarians suspected Paul to be a murderer, when they saw the viper on his hand (Acts 25:4). Thus the King Ahaseurus trusted Haman’s calummy of the Jews too soon.
  4. The breach of this command in the heart may be when suspicion of our neighbour’s failing is kept up, and means not used to be satisfied about it, contrary to that, Matt. 18:15, If thy brother offend thee, etc; and when we seek not to be satisfied, but rest on presumptions, when they seem probable.

            Secondly, in gesture this command may be broken, by nodding, winking, or such like (and even sometimes by silence) when these import in our accustomed way some tacit sinister insinuation, especially when either they are purposed for that end, or when others are known to mistake because of them, and we suffer them to continue under this mistake.

            Thirdly, by writing this command may be broken (as Ezra 5:6; Neh. 6:5). Where calumniating libels are written, and sent by their enemies against the Jews and Nehemiah; in which respect many fail in these days.

Fourthly, but words are most properly the seat wherein this sin is subjected, whether they be only or merely words, or also put in writing, because in these our conformity or disconformity to truth does most appear.

  1. Lies are commonly divided into three sorts, according to their ends: (1) There is mendacium perniciosun, a malicious or pernicious lie, when it is hurtful to another, and so designed, as were the lies those that bare false witness against Christ and of Ziba against Mephibosheth. (2) There is officiosum mendacium, or an officious lie, when it is for a good end, such was the midwives’ lie (Ex. 1:9), thus denying of a thing to be, even when the granting of it would infer hurt and damage to another, is contrary to truth, and we ought not to do evil that good may come of it, and it overturns the end for which speaking was appointed, when we declare a thing otherways than we know or think it to be. And as no man can lie for himself for his own safety, so can he not for another’s; thus to lie even for God is a fault, and accounted to be talking deceitfully and wickedly for him, when to keep off what we account dishonourable to him, we will assert that he may, or may not do such a thing, when yet the contrary is true (Job 13:4, 7). (3) There is jocosum mendacium, when it is for sport to make others laugh and be merry, which being sinful in itself can be no matter of lawful sport to make others laugh. (4) We may add one more, and that is mendacium temerarium, when men lie and have no end before them, but through inadvertency and customary looseness, speak otherways than the thing is, this is called the way of lying (Psa. 119:29), and is certainly sinful; as when they told David when Amnon was killed, that all the king’s sons were killed, being too hasty in concluding before they had tried.
  2. Consider lies or untruths, either in things doctrinal, or in matters of fact. In things doctrinal so false teachers and their followers are guilty, who teach and believe lies, so such teachers are said (1 Tim. 4:2), to speak lies, and so when they foretell vain events, this is a high degree of lewd lying on the Lord, to say he means or says another thing than ever he thought, or than ever came into his heart, and to pretend a commission from him when he gives no such commission. In matters of fact, men a guilty when things are said to be done when they are not done, or otherways done than they are done indeed.
  3. We may consider this sin in men’s practice, either in reference to God, so hypocrisy and unanswerableness to our profession is lying (Psa. 78:36; Isa. 29:13), or we may consider it as between man and man, which is more properly the scope here. Again, we may consider the wronging of am man three ways. (1) By false reports, speaking what is indeed untrue. (2) By vain reports, which tend to his shame; so Deut. 5:20, this command is repeated in these words. Thou shalt not take up any witness (as it is in the original) against thy neighbour. (3) When the reports are malicious, whether they be true or false, and intended for that end that our neighbour may lose his good name. Further, consider it in reference to the person guilty, either as he is, (1) the raiser or carrier of a tale, true or false, yet tending to the prejudice of his neighbour; thus he is the maker of a lie. Or (2) as he is a hearer or receiver of tales (Prov. 17:4); thus he is to lying as a resetter [receiver of stolen goods] is to theft. And would not men hear tales, few would carry them; whereas when men will harken to lies, especially great men, all their servants ordinarily become wicked tale-bearers and whisperers. Or (3) as he is the sufferer (albeit he be not the venter) of a lying tale to pass on his neighbour (so he loves a lie, as it is, Rev.22:8) or but faintly purges him of it, but lets it either lie on him, or possibly takes it up and repeats it again, which is condemned, Psa. 15:3, where a man that takes up an evil report of his neighbour, even when others possibly have laid it down, is looked upon as a person who shall never dwell with God. Thus one invented a lie, another vented and outs it, and a third resets it, like coiners, spreaders and resetters of false money; for, that one said such a thing, will not warrant our repeating it again.          
  4. We may consider wrongs done to our neighbour by words, as unjust and without ground, and so a lie is a calumny; as was that of Ziba, made of his master Mephibosheth; this is in Latin calumnia. Or when there is ground, yet when they are spoken to his prejudice, this is convitium, if especially in this they suffer for the truth’s sake; or if after repentance, former faults be cast up to a person, as if one should have called Paul a blasphemer still, even after his conversion and repentance; of this was Shimei guilty by railing on David.
  5. Both these sorts of lies are either spoken or received, and not afterward rejected, as David too hastily received that false report made of Mephibosheth by his servant Ziba, and thinking it not unlikely, because the reporter made it seem to be so, did therefore conclude it was truth, and did not reject it afterwards; or when at first received, yet after upon better information it is rejected.
  6. Again, this wronging of our neighbour by words is either of him when absent, and is backbiting, which often is done under pretence of much respect (that the report may stick the faster0, in such words as these. He is one I wish well, and should be loath to have him evil reported of, but this is too evident, this is the truth etc; this is susurrare, to whisper. Or it is of him when present, so it is a reproach and indignity, or upbraiding.
  7. Again, this backbiting and reproaching is either direct, so that men may easily know we bait such persons, or it is indirect, granting somewhat to his commendation, and using such prefaces as in show bear our much love, but are purposely designed to make the wound given by the tongue the deeper; such persons are as butter in their words, but as sharp swords in their hearts. This is that dissembling love which David complains of.
  8. Sometimes this reproaching and slandering of our neighbour is out of spleen against him, and is malicious; sometimes out of envy to raise and exalt one’s self on the ruins of another (this is grassari in famam proximi); sometimes it is not of design, thereby to insinuate upon them whom we speak unto, as to signify our freedom unto them, to praise them, or praise them, by crying down another, that is to serve the itching humor of such who love the praise of others, when it may be we know more faults of those we speak to, yet never open our mouth to them of one of these, nor are we free with them anent [about] them if the things are true.
  9. We may break this command by speaking truth, (1) For an evil end, as Doeg did (Psa. 52:2). (2) By telling something that is truth out of revenge. (3) When it is done without discretion, so it shames more than edifies. Christ’s word is (Matt. 18:15). Tell him his fault betwixt thee and him alone; and we on the contrary make it anupcast to him; this is certainly is not right. (4) When it is minced, and all not told; which if told might alleviate; or construed and wrested to a wrong end, as did the witnesses who deponed (deposed) against Christ.
  10. We may break this command, and fail in the extremity of speaking too much good of, or to, our neighbour, as well as by speaking evil of him, if the good be not true, and here comes in, (1) excessive and rash praising and commending of one, [1] beyond what is due, [2] beyond what we do to others of as much worth; this is respect of persons; [3] beyond what discretion allows, as when it may be hurtful to awaken envy in others, or pride in them who are thus praised. (2) Praising inordinately, that is before a man’s self, or to gain his affection, and that possibly more than when he is absent and hears not; much more is it to be blamed when spoken groundlessly. This is flattery, a most evil, which is exceedingly hurtful and prejudicial to human societies, yet exceeding delightful to be flattered. (3) We fail in this extremity, when our neighbour is justified or defended, or excused by us in more or less, when it should not be.
  11. Under this sin forbidden in the command, comes in all beguiling speeches, whether it be by equivocation, when the thing is doubtfully and ambiguously expressed; or by mental reservation, a trick whereby the grossest lies may be justified, and which is plainly of all truth in speaking, when the sentence is but half expressed; as suppose one should ask a Romish priest. Art thou a priest? And he should answer, I am no priest; reserving this in mind, I am no priest of Baal; for by giving or expressing the answer so, an untruth and cheat is left upon the asker, and the answer so conceived does not quadrat [square] with the question as it ought to do, if a man would evite (avoid) lying.
  12. This falsehood may be considered with reference to things we speak of, as buying and selling, when we call a thing better or worse that it is indeed, or then we think it to be. Ah! how much lying is there every day this way with many.
  13. Under this sin forbidden in this command are comprehended, (1) Railing. (2) Whispering. (3) Tail-bearing (spoken of before). (4) The Tattling of busybodies, that know not how to insinuate themselves with others, or pass time with them but by some ill tale of another. (5). Prevarication, which is the sin of persons who are inconstant, whose words go not all alike, saying and unsaying; saying now this way, and then another way, of the same thing, their words clashing together, and they not consisting with themselves.
  14. Consider falsehood or false witness-bearing, as it infers breach of promise, which is forbidden (Psa. 15:4), when one performs not what he promises, or promises that which he intends not to perform, which is deceit and falsehood.
  15. As we may sin in speaking evil against others, so we may in respect of ourselves many ways: (1) When we give occasion to others to speak evil of us (1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Cor. 6:3). (2) When we are not careful to entertain and maintain a good name, and by suitable ways to wipe what may mar the same. It is generally observed, that while men have a good name, they are desirous and careful to keep it; and when they have lost it, they grow careless of it. We ought not to be prodigal of our names more than our lives and estates, for the loss of them incapacitates us much to edify others. (3) When we vainly boast of ourselves, and set forth our own praise; that is, as if a man should eat too much honey (Prov. 25:7). (4) When we will not confess a fault, but either deny, excuse, or extenuate it; this Joshua exhorts Achan to eschew. (5) When we say that things are worse with us than indeed they are, and deny, it may be even in reference to our spiritual condition, somewhat of God’s goodness to us, and so lie against the Holy Ghost. (6) When we are too ready to entertain good reports of ourselves, and to be flattered, there is (if anything) an open door to this in us; and as the heathen Seneca said, Blanditiae cum excluduntur placent, so it may be ordinarily seen that men will seemingly reject what they delight should be insisted in; there is in us much self-love, that we think some way, that men in commending us do what is their duty. Therefore, we often think them good folk because they do so, and men that do not commend us we respect them not, or but little, or at least less than we do others, because we think they are behind in a duty by not doing so; and which is very sad, and much to be lamented, few things do lead us to love or hate, commend or discommend (and that as we think not without ground) more than this, that men do love and commend, or not love and commend us.
  16. We also may by withholding a testimony to the truth, and by not clearing of another, when it is in our power to do it, be guilty of this sin. But especially is forbidden public lying and wronging of another judicially, either in his person, name, or estate, and that:

