The Doctrine of Vocation & Biblical Principles for Evangelism

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This is the second Sermon that I preached explaining how the preisthood of all believers as traced through the Levitical covenant gives a proper biblical foundation for understanding our priestly duty within the vocation that God sovereignly calls us to do. I focus on the practical implications for this on vocation in the family and occupation at the end.  I only added a few sentences to this transcript for clarification on a few parts. This sermon builds off the previous sermon I posted on my blog, so you should read that sermon transcript, which goes over the Local Church and the Great Commission, before reading through this sermon transcript:

https://1689reformedbaptist.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/the-local-church-the-great-commission/

The Doctrine of Vocation & Biblical Principles for Evangelism

Outline:

  1. The “Radical” Paradigm of Evangelism
  2. A Biblical-theology of the Priesthood of believers
  3. Application of the Priesthood of believers for evangelism & vocation

1.Before tracing the biblical doctrines of vocation of the priesthood of believers in Scripture I want to briefly summarize the novel “radical” view promoted in David Platt’s book, Radical: Taking Back your faith from the American Dream, to provide some contrast in how an unbalanced view of vocation will have significant ramifications for how believers understand their role in evangelism within their vocation.  Here are some quotes from his book giving a summary of his position:

“We have taken this command, though, and reduced it to a calling-something that only a few people receive[1]”.

“What if the very reason we have breath is because we have been saved for a global mission?  And what if anything less than passionate involvement in global mission is actually selling God short by frustrating the very purpose for which he created us?[2]

“It sounds idealistic, I know.  Impact the world.  But doesn’t it also sound biblical?  God has created us to accomplish a radically global, supremely God-exalting purpose with our lives.  The formal definition of impact is “a forcible contact between two things,” and God has designed our lives for a collision course with the world[3]”.

There are two pillars in Platt’s position that make it unbalanced and ultimately guilt driven.  First is that Platt’s ecclesiology, doctrine of the church, is unbalanced because he only accepts a Calvinistic view of salvation often abbreviated by TULIP.  As a result Platt denies a confessional and biblical doctrine of the Church encompassing a biblical framework for the function of the Church as it relates to the Great Commission such as the Lord’s Day and Means of grace as discussed in the previous sermon on the local church & the Great commission.  Evangelism needs to be understood in its context to the local church, not just individually, so that evangelism can be seen in its connection to the Church via the means God has given the Church for the sanctification of believers in their faith and discipleship.  In contrast Platt argues for a more individualistic model of the Great Commission that reduces the Church to more of an organization to fund missionaries to send out, but neglects the importance of the local church in evangelism.  Secondly, Platt ignores the doctrine of the Priesthood of all believers and as a result fails to explain how the doctrine of vocation is related to evangelism creating an unnecessary burden on believers with unrealistic expectations of evangelism and missions.  This is essentially a return to Catholicism by creating a spiritual hierarchy where the only spiritual Christians are pastors and missionaries, but members of the local church with other occupations are viewed as less spiritual in Platt’s view.

  1. An important foundation for understanding the doctrine of vocation is by understanding the biblical teaching of the priesthood of all believers. This is clearly taught in 2 Peter 2:4-9,

“And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For this is contained in Scripture:“Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner stone,” and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;[4]

In order to better understand what this means we need to examine the Old Testament Levitical Covenant which looks at the duties of the priesthood via the covenant God made with Levi, and its fulfillment in the perfect high priest, Jesus Christ.  There are three primary Old Testament passages that refer to this Levitical Covenant, as distinct from the Mosaic Covenant, here are two of those passages: Numbers 25:12-13, and Jeremiah 33:17-22.

Among several occasions in the Pentateuch where this covenant is alluded to, Numbers 25:12-13 is very explicit in referring to this as a distinct covenant.  In the immediate context of these verses God is addressing Phineas, a descendent of Aaron describing God’s particular covenant relationship with the Levites as a priesthood (Numbers 25:10-11).  Then the particular statement referring to the levitical covenant is found in verses 12-13,

“Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give him My covenant of peace; and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel’ [5]”.

