The Church: A Body Served by Elders

Why does a church need elders? How important are they to the life of the church? Acts 20:28–32 helps us see how God expects them to function, and how you and I benefit from their work.

“Jeremiah 23:4 predicts a plurality of faithful shepherds, replacing Israel’s unfaithful kings and priests. The fulfillment of this promise is the body of elders or overseers now given to the church, charged by Paul here and by Peter in 1 Peter 5:2 to shepherd the flock of God—to feed, protect, and discipline God’s people for their growth in grace. Through such shepherds, Jesus, the chief Shepherd, now cares for his sheep.” (Dennis E. Johnson, Let’s Study Acts, p. 255).

“And now he [Paul] was leaving them; they could no longer count upon his personal presence for such pastoral guidance and wise admonition. But, though Paul might go, God was ever with them, and so was God’s word which they had received—the word that proclaimed His grace in redeeming them and His grace in sanctifying them. To God, then, and to this word of His, Paul solemnly committed them.” (F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, NICNT, p. 417).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Intercession

Why is Job an intercessor?Job knew what it was to suffer, to be abandoned, to have what seemed proof that the Lord was furiously angry with him. His very suffering had equipped him to intercede for his friends–just as some of your suffering and trials may make you a far more effective pray-er for those around you.
But ultimately Job also is a sinner and cannot provide perfect intercession. Only the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, can properly intercede for you. The reason that Job could pray for his friends was that the Spirit of the Christ was in him.
The suffering of the Son of Man equipped him to be your perfect intercessor. There is no aspect of trial in your life which he has not probed to the depths in his own experience. There is no cup of suffering held out to you of which he has not first tasted the dregs.

“The human aspect of Christ’s work, so far as it is foreshown in the book of Job, is chiefly set forth by Job himself, in his own person, as the type of the man of sorrows, forsaken and persecuted by his friends, and abandoned apparently by God, and yet for whom the cross was the passage way to the crown, and suffering to a glorious reward, and the fruit of the travail of whose soul abounded to the blessing of others, as Job’s intercession brought healing to his three friends, and he has been a helper to the distressed from his own day to this.” (William Henry Green, The Argument of the Book of Job Unfolded, p. 216. Pub. 1874.)

The Sunday afternoon Bible Study at Trinity Presbyterian Church looks at Job 42, Job’s intercession for his friends.

The Cornerstone

“Against the background of the na­tion’s vain and misplaced confidence in false security Isaiah utters one of the greatest Messianic prophecies in his entire work. This prophecy in some respects calls to mind the situation present in chapter seven. As the un­believing Ahaz had rejected the sign proffered of the Lord, and consequent­ly the Lord Himself had given a a sign, so here, the Lord again takes action, setting in contrast to the weak founda­tions upon which Judah trusted, the true and tried Stone which alone is a foundation upon which one may rest.” (E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Vol. 2, p. 284).

“Tongues are a sign against unbelievers. This can be seen… in the use of Isaiah 28:11ff. To support the char­acter of tongues as a sign…. Paul pointedly excludes a positive or evangelizing use for tongues. Prophecy, not tongues, attacts unbelievers to the gospel and serves to win them for Christ.” (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Perspec­tives on Pentecost, p. 104 [on Paul’s use of Isaiah 28 in 1 Corinthians 14]).

The next 10 Bible Study, meeting Friday, February 1, at 6:30 p.m. in the Astoria area, focuses on Isaiah 25–26. Call 971/238-6101 for location.

The Church: Heirs of the Prophets

What makes a prophet a prophet? Why does Peter in Acts 3:24–26 refer to his hearers as heirs of the prophets? And what do Numbers 12:1–9 and Deuteronomy 18:14–22 have to do with the church. Are youheirs of the prophets? A prophet fore-tells and tells forth God’s Word. His job is two-fold. But, also, prophet has religious fellowship with God. As the Lord As the Lord rebukes Miriam and Aaron for their jealousy, he points to the closeness of the fellowship between God and Moses. God graciously communicated with prophets. But he spoke face to face with Moses.

“It is evident that a religious preeminence was involved. Moses, in Numbers 11:29, expressed the desire that all of God’s people might be prophets. This clearly shows that from the first there was a religious as much as a functional value found in the appearance and exercise of the office. This appraisal runs through the entire history of prophecy from beginning to end. The divine promise in Joel 2:28–32 extends it into the eschatalogical age. Not only is Israel honored by having prophets, the greater honor is that the people are intended to become prophets.” (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, p. 217).

