"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - St Jerome

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Good Friday Reflection

The Trial of Jesus calls for a judgment. - What is your judgment?
How do we evaluate the so-called “Son of God”? When he stands before us, do we take the judgment seat?
Pilate, we are told, “sat in the judgment seat.” He was asked to give a verdict, to give a sentence based on that verdict.
Pilate wasn’t the first to get a chance to sit in judgment over Jesus. The Gospels tell us that Religious leaders, Herod and the crowd also were giving their verdicts. Jesus was a very judged man. And in the end, everyone who sat in judgment over Christ, didn’t get what they wanted from Him.
Before Jesus got to Pilate, the Religious Leaders had judged Jesus guilty! They were tired of Jesus calling them, the most religious people in the whole society, Jesus was calling them: sinners along with everyone else! They not only followed the Law (as they understood it) and even new parts of the law they made up! How offensive is that to be told your piety isn’t good enough!
Before Jesus got to Pilate finally, Herod had judged Jesus guilty…of not being entertaining enough. Herod demanded a sign! He wanted signs and miracles just for him. He wanted a Santa Claus, giving him goodies. And when Jesus was silent to that request, when Jesus didn’t answer his prayer for goodies, Herod was done with Jesus.
Now, Finally, Pilate sat in judgment over Jesus, but didn’t really find a problem with Jesus, so it seemed. But everybody else seemed to. So Pilate says with his lips that he doesn’t find guilt with Jesus, and then Pilate does what to an innocent man? Pilate has Him tortured. Mocks Him, makes Him the center of ridicule. Which lied, his lips or his actions?
When the crowd, when everyone else wants to be rid of Jesus, when the world is found to cry for his death, when it might be costly and hard to declare the truth about Jesus…Pilate asks “What is truth?”
Pilate denies Truth itself, standing in front of him, Pilate has the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE in front of him, and sends him down the WAY of the Via Delarosa, he lies about the TRUTH, and he sentences LIFE to death.
The Neutrality and apathy of a Pilate, always finds itself crucifying Christ. The fence sitters, seem always to find themselves right along with the crowd when it comes down to the real choice that was before them. The choice was between the INNOCENCE of Jesus or their own INNOCENCE.
Pilate starts by saying “I see no crime in him! He seems innocent,” but ends with saying, “I am innocent of his blood! I wash my hands!” 
Pilate couldn’t be neutral. And neither can you. In the end: only one can be innocent. The Trial of Jesus calls for judgment. All men, in one way or another, attend the trial of Christ. They are asked, as Jesus did to his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?”
Your verdict on that question, is the most important question you will ever answer. Who do you say Jesus is?
Is He the Son of God? If not, the religious leaders were right to declare him guilty.
Is He supposed to be Santa Claus? If so, Herod is right to dismiss Him when he doesn’t get his every request.
Is He to be the popular King? The cool friend? If so, then Pilate is right to deliver him to the crowd, when the world rejects Christ.
Pilate sat in the judgment seat and made his verdict known. Pilate was more concerned to declare Pilate’s innocence. In fact, everyone there thought they were innocent!
That’s what makes an innocent verdict so hard to pronounce over Jesus. If Jesus is innocent, then what he says is true. When He says He came for sinners, and points to you, either you are a sinner He came for, or He is a lying sinner for saying: you are a sinner.
It comes down to this: Either Jesus was innocent or you are. Which is it?
Are we wrong when we sit in judgment over Jesus for not confirming us, telling us “Good job applying the law to others and not yourself! Good job following your own rules and not God’s!” Are we guilty for dismissing Jesus when he doesn’t do this, or is Jesus guilty?
Are we in the wrong when we sit in judgment over Jesus because he doesn’t give us a all WE want? Are we guilty for treating Jesus like Santa Claus, or is Jesus guilty for not being our personal Santa Claus?
Are we in the wrong for ignoring Christ, for saying we don’t find guilt in him, but in the end, not concerning ourselves with Christ crucified when the world is found to be against him? Are we guilty for going along with the world, or is Jesus guilty for not being what the world wants?
The trial of Jesus demands a judgment. What is yours? Do you sit in judgment over Jesus? Or does he stand in judgment FOR you?
Just know this: Jesus only stands in judgment for the guilty! The minute you say “I am innocent” is the minute you cry out “Jesus is the guilty one! Crucify Him!”
Is Christ’s rightful place on the cross, or is yours? Before the cross is what Christ took in your place, you must see your rightful place is on the cross.
The story of the trial and death of Jesus is not a tragedy. The story of the passion is not in order to parade before you the man Jesus to pity. It is the story of the God-man Jesus Christ having pity on you. It is the story of Jesus saying to the Father “Forgive them.” The Father saying “Only if I forsake you.” And Jesus saying, “Your Will be done.” It is the story of Jesus then saying to the penalty that hung over us: “It is finished.”
It is the story of what you deserved, and what Jesus took for you. Only then, can you see the good in Good Friday.
I’ll tell you the good I see in this Friday: In the cross of Christ, there is my judgment, as He takes my cross, the cross I earned, the cross I deserved, and He bares it in love for me and His Father.
The Trial of Jesus calls for a judgment. Who is the guilty one? My judgment: I AM guilty. What is your judgment?
Prayer: Father, for the sake of the Pure and Spotless Lamb of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