Henry Ainsworth provides a useful exposition of this passage and how it relates to its fulfillment in Christ,

“So God saith of Levi, ‘my covenant was with him, (the covenant of) life and peace; and I gave them unto him, for the fear wherewith he feared me,’ &c. Malachi 2:5.  So in this place Thargum Jonathan [A Jewish Paraphrase of the Old Testament written in Aramaic] paraphraseth, “Behold I decree unto him my covenant of peace, and I will make him the messenger of my covenant, and he shall live for ever, to preach the gospel of redemption in the end of days.”  By which words Phineas in his covenant was a figure of Christ, who is called ‘the messenger of the covenant,’ Malachi 3:1, and hath an everlasting priesthood, ‘after the power of an endless life,’ Hebrews 7:16-17, and hath both wrought and preached redemption in these latter days, Hebrews 1:1-3[6]”.

The next key passage is in Jeremiah 33:17-21.  In the context of this passage Jeremiah is prophesying about the coming Messiah who will fulfill both the Davidic and Levitical covenants (Jeremiah 33:14-15).  Christ is both the fulfillment of the Davidic and Levitical covenants as the perfect priest and king.

Jeremiah 33:17-21:“and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices continually.’ ” The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, “Thus says the LORD, ‘If you can break My covenant for the day and My covenant for the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time, then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers[7]”.

John Gill commenting on verse 18 discusses how the levitical priesthood is both fulfilled in Christ and how this relates to the priestly service of believers,

“Ver. 18. Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me, &c.] The Levitical priesthood has been abolished long ago; that was typical of Christ’s priesthood, and is succeeded by it; who is a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek; and who, having offered up himself a sacrifice here on earth for his people, ever appears in heaven, in the presence of God, on their behalf, making intercession for them; and as long as he continues to do so, which will be always, a man shall not be wanting before the Lord: to offer burnt-offerings, and to kindle meat-offerings, and to do sacrifice continually; that is, to present that sacrifice before him, and plead the efficacy and virtue of it with him, which was typified by all those sacrifices, and has superseded them, being much better than they. Some understand this of a continuance of Gospel ministers unto the end of the world, who succeeded the priests and Levites; but as they are never called priests and Levites in the New Testament; nor were they properly the successors of the priests and Levites; rather it may be applied unto all believers now, who are priests unto God, and offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ; but the first sense is best.[8]”.

As I mentioned in the last sermon, Christians do not all have the same duties to the Church, and likewise we must be careful to no draw the wrong conclusion here that since believers are called a nation of priests, that therefore we must all be street preachers or pastors since even in the Old Testament the levitical priests had different duties according to their gifts.  Likewise believers have different duties according to the spiritual gifts that God has given them to be faithful in the vocation God has sovereingly placed them.

3.This is not a peripheral theological discussion in this brief study of the doctrine of vocation and the priesthood of believers since as I mentioned earlier by properly understanding the Old Testament background of the Levitical priesthood, we can better understand Peter’s statement about the church being a nation of Priests (1 Peter 2:9).  Pastor Douglas Van Dorn gives a useful summary of the implications of the Levitical covenant for believers and our priestly function,

“In this way the covenant of Levi continues on forever, in the ordaining of Gentile Levitical priests in the new covenant.  The way these Gentiles are ordained is by undergoing the baptism-clothing ceremony of the priesthood, which was typified in the laws of the Levitical covenant in Exodus 29:4-9, but which are fulfilled now when we are baptized into Christ[9]”.

“But when we are baptized in water, it teaches us most of all that we are now made fit vessels through the sanctifying and washing effects of those waters (Eph. 5:26), to serve before God as his priests.  Baptism is our ordination ceremony into the priesthood, and every believer needs to grasp the practical implications of this important truth.  When we are baptized, God expects us to behave as holy, sanctified priests who serve his holy sanctuary (i.e., Christ and the Church; cf. John 2:21; 1 Cor 6:19; Eph. 2:21) as new creations in obedience and purity.  Our obedience is obligatory[10]”.

The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers also has particular relevance with the vocation of the father’s duties to his family.  He assumes the priestly duties to his family, which are not to be done in isolation from the local church, since both are necessary, and the levitical covenant also provides a useful overview for the Father’s duties to his family as a priest,

“These later institutions should not be viewed in opposition to the original priesthood of a man in his home.  Rather, they work together with a man’s priesthood.  On one hand, we cannot abdicate our family priesthood to the church because we expect the church to be a substitute for our spiritual leadership in the home.  O the other hand, we must not seek to apply our family priesthood in isolation from the church[11]”.

