Sacrosanct Gospel

a blog by Tim Melton…

A Biblical Theology of Heaven

Posted by Tim Melton on April 13, 2015

Heaven, Randy AlcornThe Easter season is a wonderful time for Christians. It is during this time of the year that we celebrate the glorious resurrection of Christ. But, it doesn’t stop there.   We are also encouraged to contemplate the Kingdom of God in which we now dwell, and the glorious day of Christ’s return when we will dwell in a new heaven and a new earth. Unfortunately, many Christians do not possess a biblically healthy picture of our future life in heaven. Some have the idea that Christians will go to heaven and float around on clouds for all eternity, playing harps, and wearing golden halos. That’s way off. Not only does that picture seem pretty boring, but it also has more association with Greek mythology than Biblical Christianity.   A more Scripturally sound, “reformed/covenantal” idea of heaven can be seen through a two-fold lens. In fact, Biblical Christian thinkers would describe heaven this way:

First, believers absolutely do go to heaven to be with Christ when they die. In the instant after their death, believers will be immediately with the Lord and dwelling with him where he is. However, they will still be awaiting the full redemption of creation, which will include a redeemed body.

Proof texts:
2 Corinthians 5:6-8
Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Philippians 1:22-23
If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.

Second, the Bible affirms that, at some point in the future, Christ will return with all believers – who now dwell with him in heaven – to restore all things, so that heaven and earth will gloriously become one. At that time Christians will dwell with Christ physically on the earth, receiving a perfectly restored body and dwelling in a perfectly restored creation.

Proof texts:
Romans 8:23
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.

2 Corinthians 5:1-3
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.

1 John 3:2
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Revelation 21:1-3
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

So, a more Biblically accurate description of the believer’s future might be stated this way:

Christian believers look forward to the day when they will die and go to be with Christ, where they will dwell with him until he returns to restore all creation, when heaven and earth will gloriously and eternally become one. At Christ’s second coming, Christians will receive a new body, dwell on a new earth, and physically reign together with Christ as their King.”

With these thoughts in our hearts, I would encourage you all to contemplate heaven more purposely during this Easter season and over the summer. SPC, know that you are in the Kingdom of Christ right now. You are heavenly citizens already! And one day soon, we will enjoy the fullness of our redemption as our King will bring heaven down and dwell with us forever. I can’t wait to live together with you all in the new heaven and earth as we worship our King Jesus face to face!

* If you would like to think more about the coming glory of heaven, there are three books that I would recommend:

Heaven, by Randy Alcorn…/…/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0

Surprised by Hope, by N.T. Wright…/…/0061551821

Heaven Misplaced, by Doug Wilson…/…/1591280834

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Easter’s Word of Victory – “It is Finished!”

Posted by Tim Melton on April 5, 2015

A.W. Pink“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished” — John 19:30

When Christ said these words – “It is finished” – we are given a rest-filled glimpse of the glorious triumph of the cross.  It is said that every cloud has a silver lining.  If that is true, then this darkest of all possible clouds, the death of Christ – has the most beautiful silver lining ever imagined.  Consider that the Cross of Christ has two great sides to it.  First, the cross shows us the profound depths of Christ’s humiliation and suffering. Of course, this is the horrendous cloud. But in the cross we also see the glorious culmination of Christ’s gospel mission.   “It is finished.”  This is the silver lining.

“It is finished.”

The ancient Greeks boasted about being able to communicate a big thought while using few words. “To give an ocean of substance in a drop of language” was regarded as the perfection of a great speech. What the Greeks looked for in a powerful speech is found in these final few words of Christ. “It is finished.” In the original language, it is only one word. Yet in that one word is the entire Gospel of God. That one word contains the ground of the believer’s assurance. That one word describes the sum of all joy. In that one single word, we find the very spirit of all Godly comfort.

“It is finished.”

This was not the despairing cry of a helpless martyr. Neither was it an expression of satisfaction that His sufferings were coming to an end. It was not the last gasp of a worn-out life.  Nor was it the death rattle of a dying man. No, that one word was a thunderous declaration by the Redeemer that everything that He came from heaven to do, was now done. That everything that was needed to reveal the full character of God, was now accomplished. That everything that was required to save sinners, had now been performed—that the full price of our redemption was now paid in full.

