The full work of John Brown is not in view here and just as with any historical figure, publishing of this work does not constitute an approval thereof. We are scholars, learners, teachers, and researchers. Therefore we can adhere to reading material that may not suit our doctrinal positions.

John Brown of Haddington
Systematic Theology, pp. 309-315.

 

Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion Distinguished from his Natural Supremacy.

Besides that natural supremacy and dominion over all things equally with his Father and the Holy Ghost, Christ hath also a mediatorial dominion, or kingdom, which,

I. Was given him by his Father as the reward of his offering himself in sacrifice, Ps 2:8; Matt 28:18; Phil 2:6-11; Isa 53:10-12; Isa 52:13-14; 1 Pet 1:21; Luke 22:29; Dan 7:14.

II. Belongs to him as God-man, Isa 9:6-7; John 5:22-27.

III. Which chiefly respects his church, and is administered for promoting the eternal salvation of her true members, Eph 4:11-14.

 

1. Multitudes of scriptures ascribe lordship and dominion to him, Gen 49:10; 1 Sam 2:10; 2 Sam 7:16; Ps 2; Ps 21; Ps 45; Ps 72; Ps 89; Ps 96-100; Ps 110; Ps 132; Ps 47; Ps 145-149; Ps 22:27-31; Ps 68:17-35; Ps 24:7-10; Ps 118:22; Isa 9:6-7; Isa 11:4-5; Isa 32:1-2; Jer 23:5-6; Jer 33:15-16; Jer 30:21; Ezek 17:22-23; Ezek 21:26-27; Ezek 34:23-24,29; Ezek 37:24-25; Ezek 43:3; Ezek 46:10; Dan 2:44-45; Dan 7:13-14. Dan 9:25; Dan 12:1; Hos 3:5; Hos 13:9-10; Mic 5:1-6; Mic 2:13; Zech 6:9-13; Zech 9:9-10; Matt 2:2; Matt 25:34,41; Matt 28:18; John 1:49; John 18:36-37; 1 Tim 1:17. And, even on his cross, his kingly power was marked in three different languages, John 19:19.—

2. Many kingly titles are ascribed to him,—as a made Lord, Acts 2:36; 1 Cor 8:6; Eph 4:5; Prince of life, Acts 3:15; King of saints, King of kings, and Lord of lords, Rev 15:3; Rev 17:14; Rev 19:16; Head of the church, Eph 4:15-16; Eph 5:23; Eph 1:22; Hos 1:11; Col 1:18; Col 2:19; the Foundation, 1 Cor 3:11; Isa 28:16; Eph 2:20-22; chief cornerstone, Ps 118:22; Zech 10:4; Eph 2:20; Ruler, Judge, Leader, Commander, 2 Sam 23:3; Mic 5:1-2; Isa 33:22; Isa 55:4; Captain of the Lord’s host, and of salvation, Josh 5:13; Heb 2:10; Shepherd, Ezek 34:23; Isa 40:11-12; 1 Pet 2:25; 1 Pet 5:4; Heb 13:20.

3. Many symbols of kingly power are attributed to him,—as royal unction, Ps 45:7; Ps 2:1-3; Ps 89:19-20;—royal inauguration commenced in God’s eternal purpose, Ps 2:6-9; intimated by angels at his conception and birth, Luke 1:31-33; Luke 2:10-11; and acknowledged by himself and others at his death, John 18:33-37; John 19:12-19; Matt 26:64; Luke 23:42-43;—solemn investiture with royalty in his resurrection, ascension, and sitting down at his Father’s right hand, Matt 28:18; Acts 2:36; 1 Pet 3:22; Eph 1:20-22; Phil 2:9-11;—royal coronation by his enemies, Matt 27:29; John 19:2-3; by his church, Song 3:11; and by his Father, Heb 2:9; Phil 2:9-11; Ps 21:3;—a royal throne, Ps 110:1,5; Ps 45:6; Heb 1:5; Heb 8:1; Rev 3:21; Matt 19:28; Matt 26:64; a royal sceptre, by which he gathers and governs his people, Heb 1:8; Ps 45:6; Ps 110:2; and destroys his implacable enemies, Ps 2:9; Rev 2:27; Rev 19:15; royal laws, Isa 2:3; Rom 3:27; 1 Cor 9:21; Matt 11:29-30; Gal 6:2; Prov 8:15;—royal servants or ambassadors, 2 Cor 5:20; 2 Cor 3:6; 1 Cor 4:1-2;—royal guards or attendants, Zech 14:5; Hab 3:3-7; Deut 33:2; Jude 14; Matt 4:11; Matt 26:53; Dan 7:10; Ps 68:17; Ps 47:5-6; Matt 13:41,49; Matt 25:31; royal revenues, Ps 96:8; Ps 45:11;—royal magazines of spiritual armour, Eph 6:10-19;—royal power to judge, acquit, or condemn, John 5:22; Mark 2:5-11; Matt 25:31-46.

4. He was prefigured in his kingly office by Melchizedek, king of Salem, Heb 7:1-24; Moses, king in Jeshurun, Heb 3; Joshua the conqueror of Canaan, David and Solomon, kings of Israel, and by all the kings of Judah, Jer 30:9,20; Song 3:6-11; Matt 12:42.

