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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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Tuesday
May012018

"God Will Supply Every Need" -- Philippians 4:10-23

The Ninth and Final in a Series of Sermons on Philippians

Paul’s letter to the Philippians comes to an end with Paul reminding his brothers and sisters of one of the great promises given by God to his people.  “God will supply every need.”  This is an important reminder to a congregation facing persecution from those outside the church who cannot possibly understand why someone would give up Roman religion to worship a Palestinian Jews, who claimed to have risen from the dead.  The Philippians were also facing doctrinal woes from a group of Judaizers who had arrived in Philippi and were teaching that faith in Jesus was not enough to be justified.  One had to submit to circumcision and embrace Jewish culture and customs in addition to trusting in Christ.  Paul has exhorted the Philippians to stand firm in the face of this opposition as well to rejoice always even while in the midst of difficult times.  At the end of this epistle, Paul speaks of the secret as to how the Philippians can accomplish these things–they are to realize that through their union with the Risen Jesus who strengthens them, they can indeed accomplish all things and stand firm and even rejoice in the face of anti-Christian opposition to the cause of Jesus and his ever-advancing kingdom.

As we wrap up our series on Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi we come to what one commentator has called “Paul’s thank you note,” sent to those who have supported the apostle during his difficult days in Rome.  The help coming from the Philippians was no doubt greatly appreciated by Paul who was instrumental in the founding of the Philippian church a decade or so earlier.  It may even be the case that Paul was so grateful for the Philippian’s support that he could not pen just a few words of thanks and appreciation, but felt compelled by both his friendship toward the Philippians, as well as by the necessity of his calling as an apostle to encourage the churches, that Paul’s brief note of thanks became the four chapter epistle we now know as Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians.  

So far, Paul has given us a series of indicatives (centering on God’s gracious work in Jesus as applied to the Philippian believers) followed by a number of imperatives (especially the exhortations to stand firm and to rejoice in all circumstances).  But in the final section of chapter 4 (vv. 10-23, our text for this sermon), Paul finally gets to his main reason for writing this epistle.  Paul thanks the Philippians for their generosity in sending him a gift upon learning of his imprisonment in Rome.  From what we can tell, the Philippians learned that Paul’s appeal to Caesar had taken him all the way to Rome, where the apostle was now under house arrest.  This unspecified gift to Paul was brought to him by Ephahroditus, who may have been a pastor or an elder in the Philippian church.  Upon his arrival in Rome, Ephahroditus fell ill, and now that he has recovered, Paul composes this note of thanks (with a long letter of introduction) which is contained in the concluding section of this letter.

In many ways this closing section reflects Paul’s earlier thanksgiving in chapter 1:3-11, especially his comments, in verses 3-6.  “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  The concluding section of the epistle effectively wraps up with another demonstration of Paul’s affection toward the Philippians as the apostle expresses his thanks to God for allowing his friends in Philippi to support him with such a generous gift–a gift which comes at a time when Paul was himself encouraged by their concern for him.

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here

Monday
Apr302018

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (April 30-May 6)

Sunday Morning, May 6:  As part of our on-going series on the Minor Prophets, we are currently in the Book of Joel.  We'll be discussing Joel's prophecy of a time when YHWH's Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh (Pentecost).  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon: Article 12 of the Belgic Confession deals with the doctrine of creation--our topic this coming Lord's Day.  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study (May 2 @ 7:30 p.m.):  We continue with our series, "Apologetics in a Post-Christian Age."  We are summarizing modern approaches to the Christian doctrine of divine revelation.

The Academy (Friday, May 4 @ 7:30 p.m.):   We continue our lecture/discussion series based upon Allen Guelzo's Teaching Company Course, The American Mind.  Our topic this week is "The New South Versus the New Negro."

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Church), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).

Sunday
Apr292018

"Return to the Lord" -- Joel 2:1-17

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon on the Minor Prophets from the Book of Joel:  Click Here

Sunday
Apr292018

This Week's White Horse Inn

What is Spiritual Warfare

Modern Christians often fall to one of two extremes. Either they basically ignore the Bible’s warnings about the hostile “spiritual forces,” or they are overly obsessed with them, seeing demons hiding under every rock. On this program, the hosts walk through Paul’s admonitions to prepare for spiritual battle by putting on the full armor of God—every piece of which relates to the objective gifts that God has granted us in Jesus Christ.

Click Here

Thursday
Apr262018

Apologetics in a Post Christian Age (Audio) -- God's Revelation (Part Four)

Here's the audio from our Wednesday night Bible Study: The Challenges Posed by the Enlightenment and Modern Skepticism

Previous lectures in this series can be found here (scroll down): Apologetics in a Post Christian Age

Wednesday
Apr252018

"Law and Gospel" -- B. B. Warfield's Review of C. F. W. Walther's Book

B. B. Warfield (1851-1921) is widely hailed as one of America's greatest theologians.  His books have remained in near-continuous publication since his death in February, 1921.  Although dead for nearly 100 years, Warfield remains a theological force with which to be reckoned.

