Belief & Action

“…wisdom is perfection in the mouth of the faithful.” Wisdom of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 34.8b

Ain’t that the truth! Notice it doesn’t declare, “wisdom is perfection in the mouth of the believer but of the faithful. We are saved by Christ alone and demonstrate the widsom we have in Christ by faithful action.

Who are the faithful? Those who believe and do the will of God. May you today and every day, “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James. 1.22

Yours in the Lord,

jm
PS: I do not believe the Widsom of Sirach is scripture.

 

Public Prayer

by WILLIAM PERKINS (1558-1602)billyperkins

We have been considering the preaching of the Word. Now, finally, something should be said about leading in public prayer. This is the second aspect of prophesying. In it the minister is the voice of the people in calling upon God (1 Sam. 14:24; Luke 11:1).

In this connection we should note the following points:

1. The subject of public prayer should be, first, the deficiencies and sins of the people, and then the graces of God and the blessings they stand in need of (1 Tim. 2:1, 2). Tertullian says, ‘We do all pray for all emperors, that they may obtain a long life, a quiet reign, a safe family, courageous armies, a faithful council, loyal subjects, a peaceable world, and whatsoever things are desired of a man and of Caesar.’ Again, ‘We pray for emperors for their ministers and powers, for the state of the time, for the quietness of their affairs, and for the delaying of their death.’ The Lord’s Prayer covers these areas under six headings: God’s glory, God’s kingdom, and our obedience, the preservation of life, the forgiveness of sins, and the strengthening of the spirit.

2. The form of prayer should be as follows: One voice, that of the minister alone, should lead in prayer, the congregation joining in silently but indicating their agreement at the end by saying, ‘Amen’ (Neh. 8:6; Acts 4:24; 1 Cor. 14:16). This was the practice in the early church, as Justin says: ‘When the president has finished his prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present cry out with a favourable approbation, saying, Amen.’

3. But the one voice which expresses the corporate prayers of the congregation needs to be understood (1 Cor. 14:15). It should not lead in prayer in a jagged and abrupt fashion, but with a steady flow of petitions, so that empty repetitions are avoided (Matt. 6:7).

4. There are three elements in praying: (i) Carefully thinking about the appropriate content for prayer; (ii) Setting the themes in an appropriate order; (iii) Expressing the prayer so that it is made in public in a way that is edifying for the congregation.

To the Triune God be the glory!

Former State Church

Recently I was asked, “why do you refer to the Eastern Orthodox Church as a denomination and former State Church?”

When I refer to the Eastern Orthodox denomination as such I honestly mean no disrespect. I am trying to deal honestly with history as I have come to understand it and help others to understand the development of the denomination over time. One simply has to look at the Russian or Greek Orthodox Churches to find evidence of this. Both Eastern Orthodox Church bodies were tied to the secular State and influenced by the State.

Unfortunately, faith in a Church hierarchy can create blinders to the truth and many Orthodox Christians fail to see what seems obvious to others. In Philip Jenkins book on the First World War titled The Great and Holy War he explains;

“The Orthodox church operated in intimate alliance with the imperial authorities, from which it drew its power and wealth. From the time of Peter the Great, in the 1700’s, the church’s ancient patriarchate ceased to function, leaving the church as a virtual arm of the government. It was supervised by a Holy Synod appointed by the Tsar and under the authority of a cabinet-level imperial official.”

“For many Orthodox thinkers, moreover, rival Christian churches, Catholic and Protestant, were only in the most technical sense fellow believers or brothers, and as such they deserved little more political consideration than did Muslims or Jews.”

“The causes of the monarchy, empire, and church were all one, and they merged into a messianic vision of the Tsarists regime…”

Many examples can be found throughout history where the Eastern Orthodox Church worked hand in hand with the State to accomplish the States goals. I have already detailed how that played out in the Controversy Over Images. The State continuously waged a war for the use of Icons until the Church relented and this happened only after murdering their opponents and replacing the Patriarch with a layman.

