Category Archives: General

John on the Witness Stand

“Noteworthy is the way in which all four Gospels record the preparatory ministry and proclamation of John the Baptist, in particular the contrast John draws between himself and the coming Messiah. His witness in the unit John 1:29–34 is that of the work of Jesus as ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (v. 29), and ‘the Son of God” (v. 34), climaxes and focuses in the fact that, while John has been sent to baptize with water (vv. 31, 33), Jesus is ‘the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit’ (v. 33).” (Richard B. Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost, p. 14)

“‘And grace for grace.’ We get grace to reach out to another grace, each grace becoming a stepping-stone to something higher. I do not believe in our rising on the ‘stepping-stones of our dead selves.’ They are poor stones; they all lead downwards. The stepping-stones of the living Christ lead upwards; grace for grace, grace upon grace, till grace is crowned with glory.” (Charles H. Spurgeon on John 1:16)

“Right at the beginning of his Gospel John points us forward to the cross and to the significance of the cross.” (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, NICNT, p. 148)

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church

The Word Became Flesh

“The infinite became the finite, the eternal and supratemporal entered time and became subject to its conditions, the immutable became the mutable, the invisible became the visible, the Creator became the created, the sustainer of all became dependent, the Almighty infirm. All is summed up in the proposition, God became man.” (Collected Writings of John Murray, Vol. 2, p. 132)

“The Old Testament does not contain just a few isolated messianic texts; on the contrary, the entire Old Testament dispensation with its leading persons and events, its offices and institutions, its laws and ceremonies, is a pointer to and movement towards the fulfillment in the New Testament.” (p. 243). “[W]ith this name [“Son of Man”] Jesus intends to distinguish himself from and position himself above all other humans,. This name also undoubtedly implies that he was truly human, akin not only to Israel but to all humans; yet it simultaneously expresses the fact that he occupies an utterly unique place among all humans.” (p. 250) (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3)

The Christmas Eve service at Trinity Presbyterian Church.


Tonight my wife and I witnessed a powerful presentation of Sophocles’ play, “Electra,” by the Veritas School’s Drama department. Exceedingly well done! (For those of you who are local, there is one more performance, Saturday evening.)
The play wrestles with the idea of vengeance—as it came to expression in a classical Greek setting. The director’s notes summarize: “Vengeance for a wrong was personal, and justice often required the person who was wronged, or their family, to carry out that vengeance. Moreover, the gods and other divine forces demanded vengeance.”
The play is performed in the building of Grace Baptist Church. Joshua W. D. Smith’s director’s notes conclude: “Hopefully the power of Electra’s emotions will tell its own story and inspire reflection on the nature of our own hearts. As a final word, however, it does not escape us that this entire play about justice, vengeance, and the divine, is being staged below the sign of the cross: in Christ crucified, the foolishness of God is wiser than men. (see 1 Cor. 1:20–25)”

Suffering and Glory

“Hence, then, is the whole consolation of the godly, that they are associates with Christ, that hereafter they may be partakers of his glory; for we are always to bear in mind this transition from the cross to the resurrection.” (John Calvin, Commentary on 1 Peter)

How do you tell someone who’s suffering that there is more suffering to come? Peter does—but he tells you to rejoice! The Wednesday evening Bible study at Trinity Presbyterian Church looks at 1 Peter 4.

Murray and his mentor

“Jesus himself as the great high priest, in his finished work and in his continual high-priestly activity, is the permanent and final embodiment of the truth portrayed in the Levitical ordinances. Strictly speaking the Levitical ritual did not serve as the pattern for the work of Christ, rather, the high-priestly work of Christ provided the archetype by which the prescriptions of the Levitical law were fashioned and patterned (cf. Hebrews 9:24, 25). The Levitical were the ectypes and models drawn from the heavenly exemplar. It was for this reason that they possessed meaning and efficacy.” (John Murray, Principles of Conduct, p. 151).

I’m preaching this Sunday on Matthew 5:17–20, in which Jesus tells us that he came, not to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. Murray’s treatment of the passage in his Principles of Conduct is helpful indeed. Murray’s thought seems to reflect that of one of his mentors at old Princeton, Geerhardus Voa. See the latter’s The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews, pp. 55–58.

When God Is with You

“The debt man’s transgres­sions incur is written down in God’s book, and must be punished. God, however, blots out or wipes out what is written down, so that it can no longer be seen and no longer is present to ac­cuse the transgressor. . . . The debt those transgres­sions incurred has been fully paid, and God’s blotting out is an act of justice and mer­cy.” (Edward J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, Vol 3, p. 162).

“The prophecy of new cre­ation in Isa. 43 begins with, ‘Behold, I will do something new’ (v. 19) and concludes with, ‘The people I have formed for Myself will de­clare My praise’ (v. 21). The immediate contexts of the prophecies in Isa. 43 and Isa. 65 imply a notion of res­urrection (cf. 43:21).” (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, p. 231).

The 101 Bible Study meets on Friday, October 4, 2019, in a home in the Astoria area. Call 971/238-6101 for details.

What do you plant?

How important are good works in the life of a Christian? The Sunday evening Bible study at Trinity Presbyterian Church looks at Galatians 6:6–10 for Paul’s answer.

“Though eternal life is a re­ward, it does not follow ei­ther that we are justified by works, or that works are meritorious of salvation. The undeserved kindness of God appears in the very act of honouring the works which his grace has en­abled us to perform, by promising to them a reward to which they are not enti­tled.” (John Calvin, Com­mentary on Galatians, at Gal. 6:8).