The Wednesday Word: The Most Famous Speech in the Universe

Hebrews 12:24

The atoning blood is speaking blood. It announces the message of mercy, grace and everlasting life. Because of the blood, believers are no longer subject to the just and furious wrath of God. Furthermore, because of the blood, it is now impossible for Satan to lay anything to our charge (Romans 8:33).

In Hebrews 12:24 we read of, “the blood of sprinkling.” In the Old Testament, Moses, as he sprinkled the blood on the people, was prophetically foretelling the work of Christ (Exodus 24:8). It is no wonder then that we read in the New Testament that we are, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2).

Christ’s blood speaks to us that the vilest offender who believes and rests on Jesus will be saved and delivered from the wrath to come. The blood also speaks of the Almighty God accepting, on our behalf, the sacrifice which He supplied. The blood again speaks of the Justice of God whereby He clears the guilty through the finished work of our accepted Substitute who took away our sins on the cross.

The blood has made the most powerful and famous speech in the Universe.

Many years ago in Ireland, there was a woman who was a very devout Roman Catholic. She attended Mass almost every day but had no peace in her heart. Through time she became distraught about her sins. She went to the priest and confessed them all, but her conviction of sin only grew worse.

At last, she went personally to the priest and told him of her great distress. He told her that she needed something to cheer her up, and as there was a comedian in town, she should go and hear him. The lady decided to go and hear the comedian, but she went to the wrong place. She found a group of people in a hall, but instead of a comedian, a preacher stood up and began to preach. His subject was, “The Forgiveness of Sin through the Blood of Christ.” The lady wanted to leave the meeting, but she was shy and didn’t want to make a noise in moving. So she decided to stay until it was finished.

The sermon on the blood of Christ, as it turns out, was the very message she had needed to hear. Afterwards, she asked the preacher what book he had been reading from. He told her that it was a Bible and gave her a copy. She went home and read and read the Bible. She read of the redeeming blood of the Saviour, she read of the forgiveness of sins, and she trusted Christ for His mercy. By grace alone, both the guilt and weight of her sin were taken away.

Some weeks later the priest visited her and asked her why she had not been attending Mass. She told him that she had found forgiveness and peace with God through the shed blood of her Saviour. When the priest saw the Bible, he was irate and grabbed the book, confiscating it. As he left, he shouted at her, saying that she would go to Hell if she read about the things in this book.

The lady bought another Bible and continued to read it diligently. A month later she decided that she should go and talk to the priest about his soul. When she arrived at his place, a nun opened the door and said in an angry voice, “Come in and see the priest.” When the woman went in, she saw a coffin with the dead body of the priest in it. The nun said, “He died very upset, and he cursed you for having that book, the Bible.”

Though the woman left the house very sad and dismayed, she continued to read her Bible. Some weeks later, late at night, there was a knock at her door. When she opened the door, a lady stood there with her head covered. She asked her inside. When the woman took off her head covering it was the nun. She said, “I have come to tell you that I am very sorry for telling you a dreadful lie about the priest.” She then told her how the priest had begun to read the Bible, and when he died, he was praising God for His mercy and forgiveness through the blood of Christ.

The nun told the lady how she herself had begun to read the Bible after the priest was buried, and how the Lord in His mercy had found her. She now saw the message of the blood, and now she was running away from the Convent and fleeing to England. She too had had her eyes opened to Christ and His promised salvation through the blood of the cross.

The blood of Christ does not call out for revenge, but for mercy upon all who believe. What a powerful speech there is in the Blood of Christ.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

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A Treatise on Church Order: Ministry- Church Officers- Bishops- Chapter VIII- Section IV

CHAPTER VIII

THE MINISTRY

SECTION IV.–CHURCH OFFICERS

BISHOPS

The churches should choose, from among the ministers of the word, bishops or pastors to teach and rule them.

Numerous passages of Scripture speak of persons who bore rule in the churches. “Obey them that have the rule over you.”[30] “The elders that rule well.”[31] The term bishop signifies overseer, and implies authority to rule. Among the qualifications necessary for a bishop, one was, that he ruleth well his own house; and the reason assigned is, “If a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?”[32] It is clear, from this passage, that the bishops were invested with an authority bearing some analogy to the authority which the head of a family exercises over his household.

