Showing posts from 2012

The Reformation’s Contribution to Our Present Age

by: Yuri Bernales

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted the Ninety-five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. What he did was nothing unusual. It was just like posting an announcement on a bulletin board, inviting other scholars to debate with him on the validity of indulgences. However, his action sparked the Protestant Reformation. Starting with that significant event, Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, and many other Reformers joined together in an attempt to bring the medieval Church back into accordance with the Bible. Their work generated a huge change in Christian Europe. All this happened about 500 years ago. How does the Reformation matter to us today?

The Reformation contributed mainly, but not exclusively, to the spiritual awakening of the people. Consider that, before Luther, most people were gullible enough to think that they could buy salvation! Some even went to ungodly conduct just to gain what the Pope or the Church authorities promised…

Reformed Conference this month at Davao City, Philippines

The United Covenant Reformed Church in the Philippines (UCRCP) is holding the Davao Conference on Reformed Theology (DCRT) on November 27-29, 2012, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on November 27-28, and from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM on November 29. The theme of this conference is Reformed Confessions and Reformed Ministry. The conference is open to 100 pastors, elders, church leaders and teachers and to those who want to know the Bible, theology and church history from a Reformed perspective. The venue is at the Auditorium of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) along Bonifacio-Legazpi Sts., Davao City. A registration fee of P300 will be charged which includes lunch, snacks and materials.

The featured speaker of the conference is Dr. Changwon Shu of Seoul, South Korea. Dr. Shu graduated from Chongshin University and Theological Seminary in Seoul, London Theological Seminary, Free Church of Scotland College (Diploma in Theology), and New College of Edinburgh University (M.Th., Hist…

Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: A Book Review

(Here's my review of D.A. Carson's Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church)

D.A. Carson begins his book with a broad-stroke survey of the divergent Emerging Church movement, using the stories and writings of the movement's prominent leaders including Spencer Burke, Chris Seay, and Brian McLaren. I was not familiar with the whole emerging church movement until I've read and reviewed Brian McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy. So Carson's brief introduction on the emergence of the Emerging Church has clarified a lot about it.

Carson is especially helpful in understanding this movement when he summarizes his investigation by comparing and contrasting it with the 16th century Protestant Reformation. He says, “To grasp it [the Emerging Church] succinctly, it is worth comparing the emerging church movement with the Reformation, which was, after all, another movement that claimed it wanted to reform the church. What drove the Reformation was the conviction, among all…

Godly Wisdom that Informs Intelligent Prayers

(A devotional message based on Proverbs 30:1-9)

Prayer. Intercession. Communion with God. These spiritual activities are something we can’t do without as believers. Prayer is an important part of our congregational life for in it, we express our dependence on God alone. I admit that this is something we usually take for granted. Sometimes we have the notion that we don’t really have to spend much time in prayer because God knows our needs anyway. So why bother to let Him know what we need if in the first place He already knows them.

But prayer is not only about asking God what we need. It is actually a solemn expression of our desire to enter into the throne of God’s mercy, acknowledging who He is and thanking Him for all He has done and has provided for us in His Son by the Spirit. We can’t do this on our own but the Holy Spirit moves us and helps us overcome our weaknesses so we can communicate with God.

I will not go into elaborate explanation of what really prayer is and what ar…

Wish List of Old Testament Bible Commentaries for the Reformed Institute of Ministry (RIM)

The Old Testament commentaries included in this wish list were chosen mainly due to their generally conservative evangelical and Reformed perspective. The list includes introductory and advanced levels commentaries. Some of the commentaries require knowledge of the original language (Hebrew). Most are easily understandable and helpful for homiletical (preaching) and catechetical (teaching) purposes. The Lord willing, we would be able to strengthen our Old Testament commentary collection at the RIM library as we acquire these commentaries in the near future. The New Testament commentaries wish list will follow in a week or two.

Abbreviations Used in this list

AOTC (Apollos Old Testament Commentary)
Baker (Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms)
BSC (Bible Student’s Commentary)
BST (The Bible Speaks Today)
DSB (The Daily Study Bible Series)
EBC (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary)
EP (An Evangelical Press Study Commentary)
Focus (Focus on …

Wish List for the Reformed Institute of Ministry (RIM) Library

I am coming up with a list of important Biblical and theological books for our Reformed Institute of Ministry. Here are some of the titles that I come up with arranged according to topic or subject. Bible commentaries are not yet included here. I hope to come up with another list of books on commentaries later.

Introduction to Theology
1. Manual of Christian Doctrine – Louis Berkhof
2. The Christian Life – Sinclair Ferguson
3. What Is Reformed Theology – R.C. Sproul
4. Essential Truths of the Christian Faith – R.C. Sproul
5. Concise Theology – J. I. Packer
6. Our Reasonable Faith – Herman Bavinck
7. The Marrow of Theology – William Ames
8. A Body of Divinity – Thomas Watson
9. Introduction to Systematic Theology – Cornelius Van Til
10. Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms – Richard Muller
11. Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena (Vol.1) – Herman Bavinck
12. The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God – John Frame

Systematic Theology
1. Systematic Theology – Louis Berkhof
2. Reformed Dog…

In Living Communion with God - Part 2

"15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”" ~ Genesis 2:15-16

Our first parents' living communion with God has entailed a divine call (v.15). But that living communion has also involved a sovereign command (vv.16-17). And that's what we're going to talk about here.

