The Double Cure

Augustus Toplady wrote:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power.

This “double cure” is both justification and sanctification.  Each is a separate work, yet they are inseparable because both flow from union with Christ.  From this union flows justification, which takes care of the guilt of our sin, and sanctification which takes care of the power of sin over our lives.

Brian Borgman, who I highly recommend, preaches a wonderful sermon regarding this topic which can be either watched or listened to here.

1st Thessalonians – The Current Series at LSBC

Pastor Jeremiah Blasi has started preaching through the book of 1st Thessalonians at Lawrence Street Baptist Church and here are the first two sermons:

Melchizedek – A Sermon By Todd Bordow

Have you ever been in a situation where someone or something wears you down to the point of giving in; a situation where someone pushes you and pushes you and pushes you; you know you shouldn’t give in, but you begin feeling the weight of the constant pressure; you feel like giving in just to relieve that pressure?

If you have ever felt that way, then you know how the Christians in Rome were feeling at the time the Book of Hebrews was written. The Book of Hebrews was written to believers who were beginning to cave in from the unceasing pressure of being Christians. Surprisingly, the most relentless pressure was not coming from the Roman authorities, but from the Jewish community.

The Romans had always considered the Christian church a sect within Judaism, so they cared little about the church’s differences with the Jews when it began. But the Jews were greatly offended at these Christians and what they were claiming.

The newly formed Christian church, made up of Jews and Gentiles, had the audacity to claim that they were the true descendants of Abraham; they were the true Israel! Even more, they had the audacity to claim that they were the ones who understood the Old Testament, while the unbelieving Jews were blind to its meaning. Imagine a bunch of white Americans in Iran claiming that they were the true Muslims; that they were the ones who truly understood the Koran. Do you think they would be in trouble?

The Jews attacked the Christians on two fronts; politically and intellectually. Politically the Jews were appealing to the Roman authorities; accusing the Christians of not being a sect of Judaism, but a dangerous cult that must be persecuted. The Romans, not wanting to upset the Jews, began putting Christians in jail and taking away their property. Even so, the young Christians did not give in; they joyfully accepted their plight, considering it a badge of honor to suffer for the Lord.

But the pressure kept coming. Compounding the political pressure was the relentless intellectual attacks. The Jews were constantly challenging the Christians about their claim to be Abraham’s children, as well as other challenges. How can you Christians claim God is with you in your little upper room worship services, when we Jews worship at the glorious temple in Jerusalem, as the Bible commands? How can you Christians claim to be Abraham’s children, when most of you men have not even received circumcision, as was required of all Abraham’s male descendants?

After a while the pressure got to these new believers. They were tired and weak; some of the Jewish arguments began to sound convincing. The Book of Hebrews was written to these beleaguered Christians ready to throw in the towel. Some of those believers had stopped attending worship because of the pressure; others were beginning to say, “Maybe the Jews are right; maybe we should just join the synagogue and be done with it.”

One of the Jewish challenges that seemed to have struck a cord among the Christians was the challenge to their claim that Jesus Christ was a priest. Not only was he a priest, said the Christians, he was the true and final high priest who eternally represents us before God, which means the entire Old Testament priestly system had been abolished.

The Jews had what seemed to be a powerful argument.  You Christians say you believe the Old Testament; and you say that Jesus was the final priest. But according to the Old Testament, only the sons of Levi were allowed to be priests. Jesus was not from the tribe of Levi; he was from the tribe of Judah. Therefore Jesus cannot be a priest according to the Old Testament, which you claim to believe.  The Book of Hebrews arrived just at the right time. The inspired author was well aware of this Jewish challenge to the faith, so in chapter 7 he addresses this specific challenge from the Jews.

It is true, Christ was not from the tribe of Levi, and it is true, the Mosaic Law required priests to be from Levi. But Christ was a priest according to a higher order than Levi, the order of Melchizedek. This argument the Jews would not have expected; after all, Melchizedeck appears so briefly on the pages of Scripture.