The question has been much discussed, whether the authority of a bishop is restricted to a single local church. Episcopalians maintain that it extends to the churches of a large district called a diocese; and that the Scriptural title for the ruler of a single church, is presbyter or elder. Against this opinion, the following arguments appear conclusive. The single church at Philippi contained more bishops than one.[33] The elders of the church at Ephesus are styled overseers or bishops.[34] Peter addresses elders as persons having the oversight[35] of the flock, that is, the authority of overseers or bishops. In Paul’s epistle to Titus, after the ordination of elders is mentioned, the qualifications of a bishop[36] are enumerated; and the connection plainly indicates that elder and bishop were titles of the same office.

The bishops were the pastors or shepherds of the flock committed to their charge. The bishops or elders of the church at Ephesus were required to “feed the flock.” The elders whom Peter addressed were commanded to “feed the flock;” and their office as shepherds is presented to view as subordinate to that of Christ, “the chief shepherd.” Since the churches are to be fed, not with literal food, but with knowledge and understanding, the office of teaching is included in that of pastor. Hence a bishop was required to be “apt to teach.” In enumerating church officers, Paul mentions both pastors and teachers. It appears from this that there were teachers in the primitive churches, who were not invested with pastoral authority. These were ministers of the word, authorized by the commission to teach the observance of all Christ’s commands, but not authorized to rule. The ministers of the word are officers of the universal church, but, as such, they have no authority to rule in the local churches. This authority belongs to the pastors or bishops.

The ruling authority of a pastor is peculiar in its kind. Though bearing some analogy to that of a father in his family, or of a governor in civil society, it differs from these. Christ distinguished His rule from that of earthly kings by the absence of coercion: “If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight.”[37] So the spiritual rulers under Christ have no coercive power over the persons or property of those under their authority. A well marked distinction between their authority and that which is exercised by civil rulers, is drawn in these words of Christ: “Ye know that the princes of the gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.”[38] Another peculiarity of their rule is that they cannot govern at their own will. This would be to act as lords over God’s heritage. Such power, if exercised by them, is a usurpation, and does not legitimately belong to their office. The only rule which they have a right to apply is that of God’s word; and the only obedience which they have a right to exact, is voluntary. The civil ruler is armed with the sword, and coerces obedience. Zion’s King has put no carnal weapons into the hands of church rulers, and all coercion is inconsistent with the nature of the authority intrusted to them. No submission to the Lord is acceptable but that which is voluntary; and the same kind of submission which the ancient Christians rendered to the Lord, they rendered to their spiritual rulers:–“They first gave their own selves unto the Lord and unto us by the will of God.”[39]

The surrender of their property was voluntary. Peter’s address to Ananias and Sapphira proves, that this was true, even in the general surrender which was made by the first church; and it is clear that the contributions afterwards made by the churches, were made not of constraint but willingly. They who claim or indirectly exercise a coercive power over the property of church-members, are taking the oversight for filthy lucre’s sake, and have no sanction from the authority of Christ, or the example of his apostles.

Since the obedience of churches cannot be coerced, no one can begin or continue the exercise of spiritual rule over them, but at their will. Hence their bishops must be persons of their own choice. The apostles, though all collected at Jerusalem, and invested with full power from on high to do all that appertained to their office, did not appoint even the inferior officers of the church until after they had been chosen by the whole multitude of the disciples. In this procedure they recognised and established the right of the churches to elect their own officers. Even the appointment of an apostle to take the place of Judas appears to have been made by popular vote: and much more ought that of bishops over the several churches. The Greek word rendered ordain in Acts xiii. 48, signifies to stretch out the hand, and is supposed to refer to the mode of popular election by the lifting up of the hand; but, whether this criticism be just or not, the proof that church officers were so elected is sufficient without the aid of this passage.

Because the bishops must labor in word and doctrine, as well as rule, the churches should elect them from the ministers of the word. As they have no right to coerce the churches, so the churches have no right to coerce their acceptance of office. The relation must be voluntarily entered into by both parties. This voluntariness on the part of ministers is necessary to the proper exercise of their office: “Not of constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.”[40]The minister cannot coerce a support from the church, but God has ordained that they who preach the gospel should live of the gospel.[41] The duty of a church to support its pastor is clearly taught in the word of God; and without the performance of this duty on their part, they have no right to expect his services; and they, in a manner, put it out of his power to render them.