            (1) By judge, when he passes sentence, either rashly, before he hears the matter, and searches it out, which Job disclaims, asserting the contrary of himself (Job 29:16), or ignorantly, or perversely for corrupt ends, as being bribed to it, or otherwise.

            (2) By the recorder, writing grievous things (Isa. 10:1), or making a clause in a decree, sentence, or writ, more favourable to one, and more prejudicial to another than was intended.

(3) By the witnesses, who either conceal truth, or express it ambiguously, or refuse to testify, or assert what is not true.

            (4) By the advocate, by undertaking to defend or pursue what righteously he cannot; or by hiding from his client that which he knows will prejudge his cause; or by denying it when he asked about it; or not bringing the best defenses he has. And as to the first point here about advocates, it is to be regretted (as a great divine in the neighbour church has most pathetically, according to his manner, lately done) as a sad matter, that any known unrighteous cause should have a professed Christian in the face of a Christian judicatory, to defend it; but incomparably more sad, that almost every unjust cause should find a patron; and that no contentious, malicious person should be more ready to do wrong, than some lawyers to defend him for a (dear bought) feel I speak not here of innocent mistakes in cases of great difficulty; nor yet of excusing a cause bad in the main from unjust aggravations; but (says that great man) when money will hire men to plead for injustice, and use their wits to defend the righteous, and to spoil his cause, and vex him with delays for the advantage of their unrighteous clients. I would not have the conscience of such for all their gains, nor their account to make for all the world. God is the great patron of innocence, and the pleader of every righteous cause; and he that will be so bold as to plead against him, had need of a large fee to save him harmless.

            (5) By the accuser or pursuer, when unjustly he seeks what does not belong unto him, or charges another with what he should not, or justly cannot.