 

I. Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom is Very Extensive.

Christ’s mediatorial kingdom is:

I. Very extensive, reaching to all creatures, either as conquered enemies, ministers, and instruments of government, or faithful subjects, Matt 28:18; Acts 10:36; Ps 110:1-3,5-6; Ps 8:6-8, Heb 1:14; Eph 4:11-12; 1 Cor 6:11; Titus 3:5-7; Eph 5:25-27,30; to persons of all ages, nations, and conditions, Ps 2:8; Ps 73:10-14; Ps 22:27-28; Gal 3:28; Col 3:11; and to both body and soul, Phil 2:10-11.

But, though Christ, as Mediator, hath a power to influence the management of all things in heaven and earth for the benefit of his church, Eph 1:22; John 17:2; Matt 28:18; Prov 8:15-16; 2 Sam 8:15, he is not, as Mediator, the moral governor of men, who are without his visible church.

Christ Not Mediator of the Heathen.

1. The Scripture never represents him as mediatorial moral governor of heathens, but as King of Zion, Zech 9:9; Ps 2:6; of the house of Jacob, Luke 2:33; of his own house, Heb 3:6. His kingdom can have multitudes added to it, Ps 110:2-3; Rev 11:15; Obad 21. Men are not naturally members of his kingdom, but graciously brought into it, Col 1:13.

2. We find no mediatorial laws without his church, Rom 2:14; Eph 1:12; Isa 2:3; nor any proclamations of his mediatorial authority, Isa 63:19; Ps 147:19-20.

3. Christ being alway undivided, he cannot be the mediatorial governor of Heathens’ morals, till he be first their mediatorial prophet or teacher, Ps 147:19-20; Eph 2:12; Acts 14:16; Acts 17:30.

4. Christ cannot be the mediatorial moral governor of Heathens without their being under a dispensation of the covenant of grace, and having the means of their eternal salvation, which it is certain they have not, Eph 2:12; Prov 29:18; 2 John 9.

II. Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom is Spiritual.

II. Christ’s mediatorial kingdom is of a spiritual nature, Luke 17:20-21; John 18:36. And hence, in its New Testament form, it is called the kingdom of heaven, or of God, to mark that its original, form, administration, privileges, and tendency are heavenly and divine, Matt 3:2; Matt 4:17; Matt 22; Matt 25.

1. In its more glorious form, it began when the temporal dominion was departed from the tribe of Judah and the family of David, Gen 49:10; Dan 9:24-27.

2. It was typified by the temporal government of the Jews, and therefore must be of a more excellent, a spiritual nature, Heb 11:40; Heb 10:1; Heb 9:10-11.

3. Everything pertaining to the kingdom is spiritual. The king is meek and lowly,—a root out of a dry ground, that came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,—a servant of rulers, who avoided every appearance of temporal dominion, Zech 9:9; Isa 11:5; Isa 53:2; Isa 49:7; Matt 20:28; John 6:13; Luke 12:13-14; and is a quickening Spirit, 1 Cor 15:45.

His throne at his Father’s right hand, and in the hearts of his people, is spiritual, Ps 110:1; Heb 1:3; Rev 3:21; Eph 3:17; Col 1:27. His sceptre is his spiritual word, made the power of God to men’s salvation or destruction, Isa 2:3; Isa 53:1; Ps 110:2; Rom 1:16; John 6:63; Heb 4:12; 2 Cor 10:4-5; Ps 45:4-5; Ps 2:9; 2 Cor 2:16; Hos 6:5; Rev 2:12,16; Rev 19:15,21. His laws are spiritual, Rom 3:27; Rom 8:2; Rom 7:12,14.

The worship and homage paid him are spiritual, John 4:24; Rom 12:1; 1 Pet 2:8-9; Phil 3:3. His true subjects are spiritual men, a willing people, renewed in the spirit of their minds, born from above, not of the will of the flesh, but of the will of God by his Spirit, 1 Cor 2:15; Ps 110:2; Rom 12:2; Eph 4:23; John 1:13; John 3:5-6; James 1:18; 1 Pet 1:2,23; 1 Pet 2:5; Gal 4:19; and their dwelling and conversation are heavenly and spiritual, Eph 2:6 Phil 3:20; Col 3:1-2.

His manner of government is spiritual, Zech 4:6. His ministers, principal enemies, armour, warfare, and principal punishments and rewards, are spiritual, 1 Pet 3:22; Heb 1:14; Ps 103:19-21; Eph 4:11-12; Eph 6:10-20; 2 Cor 10:3-5; John 14:27; John 16:33; Rom 14:17; 2 Cor 4:18; 2 Thess 1:6-10.

4. His ends of erecting his kingdom are spiritual, i.e. to destroy the works, power, and kingdom of the devil, 1 John 3:5,8; Col 2:13; and to glorify God in the eternal salvation of men, Gen 49:10; Ps 72:17; Isa 45:17; Eph 1:3; 1 Pet 4:11; Luke 12:14; Eph 3:21.—It is only in allusion to the Jewish state, and in condescension to men’s weakness, that this spiritual kingdom is often represented by the prophets in figures drawn from a temporal kingdom, Deut 30:4-5; Ezek 34; Ezek 37; Dan 7:27; Mic 4:6-8; Ps 2; Ps 72; Ps 21; Ps 45.

III. Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom is Everlasting.

III. It is everlasting. Christ was appointed to it from all eternity, Ps 2:6-8; Prov 8:23; Mic 5:2. He began to execute his kingly office immediately after the fall, Gen 3:8-19. He executed it all along under the Old Testament, in taking Adam, Noah, Abraham, and their families, into a church state, Gen 3:24; Gen 4:3-4; Gen 9; Gen 12-28;—in prescribing laws to the Hebrews in the wilderness, Exod 15 through Deut 31;—in appointing the form and service of Solomon’s temple, 1 Chron 17; 1 Chron 22-26; 1 Kings 5-9.

In his incarnation, he was born a king, Matt 2:2. He was acknowledged as such by the wise men, Matt 2:1-2,11; by Nathaniel, John 1:49; and by the Syrophenician woman, Matt 15:22; by blind men, Matt 9:27; Matt 20:30-31; by mariners, Matt 8:27; by the crucified thief, Luke 23:42; by Pilate, John 19:19; by angels, Luke 1:31-33; Luke 2:10-11; and by his Father, Matt 17:5. In his state of humiliation, he acted as King of his church, in instituting ordinances, appointing officers, and issuing forth commandments in his own name, Matt 10; Matt 16:18-19; Matt 18:15-20; Matt 26:26-28; Matt 5-7; Luke 6; Luke 10;—in dislodging devils, Matt 4:25; Matt 12:28, etc.; in repeatedly purging the Jewish temple from buyers and sellers, John 2:13-17; Matt 21:12-13;—in triumphantly riding to Jerusalem on an ass, Matt 21; John 12; Zech 9:9; in conquering and triumphing over his enemies on the cross, Col 2:14-15; Gen 3:15.—In, and after his resurrection, he was more solemnly invested with royal power, Matt 28:18-20; Phil 2:8-11; Acts 5:31; Acts 2:36; 1 Pet 1:21; 1 Pet 3:18,21-22; Eph 1:20-23; Ps 47:5-7; Ps 24:7-10; Ps 68:18; Ps 110:1-7.

In his exalted state of royalty, he appointed the form and laws of his New Testament church, John 20:21-22; Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:3-4,8; Mark 16:15-18; 1 Cor 12:28-29; 1 Cor 11:23-29; Eph 4:11-12; he hath and shall govern her to the end of the world, Matt 28:20; Ps 89:37; 2 Sam 7:13; Isa 9:7; 1 Cor 11:23,26. At the last day, he will judge the world; and thereafter continue his reign through all eternity, Ps 50:2-6. Matt 25:31-46; Rev 20:11-15; Ps 45:6-7; Ps 89:37; 2 Sam 7:13; Dan 2:44; Dan 7:14,27; Luke 1:33; Isa 9:7; 1 Thess 4:17.

—At the end of the world he will account to his Father for his management in time, present all his redeemed, perfect in holiness and happiness, and change his present form of government, 1 Cor 15:24-28; but will for ever retain his kingly power. His enemies, being then all conquered, and under his feet, will not be able to dethrone him, John 16:33; Col 2:15; Heb 2:18; Isa 25:8; Ps 110:5-6; 1 Cor 15:25. His subjects will not seek to dethrone him, Isa 54:9-10; Isa 61:10; Isa 26:2; Jer 32:39-40. Nor will his Father attempt it, Ps 45:6; Heb 1:8; Ps 89:3-4,28. Nor would it be for the honour of God or the benefit of his people, that he should be deprived of his peculiar honours of reward, while they enjoy the glories which he purchased.

Christ’s Mediatorial Kingdom Distinguished.

Christ’s mediatorial kingdom may be distinguished into,

1. His kingdom of power, in which he hath the disposal of all things in heaven and earth, for the good of his church, Matt 28:18; Matt 11:27; John 3:35; John 5:22; Eph 1:20-22; Phil 2:9-11; 1 Pet 3:22; 1 Cor 15:25.—David’s headship over the heathen nations which he conquered, was typical of this, 2 Sam 8:14; 2 Sam 22:44; Ps 18:43-44.

2. His kingdom of grace,—the external form of which consists in men’s conjunct profession, worship, and service of God in Christ, by means of officers, and ordinances of his own appointment. In respect of this, men often but feign subjection to him, and shall be cast out, Ps 18:44; Matt 8:12; Matt 13:47; Matt 21:43. The internal form of it consists in the spiritual subordination of true believers to Christ as their Husband, Saviour, and Lord,—and in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, Luke 17:20-21; Isa 44:3-5; Isa 45:23; Rom 14:17; Phil 3:3; Titus 2:14.

3. His kingdom of glory, which is also called the kingdom of the Father, because he gives it to redeemed men, and reigns in it in a more immediate manner, ordinances and church-officers being laid aside, and the subjection of Christ, as man and Mediator, to him, more fully manifested, Matt 25:34; Matt 13:43; 1 Cor 15:28.

How Christ manages his Kingdom of Power.

