Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Visible Communion

We know we are in Christ if we come to this table with faith and are able to discern the Lord’s body.  And what is the Lord’s body?  The Lord’s body is this visible community around you – your brother and sister in Christ.

As you come to this table, you are by faith receiving Jesus’ body and blood, but you are doing so with the body of Christ, your brothers and sisters to your left and right.

We are partaking of the One Who gave Himself, all of Himself, all of His body, for us – and we do so giving ourselves, all of ourselves, to Him – and to His body.  And how do we give ourselves like that to His body.  Jesus tells us – “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

On that basis and on that basis alone, come and welcome to Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Same-sex, SCOTUS, and the Lord's Day

All people, all the earth, is summoned to come and joyfully serve the LORD with worship and praise.  This is not a request or a suggestion.  It is the command of God.  Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords and there is nothing we can do to change that or His holy law.

Woe to a nation who calls evil good and good evil.  Woe to a nation who defines those things God has named with their own crafty definitions.  Woe to a nation who brazenly defies the law of God.  Woe to this nation which has done so with the strokes of the pens of five fools in black robes, fools who cannot even see what the purpose of a man and a woman are for, rebels who will not acknowledge that the value of all human life only rests in these words – “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them,” as well as these words, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

As we gather on behalf of this nation before the Lord on this holy day, this Lord’s Day, we must remember that the problems of this nation, the immorality and rebellion before us, has not come upon the church because of the world – it has come upon the world because of the church.  Same-sex so-called “marriage” is now the law of the land because of the nod it has been given by the major denominations and churches of this nation for decades.  We taught them how to do this.  We showed them how to reinterpret law; we have disparaged the roles of husband and wife, we have ordained women and homosexuals to be the masculine ministers of the church, and we have blessed homosexual unions for years and years.

In addition, the evangelical church in America has been preaching for generations now that Jesus Christ has no Lordship in the public square, that while we are to worship Him, we should do so in our hearts and in our churches, but we have no obligation as a nation, nor even as Christians, to do so in the halls of justice, the halls of legislation, or the halls of schools and universities.  The devil is winning not because he is stronger, but because we keep giving him the battles, one after another after another.

Same-sex mirage exists in our nation as a publicly-acceptable option because we, the church, made it so in our churches when we gave way to egalitarianism decades ago.  Limp, effeminate, impotent Christianity exists in our public halls because we, the church, taught that it should be so from our own culturally relevant, make-me-feel-good pulpits decades ago.  Masculinity and male leadership have become repulsive in the eyes of the world because the church has failed to hold up the offices of husband and father with dignity and accountability.  Repentance for this nation begins here in the church and in our own lives.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Prayer for Your Flock

"I have no experience of mammoth-sized churches, but I do know that in a church growing in the 200s it is possible to pray for every member by name once a week, and for all the members by name in the early hours of Sunday morning." - Motyer, Preaching? p133.

When Kings and Princes Love God

Isaiah 32:1 (NKJV)

1 Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, And princes will rule with justice.

This passage (vv1-8) is about the quality of government that will characterize the rule of the king of the new age.  He and those who rule with him will be those associated with righteousness and justice.  "That is, they will reflect, in the way they exercise their rule, the very character of God himself (i.e.5:16)." - Webb - p136.

Imagine a world of kingdoms ruled by kings and princes who reigned in righteousness and with Word-defined justice.  Now pray the Lord's prayer again - with more fervor!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Primary Work of Shepherds: Prayer

"The first duty of ministers is to pray for those to whom they are sent in ministry.  I can't think of any one verse which commands this, but it coudl be inferred from Paul's example (e.g. Rom 1:9; Eph 1:16; Phil 1:3-4; Col 1:3-4; 1 Thess 1:2-3; 2: Thess 1:11)." - Motyer, p132.

Of course this should be applied to all in shepherding and ministerial roles and not simply to the ordained pastor.  Parents and husbands in particular have to heed this truth as well.  But they will probably only rise up to the level of their minister who must lead the charge in believing prayer.

