Friday, April 30, 2010

Luther on the Noble Art of Music

"I, Doctor Martin Luther, wish all lovers of the unshackled art of music grace and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ!

I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God.

The riches of music are so excellent and so precious that words fail me whenever I attempt to discuss and describe them.... In summa, next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits...

Our dear fathers and prophets did not desire without reason that music be always used in the churches. Hence, we have so many songs and psalms.

This precious gift has been given to man alone that he might thereby remind himself that God has created man for the express purpose of praising and extolling God.

However, when man's natural musical ability is whetted and polished to the extent that it becomes an art, then do we note with great surprise the great and perfect wisdom of God in music, which is, after all, His product and His gift; we marvel when we hear music in which one voice sings a simple melody, while three, four, or five other voices play and trip lustily around the voice that sings its simple melody and adorn this simple melody wonderfully with artistic musical effects, thus reminding us of a heavenly dance, where all meet in a spirit of friendliness, caress and embrace.

A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs."

Martin Luther's foreword to Georg Rhau's Collection, "Symphoniae iucundae".

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jesus Gives Understanding Itself

"It is no great matter how dull the scholar be when Christ takes upon him to be the teacher, who, as he prescribes what to understand, so he gives understanding itself, even to the simplest."

Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed

I Will Remember Your Sins No More

“God frees us from our bankruptcy only by paying our debts on Christ’s cross. More than that. He has not only cancelled the debt, but also destroyed the document on which it was recorded.”

John Stott on Colossians 2:13-15

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Whatsoever is Good

"Whatsoever is good for God's children they shall have it, for all is theirs to further them to heaven; therefore, if poverty be good, they shall have it; if disgrace be good, they shall have it; if crosses be good, they shall have them; if misery be good, they shall have it; for all is ours, to serve for our greatest good."

Richard Sibbes

All of Grace

Here are the words to the hymn I read on Sunday by Isaac Watts. One of our musicians has written a new melody for this hymn and is recording it for a record to soon be released.

All of Grace

Lord, we confess our many faults,

How great our guilt has been!

Our thoughts were vain and full of pride

And all our lives were sin.

But praise our God, forever praise,

Forever love His name,

Who turns our feet from dangerous ways

Of folly, sin, and shame.

He raised us from the depths of sin,

The gates of gaping hell,

And fixed our standing more secure

Than ’twas before we fell.

The arms of everlasting love

Beneath our souls He placed;

And on the Rock of Ages set

Our slippery footsteps fast.

It’s all of grace, by Your sov’reign hand,

Through His death which long before was planned

That we can come before Your throne

And in Your presence stand,

It’s all of Grace.

It’s not by works of righteousness

Which our own hands have done;

But we are saved by sovereign grace

Abounding through His son.

It’s from the mercy of our God

That all our hopes begin;

It’s by the water and the blood

Our souls are washed from sin.

It’s through the purchase of His death

Who hung upon the cross

The Spirit is sent down to breathe

On such dry bones as us.

Raised from the dead, we live anew;

And, justified by grace

We will appear in glory too,

And see our Father’s face.

Friday, April 23, 2010

First to Wound, Then to Heal

“Christ will not break the bruised reed. Let this support us when we feel ourselves bruised. Christ’s way is first to wound, then to heal. No sound, whole soul shall ever enter into heaven. Think when in temptation, Christ was tempted for me; according to my trials will be my graces and comforts. If Christ be so merciful as not to break me, I will not break myself by despair, nor yield myself over to the roaring lion, Satan, to break me in pieces.”

Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

Jesus: The Man of Sorrows, the Suffering Servant

"Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors."

Isaiah 53

Passion Week--Part 6


Today Jesus was arrested while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane in the wee hours of the morning. He was tried when day came by Jewish and Roman authorities. He was crucified about 9am and died about 3pm. He was speared and certified as dead. He was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. (Matthew 26:47-27:66; Mark 14:43-15:47; Luke 22:47-23-56; John 18:2-19:42).

Jesus paid our penalty on the Cross. When he cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me," he cried it in our place. This is the eternal cry we should be giving from Hell, but Jesus cried it on the Cross so we can eternally sing, "Holy is the Lamb who was slain." Jesus paid it all, all to him we owe!


On Sunday, the women disciples visit the tomb and find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. The tomb is also found empty by Peter and John. Christ has Risen! He appears to Mary, the other women, then to various disciples. He eats with them, allows them to touch him, and enters and leaves rooms without the use of a door. One week later he appears to the disciples and doubting Thomas. Then he appears to over 500 disciples over the ensuing weeks, and eventually to the Apostle Paul. (Matthew 28:9-20; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:13-49; John 20:11-21:25).

This resurrection was not expected! Jesus made allusions to it, but there was nothing in Jewish thought, Roman thought, Ancient Near Eastern Religions, or Greek religion to prepare them for the idea of a personal physical resurrection of the Messiah. They certainly looked forward to a resurrection of the dead, but did not conceive of this event until it happened. Jesus arose and changed all of history, providing spiritual resurrection for our dead souls, and giving us a foretaste of our coming physical resurrection! Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!

Source for Chronology: Robert Thomas.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Passion Week--Part 5

Thursday: Today marks the day in which Jesus celebrated the Passover feast. He announced to the disciples that the bread is his body broken for them and the wine is his blood poured out for their sins. This is the inaugural dinner of the New Covenant! He also washed his disciples' feet, identified Judas as his betrayer, predicted Peter's denials, taught extensively about his destination and the Holy Spirit's coming and ministry, and prayed for his people. (Matthew 26:17-29; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20; John 13:1-38; John 14:1-17:26).

Source for chronology is Robert Thomas' Charts of the Gospels and the Life of Christ.

Passion Week--Part 4

Wednesday: Today is often called silent Wednesday because there is little to no recorded activity on the part of Jesus. However, today is the day that the Sanhedrin plotted to arrest and kill Jesus (Matthew 26:1-5; Mark 14:1-2; Luke 21:37-22:2). Today is also the day that Judas agreed to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6).

Source: Robert Thomas' Charts of the Gospels and the Life of Christ.