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Jesus’ Tears – No. 3

The hour is late. Christ has left Jerusalem with his disciples. They leave the warmth of the house and make their way out into the cold night, down into the Kidron valley and start to ascend the Mount of Olives. At its foot lies a small grove of olive trees with a press for crushing the olives. Gethsemane was a peaceful place where Jesus had spent time in prayer.

Jesus takes Peter, James and John with him into the garden. He begins to pray and soon his face is marked once more with tears. Why is he weeping? In these tears Jesus displays for us the agony he went through to win our salvation.

And these perhaps are the most precious tears, because in these tears we see what we have been spared from. We see the depths of Jesus’ love for us, and we see the awful price he paid that we might be forgiven. What do these tears tells us?

These tears speak of the intense sorrow Jesus felt

This sorrow is unusually real and deep. He was overwhelmed to the point of death, surrounded by grief and drowning in pain. Mark in his account says Jesus was “greatly distressed.” This word […]

“Beautiful Beyond Description”

I’m just back from a Jonathan Edwards conference in Durham. The last talk was superb and I thought I would share its outline with you [plus a few random thoughts of my own].
It called to mind an article I read on a BBC website some years ago on what makes a person beautiful. “True beauty”, said the author, “is about symmetry, balance and harmony”. He went on to illustrate this with precision line drawings and pencil sketches of Leonardo Da Vinci. “Every model” he asserted “when you look at their face, jaw, eyes and cheekbones, will have angles that are symmetrical and identical on both sides” [Just by the way, this is a dim, distant, paraphrase]. What depressed me the next morning, as I looked in the mirror, was a nose bent in the middle and one eye higher than the other – I decided I would settle for a little inner beauty!
Our conference speaker at Durham made exactly the same point. He illustrated balance, with all parts working harmoniously, in the abseiling activity of an arachnid descending from its thread, and spinning its silky web. ‘Thus’, he provisionally concluded, ‘we see the glory of divine beauty in nature through the […]

The Lord’s Supper is a Heavenly Meal

In the Lord’s Supper, we look back upon Christ’s sufferings. We know that communion is a memorial meal that we do, as Jesus instructed, “in remembrance of me.” We understand that the broken bread and poured wine represent the body and blood of Jesus, who died on the cross for his people. So we look back in remembrance in the Lord’s Supper.

Yet we must also look ahead. For the Lord’s Supper is an eschatological meal. Eschatology is the study of the last things. By using this word to describe the Lord’s Supper, we mean that when participating in it we are to be looking ahead to the end of earth’s history, the day of the Final Judgment, and the eternity of heaven. How do we know this? In the words of institution in the Lord’s Supper that Paul gives us, he tells the church that “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (I Cor. 11:26). Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we should be remembering he is coming again. We are saying in its observance, “He is coming! Jesus is coming back again!”

The book of Revelation helps us to understand this […]

A Complete Christ for Your Complete Needs

The Christian life is full of needs. We are a needy people. Our needs go beyond the duty of being justified in the presence of a holy God. For there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). We also know that we have an obligation to be holy as the Spirit conforms us to the image of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:16). We have a charge from the New Testament to be faithful and gentle and to reflect goodness, among other duties (Galatians 5:22-23).
All of these needs can be overwhelming at times. Our desires for newness of life and protection from the world and purity of life are strong desires for anyone who is united to Christ.

Of course, even with strong desires we fail.

Often our failures in the Christian life flow from the error that has us look at justification from a Protestant or Reformed perspective; understanding that we are justified by faith alone, relying on a sovereign God who elects and shows mercy on whom he will show mercy (Romans 9:15); and yet when it comes to our sanctification, we throw off our reformation principles and rely on the principles of worldly self-help, Arminian discipleship […]

The Mild-Mannered Messiah

The Meekness of the Master

They say that confession is good for the soul – so I thought I better blog and get this off my chest….

…..I was preaching last Lord’s Day on my 1st ‘I wills’ of Christ. I took for my text Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” When I reached my 3rd point, on the meekness of Christ in v29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart”, I really didn’t ‘nail it’. I had intended to say that this relief is obtained when we take up Christ’s yoke of discipleship, and learn to serve and imitate a meek, mild-mannered master. So let me try to explain a little of what it means to be meek like the Master.

