Advancing Evil and Impeding Its Solution


December 25, 1557, “With respect to ceremonies and above all the observance of holy days [I offer the following]: Although there are some who eagerly long to remain in conformity with such practices, I do not know how they can do so without disregard for the edification of the church, nor [do I know] how they can render an account to God for having advanced evil and impeded its solution…. Nevertheless, since we have to endure a number of imperfections when we cannot correct them, I am of the opinion that no brother ought to allow the above to be the cause of his leaving his church, unless the majority support the opposite.”[1]

[1] Calvin’s Ecclesiastical Advice, trans. by Mary Beaty and Benjamin W. Farley {Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991}, 90.

Source:, Comment 4

Giving Opportunity to Evil

Thomas Hodges on  ministers who refuse to fight against heresy:

“…alas, here is the sad root of this misery, that either the ministers are ignorant,[1] and unable to maintain the truth, confute and stop the mouths of gainsayers; or they are wicked and scandalous, like Eli’s sons, whose profane and ungodly courses lose all repute to the truth, making the things of God, (by those who measure truth by the lives and carriages of them that maintain it), to be abandoned and abhorred.[2] If neither of these, yet perhaps they are careless, negligent, and inadvertent, not heeding how truth thrives, or how error spreads,[3] as if to them it were of very small or no concern. In point of benefit they are greedy dogs, zealous enough for their profit,[4] looking after that from every quarter; but in point of duty they lack heart,[5] the fire of zeal for God’s glory is not in them, therefore they love their ease, to sleep, slumber, and take their rest; by which they give not only an opportunity to the evil one to sow his tares, but to those tares to take root and prosper.”

[1] Isaiah 56:10.

[2] 1 Samuel 2:13.

[3] Revelation 2:20.

[4] Isaiah 56:11.

[5] Revelation 3:15.

“The Growth and Spreading of Heresy, (54).”

Source:, Comment 1

The RPW Protects Sola Scriptura

“For Reformed and Presbyterian Christians the question is not, “does the Bible allow the church to practice it” That’ is not the biblical principle of worship. The biblical principle, the question is: “Has God commanded it?” Thus, there is, at this point, a great gulf between the Anglican and Lutheran principle and the Reformed. The Anglo-Lutheran question (“is it forbidden?”) is an unintentionally conscience-binding principle that effectively undermines sola Scriptura.”

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Lent, Ash Wednesday, Idolatry, and Bondage

In other words, the very practice of Ash Wednesday and Lent are simply made up observances and this is the problem. It is not that one might not learn something valuable by abstaining from this or that for 40 days or that there is no value in gathering on Wednesday 40 days before Easter to remember the suffering and death of our Savior. The problem is that the human heart is an idol factory (Calvin). Once it is given license to create and impose Christian observances, it never ends. What begins with good intentions becomes a form of bondage.

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The Division of the Old Testament Law

Tom Hicks, Founders Ministries:

Are believers in Christ required to obey any part of Old Testament law? Both Dispensationalists and proponents of New Covenant Theology, or Progressive Covenantalism, as one version of it has come to be called, simply say “no.” In their view, the laws of the Old Testament are fulfilled and abrogated in Christ. Believers are only required to obey the “law of Christ,” which is taught in the commands of the New Testament alone. That’s a simple hermeneutic that draws a sharp line between the testaments and tells believers they don’t have to obey any Old Testament law. One of the major problems with this perspective is that New Testament authors seem to assume the authority of the Old Testament in matters of certain kinds of law. Another problem is that in spite of objections to the contrary, the Old Testament doesn’t treat all of its laws the same way either. We often hear that “the Law” is a unit, that all of it is moral, and that if any of it is abrogated, then all of it must be. While the issues involved in this dispute among sincere brothers in Christ certainly require more than a simple blog post, I offer the following short critique of those views which teach that Old Testament law is monolithic and without any divisions.

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Must We Baptize By Immersion?