“It is finished.” 

The great purpose of God in the history of man was now complete. From the beginning, God’s purpose has always been toward one great end. His purpose had been declared to men in various ways: in shadowy symbols and types, by mysterious hints and through plain speech, through Messianic predictions and through outright declaration. That purpose: to display His grace and to magnify His Son who by his perfect life, suffering, death, and resurrection who create a people in His own image and bearing his own glory. And at the Cross, this purpose was complete.

“It is finished.”

What was finished? Christ’s sacrificial work. It is true that Christ had yet to bear death itself, which was necessary for the making of atonement. But, the wrath of God had been satisfied. When Christ cried out – “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” – at that moment, our Savior bore the horror of hell, he bore our sorrows, he bore our iniquities, the judgment of us all fell upon him when Jesus bore the penalty for our sins. At that moment, God received the wrath of God. The three hours of darkness was already past, the awful cup had already been drained, His precious blood had already been shed, the outpoured wrath of God had already been endured. The sacrificial work of the Savior, then, at that moment, was completed.

“It is finished.”

Amen! We take great comfort in this majestic word. The King has spoken. Our rest has been secured. Our sins have been forgiven. Our glory has been won.

“It is finished.”

A.W. Pink (Paraphrased by Tim Melton)

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The Resurrection – Horatius Bonar

Posted by Tim Melton on April 1, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 10.13.25 AMNot many have ever heard of Scottish pastor and poet Horatius Bonar. The guy wrote some great stuff!  In the 1860s, he was known to powerfully defend and affirm the significance of the resurrection of Christ. In his work ‘The Everlasting Righteousness’ he said,

“(This Easter) let us look a little more closely into Christ’s resurrection, lest we should be led to undervalue it. For as the resurrection must not hide the cross; neither must we allow the cross to hide the resurrection. The words of the angel to the women at the empty tomb are meant for us: ‘He is not here for He is Risen’ —  With Christ’s resurrection came an earthquake— the second earthquake that had occurred during these three days (after his arrest): the first being when the Prince of life entered the chambers of death, the second being when this same Prince of life left these chambers, burst the bands of death, and shook all creation with the tread of His feet as He marched forth in triumph.”

Man, I love that last sentence – left the chambers, burst the bands of death, shook all creation, and marched forth in triumph.  Well said Mr. Horatius.

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Easter Thoughts 2015

Posted by Tim Melton on March 31, 2015

“Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection not in words alone, but in every leaf of springtime.” – Martin Luther

“In the resurrection, Christ has turned all of our sunsets into dawns.”
– St. Clement of Alexandria

“Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection not in words alone, but in every leaf of springtime.”
– Martin Luther

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”
– The Gospel of St. Matthew 28:1-5

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The Consumption of Alcohol & Issues of Conscience

Posted by Tim Melton on March 10, 2015

633px-Guinness_7686aI. The Biblical Perspective
I believe that the Holy Bible is the final authority on all matters of Christian faith and practice.  In regard to the consumption of alcohol, it is my understanding that the teaching of the Scripture is as follows:

  1. Consumption of Alcohol is not a defacto sin
    • Jesus Himself made and drank real wine
      • The kind of wine that is called “fine wine”, which indicates a high level of expert fermentation (John 2:10)
      • The kind of wine which breaks wineskins during the fermentation process (Mk. 2:22)
      • The kind of wine which dulls the palate of the tongue because of its alcohol content (John 2:1-11)
      • The kind of wine that could cause public drunkeness at the Lord’s Table. Yet, even with that misuse, adapting non-fermented wine was not offered as a solution to the problem. (1 Corinthians 11:21)
    • The OT names wine as a blessing of God’s creation
      • The kind of wine that gladdens the heart (Ps 104:15)
      • The fermented kind of wine that causes us to rejoice in the Lord’s presence (Deut 14:26)
      • The kind of wine that overflows in our cup (Psalm 23:5)
    • Ordained church leaders are allowed to drink wine
      • Pastors, Elders, and Deacons are told not to be “drunkards” and not “addicted to much wine”. This implies a permission to drink wine with a warning against drunkenness and addiction. (1 Tim 3:1-13)
    • Paul advised Timothy to drink wine for medicinal purposes (I Tim 5:23)