As professor of polemical and didactic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, Warfield published 781 book reviews over his long and exceedingly productive career. 

Some of Warfield's reviews are published in his collected works, while many are not.  I thought it might be of interest to bring some of these currently unpublished "Reviews" to light.

I'll offer my own annotations when I think a comment is necessary or interesting.

The first review discussed in this series was Children in the Hands of the Arminians.  The second review is Warfield's review of the German born Lutheran theologian, C. F. W. Walther's book, Gesetz und Evangelium (Law and Gospel). The book was first published by Concordia in 1893, and Warfield gave it a brief review the following year.  Walther's book remains in print and can be found here:  C. F. W. Walther on Law and Gospel

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Warfield describes the format behind Walther's book, noting that Walther had given a series of lectures on Friday evenings to theological students.  These lectures were then transcribed into thirty-nine chapters, corresponding to Walther's lectures with each centering around a particular thesis, then discussed in detail.  Warfield seems to appreciate the lively content produced by such a "live" audience.

Besides his academic lectures, Dr. Walther was, it seems, accustomed to give to the whole body of students, assembled usually on a Friday evening, series of freer talks on theological and practical topics. Among these was a course of twenty-two talks on “Inspiration;” one of twenty-two talks on “The Truth of the Christian Religion;” one of forty-nine talks on “Justification;” one of sixty-two talks on “Election and Justification;” and (among still others) two courses, one of ten and the other of thirty-nine talks, on “The Law and the Gospel.” The Introduction to each talk, the citations used in it, and the plan of treatment, exist in Dr. Walther’s own hand; for the rest full stenographic notes of his students are available. From this material, it is proposed to publish the whole of them in due time; and the present book, which contains the shorter course on “The Law and the Gospel,” makes the beginning.

Warfield also appreciates the clarity found in Dr. Walther's exposition of confessional Lutheran doctrine, along with the importance of the getting the distinction between law and gospel right.

Like all that Dr. Walther wrote, these talks are characterized by accuracy of statement, thoroughness of theological knowledge, and entire devotion to confessional Lutheranism; and they have in addition much of the fire and freedom of the extemporary address. The thirteen theses [note: the current edition lists twenty-five theses] on which they are based recognize the importance and difficulty of rightly distinguishing between the law and the gospel; and point out some prevalent modes of conception by which the distinction is confused.

Warfield notes Walther's usefulness in discussing how law and gospel are often confused along with the serious consequences which result when they are.  He agrees with Walther in that confusing the two leads to a number of errors, especially when the gospel is understood or presented in the form of an imperative--as though the gospel is something we do, not doctrine (Christ's saving work and merits) we embrace through faith.

For example, the confusion between law and gospel, made by papists, Socinians and rationalists, in making the gospel itself a doctrine of works, is deservedly scored; men are warned not to mix the gospel with the law, or the law with the gospel, but to preach the law in its full strictness, and the gospel in its full sweetness; they are warned not to reverse their places, but to preach the law first and the gospel second; not to tell the awakened sinner to work out a peace for himself before he comes to the gospel, and the like.

Warfield whole-heartedly agrees with Dr. Walther on this and obviously sees his Lutheran counter-part as a sort of theological first cousin.  Yet, the Reformed understanding of law and gospel which are better understood as a subset of traditional Reformed covenant theology, and along with maintaining the Reformed doctrine of the perseverance of the saints (which Walther rejects in this volume) reminds us that significant differences do remain between the confessional Reformed and our confessional Lutheran cousins.

Warfield very much likes the spirit of Walther's work, yet issues a mild word of caution to Reformed and Presbyterian readers.   

In theses and treatment alike the strictest Lutheranism reigns, and Calvinists will find something to modify; but through all, the spirit of the man of God throbs. We hope the other series of talks will be speedily published; and we venture to express the wish that the series on “Inspiration” may be next given to us; the times demand it.

Warfield, who, like Walther, was fighting against the rising tide of German higher criticism in the churches and seminaries, eagerly awaits Walther's contribution to the battle.  On challenges to the inspiration of Scripture, Warfield and Walther can stand shoulder to shoulder.

Warfield's review can be found in The Presbyterian and Reformed Review 5, no. 17–20 (1894).