1. In appointing or making angels, men, and every other creature, to work together for the good of his church, especially her true members, in their militant state, Heb 1:14; Ps 34:7; Ps 78:49; Rom 8:28; 1 Pet 3:13.

2. In permitting evil angels and their instruments to tempt and persecute his professed subjects, 2 Cor 12:7; Eph 6:12; 1 Thess 2:18; Rev 2:10; Rev 12-13; Rev 20:7-9.

3. In restraining and bounding their rage and hatred, in respect of its fervour, duration, or effects, Rev 2:10; Rev 12:10,12; Rev 20:1-3; Ps 76:10.

4. In making all their temptations, and the harassments of his people, turn out to his glory and their good, Ps 76:10; Rom 8:28; 2 Cor 4:17; Ps 119:67,71; Ps 119:65; Heb 12:10-11; Phil 1:12-14; 1 Cor 11:19; Mic 7:9,14; Isa 27:9.

5. In judging and punishing all his and his people’s enemies, Ps 2:9; Ps 21:8-12; Ps 45:5; Ps 72:9; Ps 110:1,5-6; 2 Cor 15:25;—particularly his Jewish opposers, Matt 24:29-51; Matt 21:44; Matt 22:7; the persecuting heathens of the Roman empire, Rev 6:12-17; the Antichristian papists, Rev 9; Rev 11; Rev 13; Rev 14-19; 2 Thess 2:8; and all wicked angels and men at the last day, 2 Thess 1:8-9; Rev 14:11; Rev 20:12-15; Matt 25:31-46.

6. In rewarding those that had been friendly to his people and interests, as in making most honourable use of angels at the last day, Matt 25:31; Jude 14; 2 Thess 1:7; and in gloriously renewing this lower world, Rom 8:21; 2 Pet 3:13.

How Christ Manages his Kingdom of Grace in its External Form.

1. In appointing many different ordinances of worship, common or more solemn, for erecting or preserving his church in her infant or adult state, Gen 4:4-5; Gen 17:10-14; Exod 12-40; Lev 1-27; Num 3-6; Num 15; Num 17-19; Num 28-29; Deut 4-32; Matt 5-7; Matt 10; Matt 16:18-19; Matt 18:15-20; Matt 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-18; 1 Cor 11:23-29; 1 Cor 14; 1 Tim 2-6; Titus 1-3.

2. In instituting offices, qualifying and sending ordinary and extraordinary officers, for erecting and maintaining his church, 2 Chron 36:15; Heb 1:1; Eph 4:11-14; 1 Cor 12.

3. In giving his Spirit, that, by his ordinary and extraordinary influences, accompanying the proclamation of his truth, he may attest his officers and doctrines, gather and preserve his subjects, and make them observe his ordinances and laws, Isa 32:15-18; Isa 44:3-5; Isa 59:21; Joel 2:28-29; John 16:7-14; John 15:26-27; John 14:16-17,26; John 7:37-39; John 3:5-6,8; John 20:22; Ezek 36:27; Prov 1:23; Acts 1:5,8; Acts 2:1-47; Acts 4:31; Heb 2:4; 1 Thess 1:5; 1 John 2:20,27.

4. In providentially protecting his church from being ruined by erroneous teachers or naughty professors within her, or by open persecutors without her, Zech 2:5; Isa 63:9; Rev 6-7; Rev 11-12; Rev 14:1-5.

5. In enlarging his church at the expense of her Jewish, Heathen, or Antichristian enemies, Ps 110:2,5-6; Dan 2:44; Rev 12:10; Rev 11:15; Isa 49; Isa 54-55; Mic 4-5; Zech 8-14; Zech 2:11.

How Christ Manages his Kingdom of Grace in its Internal Form.

1. In effectually calling his elect, and by changing their state and nature, bringing them to himself, thus rescuing them from their slavery to the broken law, sin, Satan, the world, and death, Ps 110:3; Ps 22:27-31; Isa 27:12-13; Isa 44:3-5; Isa 45:24-25; Isa 49:25-26; Rom 8:2; Rom 6:14; Rom 7:4; John 3:5-6,8; John 5:25; John 8:32,36; 1 Cor 6:11; Titus 3:3-7; Col 1:13; 1 Pet 1:2-3.

2. In ruling them by his word published to them in the gospel, and written in their hearts by his Spirit, as their enlightener, directer, quickener, and comforter;—and in subordination hereto, by his providence, correcting them for their disobedience, or pardoning it, on their renewed actings of faith and repentance, Ps 147:19; Ps 119:11,18; John 14:16-17,26; John 15:26; John 16:13-15; Gal 6:8; Gal 5:18,22-23; Eph 5:9; Ps 89:30-35; Ps 94:12; 1 Pet 1:6-7; Mic 7:14,18-19; Ps 119:67,71; Ps 99:8; Isa 38:16; Isa 44:22; Isa 57:17-19; Hos 2:6-7,14; Jer 31:18-27; Heb 12:5-11; Rev 3:19.

3. In protecting them from the hurtful and re-enslaving influence of the broken covenant of works, and of sin, Satan, the world, or death, Col 3:3; Jude 1; 1 Pet 1:5; John 10:28-29; Ps 41; Isa 46:4; Isa 63:9; Isa 25:8; Hos 13:14; Heb 2:15; Ps 23:4.

