Sunday, July 31, 2016

When the Law Speaks, When the Gospel Speaks...

Edward Fisher: The Marrow of Modern Divinity
“Briefly, then, if we would know when the law speaks, and when the gospel speaks, either in reading the word, or in hearing it preached; and if we would skillfully distinguish the voice of the one from the voice of the other, we must consider:— 
The law says, ‘Thou art a sinner, and therefore thou shalt be damned,’ (Rom 7:2, 2 Thess 2:12). But the gospel says, No; ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners'; and therefore, ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved’ (1 Tim 1:15, Acts 16:31). 
Again the law says, ‘Knowest thou not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God; be not deceived,’ &c. (1 Cor 6:9). And therefore thou being a sinner, and not righteous, shalt not inherit the kingdom of God. But the gospel says, ‘God has made Christ to be sin for thee who knew no sin; that thou mightest be made the righteousness of God in him, who is the Lord thy righteousness,’ (Jer 23:6). 
Again the law says, ‘Pay me what thou owest me, or else I will cast thee into prison,’ (Matt 18:28,30). But the gospel says, ‘Christ gave himself a ransom for thee,’ (1 Tim 2:6); ‘and so is made redemption unto thee,’ (1 Cor 1:30). 
Again the law says, ‘Thou hast not continued in all that I require of thee, and therefore thou art accursed,’ (Deut 27:6). But the gospel says, ‘Christ hath redeemed thee from the curse of the law, being made a curse for thee,’ (Gal 3:13). 
Again the law says, ‘Thou are become guilty before God, and therefore shalt not escape the judgment of God,’ (Rom 3:19, 2:3). But the gospel says, ‘The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son,’ (John 5:12).”

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

"Preaching the Person of Jesus Christ Himself" - Sinclair Ferguson

"Who is the Christ who IS the gospel, and how is he equipped to save us?" [23]
Footnote [23] - As a codicil to this comment, we should also notice that knowing how to"preach Christ from the Old Testament," or understanding biblical theology, or seeing the flow of redemptive history, or knowing how to get to Christ from any part of the Scriptures does not necessarily result in actually preaching the person of Jesus Christ himself. Seeing Christ as the solution to a series of clues embedded in the Old Testament is not actually the same as proclaiming Jesus himself, in our flesh, bearing our sins, dying our death, and rising for our justification. A formula for preaching Christ is not identical to the persona of Christ, and we must never confuse hermeneutical principles with Christ himself. The former did not die for us on the cross; the latter did.
 "If we are slow to grasp the distinction, its significance can be illustrated by reflecting on contemporary evangelical preaching and writing. Wherever the benefits of Christ are seen as abstractable from Christ himself, there is a decreasing stress on his person and work in preaching and in the books that are published to feed that preaching. This is accompanied by an increased stress on our experience of salvation rather than on the grace, majesty, and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Is it possible that most preachers reading these pages own more books on preaching (and even preaching Christ) than they own on Christ himself?

"If that is true (a survey would certainly be illuminating), we should probably ask a further question: Is it obvious to me, and of engrossing concern, that the chief focus, the dominant note in the sermons I preach (or hear), is "Jesus Christ and him crucified"? Or is the dominant emphasis (and perhaps the greatest energies of the preacher?) focused somewhere else, perhaps on how to overcome sin, or how to live the Christian life, or on the benefits to be received from the gospel? All are legitimate emphases in their place, but that place is never center stage. The same question can be asked more starkly in our techno-sermon age when many Christians listen not only to preaching in their own church but to their "favorite" preachers in the contemporary galaxy. Is the dominant theme, the lasting impression, the most natural word association, in relation to the preaching I hear "Jesus Christ and him crucified" -- or something else?"

The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson, pp 49-50

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Heart Experience of a Pastor

"3. Another thing required for this is, experience of the power of the things we preach to others. I think, truly, that no man preaches a sermon well to others who does not first preach it to his own heart. If someone does not feed on, digest, and thrive by what he prepares for his people, he may give them poison as far as he knows; for unless he finds the power of it in his own heart, he cannot have any ground of confidence that it will have power in the hearts of others. It is an easier thing to bring our heads to preach than our hearts to preach. To bring our heads to preach, is nothing more than to fill our minds and memories with some notions of truth, of our own or other men, and speak them out to give satisfaction to ourselves and others: this is very easy. But to bring our hearts to preach, is to be transformed into the power of these truths; or to find the power of them, both before (in preparing our minds and hearts), and in delivering them so that we may benefit; and to be presented with zeal for God and compassion to the souls of men. A man may preach every day in the week, and not have his heart engaged once. This has lost us powerful preaching in the world and set up quaint orations instead; for such men never seek the experience of it in their own hearts. And so it has come to pass that some men’s preaching, and some men’s not preaching, have lost us the power of what we call the ministry. Though there be twenty or thirty thousand preachers, the nation perishes for lack of knowledge, and it is overwhelmed by all kinds of sins, and it is not delivered from them to this day."
Excerpt from The Duty of a Pastor (1682) - John Owen


Monday, July 4, 2016

Fesko on the Abrogation of the Covenant of Works...

"Simply stated, Venema believes the covenant of works is abrogated, and I do not. The promise of the law still Stands and functions, and has been unchanged by the entrance of sin into the world. That is, if you perfectly obey the law of God you will live and have eternal life. The law has not changed, and neither has the promise appended to it. Rather, what has changed is that human­ity has fallen and is unable to fulfill the requirements of the law. The defect, therefore, is with man, not with the law (Rom. 7:12; 8:3). To say, then, that the covenant of works is abrogated, fails to consider that its prom­ises and curses still hang over humanity, and the only way to be delivered from them is through faith alone in Christ. Jesus delivers sinners from the moral law as a covenant of works. This State of affairs is true now and was also true for believers in the Old Testament."
J.V. Fesko, The Confessional Presbyterian, Volume 9, 2013
[HT - John Fonville]