Mining Grace

…the more happiness you have, the more I shall count myself glorified

Archive for June 2008

Resolution 7 – Jonathan Edwards

Resolved, Never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

– Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Hendrickson: Peabody, 2000), 1.lxii.


The last hour of your life.  It is sobering to think about.  But what is so sobering about it is the finality and brevity that last hour represents.  Edwards exhorts himself here to live the entirety of his life in that kind of God affected sobreity; harnessing every moment as if it were his last.


Written by Joe Holland

June 30, 2008 at 12:48 pm

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Without Differentiation or Discrimination – Dort 2.5

Moreover, it is the promise of the gospel that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be announced and declared without differentiation or discrimination to all nations and people, to whom God in his good pleasure sends the gospel.

– Synod of Dort, 2.5


Because the gospel is completely dependent on the atoning death of Jesus Christ it can and should be offered to all people.  All men approach God as wretched sinners.  All have fallen short of God’s glory no matter their nationality, geography, intellect, ability, or finances.  It by God’s good pleasure alone that men are welcomed into salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  And it is God’s good pleasure that the gospel should be preached to all men…without differentiation or discrimination.

Written by Joe Holland

June 29, 2008 at 12:36 pm

The Peace of God

I preached this sermon this past Sunday evening.  It is the second in my series on Psalm 84.

I went back in forth, laboring over the interpretation of David’s metaphor in verse 3.  There we have sparrows and swallows nesting near the altar.  Some commentators explain the oddity of this metaphor by suggesting that these nests were in the upper portions of the tabernacle rather than around the altar.  But it is difficult to square this interpretation with David’s specific mention of the “altar”.

It is ridiculous to think about birds nesting near the altar for at least two reasons.  First, it was a place of sacrifice.  It seems odd that a bird would nest near an altar at which birds themselves–in addition to other animals–were sacrificed.  Secondly, it would seem odd for the priests to allow the altar of the Lord to be so desecrated by nesting birds.

So what does David mean?

He means that the altar is a place of peace.  Birds only nest where there is peace and security.  Why then does David think the altar is a place of peace?  I answered that question with three reasons.

  1. The altar is peaceful because it is where God meets with man.
  2. The altar is peaceful because it is where man finds a mediator with God.
  3. The altar is peaceful because it is where man finds a penal substitutionary atonement.

I then showed how all of these things found their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Psalm 84 – The Peace of God

{right-click to download}

Written by Joe Holland

June 28, 2008 at 10:26 am

The Presence of God

While my senior pastor is out of town, I have the opportunity to preach morning and evening on two different weekends.  The first was this past weekend.  The next will be July 6.  Instead of doing four different sermons I decided to do one series of four sermons on Psalm 84.

In seminary, I took the advice of a seminary professor to make a psalm my family’s psalm.  It was to be a psalm that marked us, that we memorized, that we talked about.  We chose Psalm 84.  Since then I’ve always wanted to preach on it.  This summer I get my chance.

I broke the series down as follows:

  1. The Presence of God (v 1-2)
  2. The Peace of God (v 3)
  3. The Pilgrim of God (v 4-7)
  4. The Praise of God (8-12)

My goal in this series is three fold.

  1. Explain Psalm 84 focusing on the glory of the presence of God
  2. Show how psalms are Christo-centric
  3. Provide a method for interpreting psalms especially as we apply them to new covenant living

Last Sunday I preached on the first two verses of Psalm 84.  I was captivated by David’s utter joy at the presence of God.  That lead me to ask, “What is so great about the presence of God?”  The answer to that question is what formed the structure of my sermon.

  1. What is so great about the presence of God?
  2. Where is the presence of God?
  3. What should our response be to the presence of God?

If you want to listen to the sermon you can find it below in the web player or for download.

Psalm 84 – The Presence of God

{right-click to download}

Written by Joe Holland

June 27, 2008 at 2:10 pm

The Ossific Promises of God

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.  He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.

-Psalm 34:19-20

Many are the afflictions of the righteous.  Do you know anything about affliction?  As you read the post, are there nagging problems pulling at your attention?  There is not enough money in the bank account.  Relationship carnage surrounds you.  Your body malfunctions and you have the medical tests to prove it.  Sin has has come to visit and taken up residence in the guest bedroom of your heart.

All Christians are weighed down in afflictions.  But not every Christian truly believes that “the Lord delivers him out of them all.”  How can we be sure that our present suffering is actually the veiled but powerful deliverance of God?

We can know by looking at the cross.

David wrote this psalm when he was on the run from Saul (1 Samuel 21).  It was a humbling moment for David.  He was the annointed king of Israel.  God promised him the throne.  Yet here he was in Gath–forced to flee to the Philistines.  To immediate execution, David acts like a mad man, feigning insanity, spit running down his beard.  Imagine that, the most important man in the world, the anointed king of Israel, acting like a crazy man to save his own hide.  Affliction.  And God saved him out of it.  God brought him safely to the throne…eventually.

But the story does not stop there.  When penning verse 20 of this psalm, David spoke not only of himself, he spoke of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.  On the cross, this Messiah bore the full anger and punishment of God for the sins of all who would be saved.  The Father poured out the cup of complete vengeance on his beloved Son.  The covenant of grace was fulfilled by that simultaneously glorious and gruesome act.

But none of Jesus’s bones were broken.  The apostle John is very specific on this point.  He quotes Psalm 34:20 as fulfilled at the cross (John 19:36).  Has there ever been an affliction greater than the cross-work of Jesus Christ?  Yet God’s promises stood.  Though the full weight of divine wrath was poured upon Christ in aggressive affliction, God’s promise stood.  The weight of our sins could not break one bone of Jesus’s body.  That ossific promise of God stood firm.  He delivered Christ out of every affliction.

So I ask you, dear Christian, if the weight of your sin could not break the bone-promise of God then why do you doubt his deliverance in whatever you suffer today?  God confirms his faithfulness to you in the cross.  Do you need a down payment on God’s love?  You have it in Christ.  Do you need confirmation of his faithfulness?  You have it in Christ.  Do you need strength to bear up under the affliction that will press you down tonight?  You have it in Christ.

Christ is the fulfillment and proof of all the promises of God.  Because, not one of his bones was broken.

Written by Joe Holland

June 26, 2008 at 1:04 pm

What is Faith

Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence towards us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

– John Calvin, The Institutes of Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, tr. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press), III.II.7.


Note in Calvin’s definition, his empahsis on the gospel and the Trinity.

Written by Joe Holland

June 25, 2008 at 8:40 am

8 Years

On June 24, 2000 a guy just out of college married the woman of his dreams.  Today marks the eigth anniversary of that amazing day.  So I wanted to pause to note the particular grace that God has given me in my wife.  So much of what I like about myself and what I consider to be my usefulness to other people I directly attribute to her influence.

It would not have been good for me to be alone.  So the Lord gave a wife suitable for me.  She has on countless occasions lived out the gospel before me as wife and mother.  She encourages me to run to the cross.  She prays for me.  And beyond my wildest dreams, she loves me.

I am truly blessed.

An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels.

Written by Joe Holland

June 24, 2008 at 9:09 am

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