Archive for the ‘Sermon Notes’ Category
Notes on John Stott’s lecture Reflections of an Octogenarian, q.v..
A conviction about priorities
Stott recommends one day a month of solitude.
A conviction about people
- How can you continue to love people who do not immediately appear to be lovable? Stott recommends Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor.
- Acts 20:28 — “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” He purchased these people with his own blood.
- The only way to persevere in care is to “remember who they are, and how precious they are in the sight of God.” All three persons of the Trinity are dedicated to their welfare.
- How small is our labor in comparison with Christ’s labor for his church?
A conviction about relevance
- “the task of christian communicator, which is not to make Jesus Christ relevant but to demonstrate his relevance to the modern world.”
- “in this simple, maybe rather elementary . . . diagram, evangelicals are biblical but not contemporary, liberals are contemporary but not biblical, and almost nobody is building bridges.”
- “we have to struggle to be as relevant as we are biblical”
A conviction about study
- “In our busy lives, study is usually the first thing to be dropped.”
- Lloyd-Jones: “you will always find that the men whom God has used signally have been those who have studied most, known their scriptures best, and given time to preparation.”
- Stott recommends one hour of study per day, one 4-hour session every week, one day every month, and one reading week every year.
- We have to study on both sides of the divide… students of scripture, but we need also to be students of the modern world.
A conviction about obedience
- John 14:21 — Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
- Jesus will reveal himself to his lovers; his lovers are proved not by their words but by their obedience.
- “The test of love is obedience, and the reward of love is the self-manifestation of Christ.”
A conviction about humility
- “insidious temptation to pride”
- “humility is not a synonym for hypocrisy; humility is a synonym for honesty”
- Michael Ramsey, ”Sermons addressed to young men on the eve of their ordination”
- “thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not easily grow”
- “take care about the confession of your sins”
- “be ready to accept humiliations, they can hurt terribly but they help you to be humble . . . these are opportunities to be a little nearer to our humble and crucified Lord”
- “do not worry about status; there is only one status that our Lord bids us be concerned with, and that is the status of proximity to himself.”
- “use your sense of humor; laugh about things. laugh at the absurdities of life; laugh about yourself and about your own absurdity . . . you have to be serious of course, but never be solemn, because if you are solemn about anything, there is a danger of your becoming solemn about yourself”
- “it is at the foot of the cross that humility finally grows”
Galatians 6:14 — But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
My notes on Sinclair Ferguson’s lectures on the marrow controversy.
The full text of Fisher’s book The Marrow of Modern Divinity, including Boston’s notes, is available online.
Antinomianism and legalism were surface issues. The book itself was a surface issue — Boston claimed surface only. The gospel and grace were at stake.
- marrow controversy opens question of nature of grace and offer of gospel
- opens rlsp between saving faith and assurance (Ferguson will not speak much on this)
- it opens answer of grace of gospel to legalism
- it opens answer of grace of God to antinomianism
These men were confusing the fruit of grace with qualifications for grace, turning the free grace of god in the gospel upon its head and distorting the message of the glorious grace of God.
Four errors written in to the position that the marrow men opposed, into which our reformed theology so readily slips.
- Christ was being separated from his benefits in the preaching of the gospel. Rather, the benefits of the gospel were being separated from Christ. Adopted a wrong starting place in thinking of the gospel: “To whom belong the benefits of the work of Christ?” But then concluded that we must offer the benefits only to the elect. Then we offer the gospel only to those who seem to show some sign of belonging to the elect.
But Christ himself in all his fullness and sufficiency to save all who come to him may be offered to all, even though the benefits be received only by those who believe. There is a savior, and in his death and resurrection he is sufficient to save all who come to him by faith.
This was the same error that Arminians fell into — “there is no well-meant offer”. Throughout scripture, Christ himself is offered to all men. We will never discover his benefits until we find him as savior and lord, clothed with the benefits of the gospel to all who receive him. He is magnified and glorified in the gospel.
Aside: this reminds me of Murray’s comments on union with Christ in Redemption Accomplished and Applied.
- Conditional offer of the gospel.
Conviction, faith, repentance, forsaking sin. These are fruit of conversion and grace. Only these enable us to forsake sin.
Forsaking sin cannot be a condition of hearing the offer of Christ. Conviction is not a condition men must meet, but is a means God powerfully uses in various ways and to various degrees.
Bunyan Pilgrim’s Progress — burden should be released at beginning of pilgrimage. Cross is right in front of us. We may cast ourselves upon it immediately.
We do not preach conviction as the warrant of faith. We must offer Jesus in all his sufficiency as the warrant of faith.
- God’s sovereign free grace became diminished, because God became conditional. God’s election and atonement and redemption is unconditional. Also, it is not the case that Jesus persuaded an unwilling Father to save us.
No conditionality in the fellowship of the trinity; no covenant within the trinity that “I will save them if you die for them”. So-called “covenant of redemption”. The father himself loved the world and gave his son for them. Jesus’s death is not the reason God loves us. He loved us first.
His love is wholly without condition. His grace is wholly free. Pharisees preached conditional salvation. Jesus invited those without to come to him unconditionally. It is not even an unconditional election that works through a conditional grace.
- It changes the character of pastoral ministry.
We know the pattern of grace, the ordo salutis. We have mastered the pattern of grace, but not been mastered by grace itself, so grace will not flow from us to others. Our ministry will be conditional!
Owen – knowledge of truth who have never been mastered by the power of the truth.
Does our love for orthodoxy prevent us from preaching unconditional grace, whether to unbelievers or to anguished believers? Are we more like the prodigal son’s father or brother?
Scottish Presbytery showed greater kindness to Arminianism, which proved to be a halfway house to full-blown legalism, than to those who reveled in the wonder of free grace. It was already going down the road to legalism.
Legalism is not an academic problem. It is a constant and prominent pastoral issue. It is “one of the most subtle and all-pervasive influences that can ever twist a man’s soul away from the gospel of Jesus Christ.” It is “the ultimate pastoral problem of all”, addressing the very lie about God that underlies Satan’s first temptation and our bondage to sin.
False idea of “covenant of works”, that God is restrictive and legalist. Even first covenant was a gracious covenant. Legalism is not the response to antinomianism/easy-believism. God’s glorious and free grace is.
John Loftness of Covenant Life Church gave a message on work which I listened to recently. Here’s my chicken-scratch notes:
- God gave work to bless us as we serve as His image-bearers. We exercise royal dominion over the earth as God’s representatives.
- “God hides himself at work, waiting for us to find Him there.”
“We sanctify our work by looking for God in our daily responsibilities.”
“Whenever we face a situation that is ‘not good’, we can believe that God is behind it and wants to meet us in it.”
Luther: work is God’s “mask”.
sin — seeking to find good apart from God. God creates lacks, prompts for us to seek Him.
- We sanctify work by embracing it as a place of suffering for God. The cross makes sense of the toil, and sometimes futility, of work. The world is under judgment; the kingdom has come, but not in full. Yet it has come to our hearts. The cross is to inform how we walk — in our own behavior and in our view of others.