A Sovereign Command (vv. 16-17)

In verse 15 we are told of the divine purpose for man. In verse 16-17 we can see that this relationship also involves a sovereign command. It reads, “And the LORD commanded man….” Adam’s relationship with God does not only state a comprehensive purpose of work and worship that he has to seek to fulfill. It also specifies a definite command to first, enjoy God’s provisions from the garden (v.16), and second, to k…

The Ultimate Triumph of our Lord Jesus Christ over His Enemies

In my study of the final battle in Revelation 19:11-21, I was led to its Old Testament background of Ezekiel's prophecy in chapters 38-39, on the judgment of the wicked nation, Gog, for her role in attacking God's people. The parallel is that, just as God has judged Gog for her wickedness in going against His old covenant people, Israel, so also Christ will judge the wicked beast and the false prophet together with the kings and rulers and peoples of the nations whom they've gathered to battle against Him and His new covenant people.

Then I came across this beautiful concluding comment on Ezekiel 38 by Dr. Peter C. Craigie,

Thus Ezekiel's portrayal of a final and great battle is a projection onto an apocalyptic screen of the battle that has always existed in our world between good and evil. His picture is extracted, as it were, from the framework of all human history and painted now on this single canvas. And the prophet's portrayal of events in these gloomy chapt…

Useful Directions For Reading and Searching the Scriptures

by Thomas Boston (1676-1732)

(These directions are also available at

1. Follow a regular plan in reading of them, that you may be acquainted with the whole; and make this reading a part of your private devotions. Not that you should confine yourselves only to a set plan, so as never to read by choice, but ordinarily this tends most to edification. Some parts of the Bible are more difficult, some may seem very barren for an ordinary reader; but if you would look on it all as God's word, not to be scorned, and read it with faith and reverence, no doubt you would find advantage.

2. Set a special mark, however you find convenient, on those passages you read, which you find most suitable to your case, condition, or temptations; or such as you have found to move your hearts more than other passages. And it will be profitable often to review these.

3. Compare one Scripture with another, the more obscure with that which is more plain, 2 Pet…

How will Christ be seen by all in His second coming

I had the privilege of sharing a message of comfort to my wife's relatives on the occasion of her uncle's death. I shared from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 that talks about the future of those who have died in Christ and the comfort it gives to the grieving loved ones. Although some would focus on the 'rapture' in this passage, that is not the message of the text. The point of the passage is that God will not forget those who have died in their faith in Christ but He "will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him" (v.14).

In His return, Christ will bring with Him those believers who have gone ahead of us in glory. We who are alive at the time of His return, however, will be changed as the apostle Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and…

In Living Communion With God - Part 1

Genesis 2:15-17: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

(I would like to acknowledge my indebtedness to my Old Testament professor, Rev. Mark Vander Hart, for his Genesis Bible Study Guide, from which much of the thought of this meditation were taken.)

The study of the book of Genesis is fascinating not only because it is the first book of the Bible, but also it addresses many of the issues that confront us today. From the origin of the universe to the history of Israel, from the creation of man to the choice of Abraham’s descendants, Genesis is filled with dramatic accounts that shed light to many of our questions today. Genesis records many of the first things in history, both redemptive and natural.

Interestingly, the b…

Christian Homeschooling: A Way to Educate Our Children the Christian Way

So why do we homeschool our children? Why do we use Biblical and Christ-centered curricula and materials in teaching our children? What is our goal?

First, we must see our children as God’s children. They are ultimately God’s. They are heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). Our children are ultimately not our own. We are God’s representative to our children. We treat our children the way God would treat them. We are to nurture, admonish, guide, discipline, and love them as God would do it.

What’s the essence of our parenting then? We are parenting our children in God’s stead.

Second, what should our goal be in homeschooling? Of course, in everything we do, our goal should always be to glorify God by obeying His commands. The Word of God requires us parents to instruct our children in the Christian faith and the doctrine of salvation. That’s what Deuteronomy 6:4-9 tell us. That's what 2 Timothy 3:14-15 shows us. This does not mean that you are talking to your children always, 24/7, al…

Leaving a Godly Legacy

For more than a year now I have been enjoying the privilege of teaching the Bible on air at Mango Radio Philippines, then at 97.1 FM in Davao City, now at I am thankful to the Lord for the opportunity to proclaim and teach the Holy Scripture over the radio. I also enjoy answering many practical, doctrinal and ethical issues asked by our listeners through text and Facebook messages.

As a Reformed Christian, and a minister at that, it is my joy to teach the Scripture and relate it in the daily life and personal relationships of ordinary believers. My way of interpreting the truths of the Scripture is not unique. The interpretation I express is not new but I always seek to be consistent with how faithful Christian interpreters in the past have explained the Bible and applied it in the lives of the believers.

I always remind myself that I (or anyone in this generation) am not the first who studied the Scripture and discovered the truths it bears and applied them …