            (6) By the defender when he denies what he knows, or minces it, etc. And by all of them, when business is delayed and protracted through their respective accession to it, as well as when justice is more manifestly wronged: this is the end of Jethro’s advice to Moses (Ex. 18:23), that the people return home, being quickly, and with all convenient diligence dispatched; which, to their great loss and prejudice many ways, the unnecessary lengthening of processes obstructs, and makes law and lawyers, appointed for the case and relief of the people, to be a grievous and vexatious burden to them; for which men in these stations and capacities will have much to answer to God, the righteous Judge of all the earth, when they shall be arraigned before his terrible tribunal, where there will be no need of leading witnesses to prove the guilt, since every man’s conscience will be in place of a thousand witnesses, neither will the nimblest wit, the [most] eloquent tongue, the finest and smoothest pen of the most able lawyer, judge, advocate, notary or litigant that shall be found guilty there, be able to fetch himself fair off. Oh! Then all the gig leaves of their fairest and most flourishing, but really frivolous pretenes, wherewith they palliate themselves, will be instantly blown away by the breath of the Judge’s mouth, and so be utterly unable to cover the shame of their nakedness in the manifold breaches of his command; then the greatest stretches of wit, and highest strains of eloquence made use of to the prejudice of truth and justice, will be found and pronounced to be poor, silly, and childish wiles, yea, very fooleries and babblings; after which they will not speak again, but laying their hands on their mouths, eternally keep silence. It will therefore be the wisdom and advantage of the guilty in time to take with it, and resolving to do so no more, to betake themselves, for the pardon of it, to that Advocate with the Father, even Jesus the Righteous, who thoroughly pleads, and without all peradventure or possibility of losing it, does always carry the cause he undertakes to plead.

            In sum, that which in his command in its positive part is leveled at as the scope thereof, is the preserving and promoting or truth, honest simplicity and ingenuity amongst men; a sincerity and cordially loving regard to the repute and good name of one another; and a sweet inward contentment, joyful satisfaction and complacency of heart therein; with a suitable love to, and care for, our own good name.  Edited by Chris Coldwell

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11


Welcome to the “new normal” of America 2020. It is the world of postmodern absurdity that claims as its fundamental tenet that there is no such thing as truth. Of course, the claim itself is a contradiction—if there is no such thing as truth, how can the claim be true? But no matter, nothing—not even logic—can be allowed to interfere with the new orthodoxies of the day. They are the principles of the new world order, principles comprised under the name Worldthink. Permit me to describe the “new normal” of America (and indeed of the world) in 2020. We are now in Year 1 of Our Great Leader (OGL), and the devoted citizens of Area 2 (formerly North America) are rapidly adjusting to the new truth. I am of course applying the terminology of Oldthink: words such as truth, logic, honesty, and God. In Worldthink truth is science, honesty is transparency, God is The Leader. And what of logic? The redefinition of logic has been the biggest challenge for the language committee of Worldthink. As a concept, it has proved most difficult to abolish, not least because they have found, to their chagrin, that you need logic in order to deny logic. This is true because 20 | SWORD AND SHIELD without the law of noncontradiction you cannot, of course, deny any proposition or say that it is false. But the committee assures us that with the input of leading “thinkers” from Harvard, Princeton, and Berkeley they will soon have a fix for this troublesome concept. The victory of The Movement, leading to the creation of The Community, was stunning. Many in what was formerly known as the Western World were bewildered, even shocked, at the speed of events and the absolutely sweeping character of The Movement’s victory. In the space of just three months, the old order, characterized by private enterprise, constitutionalism, nominal Christianity, and private property, was overthrown. While many of the older generations, who clung to the culture and practices of the old order, were genuinely shocked at the speed of its demise, not so millennials and Generation Z. They were always in the vanguard of The Movement. Specifically, white middle-class, college-educated millennials and Generation Zs were the stormtroopers of The Movement. After all, they had been assiduously groomed and indoctrinated in Worldthink the whole way through public school and college. Even in the so-called Christian colleges, through the vehicles of their state-mandated “diversity departments,” these young people had been taught at least to tolerate the new world order and its way of thinking—Worldthink. This was manifest, to the great pleasure of the thought leaders of The Movement, in the abundance of Coexist and Tolerance bumper stickers in the parking lots of Calvin and Hope universities. Such outward displays of the youths’ devotion and loyalty to the principles of Worldthink reached their zenith in the summer of 2020, when, at the command of Our Great Leader, it was not uncommon to witness these devotees persistently adorned with face masks while they were outdoors in conditions of 90-degree heat and extreme humidity! A truly religious fervor (if only “religion” was comprised under Worldthink). During late May and June, the elite troops of The Movement spearheaded the final push to victory. In what The Movement now celebrates as The June Days, the soldiers of Black Lives Matter (BLM) swept away all remaining outposts of old order resistance. No institution of Western society could withstand their assaults. When the last president of what was known as the USA sent his best forces against them, it was all to no avail. So invincible were the soldiers of BLM that the forces sent against them ended up taking the side of BLM. This was evinced in the spectacle of police chiefs’ “taking a knee” with BLM and in some cases joining its marches. These elite troops quickly overcame any remaining old order resistance: police stations were burned down and their officers committed to reeducation programs; corporations were forced to espouse the principles of Worldthink, and those who refused had their buildings burned down and property looted; the halls of academia enthusiastically joined the volunteers of BLM (having long been infiltrated with the principles of Worldthink anyway). Such was the irresistible power of The Movement manifested in BLM that churches rushed to display BLM signs alongside their rainbow flags. Not only could no institution of Western society withstand their assaults; neither could any symbol of the old order. In common with every revolution, the symbols of the old order were replaced with those of the new. In those heady days of June and July 2020, down came all the symbols of the old, corrupt, racist, patriarchal, capitalist, heteronormative society. Statues of such racist, patriarchal fiends as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were enthusiastically thrown down all over the former USA. Streets, buildings, cities, and schools bearing their names were all renamed after the heroes of this new revolution. Preceding the removal of such symbols, and as a softening-up exercise, had been the removal of statues of former generals in the South of the former USA, men whose names are deemed by The Movement so intolerable as to warrant their complete expunging from the lexicon of Worldthink.