DEACONS

Deacons should be chosen by the churches, from among their members, to minister in secular affairs.

By apostolic direction, the church at Jerusalem chose from among themselves seven men, honest, and of good report, who were appointed to serve tables. This measure originated in the expediency, that the apostles might give themselves to the word of God and prayer. The same expediency requires that pastors should be relieved from secular burdens, and be left to the spiritual service of the church. We know that deacons existed in the church at Philippi;[42] and directions were given to Timothy respecting the qualifications necessary for the deacon’s office. These facts authorize the conclusion, that the deacon’s office was designed to be perpetual in the churches. The mode of appointment should conform to the example of the first church. The persons should be chosen by popular vote, and invested with office by ministerial ordination.

Some have thought that deacons, as well as bishops, are called elders in the Scripture. We read of bishops and deacons in connection, but never of elders and deacons;–of the ordination of elders,[43] without the mention of deacons, when deacons were needed as well as bishops; and of contributions sent to the elders at Jerusalem,[44] after the deacons had been appointed, who were the proper officers to receive and disburse them. It is argued, moreover, that the distinction which appears to be made, in 1 Tim. v. 17, between preaching and ruling elders, naturally suggests that the ruling elders were the deacons of the primitive churches.

In the Presbyterian church, a distinct class of officers exists, called ruling elders. The only Scripture authority claimed for this office, is the text last referred to. This text, however, does not distinguish between different classes of officers, but between different modes of exercising the same office. The word rendered “labor,” signifies to labor to exhaustion. Not the elder who merely rules, is accounted worthy of double honor, but the elder who rules well; and the special honor is not due to the elder, as merely invested with the office of ministering in word and doctrine, but as laboring therein–laboring to exhaustion. Thus interpreted, the text furnishes no authority for Presbyterian lay elders; and no argument for supposing that deacons are called elders.

The other arguments to prove that the deacons were included in the eldership of the primitive churches, are not without plausibility, but they are not conclusive; and they are opposed by the facts, that all the elders of the church at Ephesus are called bishops; that all the elders addressed by Peter are said to have the oversight or episcopal office; and that the elders whom Titus was to appoint appear to have been all bishops, inasmuch as the qualifications for the deacon’s office are not subjoined to those which are described as necessary for the other office.

Among the qualifications of the deacons’ office, it is not required that they should be apt to teach; and they are therefore not appointed to act as public teachers of the word: but other qualifications are mentioned, which indicate, that they are expected to be forward in promoting the spiritual interests of the church. An obligation to do this rests on every member; and deacons are not released from it by their appointment to minister in secular affairs. Instead of becoming immersed in secularity, they are expected, by the proper exercise of their office, to purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith.[45] If deacons were everywhere active in holding up the hands of the pastors, as Aaron and Hur held up the hands of Moses, the prosperity of the churches would be greatly advanced, and the success of the gospel far more abundant.

[30] Heb. xiii. 17.

[31] 1 Tim. v. 17.

[32] 1 Tim. iii. 4, 5.

[33] Phil. i. 1.

[34] Acts xx. 28.

[35] 1 Peter v. 2.

[36] Titus i. 5, 7.

[37] John xviii. 36.

[38] Matt. xx. 25-27.

[39] 2 Cor. viii. 5.

[40] 1 Peter v. 2.

[41] 1 Cor. ix. 14.

[42] Phil. i. 1.

[43] Acts xiv. 23.

[44] Acts xi. 30.

[45] 1 Tim. iii. 13.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology- Volume 2

Hebrew Parallelism

In the Old Testament many examples are found of what is called Hebrew parallelism, in which the same thought is expressed in different language. For instance,

“He shall judge the world in righteousness, He shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness” (Psalm 9:8).