But the Christians were not to overlook the significance of this brief appearance in Genesis 14 of Melchizedeck. While the Levitical priests of Israel typified, or pictured, the eternal priesthood of Jesus, there was one man in Scripture who even more pictured the priesthood of Jesus, and that man was Melchizedek. The inspired author then lists the different ways Melchizedeck was a greater priest than the Levitical priests.

For example, when Melchizedek met Abraham as Abraham was returning from his military victory, Abraham honored Melchizedeck as one greater than himself. Moses never honored Aaron the priest as greater than himself. But Abraham gave a tenth of all his spoils to Melchizedek.

And consider his name; Melchizedeck, king of Salem. The word, “Melchizedek” means, “king of righteousness,” and Salem means “peace.”  What Levitical priest was ever called a king of righteousness and peace? More than all the Jewish priests, this Gentile priest pictured Jesus who also was a king; a king who conferred righteousness and peace to his people.

And consider Melchizedek’s pedigree; v. 3. What family did Melchizedeck come from that legitimatized his ordination as a priest? The Bible does not give his pedigree. He just appears out of nowhere. If you were going to be a priest in Israel you needed to prove you were from the Tribe of Levi. But Genesis says nothing about Melchizedek’s father, or mother, or family lineage. In this sense he resembles the Son of God, who came down from heaven without any earthly pedigree as priest, but was anointed a priest by God himself.

It is not that Melchizedeck himself was a heavenly being, as some in the early church suggested, but Scripture purposely leaves out his earthly qualifications to be a priest to present him as a Christ figure with a higher authority than the Levitical priests.

In vv. 4-9, the author of Hebrews dares suggest that when Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek, all Israel was represented in Abraham, thus all Israelites, including all the Jewish priests to come, were honoring Melchizedek as greater than they. The Jews certainly wouldn’t have been thrilled with that suggestion.

Even more, there is that one verse in Psalm 110. In Psalm 110 the Lord promised to raise up an eternal priest for his people, and that priest would not be from the family of Levi, but one like Melchizedeck. If the one like Melchizedeck has indeed come, then there is no more need for the priestly system of Moses.

In a few brief verses from Genesis 14 and Psalm 110, the inspired author completely destroys the Jews’ argument that Jesus, because he was not descended from Levi, cannot be a true priest that can represent us before God. At the same time, the Christians are encouraged at how the Lord Jesus fulfills all the Old Testament Scriptures.

Let me close with two points about this text. The theologians of the first four centuries are often criticized for their allegorical interpretation of the Old Testament. Some of them were not sure what to do with Melchizedek, so they suggested he himself was Jesus Christ appearing briefly as a man. This is not a good interpretation, for Melchizedek could not be a type of Christ if he himself was Christ. But modern Christians too quickly dismiss these theologians of the early church, almost laughing them off.

While you may not agree with all their conclusions, you must understand the convictions driving them. If you do, you will have far more appreciation for their contributions. You see, the theologians of the first few centuries were convinced that the entire Bible, not just the New Testament, was about Jesus Christ and his gospel. If the inspired writer of Hebrews can get so much theology about Christ from a few obscure verses in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110, then Christ must be everywhere.

Now, in their zeal to find Christ in the OT, they sometimes went too far; they tended to see types and allegories where they were none. But I would take their conviction of the Christ-centeredness of the Bible over all the moralistic sermons and teachings in our day from the Old Testament. The early church was so enraptured by the person of Christ that in their minds he must be the subject of every Scripture, to which we should give a hearty “amen.”

Which brings us to our final point. In the Book of Hebrews, you have the antidote to the pressure and temptation to cease walking with God. Wherever your pressure comes from, whether from another person, a difficult situation, or the inner turmoil of your soul, the Book of Hebrews presents one consistent answer to such temptation, and that answer is to consider the glory of Jesus Christ, your Savior. Consider Jesus.