From a church’s enquirer’s/communicant membership class booklet through the Westminster Confession of Faith (Ch. 28):

28:3: Dipping (or dunking) a person is “not necessary”; this does not mean immersion is an option, but rather that the practice is only “rightly administered by pouring or sprinkling”.[1] Jay Adams explains: “ … mode cannot be separated from meaning. The sacraments are symbolic. If so, then ‘mode’ and ‘symbol’ are one and the same … Mode and symbol, and therefore mode and meaning, cannot be divorced.”[2] A number of considerations are in order about baptism’s mode and meaning:

a. Christ’s baptism was related to His anointing to office as with the sprinkling or pouring of oil over the head of priests and kings (Ex. 29:7; Num. 8:6-7; 1 Sam. 10:1; Ps. 2:2: King Jesus is “my anointed”). As well, the sacrament represents the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which in Acts 2:17-18, 33, is said to be “poured out” on the Apostles, and later to have “fell on them” (and so they were “baptized”) in 11:15-16.[3] Van Dixhoorn says “ .. the actions of sprinkling and pouring repeatedly symbolize the divine work of salvation in the Bible in a way that immersion simply does not.”[4]

b. The Greek word for to baptize (βαπτίζω) has a broad usage, but primarily means to dip, to purify, to wash; it is used interchangeably with another Greek word that means “to wash” (baptism represents inner cleansing and purification by the regenerating and renewing washing of the Holy Ghost that unites us to Christ).[5] Ward explains, “The root idea of the Greek word baptize is not total immersion but an intensive dipping which involves a transformation (cf dyeing) …”[6] So, in Mark 7:4, “wash” and “washing” is the Greek “baptize” and “baptizing”, including a table (not immersed). In Lk. 11:38, the Pharisees marveled that Jesus had not “washed” (“baptized”) before dinner (see Mt. 15:2 of His disciples), and they didn’t mean diving into a lake, but using a utensil.

c. Heb. 9:13, 19, 21, and 10 refer to the OT “sprinklings” of blood to ceremonially cleanse, atone, or sanctify the people and the tabernacle and its ceremonial tools as “baptisms” (translated “washings”; see the connection with 10:22, 24 related to sprinkling of Christ’s blood to cleanse consciences.)[7]

Moses and the OT Church were “baptized” under the cloud (Christ) and by the Red Sea (1 Cor. 10:1-4), just as Noah and His family were “baptized” by the flood waters (1 Pet. 3:20-22); they were savingly sprinkled by merciful mist while God’s enemies were immersed with judgment.

e. Paul was baptized standing up by a bedside (Acts. 9:18, 22:16), and, “In the case of Saul’s baptism, the baptism of the household of Cornelius, and that of the household of the Philippian jailer, since each of these acts of baptism was carried out within a home (Acts 9:11; 10:25; 16:32), and in the last case sometime after midnight (Acts 16:33) but before dawn (v. 35), it is virtually certain that these baptisms would not have been by immersion, since few homes in those times would have had facilities for such an act …”[8]

f. When it is said of outdoor baptism events that they were “coming out of or up from the water” (Mark 1:9-10; Acts 8:36-39), note that Luke says such of Philip and the eunuch, but Philip was not baptized—he did the baptizing; and, the Eunuch had just read Isaiah 53, which is preceeded by 52:15: “So shall he sprinkle many nations …” (see also Ezek. 36:25)[9] They came up from out of the water location (not out from under the water). So when Israel crossed the Jordon River into the Promised Land, the priests stepped their feet into water, but then the waters were blocked up and they crossed over on dry land, of which they then were said to “come up out of” (Josh. 3:13; 4:16-19). R.C. Sproul points out that with where the Ethiopian and Philip were (Acts 8:26), “It is doubtful that in that ‘desert’ between Jerusalem and Gaza … there was enough water for an immersion.”[10]

