David Westerfield

Theology, Culture, Technology, Reviews, and Other Commentary

Violence in Our Hearts

“Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually. They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s and under their lips is the venom of asps.” Psalm 140:1-3

The venom of asps is under their lips.” Romans 3:13

Over the course of doing lay ministry work, there are two things guys seem  to primarily struggle with… and the other is anger (guess the first one?). In reading this text from Psalm 140 today, I was struck by a thought I’ve had recently about anger and aggression (something I’m tempted to frequently and must be on the look out for): how 1) anger so often stems from fear and anxiety, which stems from a lack of trust in God’s loving promises, but also 2) how that animal-like response of rage that some are more prone to than others can be stoked into flame by taking in violence, its exaltation and letting it dwell there. And our culture is full of it. We are welcoming violence into our hearts and it is shaping us. Even if we’re not taking in violent content and images, just go read some social media comment threads. It’s enough for me sometimes.

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A Permanent Alien Righteousness

“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.” – Hebrews 10:1

“When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” – Hebrews 10:8-10

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Defining Baptism

One of the problems when dealing with defining who the proper recipients are in baptism is the very definition of baptism itself. The standard “on the street” definition in Baptist circles, which is the predominant view in evangelical churches, is “the outward sign of an inward reality.” And this makes great sense to people who aren’t familiar with the Reformed perspective on baptism (which is drastically different from the Roman Catholic Church in which the Reformed view denies baptismal regeneration).

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The Embodiment and Fulfiller of the Law

The law, religious piety and practice have fallen on hard times these days in the church. The modern day status quo stance of many professing evangelicals seems to be something of, “I’m free in Jesus to do what makes me happy while not hurting anyone else and to follow the way of Jesus as he outlined in the Sermon on the Mount,” etc. etc. This may be the kind of stance red-letter-only Christians tend to possess. However there’s a big problem with this.

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As For Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord

In working through infant baptism and children in the covenant, trying to find proof texts in terms of nailing something down that is an air-tight proof-text (“go ye forth and baptize thy children, or… not”) is the wrong way to go about sifting through the data on this topic. MacArthur’s arguments against Sproul are unhelpful to me in defending against it. He just says, “I don’t see it, it’s just not there.” So much of that has to do with presuppositions underlying “not seeing it” though. In other words, it’s reductionist to just say “it’s just not there” which ignores volumes of theology related to the larger story of scripture, starting way back in Genesis, and the necessary outworking of that story, carrying over into the NT. (MacArthur may be a bad example though given that he’s a staunch classic dispensationalist, but you see the point.)

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On Infant Baptism and Children in the Covenant

As I was working through my understanding of infant baptism and the practical outworking of covenant theology back in 2014 (namely the practice aspect of Reformed theology) with the help of Ligon Duncan’s Covenant Theology course at RTS, snippets from O. Palmer Robertson’s The Christ of the Covenants and some lectures I found of his, Sinclair Ferguson’s defense in Three Views of Baptism, Calvin’s defense in the Institutes, and a host of articles on Monergism.com, I was mostly convinced, but the pieces weren’t fitting together. I have been convinced for quite some time of the Reformed view of the Lord’s Table, but the view of baptism was hard for me to swallow, mainly until I started really digging into covenant theology (this is not to say Reformed Baptists don’t do that, I just had not dug in enough, personally).

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Even the Beginning of Faith is of God’s Gift

“Therefore I ought first to show that the faith by which we are Christians is the gift of God, if I can do that more thoroughly than I have already done in so many and so large volumes. But I see that I must now reply to those who say that the divine testimonies which I have adduced concerning this matter are of avail for this purpose, to assure us that we have faith itself of ourselves, but that its increase is of God; as if faith were not given to us by Him, but were only increased in us by Him, on the ground of the merit of its having begun from us. Thus there is here no departure from that opinion which Pelagius himself was constrained to condemn in the judgment of the bishops of Palestine, as is testified in the same Proceedings, ‘That the grace of God is given according to our merits,’  if it is not of God’s grace that we begin to believe, but rather that on account of this beginning an addition is made to us of a more full and perfect belief; and so we first give the beginning of our faith to God, that His supplement may also be given to us again, and whatever else we faithfully ask.

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The Internal Work of the Spirit and the Local Church

“Some people think that true spirituality is so mystical that we really do not need the church with its creeds and confessions, and its forms of worship, so long as we follow what God says to our hearts. A personal relationship with the Lord trumps everything else, even the plain teaching of the Bible. Other people put so much stock in the sacraments that they think receiving baptism, attending church, and taking the Lord’s Supper virtually guarantees their salvation unless they do something really bad. Reformed Christianity, in contrast to these extremes, does not separate the life of the visible church and the invisible work of the Spirit, but emphasizes both as crucial to knowing and pleasing God.”

Joel Beeke, http://www.reformation21.org/confession/2013/07/chapter-253.php

Taste and See That the Lord is Good

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8

“There is a difference between having an opinion, that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man cannot have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind. So there is a difference between believing that a person is beautiful, and having a sense of his beauty. The former may be obtained by hearsay, but the latter only by seeing the countenance. There is a wide difference between mere speculative rational judging any thing to be excellent, and having a sense of its sweetness and beauty. The former rests only in the head, speculation only is concerned in it; but the heart is concerned in the latter. When the heart is sensible of the beauty and amiableness of a thing, it necessarily feels pleasure in the apprehension. It is implied in a person’s being heartily sensible of the loveliness of a thing, that the idea of it is sweet and pleasant to his soul; which is a far different thing from having a rational opinion that it is excellent.”

Jonathan Edwards, A Divine and Supernatural Light, https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/edwards_light.html

Is There Injustice on God’s Part? By No Means!

This is the great question, from Romans 9:14, that has caused much debate over the centuries as it pertains to election, going back to Pelagius and Augustine, and even as Paul shows, during his own day. If God chooses to have mercy on one and not another, is He at fault, is it unjust? Paul’s answer? By no means! But why? He gives two pieces of evidence from the old testament to back up his claim that God is indeed not unjust in His sovereign election:

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