No Political Maneuvering

There is a central confession that only the LORD will save the nation in this section - 

Isaiah 33:2 (NKJV)
2 O Lord, be gracious to us; We have waited for You. Be their arm every morning, Our salvation also in the time of trouble.

Isaiah 33:22 (NKJV)

22 (For the Lord is our Judge, The Lord is our Lawgiver, The Lord is our King; He will save us);

And so this new age that is hoped for in Isaiah 32-33 is an age brought forth, not by any political maneuvering, nor by any human achievement, but by the divine gift of God.

What do we learn?  We are in that new age, this gospel age of hope.  Then how do we move forward?  We do not primarily take up political activism nor place our hope in the progressive human race.  We turn to the Lord.  We trust and pray and wait and cry out to Him.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Prayer By-products

"Objectively, our prayers are heard, answered, and bring forth results.  Subjectively, there is a kickback:  prayer not only changes 'things'; it changes those who pray." - Motyer, Preaching? p129.

Promises Amidst Dire Circumstances

In Isaiah 32-33, Isaiah looks forward to an ideal situation where a king shall reign in righteousness (32:1, 15-16; 33:5-6, 17-22), but the present situation is one in which Judah sits in complacency and under judgment (32:9-10, 33:1, 18-19).  Some of the context could be the great tribute Hezekiah paid to buy off Sennacherib, emptying the temple treasury and even stripping the gold from the doors (2 Kings 18:13-16).

"It is against this background that Isaiah pointed to the only alternative that could secure the nation's future:  government grounded in the kingship of God.  Hezekiah reverted to this kind of government at the eleventh hour of the Assyrian crisis (2 Kings 19:14-19), but Isaiah looks in these chapters to the day when this will be the habitual stance of leaders and people alike.  Then indeed a new age will have dawned.  This is the state of affairs we pray for in the words of the prayer Jesus taught us:  'Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." - Webb, p135.

Of course, Jesus taught us to pray that prayer in this age because He intends to answer, and is answering, that prayer in this age.

Repeating Everything Repeating

We live in a world of repetitions.  And in this world, all repetitions are vanity.  They are empty, they are without meaning – unless God gives faith and joy to believe and receive them from Him – the Maker of all things, the Meaning in all things.

We live in a world governed by repetitions.  The earth spins, the moon revolves around the earth and the earth spins around the sun.  We experience the rising and setting of the sun, another summer is upon us, school is ending.  But fall will come, and then winter.  An infant comes into this world, grows up, brings other children into the world, and then dies. Cycles and circles.  Mothers wash clothes and then they all get dirty, and then she washes them again.

There are two kinds of people or two kinds of ways of seeing this.  One kind of person sees the stupidity of it all and bows beneath the weight of a vain and fruitless world.  Finding any lasting satisfaction in whatever the world might offer is like trying to hold a gallon of water in your hand without a bucket.  But the other person sees all of this and through the eyes of faith, receives it all as gift – and true enjoyment is experienced because this one acknowledges that God is the Author, Sustainer, Redeemer, and the End of all things.

Ecclesiastes 9:7–9 Go, eat your bread with joy, And drink your wine with a merry heart; For God has already accepted your works. 8 Let your garments always be white, And let your head lack no oil. 9 Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun.

To receive all of these repetitions, all of these vain little ditties of life, and enjoy them, God has given us the Sabbath, the Lord’s Day, the beginning of the new week, every week, to practice repetition, to practice receiving, to practice renewal and the glory of doing it again and again – all under the sun, but all in the Lord Jesus.  For those with faith, come, and worship the Lord – it’s going to be great.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Behind the Scenes

"...the prophet devours the Word, obeys the Word, frequents the place where the Word is heard.  Behind the public man lies his private, secret life with God in His Word:  our Monday-to-Saturday and very early Sunday-morning personal habit.  The public minister of the Word has to be fashioned in the secret workshop of the Word.  The minister must never cease to be an 'ordinary believer' humbly walking with God in the light of His Word." - Motyer, Preaching? p123.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Preacher's Quadrilateral

1 Thessalonians 1:5 (NKJV)

5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.

