Tuesday 31 July 2018

Why do we sing metrical Psalms in public worship?

Well here are several reasons as to why all churches should desire to sing metrical Psalms..

Ephesians 5:19-20 "Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ".

1. It is biblically commanded in Scripture
2. It is required by those who are committed to the Westminster Confession of Faith
3. It strengthens the church in their understanding of true Christian experience
4. Singing psalms provides a much needed gravitas for the church in public worship
5. The Psalms teach Christ, reveal Christ and honour Christ. Why? The Psalms speak of Christ and he sang the Psalms in his earthly ministry.

One of the best discoveries in my Christian pilgrimage has been the singing of metrical Psalms. They come with different metres for the Psalms and you can then choose a tune in that same metre. One that fits the right mood. It takes time and practice but you can search on your computer Psalm tunes for a particular Psalm.

Three Psalm books (Psalters) that I use are:

Sing Psalms (Published by the Free Church of Scotland)
The Psalms for Singing (published by the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ireland)
The Book of Psalms for Worship (crown and Covenant Publications, USA)

I am reading an excellent book currently, called "Anthems of a Dying Lamb" (Psalms 113-118) by Philip S. Ross. It is very helpful on many levels and I commend it to be read. In Sheffield Presbyterian Church, we sing two metrical Psalms in each service and by doing so adds gravitas and reverence to our approach to the Triune God in worship. This is what the Christian minister Martin Luther wrote of the Book of Psalms in the Bible:

"It could well be called a “little Bible” since it contains, set out in the briefest and most beautiful form, all that is to be found in the whole Bible".

"The sum of all is that if you wish to see the Christian church depicted in living colours, and given a living form, in a painting in miniature, then place the book of Psalms in front of you; you will have a beautiful, bright, polished mirror which will show you what Christianity is".

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Reformed Dogmatics by Geerhardus Vos: Volume 1 Theology Proper

These new series of books by Lexham Press are most welcome. Most pastors have loved Vos's book called "Biblical Theology" and have longed for more of his thought in print. This series is well presented and volume 1 is where I am beginning with personally.

I love the word "dogmatics" for the description of systematic theology. Our world at this moment in time, seems to repudiate the idea of dogmatism, but propositional truth from Holy Scripture is dogmatic in many places. It is also unyielding to the currents of culture and postmodernism.

“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” 1 Peter 1:24-25.

My attention has gone immediately to the chapter on "Creation" and Vos holds a straight six literal day view of Genesis Chapter 1. He rules out a mythical and an allegorical view and instead he proposes the historical view that Genesis 1 is simply historical narrative. It would follow then, that Vos would also reject the literary framework view that has recently been proposed by Meredith G. Kline. Every systematic theologian has to have a clear view on Genesis 1. Furthermore, they can be Reformed and hold to a literal six day approach, without being labelled a fundamentalist.

The recent book by Richard D. Phillips "The God of Creation" walks on the same pathway as Vos. I am reliably informed that the two Old Testament teachers at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia hold to a historical six day view.

May this new series on Dogmatics by Vos strengthen the church on many levels.

Monday 23 July 2018

Use the "Search" facility on this Blog

I began this blog around 2008 and there have been many posts since then. There are blog posts and book reviews on this blog which may answer spiritual questions for you.

If you type in your search request, in the top left corner of the front page, then see what comes up. For example, type in a favourite preacher or church group or a specific subject. They could range from:

The Westminster Standards
Are women permitted to preach and hold office as a minister?
The sufficiency of Scripture

Or almost any topic that you are interested in ...

I hope this search facility can help you,

Kevin J Bidwell

Monday 2 July 2018

Living with the "River Jordan" in Sight

Psalm 114:1-8
When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs.
What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back?
O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs?
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.

This majestic Psalm is sandwiched by Psalms 111-113 and then followed by Psalms 115-118 which emphasises the theme of "Praise the Lord". The phrase "Praise the Lord" interestingly is a plural Hebrew imperative to praise, spoken by the covenant Lord Himself. It is, in other words, a call to worship. Every time you read that phrase, ask yourself, am I praising because it is habit or in obedience to the Person of the Covenant Lord himself?

We notice two main themes of redemption described here, both of great importance.
I. The Red Sea was supernaturally parted
II. The River Jordan was supernaturally parted.

These two historical events paint for us on the canvas of redemptive history the two events for the salvation of every person. First we must be delivered from sin, death and judgment through the new birth which is likened to the parting of the Red Sea; Second we pass through the River Jordan as we die in the Lord (assuming that we are born again and in the Lord). That means that our lives in this world are likened to the journey by faith between the Red Sea and the parting of Jordan.

My application is that we need to spend more time in the church through preaching, pastoring and encouraging one another to prepare for the day of our death. None of us know when that will be. Think of some of the great hymns.

The last verse of Henry Francis Lyte's (1793-1847) "Abide with Me":
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
heaven’’s morning breaks, and earth’’s vain shadows flee:
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Or the hymn "Guide me O Thou Great Jehovah" by William William's:
When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside;
death of death, and hell’'s destruction,
land me safe on Canaan’'s side;
songs of praises
I will ever give to Thee.

Notice how long ago these hymn writers lived, they had death as a greater reality than we do today. We must think and prepare for the final day of judgment. May this note be found in the preaching we hear, the exhortations we give, the songs we sing.

Romans 14:8-9 "For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living".