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Glory of Christ 4: Losing Sight of Christ

Posted by Tim Melton on December 9, 2014

The Glory of ChristWhen I lose sight of Jesus, I lose sight of every thing else. Beauty becomes invisible. Hope evaporates. God is hidden. My thoughts become dischordant. Life becomes ugly. And I am overwhelmed with grief. But, to glimpse Christ…

“In His incarnation, Jesus Christ became the representative image of God to the church. Without Him, we will have no understanding of God and no ability to even approach God’s Divine excellence or His beauty. God will remain invisible to us. But in the face of Jesus Christ, we clearly see His glory.”

– John Owen, The Glory of Christ (my paraphrase)

In response to this post Joseph Crump, and old college friend of mine sent me a good quote from another great puritan minister, “God takes His children in his arms when they come to deep water; so at least, when they lose ground, and are put to swim, then his hand is under their chin.”
– Samuel Rutherford, “The Loveliness of Christ”

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The Glory of Christ 3: Fear of Death

Posted by Tim Melton on December 8, 2014

The Glory of ChristI have often heard it said that depression is is caused by internalized anger. I don’t think it is that simple. I believe that internalized anger is more closely associated with shame (or defeated pride). I don’t disagree that shame is a factor in causing depression, but there are other factors to consider. Chemical disorders, demonic oppression, difficult relationships, financial struggles, dark memories, and various other abuses are all elements that could contribute to a person’s struggle with depression. Many of these factor into my own struggle. Read the rest of this entry »

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Drawing Near to God – Ebenezer Erskine

Posted by Tim Melton on December 5, 2014

beautiesofebenzer-350x416This morning I was reading the “Beauties of Christ” by old Presbyterian Scottish pastor Ebeneezer Erskine who writes, “God, in his infinite wisdom, has devised a way how his banished people may be brought home again to his presence; and that is, through the blood and satisfaction of Christ… This (invitation) is to draw near to the throne of grace to which he has invited us to come with boldness, that we may obtain mercy, and find help in time of need…

What does it mean then to ‘draw near to God?’  I answer, it is an act of the heart and mind, whereby the soul, under the influence of the Spirit, sweetly and irresistibly returns to a God in Christ as its only center of rest. That poor soul, having tried Adam’s way of access, and finding that door bolted by God’s law, justice, and holiness, despairs of ever entering.  At length, when a man has wearied himself in the pride of his own way, he finds the door of the holiest place opened by the blood of Jesus.  And in view of this new and living way, he cries out, ‘Oh! This is the gate of God! By this door will I enter into his presence! This is where I find my rest! Here is where l will dwell!’ 

And so we go quite out of self-dependency when we draw near to God’s holy presence by the blood of Jesus; we overlook our own duties, graces, frames, and attainments; instead we ground our hope of access and success only upon the merit and means of our Great High Priest Jesus; God having made us accepted in the Beloved. And in this view of things, the soul will readily express itself, as did David in the like case, saying, ‘I will go unto the altar of God. I will go to Christ who is my exceeding joy.”

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The Glory of Christ 2: Beholding Christ

Posted by Tim Melton on December 5, 2014

The Glory of ChristI long to behold Christ. Not my safe, bland, flat, faithless perception of Him. But Christ himself. Christ in all of his glory. Contemplation of his approving face is the only sight that can truly lift my head.