Hebrews chapter 1; consider Jesus, who is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his nature. Consider Jesus, adored and worshiped by the angels, he who had no beginning or end, who always was.

Chapter 2; consider Jesus, whose gospel is the final word from God, a word that secures judgment on all those who refuse its offer. Consider Jesus, who for our salvation was made lower than the angels, who was crowned with glory and honor when he rose from the dead; who partook of our flesh and blood that with divine sympathy he as our priest can intercede for us to a holy God.

Chapter 3; consider Jesus, who was greater than Moses; who through his work of redemption has secured for you the heavenly Sabbath rest promised from the beginning of creation.

Chapter 4; consider Jesus, whom all men will stand before on Judgment Day, whose piercing eyes will penetrate the consciences of all who do not trust in him, so that they will cry out in agony as the blinding light of Christ’s gaze pierces their souls and condemns their hearts.

Chapter 5; consider Jesus, who because of his perfect righteousness fulfilled the covenant of works for us; who is the source of eternal salvation to all who believe in him.

Chapter 6, consider Jesus; who will extract the most fierce vengeance upon those fake Christians who profess Christ but secretly live in unbelief, thinking they are safe.

Chapter 7; consider Jesus, who because he lives forever is the only one qualified to serve as our mediator between God and man; who through his own tears of suffering, obeyed every last command of God that he may grant you his perfect righteousness so you could be fit for glory.

Chapter 8: consider Jesus, who has abolished the old covenant and brought about a new covenant on more secure promises, a new covenant that unlike the old is unbreakable, so much so that if you are in Christ that even your sin cannot turn God away from his commitment to save you eternally.

Chapters 9&10: consider Jesus, whose blood did what all the blood of the sacrifices could never do; cleanse your conscience from dead works and make you alive to God; whose death once for all paid for every sin you ever committed or will commit; who abolished the Jewish temple because through faith in him you are received into God’s heavenly temple, in which the temple in Jerusalem was only a copy.

Chapter 12, consider Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, who endured such hostility and pressure from sinners, more than you could experience in a million lifetimes, all for your salvation. And through faith in Jesus, wherever you gather to worship, you come to the heavenly Mt. Zion where the angels, and saints who have died, gather and worship. Remember that Jesus who you worship is a consuming fire, worthy of all reverence and awe.

And chapter 13; consider Jesus, our great shepherd, who by the blood of the eternal covenant equips you with everything good so that you can do his will; that which is pleasing in his sight, to whom be glory forever.

Congregation, when the pressure is on and you feel like compromising or giving in, consider Jesus.

 

Original can be found here.

Romans 11:36

For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To Him be glory forever, Amen” (ESV).

I have had this verse of scripture on my mind for the past few weeks. In God’s amazing providence, this passage of scripture has turned up in several books that I have been reading, in blog posts that I have “happened” across, and in my own reading of the Bible.  After the 3rd or 4th time coming across this passage, the thought hit me that ‘maybe this is important’ so I started thinking about it and then searching out commentary on it.  While I realize the the Apostle Paul wrote much of the New Testament, but, I’m inclined to think that this verse, this one sentence, these 18 words, or 66 letters, is the most important thing Paul ever wrote!  It puts the entire focus of what Paul had written in the book of Romans to this point on God, and God alone.  What grander focus could there ever be?

I want to share two sermons based on Romans 11:36 that have blessed me tremendously.  One is from our own time and one is from 150 years ago.  One is in video format and one is written, but both should cause our minds to soar to new heights and depths of thoughts of the grandeur of God.

All Things Are from God, Through God, and to God. The Glory Is All His

John Piper concludes this video message with the following 5 questions:

Do you love the thought that you exist to make God look glorious?

Do you love the thought that all creation exists to display the glory of God?

Do you love the truth that all of history is designed by God to one day be a completed canvas that displays in the best way possible the greatness and beauty of God?