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, and compare Isaiah 1:18). In other cases the truth is driven home by a contrast:

“The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but He blesseth the habitation of the just” (Proverbs 3:33, and 15:17).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

This brings us now to conclude with the PUNISHMENT

II. This brings us now to conclude with the PUNISHMENT. “Thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.” Listen unbelievers! ye have heard this morning your sin, now listen to your doom: “Ye shall see it with your eyes, but shalt not eat thereof.” It is so often with God’s own saints. When they are unbelieving, they see the mercy with their eyes, but do not eat it. Now, there is corn in this land of Egypt; but there are some of God’s saints who come here on the Sabbath, and say, “I do not know whether the Lord will be with me or not.” Some of them say, “Well, the gospel is preached, but I do not know whether it will be successful.” They are always doubting and fearing. Listen to them when they get out of the chapel. “Well, did you get a good meal this morning?” “Nothing for me.” Of course not. Ye could see it with your eyes, but did not eat it, because you had no faith. If you had come up with faith, you would have had a morsel. I have found Christians, who have grown so very critical, that if the whole portion of the meat they are to have, in due season, is not cut up exactly into square pieces, and put upon some choice dish of porcelain they cannot eat it. Then they ought to go without; and they will have to go without, until they are brought to their appetites. They will have some affliction, which will act like quinine upon them: they will be made to eat by means of bitters in their mouths; they will be put in prison for a day or two until their appetite returns, and then they will be glad to eat the most ordinary food, off the most common platter, or no platter at all. But the real reason why God’s people do not feed under a gospel ministry, is because they have not faith. If you believed, if you did but hear one promise that would be enough; if you only heard one good thing from the pulpit, here would be food for your soul, for it is not the quantity we hear, but the quantity we believe, that does us good-it is that which we receive into our hearts with true and lively faith, that is our profit.

Charles H. Spurgeon- “The Sin of Unbelief” A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, January 14, 1855

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A true sense of the divine and superlative excellency of the things of religion, a real sense of the excellency of God and Jesus Christ, and of the work of redemption and the ways and works of God revealed in the gospel

I. I would show what this spiritual and divine light is. And in order to it, would show,

First, In a few things what it is not. And here,

4. It is not every affecting view that men have of religious things that is this spiritual and divine light. Men by mere principles of nature are capable of being affected with things that have a special relation to religion as well as other things. A person by mere nature, for instance, may be liable to be affected with the story of Jesus Christ, and the sufferings he underwent, as well as by any other tragical story. He may be the more affected with it from the interest he conceives mankind to have in it. Yea, he may be affected with it without believing it; as well as a man may be affected with what he reads in a romance, or sees acted in a stage-play. He may be affected with a lively and eloquent description of many pleasant things that attend the state of the blessed in heaven, as well as his imagination be entertained by a romantic description of the pleasantness of fairy land, or the like. And a common belief of the truth of such things, from education or otherwise, may help forward their affection. We read in Scripture of many that were greatly affected with things of a religious nature, who yet are there represented as wholly graceless, and many of them very ill men. A person therefore may have affecting views of the things of religion, and yet be very destitute of spiritual light. Flesh and blood may be the author of this: one man may give another an affecting view of divine things with but common assistance; but God alone can give a spiritual discovery of them. — But I proceed to show,

Secondly, Positively what this spiritual and divine light is. And it may be thus described: A true sense of the divine excellency of the things revealed in the word of God, and a conviction of the truth and reality of them thence arising. This spiritual light primarily consists in the former of these, viz. A real sense and apprehension of the divine excellency of things revealed in the word of God. A spiritual and saving conviction of the truth and reality of these things, arises from such a sight of their divine excellency and glory; so that this conviction of their truth is an effect and natural consequence of this sight of their divine glory. There is therefore in this spiritual light,

1. A true sense of the divine and superlative excellency of the things of religion, a real sense of the excellency of God and Jesus Christ, and of the work of redemption and the ways and works of God revealed in the gospel. There is a divine and superlative glory in these things; an excellency that is of a vastly higher kind, and more sublime nature, than in other things; a glory greatly distinguishing them from all that is earthly and temporal. He that is spiritually enlightened truly apprehends and sees it, or has a sense of it. He does not merely rationally believe that God is glorious, but he has a sense of the gloriousness of God in his heart. There is not only a rational belief that God is holy, and that holiness is a good thing, but there is a sense of the loveliness of God’s holiness. There is not only a speculatively judging that God is gracious, but a sense how amiable God is on account of the beauty of this divine attribute.

There is a twofold knowledge of good of which God has made the mind of man capable. The first, that which is merely notional, as when a person only speculatively judges that any thing is, which, by the agreement of mankind, is called good or excellent, viz. that which is most to general advantage, and between which and a reward there is a suitableness, — and the like. And the other is, that which consists in the sense of the heart, as when the heart is sensible of pleasure and delight in the presence of the idea of it. In the former is exercised merely the speculative faculty, or the understanding, in distinction from the will or disposition of the soul. In the latter, the will, or inclination, or heart are mainly concerned.