Of beholding Christ John Owen says, “No one will ever behold the glory Christ by sight in heaven who does not behold His face by faith in this world. There are many who say that they desire to be with Christ, to gaze at His glory, but they can’t tell you why because they have never seen Him through the eye of faith. They really only believe that heaven would be preferable to hell if they can’t be here. They pretend to want to someday behold Christ’s glory in heaven, but they have no faith in Christ here in this world. So their imagined desire for heaven is nothing more than self-deception. These are religious people who lie to themselves. Their fleshly affection likes to behold images and artistic renderings of Christ – in his suffering, in his resurrection, and in his heavenly glory. They think that in these things they are beholding Christ’s glory. Yet, without a true faith in the Gospel of Christ, all this is nothing but empty, religious window dressing… Truly beholding Christ’s glory in a way that comes by faith does not merely behold his outward appearance, for He had no outward glory of physical beauty. Nor is it beholding the beauty of His work, for His work was the lowly work of a servant, not the glorious work of a King. No. The people who behold Him with the eye of faith see a much greater glory – they see the glorious person of Jesus, they see His glorious heart, they see a faint reflection of the glorious divine nature of Christ, and they long to see more. This is the sight that draws our hearts toward heaven. This is the glory that John the Baptist saw when he cried out, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

– John Owen, The Glory of Christ (my paraphrase)

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The Glory of Christ 1: Troubled Minds

Posted by Tim Melton on December 4, 2014

The Glory of ChristThis season of Advent 2014 I’m going back over some thoughts that I had last Autumn 2014 when I was reading old pastor named John Owen.

Owen says, “Our thoughts are so often cast into disorder by the troubles of life and our minds are unsettled by all kinds of idolatrous desires and passions. This is why the Psalmist said, ‘Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why are you troubled within me?’ So often, our mind is it’s own worst enemy. It troubles itself with runaway fears and unbridled sorrows. It causes itself to have confused thoughts until our mind is utterly out of its own power. But, it is not lost. For only a glimpse of the glory of Christ will settle our thoughts. And if our glimpse becomes a gaze, if we meditate and contemplate His majesty, then our minds will be composed. Our thoughts will be put in order. Our souls will be sedate, and quiet, and filled with such a faith in Christ that we will be able to say to the crashing waves of our idolatrous desires, ‘Peace. Be still.’ And they will obey.
– John Owen, The Glory of Christ (my paraphrase)

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A Good Day

Posted by Tim Melton on December 3, 2014

shadow1I love this poem about depression. Even though it does not seem to be written from a Christian perspective, it is starkly honest and boldly courageous. So many pastors that I know, like me, struggle with depression. It is a killer that steals life, hides hope, and defames Christ. So thankful that the gospel is the lifter of my head, that the love of Christ gives me power over the darkness, and that the hope of heaven tomorrow gives me confidence to embrace today.

“Jesus, lift the heads of those you love. Lift the chin of those who suffer with depression. Lift them out of the miry pit of self loathing, out of the miry clay of despair. Put a new song on their lips. May your presence be like honey on a bitter tongue and like a fount of water in a dry land.

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Why Public Greeting is Vital in Christian Worship

Posted by Tim Melton on November 5, 2014

Calvin and Hobbes GreetingThis morning I read an article forwarded to me by a friend entitled, “Those Who Really Don’t Like the ‘Stand and Greet Time’ in Church” (click here to read the article).   The main emphasis of the article concerned first time church goers who do not want to be encouraged to talk to other people in the worship service.  A large number of those people polled cited the “meet and greet” or “giving of the peace” element of Christian worship as socially uncomfortable and undesirable.  Many said that they wished churches would do away with this tradition.  I have just a few thoughts in response to the article.  As I view it, the “greeting” or “giving of the peace” in a worship service is not just an aside, it is a vital part of Christian worship.  In fact, the Bible is filled with passages that encourage the church toward love, relationship, fellowship, greeting, and welcoming.  A few examples… Read the rest of this entry »

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“Show Them Jesus” – by Martha Jo Melton

Posted by Tim Melton on October 20, 2014

Show Them JesusI am so thankful for New Growth Press for publishing, “Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids“, by Jack Klumpenhower. It is PHENOMENAL!!!!- No exaggeration! It has encouraged and challenged me, equipped and highly motivated me to share, teach and know the Gospel, BUT more than anything else, it has helped me see Jesus in a way that has made me fall in love with Him all over again!!!

