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.

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.

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.

Spurgeon’s View On Inerrancy

There are two things I want to say before I sit down. The first is, let us hold fast, tenaciously, doggedly, with a death grip, the truth of the inspiration of God’s Word. If it is not inspired and infallible, it cannot be of use in warning us.  I see little use in being warned when the warning may be like the idle cry of “Wolf!” when there is no wolf. Everything in the railway service depends upon the accuracy of the signals: when these are wrong, life will be sacrificed. On the road to heaven we need unerring signals, or the catastrophes will be far more terrible. It is difficult enough to set myself right and carefully drive the train of conduct; but if, in addition to this, I am to set the Bible right, and thus manage the signals along the permanent way, I am in an evil plight indeed. If the red light or the green light may deceive me, I am as well without signals as to trust to such faulty guides. We must have something fixed and certain or where is the foundation?  Where is the fulcrum for our lever if nothing is certain? If I may not implicitly trust my Bible, you may burn it, for it is of no more use to me. If it is not inspired, it ceases to be a power either to warn or to command obedience.  Beloved, others may say what they will, but here I stand bearing this witness: “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”

While you hold fast its inspiration, pray God to prove its inspiration to you. Its gentle but effectual warning will prove its inspiration. This precious Book has pulled me up many times, and put me to a pause, when else I had gone on to sin. At another time I should have sat still had it not made me leap to my feet to flee from evil or seek good. To me it is a monitor, whose voice I prize. There is a power about his Book which is not in any other. I do not care whether it be the highest poetry, or the freshest science; each must yield to the power of the Word of God. Nothing ever plays on the cords of a man’s soul like the finger of God’s Spirit. This Book can touch the deep springs of my being, and make the life-floods to flow forth. The Word of God is the great power of God; and it is well that you should know it to be so by its power over you. One said, “ I cannot believe the Bible.” Another answered, “I cannot disbelieve it.” When this question was raised: “Why cannot you disbelieve?” the believer answered, “I know the Author, and I am sure of his truthfulness.”  There is the point; if we know the Author, we know that his witness is true, and knowing it to be true, we take his warnings, and follow his commands. May the Lord work in us to will and to do of his own good pleasure; then shall the Book be more and more precious in our eyes; and this sense of its preciousness will be one of the rewards which come to us in keeping the statutes of the Lord. So be it unto you through Christ Jesus! Amen.

Taken from the sermon “The Warnings and the Rewards of the Word of God” preached March 16th 1890

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

The Dishonored Pulpit

The pulpit has become dishonoured; it is esteemed as being of very little worth and of no esteem. Ah! we must always maintain the dignity of the pulpit. I hold that it is the Thermopylae (narrow place) of Christendom; it is here that the battle must be fought between right and wrong; not so much with the pen, valuable as that is as an assistant, as with the living voice of earnest men, “contending earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints.” In some churches the pulpit is put away; there is a prominent altar, but the pulpit is omitted. Now, the most prominent thing under the gospel dispensation is not the altar, which belonged to the Jewish dispensation, but the pulpit. “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle;” that altar is Christ; but Christ has been pleased to exalt “the foolishness of preaching” to the most prominent position in his house of prayer. We must take heed that we always maintain preaching. It is this that God will bless; it is this that he has promised to crown with success. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” We must not expect to see great changes nor any great progress of the gospel, until there is greater esteem for the pulpit—more said of it and thought of it. “Well,” some may reply, “you speak of the dignity of the pulpit; I take it, you lower it yourself, sir, by speaking in such a style to your hearers.” Ah! no doubt you think so. Some pulpits die of dignity. I take it, the greatest dignity in the world is the dignity of converts—that the glory of the pulpit is, if I may use such a metaphor, to have captives at its chariot-wheels, to see converts following it, and where there are such, and those from the very worst of men; there is a dignity in the pulpit beyond any dignity which a fine mouthing of words and a grand selection of fantastic language could ever give to it. . .

“Preaching for the Poor,” in Spurgeon’s Sermons, 2nd ed. (New York: Sheldon & Company, 1861), 157-158. Preached January 25, 1857.

Spurgeon Thursday

 FILLING UP THE MEASURE OF INIQUITY

NO. 3043

 A SERMON

PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, JUNE 6, 1907.

DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON,

ON LORD’S-DAY EVENING, OCTOBER 8, 1871.

The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” Genesis 15:16.

spurgeon5 THE Amorites had indulged in the most degrading sin. God had observed this, but He did not at once execute vengeance upon them. He had determined that, as a nation, they should be destroyed and rooted out from under Heaven and that their land should be given to the seed of Abraham.  But He tells Abraham  that his seed must wait for it, for as yet the Amorites had not filled up the measure of their iniquity. It would take more than 400 years, during which time God’s patience would wait while the Amorites continued to heap sin upon sin, iniquity upon iniquity, until they reached a certain point—and  then God would bear with them no longer. When the Lord uttered  the words of our text, the Amorites had not come up to that fatal point and, therefore, He did not at once mete out their punishment to them, for the measure of iniquity was not yet full.

It is a well-known Truth of God that God has great long-suffering, but that there is a point beyond which even His long-suffering will not go. It has been so in the great judgments of God in the world. Before the days of Noah, men had revolted from God, but Noah was sent to them as a preacher of righteousness. And he did preach and the Spirit of God was with him. Yet, for all that, the antediluvian world turned not from its sin and when the 120 years had expired—but not till then—God  opened the windows of Heaven and down came the deluge which destroyed the whole race with the exception of the eight souls who were preserved in the ark. Those old-world sinners had had 120 years for repentance, and 120 years of earnest, faithful warning from holy Noah—and not till all those year’s had expired did God’s patience come to an end and His judgments begin.

Remember also the case of the children  of Israel in the wilderness.  They were a rebellious people—constantly revolting, often murmuring—at  one time setting up a golden calf in the place of the one living and true God—yet the Lord had long patience with them. His anger did sometimes wax hot against them, but Moses came in between them as a mediator and God postponed the punishment of His wayward people. But at last it seemed as though He could bear with them no longer, so He swore in His wrath,  “They shall not enter into My rest”—and their carcasses fell in the wilderness till the track of Israel through  the desert could be marked by the graves of the unbelieving nation—and  there were funerals every day. It was this sad fact that caused Moses so mournfully to sing, in the 90th Psalm, “You carry them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which grows up. In the morning it flourishes, and grows up; in the evening it is cut down, and withers. For we are consumed by Your anger, and by Your wrath are we troubled. You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your Countenance. For all our days are passed away in Your wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they are fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knows the power of Your anger? Even according to Your fear, so is Your wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return,  O Lord, how long? And let it repent You concerning Your servants. O satisfy us early with Your mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days wherein You have afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.” Not a man of all that generation, save only Joshua, the son of Nun, and Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, was permitted to enter the promised land!

You will also at once call to mind the history of the two nations of Israel and Judah in later years. They exceedingly provoked the Lord and their land was, therefore, invaded by their enemies—and many of the people and their rulers were carried into captivity. But God did not cast off His people, nor expatriate them from their highly-favored land till, by degrees, they had reached the climax of rebellion and idolatry. Then He delivered the chosen nations into the hands of their cruel adversaries. Israel was swept clean as a man’s threshing floor when he has purged it. And as for the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, they ceased to dwell by the vine-covered hills of their own dear land, for they were carried away into captivity by the rivers of Babylon where they wept when they remembered Zion. Continue reading