"Paul shares with us the four outstanding aspects, as he remembered them, of his preaching ministry in Thessalonica - "in word...in power...in the Holy Spirit...in much assurance." - Motyer, Preaching? p110.

Providence and the Natural World - IV

"Natural events come from God, the personal Lord.  He also employs angels and human beings to do his work in the world.  But the idea that there is some impersonal mechanism called 'nature' or 'natural law' that governs the universe is absent from the Bible." - Frame, ST, p147.

Deism teaches of a God who wound up the world and then left it to go on its own.  That is not the God of the Bible through Whom all things consist and cohere.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Providence and the Natural World - III

"Even those events that appear to be most random are under God's sovereign control.  'The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD' (Prov 16:33).  Throw dice or draw straw; God controls the result.  He decides the numbers to be drawn in the lottery.  Indeed, in some cases he reveals his will through the drawing of lots (Jonah 1:7; Acts 1:23-26).  What we call 'accidents' come from the Lord (Exod 21:13; Judges 9:53; 1 Kings 22:34)." - Frame, ST. p147.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Promoting the Response

"...if our response to the truth is part of what is revealed in any given passage, then our fidelity to Scripture requires us to bring that message, that appeal for action, to our hearers.  This does not call for lack of passion and urgency in the preacher, as if our longing to see a response was in itself a trespass against the Holy Ghost.  And yet...and yet...without doubt our appeals can so easily overstep the mark!  Just remember:  the declaration of the truth is our responsibility.  This includes the truth about making a response, but actually promoting that response is His work." - Motyer, Preaching? p110.

Providence and the Natural World - II

Considering the many passages of Scripture that speak of God's providence over the natural world, Frame writes, 
"...these are things that God does because they please him.  He does not merely allow them to happen; rather, he makes them happen.  God waters the land.  God drenches the furrows.  God makes the clouds rise...God makes it snow or rain.  God sends the frost and the ice, and then, when he pleases, he melts it.  As he created all things by his word, so he sends his command, his word, to govern the events of nature." - ST, p147.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Inspiration in the Pulpit

"The one thing not to rely on is the inspiration of the moment.  Very often it turns out on reflection not to have been and 'inspiration' at all!  And sometimes at the vital moment it is simply not there, and the preacher, having 'dried up', is left floundering - a sad, dispiriting sight, and a perfectly dreadful experience." - Motyer, Preaching? p98.

Providence and the Natural World - I

"The biblical writers do not hesitate to ascribe the events of the natural world directly to God" - Frame, ST, p146.

He then cites many examples and writes one out in particular: - 

Psalm 65:9–11 (NKJV)

9 You visit the earth and water it, 
You greatly enrich it; 
The river of God is full of water; 
You provide their grain, 
For so You have prepared it. 10 
You water its ridges abundantly, 
You settle its furrows; 
You make it soft with showers, 
You bless its growth. 11 
You crown the year with Your goodness, 
And Your paths drip with abundance.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Antidote to Muddle

"'Muddle' is the characteristic mark of the ill-dressed window, the careless baker and the bad sermon.  The antidote to muddle is considered, planned, well thought-out presentation.  Yes indeed, the art of preaching is presentation." - Motyer, Preaching? p90.

Providence Efficacy - X

We can summarize the biblical teaching about the efficacy of God's rule in the following passages, which speak for themselves:

Psalm 33:11 (NKJV)

11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, 
The plans of His heart to all generations.

Psalm 115:3 (NKJV)
3 But our God is in heaven; 
He does whatever He pleases.

Psalm 135:6 (NKJV)
6 Whatever the Lord pleases He does, 
In heaven and in earth, 
In the seas and in all deep places.

Isaiah 43:13 (NKJV)
13 Indeed before the day was, I am He; 
And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; 
I work, and who will reverse it?”

Revelation 3:7 (NKJV)
...‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Important Thing is to Be Born Again

"The important thing is to be born again, and formulating your views about it correctly is less so..." - Wilson, AC, p210.

Tiring the Ear

"Do you know the proverb that 'though the tongue never tires, the ear does'?  We need to heed it in our preaching, even if we don't always manage to obey it!" - Motyer, Preaching? p85.