Even today Russian President Vladimir Putin is using the Eastern Orthodox Church to rally neo-nationalism while the Orthodox Church receives benefits from the government. After much reading on the matter, using secular and Christian sources, I have to concluded that Eastern Orthodoxy is a former State Church that carries a lot of historical baggage linked with Byzantine and other political intrigue. This often affected doctrine and relations even if the outward ritual and ceremony remained the same. If Putin has his way the Eastern Orthodox might become a State Church once again.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

 

The Mystery of Godliness

John Gill’s comments on 1 Timothy 3.16 help to drive home the mystery of the incarnation, of Christ’s holiness and the power of the Gospel to save wretched sinners.

the mystery of godliness,

What follows is so, the incarnation of Christ, his birth of a virgin, the union of the two natures, divine and human, in his person; this is a mystery, which though revealed, and so to be believed, is not to be discerned nor accounted for, nor the modus of it to be comprehended by reason: and it is a great one, next, if not equal, to the doctrine of a trinity of persons in the divine essence; and is a mystery of godliness, which tends to encourage internal and external religion, powerful and practical godliness in all the parts prayerholyand branches of it; and is so beyond all dispute and doubt.

God was manifest in the flesh;

not God essentially considered, or Deity in the abstract, but personally; and not the first nor the third Person; for of neither of them can this or the following things be said; but the second Person, the Word, or Son of God; see ( 1 John 3:8 ) who existed as a divine Person, and as a distinct one from the Father and Spirit, before his incarnation; and which is a proof of his true and proper deity: the Son of God in his divine nature is equally invisible as the Father, but became manifest by the assumption of human nature in a corporeal way, so as to be seen, heard, and felt: and by “flesh” is meant, not that part of the body only, which bears that name, nor the whole body only, but the whole human nature, consisting of a true body and a reasonable soul; so called, partly to denote the frailty of it, and to show that it was not a person, but a nature, Christ assumed; and the clause is added, not so much to distinguish this manifestation of Christ from a spiritual manifestation of him to his people, as in distinction from all other manifestations of him in the Old Testament, in an human form for a time, and in the cloud, both in the tabernacle and temple. This clause is a very apt and full interpretation of the word “Moriah”, the name of the mount in which Jehovah would manifest himself, and be seen, ( Genesis 22:2 Genesis 22:14 ) .

Justified in the Spirit;

either by the Spirit of God, making his human nature pure and holy, and preserving it from original sin and taint; and by descending on him at his baptism, thereby testifying that he was the Son of God; and by the miracles wrought by his power, which proved Jesus to be the Messiah against those that rejected him; and by his coming down upon the apostles at Pentecost; and who in their ministry vindicated him from all the aspersions cast upon him: or else it is to be understood of the divine nature of Christ, in distinction from his flesh or human nature; in the one he was manifest and put to death for the sins of his people, which were put upon him, and bore by him; and by the other he was quickened and declared to be the Son of God; and being raised from the dead, he was justified and acquitted from all the sins of his people, and they were justified in him; he having made full satisfaction to justice for them.

Seen of angels;

meaning not ministers of the Gospel, and pastors of churches, who are sometimes so called; but the blessed spirits, the inhabitants of heaven: by these he was seen at his birth, who then descended and sung praise to God on that account; and in the wilderness, after he had been tempted by Satan, when they ministered unto him; and in the garden upon his agony and sweat there, when one appeared and strengthened him; and at his resurrection from the dead, who rolled away the stone from the sepulchre, and told the women he was risen from the dead; as also at his ascension to heaven, when they attended him thither in triumph; and now in heaven, where they wait upon him, and worship him, and are ministering spirits, sent forth by him to do his pleasure; and he is seen by them the ministry of the Gospel; into the truths of which they look with pleasure, and gaze upon with unutterable delight and admiration; especially those which respect the person and offices of Christ. Some copies read, “seen of men”, but that is implied in the first clause:

preached unto the Gentiles;

the worst of men, and that by the express orders of Christ himself; and which was foretold in the prophecies of the Old Testament, and yet was a mystery, hid from ages and generations past:

believed on in the world;

among the Jews, and in the nations of the world, so that he was preached with success; and faith in Christ is the end of preaching; though this is not of a man’s self, but is the gift of God, and the operation of his power: and it was a marvellous thing, considering the reproach and ignominy Christ lay under, through the scandal of the cross, that he should be believed on as he was. This can be ascribed to nothing else but to the power of God, which went along with the ministry of the word.

Received up into glory;

he was raised from the dead, and had a glory put upon his risen body; he ascended in a glorious manner to heaven, in a cloud, and in chariots of angels, and was received there with a welcome by his Father; and is set down at his right hand, and crowned with glory and honour, and glorified with the glory he had with him before the world was.

