Sunday, August 22, 2010

What Is the Priesthood of All Believers?

"From the riches of his perfect ministry Christ gives every grace to his people. The 'universal priesthood of believers' is not a religious application of democracy. Every Christian has access to the heavenly holy place only because Christ is there among the lampstands, his priestly garment girded with royal gold (Rev. 1:13). The believer has no rights as prophet, priest, or king in his own name, but in Christ's calling his rights exceed those of every prophet, priest, or king of the Old Testament. There was no greater prophet than John the Baptist, but he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he: greater, that is, not in obedience or service, but in position, in calling (Matt. 11:9-11). After Christ's outpouring of his Spirit at Pentecost all the people of God are as prophets, sharing with Simon Peter in that confession of faith which is revealed not by flesh and blood, but by the Father in heaven (Matt. 16:18). In that same Spirit they are sanctified, offer themselves as living sacrifices, praise God, and make intercession for men as a kingdom of priests (I Pet. 2:9). Through the power of the risen Christ they have dominion over the hosts of darkness and will rule with Christ at his appearing (I Cor. 4:8; 6:2, 2; Rom. 16:20)" (Edmund P. Clowney, Called to the Ministry (New Jersey: P & R, 1964), 42, 43).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Calvin Paid His Dues

John Calvin suffered through being in a place and situation he didn't prefer. The demands of the ministry on him were enormous. Enemies wanted his head on a plate. Relatives broke his heart. He was frequently ill. He lost his wife and son.

John Calvin was no mere brainiac. He lived hard and paid his dues.

"Above all by sufferings he wishes us to be conformed to the image of his Son, as it is fitting that there should be conformity between the head and the members" (John Calvin).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Romans 8: The Greatest Chapter in Scripture

The late Dr. James Montgomery Boice agreed, and F. Godet, in his 'Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969), 295', reports the German Lutheran Pietist, Philipp Jakob Spener, as having stated that, "If Holy Scripture was a ring, and the Epistle to the Romans a precious stone, chapter 8 would be the sparkling point of the jewel."

Do your soul an immense favor and go through this series on Romans 8 by Dr. Philip Graham Ryken.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Living Out the Law and Gospel Distinction

"Therefore, feeling thy terrors and threatenings, O law! I dip my conscience over head and ears, into the wounds, blood, death, resurrection, and victory of Christ; besides him I will see and hear nothing at all. This faith is our victory, whereby we overcome the terrors of the law, sin, death, and all evils, but not without a great conflict" (Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians 4:5, 597, cited in E. Fisher's The Marrow of Modern Divinity (Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 2009), 128).

"It is easy to speak of these things, but happy he that could know them aright in the conflict of conscience" (idem., Commentary on Galatians 2:19, 259, cited in E. Fisher's The Marrow of Modern Divinity (Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 2009), 128).

The preceding quotations from the great Reformer, Martin Luther, shed light on the fact that if those who have biblical knowledge of the Law and the Gospel and their distinction go through upheavals of conscience in the application and living out of these truths, how much more pitiful are those who, bereft of the knowledge of these truths, strain and struggle to live out a vital Christian life!

How alarming and heart-breaking it is to see pastors and teachers devote significant amounts of time to instructing their flock in "chaff" when the "wheat" of the Law and the Gospel is neglected in favor of schemes that are, ironically, designed to enable them to become "disciples" of Christ.

Get the Law and the Gospel right and you will have MEN in your church.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Works-Righteousness: A Hard Habit to Break

We are justified by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone. This very beautiful and hope-giving truth has been echoed down through the ages, via the preaching and writing of our esteemed divines, that we would think the seduction of works-righteousness has all but lost its appeal. But then, "Nay, what says Luther? It is, says he, the general opinion of men's reason throughout the whole world, that righteousness is gotten by the works of the law; and the reason is, because the covenant was engendered in the minds of men in the very creation, so that man naturally can judge no otherwise of the law than as a covenant of works, which was given to make righteous, and to give life and salvation" [1].

Luther admits that even time cannot fully erase this deeply-ingrained propensity in man for trying to earn God's favor through a sort of barter trade: my good works for Your blessings. He states, "I myself...have now preached the gospel nearly twenty years, and have been exercised in the same daily, by reading and writing, so that I may well seem to be rid of this wicked opinion; yet, notwithstanding, I now and then feel this old filth cleave to my heart, whereby it cometh to pass that I would willingly have so to do with God, that I would bring something with myself, because of which he should give me his grace" [2].

So it is that we must constantly be reminded of the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ: Sola Fide! Sola Gratia! Solus Christus!

[1] Edward Fisher, The Marrow of Modern Divinity (Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 2009), 105.
[2] ibid., Luther cited, 105—106.

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