And all my congregation said, "Amen!"

Providence Efficacy - IX

"But Scripture regularly teaches that when God elects, calls, and regenerates someone in Christ, through the Spirit, that work accomplishes his saving purpose.  When God gives his people a new heart, it is certain that they will 'walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them' (Ezek 11:20).  When God gives new life (John 5:21), we cannot send it back to him.  Jesus said, 'All that the Father gives me will come to me' (John 6:37).  If God foreknows (i.e. befriends) someone, he will certainly predestine him to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, to be called, to be justified, to be glorified in heaven (Rom 8:29-30)." - Frame, ST, p145.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

With a Canoe Paddle

"...I have in mind parishioners who are rolling around in Galatians 5:19-21 with shouts of libertine joy.  It is time to attack this kind of covenantal presumption, and it needs to be attacked with a canoe paddle.  I wish I could say this is a hypothetical problem, but it has not been." - Wilson, AC, p207

Sermon Harvesting

"There comes a moment in sermon preparation when, at long last (in my case, at very long last!), it begins to become clear what the chosen Scripture is all about.  Enough material has been fed into the poor old village pump for, finally, some slight trickle to begin to come out - and we start to put on paper the fruits of our labour." - Motyer, Preaching? p77.

Providence Efficacy - VIII

"When God intends to bring someone to faith in Christ, he cannot fail, although for his own reasons he may choose to wrestle long with a person before achieving that purpose." - Frame, ST, p145

He goes on to say in a footnote - 

"There are also situations in which people who appear to be elect turn away from God and prove themselves not to be among his people.  There are also cases in which God chooses someone without the intention of giving him the full benefits of salvation.  Judas is one example (John 6:70), as is national Israel, which, because of unbelief, loses its special status as God's elect nation."

Monday, June 8, 2015

What, not Of

"The glories that are coming will be the result of what we are talking about and not the result of our talking about it." - Wilson, AC, p202.

Put on the Forgiveness of Christ

Colossians instructs us that we have put on Christ, we have put on the new man.  This happened in our baptism.  Now, by the power of the Holy Spirit, by Christ in us, we are to put on the things of Christ.

And so, we are told to put on tender mercies and forgiveness.  We are to put them on.  How do we put on these things?  The Word instructs us that we are to put these on by faith.  But what does that mean? 

It means trusting God – believing Jesus – and He instructs us that the means of grace are through His Word and through the Sacraments.  This is not a magical instrument.  Just as you hear Christ in the preaching of His Word by faith, so you partake of Christ in the act of communion at this table by faith.

So you have heard Jesus, you have heard forgiveness.  Now come and partake of forgiveness; come and partake of Jesus.  But you must do all of this with faith – the gift of God, the work of His Holy Spirit.  Receive the Holy Spirit and welcome to Jesus Christ.

It's Not Easy

"Accurate analysis of a Bible book, passage or verse is a thing of beauty.  It also has a deceptive air of simplicity.  It prompts us to say 'yes, of course!'  But believe me, there is nothing simple about arriving at that point." - Motyer, Preaching? p 71.

After nearly twenty years of doing this work, I can only say, 'Amen.'

Providence Efficacy - VII

"Scripture also speaks of the efficacy of God's purposes in our lives by the image of the potter and the clay:  as easily as the otter molds his clay, makes one vessel for one purpose, another for another, so God deals with people.  His purpose will prevail, and the clay has no right to complain to the potter about it." - Frame, ST, p145.

Return to Him = Repentance

Isaiah 31:6 (NKJV)

6 Return to Him against whom the children of Israel have deeply revolted.

"Repentance is radical.  It is not just giving up this or that sin, but a complete turnabout in our stance towards God, and it goes right to the root of our sinfulness." - Webb, p133.

In that repentance, God promises something wonderful - vv8-9 declare that God will deal with Assyria, destroying them "by a sword not of man."  this from the LORD, "Whose fire is in Zion and whose furnace is in Jerusalem."