g. Van Dixhoorn cites these other considerations: “ … there were times when too many people were baptized to permit immersion. Acts 2:41 tells us that 3,000 people were baptized on one day in Jerusalem. It is hardly possible …” Also, “ … there were times when baptism happened too quickly … at once … (Acts 16:33). The language of immediate baptism [with the Philippian jailer and his family] does not suggest that they went through the city and were baptized at the river, or a pool. Paul probably reached for a jug or a bowl and, after explaining baptism, poured or sprinkled water on these new converts.” As well, “The only plausible picture of immersion in baptism is that of Romans 6 or Colossians 2, but arguably it is plausible to us because we think of burials vertically, six feet under the ground, whereas in hard Palestinian soil burials were often effected horizontally, behind a rock in a cave.”[11] More importantly, Rom. 6 and Col. 2 are figures of speech for union with Christ.

h. “Total immersion lacks Old Testament precedent or clear New Testament justification.”[12]

[1] While not directly addressing the WCF here, John Murray’s comments seem to reflect this interpretation, if not of the Confession, of the Scriptural doctrine on mode: “ … there are numerous instances in which the action denoted does not imply immersion and which prove that baptism does not mean immersion (cf. Lev. 14:6, 51; Matt. 15:2 Mark 7:2-5; Luke 11:38; 1 Cor. 10:2; Heb. 9:10-23) … the ordinance is properly [correctly] administered by sprinkling or affusion.” “Baptism” in Collected Writings, vol. 2, 373.

[2] Jay E. Adams, TheMeaning and Mode of Baptism, vi.

[3] Adams, 23.

[4] Chad Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith: A Reader’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith, 371.

[5] A. A. Hodge, The Westminster Confession of Faith: A Commentary, 341.

[6] Rowland Ward, The Westminster Confession of Faith: A Study Guide, 176.

[7] Robert Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 933.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid, 932.

[10] R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess: A Layman’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith, vol. 3, 119. David Dickson, Truth’s Victory Over Error: A Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith, 219-220: “ … we read of three thousand baptized in one day, in the streets of Jerusalem, by twelve apostles at the most, where there was no river to dip them into (Acts 2:4I). And was not Jerusalem and all Judea and the region round about Jordan baptized by John the Baptist alone, which could not be done to all and every one by dipping (Matt. 3:5-6)?”

[11] Van Dixhoorn, 371, 372.

[12] Ward, 176.

Papist Pagan Pomp

Stephen Charnock (Works, Vol. 2, pp. 81–83):

[A]fter the divulging of the gospel, the corrupters of religion did not fling off, but preserved the institutions of God, but painted and patched them up with pagan ceremonies; imposed their own dreams with as much force as the revelations of God. Thus hath the papacy turned the simplicity of the gospel into pagan pomp, and religion into politics; and revived the ceremonial law, and raked some limbs of it out of the grave, after the wisdom of God had rung her knell, and honourably interred her; and sheltered the heathenish superstitions in Christian temples, after the power of the gospel had chased the devils, with all their trumpery, from their ancient habitations. Whence should this proceed, but from a partial atheism, and a mean conceit of the divine wisdom? As though God had not understanding enough to prescribe the form of his own worship; and not wisdom enough to support it, without the crutches of human prudence.

Human prudence is too low to parallel divine wisdom; it is an incompetent judge of what is fit for an infinite majesty. It is sufficiently seen in the ridiculous and senseless rites among the heathens, and the cruel and devilish ones fetched from them by the Jews. What work will human wisdom make with divine worship, when it will presume to be the director of it, as a mate with the wisdom of God? Whence will it take its measures, but from sense, humour, and fancy; as though what is grateful and comely to a depraved reason, were as beautiful to an unspotted and infinite mind. Do not such tell the world, that they were of God’s cabinet council, since they will take upon them to judge, as well as God, what is well pleasing to him? Where will it have the humility to stop, if it hath the presumption to add any one thing to revealed modes of worship? How did God tax the Israelites with making idols ‘according to their own understanding,’ Hosea 13:2, imagining their own understandings to be of a finer make and a perfecter mould than their Creator’s; and that they had fetched more light from the chaos of their own brains, than God had from eternity in his own nature!

