Archive for February 2012

Fear Not

29 February 2012 by Brad Williams

Q. 58. How do we come to be made partakers of the benefits which Christ hath procured?

A. We are made partakers of the benefits which Christ has procured, by the application of them unto us, which is the work especially of God the Holy Ghost.

It has been said before, but it bears repeating: if it were not for the Holy Spirit, you and I could never be saved. It is true that our Lord Jesus Christ has won us redemption by his own blood, but if the Holy Spirit had not extended His finger to apply it to our black hearts, we would have perished in our iniquity.

And how does the Holy Spirit apply these benefits to us? He cleanses us by the blood of Christ, to be sure! But how does He apply to us our Crown of Life, our Immortality of Spirit, and our titles as kings and heirs of God? How does He sanctify us?

Dearly beloved of God, we are not cleansed by our own efforts and made fit for the kingdom by our wits and our discipline. The Holy Spirit has delivered the death blow to your old self; He is the sword of God, and He has pierced the transgressor through by the power of Christ's resurrection. That old man lays dying; he will never inherit a thing. And though he may be wretched in his death throes, God the Holy Spirit has crowned you as a child of the King, and He is revealing to you the marvels of His glory. Let the devil rage, and let the old man die. Christ has bought you redemption, and a crown, and a kingdom, and He means for you to have it. "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). The Holy Spirit will lead you into this kingdom by the hand, and He will serve as your Master and Protector along the way.

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Paternity Test

28 February 2012 by David Regier

Q. 58. How do we come to be made partakers of the benefits which Christ hath procured?

A. We are made partakers of the benefits which Christ has procured, by the application of them unto us, which is the work especially of God the Holy Ghost.

B*** P*****, 28, of Denver, a first-year season-ticket holder, longtime Tebow fan and a Christian but not a churchgoer, said Monday that he opened a Bible to check out John 3:16. "If that's where Tebow gets his inspiration, nothing wrong with trying that." USA Today 01-09-12

Dude! Where do we start? Christian but not a churchgoer? Opened a Bible to check out John 3:16? Gets his inspiration? Nothing wrong with trying that!!?? Obviously, B***, you're not even close to what you think you are, and you're not headed to the place you think you're headed. You're exactly what's wrong with Evanjellyfishicalism today, your theology is crap, your soteriology is non-existent, and your ecclesiology, well, case closed!

Except for this: before his arrest, trial, conviction, and sentencing, we failed to read this man his rights: But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - John 1:12 (ESV)

Chances are, as far as B*** knows, he has received Jesus, and believed in his name. Chances are, as well, that he is not prepared, nor even inclined, to argue with you unless you present yourself as an adversary, or an accuser.

Note well that the application of the benefits of Christ's redemption are fully the work of the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Ghost gots means, and he gots people. And his people - his ministers, his ambassadors, his witnesses - they don't use the means of his enemy, the adversary and the accuser.

So when you meet B***, on the bus or at the store or at the office, and you get to talking about these things, remember first that he has received what was passed on to him, and save the vitriol for the wolf that passed it along. Then remember who you're working for, who's doing the applying, and then point the way to the one that he's pointing to.



Victory, Somehow

27 February 2012 by Tom Chantry

Q. 58. How do we come to be made partakers of the benefits which Christ hath procured?


A. We are made partakers of the benefits which Christ has procured, by the application of them unto us, which is the work especially of God the Holy Ghost.

I love Southern Baptists. My first pastorate was in a Calvinistic SBC church in a remote area short on fellowship. The SB pastors up there in the hills didn’t care that I was an oddball who had gone to a Presbyterian seminary; they loved Jesus and anyone who preached Him. When I think of Southern Baptists, I don’t think about the power brokers of the national convention, I think about the preachers in little, out-of-the-way places who live, eat, sleep, and breathe gospel.

One thing you automatically learn when you go to Southern Baptist meetings each month is the hymn “Victory in Jesus.” Since the pastors only get together in the fellowship hall around coffee you have to sing a hymn they already know, and everyone knows that one, right? So I learned to sing that hymn, and then I learned to love it. It expresses a joy in the sacrifice of Christ for sins which ought to lie at the heart of every Christian’s experience.

But when I walk around whistling it (as I do until my family is driven to distraction) I am sometimes frustrated - not by what the song says as by what it is missing.