"In view of all this (chapters 29-31), the expression "in that day" (v7) must be allowed to point beyond the events of 701 BC to something more distant and more perfect, as it so often does elsewhere in the book.  There was no perfect repentance or perfect salvation in 701.  But God's gracious goodness to his people when they cried out to him then was a foretaste of something far greater and more glorious..." - Webb, p134.

Repentance can sound like such an angry word "Repent!"  But it is actually a word of release and salvation.  "Return to me!"  "I am Your deliverance!"  "Be free of those dead and lying idols!"

Friday, June 5, 2015

Heart Conversion, not Conversionism

"Heart conversion is an absolute necessity if a sinful man is ever to see a holy God.  But conversionism is not any such thing.  Conversionism is a set of cultural expressions that grew up around a particular set of the Holy Spirit's movements in history.  But those cultural expressions are not absolute.  No human cultural expressions ever are.  But the Word of God is absolute, and the Spirit's work in the hearts of sinful men never, ever changes." - Wilson, AC, p198.

The One Thing

"In our Bible study and sermon preparation we should learn to ask what is the 'one thing' that holds all these individual 'things' together, the one truth that they are all about." - Motyer, Preaching?, p62.

Providence Efficacy - VI

God always accomplishes his purpose, counsel, pleasure, or will:

Isaiah 46:10 (NKJV)

10 Declaring the end from the beginning, 
And from ancient times things that are not yet done, 
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, 
And I will do all My pleasure,’

Daniel 4:35 (NKJV)
35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; 
He does according to His will in the army of heaven 
And among the inhabitants of the earth. 
No one can restrain His hand 
Or say to Him, “What have You done?”

Matthew 11:25–26 (NKJV)
25 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.

Ephesians 1:4–5 (NKJV)
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

The LORD will Fight for His People

Isaiah 31:4–5 (NKJV)

4 For thus the Lord has spoken to me: “As a lion roars, And a young lion over his prey (When a multitude of shepherds is summoned against him, He will not be afraid of their voice Nor be disturbed by their noise), So the Lord of hosts will come down To fight for Mount Zion and for its hill. 5 Like birds flying about, So will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it; Passing over, He will preserve it.”

"What the two pictures of verses 4 and 5 amount to is a promise that the LORD himself will fight for and protect Jerusalem.  That promise still stood when Sennacherib's envoys were finally at the gates (37:35), and Hezekiah then had, at last, the wisdom and humility to claim it." - Webb, p133.

The trials of the LORD and of course His chastisements, are often due to our own rebellions, large and small.  Through them all, we often hear the voice of the LORD telling us that we only need to return to Him (in faith and obedience, both are critical).
And when He grants wisdom, when He humbles us and grants humility, and when He give us the gift of repentance, there is so much deliverance.  Often, in forgiveness, we experience the deep release of our broken fellowship with God restored.  And often, when a nation turns to the LORD, there is quick restoration and blessing.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Two Men

"If two men, one saved and one damned, can enjoy the same access to the same means, then the thing which distinguishes them is the faith of the one and the unbelief of the other.  But that faith is itself a gift, and it is given in accordance with His sovereign will.  The fact that the gift of faith is not inexorably given with every instance of a sacramental gift is what sets up the problem for us, and which is what makes historical evangelicalism a necessity." - Wilson, AC, p194.

In essence, this "problem" is the reason for Wilson's book.

Therefore He will Wait

Isaiah 30:18 (NKJV)

18 Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him.

The LORD longs to be gracious but He will only provide such grace to those who wait on Him.  He must first be exalted, shown to be in fact LORD of all, so that His mercy will in fact be revealed to be gracious mercy.

"Thus verse 18...is the pivot on which the whole chapter turns...God is patient with his people still, no less than with rebel Judah of old or the prodigal in Jesus' parable.  But such grace gives us no licence to become lax.  Note carefully the words of the apostle: 'Do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience?  Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?' (Rom 2:4 RSV)  To be given time to repent is a great mercy which should be grasped with profound gratitude." - Webb, p129.

Bringing Out What is There

"The power of an expository ministry arises from bringing out what is there." - Motyer, Preaching, p31.