The Virus
In addition to, and in parallel with, the assiduous efforts of white, middle-class, college-educated millennials and the doctrinal zealots of BLM, there was another factor operating for the destruction of Western society. It was an insidiously clever tactic, insidious in that it clothed its real aim in the garb of compassion. It was “the virus.” More precisely, it was the responsFchristianse to what was called the virus. That there was some kind of virus infecting populations of the world was not in dispute. That it severely affected some people with respiratory ailments and those with weakened immune systems was not in dispute. What was in dispute was the mortality rate—the proportion of those testing positive who died of it. Sometime around mid-March of 2020, Western governments became concerned about the spread of the COVID-19 virus. They were concerned about how quickly this “new” virus was spreading to their countries from China. The fact that it spread from China seemed to add to the threat, with various conspiracy theories circulating around this fact. But whatever the source of the virus, the thought leaders of The Movement quickly recognized it as a powerful tool in their arsenal. The Movement had for the longest time been inculcating its worldview—Worldthink—in the public education system and especially the colleges. We shall give more attention to this worldview later, but for now suffice it to say that one tenet of Worldthink became incredibly SWORD AND SHIELD | 21 potent in The Movement’s use of the virus: science is truth. Do not underestimate the power of this tenet. One underestimates the power of the belief that science is truth at one’s peril. Alas, how the Western world was brought to abject submission and sniveling obeisance before the great god of science as in a moment. One after another, The Movement paraded the high priests and prophets of science. There they were, seemingly ubiquitous: on the TV screen, the radio, social media, and the printed page. They were there with their intense frowns, their dire predictions of millions of deaths, their prophecies of ravaged bodies and strewn corpses, of hospitals overrun and healthcare systems collapsing, and all backed up with figures and data. Oh yes, data. Scientific data. Scientific models predicting two million deaths from the virus in the USA alone. And who, WHO could possibly gainsay or question the data? For after all, science is truth. Nothing and no one could stand before “the science.” Such had been The Movement’s success in inculcating Worldthink that no one seemed able to articulate any alternative. The right to private property that had existed since the Magna Carta almost a millennium ago was an immediate casualty. At first it was restricted, then abolished. At the commencement of “the virus,” surrounded as always by the scientific and medical “experts,” OGL solemnly pronounced in grave and urgent tones, “In the face of this deadly virus that will undoubtedly wipe out countless millions, we must shut down the economy. This is necessary to prevent the spread.” In support “the experts” brought forth graphs showing steeply rising infection rates and mortality rates in the millions. Their consensus was that we must limit the spread by lockdown and social distancing. We must, they said, have a twoweek lockdown. Some doubted that a whole economy could be shut down and reopened in two weeks, but OGL had said so, and that was enough for most people. The economy was duly shut down, and within three weeks most people seemed to forget the facts of almost full employment and a booming economy. The right to own a business and collect the profits thereof is part of the right to private property. Free enterprise had been a bedrock of the previous world order. It was essential to individual freedom that one could use his God-given abilities to develop a business, run it on the profit motive, and then enjoy the fruits of his labor as he chose. The Movement understood this very well. As devoted disciples of Karl Marx (one of their founding fathers), they understood the need to get rid of private property if they were ever to realize The Community— their new world order in which everyone is beholden to the State. But try as they might, the realization of The Community had proved elusive. It had worked for a while in the Soviet Union and in China, but they could never seem to establish it in the West. Now, with the virus, they saw their chance and seized it. Having been taught the scientific worldview for a hundred years, the people believed the experts. They would not have believed politicians telling them to shut down the economy, but the word of medical experts… who could possibly gainsay it? Some protested. They were business owners who watched their life’s work go to ruin. As the two weeks became four and then six, some owners tried to reopen, only to be visited by The Public Safety Committee. The offenders were heavily fined. Condemned as “greedy capitalists” who imperiled public safety, these offenders were publicly shamed on social media. The worst were handed over to The Doctrine Committee of The Movement for, as it was termed, “additional instruction in the principles of Worldthink.” The principles of Worldthink were now applied to economics. The Economic Committee announced the new principles on which the economy would now be organized. There would be common ownership of the means of production; the principle of the market (the profit motive) was declared illegal. This was all necessary—we were assured—in order to deal with the virus. Ah, yes, the virus, what changes hath it wrought! The word went out: “We must shut down the economy in order to stop the spread of the virus, and then The Economic Committee will decide when and under what circumstances it can be reopened.” We were assured the economy must be put on a completely new footing in order to deal with the virus, and only The Movement could be trusted with it again. If I may attempt to interpose a modicum of sanity at this point, it might seem somewhat absurd and illogical to shut down an economy because some people are sick; it is akin to saying, “I didn’t buy any turnips today because the apples were bad.” But remember we are now in a postmodern world where the rules of logic no longer apply, or at least where truth is just whatever you want to make it. It is a world where dentists and engineers are deemed “non-essential,” but abortion clinics are “essential.” But we must delve back into the insanity of our brave new world. There was much talk of the evils of social and economic inequality and how the new system would “share the wealth.” The Economic Committee quickly began sharing the wealth by issuing what were called “stimulus checks” to all the people who had lost their jobs (more accurately, all those who had been put out of work). This measure was hailed as “fair,” “compassionate,” “necessary.” It won the masses to the cause of The Movement, not least because people soon realized they were better off sitting at home than working. The measure was so popular, in fact, that it was decided just to give everybody 22 | SWORD AND SHIELD three thousand dollars. Everybody wondered why economic policies so agreeable and generous had not been thought of before and were quickly assured that it was all a testimony to the genius of OGL. And so the new economic system was established. It was known as “the collective system” or “the communitarian model.” The profit motive was castigated as corrupt and owning private property egregious. Only the leaders of The Movement and their friends—the politicians and leaders of the big corporations (they being unquestionably orthodox in the principles of Worldthink)—could be trusted to use their property and wealth for the interests of The Community. Some people scratched their heads and wondered about this, thinking it a contradiction. They were referred to The Doctrine Committee, who soon remedied their concerns. It was understood that The Movement would decide who could buy and sell. Only those who espoused the aims of The Movement and who confessed OGL as their mighty deliverer and savior could find a job. And only those who confessed this and displayed his Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Commandments were permitted to run a business. This the Christians refused to do. Hence, Executive Order 499 was promulgated: “Those who refuse to confess OGL as their savior, neither will display his holy commandments, are forthwith excluded from all economic participation.”