We rhapsodized about Christ’s sacrifice for sin, and at the conclusion of the first verse sang (quite truthfully) “then I repented of my sin and had the victory.” Of course that’s true, but how did it happen? It seems the hymnist asked that too, because the second verse ends with “and somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory.”

And that one line sums up why I love the hymn and why I’m frustrated by it. That sense of mystery - how did He ever bring me the victory? - is exactly the sense every Christian ought to have when he first realizes that he, chief of sinners though he may be, is victorious in Christ. And yet, it isn’t as though the Bible leaves this particular mystery unsolved. “Somehow” is “the work especially of God the Holy Ghost.”

So yes, I hope I can retain that sense of joyful awe at what Christ has done for me, and at the same time I am glad that the Scriptures reveal to me the Triune God, each of the Persons of which loved me with an everlasting love and played an indispensible part in giving me the victory.

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All The Benefits

22 February 2012 by Matt Gumm

Q. 57. What benefits has Christ procured by his mediation?
A. Christ, by his mediation, hath procured redemption, with all other benefits of the covenant of grace.

It's easy to focus on redemption, and to downplay the other benefits of the resurrection. After all, if this salvation provided to us is "all of grace," then we're undeserving of all that we're given. Being redeemed of sins is more than we could ever have hoped for. Why shouldn't we focus on that?

But we're not getting the full picture if we limit ourselves to redemption, as important as that is. Scripture tells us that we've received more than merely redemption. It is through Jesus that God provides to us not only salvation, but all of His promised blessings (2 Cor. 1:20).

And the magnitude of these blessings is staggering. Paul writes in Ephesians that God has blessed us "in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world..." (Eph. 1:3-4, ESV).  Peter gives us the same thing, albeit with slightly different wording, when he says that we have been given "all that pertains to life and godliness" (2 Pet. 1:3, ESV).

What are all these spiritual blessings? I could start trying to name them off, but better that you think on them. That's really the point of this exercise. What blessings, beyond redemption, has God provided for you? What is He providing for you right now (not to mention what's yet to come)?

God could have stopped with redemption; He didn't. He didn't stop until He had given us everything He had for us.

The Only Bridge

21 February 2012 by Daniel

Q. 57. What benefits has Christ procured by his mediation?
A. Christ, by his mediation, hath procured redemption, with all other benefits of the covenant of grace.

Let me begin with the proposition that Adam had no need to not pray to God prior to the fall. I think this is self evident as, prior to the fall, Adam spoke with God face to face. The curse that God pronounced upon Adam (and subsequently all of mankind) included being driven from the presence of God. Being outside the presence of God, when a person spoke to God, God would neither hear them nor answer them, lest His righteousness oblige Him to enter into judgment with them.

Anyone who soberly meditates on this banishment should eventually see that this was really a profound expression of God's mercy. Adam deserved an immediate judgment, but was granted a suspended sentence. This not only put God's grace on public display, it also provided the necessary means for God's redemptive plan to take effect.

One might wonder, why the banishment? Why not just endure Adam's sin? Scripture is unapologetic: [God is] "...of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong" (c.f. Habakkuk 1:13). To be in God's presence as a sinner, is to be in judgment. That's an important concept because unless one "gets" that, one will not understand (and therefore cannot fully appreciate) Christ's mediation on our behalf. As a sinner, I cannot stand before God apart from God entering into judgment with me - and that includes standing before God in prayer.

Christ Himself is the throne of grace that God has made available to us. Not a throne in the sense of something you sit in, but in the sense of representing Him who sits upon that throne (Christ). We may approach God through Christ, and only through Christ. No prayer is heard on high except through the mediation of Christ apart from whom no man can come to God (in prayer or otherwise).

This was one of the fruits of God's redemptive plan. It was and is through Christ that God has secured for His church the only means by which sinful creatures can commune with their holy God. Christ is the bridge -the only bridge- between us and God. Our prayers are heard, today (even as they were heard when we were yet sinners) because God chose before hand to redeem us, and to reconcile us to Himself through His Christ. This is what it means to mediate: Christ is the soul point of contact between fallen man and a holy God.