How Christ Manages his Kingdom of Glory.

1. In giving all his true subjects on earth, a full and irrevocable title to it, and some foretastes of its happiness, 2 Cor 5:1-7; 2 Cor 12:1-6; 1 Pet 4:14; 1 Pet 1:8.

2. In preparing heaven for them against the appointed moment of their death, as well as them for it, John 14:2.

3. In readily admitting their departed souls into the heavenly mansions, Acts 7:59; Luke 23:43; Luke 2:29; 2 Pet 1:11; Rev 3:21; Rev 14:13; Isa 57:2; Phil 1:21,23.

4. In raising the dead, publicly and solemnly judging the world at the last day, John 5:28-29; Dan 12:2; Rev 20:11-12; Matt 25; 2 Tim 4:7-8; Titus 2:13.

5. In then putting down all temporary power and authority, which had been used in church or state, that every thing may be under the more immediate government of God, 1 Cor 15:24,28.

6. In solemnly presenting all his redeemed subjects in one body to his Father, perfect in holiness and happiness, 1 Cor 15:24; Heb 2:10,13.

7. In perpetually governing and blessing his saints in their heavenly state with the full and immediate enjoyment of God, 1 Thess 4:17; Isa 60:19-20; 1 Cor 15:28.

Four years ago this week my eldest daughter, for an academic project, needed to interview someone relating to their profession. She chose to ask me a series of questions relating to my life as a pastor. Having been reminded of this today I read back through my answers and the answer to this question is necessary for many who are in the ministry of shepherding these days. I have already made the distinction of a pastor/shepherd and just a teacher/preacher.  The first does the second but not all who do the latter are called to the first.  This answer was given to a 16-year-old girl who has always been fascinated by the work of the Lord in our lives, and moreover, His providence in the times of great hardship.

How has being a pastor affected your life? Well, it has made my life hard. Ministry for the average “church” is just a list of things done and programs practiced, but for me it has been different. Having pastored churches of over 2000 members as well as churches of 40 members, God has allowed me to see one continual stream through it all: suffering. In suffering God is made brighter because I have not been able to qualify any success in ministry by my wisdom or hands. So, at many times pastoring is a lonely place, even though we are surrounding continually by people, the burden is difficult to express and in some ways, unnecessary. Many pastors will lie and say, “It’s a big ball of fun..” But it isn’t, it is gloriously satisfying but gravely burdensome. So, to simply put it, pastoring has allowed me to see that my life is not mine, but it is God’s and He has given it away to others for His name’s sake. This gives me great satisfaction.

This, among other things, is a great reminder and glimpse at the nature of the cross work of Christ, the continued work of laboring as Paul and the Apostles did for the sheep of Christ. We will suffer and we will suffer well. 

 

[18] And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, [19] serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; [20] how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, [21] testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. [22] And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, [23] except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. [24] But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:18–24)

We’ve finalized a wonderful week in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is faithful and true and able to make all manner of mess gloriously resolved!

Thank you all for being patient with us this week. We will not be having Theology:OnCall this evening but will pick up in the morning with all podcasts.

  • Daily “Are You Listening?”
  • A New “Straight Outta Context” on Old Testament allusion.
  • A new “Theology Answers” on the verses that normally are used against sovereign grace doctrine.

Please continue to pray for us as we trust in the Lord for several pastoral issues that we’ve dealt with this week and pray for my bride who has been ill this week, as we await some test results, that we can find the answer to some medical issues.

Lord bless! Thank you again for hanging with us in patience and thank you for partnering with us in prayer! Please take this time to consider the sermon from this morning posted below and GraceTruth Church. AND as always, post your questions throughout the week, we will hit the ground running in the morning!!

With all the affection of Christ!

Pastor  James 

Being holy and sanctified is not what you think.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. – Ephesians 1:3-10

 

Only Jesus Satisfies… is that true?

John 6:41–51

[48] I am the bread of life. [49] Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. [50] This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. [51] I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 

 

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Listen every day,

 

ARE YOU LISTENING
Our daily 2 to 4-minute podcast on applied theology. Wake up with us every day.

STRAIGHT OUTTA CONTEXT
Our weekly, Wednesday podcast on how to understand and interpret the bible. 10-20 minutes each week.

THEOLOGY ANSWERS
Our weekly, One Hour podcast dealing with theological issues with hosts Edward Dalcour and James Tippins.

THEOLOGY OnCall
Our weekly Sunday evening Question and Answer Facebook LIVE vidcast. 8PM EST

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Now that’s the standard. As a child I remember well all the times I heard that phrase. My mother’s family was a family of large steel contractors who built commercial brick and metal buildings. There are very few churches and schools in my hometown that don’t have the “Adams” or “Pro Builders” plaque somewhere on the grounds. The standard of workmanship, technique, work ethic and tool quality was always reinforced to me in my youth. One particular was the popular brand of plumbing fixtures that garnished the name “American Standard.” By name, that particular sink or toilet was the standard in America. It was considered the best whether it was is beside the point, they claimed they were, so the professionals that trusted in that claim made them a household name. The standard is that which everything else is to be measured and compared. It is the best experience, ideal, example or quality of something.

