Author Archives: John Mahaffy

The Church: A Body of Priests

A priest in the Old Testament spent his life in serving God, offering sacrifices in the tabernacle or temple and teaching the people. When the Word tells you that you, as a New Testament believer, are a priest, there is wonderful privilege involved. You have direct access to the throne room of heaven. But you also have the responsibility of living a life that is set apart to serving God. That doesn’t mean that every believer has to seek the foreign mission field or the ministry. But it does mean that the details of your life need to be directed to the glory and honor of your God. You are set apart to serve him.

“The contemplation of Christ’s greatness in verse 14 might lead people to have lofty ideas of Him as One who could not have any feeling for them; therefore the author goes on to assure them: ‘For. . . we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. . . .’” (Geerhardus Vos, The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews, p.102).

“The sinner who capitulates to the first solicitation to evil cannot claim to have felt the full power of temptation. It was otherwise with Jesus who experienced the anguish of temptation to an unimaginable degree, for his immaculate person was was subjected to the continuous assaults of the Tempter.” (Geoffrey B. Wilson, Hebrews A Digest of Reformed Comment, p. 58).

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

For What Is God Waiting?

This evening’s 101 Bible Study, meeting in the Astoria area, looks at Isaiah 30 and 31 for the answer. Call 971/238-6101 for details.

“God’s purpose is to show mercy, to be gracious; but until the judgment is past, He will not do this. He longs, however, to be gracious, and earnestly awaits the time when He may. Akin to this thought is the description of the Lord as longsuffering…. Whereas He waits to exhibit mercy, He also pronounces a blessing upon those who wait for the Lord, and He will close the verse with a state­ment concerning those who do abide in Him.” (E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Vol. 2, pages 353–354).

“This passage refers to God in the fol­lowing manner: ‘descending,’ appar­ently from his heavenly temple, which is pointed to further by observing that it is located far away (‘a remote place’ and ‘the mountain of the Lord’); in ad­dition, God appears in ‘dense . . . smoke . . . his tongue like a consum­ing fire,’ and his breath [rûah̩ = Spirit] like an overflowing torrent . . . in the flame of a consuming fire’; and ‘the Lord will cause his voice of authority to be heard.’” (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical The­ology, p. 599).

The next 101 Bible Study, meeting Friday, March 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the Astoria area, focuses on Isaiah 30–31. Call 971/238-6101 for location.

A Sealed Book and Talking Pots

Isaiah 29 includes references to a book or scroll that is sealed and thus unreadable, and to a pot that talks back to the potter.

“The point of this chapter [of Beale’s book] has been to underscore that, on the one hand, trust in idols ‘formed’ by humans results in spiritual blindness and deafness, as a reflection of of the idols themselves. It is idolatry that leads to all other sins committed by humans. On the other hand, trust in God as the only legitimate ‘former’ of images results in humans being ‘formed’ into something that is unique­ly able to reflect God’s glorious image. Being re-created in God’s image leads to increasing righteousness.” (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical The­ology, p. 380).

“This is perhaps as sad a picture as is to be found anywhere in the Old Testa­ment. When one considers all the manifold and rich gifts that the gracious God had given to this people; when one reflects that it was His design to make of this peo­ple a ‘kingdom of priests and a holy nation,’ and then reads of the rebellion and apostasy that characterized the nation, one can but won­der at the goodness and pa­tience of God. Yet God’s pur­poses were not frustrated.” (E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Vol. 2, p. 318, on Isa­iah 29:12).

The next 101 Bible Study, meeting Friday, March 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the Astoria area, focuses on Isaiah 30–31. Call 971/238-6101 for location.

The Church: God’s Royal House

A godly king, a man after God’s own heart, wants to build a house for God? No wonder Nathan welcomed this (2 Samuel 7). But God had a better plan. He builds his own royal house, as Peter confesses in Matthew 16:13–20.

“Our Lord says emphatically ‘I will build,’ and thereby appropri­ates for himself the the objective task of calling this church into existence by his Messianic acts. Though Pe­ter confessing be the foundation, the church is not of Peter’s or of any human making, the Lord him­self will build it. And not only this, he will supremely rule in it, for out of the fullness of his authority he immediately proceeds to invest Peter with the power of the keys: ‘I will give unto thee.’” (Geerhardus Vos, The Kingdom and the Church, pp. 78-79).

“Peter, a despised Galilean fisherman, stands before the Messiah with the chosen elders of the New Covenant. The great Shepherd gathers the remnant of his people and establishes Israel anew to confess his name. Jesus undertakes God’s own work to rebuild his people.” (Edmund P. Clowney, The Church, p. 40).

“The Church, in short, is a present manifestation of the Kingdom of God and in her the Kingdom’s transforming power operates and from her its life and blessedness flows to form an oasis in the desert of this world’s sin and mis­ery, darkness and death, to which the thirsty traveler may come and drink deeply at the well-springs of salvation.” (Raymond O. Zorn, Church and Kingdom, p. 81).

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

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 101 Bible Study, meeting Friday, March 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the Astoria area, focuses on Isaiah 30–31. Call 971/238-6101 for location.