Isaiah 55 – An Embarrassment of the Riches of Grace

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Pastor's Desk | 0 comments

Beyond the liveliness of this wonderful passage, bringing the eager believer from place to place – from the marketplace (1-2), the kingdom (3-5), before a pardoning priest (6-8), beneath a rain or snow shower (9-11), and lastly a walk in a most splendid garden (12-13), Isaiah 55 centers upon “Chesed” – translated sure “mercies” in the Old King James (verse 4). This is the OT way of saying grace, and the word “mercy” cannot bring out the fullness of this central, salvific term. Highlighting the teaching of the chapter, we can see in these 13 verses a full portrait of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. What do you think of grace? This is what Isaiah reports by the inspiration of God: grace is free, satisfying, enlivening, eternal, covenantal, sure, worldwide, timely, available upon simplest of terms, transcendent, divine, wonderful, effectual, fruitful, changes everything, and exalts God. ” “Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.” (Isa 55:2)...

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“Would You Please Just Stop Talking!”

Posted by on Feb 10, 2014 in Pastor's Desk | 0 comments

As with most churches, ours offers a prayer and visitors card for those in attendance, to inform us of a guest or to communicate a need. They also apparently serve well for a child’s creative thoughts and/or art work. Probably the funniest card – or maybe the saddest – was one I found a few years back lying on a rear pew. Written in what appeared to be a 2nd or 3rd grade hand were these words: “Would You Please Just Stop Talking.” Now, I will let you know – for the sake of my own pastoral ego – that this card appeared on a Sunday when we had a guest preacher. But if you think that I believe my messages to be immune from such thoughts of little lambs as I sit here writing this post, you would be completely wide of the mark. Despite my best efforts to keep in mind and heart my wee listeners, I know that I have failed them. This brings us to the point of our thought for the day. What preacher’s interest would not be peeked by the faithful eyewitness report of Luke of the response to Paul’s  first recorded sermon in Acts 13: “As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath.” (13:42) While it would be wrong to say that all sermons must be exactly like this one (particularly since this is an evangelistic message, in a particular kind of setting, and not one delivered for the benefit of those already believers and disciples of Christ), we can surely see in this the proper reflex of souls who realize the riches to be found only in Christ Jesus.  What was it in the message used by the powerful Spirit of Christ, which brought about this response? I can glean at least ten qualities to warm the hearts of Gospel preachers, and more, to thrill the hearts of all who have ears to hear – even little ears: A message of grace – “Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were urging them to continue in the grace of God.” 13:43 A message of salvation – 13:26 “… to us the message of this salvation has been sent.” (also 23, 32, 47) A message of eternal life – 13:46 An historical message – not rooted in philosophy or ideology, but in the flow of redemptive history A biblical message – no less than five texts are quoted An eschatological message – kept in mind the promise nature of the OT A Christ-centered sermon – Jesus the fulfillment of the OT promises, types and shadows A cross and resurrection message – Jesus the righteous wickedly put to death, and...

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Isaiah 55 – An Invitation to the Marketplace for the Soul

Posted by on Feb 4, 2014 in Pastor's Desk | 0 comments

“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isa 55:1) Isaiah 55 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It certainly is one of three of the greatest biblical invitations (with Matthew 11 and the end of Revelation 22) – illustrating the free offer of the gospel. This gracious word will hopefully serve well for the communion seasons that are ahead in 2014. Here are five expectations we can reasonably anticipate from this wonderful portion: Should make us more joyful and glad (12-13) Better appreciate the divinity of God’s Word and Ways (8-11) True nature of grace better grasped (5-7) The gospel has a kingly and personal quality to it (3-4) Should know that we have or have not tasted these good things...

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Legalism and Antinomianism

Posted by on Jan 30, 2014 in Pastor's Desk | 0 comments

From the meteoric life of Hugh Binning; called the ‘Scots Cicero’; Professor of Philosophy at the University of Glasgow at age 19; collected works overflow 650 pages of fine practical theology in fine print; confuter of Oliver Cromwell; taken to glory when just 26: Paul almost in all his epistles sets himself against legal preachers and false teachers. It was a common error in the primitive times to confound the law and grace in the point of righteousness, or to make free justification inconsistent with the moral law. Therefore our apostle makes it his chief study to vindicate the doctrine of the gospel. He preaches the gospel, and yet is no Antinomian. He preaches the law, and yet is no legal preacher. He exalts Christ more than the Antinomian can do, and yet he presses holiness more than the mere legalist can do. He excludes the law in the point of justification and pardon, and then brings it in again to the justified man’s hand. If these words [of 1 Timothy 1:5] were rightly understood and made use of, it would put an end to many useless controversies of the present time, and reform many of our practices. (Works, p. 601) Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. 1 Timothy...

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Joseph Hart

Posted by on Jan 28, 2014 in Pastor's Desk | 0 comments

We begin a new communion series this Sunday, having finished the three Psalms, 137-139. We turn our attention to Isaiah 55 for 2014: “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” I am about 90% sure we will be singing Joseph Hart’s hymn, ‘Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched,” with the tune from the old Trinity Hymnal, ‘Caersalem.’ This is a wonderful song which we might make a monthly feature as we come to the Lord’s Table. In doing a little bit of research on the author’s life (actually, rabbit-trailing), and learning of how, after much wandering, the Lord drew him to Himself under the ministry of George Whitefield, I came across this remark reflective of the two wrong paths he had trodden before finding the Way. He says: “Pharisaic zeal and Antinomian security are the two engines of Satan, with which he grinds the church in all ages, as betwixt the upper and the nether millstone. The space between them is much narrower and harder to find than most men imagine. It is a path which the vulture’s eye hath not seen; and none can show it us but the Holy Spirit.” May the Lord keep you from lifeless legalism and graceless license, and may the love of God and the law of the Lord both have their proper and full place in your heart and life....

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