“Such spiritual leadership involves performing in the home many of the functions priests carried out in Israel.  Later chapters will expand on these purposes.  For now, it’s enough to note that the five special roles of the priests of Israel line up nicely with the roles a man should play in his home.  The priests of Israel were intercessors in prayer (2 Chronicles 30:27), communicators of blessing (Numbers 6:22-27)[12], directors of worship (1 Kings 4:2), instructors in Scripture (Malachi 2:7) and judges in holy things (Deuteronomy 17:9, 12).  A man must be each of these things for his family if he is to provide the spiritual leadership in his home.  Such parallels strongly suggest that men are indeed spiritual priests in their home[13]”.

A proper understanding of the doctrine of the priesthood of believers it gives a biblical foundation for the doctrine of vocation, so believers don’t have to feel guilty for not meeting the standards of the “radical paradigm”, such as giving a biblical framework for the Mothers role in the family,

Jeremy Walker, “Let no exhausted mother, with her hands full of home and children, bruise her soul with the conviction either that she has no way of serving Christ in this way or that she is somehow prevented by her children and her home from doing something worthwhile.  Rather, that is the very sphere of her labor.  Her mission field is at her feet (and quite possibly under them and in her arms and on her back and currently drawing something indelible on something irreplaceable).  Indeed, for her to feel falsely guilty about what she is not doing or to transfer that guilt to her children in resentment and bitterness will only prevent the good that she is called to do as a minister to her children[14]”.

Jeremy Walker also gives some examples of how Mothers have been used by God within their vocation to greatly impact the Church such as the Mothers of both Augustine and Charles Spurgeon, whom God used as instruments through which the Gospel was preached to them and they were saved.  Both of whom have had a great contribution to the Church, yet God worked through the ordinary means of vocations to accomplish this.

This is also consistent with Luther’s contribution to the doctrine of vocation since it is not limited to one’s employment only, but encompasses multiple areas of life (family, church, government, & occupation):

“It may seem strange to think that such mundane activities as spending time with your spouse and children, going to work, and taking part in your community are part of your “holy” calling, and that the daily grind can be a “spiritual sacrifice.”  It is not as strange, though, as what currently tears many Christians apart: a “spiritual” life that has little to do with their families, their work, and their cultural life. Many Christians treat other people horribly, including their spouses and children, while cultivating their own personal piety. Many well-intentioned Christians lose themselves in church work and church activities, while neglecting their marriages, their children, and their other callings.  But ordinary life is where God has placed us. The family, the workplace, the local church, the culture, and the public square are where he has called us. Vocation is where sanctification takes place[15]”.

Calling relates to all that God has called us to in life, at work, in the church, at home with responsibilities to your family, and your responsibility to the state and government.  Your vocation is not limited to merely a job that you do for 8 hrs. and then you’re done with your vocation for the day.  Ephesians 2:10 is also an important text for understanding the doctrine of vocation as it relates to the sanctification of believers.  “For we are his workmanship, created for good works in Christ Jesus which he prepared beforehand so that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).  Good works are never the means by which we attain salvation as Paul has already stated in Ephesians 2 that we were dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1), and nothing short of a sovereign act of God can raise dead sinners to life in Christ regenerating their hearts and granting them repentance and faith (Eph. 2:4-6, 8-9).  Our good works are part of our sanctification and they fulfill the second part of the greatest commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves, which is why Luther rebuked pietistic individuals who isolated themselves from society deceiving themselves by presuming to be more spiritual.  Therefore believers are faithful to the Lordship of Christ when they do their vocation with excellence and thereby love their neighbor by doing good works whether that is working in construction or working in a grocery store.  We are not faithful to the Lordship of Christ in our vocation if we witness to coworkers to the neglect of fulfilling the obligations of our vocation because there are proper times when we can witness to coworkers such as during a lunch break, after your shift is over, or by inviting a coworkers over to your house for dinner to talk to them and have the opportunity to witness to them as well.

The Lordship of Christ is significant in calling and vocation because it confirms that God uses ordinary means to accomplish his purposes through believers.  And as we turn to the Lord’s Supper in light of the doctrine of vocation we see that the Levitical Covenant not only helps us to understand our vocation, but also points us to the prefect high priest, Christ, and his atoning death on our behalf.

[1] David Platt, Radical: Taking back your Faith from the American Dream (NY: Multnomah, 2010), 72-73

[2] Ibid, 75

[3] Ibid, 83; Platt even makes the argument that if we say that we are concerned with reaching the lost in the U.S. or in our local town, then we have missed the focus of God’s global plan, so Platt goes to the extreme of neglecting evangelism within one’s ordinary vocation and indigenous missions as well by polarizing his view of evangelism making everything global, “But even if we are doing these things, we would still be overlooking the foundational biblical truth when we say our hearts are for the United States.  As we have seen all over Scripture, God’s heart is for the world.  So when we say we have a heart for the United States, we are admitting that we have a meager 5 percent of God’s heart, and we are proud of it.  When we say we have a heart for the city we live in, we confess that we have less than 1 percent of God’s heart”.  Ibid, 76

[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 1 Pe 2:4–9.