Do you love the fact that Jesus Christ came into the world to vindicate the righteousness of God and repair the injury that we had done to the reputation of the glory of God?

Do you love the truth you personally exist to make God look like what he really is—glorious?

My heart and mind want to cry out with Paul, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33).

Laus Deo

DELIVERED ON SUNDAY MORNING, MAY 29, 1864,

BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

MY text consists almost entirely of monosyllables, but it contains the loftiest of sublimities. Such a tremendous weight of meaning is concentrated here, that an archangel’s eloquence would fail to convey its teaching in all its Glory to any finite minds, even if seraphs were his hearers! I will affirm that there is no man living who can preach from my text a sermon worthy of it; no, that among all the sacred orators, and the eloquent pleaders for God, there never did live and never will live, a man capable of reaching the height of the great argument contained in these few simple words. I utterly despair of success and will not, therefore, make an attempt to work out the Infinite Glory of this sentence. Our great God alone can expound this verse, for He only knows Himself, and He only can worthily set forth His own perfections. Yet I am comforted by this reflection, that maybe, in answer to our prayers, God Himself may preach from this text this morning in our hearts! If not through the words of the speaker, yet by that still small voice to which the Believer’s ear is so well accustomed. If thus He shall condescend to favor us, our hearts shall be lifted up in His ways!

Read the rest of this sermon here.

My prayer is that these two sermons would cause you to think of God differently.  Why did God create the world?  To shine forth His Glory.  He did not create this world to make much of mankind, which, for the most part, is a foreign thought to many Christians, not to mention those who are not Christians.  God created this world to make much of His glory, splendor and majesty.  Those of us who are truly His should live in in the light of this fact and constantly ask ourselves, “Do you love the thought that you exist to make God look glorious?”

To Him be glory forever, Amen!

 

 

 

Secret Sins in the Light of God’s Countenance

What you think of God shapes your whole world-view. For one thing, if you have a low view of God, you’ll have a higher view of yourself than you ought to have, and that’s the sin of pride. So how we think about God has major practical ramifications.” – Phil Johnson

While traveling this week, I took the opportunity to listen to this sermon by Phil Johnson.  It is an excellent treatise on secret sin and I highly recommend you listen to it.  It has also been transcribed and if you prefer to read it and ponder over it, you can do that here.

Gospel-Shaped Affections: Rejoicing In The Lord Always

I listened to this sermon by Mike Riccardi on my way to work yesterday.  It is an outstanding sermon on joy and the fact that we are commanded to rejoice in the Lord.  You can either listen to it or read the transcript below.

Introduction

Mike2We return again this morning to the fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians: Philippians chapter 4. And we find ourselves in the middle of a collection of Paul’s concluding exhortations—a set of rapid-fire commands to the saints at the church of Philippi. And what unites those commands thematically is that they are the means of achieving the spiritual stability that Paul has called them to in chapter 4 verse 1. As a conclusion to all he’s warned them about in chapter 3—the legalism of the Judaizers, the error of the perfectionists, and the sensuality of the antinomians—and especially in light of their present citizenship in heaven and their glorious future at Christ’s return, Paul culminates in chapter 4 verse 1: “Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.”

And if we are in a right spirit here this morning, the prospect of spiritual stability is attractive to us. Those of us who belong to Christ and who are rightly related to Him deeply desire to be consistently growing into greater spiritual maturity. We want to be spiritually stable—the kind of enduring, unwavering, uncompromising people that are faithful to the Lord and His Word even in the midst of great opposition. We don’t want to be the kind of people who are characterized by instability, whose Christian life is littered with fits and starts and highs and lows and peaks and valleys. Now, it’s true that, given the principle of indwelling sin, some degree of that is unavoidable. But as much as we can, we’d like to avoid that. By the grace of God we want to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Cor 15:58). We want to stand firm.

And so the important question, then, is, “By what means can I attain that spiritual stability? How can I make this holy aspiration a reality in my life?” Well it’s just that question that Paul answers in this Continue reading