Archive for the ‘Reformation’ category

A New Court Erected

November 9, 2012

What is there to know, and how much can be known, about the throne of grace?

Robert Traill, Scot preacher and reformer (1642-1716), helps us explore these questions in his thirteen-sermon series, The Throne of Grace. These messages were published in the book, A Stedfast Adherence to the Profession of Faith, in 1718, two years after Traill’sthroneo;p death.

The messages in this series are based on Hebrews 4:16.

“Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”

In the introduction to Sermon I, Traill informs us that he is going to address “four weighty questions, which should be in the hearts of all worshippers of God.” These questions are: “Where may I find God?”; “How should we come to God on this throne?”; “What ground hath a sinner for this boldness?”; and “What shall we get, and for what may we come to this throne of grace?”

Under the first “Head,” “Where is God to be found?”, Traill writes that God is found on the throne of grace.  He preaches that the mostArk of the Covenant3 sacred object in Old Testament worship, the mercy seat, is what the writer of Hebrews calls the “throne of grace.” This teaches us that

” …whatever of divine grace was revealed and tendered to, or perceived and received by the faith of the Old Testament  believers, in their right use of these sacred old institutions of God to his church, the same, with great advantage, believers under the New Testament have in Jesus Christ, the body, the antitype, and substance of them.”

Three advantages had at the mercy seat, and in Christ, are noted by Traill.  They are a solemn approach made to God, atonement for sins, and a Word from God.

Traill then distinguishes the throne of grace from other “thrones” found in Scripture. The other thrones are:

  • the throne of glory, a throne of the essential, incomprehensible glory of God that no man can approach (I Timothy 6:16)
  • the throne of government where “God sits, and rules all things in his pleasure, and in infinite wisdom.” (Psalm 9:4,7)
  • the throne of God’s justice from where men will be judged according to the law and their works (Psalm 143:2), from which “nothing but condemnation can justly be pronounced on sinners.”

And, then there is the throne of grace, the central subject of this sermon series. The preacher defines this throne as

“… God in Christ dealing with men according to the grace of the gospel. It is God in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their trespasses (2 Cor.5:19). It is Christ set forth by God to be a propitiation (Rom. 3:25). This is the new court or throne erected by God, and declared in the gospel, to which sinful man is invited to come.”

In I Corinthians 1:18, the Apostle Paul says that the word of this Cross is to those who are perishing, foolishness. But to those of us who are being saved, it is the power of God.

Robert Traill then asks and answers the question, “Why is it called a throne and a throne of grace?”

He answers this in four parts.

“1. It is called a throne, because of the glory and majesty of God manifested there.”

“The Lord on this throne of grace, dispenseth all acts of grace with great majesty, and a king; but not as a King Judge, and Ruler, but as a King Benefactor, and Giver. This royalty of grace shines, i. In the greatness of the gifts, grace, and mercy; vastly above all that the creation can give.”

ii. In the manner of giving; free, sovereignly free. Grace and mercy is his own, and he doth with them as he will.”

“Approaches to God on the throne of grace, should be made with the deepest reverence and humility.”

“O that captives to Satan, and slaves to sin and the law, would long to be under the reign of this stately power, the grace of God! and that believers themselves would give themselves a more free and large subjection to it”

 “2. It is called a throne of grace, 1st, Because grace entered and reared it up.”

“Till men get a sight of God in Christ, they cannot tell what the grace of God is. Search heaven and earth, you can never get a view of God’s grace, till ye come to this throne. You may see God’s infinite power, and wisdom, and goodness, written in great characters, in the great volume  of creation and providence; but till ye come to know God in Christ on this throne, you can never see that divine dainty, and saving blessing, the free grace of God; grace, as an everlasting fountain in the heart of God, pouring down, streaming forth eternal salvation on ruined unworthy sinners.”

“3dly, It is called a throne of grace, because all the acts and sentences passed at this new court, are all acts of grace. All the blessings given from this throne, are all mere grace. Nothing is here but grace (John 1:17).”