Providence Efficacy - V

So the wise teacher reminds us - 

Proverbs 21:30 (NKJV)

30 There is no wisdom or understanding Or counsel against the Lord.

Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)
9 A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 19:21 (NKJV)
21 There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Looking Like a Leper - Luke 17:11-19

The other lepers never return to Jesus.  The Samaritan comes to the true Temple of God and the true Priest of God and finds everlasting life for his soul.  He was already healed and yet Jesus said, “your faith has made you well.”  The text never says anything about the leper believing or trusting Jesus, but instead shows what faith looks like and how a man with faith acts.  Faith brings forth repentance, turning around and back to Jesus.  Faith results in glorifying God with a loud voice.  Faith falls prostrate before Jesus in humility and thanks.

Never, ever get over the mercy of God.  Never cease being completely dependent on the mercy of God.  The salvation you have is mercy.  The blessings you have received, every one of them, are mercy.  The trials God gives are all to display His mercy.  You are surrounded in mercy.  And the smallest mustard see of faith brings forth the tree-moving power of God’s mercy.

How the Spirit Uses Means

"To claim the Holy Spirit can use baptismal water is apparently superstition, but the use of Bibles and sermons is not - even though material means are equally involved in both.
When the Spirit anoints something, that makes it effectual, and the effect is immediate.  The Spirit's work does not come through the means (the sermon, the sacrament) like water through a garden hose.  Rather, the Spirit's anointing is given on account of the means...But if we show up later with our tiny cages in order to capture those very same means, hoping to chain the Spirit up, we find that He is gone." - Wilson, AC, p 193.

Hasty to Sin

Webb notes that reading 30:1-17 reveals the determination that Judah has to speedily press ahead with her plans to send envoys to Egypt and seek a partnership with them against Assyria.  Rebels simply will not listen to reason; in fact, reasoning with them often only speeds them up.

"All of this has about it the marks of an indecent haste which is the very antithesis of that confident waiting on God which is the hallmark of those who believe." - p128.

    For the LORD is a God of justice;
    Blessed are all those who wait for Him. - Isaiah 30:18b

Convince, Rebuke, Exhort

"In 2 Tim 4:2 Paul directs Timothy to 'convince, rebuke, exhort'.  'Rebuke' is addressed to the conscience, calling for reformation of behaviour that has gone astray; 'exhort' is addressed to the will, a concern to promote right conduct.  But 'convince' addresses the mind, and that comes first." - Motyer, Preaching?, p28

2 Timothy 4:2 (NKJV)

2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

Providence Efficacy - IV

"When God expresses his eternal purposes in words, through his prophets, those prophecies will surely come to pass...God sometimes even represents his word as his active agent that inevitably accomplishes his bidding:

Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV)

 (As the fruitful rain,)So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please, 
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."

 - Frame, ST, p144.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

From Whence Comes the Instructed Mind?

"The instructed mind is the foundation of the work of God in us." - Motyer, Preaching?, p28.

Seed is sown, but who understands?  Which soil bears fruit?  And what made the soil that way?

The Honor of Repentant Sinners

In the story of the Prodigal son, when he returns, the Father says, “Luke 13:22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry."

While this Table is the Table of the Lord and our attention is first focused upon Him, He would have you look around at the body of Christ, His body, these brothers and sisters.  This Table is in honor of them.  For they were once dead and are now alive.  They were once lost and now are found.  Jesus would have you come to this Table to honor them – your brothers and sisters in Jesus – for that is what He is doing.  And He would have you be merry.

But I Repeat Myself

"If I want to help lead evangelicals back to more respectful worship, and i do, one of the things I must do is demonstrate for them that I understand what drove them out in the first place.  Worship God in a decorated palace tomb without the Spirit?  I'd rather go to Hell, but I repeat myself." - Wilson, AC, p180.

Choosing Egypt over the LORD

"The LORD had demonstrated his superiority over Egypt and its gods at the exodus and had been known to Israel ever since as 'the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt'.  Theologically speaking, to go down to Egypt for help was to commit apostasy." - Webb, p127.