Escaped the Corruption

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 1 Peter 1. 4

garden of earthly delights

Gill comments: not the corruption and depravity of nature, which is never escaped by any, nor got rid of so long as the saints are in the world; but the corrupt manners of the world, or those corruptions and vices which, are prevalent in the world, and under the power and dominion of which the world lies;

and particularly the sins of uncleanness, adultery, incest, sodomy, and such like filthy and unnatural lusts, which abounded in the world, and among some that called themselves Christians, and especially the followers of Simon Magus.

Now the Gospel, and the precious promises, being graciously bestowed and powerfully applied, have an influence on purity of heart and conversation, and teach men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly; such are the powerful effects of Gospel promises, under divine influence, as to make men inwardly partakers of the divine nature, and outwardly to abstain from and avoid the prevailing corruptions and vices of the times.

Use Suitable Words

SUITABLE WORDS

Dear Brother Beebe: – I heard an Old School Baptist preach some time since, and he remarked that if sinners were lost, it was their own fault. I should like to have your views upon the subject. To me it had an awful, squinting towards Arminianism. I hope you will go fully into the subject as it is one that seems to puzzle the minds of a good many of the Baptists, even in this part of the world, though I am not of that number.

JOHN R. MARTIN
Franklin County, Va., Feb. 3, 1859.Beebe

Reply – Old School Baptist preachers should be exceedingly careful how they express themselves in setting forth their views, as a very considerable of the apparent difficulty which too often agitates the Zion of our God arises from a failure to understand the real meaning of each other. A loose, careless way of dashing out off-handed expressions can hardly fail to produce or promote such agitation, which, when produced, is often very hard to allay. The wise man, we are told, sought out suitable or appropriate words; and words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in pictures of silver. If we would preach, or talk, or write so as to edify the saints, and promote union, harmony and christian fellowship, we should avoid as far as possible all ambiguous expressions. We remember a short time ago a brother in the south said that he did not believe in revealed religion, and the expression startled many of his and our brethren, whereas the brother had no idea of denying what we generally mean when we use those words, but probably designed only to show that in his view the word “religion,” as used in the Scriptures, has reference to the conduct and works of men, rather than to what is revealed to them. So also some expressions made by us, and others, have been so construed as to charge us with holding sentiments for which we have not the least fellowship, and although we have from time to time disclaimed the imputation, the charges are in some quarters reiterated with as much zeal as though we had never disclaimed them.

In regard to the remark which brother Martin heard an Old School Baptist make, we should be at loss to know the meaning of the brother, unless he should explain. In some respects, with brother Martin, we think the remark has a “squinting to Arminianism.”

First. Because it is a favorite expression of all Arminians, and is used by them to signify that in their opinion every guilty sinner has salvation offered to him on certain conditions they are able to perform, and that it is therefore optional with them to be saved or damned.

Second. Should we hear an Old School Baptist make the remark, we would very naturally understand him to signify that he was not in perfect unison in his views with his brethren, or that he designed to convey the idea that his brethren exonerated that class of sinners that are finally and forever lost, from blame, and thus implying a charge of unrighteousness and injustice on God. In either or any case, we think such expressions thrown out are calculated to produce jargon and discord among those who, of all men, should strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Third. The IF in the remark seems to imply a doubt whether sinners will be, and a disbelief in the scriptural doctrine that sinners are already, lost; and this we think implies an Arminian idea. The blessed Savior has informed us that he that believeth not, is condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on him. From the condemnation and wrath of almighty God nothing short of the blood of Jesus Christ can possibly save any of them, and the application of that blood is by no means within the reach or power of any sinner; if it be applied at all, it must be by the sovereign grace of God.

That men are in fault for being sinners, and that they are justly and righteously condemned as guilty sinners, is taught both by the word and Spirit, by the word as recorded in the Scriptures, and by the Spirit in his work on the heart, and in the experience of all who are born of God.

We have not room to pursue the subject farther at this time, but we hope our brethren will be more careful in the selection of words, knowing that we are surrounded by enemies who watch for our halting, and who rejoice when they can, either by fair means or foul, succeed in stirring up strife and discord among us.

Middletown, N.Y.,
March 15, 1859.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 206 – 208