“We are chosen by grace; we are given to Christ by grace; redeemed by him by grace; by grace we are justified through that redemption; by the same grace we are adopted; by the same grace we are saved, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; and by grace we shall be glorified.”

 “4thly, It is called a throne of grace, because the glory of grace is the last and highest end of the building of this throne, and of all the acts of grace dispensed at it, and from it.”

“We read in the word of none of the counsels of God before the creation of all things, but of his purpose of saving a company of poor sinful men by Jesus Christ; and of no other design in this purpose, but to magnify his grace in saving of them this way. So much of the significance of this word, a throne of grace.”

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Thus far in the first half of Robert Traill’s first sermon on the Throne of Grace, he has shown us that the throne of grace in the New Testament is the mercy seat of the Old Testament. Traill defines the throne of grace and then explains, in rich and reverent tones, why it is the throne of God’s grace.  It is to this throne that we must go for mercy and grace to help in time of our every need.

In the second half of this first sermon, Traill will address the question, “What is it to come unto this throne of grace?” This will be the subject of my second post on Sermon1 on the Throne of Grace.

Reformation Day

October 31, 2012

“Reformation Day is a religious holiday celebrated on October 31st or the last weekend in October in remembrance of the Reformation. Martin Luther posted a proposal at the doors of a church in Wittenberg, Germany to debate the doctrine and practice of indulgences. This proposal is popularly known as the 95 Theses, which he nailed to the Castle Church doors. This was not an act of defiance or provocation as is sometimes thought. Since the Castle Church faced Wittenberg’s main thoroughfare, the church door functioned as a public bulletin board and was therefore the logical place for posting important notices. Also, the theses were written in Latin, the language of the church, and not in the vernacular. Nonetheless, the event created a controversy between Luther and those allied with the Pope over a variety of doctrines and practices.

While it had profound and lasting impacts on the political, economic, social, literary, and artistic aspects of modern society, the Reformation was at its heart a religious movement. The Reformation was the great rediscovery of the good news of salvation by grace through faith for Christ’s sake. For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church had been plagued by false doctrines, superstition, ignorance, and corruption. Since most ordinary Christians were illiterate and had little knowledge of the Bible, they relied on their clergy for religious instruction and guidance. Tragically however, monks, priests, bishops, and even the popes in Rome taught unbiblical doctrines like purgatory and salvation through good works. Spiritually earnest people tried to justify themselves by charitable works, pilgrimages, and all kinds of religious performances and devotions, but they were left wondering if they had done enough to escape God’s anger and punishment. The truth of the gospel — the good news that God is loving and merciful, that He offers each and every one of us forgiveness and salvation not because of what we do, but because of what Christ has already done for us — was largely forgotten by both clergy and laity.

The Holy Spirit used an Augustinian monk and university professor named Martin Luther to restore the gospel to its Martin Luther4   rightful place as the cornerstone doctrine of Christianity. Martin Luther and his colleagues came to understand that if we sinners had to earn salvation by our own merits and good works, we would be lost and completely without hope. But through the working of the Holy Spirit, the reformers rediscovered the gospel — the wonderful news that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again to redeem and justify us.

As Luther wrote in his explanation of the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed: I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

On Reformation Day, we glorify God for what he accomplished in 16th century Germany through His servant, Dr. Martin Luther — the recovery of the gospel of salvation by grace through faith for Christ’s sake. We also earnestly pray that God would keep all of us faithful to the true gospel and help us to joyfully declare it to the world. This lovely hymn verse encapsulates the theme of our Reformation celebration:

    ‘By grace God’s Son, our only Savior, Came down to earth to bear our sin. Was it because of your own merit That Jesus died your soul to win? No, it was grace, and grace alone, It brought Him from His heav’nly throne.’ “

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This article was taken from the Monergism.com website.

Pictures were copied and pasted from the web.

