I will have light posting over the next week and a half – not that I am posting heavily these days. I am visiting with my ailing mother-in-law (and my wife who has been helping care for her these last three or four weeks). It is a great blessing to see my dear mother-in-law, though she is obviously uncomfortable and in failing health. And it is joy unspeakable to witness the grace of God in my wife as she lovingly cares for her mother. What a privilege to be married to such a woman!
I wanted to be sure to update you on last Sunday’s services in our church. We had a blessed day, including a couple visiting from a Baptist church in Capetown, South Africa.
Our first message continued the Romans series, Concerning His Son. The message focused on the person of the gospel. Romans 1.1-7 is one sentence in Greek, offering Paul’s salutation to the Romans. He establishes his credentials in verse one, closing with the matter of being a separated (‘marked out’) by the gospel of God. He tells us two things about that gospel in the next few verses – it is that which was promised before through the prophets (see here for summary) and it is that good news ‘concerning His Son’.
The word ‘Son’ stands at the beginning of verse 3 in the Greek, followed by two ‘who’ clauses, and is then renamed by the phrase ‘Jesus Christ our Lord’ at the end of v. 4. The KJV puts the word ‘son’ and the phrase ‘Jesus Christ our Lord’ together at the beginning of verse 3, while modern versions tend to put the words in the same order as the original Greek. Either way means the same thing, perhaps the modern versions have a slight advantage in preserving the original word order. To my mind, the impact of renaming the Son is heightened by holding to the original word order.
There is rich doctrinal content in the two ‘who’ clauses in vv. 3 and 4, but there is an eternity of value in the four words which name our Lord, so I took this message to spend some time thinking on each word. William Newell said: “The gospel is all about Christ. Apart from Him, there is no news from heaven but that of coming woe!” [Newell, p. 16] Here is our proposition: “The names of the Son express the essence of eternal life, communicated to man by faith.” First, as the Son of the Father, we see our Lord as a glorious person, the Eternal Son of an Almighty and Eternal Father, one in essence with Him, distinct in personality, sent by the Father on a rescue mission to a dying world. Second we see our Lord as the man Jesus – a jarring thought in contrast to the glory of his eternal being, a man with human limitations, dependent on the Father, the man whose name means ‘Yah is Salvation’. The two clauses of v. 3 and 4 speak to the transition between the eternity of the Son to the limitations of Jesus the man – made of the seed of David, declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection. These two events reveal the stupendous character of this man, Son of God, son of Man, our Saviour. Third, he is the promised Christ. The Messiah, the anointed one, the one set aside to the place of The Prophet, The Priest, The King, the one promised from Gen 3.15 on to be the answer to the sin problem of mankind. And last we see our Lord as our Lord! Lord means master, owner, one who has the right to dispose of his property as he will. But the term includes what I called ‘the precious pronoun’: our. He is our Lord. We hold him to be our Master by faith in his name, in his work on the cross in our behalf. I pointed out Phil 2.5-11. Someday every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that he is Lord, but for most, it will be too late. And here is my simple conclusion:
Our Lord …
Is he your Lord?
Our afternoon message concludes our series on the metaphors of the Church. I repeated this metaphor with a new sermon and additional content on the idea It’s a building. I wanted to focus on the need for organization and administration that the building metaphor implies. A literal building is an organized structure if it is intended to last at all. I described the simple homes of Palestine during Bible times, most of which did not survive all these years, even as ruins, since they were made of mud bricks. Even simple structures like these required organization and working building systems to provide shelter for people at all. A local church, as a building requires organization as well. Some of that is mandated in the Scriptures: Pastors/Elders and Deacons. Some is exemplified: the committee for the care of ‘widows indeed’ in 1 Tim 4. All of this involves structure and organization. I used Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle as an example of a large church with multiple different kinds of ministries during Spurgeon’s day. Over 66 different ministries were in existence at the time of Spurgeon’s 25th anniversary as a pastor. In addition, the Tabernacle had 40 mission churches under its sponsorship and many Sunday schools and Ragged Schools as well. All of this effort requires organization and administration. This is an aspect of church life that I believe is a failing in our minsitry, or at least a weakness. This is primarily because I personally HATE administration. But it is something that we must get better at in order to improve our gospel impact in our community.
In our Sunday School hour we are going through the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. This is a worthy document and has provoked much valuable discussion in our assembly.
Well, all of that catches me up. I hope to find time to post a few things later. Traveling just doesn’t seem conducive to much blogging!