Obedience has always been a part of my life. As a child, I was taught that obedience was connected directly to love and fear. If one has a love for an authority they will desire obedience and ‘pleasing’ that individual. On the other hand, if one has fear of that authority they will obey out of a desire to avoid the consequences. So, my question for today is “what is the standard for obedience when it relates to obeying God?”

First, let me make clear that the STANDARD is absolute perfection without which one will never see the Lord apart from His wrath. So, we have the open statement that Jesus the Christ is the standard of obedience in His humanity because on He is perfect. To fail in following the command of God in any way, no matter how small, makes one guilty of violating the glory and holiness of God. Therefore, one must recognize that there is NO SUCH thing as obedience to God in a manner that satisfies God’s demands and therefore there is no obedience from any human (apart from Christ) that makes Him pleased with them.

Now, to the point. Apart from the perfection of Jesus Christ, who is the next best thing? That is my question to people constantly when they come for counsel from feeling the pressure of pleasing God while time and time again are unable to obey fully. For example, many come to me desiring for their internal thoughts and emotions to be more Christ-like while others are just unable to obey the simple aspects of the Christian faith like being in a local assembly of believers under the direction of the Lord’s word through elders. Others are unable to forgive and others are just so caught up in trying to please God they have created their own set of laws and live by them very well. As I ask them to show me the standard each of them are quick to answer Jesus. To which I reply, “Why do you try to be God?”

This, of course, startles them. But in reality, this is exactly what we are trying to do when in any part we think we can come close to the glory of God in perfection. Now some people have been quick to then accuse me as antinomian which in itself proves they are not in the love of God nor do they understand the gospel of grace. And in essence, they hate the rebuke that all of their “holiness” or “obedience” is worthless. It saddens me to see people stuck in this type of thinking but if they are not regenerated there is little to be done to help them see. Thankfully God teaches that He will open the eyes of His people in His timing through the hearing of His word. So, I rest the assurance that the Lord will do what He wishes with His people and I am only a voice for Him. Sola Deo Gloria!

So back to the standard. Let’s review a few of the immovable saints of old and see how they compare and see if we actually desire to be like them:

  1. Adam & Eve. Well, we know they were righteous and perfect without sin and depravity and they couldn’t last a day in the garden with Satan. So, we’ll leave them right there. They didn’t have a good standard of obedience to God.
  2. Cain. What? Why him? He didn’t have obedience to God…. yes he did. He offered the first fruits of his labors with all the trimmings. The only difference is he thought of his offering as sufficient because it obeyed the rules given by God when he actually hated God evidenced by his continued measurement of his righteousness by his own standard; the law! He obeyed better than most everyone I know in life over four decades already, so there’s that.
  3. Noah. Well, he wasn’t the patriarch of obedience as most consider him. After all, while he had faith in God, his justification was not granted him by his works as God produced the works unto His own glory in Noah. And then there’s the drunkeness…. “that’s only one thing” people argue. Well, how many of you would look down on your deacon or pastor if it were known they were getting drunk? I rest my case. Noah is not a standard of obedience to God at all.
  4. Abraham. Really? Where did he every obey God? For thirteen years after God saved him and gave him the promise, he walked in obscurity lying and making excuses for his own benefit. But all the while he never trusted in himself but always believed God would be his hope, even when he didn’t live as though he believed it. Abraham never really showed himself the standard of obedience.
  5. Moses. Nope. He started out as a murder in the plan of God and didn’t want to “go”. But God worked in him all that was necessary for God’s redemptive shadow of true salvation; the Gospel of Grace.
  6. David. Please. Obedience to God was not on his radar most of the time, yet, he was a “man after my own heart…” – God.
  7. Oh, let’s talk about Elizabeth and Zachariah. What about John the Baptist? What about the disciples?
  8. Peter. Nope. Peter’s obedience to God was wishy-washy. Hardly ever not fueled by a fleshly zeal.
  9. PAUL!  He’s the one!  No, he isn’t. Paul was a murder, a lost and hopeless cause yet he obeyed the law perfectly, even in his murderous heart he was justified by the law he understood! Paul is not the standard and never will be. Let’s not work to be like the Apostles, as a matter of fact, let us not work at all to be like anyone, even Christ!

That may rock many of you, but in reality, that is the truth of the Scripture. While we may emulate and copy from time-to-time the nature, heart, and mind of Jesus, we will never be like Him until He takes us unto Himself. Being obedient to God is not about perfection, though that is required of us, it is about faith. Our striving and living here is to be a manner worthy of the calling (effectual call of regeneration) that we have been given of course, but it is not a call that leads us to a continued slavery in sin, especially the sin of self-assurance, works-fruitfulness, and most of all, legalistic and judgmental worthlessness. When we fall prey to this way of living we no longer live by faith and then we begin to measure other people by our standards and not the standards of God and His merciful grace. Obedience to God is required of every man and obedience to God is impossible for every man.