The Christians
There were some who remembered there had once been another source of truth. At one time, before The Movement and The Age of Enlightenment, it was widely believed there was a book called the Bible. At that time, many believed this book to be the very word of God. They believed the Bible was a miracle of inspiration by which God spoke his own words through men. As such, they held it to be the supreme authority for what they were to believe and how they were to live. These people were called Christians because they followed the one revealed in the Bible, Jesus Christ. There were still some of these people around during the revolution that brought The Movement to power. They refused to join the revolution and stoutly opposed it. But they were soon criminalized, no place being found for them in The Community. Their crimes were legion, but among the worst was their outspoken opposition to Worldthink, closely followed by their insistence on meeting for public worship during “the virus.” The latter led to widespread and hysterical denunciations of them all over social media as dangerous radicals who threatened the safety of The Community. Pictures of them, meeting in public! indoors! unmasked! with no number limit! featured in every social media feed and headline. Then there were the headlines screaming their heretical pronouncements: “Jesus Christ is king over all”; “We reject The Leader as antichrist”; “The Bible, not science, is truth”; “Pestilence is a sign of Christ’s coming: repent and believe the gospel!” The populace was shocked! Stunned! Outraged! Aghast! “What need we any further witness? For we ourselves have heard from their own mouths,” they concurred. The demand and petition arose to The Leader, “We would be rid of these Christians!” A loud and incessant demand, everywhere repeated, social media abuzz with it, flashed across every LED screen, hysterically chanted during morning and evening “community times.” What could The Leader do but accede to the loud and impassioned pleas of his people? And so Executive Order 501 was promulgated. The Christians were silenced; their places were found no more. In addition to the Christians, a few others raised their voices against the science of The Movement. That there could be, and in fact were, other scientific models put forward as an explanation for the spread and course of the virus mattered not. There was, for example, the model of herd immunity. As with any virus, once a population is infected it builds an immunity to the virus. It seemed that the low incidence of COVID-19 in California, when other parts of the USA were recording high rates in March and April 2020, was linked to the high incidence of flu-like symptoms there in November and December 2019. The argument was that California had COVID-19 before the rest of the nation and had herd immunity. This would then explain why it recorded markedly lower rates of infection in March and April. This is a viable explanation of the course of the virus. So why would it not then gain widespread acceptance? The repudiation of the therapeutic drug hydroxychloroquine could also be mentioned as evidence of the misuse and abuse of scientific knowledge—the use of this drug did not fit the political agenda. The reason the theory of herd immunity gained no traction is simple: it advances no political, globalist agenda. The very plausible theory simply says, “Leave it to the body.” A healthy human body has its own incredibly advanced defense system against invaders. It is called the immune system. But The Movement saw early how fears of a putative worldwide pandemic could be harnessed to its agenda. The Movement sent out its missionaries, carrying the gospel of science to every quarter of the globe. They preached dogmatically their sermons of scientific data. They warned their terrified listeners to flee the wrath of the virus to their own homes, where they were to “self-quarantine” for weeks. But above all, they pointed the distressed and comfortless citizens to Our Great Leader as the object of their trust.

The Emergence of The Leader
Our Great Leader assumed power on an unprecedented wave of hysteria that crashed over the Western world during the spring of 2020. The dire assessments and predictions of the scientists and the medical bureaucracy had their desired effect. The populations were warned of their impending doom if they did not put their complete trust in OGL. In his daily appearances, surrounded by “the experts,” our Leader assured the cringing populations that if only the people would adhere without question to his prescribed measures, all would be well. Upon the conclusion of his speeches, all the people dutifully responded, “All this we will do.” Always following him to the podium were “the experts.” Yes, the experts. They were the high priests and prophets of science. They would bring forth their divine revelations of data. Data! Scientific data! Oh, the words themselves have such mesmerizing power! Who, pray WHO, can stand before them? The Leader was quick to formulate, announce, and enforce the new doctrines of society. The speed with which the people accepted and imbibed these new orthodoxies was truly astonishing. Who could have imagined that within the space of barely three months the old order, which had existed largely intact for the best part of a millennium, could be swept away? It was as if the Western ideals of individual freedom, limited government, nation states, free enterprise, and Christianity had never existed. Instead of faith, family, and freedom, the watchwords became science, community, and safety. From the youngest child to the senior, these watchwords [SCS] became their creed. On every billboard, credit card, and identification card the letters SCS were emblazoned over the seemingly benign face of our Leader. But The Leader would draw closer still, for not only did he become our Leader; he became also our guardian and protector. Such was the people’s love and devotion to him for delivering them from the virus (some even declared it to be miraculous) that, overcome with emotion, they enthusiastically acclaimed Executive Order 500: “It is hereby proclaimed by Our Great Leader, and as a token of his undoubted care and unfailing affection for his people, that together with SCS his face become the image on every personal device home screen.” With one accord the people acclaimed this as indubitable evidence of The Leader’s extraordinary wisdom and benevolence. For now, every time we open our devices to learn the principles of Worldthink and to receive with joy the proclamation of the latest executive orders, we are reminded of Our Great Leader and his unfailing care. After all, our Leader had saved the Western world. As the director of the World Health Organization, he had stepped forward in the hour of need: “Cometh the hour, cometh the man.” Indeed, and what an hour! For some time, the people had been subjected by their media to dire warnings of imminent war with China. But now the virus. Millions would certainly die. In the United Kingdom alone the “experts” predicted a million deaths (in a country of fifty-six million). The cry arose, “Peace and safety.” This was the hour, but what of the man? Fostered by the dire prophecies of the scientists and a hysterical media with its constant and breathless reports of “spikes” and “surges,” the cry of the hapless populace became a demand. “We must take action; we must limit the spread; we must do all in our power; we must have lockdowns; we must have executive orders (hundreds of them); we must have masks…and we must have someone.” Ah, yes, the cry for someone. It is the cry of man from the beginning. It is the cry for a Nimrod, a Nebuchadnezzar, a Caesar, a pope, a Napoleon, a Lenin, a Hitler, a president. It is the cry of man for a man; for a man of extraordinary genius who can alleviate all mankind’s ills by establishing the worldwide kingdom of man. It is a cry that is as old as history itself. And herein lies part of the explanation for the clamor for Our Great Leader: only those who have learned history understand that all previous attempts at world rule have ended in misery and the deaths of millions. But the schools of the West had long ago eschewed the teaching of history. In the place of the broad sweep of world history they substituted themes: themes such as black history, women’s rights, and social justice. And now in Year 1 of OGL, world history is replaced by the history of The Movement. But the real explanation—the one determining and lying behind all others—is that of the Bible, namely that a sovereign God, according to his eternal purpose, raised up The Leader. The real name of The Leader is antichrist. There were some who understood this and who identified The Leader as antichrist. They proclaimed this publicly (it was known then as preaching), but with the same general clamor and hysteria that elevated The Leader, they were denounced as disturbers of the peace. For after all, we must have peace and safety! “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thess. 5:3). —Philip Raineyhttps://reformedbelieverspub.org/