[5] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Nu 25:12–13

[6] Henry Ainsworth, Annotations on the Pentateuch and the Psalms (PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1991 reprint), Vol. II: 126

[7] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Je 33:17–21

[8] John Gill, An Exposition of the Old Testament, vol. 5, The Baptist Commentary Series (London: Mathews and Leigh, 1810), 595

[9] Douglas Van Dorn, Waters of Creation: A Biblical-Theological Study of Baptism  (Erie, Colorado; Waters of Creation Publishing, 2009), 134

[10] Ibid, 141

[11] Samuel E. Waldron with Benjamin Hoak, A Man as Priest in His Home (Palmdale, CA; RBAP, 2012), 28

[12] “In some respects this is the most difficult of the five roles of a priest to apply to a man in his home.  Speaking of men as mediators of divine blessing does not equate their mediatorial character with that of Christ.  But, there are principles that apply in both cases”.  Ibid, 56; Waldron gives a useful concise definition of a mediator, “By definition, priests stand in the gap between holy God and sinful man.  Hebrews 5:1 says they are “appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God.”  A mediator, then, is one who is a channel or conduit of blessing”.  Ibid, 55

[13] Ibid, 14

[14] Jeremy Walker, The Broken Hearted Evangelist, (Kindle edition), 370

[15] Gene Edward Veith, Our Calling and God’s Glory, Modern Reformation Magazine issue: “Using God” Nov./Dec. 2007 vol. 16 No. 6: pg. 26; online version: http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var2=881

The Local Church & The Great Commission

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The following is my sermon transcript with a few minor changes from the sermon that I preached this last lord’s Day for the evening service.  I preached on the Great Commission and the Primary role of the Local Church in evangelism which is often neglected due to an unbalanced emphasis on individualism:

  1. Defining the Function of the Church
  2. The Primary Goal of the Great Commission (Discipleship)
  3. The Means given to the Church (Means of Grace)

1. Matthew 28:16-20, “But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”[1].

In order for us to understand what God requires of the Church (its function) in the Great Commission (Matt.28:16-20), we must first have a biblical definition of the Church because Christ commissioned the Apostles who are the foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:20) giving them the Imperative of the Great Commission, which is a duty of the Church.  Benjamin Keach, a particular Baptist and a pastor who signed the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, gives the following definition of the Church and its function as ordained by God,

“A Church of Christ, according to the Gospel-Institution, is a congregation of Godly Christians, who as a Stated-Assembly (being first baptized unto the profession of Faith) do by mutual agreement to the Will of God; and do ordinarily meet together in one Place, for the Publick Service and Worship of God; among whom the Word of God and Sacraments [Baptism & the Lord’s Supper] are duly administered, according to Christ’s institution[2]”.

Our Confession (1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith) also gives a useful explanation of the Church as it relates to different offices and the duties of members of a local Church:

1689 LBC Ch. 26 Paragraph 8: “A particular Church gathered, and compleatly Organized, according to the mind of Christ, consists of Officers, and Members; And the Officers appointed by Christ to be chosen and set apart by the Church (so called and gathered) for the peculiar Administration of Ordinances, and Execution of Power, or Duty, which he intrusts them with, or calls them to, to be continued to the end of the World, are16 Bishops or Elders and Deacons[3]”.

1689 LBC Ch. 26 Paragraph 11: “Although it be incumbent on the Bishops or Pastors of the Churches to be instant in Preaching the Word, by way of Office; yet the work of Preaching the Word, is not so peculiarly confined to them; but that others also1 gifted, and fitted by the Holy Spirit for it, and approved, and called by the Church, may and ought to perform it[4]”.