First half of Ephesians

Recently I have had the honor of opening up the book of Ephesians to the saints at New Life in Hopewell Pennsylvania. We reached the halfway point, a noticeable hinge of the book. To review, I thought I would post the links here:

If interested, click on the title to find the audio below:

Collected Sermons will be here:

Ephesians 1:1-2 Introductions are in Order

Ephesians 1:3-6 - Blessing Father

Ephesians 1:7-12 - In Christ Alone

Ephesians 1:13-14 - Spirit Guaranteed

Ephesians 1:15-23 - Thanking God for the Church

Ephesians 2:1-7 - Dead in Sin...But God

Ephesians 2:8-10 - By Grace Alone, through Faith Alone

Ephesians 2:11-22 - Strangers No More

Ephesians 3:1-13 - A Mystery Revealed

Ephesians 3:14-21 - More Abundantly than all we Ask or Think.

If you are in the Pittsburgh area on the Northwest end, join us for worship:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nashville "End Times" Conference

Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville will be hosting faculty from Westminster Theological Seminary and Dr. Harry Reeder (Westminster board member and Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham) on February 28th and March 1st, a Friday night and Saturday. The conference is on the topic of eschatology, or a study of last things. They will address the popular theology called Dispensationalism (the theology behind the Left Behind series of books) and look carefully at what Scripture teaches about the "end times". 

Register here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-seminar-on-the-last-days-registration-10166483225

Or for questions: Contact Pastor Matt Bradley (615) 383-2206, ext. 209 mattb@covenantpres.com

Monday, February 03, 2014

Ephesians: Trinitarian Prayer

I am currently preaching through the book of Ephesians, and have just finished what is most preachers' favorite section 1:3-14. A 202 word sentence in the Greek, these verses lay out the gospel as planned by the Father, accomplished by the Son and applied by the Spirit. Thus, I decided to spend 3 sermons focusing on the work of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. It is not exhaustive, but I pray it was faithful to the important points of the text. If interested, find the audio below:

Ephesians 1:3-6 - Blessing Father

Ephesians 1:7-12 - In Christ Alone

Ephesians 1:13-14 - Spirit Guaranteed

[Also also introduced the study with a sermon on Ephesians 1:1-2 called "Introductions are in Order"]

Collected Sermons will be here:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Thornwell on Boards in Church Polity

This is only for the Presbyterian polity people. PCA Historical Center director Wayne Sparkman has a great selection today from Thornwell against the idea of Boards (which have similiarities to "Commissions" in PCA polity). For Churchmen, this is a must read!


