Category Archives: Trinity Presbyterian Church of the OPC

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 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 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.

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.

An Untimely Funeral

In Amos 5 the prophet pictures the nation of Israel as a young woman lying dead–but nonetheless he delivers a funeral lament for her to hear! Israel is truly dead–yet is commanded to hear. That is a “marvelous contradiction,” as Herman Veldkamp points out:

“In marvelous contradiction, the prophet Amos told the virgin Israel, whose obituary he was reading and whom he already saw lying dead on the ground, to listen to what he was saying–as if a dead person could hear! This obvious impossibility did not stop Amos, for he knew that the impossible is possible with God.” (The Farmer from Tekoa, p. 153).

God’s gracious Word continues to speak to those who are dead in sin. Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones (Ezekiel 37) reflects the powerful co-joining of the Word and Spirit. You cannot respond in your own strength, but God graciously gives new life, enabling those he calls to turn to him.

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

The Church: God’s Blessing to the Nations

In many ways the church is a counter-cultural institution. We gather on Sunday morning when many are sleeping in or watching sports on TV. We sing. We pray. We listen to a Book being read and preached. We eat a small piece of bread and drink a small cup of wine. Is this just a strange habit we have picked up, or is there more behind it? Is this something we just do as individuals, doing our own thing, or is God doing something to us and through us in the world? The session has asked me to preach a series of sermons looking what the Bible says about the church. Our focus this morning is Genesis 12:1–3, an important passage, even though the word “church” is not used in it.

“The downside of sin is not only its consequences, but sin itself is an act of deprivation. For me to sin is to deprive myself of the enjoyment of God.” (from a lecture by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.).

“The keynote is not what Abraham has to do for God, but what God will do for Abraham. Then, in response to this, the subjective frame of mind that changes the inner and outer life is cultivated. . . . The all-important thing is that God has acted in the past, is acting in the present, and promises to act in the future.” (Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments, pp. 93–94).

“Abram’s calling to leave his land and people did not contain the the slightest suggestion that grace as the ‘wholly other’ would continue to stand over against human life, as though life on earth was not to be sanctified. On the contrary, Abram was promised that he would become the father of a nation, that he would have a name on the earth, and that in him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Grace entered life and sanctified it.” (S. G. De Graaf, Promise and Deliverance, Vol. 1, p. 75)

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