Grace Is The Theme

October 27, 2012

In Stedfast Adherence to the Professions of the Faith (1718), we find a tremendous collection of sermons preached by Robert Traill (1642-1716), a Scottish Presbyterian pastor and reformer. Among the many sermons included in this volume are thirteen preached on Hebrews 4:16. These sermons from Hebrews are simply entitled Thirteen Sermons on the Throne of Grace.

Traill wrote the preface to Stedfast Adherence. In it are words that reveal the spiritual character and heart of this great preacher. They are as stirring and motivating as any found in the sermons themselves.

“I know of no true religion but Christianity; no true Christianity but the doctrine of Christ; of his divine person, (the image of the invisible God, Colossians 1:15); of his divine office, (the Mediator betwixt God and men, I Timothy 2:5); of his divine righteousness, (he is the Lord our Righteousness, Jeremiah 23:6; which name is also called upon his church, chapter 33:16); and of his divine Spirit, (which all that are his receive, Romans 8:9). I know no true ministers of Christ, but such as make it their business, in their calling, to commend Jesus Christ, in his saving fulness of grace and glory, to the faith and love of men; no true Christian, but one united to Christ by faith, and abiding in him by faith and love, unto the glorifying of the name of Jesus Christ, in the beauties of gospel-holiness.”

When speaking of the theme of the messages from Hebrews 4:16, Traill states that it  …

“… is concerning the throne of God’s saving grace, reared up in Christ, and revealed  unto men in the gospel; with the application all should make to that throne, the great blessings to be reaped by that application, and men’s great need of those blessings.”

As Traill concludes the preface to Stedfast Adherence to the Professions of the Faith, he prays this prayer for the readers of his messages,

“May the Lord of the harvest, who ministered this seed to the sower, make it bread to the eater, and accompany it with his blessing on some that are called to inherit a blessing, and I have my end and desire; the reader shall have the benefit; and the Lord the glory; for of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

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I would invite you join me as I post through Robert Traill’s Thirteen Sermons on The Throne of God. I believe the Lord will use them to feed and enrich our souls and draw us closer to Him in fellowship and worship.

You can find the Throne of Grace messages here.

Help Me Read

July 9, 2011

Whether you are visiting my blog, tangiblethoughts, on purpose, or you are surfing the net and have stopped here just to check me out, may I ask you to do something for me?

May I ask you to scroll down on this page until you come to the category “Books” in the right-hand column? There you will find two links. One is to Monergism Books, the other is to WTS Books. When you click on them you will be taken to the on-line book stores of Monergism.com and Westminster Theological Seminary. At each of the stores you will find excellent conservative and Reformed books and resource material for your head and heart.

Each time you click onto the stores from my blog site I receive credit for your visit. When I have earned enough credits, I receive a purchase certificate which enables me to purchase books for my head and heart.

So, linger here a moment longer … scroll down and click  … and peruse the sites.

Thank you for your great help.

Footprints On My Blog

June 7, 2009

I started writing the tangiblethoughts blog back in August of 2008. While the Cluster Map on the front page doesn’t show it, because it was added well after I started writing the blog, the stat counter on my “dashboard”  recorded my 2,000th visit yesterday.

I know, I know, there are many blogs out there that have been around much longer and have thousands of more hits, but I was excited to hit the 2,000 mark.

Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to visit me at tangiblethoughts. Some of you just dropped by; others of you are frequent visitors. I appreciate all of you.

So, next time you’re here, like now, why don’t you leave your “footprint” and share a  “tangible thought”?

“One Truth” – Horatius Bonar

May 6, 2009

“One Truth”

The following words of Horatius Bonar, the 19th Century Scottish pastor, are as relevant and needful today, in a world of religious pluralism, moral relativism and “man-centered”, pragmatic Christianity, as they were when they were written and published in 1866.

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“Truth is one, not many; truth is sure, not doubtful. There is but one true creed, one Gospel, one revelation. There is but one faith that saves and blesses. ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.’ (Eph. 4:4-6).

