Category Archives: reflection

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.

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.

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 Church: Walking before the Lord

“This covenant [with Abraham], initiated, established, defined in promises and commands, and even guaranteed to be everlasting, by the sole sovereignty of the Lord God Almighty, is nevertheless a union of God with his people. It is the same union that comes to expression in the New Testament phrase ‘in Christ.’ This is the essence of the covenant concept, the essence of all true religion. The covenant God made with the man from Ur is the union God has established with his own in Christ Jesus, himself the epitome of covenant as the incarnate God-and-man, Immanuel. There is no more glorious concept given to men than this: God with us!” (John J. Mitchell, “Abram’s Understanding of the Lord’s Covenant,” The Westminster Theological Journal, XXXII, No. 1, November 1969, p. 48).

“The ‘walking before Je­hovah’ pictures the con­stant presence of Jeho­vah to his [Abram’s] mind as walking behind him, and supervising him. The thought of the divine approval furnish­es the motive for obedi­ence. Also the force of El-Shaddai must be no­ticed. What shapes his conduct is not the gen­eral thought of God as moral ruler, but specifi­cally the thought of El-Shaddai, who fills his life with miraculous grace.” (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology, pp. 102–103).

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

What Simeon Saw

“Simeon’s words give powerful expression to the thought that Simeon, having beheld Christ in fulfilment of the divine word concerning his life, has fully performed his service. His watch is concluded with the arrival of the One for whom he was waiting.” As Simeon addresses Mary, “Here the cross is indeed virtually in view, and Mary is standing before it, sorrowing at what would befall her son.” (Ned B. Stonehouse, The Witness of Luke to Christ, pages 53 & 56).

“Christ was indeed a ‘light to lighten the Gentiles.’ Without him they were sunk in gross darkness and superstition. They knew not the way of life. They worshipped the works of their own hands. Their wisest philosophers were utterly ignorant in spiritual things. ‘Professing themselves to be wise they became fools.’ (Rom. i.22.) The Gospel of Christ was like sun-rise to Greece and Rome, and the whole heathen world. The light which it let in on men’s minds on the subject of religion, was as great as the change from night to day.” (J. C. Ryle, , Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Vol. 2, p. 68).

From the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church

Rejoice with the Shepherds

B11chreveoc“All salvation, all truth in regard to man, has its eternal foundation in the triune God Himself. It is this triune God who here reveals Himself as the everlasting reality, from whom all truth proceeds, whom all truth reflects, be it the little streamlet of Paradise or the broad river of the New Testament losing itself again in the ocean of eternity. After this nothing higher can come. All the separate lines along which through the ages revelation was carried, have converged and met at a single point. The seed of the woman and the Angel of Jehovah are become one in the Incarnate Word.” (Geerhardus Vos, “The Idea of Biblical Theology,” Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation, p. 13).

“The shepherds had to return to their flocks but they returned with a song in their hearts and carried the joy of adoration with them. They really felt they could take care of their flock again because the praise of God no longer conflicted with their earthly occupations.” (S. G.. De Graaf, Promise and Deliverance, Vol. 3, p. 326).

Quotes from the Reflection for Trinity Presbyterian Church.