A Church consists of officers & members, and because God has gifted believers to different degrees in different areas we do not all have the same obligations for evangelism i.e. all members of a church are not expected to preach from the pulpit.  In the historical doctrine of vocation, Martin Luther describes 4 spheres of the responsibilities believers have: vocation in relationship to the Church, Government, Family, and Occupation.  All believers who are members of a local church, have a responsibility to the local Church, but all members are not gifted in the same areas. As a result believers who are members of a church have different responsibilities according to what God has gifted them to do.  Some God has gifted for the task of preaching & teaching while others help by prayer, service as deacons, and other means.  Different roles don’t imply that these tasks are less significant as Paul makes clear with the different task of members of the Church being compared to different parts of the body, all of which have a crucial role together (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

2. The command to make disciples in the Great Commission is a function of the church, evangelism is not collecting ballot votes, after someone is converted by God’s grace he needs to be baptized and become a member of a local church to be discipled and grow in faith by the means that God has given to the church, the Means of Grace. In fact in the Greek text of Matthew 28:20 the only imperative in the Great commission is the command to make disciples, “Therefore after you have gone out[5] (Participle), make disciples (Imperative)”.  It is already assumed that the Apostles will go out in obedience to Christ’s command, so the emphasis is on making disciples, the necessary component of evangelism following after the conversion of sinners.  We must remember as believers that we represent not only ourselves, but our local church when we do evangelism, so we must be discerning for example starting a Bible Study apart from the local church without receiving counsel from the elders of the local church may appear to be a useful way to get people into the church.  But it cannot replace the function of the local church, and there is also the danger of a lack of faithful teaching by placing those in a position they are not qualified to lead in for teaching as well as a lack of accountability.

Dr. Jim Renihan explains how the function of evangelism was closely connected to the local church by the early reformed Baptists rather than viewing the Great Commission as only a task for individuals and for the goal of seeking converts.  In contrast to this mentality the 17th century reformed baptists perceived the goal of evangelism as not being limited to conversion, but that those who professed faith became members of a biblical local church.

“The formula for church planting was at the front of this action.  Evangelism was not carried out simply to seek after conversions.  Churches had to be planted.  This is an essential part of the latter Confessional doctrine of the church.  Those who received the gift of salvation were expected to become a part of a well-ordered church.  The Baptists could not conceive of evangelism apart from church planting[6]”.

3. The means that God has ordained for the church to fulfill this role of discipleship is through the Corporate Means of Grace observed on the Lord’s Day.  This is in contrast to current trends to be “popular” and “relevant” in the church to unbelievers by seeking “innovative” and “radical” means,

Michael Horton, “American Christianity is a story of perpetual upheavals in churches and individual lives. Starting with the extraordinary conversion experience, our lives are motivated by a constant expectation for The Next Big Thing.  We’re growing bored with the ordinary means of God’s grace, attending church week in and out.  Doctrines and disciplines that have shaped faithful Christian witness in the past are often marginalized or substituted with newer fashions or methods.  The new and improved may dazzle us for the moment, but soon they have become “so last year[7]”.

What are the Means of Grace and why do they matter?

By affirming the Means of Grace we acknowledge God’s Sovereign role in the Church and the Means he uses to accomplish his will by sanctifying believers.  The Means of grace help believers to not lose focus in our sanctification as we focus on Christ who not only purchased redemption on our behalf, but also the benefits of redemption.  Christ is not only sovereign for our Justification, but for our sanctification as well.  As we seek to be conformed to the image of Christ and grow in our faith we cannot neglect the primary Public means which have been ordained as functions of the Church for the sanctification of believers.  It frees believers of an unnecessary burden of individualism and trying to be radical and outgoing in faith that burns out because it lacks a wholistic view of the Sovereignty and sufficiency of Christ.  We must seek contentment in Christ through the Means that He has ordained for the Church and not seek to sanctify ourselves through other means foreign to Scripture.

Pastor Barcellos, “I define means of grace as the delivery systems God has instituted to bring grace– that is, spiritual power, spiritual change, spiritual help, spiritual fortitude, spiritual blessings – to needy souls on earth.  Grace comes from our Father, through the Son, by the Spirit ordinarily in conjunction with the ordained means.  The means of grace are those conduits through which Christ alters, modifies, changes, transforms, and develops souls on earth… The means of grace, then, are God’s delivery systems through which that which was acquired for us gets distributed or delivered to or in us [8]”.

The Means of grace were viewed as an essential part of saving faith and spiritual growth by our Baptist fore-fathers in the 1689 LBC and also by the other reformed confessions such as the WCF.  The Preaching of the Word is viewed as having a primary role among the means of grace since it is used by God both for the salvation of souls and for the sanctification of believers:

1689 LBC Chapter 14 Paragraph 1 “Saving Faith”: The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts[9], and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word[10]; by which also, and by administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, prayer, and other means appointed by God, it is increased and strengthened[11]”.