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11



Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations.—Psalm 100:4–5 

It is not difficult to close our eyes and hear the saints of all ages making a joyful noise unto Jehovah and coming into his presence singing this psalm. It is not difficult to imagine the saints when they at last enter into the eternal gates and the heavenly courts of God, overcome and delighted by the beauties and glories of heaven, singing this psalm of thanksgiving to Go

There is something grand about this psalm: its sweeping expressions of praise to Jehovah as God and as good, merciful, and faithful; its steadfast refusal to point anywhere else but to Jehovah, the only good; its profound statement of the essence of the Christian life as gratitude for grace received; and its exuberant intonation of the praise that swells in the believer’s heart when he contemplates the glories of Jehovah his God.





There is something grand about this psalm: its sweeping expressions of praise to Jehovah as God and as good, merciful, and faithful; its steadfast refusal to point anywhere else but to Jehovah, the only good; its profound statement of the essence of the Christian life as gratitude for grace received; and its exuberant intonation of the praise that swells in the believer’s heart when he contemplates the glories of Jehovah his God. The psalm breathes unshakable confidence and assurance that, God being for us, nothing can be against us; for we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. He has made us and not we ourselves. Psalm 100 is a grand psalm. 

There is also something grand about the congregation of God gathering on Thanksgiving Day to do exactly what the psalm commands his people to do: enter into Jehovah’s gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise. What a contrast—stark and telling—does this activity of the church of Jesus Christ form to what passes for thanksgiving celebrations in the world. The church’s sober, reverent, holy, and joyful rejoicing in the Lord is lovely; the world’s godless celebration of things is ugly. The church’s thanksgiving to God for his goodness is light over against the darkness of the beastly eating, drinking, and merrymaking of the world’s besotted revelry. Blessing God’s name instead of blessing our own names and accomplishments. Rejoicing in Jehovah instead of bowing down to worship mammon.

Be thankful unto him! Be thankful to Jehovah. He is the great i am that i am. He is the perfectly self-sufficient one, fullness and perfection itself, possessing all things and needing nothing. He is the creator of all things by the Word of his power and the one who upholds all things by the utterance of his mouth. All is his.

Bless Jehovah’s name. Wherever and however God has revealed himself is his great name. The name of God is God. To bless his name is to bless him. To praise his name is to praise him. His name reveals that he alone is God. He alone is the sole object of worship and therefore of all thanksgiving and praise.

He has clearly revealed his name in creation. All the world knows! The whole of heaven and earth and all of history are the theater for the brilliant display of his glory. The earth and everything in it was created for no other purpose than to glorify him. The creation and every creature find their highest purpose in the glory of God, and all creatures are so many instruments to praise him. From the creation of the world are clearly seen his invisible power and Godhead. History speaks of nothing except of the glory of God in upholding and governing all things.

A revelation because of which all men—every man, woman, and child—are inexcusable in the day of judgment for refusing to give Jehovah thanks and to worship him. The world knows that God is and that he must be worshiped because the invisible things of God are clearly seen in the creation, and God has manifested them unto all people. But the world does not praise God; they do not thank him; and they do not bless his name. Inexcusably mad, they take the knowledge of God and hold it under in unrighteousness. Immediately, with their reprobate minds they corrupt that knowledge. Stubbornly, they continue in their sins, knowing the judgment of God. They change the glory of the incorruptible God into the image of corruptible things, and they worship the creature rather than the Creator. The Greek worshiped Zeus and the rest of the Olympian gods. The Roman worshiped Jupiter and the other gods of his Pantheon. The modern man worships himself, his money, his work, the false gods of his apostate philosophies and theologies, and whatever other idols he makes and conjures for himself.

So unthankful! They do not bless his name. They may be thankful that their gods of money, prosperity, rich food, and good health have not abandoned them. But they are not thankful unto Jehovah, and they do not bless his name. The natural man is earthly, sensual, and devilish. Although he sees God’s eternal power and Godhead displayed in creation, he holds that truth down in unrighteousness and reaps for himself the wrath and judgment of God revealed against that ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. And according to Jehovah’s very purpose, the natural man is without excuse.

Jehovah’s name must come another way to make men thankful, so that they bless his name. His name must come in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the name of God. He is the name of God come near unto his people, come in the very likeness of their flesh, Immanuel, God with us. He bears the great covenant name, Jehovah, for he is Jehovah come to save us. In Jesus Christ we see Jehovah, the triune God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the God of the covenant himself and the God of a gracious covenant with his people. In Christ we see Jehovah as self-sufficient and independent. He alone is. He needs no one else to complete him. He does not depend upon anyone else. No one and nothing can add to his glory. In Christ we know Jehovah as the unchanging God, eternal and eternally the same. There is no shadow of turning in him. In Christ we see that Jehovah is the all-wise God who eternally ordains and perfectly carries out his will for his glory. In Jesus Christ we see that Jehovah is the all-sufficient, independent, all wise, omnipotent savior of his people. He depends on no one and nothing other than his own arm and strength for the salvation of his chosen people.

For we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. He made us and not we ourselves. Creator of the world. Marvelous. Raised the dead. Wonder of grace. God made us his people, recreating us in Jesus Christ after his own image. Surely, he made us in the natural sense. In him all men live and move and have their being. God gave us our lives, our personalities, and our characters. He determined everything about us. He made us who we are. This fact alone demands that we thank him and bless his name.

But more, so much more! He made us his sheep. As independent as Jehovah is, so are we as sheep utterly dependent on him. He chose us as his sheep in his eternal counsel, set his love on us, and made us the apple of his eye and his peculiar treasure and joy. He engraved us on the palms of his hands that we might be ever before him and wrote our names in the Lamb’s book of life. He sovereignly calls his sheep to him from the midst of the world and separates them to himself in Christ. God regenerated each of his sheep and gave them new, thankful hearts, creating each one in Christ Jesus unto good works, which he had before ordained that we should walk in them. All his sheep he seals with the Spirit of promise to make them inviolable and indestructible unto the day of Christ. He is our shepherd who rules in our hearts, cares for us, defends us, and preserves us. He feeds us with the blessings of salvation. He opens the stores of heaven and earth to supply our daily needs. We are his, absolutely and exclusively.