Defining the Meekness of Jesus

The lexicon defines this attractive characteristic trait in the following way: meek means to possess a “mild and friendly disposition” or be “gentle, kind, considerate.” It is relational word which involves the manner in which we care for, treat, handle and manage others. If Messiah is meek who would not want Him as Master and to be like Jesus […]

Behold Your Mother

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. John 19:26-27

During his crucifixion Jesus spoke these words to his mother and to the Apostle John. Have you ever read this portion of the Scripture and thought “what in the world is going on here?” The redemptive nature of the things that are said from the cross are clearly seen, but “behold your mother?”

Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.
Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
I thirst.
It is finished.
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Why does Jesus tell John that Mary is now his mother and then tell Mary that John is now her son? 

Avoiding Hyper-Calvinism as We Preach

Could it be that, in heart and practice, many of us in Reformed churches are not preaching evangelistically because we allow our Calvinism to bind us rather than propel us as it should? Perhaps we can learn from a controversy in Spurgeon’s time.

When it comes to controversies and Charles Spurgeon, the conflict he is most known for was the “Down-Grade Controversy” toward the end of his ministry. The Down-Grade was a battle against late Puritan ministers who began sliding toward liberal doctrines, philosophical and moralistic preaching, and less than holy practices. This controversy received its name from Spurgeon who warned: “We are going down hill at breakneck speed.”

Yet, as Iain Murray makes known in his book Spurgeon v. the Hyper Calvinists, Spurgeon faced a lesser known but equally dangerous controversy. In his early ministry he was attacked by reformed ministers because they believed he was offering the gospel too freely.

These ministers taught that in preaching the gospel care should be taken that sermons spoke only to the elect. Thus, they preached (and taught others to do the same) that when people are called to respond to the gospel, they are not to be called to believe in Christ directly but rather they are to ask for faith […]

Browse Worthy: Christology

Recently, Ligonier Ministries unveiled a new confessional-style statement on the person of Jesus Christ. Entitled The Word Made Flesh: The Ligonier Statement on Christ, Ligonier expressed their purpose for this statement as follows:

Today these statements are often neglected and misunderstood, resulting in widespread confusion regarding the person and work of Christ. For the glory of Christ and the edification of His people, the Ligonier Statement on Christology seeks to encapsulate the historic, orthodox, biblical Christology of the Christian church in a form that is simple to confess, useful to help teach the church’s enduring faith, and able to serve as a common confession around which believers from different churches can rally for mission together. This statement is not a replacement for the church’s historic creeds and confessions but a supplement that articulates their collective teaching on who Christ is and what He has done. May Christ use it for His kingdom.

The desire to make the truths of ancient creeds more known to the modern church is a worthy one. Much of what is contained in this statement restates those precious truths. However, sadly, an apparent lack of precision at points has created some questions about the statement. As it is important for […]

Though Dead He Still Speaks–C.H.S

Hanging on my wall just to the left of my desk is a small framed sheet of paper. The fragile paper is the palette upon which in faded purple ink are scribbled the almost unintelligible handwritten notes of a sermon entitled, “The Joyous Return.” Everything about it bears the marks of age. And rightly so! For the sermon was preached on March 1, 1891 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London by the Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon. The name and influence of Spurgeon has attained near ubiquity among contemporary preachers and students of preaching—and that’s to say nothing of the impact he has had on thousands who have read his sermons. It’s probably not advisable to try and quantify who is or is not the greatest preacher, but I don’t think it’s overly ambitious to agree with the consensus of many that he remains the Prince of Preachers.

It was a little over ten years ago that I was first introduced to Charles Spurgeon. At a very pivotal and difficult time in my life my brother recommended that I try reading some of his sermons. I quickly began to devour them as I read under the conviction of sin, the joy of […]

Revisiting the Manger

The following is a guest post from Dr. Michael LeFebvre, pastor of Christ Church Reformed Presbyterian in Brownsburg, Indiana.

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“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7, ESV)

This week is the time when society remembers the birth of Jesus, with nativity scenes popping up everywhere. The traditional scene of Mary and Joseph checking motels and finally bunking in a stable, is all based on the interpretation of one word in the above verse—a word which has probably been misunderstood in the motel-and-stable version of the story. The word in Luke 2:7 that is normally translated “inn” actually means “a lodging space.” This word can indeed refer to a public inn (as in Luke 10:34), but it often refers to the lodging room within a common house (as in Luke 22:11). Which does Luke have in mind in this verse: a public inn or the lodging space of a common house? Almost certainly the latter.

The reason Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem was because that was where Joseph’s family was from. That means Joseph had lots of […]