This is just a heads-up. I have been trying to get to this for a while, but it is a tough subject and I’ve needed to cull a few resources.
This week I am going to make two or three posts on the proper application of the Scriptures. The first will deal with the dreaded subject of the relationship of ‘meaning and application’ and the second will deal with the application of Law and Gospel. From there, it may or may not take a third to tie up loose ends. That is all.
I reviewed my notes on The Art of Prophesying by William Perkins the other day and realized I had forgotten about his section on ‘commonplace books.’ It is fairly amazing how much easier this practice is for us than it was for someone in Perkins’ generation (1558-1602). We can use computer programs and blogs to do most of the heavy lifting these days. As a matter of fact, that’s why my blog exists in the first place.
…Anything you come across in your studies that is important and worth noting should be recorded in tables or commonplace books, so that you have both old and new material at hand (pp. 24-25).
In connection with composing commonplace books, here is some practical advice:
1. Make a list of the most common headings of every point of doctrine.
2. Divide the right-hand pages of your book into columns, or equal sections lengthwise. Head each of these pages with a major topic, leaving the next page blank, so that extra space may be available.
3. Do not attempt to record everything you read in a book, but only things which are memorable or unusual. Do not write out quotes, but only the principal points with appropriate references. Make a note in the book itself too, so that you will be able to find the place referred to in your commonplace book.
4. Some things may be more difficult than others to catalogue accurately. You should therefore add an alphabetical table to help you relocate them easily.
5. Do not rely too much on your book. There is no point in writing things down unless they are carefully hidden in your memory too (p. 25).
1. Scripture Songs: There are all sorts of varieties out there. Our family enjoys Kids Scene Scripture Songs. You can check out a sample HERE.
2. Cedarmont Kids: The Cedarmont Kids produced all kinds of videos and albums back in the day. Some of it is pure fluff (kids need some fluff!), but it is enjoyable. You can view an example HERE. Google and YouTube yield all sorts of results for those videos.
3. Good old hymns: We made it a goal in our house to make hymn lessons a part of our routine. So, for example, we would actually work on one song, as if it were a lesson, until the kids were comfortable singing it. I’ve talked to other parents that started with the same hymn as us: Holy, Holy, Holy. It’s a beautiful hymn that isn’t too difficult to pick up. Here’s a VIDEO with lyrics. Another one that kids seem to pick up fairly quickly is Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. You can see that HERE. Our kids were also able to pick up Trust and Obey fairly early on. You can see that HERE. And, last but not least, my personal favorite to sing with the kids is I Must Tell Jesus. You can see that HERE. I like to play this song on the guitar and my kids would willingly repeat the chorus a hundred times if I let them keep going.
4. Psalms: This is tough because Psalm singing has become so rare in American Evangelicalism. There are, however, some that are still sung fairly widely, such as Psalm 23. My own solution to this has been this: I have used The Book of Psalms for Singing and simply created my own tunes using the guitar to sing along with my family. We have learned several whole psalms in this way. The website linked above allows you to listen to the tunes listed for each Psalm in various Psalters.
This is a classic rendering of Psalm 100. The superscription for Psalm 100 reads ‘A psalm for giving thanks.’ Accordingly, this hymn is often sung during times of thanksgiving:
Seeking a pure life without a pure nature is building without a foundation. And there is no seeking a new nature from the law, for it bids us make brick without straw, and says to the cripple, ‘Walk,’ without giving any strength.
-Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, Chapter 14
I’ve written about this same theme in detail ELSEWHERE. For the sake of those who won’t click the link, let me share a similar statement by John Owen on the subject of sanctification:
This is the work of the Spirit; by him alone is it to be wrought, and by no other power is it to be brought about. Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, unto the end of a self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world (Mortification of Sin in Believers, ch. 1).
This is a sermon I preached on the text of Psalm 90:1: “A Prayer of Moses the man of God: Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations”:
This is another of my favorite hymns written by Isaac Watts. I think of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones every time I sing it, as he was fond of repeating the middle verses:
The men of grace have found
Glory begun below;
Celestial fruits on earthly ground
From faith and hope may grow.
The hill of Zion yields
A thousand sacred sweets
Before we reach the heav’nly fields,
Or walk the golden streets.
And, speaking of the Doctor, today would be a good day to listen to one of his sermons. They’re available for free HERE. He’s far and away the best preacher I have ever heard.