R. Scott Clark’s book makes a similar observation commenting on the WCF’s discussion of the means of Grace,

“In WCF [Westminister Confession of Faith] 1.7 we confess that despite the truth that “all things” in Scripture are not equally clear or easy to understand, nevertheless, everything “necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation” is clearly revealed in Scripture; and “in a due use of the ordinary means, [we] may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.”  The phrase “due use of ordinary means” is at the heart of our piety.  The Standards return repeatedly to the notion that it is God’s will to use means to accomplish his will (e.g., WCF 3.6; 5.3; 17.3; 18.3; WSC 88).  WLC [Westminister Larger Catechism] Question 154 says: “What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation?”

Answer: “The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to his church the benefits of his mediation, are all his ordinances; especially the Word, sacraments [Baptism & The Lord’s Supper], and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for their salvation… The Spirit works a mystical union through the preaching of the gospel by which he creates faith.  He strengthens that union through Word and sacrament[12]”.

The Means of grace remind us that there are no great radical heroes of the faith, who in and of themselves serve as a model of faith since they all had deficiencies and were imperfect, yet they all pointed towards the culmination of the only true hero and redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.   Through the Preaching of the Word, Christ is actively performing his office of Prophet via the Preacher to give his prophetic Word revealed in Scripture to the saints.  Through the Lord’s Supper we not only recall Christ’s work as our perfect high Priest and mediator, but have the present hope as he currently intercedes at the Father’s right hand for us, and we have a future hope as we eagerly await the promised state of entering into glory.  May this serve as an encouragement to the saints to be content with God’s ordinary Means of grace, trusting in God’s sovereign and perfectly sufficient Means he has given the Church through Christ by which the Church fulfills its duty to the Great Commission.

[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Mt 28:16–20.

[2] Benjamin Keach, The Glory of a True Church, and its Discipline display’d (London: n.p., 1697), 5-6, cited in James M. Renihan, Edification and Beauty: The Practical Ecclesiology of the English Particular Baptists, 1675-1705 (Eugene, Oregon; Wipf & Stock & Paternoster, 2008), 44

16 Act. 20:17, with v. 28; Phil. 1:1.

[3] W. J. McGlothlin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Philadelphia; Boston; Chicago; St. Louis; Toronto: American Baptist Publication Society, 1911), 266

1 Act. 11:19, 20, 21; 1 Pet. 4:10, 11.

[4] W. J. McGlothlin, Baptist Confessions of Faith (Philadelphia; Boston; Chicago; St. Louis; Toronto: American Baptist Publication Society, 1911), 267

[5] NASB 1995 Update footnote translates this participle as: “Having gone; Gr aorist participle”.  This is an attended circumstances participle, so it takes the mood of the main verb, which is why it is often translated as an imperative, but the main verb is still to make disciples and not the action of going out.

[6] James M. Renihan, Edification and Beauty: The Practical Ecclesiology of the English Particular Baptists, 1675-1705 (Eugene, Oregon; Wipf & Stock & Paternoster, 2008), 60

[7] Horton, Ordinary, 16

[8] Richard C. Barcellos, The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: More than a Memory (Ross-shire, Scotland; Mentor, 2013), 23-24

[9] 2 Corinthians 4:13; Ephesians 2:8

[10] Romans 10:14, 17

[11] Luke 17:5; 1 Peter 2:2; Acts 20:32; ibid, 30

[12] R. Scott Clark, Recovering the Reformed Confession: Our Theology, Piety, and Practice (Phillipsburg, NJ; P&R Publishing, 2008), 333-334

Henry Ainsworth’s Biblical Theology of the Passover and Lord’s Supper from Exodus 12

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I’ve been reading through Henry Ainsworth’s Annotations on the Pentateuch to accompany my daily Hebrew translation from the Pentateuch and comparison with Targum Onkelos, an ancient Aramaic Jewish translation of the Pentatuech.  Ainsworth’s commentary is far beyond its time as he employs a pre-enlighetnment hermeneutic, letting scripture interpret scripture, he traces biblical-theological themes through the Old Testament and into the New Testament, both the OT use of OT and the NT use of the OT, and he was a master of biblical languages since he compares the Hebrew text with the Greek Septuagint (LXX) along with the Aramaic Targums (Jewish paraphrases of the Old testament), which few modern commentators on the Pentateuch are able to do.  Here are some quotations giving a biblical theology of the Lord’s Supper and Passover.  When I have more time (primarily after I graduate from my undergraduate studies this May) I’ll try to post more quotes from Ainsworth’s exegetical and biblical-theological comments on the Pentateuch [these are only sections of quotes from Ainsworth’s commentary for each verse, not the entire section for each verse, to see the high points of his biblical theology and hermeneutics of Exodus 12 by juxtaposing them]:

“[Ainsworth’s comments on Exodus 12:1] Because this release of Israel was a figure of the church’s redemption by Christ, who reneweth the world, 1 Cor. 5:7,8; 2 Cor. 5:17; and who was to suffer death also in this month, John 18:28; therefore God made it the head and first of the year; that by it the church might be taught to expect ‘the acceptable year of the Lord,’ which Christ preached, Luke 4:19″.  Henry Ainsworth, Annotations on the Pentateuch, Soli Deo Gloria edition, Vol. I: 290

“[Ainsworth’s comments on Exodus 12:8] These observations (those that Ainsworth lists in his comments on Exodus 12:8) of the Jews while their commonwealth stood, and to this day, may give light to some particulars in the passover that Christ kept; as why they lay down, one ‘leaning’ on another’s ‘bosom,’ John 13:23 (a sign of rest and security,) and stood not, as at the first passover, neither sat on high, as we use.  Why Christ rose from supper, and washed, and sat down again, John 13:4,5,12.   Why he blessed, or gave thanks, for the bread apart, and for the cup (or wine) apart, Mark 14:22, 23; and why it is said, he took the cup after supper, Luke 22:20; also concerning the hymn which they sung at the end, Mat. 26:30; and why Paul calleth it the ‘showing forth’ of the Lord’s death, 1 Cor. 11:26, as the Jews usually called their passover, Haggadah, that is, a Showing, or a Declaration.  But specially we may observe, how the bread, which was of old a remembrance of their deliverance out of Egypt, was sanctified by the Son of God, to be a remembrance of his death, and of our redemption thereby from Satan, 1 Cor. 11:24-26, for which we have much more cause to praise, honour, and magnify the Lord, than the Hebrews had for their temporary salvation”. Ibid, Vol. I:292

“[Ainsworth’s comments on Exodus 12:11] And as the festival time, so the lamb then killed is called the Passover, Luke 2:41; and 22:7; and the Lamb of God Christ is so named also, 1 Cor. 5:7; because for his sake God passeth over us, and destroyeth us no with the world, John 3:3,16,18.  Seven famous passovers are recorded in scripture to have been kept.  The first, this which Israel kept in Egypt.  The second, that which they kept in the wilderness, Num. 9.  The third, which Joshua kept with Israel when he had newly brought them into Canaan, Josh. 5:10.  The fourth, in the reformation of Israel by king Hezekiah, 2 Chron. 30.  The fifth, under king Josiah, 2 Chron. 35.  The sixth, by Israel returned out of the captivity of Babylon, Ezra 6:19.  The seventh, that which Jesus our Saviour desired so earnestly, and did eat with his disciples before he sufferred, Luke 22:15.  At which time that legal passover had an end, and our Lord’s Supper came in its place.  The memorial of Christ, our Passover, sacrificed for us.” Ibid, Vol. I: 294

“[Ainsworth’s comments on Exodus 12:22]  This herb (hyssop) was used to sprinkle with in other services and purifications.  See Exod. 24:6,8; Lev. 14:4; Num. 19:6,18; and signified the instrument whereby the blood of Christ is sprinkled upon, and applied unto our hearts, which is the preaching of faith; for faith purifieth the heart of sinners, Acts 15:9; and it cometh by the preaching of the Word, Rom. 10:14-17; which ministereth unto us the Spirit, Gal. 3:2; and we are elect through sanctification of the Spirit, ‘unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,’ 1 Pet. 1:2; which purgeth our consciences ‘from dead works, to serve the living God,’ Heb. 9:14.  See Ps. 51:9″. Ibid, Vol. I: 297

“[Ainsworth’s comments on Exodus 12:46]  A BONE,] To foreshadow that not a bone of Christ our Passover should be broken; as was fulfilled, John 19:33,36; which signified his victory and deliverance out of affliction and death, (from which he rose the third day;) as Ps. 34:20,21; the Lord ‘keepeth all his bones, not one of them is broken.’ And, in hope of the resurrection, Joseph gave charge of his bones, and they were carried into Canaan, Heb. 11:22; Exod. 13:19″. Ibid, Vol. I:301

You can get an online copy of Anisworth’s commentary in PDF and google books for free; the Soli Deo Gloria edition is out of print and expensive:

https://1689reformedbaptist.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/henry-ainsworth-commentary-on-the-pentateuch-and-psalms/

Tawhid, Shirk, and a Presuppositional Approach for witnessing to Muslims

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This is a lesson that I gave based on a paper that I wrote for my World Religions class particularly focusing on the doctrine of Tawhid, the oneness of God, and shirk, the violation of Tawhid by associating partners with Allah, in Islam.