“Moses is surpassed by our Lord Jesus Christ, who did only what God commanded Him. He was not a servant in house of His Lord; He was a Son set over the house of His Father—which is also His house, for the people of God are also His people.” (S. G. De Graaf, Promise and Deliverance, Vol. 1, p. 342).

“Viewed against the background of prophetic promise, these early signs of Jesus’ power to rescue and repair by his Spirit reveal that the church’s life is now a first installment and preview of the peace, purity, love, and joy of the world to come, even in the midst of the old creation’s present pollution, decay, and death.” (Dennis E. Johnson, The Message of Acts in the History of Redemption, p. 56).

Peter describes God’s pepole as the heirs of the prophets. He means more than that his hearers have received what Samuel and the prophets promised, true though that is. Rather, that religious fellowship, that close relationship with God, that characterized Moses especially, but also the other prophets, has now become your relationship with God. It takes place because the Servant of the Lord has come to turn you from your wicked ways to fellowship with God. His death and resurrection are yours. And thus, also, the close fellowship between the Christ and his Father is what you are called to as an heir of the prophets.

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

The Praying Prophet

Be careful, as you listen to the thunderings of Amos, that you don’t jump to conclusions about his character. He is not just an angry prophet—he pleads for mercy for Israel. The activity of Amos calls you to fear the justice of God and to throw yourself on his mercy.

Amos is the preacher of justice and retribution par excellence. . . . Jehovah, according to Amos, executed righteousness, not from any lower motive, such as safeguarding the structure of society, or converting the sinner, but from the supreme motive of giving free sway to the infinite force of his ethical indignation. (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, p. 273).

The Wednesday evening Bible study at Trinity Presbyterian Church tonight focuses on Amos 7.

The Church: God’s Treasured People

What is the most awe-inspiring experience you have had? Israel had experienced much as they had been delivered from Egypt—but what God was doing at Sinai was greater. They were filled with awe and fear—but the event was wonderful. God was making them his treasured people. That is what the church today is.

“All sovereignty on earth is derivative, temporary, and limited, and in the case of abuse, more a curse than a blessing. But God is king in the absolute and true sense. The government of the universe is not democratic, not aristocratic, not republican, nor constitutional, but monarchial. To God belongs the one undivided legislative, judicial, and executive power. His sovereignty is original, eternal, unlimited, abundant in blessing. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 19:6). His royal realm is the whole of the universe. His are the heavens and the earth (Exod. 19:5). . . .” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2, p. 616).

“The one great promise to Abraham is ‘I will be your God, and you and your descendants will be my people’ (Gen. 17:8 paraphrase). And this is the principle content of God’s covenant with Israel as well. God is Israel’s God, and Israel is his people (Exod. 19:6; 29:46; etc.). Israel, accordingly, receives a wide assortment of blessings, not only temporal blessings, such as the land of Canaan, fruitfulness in marriage, a long life, prosperity, plus victory over its enemies, but also spiritual and eternal blessings, such as God’s dwelling among them (Exod. 29:45; Lev. 24:12), the forgiveness of sins (Exod. 20:6; 34:7; Num. 14:18; Deut 4:31; Pss. 32; 103; etc.), sonship. . . sanctification. . . and so on.” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3, p. 221).

“In Exod. 19:6 God says to Israel, ‘You shall be to me a kingdom of priests,’ which likely meant that as a whole nation they were to serve as kingly mediators of divine revelation between God and the unbelieving nations (see also Isa. 43:10-13). They were not faithful in this witnessing task. Therefore God raises up a new priest-king, Jesus, and those identified with him are a ‘kingdom of priests,’ as expressed by 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10, which clearly allude to Exod. 19:6.” (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, p. 678).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.

The Day of the LORD

For Amos the day of the Lord involves a contrast between light and darkness. The language echoes the beginning of creation, when the earth is formless and void. In the darkness God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. One would expect the day of the Lord, then to be a day of brilliant light. But, ironically, and contrary to popular expectation, it will be a day of darkness. It is a day of gloom and judgment because of sin, unconfessed and unrepented of.

The good news is that the concept of the day of the Lord becomes the day of the Lord Jesus Christ as he undergoes judgment in our place and brings us into his glorious light.

“We must be on guard against the small snakes in the dark corners of our hearts. The snake of our unconfessed and uncombatted sin may kill us yet!…The great killer and trampler of snakes must kill the treacherous snake of my sin through the breath of His mouth, through His Spirit.” (Herman Veldkamp, The Farmer from Tekoa, p. 176).

The Wednesday evening Bible study at Trinity Presbyterian Church focuses on Amos 5.