Thornwell made this conclusion about the rise of Boards in Presbyterian polity: “It is not to be disguised, that our Church is becoming deplorably secular. She has degenerated from a spiritual body into a mere petty corporation. When we meet in our ecclesiastical courts, instead of attending to the spiritual interests of God’s kingdom, we scarcely do anything more than examine and audit accounts, and devise ways and means for raising money. We are for doing God’s work by human wisdom and human policy;"

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The Calvinist

What is a Calvinist? A cynic? Frozen Chosen? A Debater?

Although it does focus on the person, I do like this poem by John Piper. What the Calvinist ought to be, or strive to be when observed, the godly man observed (Listen for the voices of D.A. Carson, R.C. Sproul, Alistair Begg, Thabiti Anyabwile, Matt Chandler, and Sinclair Ferguson.):

Monday, November 25, 2013

Martin Luther versus the "New" Perspective on Paul

Here I submit a passage from Martin Luther's Bondage of the Will, in which to my delight, Luther attacks (if I may be a bit anachronistic) the “New Perspective on Paul” (NPP), which apparently when apparently when Dunn and Sanders and Wright discovered it, was really nothing new under the sun. Luther here denies that Paul means “ceremonial laws” by works of the law, or a NPP advocates call it “covenant badges” like dietary laws and circumcision.

Martin Luther. Bondage of the Will pages 302-304. [Library of Christian Classics edition]

“But they are in the habit of trying to get round Paul here, by making out that what he calls works of the law are the ceremonial works, which sine the death of Christ are deadly. I reply that this is the ignorant error of Jerome, which in spite of Augustine's strenuous resistance – God having withdrawn and let Satan prevail – has spread out into the world and persisted to the present day. It has consequently become impossible to understand Paul, and the knowledge of Christ has been inevitably obscured. Even if there had never been any other error in the Church, this one alone was pestilent and potent enough to make havoc of the gospel, and unless a special sort of grace has intervened, Jerome has merited hell rather than heaven or it – so little would I dare to canonize him or call him a saint. It is, then, not true that Paul is speaking only about ceremonial laws: otherwise how can the argument be sustained by which he concludes that all mean are wicked and in need of grace? For someone could say: Granted we are not justified by ceremonial works, yet a person might be justified by the moral works of the Decalogue, so you have not proved by your syllogism that grace is necessary for these. Besides, what is the use of a grace liberates us only from ceremonial works which are the easiest of all, and which can at the lowest be exhorted from us by fear or self-love? It is, of course, also untrue that ceremonial laws are deadly and unlawful since the death of Christ; Paul never said that, but he says they do not justify and are of no advantage to a man in the sight of God as regards setting him free from ungodliness. Once this is accepted, anyone may do them without doing anything unlawful – just as eating and drinking are works that do not justify or commend us to God (1 Cor 8:8), yet a man does nothing unlawful when he eats and drinks.

They are also wrong in that the ceremonial works were as much commanded and required in the old law as was the Decalogue, so that the latter was neither more nor less important than the former. And as Paul is speaking primarily to Jews, as he says in Romans 1:16, no one need doubt that by works of the law he means all the works of the entire law. For it would be meaningless to call them works of the law if the law were abrogated and deadly, since an abrogated law is no longer a law, as Paul very well knew. He is therefore not speaking of an abrogated law when he speaks of the works of the law, bot of the law that is valid and authoritative. Otherwise, how easy it would have been for him to say: “The itself is now abrogated!” -then we should had a clear and unambiguous declaration.

But let us appeal to Paul himself as his own best interpreter, where he says in Galatians 3:!0: “All who rely on works of the law are under a curse, for it is written, 'Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.'” You see here, where Paul is making the same point in the same words as in the epistle to the Romans, that every time he mentions the works of the law he is speaking of all the laws written in the Book of the Law....”