“If I Do Not Wash You, You Have No Share With Me”: Culture, Conversation, Confusion, and Clarity

A sermon preached by Dr. Jack Whytock at the September 5, 2021 morning service of the United Reformed Church of Prince Edward Island, Canada.

The sermon is based on the NT reading from John 13:1-17 (Jesus washes the disciples’ feet).

The gospel reading begins at the 25:53 mark. The sermon begins at the 32:10 mark.

“Peter, you are about to betray me, yet you are clean now”. Jesus declared Peter clean, yet knew that Peter would betray him and deny him three times. “You are going to come to me all over again. And I will forgive and pardon you and cleanse those particular feet of yours of their particular sins and you will find fellowship with me restored again.”

We are all sinners in need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. How many times can a person be born again? Once. A person is justified, declared righteous by God once.

If you are a Christian you have abiding sin, you still sin after you have been justified in Christ. You participate in the liturgy’s prayer of confession. You acknowledge that your feet are dirty. You say, “I have been a rebel too”. Yet you have been declared justified.

Jesus’ work on the cross will never need to be repeated; it is once for all. And once justified, we do not need to seek again or look for another.

Contending for Life: Abortion in the Work and Witness of the Early Church

A timely article by Nathan Tarr published in the 2021 Haddington House Journal.

Extracts:

The regularity with which abortion is given a place in our national conversation means that Christians are regularly required to articulate both what we believe, and why. Thankfully, we are not left without either biblical teaching or historical precedent as we cultivate a response that holistically addresses the exigencies of such a complex issue. In defining and defending Christian moral values, the early church drew on the biblical conviction that, from the moment of conception, unborn children are created by God in his image. This theological foundation calls the church, as an ethical corollary, to welcome the unborn as a neighbour, even preferring them above ourselves, rather than to destroy them as an enemy. Significantly, in contending for this culture of life, the mother is not asked to bear this cost alone. Rather, both mother and child are to be welcomed, served, and protected by the Christian community. Such service includes extending grace and forgiveness to facilitate healing and restore fellowship even after grievous sin….

The Christian rejection of abortion differed fundamentally from that of their pagan neighbors because they carried the personhood of the unborn child always in view. The grid of implications through which their culture considered the practice of abortion –– the power of the father, the population of the empire, or even the safety of the mother undergoing the procedure –– were, for believers, secondary considerations. The primary conviction motivating the Christian stand for life was that the unborn child was a human being, created by God, and therefore was included under the divine commands against murder and for the love of neighbour….

This balance of truth –– abortion is murder –– and love –– the blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin –– is captured in an ancient prayer that is still used today in the Eastern Orthodox church. It provides a good summary of the early church’s work to contend for the life both of the unborn and those who sin against them: “Lord our God…according to your great mercy, have mercy upon [name], who today is in sin, having fallen into voluntary or involuntary murder, and has aborted that conceived in her; and be gracious unto her willing and unwilling iniquities, and preserve her from every diabolical wile, cleanse her defilement and heal her suffering.”

“Lord our God…according to your great mercy, have mercy upon [name], who today is in sin, having fallen into voluntary or involuntary murder, and has aborted that conceived in her; and be gracious unto her willing and unwilling iniquities, and preserve her from every diabolical wile, cleanse her defilement and heal her suffering.”

Nathan Tarr

An article by Nathan Tarr published in the 2021 Haddington House Journal. For access to the entire 2021 Haddington House Journal in electronic format, go here.

J. V. Fesko’s Reforming Apologetics: A Review by James N. Anderson

From the Analogical Thoughts blog of James N. Anderson, a review of J. V. Fesko’s Reforming Apologetics.

Anderson writes, here:

So the debate isn’t about whether we should make use of natural revelation, but rather how we do so. Van Til, following Calvin, only insists that the two books of divine revelation be read in conjunction, as they were always intended by their Author to be read. When it comes to apologetics, the Christian faith must be defended “as a unit”; that is, as an integrated, coherent, self-interpreting “system of truth” that coordinates general and special revelation. For this reason, Van Til criticized forms of natural theology that attempted to interpret natural revelation in isolation from biblical revelation, on the basis of a ‘neutral’ epistemology (whether rationalist, empiricist, or some hybrid of the two).

James N. Anderson