Providence Efficacy - III

"(God's) purposes will always prevail.  (For an example) against Assyria, he says - 
Isaiah 14:24–27 (NKJV)

24 The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, 
“Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, 
And as I have purposed, so it shall stand: 
25 That I will break the Assyrian in My land, 
And on My mountains tread him underfoot. 
Then his yoke shall be removed from them, 
And his burden removed from their shoulders. 
26 This is the purpose that is purposed against the whole earth, 
And this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations. 
27 For the Lord of hosts has purposed, 
And who will annul it? 
His hand is stretched out, 
And who will turn it back?”"

 - Frame, ST, p143.

Monday, June 1, 2015

So Why Go On About This?

"So why go on about this (the necessity of the new birth)?  What's the importance of it?  What's the big deal?  I am arguing this way as a pastor, as a shepherd of souls, as a preacher.  I want my people to get their doctrine right, of course, just as I want them to get their worship right, and so on.  But fundamentally, I want them to go to Heaven with me.  This is the goal of all ministry." - Wilson, AC, p176.

And this is why I have, as a pastor, found this such a very important book.

Acts - A Manual for Church Growth

"In its (Acts) twenty-eight chapters there are about thirty-seven references to the growth of the Church.  Indeed 'The Growing Church' would be a more suitable title than 'the Acts of the Apostles'.  Of the thirty-seven or so references, six associate growth with the quality of church life and of Christian character, seven link growth with the evidence of 'signs and wonders', and twenty-four link growth with the preaching of the Word of God - indeed in 12:24 the growth of the Church is actually called the growth of the Word, as if they were so closely related that they could be identified one with the other." Motyer, Preaching?, p19.

Acts 12:24 (NKJV)

24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

Good Providence

God declares the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.” (Isaiah 46:10).

The efficaciousness of God’s providence in the affairs of all men at all times is hard to fathom.  That you exist, that you are aware of your surroundings, that you have made the choices you have made, even that you are here this morning is all because God’s counsel stands and nothing happens apart from His perfect will and desires.

Now, we can either kick against such an all-consuming, all controlling God and instead take credit for our own good choices.  We can refuse to acknowledge that God is in control of all things and instead relegate all evil happenings to random chance.  We can try to put God in a box, outside of the ultimate providence of all things – but the moment we do, we find an idol has filled the void and we fall into some form of Baal-worship, trying to control the world through any and every means possible.

Or, without ever able to understand all the reasons why God has done the things He has done, we may come with faith granted to us – faith to believe in Him, faith to believe in His Son, and faith to believe that not a hair can fall from our heads apart from the knowledge of God according to His counsels which are perfect wisdom, perfect glory, and line out a perfect story.

When you are in the middle of a story, you often do not know why certain events are taking place.  Well, you are in the middle of a story.  Just because the Author has not told you why He has done what He has done gives you no reason to doubt that He has done it.  And what had been declared and proven to You by the cross of Jesus declares that He has nothing but good in mind for those He loves and has called to Himself.  Come and worship the Triune God who knows the end from the beginning – even from ancient times.

Politics and Religion

"(Judah's) determination to rebel against Assyria (with Egyptian support) is the political expression of a rebelliousness which runs far deeper.
It may be strange to modern ears to hear politics and religion so intimately connected, but for the people of God in Old Testament times life was not compartmentalized into the sacred and the secular as it all too often is with us.  The one LORD was Lord of all, and whether or not you respected his lordship was inevitably reflected in the way you made political decision, just as in any other sphere." - Webb, p127, commenting on Isaiah 30:1-17.

And this is the case today because of a faulty two-kingdom view of the world and nascent Gnosticism in our midst.  Believe whatever you want between your two ears; just don't think you can impose that religious system anywhere out here in the real world.

This is another way that has made our faith and the church impotent.  Many actually believe it should be impotent!

Providence Efficacy - II

"For his own reasons, God sometimes wishes to delay the fulfillment of his intentions, even over a period of years...Through that period, he may allow himself to suffer apparent defeats.  But...each apparent defeat actually makes God's eventual victory all the more glorious.  The cross of Jesus is, of course, the chief example of this principle." - Frame, ST, p143.