To be Beloved

20 February 2012 by David Kjos

Q. 57. What benefits has Christ procured by his mediation?
A. Christ, by his mediation, hath procured redemption, with all other benefits of the covenant of grace.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
—Ephesians 1:3–14

This is a meaty passage. John MacArthur’s pulpit exposition of these verses took more than three hours and yielded thirty-one pages of New Testament Commentary. I shudder to think what Lloyd-Jones must have done with it in his 8-volume Exposition of Ephesians. Having learned from Harry Callahan that “a man’s got to know his limitations,” I’m going to be as brief as Lloyd-Jones was long-winded.

Verse 7 begins with the words “in him,” a theme introduced in the preceding verses, from which we learn that “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ … to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” I want us to take special notice of two things here. First, the words “in Christ.” This is key to our redemption, that we have been placed in Christ. In him, according to the riches of his grace,

  • We have redemption through His blood

  • We have the forgiveness of our sins

  • We have obtained an inheritance

  • We are sealed in Christ

These are four major headings that I see, all of which include sub-points that could be listed without adding words to the text.

Second, let’s observe the the words “in the Beloved.” Jesus is called “the Beloved.” Our union with Christ means that we are also “the beloved,” which is prerequisite to everything. Because the Redeemer is beloved of God, so are we. Because we are the beloved of God, the riches of his grace are lavished on us. If you are a disciple of Christ, think of this when you think of God’s love: God’s love for you is tied to Christ. The Father sees his Son, loves him, and that love with which he loves his own Son is poured out on you. All of it, without limit, forever.

The Right Day

17 February 2012 by Brad Williams

Q. 56. How is Christ to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world?
A. Christ is to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world, in that he, who was unjustly judged and condemned by wicked men, shall come again at the last day in great power, and in the full manifestation of his own glory, and of his Father's, with all his holy angels, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, to judge the world in righteousness.

There is a day coming "when the Lord Jesus (will be) revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8). In that day, Jesus will smite those who have rejected him, and he will wreak havoc on those who have persecuted, maligned, and otherwise made it uncomfortable for those who have given grief to his bride. As it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord" (Romans 12:19).

Jesus will be vindicated in the sight of all the world when he lays waste to his enemies. No one who opposes him will be left out. Not one sin will be overlooked. No slight to his character or his bride will be left unpunished. His wrath will burn, and the world will burn with it. Men will scream in terror; people will cower and pray for the mountains to bury them to hide them from his indignation, from the fury of his countenance. He will not spare. He will not pity. There will be no quarter.

See: today is the day to repent.

The Judgment Day

16 February 2012 by Tom Chantry

Q. 56. How is Christ to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world?
A. Christ is to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world, in that he, who was unjustly judged and condemned by wicked men, shall come again at the last day in great power, and in the full manifestation of his own glory, and of his Father's, with all his holy angels, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, to judge the world in righteousness.

…but then, He never took the mock trials all that seriously. He “lifted not His voice,” but was this purely a matter of humility? Jesus never gave straight answers that day - not to Annas and Caiaphas, not to Herod, and not even to Pilate. Much later when Paul was struck for insulting an apostate priest, he apologized, acknowledging that even that “white-washed wall” had authority over him. But when Jesus was struck for the same reason, He rebuked the one who struck Him.

What is going on here?

When Charles I of England was brought to trial by Parliament, he refused to offer any legal defense, claiming instead that since he was a KING by divine right, no assembly had any authority to try him. He could not be guilty of treason because his own person was, in his twisted mind, the very embodiment of the realm.

Charles, of course was quite wrong - out of his mind. (Is it too cruel to say “he lost his head”?) No mere human king may claim immunity from every court. But what of the Son of Man, to whom “was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him... an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and [a] kingdom… that shall not be destroyed”?

Well, yes, one would have to admit that HE would have the right to use the “you have no authority to put me on trial” defense. And use it He did. Consider this exchange from Luke 22:67-71,
Chief Priests & Scribes: If you are the Christ, tell us.

Jesus: If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.

CP&S: Are you the Son of God, then?

Jesus: You say that I am.
Jesus effectively said to them, “Don’t expect me to answer your petty little tribunal, because from this moment forward I sit in the judgment seat of Almighty God. I do not answer to you; it is quite the other way round.”

The Victorious Day

15 February 2012 by Matt Gumm

Q. 56. How is Christ to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world?
A. Christ is to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world, in that he, who was unjustly judged and condemned by wicked men, shall come again at the last day in great power, and in the full manifestation of his own glory, and of his Father's, with all his holy angels, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, to judge the world in righteousness.

