Archive for the ‘Reformed Theology’ category

The Cross Interprets Man

December 22, 2012

In “The Surety’s Cross,” Scottish preacher Horatius Bonar (1808-1889) preaches that the Cross is “the divine proclamation and interpretation of the things of God.” The sermon, based on Galatians 6:14, is built on six “heads,” or major points. Each “head” is Bonar’s exposition on the Cross’ interpretation of six things of God – Man, God Himself, the Law, Sin, the Gospel, and Service.

Heading I of the sermon is: “The cross is the interpreter of MAN.” Under this “head” Bonar writes that the Cross reveals two things about man.

The first thing that it reveals is that man is a hater of God.

“In the cross man has spoken out.”

“Reckoning the death of the cross the worst of all deaths – man deems it the fittest for the Son of God. Thus, the enmity of the natural heart speaks out, and man not only confesses publicly that he is a hater of God – but he takes pains to show the intensity of his hatred.”

“It is yon cross which judges you…. Man hating God – and hating most, when God is loving most!”

“But how am I to sever myself from these crucifiers, and protest against their crime? By believing in the name of the crucified One! For all unbelief is approval of the deed and identification with the murderers. Faith is man’s protest against the deed; and identification of himself, not only with the friends and disciples of the crucified One – but with the crucified One himself.”

“The cross, then, was the public declaration of man’s hatred of God, man’s rejection of his Son, and man’s avowal of his belief that he needs no Savior. If anyone, then, denies the ungodliness of humanity, and pleads for the native goodness of the race, I ask, what means yon cross?”

The Cross not only reveals the “depravity of man,” it exhibits the foolishness of man.

“And as his erection of the cross was the revelation of his folly, so has been his subsequent estimate of it, and of the gospel which has issued from it. He sees in it no wisdom – but only foolishness; and this ascription of foolishness to the cross is but the more decided proof of his own foolishness.”

Bonar concludes the first “head” of his message with these questions:

“My friend, what is that cross to you? Is it folly or wisdom? Do you see, in the way of salvation which it reveals, the excellency of wisdom, as well as the excellency of power and love? Has the cross, interpreted to you by the Holy Spirit, revealed your own heart as a hell of darkness and evil? Have you accepted its exposition of your character, and welcomed it also as salvation for the lost – reconciliation between you and God?

What is the Cross to you?  Foolishness or the wisdom of God? Have you come to the Christ of the Cross for the forgiveness of your sin and the promise of eternal life?

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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.

Approaching The Throne of Grace

October 26, 2012

Robert Traill was a Scottish Presbyterian pastor and reformer who lived from 1642 to 1716. Because of the religious and Robert Traill2  political persecution he was subject to from the Church of England because of his religious and church beliefs, Traill fled to Holland in 1667 and then to London in 1670. He returned to Scotland for a short period of time, was arrested, and spent several months in Bass Prison. After his release he returned to London where he pastored a Scottish congregation until his death in 1716.

I became familiar with Traill in 2009 when I read, studied, and posted on his six- sermon series on Galatians 2:21. That series, preached around 1692 and later published as The True Gospel Preached: Six Sermons on Galatians 2:21, “set forth the Gospel of God’s Free and Sovereign Grace in Jesus Christ to unworthy sinners who are so foolishly inclined to set about the seeking of their reconciliation with God by the Law and their own righteousness.” (True Covenanter)

The Lord blessed me tremendously as I read and studied the messages delivered by one who lived so long ago. What struck me about those sermons is how God-exalting, Christ-centered, and grace-saturated Traill’s messages are.

You can read my posts on Traill’s Galatians 2:21 sermons here. In the posts you will find links to the sermons so that you can read them, too.

Traill preached a number of sermon series based on only one or two verses of Scripture. He preached a sixteen-sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer, a three-sermon series on Matthew 7:13, 14 on entering at the straight gate, and a thirteen-sermon series on one verse from the Book of Hebrews.

The Hebrews series is entitled The Throne of Grace and is based on Hebrews 4:16. In this passage of Scripture, we receive an exhortation.

“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.”

The Hebrew’s sermons were included in a book of Traill’s sermons that was published in 1718. The book is entitled A Stedfast Adherence to the Profession of our Faith.