How slight will the excuse be, God hath not forbidden this or that, when God shall silence men with the question, Where, or when did I command this or that? There was no addition to be made under the law to the meanest instrument God had appointed in his service. The sacred perfume was not to have one ingredient more put into it, than what God had prescribed in the composition; nor was any man, upon pain of death, to imitate it; nor would God endure that sacrifices should be consumed with any other fire, than that which came down from heaven: so tender is God of any invasions of his wisdom and authority. In all things of his nature, whatsoever voluntary humility and respect to God they may be disguised with, there is a swelling of the fleshly mind against infinite understanding, which the apostle nauseates, Col. 2:18 . . . . To conclude; such as make alterations in religion, different from the first institution, are intolerable busy bodies, that will not let God alone with his own affairs. Vain man would be wiser than his maker, and be dabbling in that which is his sole prerogative.

Source:, Comment 1

The Lord Hates a Mixture

[The Lord] hates a mixture. It is a mark put on Samaria (2 Kings 17:33), [that] They feared the Lord, and served their own gods. This is that which brings the stretched out arm of the Lord’s fury on the land (Zeph. 1:5), because they swear by the Lord, and by Malcom, and because the people halt between the Lord and Baal (1 King 18:21). And it is Jehu’s reproachful reformation (2 Kings10:28, 29). Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel. Nevertheless he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Oh how fearful to be under this? He is for the good cause, nevertheless, he knows nothing of the power of religion, so he is right in the house, nevertheless he complains much with malignants. It is known to you all when the whore of Babylon was cast out of the church, that she left behind her a gold ring, and some lover tokens, I mean Episcopacy, and human ceremonies. This was the whore’s policy to leave a token behind her that she might find an errand in the house again. And she was indeed returning to the house to demand her love token again, but it shall be heavenly wisdom to make a perfect reformation; keep nothing that belongs to Babylon, and let not a stone to be a cornerstone or a foundation be taken out of Babylon for building of the Lord’s house, for they are cursed stones [cf. Jer. 50].

~Samuel Rutherford, “Sermon Before the House of Commons, January 31, 1644,” on Daniel 6:26, Sermons Preached Before the English Houses of Parliament by the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly of Divines 1643–1645 (Naphtali Press, 2011) 409.

Source:, Comment 1

Why Some Christians Don’t Celebrate Christmas

By Karl M. Baker

Excerpt taken from Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Americana, Alexander Hislop’s: The Two Babylons and The King James Bible.

 Should a Christian Celebrate Christmas?

 Having been a pastor for 30 years, from year to year I am confronted with the question of why are there Christians who do not celebrate or partake of the festivities of Christmas.  It seems unimaginable that a professor in Jesus Christ could find fault with Christmas: an apparent unique opportunity to present the coming of our Lord into this world as it’s Saviour.  Why would anyone want to oppose the undeniable recognition given to Him by the world that he came to redeem?  Could there be a negative aspect so strong as to override the tradition that could stir up an animosity against its observance from a true believer?  To protest the commercialization or a worldly reveling and such like seem understandable, but to totally reject any association at all with the holiday seems to be unrealistic for any real Christian.  Yet, there are those who don’t just let December 25th pass in quiet protest of inobservance, but rather openly express an attitude of intolerance as to write, preach and even suffer family disunity in their opposition of it’s observance.  What is it about December 25th that affects some Christians in this matter?  Is it fanaticism?  Is there a reasonable cause behind their actions?  Does the Word of God say anything that would provoke this minority’s views toward Christmas?  This pamphlet is intended to help answer these questions…

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Halloween and the Occult

David J. Meyer:

Witchcraft is very real but greatly misunderstood. I know because witchcraft goes back on the paternal side of my family for over five generations to Chesterfield, Massachusetts in 1770.

My great grandmother became a well-known witch in Wisconsin in the early days of this century. Caroline was a blind witch and used her fingers to read palms and also became adept at putting “the hex” on people.

Many spooky things would happen in our family…

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