Despite major disagreements in many areas in the discussion of the end times, there is a relatively decent consensus on the most important item—that Jesus Christ will return as a conquering king.

My own church's confession of faith provides an interesting case study. The church doesn't take a detailed stance on eschatology. In point of fact, we don't really have a church-wide consensus on eschatology, and every major position is represented within the body, so our non-specific statement suits us well.

But while ours may be an unusual example, I'm guessing it is far from unique. More importantly, a situation like ours isn't required to appreciate the genius of the Catechism on this point. The focus here is on the most important aspect of eschatology—an aspect that, quite frankly, seems to be lost in many, if not most, contemporary discussions on end times. You could be a dedicated dispensationalist or an adamant amillenialist and still be happy with the answer. [It's the post-millenialists who are more excitable here, but they forgive your little faith -- FT] And if not, then you should be.

Here's why. Everything said here is explicitly backed by Scripture. It is a summary statement of what's certain about the future; there's no need to guess—and no need to argue. What's more, everything that's said here is motivation for living life now. How many times have you heard someone reluctant to take a position on future things, either because they don't want to be divisive, or more often because of the future's irrelevance for today?

I shame-facedly confess I've been that person, particularly with some of my more...ahem, opinionated brethren. Yet when I read what's said here, I'm completely disarmed; the Scriptural affirmations I read here leave me without excuses, replacing my indifference with compelling answers to the "so what" question.

Because when I'm frustrated by injustice, angered by pervasive wickedness, and overwhelmed by the spiritual darkness all around, I can take comfort that Jesus will return in His glory, and the glory of His Father, and all His angels.

Or when I find myself regarding my own sin more than Christ, spiritually lazy, and reluctant to evangelize, I'm reminded that Jesus will judge the world in righteousness, so I must live my own life with righteousness, and I must endeavor to help as many as possible flee the wrath to come.

And when I'm grief-stricken by the loss of loved ones, as I was this past Christmas, I can take comfort in knowing that the future holds a trumpet blast, and the dead in Christ will rise. Death is not the end, but an enemy yet to be conquered by the returning king.

Why should I care about the future? Because, in the end, Jesus wins.

The Best Day

14 February 2012 by Daniel

Q. 56. How is Christ to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world?
A. Christ is to be exalted in his coming again to judge the world, in that he, who was unjustly judged and condemned by wicked men, shall come again at the last day in great power, and in the full manifestation of his own glory, and of his Father's, with all his holy angels, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, to judge the world in righteousness.

Two thousand years ago, in the Jordan river, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, the Son of God, anointing Him as God's Christ. Thereafter the Christ began to minister in the strength of the Holy Spirit by whom and through whom He was being exalted; yet even for all this, men upon the earth denied the resplendent glory and majesty of God.

On the day of Pentecost, the same Holy Spirit descending upon believers, resumed this ministry of exalting Christ, only now that exaltation was expressed in an through Christ's "other" body: the church. To this day, in spite of this ministry sinful men continue to deny and defy God.

Notwithstanding the earth itself presently waits for the day when the Lord will come with ten thousands of his holy ones, "to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against Him" (c.f. Jude 14b).

Christ is not returning in humiliation; He is (as the author of Hebrews extols) "the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of His power." If you are picturing the return of a sandal-wearing Carpenter, your visuals need tweaking. Christ is not returning to us a second time in humiliation. He is not returning with His glory set aside. No: our Lord is returning in the fullness of His power and His glory, and when He does no knee on earth will be able to deny His Lordship.

Those who have denied His glory and majesty will no longer have that option. The unveiled glory of the Lord will so soundly convict the godless, sinners, and all who have every spoken against Him of their error, that they (along with everyone else) will fall to their knees (if not on their faces), before the reality of majesty. Our words might fail, but The Word will not.

Why Someone on the Internet is Wrong

13 February 2012 by David Regier



When I'm reading Johannes Calvinus,
I consider the epochs between us.
He did not, I'm willing to bet it,
Spend his afternoons browsing on Reddit.