It is my intention to read, study, and post through the thirteen sermons on Hebrews 4:16 that Robert Traill preached three hundred years ago. Just as his messages from Galatians 2:21 touched my heart, I expect the Lord to use Traill’s messages to help me better understand the throne of God’s grace and the privilege that is mine to draw near to God on His throne because of Who Jesus is and what He has done in my life.  I pray that the Holy Spirit will use this passage of Scripture and these messages to stir within me a greater commitment to loving, serving, and worshipping the Lord with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

“Righteous Grace”

July 14, 2011

Grace.  Is it a spiritual “goo-natured indifference to sin” that is applied to the hearts of unhappy people by a compassionate God? Or, is it the pardon of man’s sin that finds its root in the righteousness of Holy God as manifested on the Cross of Calvary?

“But let us keep in mind that this grace is the grace of a righteous God; it is the grace of one who is Judge as well as Father. Unless we see this we shall mistake the gospel, and fail in appreciating both the pardon we are seeking, and the great sacrifice through which it comes to us. No vague forgiveness, arising out of mere paternal love, will do. We need to know what kind of pardon it is; and whether it proceeds from the full recognition of our absolute guiltiness by him who is to “judge the world in righteousness.” The right kind of pardon comes not from love alone, but from law; not from good nature, but from righteousness; not from indifference to sin, but from holiness.”

“This righteous free love has its origin in the bosom of the Father, where the only begotten has his dwelling. It is not produced by anything out of God himself. It was man’s evil, not his good, that called it forth. It was not the drawing to the like, but to the unlike; it was light attracted by darkness, and life by death. It does not wait for our seeking, it comes unasked as well as undeserved. It is not our faith that creates it or calls it up; our faith realizes it as already existing in its divine and manifold fullness. Whether we believe it or not, this righteous grace exists, and exists for us. Unbelief refuses it; but faith takes it, rejoices in it, and lives upon it. Yes, faith takes this righteous grace of God, and, with it, a righteous pardon, a righteous salvation, and a righteous heirship of the everlasting glory.”

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Horatius Bonar, Scottish pastor, preacher, hymn writer (1808-1889). Quotes from “Righteous Grace,” the fourth chapter of the book, “God’s Way of Peace.”

“God’s Way of Peace” can be read here.

The Hand and Counsel of God

July 11, 2011

Thomas Boston, the Scottish Puritan, wrote at least three essays on the decrees of God. In the first essay, “The Purpose of God’s Decrees,” Boston writes that God is glorified in the creation of the world, men and angels, in election and predestination, and in the work of redemption. In the second essay, “The Properties of God’s Decrees Explained,” Boston writes that the decrees of the LORD are eternal, wise, free, unchangeable, holy and pure, and effective. I have recently posted on these essays here and here.

The third essay by Boston is entitled “Important Lessons Drawn from the Decrees of God.” In this final essay, Boston identifies and applies six lessons that he draws from Scripture’s teaching on the Decrees.

The essence of each lesson can be summarized in a sentence or two from each.

Lesson 1

“Nothing then comes to pass, however random and uncertain it may seem to be, but what was decreed by God.”

Lesson 2

“Hence we see God’s certain knowledge of all things that happen in the world, seeing His knowledge is founded on his decree…. So that what is casual or contingent with respect to us, is certain and necessary in regard to God.”

Lesson 3

“Whoever may be the instruments of any good to us, of whatever sort, we must look above them,and see the hand and counsel of God in it, which is their first source, and be duly thankful to God for it. And whatever evil of suffering or affliction befall us, we must look above the instruments of it to God.”

Lesson 4

“See here the evil of murmuring and complaining at our lot in the world…. Oh presume not to correct the infinite wisdom of God, seeing he has decreed all things most wisely and judiciously.

Lesson 5

“It is a horrid and detestable wickedness to cast the blame of your sin upon God’s decree. This is to charge your villainy upon him, as if he were the author of it.”

The sixth and last lesson that Boston writes in this essay seems to me to be an excellent concluding statement to not only this essay, but to the Decrees trilogy.

Lesson 6

“Let the people of God comfort themselves in all cases by this doctrine of the divine decrees; and, amidst whatever befalls them, rest quietly and submissively in the bosom of God, considering that whatever comes or can come to pass, proceeds from the decree of their gracious friend and reconciled Father, who knows what is best for them, and will make all things work together for their good.”

It is a great comfort to rest in the sovereignty of the LORD, His decrees, and the out working of His perfect will in and through our lives.

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You can read “Important Lessons Drawn from the Decrees of God” in its entirety here.

Please visit Monergism Books and WTS Books for Reformed books and resource material.