Let us honor the truth as God has done, as His apostles did, as our Reformers did. Let us fearlessly wield it. Let us give it fair play and full swing everywhere. It is ‘quick and powerfull, sharper than any two-edged sword’ (Heb. 4:12). It is a fire, melting the iron. It is a hammer, breaking the rock in pieces.

Truth is not the feeble thing that men often think they can afford to disparage. Truth is power; let it be treated and trusted as such. We need not discuss the question as to the frequent divorcement of head and heart, undervaluing either; but still more let us beware of that unscriptural, unphilosophical sentimentalism which affirms that the heart may be all right when the head is all wrong.”

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Taken from Horatius Bonar’s Preface to Catechisms of the Scottish Reformation, 1866.

“Thy word is truth.”

John 17:17b

 

Illumined and Comprehending

April 23, 2009

Institutes 2.2.18 – 2.2.23

The relationship of human reason to the Kingdom of God, specifically, the knowledge of God, the knowledge of God’s fatherly favor toward believers and the method by which we regulate our conduct in accordance to Divine Law, is Calvin’s subject in this reading.

With respect to the knowledge of God and His favors toward men, Calvin says that even the most ingenious thinkers are “blinder than moles” with respect to the things of God. Even though they may border on being thoughtful about these aspects of God’s nature, their remarks are “somewhat of a giddy imagination” at best.

It is said that man is “intoxicated with a false opinion of our own discernment” regarding spiritual matters. Calvin then proves from Scripture that man is spiritually blind and incapable of comprehending the true light of God. (John 1:4,5) For this reason,

… it is said that believers, in embracing Christ, are “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” (John 1:13); in other words, that the flesh has no capacity for such sublime wisdom as to apprehend God, and the things of God, unless illumined by His Spirit.” (2.2.19)

Several verses are used to show that man’s knowledge of God is the result of the initiative that the LORD takes toward us, verses such as Psalm 36:9, I Corinthians 12:3, John 3:27, Deuteronomy 29:2-4, Jeremiah 24:7, John 6:44. These verses intimate “that in spiritual things the human mind is wise only in so far as he enlightens it.” (2.2.20)

“It thus appears that none can enter the kingdom of God save those whose minds have been renewed by the enlightening of the Holy Spirit.” (I Corinthians 2:14,9: 1:20) (2.2.20)

In Section 21, Calvin addresses our inability to understand God’s paternal favor toward us because of the spiritual darkness in which we live and walk without the Holy Spirit. It is only by His grace that the eyes of our understanding are illumined and we are enabled to understand the mysteries of God.

The knowledge of the method of properly regulating man’s conduct is the subject of the last two sections of this reading. According to Calvin, it is in this area of knowledge that man seems to have more discernment than he does in the knowledge of God and His favors.

Romans 2:14 and 15 tell us that the Gentiles have the law of righteousness naturally engraven on their minds. Calvin defines natural law as the “judgement of conscience distinguishing sufficiently between just and unjust.” Because of this we cannot say that man is altogether blind to the rule of life. Much more so, the reality is that natural law renders man inexcusable and deprives him of all pretext of ignorance regarding sin.

The interesting thing is that while man condemns sin in “the general definition or essence of the matter,” that is, sin is wrong, when it “descends to particulars”, namely my sin, man “forgets the rule which he had laid down in the general case.”

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In this reading, Calvin has used many of the well-known New Testament verses that speak about our spiritual deadness and the darkness and blindness that prevent us from truly understanding and knowing the truth of God, His salvation in Christ and His favors toward those who are His.

He has spoken about the Spirit of regeneration and the wondrous and special energy that He exercises within us to form “the ear to hear and the mind to understand” the things of God. (2.2.20)

We have been told, and with this we would agree, that “none can enter the kingdom of God save those whose minds have been renewed by the enlightening of the Holy Spirit.”

I am eternally thankful that my LORD took the initiative with me, enlightened the eyes of my understanding, and brought me to faith for the forgiveness of my sins.

” … one thing I do know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”

(John 9:25b)