We become jaded and find fault with others as we sit thinking we are doing better than they in their walk with Christ. We find ourselves measuring spiritual leaders with a stricter judgment than prescribed in Scripture and in practice we blindly become God in our own minds. I personally believe those that live in this manner, by the evidence that they refuse to hear of the grace of God coupled their hatred of the brethren, are most likely unregenerate. Let’s be certain that we are not counted in that number. Rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Let the word of God dwell in you richly that you may fulfill the perfect work of God by believing only in the name of Jesus Christ!

In closing, we need to realize that obedience is not fully obedience. It is never satisfactory and it is never to be measured by the standards of culture and personal righteousness. If anyone wants a measure of life without discipline let it be seen that we believe in the finished work of Christ; that is the gospel of God who saves His own people from His holy wrath. Let us remember that we are given the Spirit and the thus the mind of Christ and we will love the brethren through teaching and encouragement toward love and good deeds for the benefit of the body of Christ. So often people disfellowship over their version of the law and when doing so, we must be patient, loving, kind and gentle while holding fast to the finished work of Jesus as our assurance, hope, and life. Let the Lord’s discipline work in His people, we are not God. Those who do not see were never His and to that, we pray God will grant them repentance and life so that He would be glorified in our unity, love, worship, and hope! Amen.

The effects of constant turmoil can be burnout. I’ve experienced plenty in my life and in reality, I have “quit” the ministry many many times. The truth is though, I have never told anyone!  This podcast purposes to talk a little about the issue of ministry fatigue, its causes, its purposes and most of all, its remedy.

Sometimes I wonder why I ever ended up in the pastorate. From the early days of childhood into high school I desired to be a surgeon, then along came chemistry and I was satisfied in music. Along the way, I’ve become an expert in many subjects and hobbies from illusions/sleight of hand to martial arts. I’ve spent countless hours studying the human mind, quantum physics, defensive logistics, combat theory, chess, and tonal dissonance. Years have taught my body to dance, climb mountains, swim, trackstand on a switchback, and devour ten thousand calories in 24 hours. My mind has learned to foster thought, engage the critics, leave the fight, stay the course, feel the pressure and rest in grace. Skills have prepared me to fix dryers, motherboards, vehicles, bones, restore homes, landscape, hang drywall, frame houses, dig footers, and put in the pipes. I can even sew, hem pants, taper a shirt, prepare a marketing analysis, produce video, graphic design, program websites, and set the clock on the microwave. The point, I’ve done a lot of stuff in my short life and none of it has ever been half-hearted. I don’t understand the purpose of being so-so at anything. Those things that my body did so well have fallen away to a thing called arthritis. What my brain used to manage abruptly wrecked through another harsh and painful experience known as depression. In all of it, I have never found an identity. None.

A common thread has always been stitched into every part of my life. The Word of God, from the earliest of days, has been a source of joy and power for me. It’s a grand example of the grace and mercy of the Lord to work in His children a love for Him through Scripture. For most of my life, I could engage in any forum, any hobby, any point in culture and do well. I’ve learned to shoot, sing, fight, play seven instruments and have done well at a few business ventures but in all of them, I have always found myself in the word, ministering to others, listening and teaching them the truth of Christ. As a matter of honesty, I never really wanted to be a pastor and was content with the idea of being used by the Lord in everything. But God in all His purpose will do with us as He chooses, not how we choose. In the Lord’s “putting” me into the ministry as a vocation I brought a lot of my personality and ‘skills’ to the table. I was taught early on that my ‘tool belt’ was vital to the success of the ministry of the church. Looking to be the best and giving myself the OK to be “all in”, I quickly began to surround myself with successful people who were accomplishing what I felt to be the right fruit.

Historically I have served in many areas of church life having worked with youth, children, music, teaching, seminaries, evangelism, missions, and everything in between. I have witnessed 300 enter the baptismal waters in a year’s time, seen thousands “come to faith” at “services”, and been on staff with church plants and mega-churches, some of the prior becoming the latter. In the end, even “ministry” never became my identity. There is a lot of heartache and pain under my belt for which I am eternally grateful because without it, I would have never truly seen the substance of Christ’s suffering and how we identify with Him. Having written several unpublished works on my journey, I’ve learned it doesn’t really matter at the end of all the suffering if we don’t finish well. I’ve also learned that pain is part of progress and thinking that utopic days are our goal is childish and foolish surrealism. There are a few pain points of ministry though that I’ve learned sting much harder than normal. In all the calamities of sorts, nothing has been more hurtful than when friends and loved ones reject the Lord Jesus and love the world more than ever.

  1. When Family Members Claim Christ but Hate Truth
  2. When the Fan Base Becomes the Mob
  3. When the Brother is replaced with Beligerance 

Suppose that a life without Christ was blissful with no pain. No poetry in the heart from the labor of pestilence and persecution. A life with no rejection, separation, angst, or problems appears on the surface to be ideal, but my experience as well as the experience of the record of history, including Scripture, is that pain becomes part of the joy. It is the darkness in our lives that makes the light so glorious. To leave suffering in life would be to leave the fellowship of Christ, and in turn, bring suffering all the more as it became an eternal certainty rather than a light and momentary teacher. When bridled with agony, I have learned to lean into Scripture and thus into Jesus. Nothing can take the burden like Christ and His gospel of peace. Rest well in the power of Christ through His Word. 