Tuesday
Apr242018

"Rejoice in the Lord, Always" -- Philippians 4:2-9

The Eighth in a Series of Sermons on Paul's Letter to the Philippians

Many have identified the main theme of Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi as the often-repeated exhortation from the Apostle to “rejoice.”  This is borne out by the fact that the words for “rejoice” and “joy” occur a dozen times in Paul’s brief Philippian letter.  Paul is writing to a church (in Philippi) which he helped to found, and which is now enduring a difficult season of persecution from without (Greco-Roman pagans) and from within (a group of newly arrived Judaizers).  Paul’s ultimate intention is to encourage the Philippians to do those things necessary to stand firm in the face of this opposition–among other things, they are to have the same humble attitude as Jesus did, they are to strive to love one another, and they are to be of one mind and one accord.  But why would Paul repeatedly exhort the Philippians to rejoice when times of difficulty have come upon them?  What does Paul mean by “rejoicing,” and how are we to rejoice in time of trial?  It is important to consider this carefully, because most of us can recount times when well-meaning Christians have told us and others “to rejoice” during times of suffering and loss.  Far too often someone telling us to rejoice when life has turned sour can easily take on a tone of smugness or triteness, which, of course, is far from what Paul actually means.  

We have come to that point in our series on Philippians when it is time to address the manner of how we ought to read the so-called “practical sections” of Paul’s letters.  This will be a refresher course for many of you.  This will help to understand why Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians (and to all Christians) to rejoice in the midst of our trials and difficulties should make perfect sense to a Christian who understands the distinction between the law and the gospel (or the indicative and the imperative moods).  This distinction is so important to get right (and so difficult to do at first ) that Martin Luther once quipped that anyone who mastered these distinctions should be immediately awarded their doctoral cap and gown.  This is one the most fundamental distinctions in all of Christian theology.  Philippians 4:2-9 (our text) which includes Paul’s final and repeated exhortation for Christians to “rejoice” provides a good test case to illustrate this distinction.  

The law of God (the Ten Commandments) requires us to do certain things–the law says “do.”  When we fail to do these things, or do the opposite of what is commanded by God, we sin and are therefore guilty before God.  The gospel, on the other hand, announces to us the good news that God freely gives to us in the person of Jesus, all the things he demands of us under the law.  If the essence of the law is “do,” the essence of the gospel is “done.”  In Jesus and his saving merits, all that God commands us to do has already been done by Jesus, for us, and in our place.  Through faith, his obedience becomes ours.

The imperative and indicative moods are closely related to the law and gospel.  Imperatives are commands–“do this.”  We find them throughout the Bible, and in Paul’s letters they tend to come in the second half–the so-called practical sections of his epistles.  Paul has given the Philippians a number of exhortations (imperatives) throughout this letter to do certain things in order to stand firm in the face of persecution.  A statement made in the indicative mood is simply a statement of fact and is not a call to do something, but to accept something as true, as for example, God has provided all that is necessary for you to be delivered from his wrath in the person of his son, Jesus.  The law corresponds with the imperative mood (a command), while the gospel corresponds with the indicative mood (a statement of fact).  

You cannot more fundamentally misunderstand Paul’s exhortations such as this one to rejoice (which usually come in the last portion of his letters) than by attempting to understand and act upon the imperatives apart from a prior understanding of the indicatives from which they arise.  To read Paul’s exhortations (so as to be practical and relevant, and to avoid the hard work of thinking through the doctrinal sections) apart from the prior gospel indicatives (Paul’s description of all those things God has done for us in Christ) is to command us to do things which we cannot do.  The law (the imperative) brings us further frustration and condemnation.  The exhortation for a suffering Christian to “rejoice” without reference to, or a proper understanding of the gospel, is not a word of encouragement, but can be downright cruel.

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here

Monday
Apr232018

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (April 23-29)

Sunday Morning, April 29:  We are studying the Minor Prophets.  We are currently in the Book of Joel.  This Lord's Day we will address YHWH's call to Judah to "return to the Lord," a call which was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost.  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday Afternoon:  We are working our way through the Belgic Confession.  We next take up article 11, which deals with the deity of the Holy Spirit.  Our catechism service begins @ 1:15 p.m.

Wednesday Night Bible Study (April 25 @ 7:30 p.m.):  We continue with our series, "Apologetics in a Post-Christian Age."  We are continuing to survey modern theories of revelation.

The Academy (Friday, April 27 @ 7:30 p.m.):   We continue our lecture/discussion series based upon Allen Guelzo's Teaching Company Course, The American Mind.  Our topic this week is "the Social Science Revolution."

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Church), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).

Sunday
Apr222018

"The Word of the LORD that Came to Joel" -- Joel 1:1-20

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon on the Minor Prophets from the Book of Joel

Click Here 

Sunday
Apr222018

This Week's White Horse Inn

A New Way to Think About Work and Family

On this edition of White Horse Inn the hosts begin a discussion of Ephesians chapter 6, as Paul outlines the proper roles for Christian parents and children. While many today leave religious instruction to their church’s youth program, Paul teaches that it is the father’s responsibility to bring up their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The hosts also interact with Paul’s instructions concerning the proper motivation for Christian workers and employers.

Click Here