After chapter three, I was already calling people on the phone to tell them to get the book! After chapter seven, I just cried. Jack’s emphasis on Jesus in telling the account of “Martha and Mary” just floored me. I have always identified with Martha in the story and always felt scolded and unapproved of when I hear the account. But looking at Jesus instead of just Martha’s response to Him, helped me to see how much Jesus loved and was caring for Martha even in her worry and sin. It helped me believe how much He loves me in the midst of my own worry and sin!!!! Just like the author confessed in the chapter for himself–I realized how much I have taught my kids about a “puny Jesus” or a “flat character” in a story instead of the interesting, complex, full Son of God the Bible shows Him to be- if I really look at Him instead of trying to find some moral or principle to emulate. Read the rest of this entry »

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Depression and the Ministry

Posted by Tim Melton on March 11, 2014

Depression and the MinistryMy daughter Callie is a student at Covenant College. Last week she wrote a paper on a person in ministry who deals with a disability. Callie chose me. My disability is depression and anxiety. She sent me three questions to answer.

1) How does your faith change the way you interact with your depression?
I believe that dependency on Christ is the essence of Christian faith. In other words, Christians are in a trusting union with Christ and, apart from this union, they can’t do anything to help themselves or anyone else. But, just because I believe this intellectually does not mean that I yield to it easily. I suffer with depression and anxiety. Depression is a weird sort of disability. It’s the kind of thing that has crippled me in an invisible way. Others aren’t able to see it. For years I wanted to believe that I was OK. That I could build enough emotional ‘muscle’ to overcome depression. I tried to use Christ improperly to build this muscle. Maybe if I prayed enough or read the Bible enough or worked enough or toughened myself enough or performed enough – the depression would go away. It didn’t. It has taken me a long time to understand that Christ planned to ‘cripple me’ with depression in order to humble me and love me. And like a Christian man with two paralyzed legs has to grow accustomed to loving Christ from a wheel chair, I am having to grow accustomed to loving Christ from the constrictions of medication and an adjusted lifestyle. I used to feel that Christ would help me conquer depression once and for all. This would work for a little while. But when depression would cripple me I would feel abandoned by Christ. Now I am learning that Christ is using depression to conquer my self-sufficiency, my pride, and my shame. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vita Salutis – Pizza Infographic

Posted by Tim Melton on February 13, 2014

Pizza Salutis High ResMy friend Daniel Wells, Assistant Pastor at Hill City Church in Rock Hill, said that he really liked to think of the “Ordo Salutis” (which is latin for “the order of salvation) as a big pizza where all the slices point to and are connected to a big slice of pepperoni in the middle, which is the Christian’s Union with Christ.  The logical order of each element found in the Ordo Salutis is indicated by a number.  Union with Christ is central and vital to every element of salvation.  Of course, the pizza graphic is for illustrative purposes only.  Neither Daniel nor I should be held responsible if, after seeing this graphic, every time someone thinks of the order of salvation and union with Christ, they immediately salivate like Pavlov’s dog and subsequently pound an entire pizza from Domino’s.  :-)

(Click Picture to view in high resolution)

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Vita Salutis (The Life of Salvation) – Infographic

Posted by Tim Melton on February 10, 2014

Ordo & Vita Salutis (w. trees)The “Ordo Salutis” is latin for “the order of salvation,” which refers to the logical sequence of conceptual steps involved in the salvation of the Christian.  (Romans 8:28-30, Ephesians 1:1-14)

The “Vita Salutis” is latin for “the life of salvation,” which refers to the vital or ‘living’ connection of each element of salvation to the Christian’s union with Christ.  For example, even though sanctification occurs after regeneration and justification, it is built on and receives power from a vital union with Christ. (John 15:1-11, Colossians 1:15-20, 2 Peter 1:3)

(Click Picture to view in high resolution) ______________________

Pastor Sammy Davies gives a great account of how the Ordo Salutis should relate to our Union with Christ.  He says, “(It may best) to understand the ordo as taking place within the union. It is almost as if union with Christ is introduced as a new stage in the ordo salutis, but is perhaps better thought of as, “the dominant motif in any formulation of the application of redemption and dominate feature of any “order” of salvation.” The ordo salutis takes place in union much like a fish resides within water.