Thus there is a difference between having an opinion that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former that knows not how honey tastes, but a man cannot have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind. So there is a difference between believing that a person is beautiful, and having a sense of his beauty. The former may be obtained by hearsay but the latter only by seeing the countenance. When the heart is sensible of the beauty and amiableness of a thing it necessarily feels pleasure in the apprehension. It is implied in a person’s being heartily sensible of the loveliness of a thing, that the idea of it is pleasant to his soul; which is a far different thing from having a rational opinion that it is excellent.

Jonathan Edwards- A Divine And Supernatural Light Immediately Imparted To The Soul, By The Spirit Of God, Shown To Be Both A Scriptual And Rational Doctrine. [Preached at Norhampton, and published at the desire of some of the hearers, in the year 1734.]

Charles Spurgeon’s Letters-Letter 163

TO MESSRS. FULLERTON AND SMITH

WESTWOOD, June 14, 1887.

DEAR FRIEND, —

I am sure you need a holiday — all of you. Rest as hard as you can. We don’t want to bury you yet, and working through the summer would end in some such calamity.

May St. Albans have the richest of blessings through your visit, and so cheer you all that you can rest heartily, being washed up by a wave of blessing. Excuse the brevity of my words. The sense is deep — of gratitude to God for all His work done by you, of loving esteem for you, and of desire for your refreshment.

Yours heartily,

C. H. SPURGEON.

Is Jesus Enough as our Pastor? Part 2

Psalm 23:1

According to Jesus, He knows His sheep, and His sheep know Him (John 10:14). I wonder, however, how well we actually know our Shepherd? Do we know anything of the excellence of His character? Have we glimpsed anything of His glory? May we stay close to Him, follow hard after Him and come to know Him.

He’s wonderful! He is the shepherd who has never lost a sheep. When Jesus is our Shepherd, the wolf cannot devour us nor can any robber steal us. G. Campbell Morgan tells of a story told by a friend who had been traveling in Israel and had come upon a shepherd one evening as the shepherd was putting his flock into the sheepfold for the night. The fold was an enclosing wall with a single opening for the sheep. However, one thing was missing, and that was a door.

He asked the shepherd if there were any wild beasts in the area. The shepherd told him he had always had to guard against them.

“But surely the sheep aren’t safe in there?”

“Yes they are, they are perfectly safe.”

“But there is no door to shut out the Wolves.”

The shepherd smiled at him and quietly said, “I am the door: When my sheep are in for the night, I lie down in the open space. Not one sheep goes out except over my body. And no wolf can enter without first passing over me. I am the door.”

Jesus taught us that, as our Shepherd, He is the door (John 10:7-9). That means we are safe. No wolf can get us. Before the enemy can get close, he will have to deal with our shepherd. What a pastor we have! Are we satisfied with Him? Is He enough?

Finally, if you have ever observed sheep, you will notice that, even when they are eating the grass, many of them will look up to make sure they are near the shepherd. They know they are safe when he is there. Is this true of us? Do we know what it is to look unto Jesus? Do we know what it is to, “in all your ways acknowledge Him?” (Proverbs 3:6).

Sheep are emblematic of believers. We are prone to wander: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6; Luke 15:4-7). But, isn’t Jesus wonderful? We are ‘prone to wander, ’ but He is more prone to bring us back.

With full authority, He has declared that His sheep shall never perish (John 10:28). That is why He calls His own sheep by name. It is a personal love that He has for you and for me. It is in Him, our Shepherd, that we have perfect security and sustenance (John 10:9).

Don’t worry about the future! He will provide. He is the good shepherd who has already given His life for the sheep. It is a rare thing for a shepherd to actually lay down his life so that the sheep would be safe. In normal circumstances, it would be better that the shepherd lived and didn’t die. Why? Because the death of the shepherd would usually spell disaster for the sheep. But such is the uniqueness of Jesus that He planned to die for His flock. In fact, He planned it so that His death would bring life to the sheep and would actually avert disaster for them. What a shepherd, what a pastor!

He is enough!

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com