I quoted a few additional portions from James White’s book, What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Quran, for a useful comparison of the view of the final judgment in the Quran (Chapter 7 in James White’s book) with the Bible to contrast the Quran’s view of God with the Bible’s view of God as Just, Holy, and Merciful:

Presuppositional Apologetics You-Tube Playlist

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This is a playlist from my you-tube channel from different apologists such as James White, Greg Bahnsen, and Sye Ten Bruggencate giving a foundation for a Biblical apologetic for evangelism, exposing the false presuppositions of an unbeliever’s worldview, confronting them with their dependence upon the God they know exists to even be able to account for basic everyday life i.e. logic, uniformity of nature, morality, human dignity.  I like Gene Cook Jr’s acronym for the Transcendental Argument, MUCH = M for Morality, U for Uniformity of Nature, C for concepts and abstract universals, H for Human Dignity:

 

Apologetic Training Material for Witnessing to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses

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This is a playlist from my you-tube channel containing lectures discussing Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness beliefs along with some debates that Dr. James White has done with Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses to help equip Christians to witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons:

 

Dr. Greg Bahnsen’s Opening Statement in his debate with Edward Tabash

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Dr. Bahnsen gives an opening statement in this debate on the existence of God with lawyer Edward Tabash demonstrating the inability of the atheistic worldview to account for the basic conditions of intelligibility i.e. logic, uniformity of nature, morality, and human dignity, which can only be accounted for within a Christian worldview:

http://nickvoss.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/dr-greg-bahnsen-atheists-are-unable-to-answer-the-tough-questions-of-philosophy/

Federalismo 1689 comparado con Federalismo Westminster

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Una comparación entre la teleología del pacto de la confesión de fe de Westminster y la confesión bautista de fe de 1689:

 

http://bautistasreformadosperu.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/federalismo-1689-comparado-con-federalismo-westminster-2/

 

Jeremey Walker, Urgency to reach the lost

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“We cannot pretend that we have understood divine truth unless we are living it. We cannot pretend that we know and believe the truth about men, souls, heaven, hell, and salvation unless it is making a difference in the way we think, feel, pray, speak, and act. A vigorous, practical concern for the lost, growing out of a desire for God’s glory in man’s salvation, is an eminently Christlike thing and a hallmark of healthy Christianity.” The Brokenhearted evangelist, Kindle version p. 56

“While I accept that there can be an unbalanced and crippling expectation and even unbiblical obsession with some aspects of evangelism and “mission” (as the portentous modern singular would have it), there is an opposite and perhaps greater danger in our day that believers and churches enjoying possession of a great deposit of truth nevertheless do not know it. If they did, they would be doing something. It is very easy to be up in arms, for example, about current assaults on what can so calmly be described as the doctrine of hell. “Of course there is a hell!” we protest, offended and disturbed that someone could deny what is so plainly written in the Word of God. Is there a hell? What difference has it made? What have we done differently because there is a hell? Is its reality driving our thoughts, words, and deeds? Many of us who have entered the kingdom have come perilously close to the flames of the pit. We have felt its fire, and yet we have, perhaps, forgotten that from which we have been delivered. The urgency with which we fled to Christ ourselves has perhaps been replaced with a casual awareness of spiritual reality that never energizes us to do anything for those who are themselves in danger of eternal punishment. The same could be said of heaven, of Christ’s atonement for sinners, of God’s grace and mercy, of the freeness of the gospel, of the excellence of salvation. “Yes…yes…yes,” the monotonous ticking off of doctrines received continues. But what difference does it make to you and me?” ibid p. 56-72

[John Bunyan’s Burden for the lost] “I preached what I felt, what I smartingly [acutely, deeply] did feel. Indeed, I have been to them as one sent to them from the dead; I went myself in chains to preach to them in chains, and carried that fire in my own conscience that I persuaded them to beware of”?[2]” ibid p. 109

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