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A Continual Application

10 February 2012 by Frank Turk

To prevent these tragic failings, the Apostle testifies first that the design of his doctrine was to keep men from sinning; for when he says, that ye sin not, he means specifically that they, inside the bounds of human ability, should avoid sinning. And it's for the same reason I have already said what I said about fellowship with God, that we are to be conformable to him. He is not, however, forgetting to say that the forgiveness of sin is wantonly spilled out; for though heaven should fall and all things be utterly mixed up, this part of truth ought never to be omitted; but, on the contrary, what Christ is ought to be preached clearly and distinctly. And that's still our job to this very day. Because the flesh is inclined to covet the world, men ought to be carefully warned, that righteousness and salvation are provided in Christ so that we may become the holy possession of God. Yet whenever it happens that men wantonly abuse the mercy of God, there are many snarlish men who load us with calumny, as though we gave loose reins to vices. We ought still boldly to go on and proclaim the grace of Christ, in which especially shines forth the glory of God, and in which consists the whole salvation of men.

These barkings of the ungodly ought, I repeat it, to be wholly disregarded; for we see that the apostles were also barked at by the ungodly for this. Therefore John immediately adds the second clause, that when we sin we have an advocate. By these words he confirms what we have already said, that we are very far from being perfectly righteous-- that we contract new guilt daily -- and that yet there is a remedy for reconciling us to God, if we run to Christ; and this is alone that in which consciences call acquiesce, in which is included the righteousness of men, in which is founded the hope of salvation.

The conditional particle, if, ought to be viewed as causal; for it cannot be but that we sin. In short, John means, that we are not only called away from sin by the gospel, because God invites us to himself, and offers to us the Spirit of regeneration, but that a provision is made for miserable sinners, that they may have God always willing to be good to them, and that the sins by which they are entangled, do not prevent them from becoming just, because they have a Mediator to reconcile them to God. But in order to show how we return into favor with God, he says that Christ is our advocate; for he appears before God for this end, that he may exercise towards us the power and effectiveness of his sacrifice.

That this may be better understood, I will speak more homely. The intercession of Christ is a continual application of his death for our salvation. That God then does not impute to us our sins, this comes to us, because he has regard to Christ as intercessor. But the two names, by which he afterwards signalizes Christ, properly belong to the subject of this passage. He calls him just and a propitiation. It is necessary for him to be both, that he might sustain the office and person of an Advocate; for who that is a sinner could reconcile God to us? For we are excluded from access to him, because no one is pure and free from sin

Hence no one is fit to be a high priest, except he is innocent and separated from sinners, as it is also declared in Hebrews 7:26. Propitiation is added, because no one is fit to be a high priest without a sacrifice. Hence, under the Law, no priest entered the sanctuary without blood; and a sacrifice, as a usual seal, was wont, according to God’s appointment, to accompany prayers. By this symbol it was God’s design to shew, that whosoever obtains favor for us, must be furnished with a sacrifice; for when God is offended, in order to pacify him a satisfaction is required. It hence follows, that all the saints who have ever been and shall be, have need of an advocate, and that no one except Christ is equal to undertake this office. And doubtless John ascribed these two things to Christ, to show that he is the only true advocate.

-- John Calvin, Commentary of 1 John 2:1-2
Paraphrased

All Accusations

09 February 2012 by Frank Turk

Q. 55. How does Christ make intercession?
A. Christ makes intercession, by his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven, in the merit of his obedience and sacrifice on earth, declaring his will to have it applied to all believers; answering all accusations against them, and procuring for them quiet of conscience, notwithstanding daily failings, access with boldness to the throne of grace, and acceptance of their persons and services.

Gummby touched on this earlier this week, but that little underlined part there is the part about faith which brings many to shipwreck on all sides because it coaxes us out of the place where we are safe -- namely, Christ.  And I'm going to add my little bit here because this is my expertise -- namely, failing my salvation, and my savior, and the purposes to which he has saved me.

You know: people always ask the question, "well, why are Calvinists so [pejorative] as opposed to loving?"  And there are a hundred reason why this is so -- from being too book-smart and life-stupid to being too introverted to being simply untested in the things they say they are given by grace through faith.  But I think there's something more to it than these excuses: I think somehow we have lost sight of our own insignificance against Christ.  We have lost sight of what Christ does for us, notwithstanding daily failings.