We are his people, and he is our God. We are the sheep of his pasture, and he is our shepherd.
Be thankful unto him.
For Jehovah is good.
He is good in himself. He is only good. He is all good. There is none good but God. In him alone is goodness, and outside him there is nothing good. He is good in all his perfections. He is spotless perfection and holiness. He is immaculate beauty and loveliness itself. Pleasant, altogether lovely, worthy of all praise.

And he is the overflowing fountain of all good. Jehovah lavishes goodness on his creatures. He is good to them. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, from the Father of lights.

In his goodness he loves the righteous and blesses them. In his goodness he hates the wicked and curses them. In his goodness he punishes the wicked and ungrateful for their thankless lives. And so he reveals the goodness of his holy and righteous judgments. In his goodness he had mercy on whom he would have mercy. In that he reveals the goodness of his particular mercy, for all were equally involved in ruin. He is merciful to some only, whom he has chosen. Jehovah is good, and his mercy is everlasting.

That goodness of God manifests itself in his mercy and his covenant faithfulness. He loved his people and willed to deliver them from all their woes and to bless them with himself, to cause them to know him and to taste and experience his blessedness. He was and is merciful to us in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the revelation of the goodness and the everlasting mercy of God. Jehovah gave us to Jesus Christ in eternity as his people. Jehovah sent Jesus Christ There is something grand about this psalm: its sweeping expressions of praise to Jehovah as God and as good, merciful, and faithful; its steadfast refusal to point anywhere else but to Jehovah, the only good; its profound statement of the essence of the Christian life as gratitude for grace received; and its exuberant intonation of the praise that swells in the believer’s heart when he contemplates the glories of Jehovah his God. in the fullness of time to deliver us from our sin and guilt—our death—which is our greatest misery. And in his goodness and mercy, he also regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies his sheep. He adopts us for his children and heirs. He assures us of his goodness, love, and mercy toward us. He held back nothing from us but gave us his own Son to deliver us. Mercy shown in our generations. Good, merciful, and faithful to believers and their seed. 

Unchangeably good. His truth endures to all generations. Give thanks unto him and bless his name because he is unchangeably good and merciful. His truth is his faithfulness. His mercy endures forever because he is unchangeable and his promise is unchangeable. God’s faithfulness is the unchangeableness of his goodness and mercy. In his faithfulness he does not change, turn back, or swerve from his eternal purpose to bless his people in Jesus Christ. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. He so preserves us that not a hair can fall from our heads; yea, all things must be subservient to our salvation.

Good to us in all things. In his goodness, mercy, and faithfulness everything must serve God’s purpose and will to bless us. In fruitfulness, prosperity, and health, God is good. He gives us bounties to enjoy. By the blood of Jesus Christ, we have again the right to have, to enjoy, and to be thankful for the earthly bounties we receive.

No unrighteous man, no wicked person, has any right to anything of the bounties of God’s creation. He is a robber and a thief. All his eating and drinking do nothing but increase his guilt, and for his unthankfulness he is doubly guilty.

In Christ we have again the right to the fullness of the earth because Jehovah bought us from death and sin and made us his own children. He is good and merciful in everything. In sickness, in poverty, and in barren years, our God and Father is good, for these things must also serve our blessing and salvation. In all things Jehovah is good because he causes all things to serve the everlasting salvation of his people, whom he has willed to bless.

Be thankful unto him; bless his name. Profoundly simple calling, encapsulating the whole duty of the believer, the quintessence of the Christian life. Be thankful to him and praise him: in all your praise thank him, and in your thanksgiving bless his name.

Thanksgiving is not everyone’s business, the National Day of Thanksgiving notwithstanding, and not everyone who takes the word thankful on his lips gives thanks. All are duty bound to give thanksgiving, for the Lord is good and is good to all. Some will not. And for that they will be judged for their unthankfulness. God will give them over to their insatiable lusts.

Thanksgiving is the noble duty and spiritual activity of God’s dear sheep, the beloved people of his pasture. Thanksgiving is worship. Thanksgiving is the confession of him in truth as the God Jehovah. Nowhere is thanksgiving more marred and destroyed than where the truth of his name is denied. Thanksgiving is the confession of Jehovah and that we are entirely dependent upon him. He is independent and needs nothing from anyone. We are dependent and need everything from him. Thanksgiving is our praise, our singing, our prayers, and our whole thankful lives of obedience to him.

Be thankful unto him and bless his name, for Jehovah is good. We are thankful because we have prosperity? But what if we lack? What if instead of health, we have sickness; instead of riches, we have poverty? Instead of a fruitful year, we have a barren; instead of peace, there is war? Are we then without cause for thanksgiving?

No, Jehovah puts the cause of our thanksgiving well beyond the reach of the vicissitudes of this life, beyond all changes that may happen in the world, and beyond all the circumstances of our lives. He puts the cause of our thanksgiving outside ourselves, outside the world itself, and locates the cause of that thanksgiving in himself and his own being, in his goodness, steadfast covenant love, and faithfulness to his people. He places us firmly and securely in his own hands.

This is a reason for praise and thanksgiving. It is he that made us and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. He is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endures to all generations. Is not that ground for thanksgiving? Shall we not give thanks unto him and bless his name for that?

Bless him in his gates and courts—the sanctuaries within the temple of God in the city of Jerusalem. This refers to the intimate confines of his gracious presence in the church, covenant, and kingdom of God. The gates and courts of God are where the church gathers for public worship. It is the most appropriate place. How different from the world’s beastly celebrations concerned only with food, drink, and football.

A lifelong, all-consuming activity for believers. Not for a day, a month, or a season. Nothing else is fitting for children of God than to give thanks and to bless Jehovah’s name. To praise God in the depths of regenerated hearts with joy, gladness, and singing because he has delivered our souls from death, forgiven us our sins, and sanctified us as his people. To praise him in all our lives. To praise him with song. To praise him in our whole lives in the vocations that he gives to us, whatever those stations may be. To praise him in his courts in the church. To praise him in the school, in the home, on the job site, and in everything we do. To praise him by drawing near to him in our prayers. To praise him in our whole thankful lives.