Robert Letham expresses this understanding of union with Christ as “the foundation of all the blessings of salvation. Justification, sanctification, adoption and glorification are all received through our being united to Christ.”  Furthermore, “The whole process of the application of salvation to us by the Holy Sprit (what has been known as ordo salutis – the order of salvation) fits in here as part of what it means to be united with Jesus Christ.” Essentially union with Christ isn’t actualised (in the life of the believer) until the Holy Spirit works faith and repentance in a believer.  Perhaps one difficulty associated with this stance is a relegation of the distinctiveness of union. (One) must be very careful to not simply reduce union to a mere additional stage in the ordo, but (also) maintain it’s altogether different nature.”

Pastor Davies’ full article is found at:

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Waiting – SPC Worship

Posted by Tim Melton on January 19, 2014

Waiting_by_TfaseeLThis morning at SPCA, Chris Taylor and Avery Milz sang a song an original song for special music.  A powerful gospel lament!

Download Link:

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Silent Night, Hallelujah to the King – w/ Becky Nissen

Posted by Tim Melton on December 30, 2013

Silent Night HallelujahBecky Nissen and I sang “Silent Night” at Surfside PCA the Sunday before Christmas 2013. I really didn’t sing it all that great.  Page CXVI does it much better. However, Becky did an excellent arrangement and she helped me out by singing harmony with me at the end.  At any rate, I really love the song ‘Silent Night.’  It is one of my favorite Christmas songs.  I have often heard it criticized for being theologically ‘light’.  But, I don’t feel that way.  I see the song as theologically focused.  The whole poem is slowly building up to the great proclamation at the end of the third verse – “Jesus, King at Thy Birth!”  This is an astounding statement.  It is saying that Christ needed no coronation. He need no validation from governments or dignitaries. He needed no crown or royal robe to indicate his worth. He validates himself with Himself.  He is the true King!  Even at his birth! Even while lying naked in a manger.  Hallelujah to the King!

Tim & Becky’s Version

Download Link:

Page CXVI version:

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Hallelujah Christmas – SPC Worship

Posted by Tim Melton on December 22, 2013

Hallelujah ChristmasThis morning at SPCA, our worship team at Surfside PCA sang “Hallelujah Christmas.”  The musicians were: Chris Taylor, Avery Milz, Gabrielle Guthrie, Rebeca Kipp, Dave Riley, and Wes Lambert. It was so beautiful!  Enjoy!

Download Link:

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The Emptiness of Dark Purposes

Posted by Tim Melton on November 18, 2013

People need purpose. We need meaning.  In order to give shape and direction to our lives, we need to have an aim, a goal, a direction.  However, the purposes that we often embrace are not all the same.  Some purposes might be self-giving, while other are self-absorbing.  They may be creative or destructive, nourishing or poisonous, full of light or full of darkness.  Unfortunately, many of us choose destructive paths.  We embrace a life that is fueled by anger, or greed, or jealousy, or revenge.  We cling to dark purposes.  In the movie, The Princess Bride, there is a character named Inigo Montoya.  When we meet him in the movie, we find him in a lifelong quest to take revenge on a “six fingered man” for murdering his father.  Though Inigo is one of the most comical characters in the story, he is also one of the most tragic.  When he finally gets his revenge at the end of the story, Inigo finds that his life is empty.  He says, “I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I do not know what to do with the rest of my life.”  This is how it is for all those who shape their lives around dark purposes.  Even when we are successful, we will find that the victory will be empty.  Our hearts will be shriveled and toxic.  Our lives will be lonely and dark.  In the end, we will wind up like Gollum in the Hobbit, whom Tolkien refers to as “a small, slimy creature.”

I don’t want to wind up like Gollum.  I don’t want to be consumed by dark purposes that rot my heart and eat up my life.  “Spirit of Christ, rescue me from my ‘dark purposes.’  Form me in the image of Christ.  Restore the joy of your Kingly rule over my life.  Along with all those who trust in You, restore my trust in the gospel that I might be creative, nourishing, and filled with the light of Christ fueled love.”

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