Christ doesn't save you because you have read all the right books, or because you like to read all the right books, or because you have a great pastor who preaches like Tom Chantry or John Piper or Ligon Duncan.  Christ doesn't save you because of the blogs you read or the blogs you abhor, or because you had the right opinion about the Elephant Room (either 1 or 2) before the "matter what" hit the fan.  Christ saves you notwithstanding your daily failings.

Or rather: Christ saves you because you have daily failings.  Once you get that right, you'll actually start to get Christ right, and then you can start dealing with your personal sinfulness, and then maybe you can get your relationship to other people right.

I like the way you tell it

08 February 2012 by Neil



As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ -- 1 Peter 2:4-5


It was a spirited argument. There was no bad will; it was merely a stimulating conversation. I enjoyed it, and I determined to give my well considered reasoning every opportunity to carry the day. One of us said that Christians are servants who provide good and useful service to God. The other said that it was quite a thing to claim that we are useful to God.  As if he needed us, we old men who even as the most devoted of Christians, can do absolutely nothing that isn't tainted with some sort of self-interest or measure of malice. One of us said that God commands service, calls us servants, and therefore we can and must serve, and to dispute this is to dispute with God. The other said that one of us clearly did not comprehend grace; apart from the only true Servant Christ we have no ability to serve in a manner that pleases God, and to think otherwise is the first stroll towards a sort of works-righteousness.  It's not service so much as it is a privilege. One of us said that, duh, of course we are unable to provide service that pleases under our own power... yet service is commanded, so deal with it.

The debate was truncated by the neighbour's lawn mower, which had begun screaming through the open window.  Actually that was good timing.  It was one of the hottest days of the summer, and it was time for Dairy Queen.

I gave my neighbour a hearty wave as I pulled out of the driveway. He's such a good guy. He'll be 82 this year I think.

Well, Start Here ...

07 February 2012 by Matt Gumm

Q. 55. How does Christ make intercession?
A. Christ makes intercession, by his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven, in the merit of his obedience and sacrifice on earth, declaring his will to have it applied to all believers; answering all accusations against them, and procuring for them quiet of conscience, notwithstanding daily failings, access with boldness to the throne of grace, and acceptance of their persons and services.

Oh, God--where do I even begin?

Have you ever started a prayer like that? It's admittedly not the most pious of beginnings, yet it contains a certain gut-level honesty that is admirable. I'd guess that more than a few prayers of true repentance sound like that, although by no means is this type of prayer confined to spiritual infancy or great tribulation. Because it is part and parcel of the human condition that we often face our own finiteness, it is fitting for us to beseech the One who knows the end from the beginning when we don't have a clue how to start.


My own prayers have felt like this of late. I say "felt" because I can't quite make myself say the words, yet the underlying notion is real enough.

There's a genuine comfort, then, in knowing that Jesus my Savior is also Jesus my Mediator. He isn't simply sitting back on His heavenly throne, waiting for the day when He can finally prop His feet up on His enemies (see Q. 56). His position is an active one, and all of the marvelous obedience He demonstrated on earth is is put to work in heaven as He advocates on my behalf, as He defends me from the charges of the evil one, and as He gives me the peace I need to trust in the God I cannot see, through the power of His Spirit.

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Except for That

06 February 2012 by Tom Chantry

Q. 55. How does Christ make intercession?
A. Christ makes intercession, by his appearing in our nature continually before the Father in heaven, in the merit of his obedience and sacrifice on earth, declaring his will to have it applied to all believers; answering all accusations against them, and procuring for them quiet of conscience, notwithstanding daily failings, access with boldness to the throne of grace, and acceptance of their persons and services.

James wrote that the prayer of the righteous avails much, which certainly leaves me out. Why should God even listen to my prayers? If He considers the righteousness of my works, then He should not, yet He answers prayer. Is He inconsistent? Do His standards apply to all men except myself? Why should I pray with any hope?

There is, though, One who is righteous. There is one who prays “in the merit of his obedience and sacrifice on earth.” His prayers must avail much. What is more, He “declar[es] his will to have [that merit] applied to all believers.” And so, because of the intercession of Jesus, not only His prayers, but even mine, are heard and answered.

There is indeed only one name in which we might pray. I dare not pray in my name, or in the name of my Christian friends or that of the saints of old. We - all of us - have nothing to offer in the way of righteousness but our own moral filth. God should not hear us, and His holiness assures that He will not…

…except for this: Jesus obeyed, Jesus died, and Jesus prays.


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