O Jehovah, we thank thee that we may thank thee. —NJL

Reformed Believers Publishing – Witnessing to the Reformed truth

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11

Ministering to our Ministers

There are many passages of Scripture with speak to this subject. The apostle Paul praises the brethren, “That ye remember me in all things” (1 Cor. 11:2). The word “remember” in this text means “care for.” The apostle is grateful to the saints for their caring for him both in his physical and in his spiritual needs. The same apostle was deeply conscious of is need for the prayers of the believers, especially that he might have boldness to make known the mystery of the gospel “cf. Eph. 6:18). In 1 Corinthians 9:3-13 Paul affirms the truth that the church is duty bound to support its ministers, but he is careful not to be burdensome to the churches. The call-letter used by our churches reflects this. The congregation promises to pay a salary to the minister which is adequate to “free him from all worldly cares and avocations.” Scripture says in Galatians 6:6, “Let him that is taught in the world communicate unto him that teacheth in all good thing.”  The word “communicate” in this verse means “to enter into fellowship with, to join as an associate, to make another’s need his own so as to relieve them.”

            These passages and more indicate that the apostles were deeply conscious of their own needs. They needed the prayers, the concern, the care of the church. As the apostles ministered to the needs of the people of God, they themselves needed to be ministered unto by the people of God.

            This is true of ministers today.

            That is true is easily demonstrated. Consider the minister’s work. His chief task is preaching. Preaching involves much prayer and preparation. Young preachers will find themselves spending fifteen to twenty hours per week in preparing one sermon. This means the preacher will spend thirty to forty hours per week just preparing his sermons. This is no exaggeration! He must work from the original Hebrew and Greek, he must carefully determine the meaning of the text, he must construct a good outline so as to present the sermon to the congregation clearly and logically. Even the older, more experienced pastor will spend twenty to thirty hours per week preparing his sermons.

            In addition there is his other work. The minister in our churches typically teaches five to seven catechism classes each week for thirty weeks of the year. There is a great deal of preparation that goes into teaching these classes. Besides, the minister must visit the sick and shut-ins, comfort the sorrowing, conduct funerals, and officiate at weddings. He must do his share of the annual family visiting, leading Bible Study Societies, and chair the consistory/council meeting. And an increasingly time-consuming aspect of the minister’s work is counselling from the Word of God those members who have problems and trials of one sort or another.

            The already busy minister is called upon to perform certain tasks for the denomination. He is a delegate to the meetings of classis and may be delegated to synod as well. He must also give speeches and lectures from time to time for various public meetings.

            All this can make for a great deal of stress! But there are other stress factors peculiar to the life of the minister. Ministers move more frequently than most people. In not a few instances ministers find themselves serving congregations far from their families and friends. There are people who are ill at ease in the minister’s presence. A minister is on call twenty-four hours a day. And, he lives in a “glass house.” Sill more, the minister is always “spending himself and being spent;” as Scripture puts it, for others (11 Cor. 12:15).

            But far more than all of these factors, and far more than merely the work load, it is the minister’s keen awareness of his holy calling and awesome responsibility before God and His Christ to care for the flock of God that causes the stress. The Lord is pleased by the foolishness of the minister’s preaching to save them that believe. The minister must represent Christ and bring His Word to meet every need of those entrusted to his care. He must weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. He must admonish the wayward, encourage the faint of heart, and strengthen the weak.

            Do not forget either that the minister is a man of like passions with any other member of the church. He has the same cares and concerns as any other Christian. He is a husband who must love, nourish and cherish his wife as Christ loves the church. As a father, and with his wife’s help, the minister must rear his children in the fear of the God. This involves discipline, education, and not a little time. And the minister’s wife and children have the same needs as their peers in the church-but with this significant difference: their pastor happens to be their husband and father. Just as any other Christian, the minister is a sinner saved by grace through faith in Christ. He has the same sinful nature with all of its weaknesses. He makes his pilgrimage through the same sinful world. He fights the same devil and must withstand the same temptations. 

            Finally, in all of his work and life as a minister of the gospel the pastor must be an example to the believers (1 Tim. 4:12-16).

            How then do we minister to our minister? First, pray for them daily. This, according to Scripture, is our calling. God’s people must remember their minister in their private and family devotions. The children hearing those prayers will develop a proper attitude toward the minister and his work. The people of God must assure their minister of their prayers on their behalf. This is a source of great encouragement to the ministers.

            The congregations must pay their ministers an adequate salary. According to Scripture he has a right to live of the gospel (1 Cor. 9). He must be free from worldly cares and avocations. Ministers must be free from anxiety concerning how they can meet their legitimate expenses. If they are not free from this, their work will be adversely affected! The elders must make certain that the ministers have adequate income to cover their needs. Ministers must not be made to worry about these matters.

             The people of God must learn to criticize their minister constructively. The believer as prophet, priest, and king in Christ must admonish the preacher if he preaches heresy or if he is remiss in his walk of life. But there is a wrong and a right way to do this. The admonishing must not be done in anger. Constructive criticism of the minister will not be done behind his back. The critic must not talk to others, he must go to the minister! Constructive criticism is given out of love of God with a view to seeking the welfare of both the minister and the church.

            Believers are called to “bear one another’s burdens.” The ministers need this care of God’s love too! The believer must not forget the ministers when they have special needs. When the minister or ones dear to him are sick or in sorrow, he must be visited by his parishioners. Believers must bring the Word of God to their ministers and pray for and with them in their times of trial!

            Ministers need encouragement as well. When a believer is struck by sermon he ought to tell the minister and tell him why the sermon meant so much to him. The members of the congregation ought to befriend the minister. He needs wise, caring friends in whom he can safely confide. God’s people must understand too that the minister cannot do it all in the larger congregations. He cannot lead all the societies, so all of the counselling, visit all the families on the annual family visitation. The elders must assist in this work.

            In this connection, there is avert practical matter that needs mentioning, God’s people must give their minister time to study and prepare for preaching and teaching. They ought not disturb him during study hours except for emergencies. Phone calls must be limited to ones that are really necessary.

These are just some of the ways the people of God can minister to their ministers. Perhaps he reader can think of more!

            In sum, let it be emphasized that God’s people must minister to those whom Christ calls to minister to them.

            Pray for them, love them in the Lord. Be thankful for the faithful ministers Christ sends to care for His church. Support them also financially. Encourage the ministers and their wives and families.

            In those congregations were God’s servants minister faithfully and where God’s people faithfully minister to those faithful servants, God’s blessings abound to the advancing of His church. To the glory of His name.  

SB June 7, 1997

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” Titus 2:11