I was always taught that these things were God’s gift for me to use for His glory. Now of course if they are enjoyed they are for His glory, but they are not what is needed by the church. While I have fixed a few computers, renovated a few buildings, and played a few funerals on the saxophone, the purpose of my life is to be a voice that points to the One that matters. Jesus Christ. I had to come to the end of my worth and usefulness and recognize that I was not the powerhouse I was always praised for being. This kind of death is hard on the esteem, but the grace of God, it’s powerful and useful. This means that all those years of training, leadership development, persuasion, influence etc. was all for nothing. Looking back I am thankful for having come through it, but at the time I counted my life as a large failure and a waste of God’s time as far as the ministry was concerned. This type of death makes your ministry history moot. As it should be. After all, didn’t John the Baptist even proclaim that Christ must increase therefore he would decrease? God took his life because the bridegroom gets the bride. So often, the current “church” gets the bride, the groom, the glory and the whole nine yards. They share their programs and people. The music and their measurements as if they are running for Ms. America. After all, isn’t ministry about attracting people to look at us? No. That’s the devil’s job.

Success can be confusing. No matter the field or context of life, measuring success is a dominant desire. This measuring becomes problematic when the matrix is misunderstood. Ignorance of what constitutes success can bring a plethora of issues both externally and internally in the life of an individual or organization. Considering successful ministry can be daunting and I know in my tenure as a pastor I’ve been taught conflicting thoughts on how to know if I am successful. For over 20 years the idea of ‘counting’ heads and money has been the measure of success but if we peer into the pages of scripture, there would be no example of a successful church, pastor, apostle or Savior if that were the case. Others have concluded that success should be based on the experience of the individual or the congregation. They would posit that true success isn’t how many, but rather, how powerful the experience. Again, if this is measured in comparison to the New Testament, there would be no historic picture of success found in these measurements.

There is the room of course, for many conversations of practical wisdom as it relates to dealing with people, communicating, caring and doing life together, but any human being can pull off successful ventures of gathering up people with a common goal or vision. It only takes a brain and a voice. The problem comes when all this discombobulated instruction on success invades the mind of a pastor or congregation and they begin to make strides to ‘measure up’ according to man’s wisdom. While I’ve spoken to these things before, I want to know just put the authority where it should be; the Word of God.

When we want to see an amazing feat we can go to either a magic show, and be deceived and enjoy it, or we can go to a sporting event or daredevil exhibition. Either way, there are many amazing things to behold in the world of daring humanity. If we want our breath to be taken we can listen to a chorale of voices singing the classics of old, a symphony bringing the trills and tonal harmonies to life in our ears, or we can view the grandeur of the sea, the mountains or the beyond! Sadly, all of these things, while awe-inspiring, are not majestic or awesome in comparison to the glory of God. So, in man’s feeble mind, he has tried to find other ways to behold the power of God and then painted the canvas of “worship” and “church” with these silly and boring tactics.

How amazing would it be if I were preaching this Sunday and out of the blue I began to float in the air and fire came from my hands as I read the words of Jesus? People would think they had witnessed a miracle and their hearts and minds would be overpowered by that experience. Likewise, if I walked out into the congregation and touched the ailing and their bodies were actually healed, legs grew back, eyesight restored; people would lose their mind in amazement. What if I were able to know things that were not mine to know or had the ability to provide music that would shudder the soul and cause others to feel, what they thought, the very presence of God? I would submit that all of this, even if it happened in greater detail, would be boring and nothing in comparison to seeing the glory of God face-to-face!

So, if we want to SEE a miracle, it is better to stop looking for the next great “work” of God and realize that there is already a perfect miracle for us to behold every moment of our lives! Jesus in John 6 says, “This is the work of God that you believe in the Son that He has sent.” See, the people of John 6 wanted more miracle food. When Jesus refused to feed them in their hunger and commanded them to be satisfied in Him, they wanted a sign for Jesus to prove Himself as worthy. In the same manner, many professing believers seem to believe in anything they can feel, create, and experience that satisfies their flesh instead of actually believing in Jesus Christ and His finished work of redemption. The point is that success in ministry is not measured by the number of people in the pews, money in the bank, missionaries in the field, miracles on the stage, healings in the clinics, or tongues in the air like cymbals. It is measured by the majesty and glory of God in the face of the people of God, who believe, worship and love each other with all authority. So how then are we to measure this? How is this experienced and evident in the life of the church? Through the Word of God Alone!

God’s word faithfully proclaimed is the only measure of successful ministry.

2 Timothy 3:[16] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

ὠφέλιμος – means valuable, profitable, having worth and bringing a yield. So, the word of God, which is God speaking, is profitable for all things that the church needs. It teaches (doctrine), reproofs (disapproves), corrects (sets right), and trains in righteousness (teaches Christ). The successful pastor is equipped for every good work through the Scripture. That is the miracle of God and a display of His creative power at work. His word being taught, His sheep hearing and heeding, and His people being governed by the Miracle of New Life by His everlasting Grace. Anything else is just boring and of lesser awe than this!  Stop seeking out the devil’s measure of majesty and rest in the revelation of God to you.

Rest in Christ!